Climate change and our gardens

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Margot, Jun 30, 2021.

  1. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    People like me have been posting a lot of information lately about the terrible heat wave in western Canada. Some comments are found under "Heatwave" or "What' the weather like", "Whether the weather" or, as an aside under "Virtual Garden Tour" or even "Raised Beds".

    Reports of anomalous weather go back to @Acerholic and others' reports of late spring frosts in England and elsewhere earlier this year and even further back than that. We're all very concerned, no question about it.

    I think it would be worthwhile to report, record and discuss at least some of these patterns under a more all-encompassing title such as "Climate change and our gardens".

    What do you think? Can you suggest a better heading?
     
  2. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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  3. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    It is impossible to know yet what affect hot temperatures together with less water will have on native plant species over time. Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) have been dying in large numbers for at least 10 years, mainly, I think, from a lack of sufficient moisture. Other native trees such as arbutus (Arbutus menziesii), Garry Oak (Quercus garryana) and big leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) have had a reputation of being able to survive very tough conditions but you have to wonder how much they can take.

    There are dozens of arbutus and Garry oak in my garden which have been growing here since long before it was a garden. Arbutus usually start losing their leaves from mid-May until about August but I have never seen such an enormous loss of leaves as this year. That, on top of one or more fungal disease. I see many Garry oak trees the past few days with lots of yellowing leaves and even dead portions - unprecedented as long as we've lived here. We took down our big leaf maple a few years ago after it lost almost all its leaves in July.

    Time will tell how these and other native plants handle the combined stress of heat and reduced moisture if the weather continues the way it has the past few years.
     
  4. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    A perfect thread title Margot. So let's go with it.

    Regarding climate change, yes we are all suffering as a result of this, but it is not going to get better, so we must adapt and change the way we garden. Even ardent collectors of plants like myself with my maples will have to think seriously if this is actually a very sensible thing to do now. I don't think I've heard of anyone this year having a good Spring, but I maybe wrong. Some of the very well known contributors in France suffered terribly last Summer and this year with extremes. And what BC is experiencing now is just crazy tbh.
    The trouble is what we love to grow and what is becoming practicle to grow is now two different things. So our heads sadly must now rule our hearts.
    I look forward to reading more on this thread from members around the world. I hope a lot will contribute positively.

    A good thread Margot.

    D
     
  5. Sulev

    Sulev Well-Known Member

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    Our news told, that in British Columbia there has been nearly 500 sudden deaths related to the heat wave, in recent 5 days.
    Is it really so bad already?
    Google Translate
     
  6. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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  7. Heathen

    Heathen Active Member

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    I think we could mitigate extreme events like the recent heat dome by better water management practices, and more forethought in the landscape/hardscape designs used. My house is on septic, but the vast majority of the lower island is not, and all those millions of gallons of grey water are going out into the strait—why? We could be returning that water back into the soil, using that for most of our irrigation needs, keeping alive the trees we need to shade all that paving around (plus our buildings) so less heat is retained. Speaking of trees—the current trend is planting narrow, columnar cultivars, regardless of the available space. Yes, they need less pruning, but there is certainly a trade-off. Less shade leads to hotter ground leads to greater water and energy usage etc.
    I could go on forever but I will refrain :)
    I will mention two things that saved my place in the horrid heat: copious amounts of tree chips to mulch the garden, and white tarps on the roof!
     
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  8. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    Finally, I spent a few wonderful hours in the garden again today after at least 5 days of terrible heat. I did not try as hard as I could have to keep my plants watered but instead relied on the irrigation system for most of the open garden. Plants in pots mostly got enough water but not all. Despite trying to keep my many alpine saxifrages in clay pots watered, most perished. Bad mother!

    Here is a snapshot of plants in the irrigation zones that did better than I would have expected and others that did worse. Things to remember for next time. :-(

    1 & 2. Many rhodos fared surprisingly well while others have noticeable burning on their leaves . . . no particular co-relation to the amount of shade. The 2 in the photos below are right next to each other.
    3. Mukdenia 'Crimson Fans' - needs and got lots of water but leaves browning anyway - no permanent damage though.
    4. Hosta 'Twist of Lime' in full sun for several hours a day, proving once again what troopers many hostas can be.

    Rhodo heat wave damage 2021.JPG Rhodo also in heat 2021.JPG Mukdenia in heat wave 2021.JPG Hosta 'Twist of LIme' in heat 2021.JPG
     
  9. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    You raise some very interesting points @Heathen. I had never before considered the advantages of having a septic system. I guess that explains why the Garry Oak planted next to our septic field is such a healthy specimen.

    Likewise your observations about columnar trees . . . I'm sure almost no one thinks about the ramifications of less shade.

    White tarps do sound like a good idea but too dangerous for many to place.

    The use of wood chips is gaining much attention and support the past few years so I hope more people begin to use it. It makes so much sense.
    One of many articles on the subject: https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/403/2015/03/wood-chips.pdf

    I look forward to hearing more from you.
     
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  10. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    We just had a call from someone we know who has lived all his life in Calgary, Alberta where our heat dome has now headed. He was telling us in amazement that the most incredible, unprecedented storm is going on . . . hailstones larger than twoonies, violent wind, water spouts, flooding. He can't even see across the street.
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/severe-thunderstorm-calgary-1.6088850

    So, what do you think Calgary gardens are going to look like in the morning?
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2021
  11. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Contributor

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    Sometimes hot weather results in too much water (as in floods from snow melt) while we at our level are told to stop using so much water (I agree with that)

    So it doesn’t make sense to those from away perhaps

    Most of populated areas of BC get water from snow pack - even if you think it’s pumped from a lake - it started as snow pack

    I know a couple who the park service yesterday Heli evacuated (along with others) who through no fault of their own were at risk of sudden snow melt waters at Mt Robson (tallest in Cdn Rockies)

    it’s scary when our snow pack is melted by early July.
     
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  12. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    This article is more of interest from a climate change perspective than about gardens per se. Shocking just the same to realize that the weather that is decimating the shellfish industry in an area long known for its cool water is the same weather currently wreaking havoc on farmers' crops and our gardens.

    Baynes Sound shellfish industry reeling after heatwave
     
  13. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    I was trying to look that up, but there seems to be a news report on a Calgary hail storm almost every year. So far I've found an article for
    August 5, 2015: Hail storms leave many Calgarians with shredded gardens | Globalnews.ca
    July 30, 2016, a YouTube Video: CRAZY GOLFBALL SIZED HAIL STORM IN CALGARY
    A Reddit post four years ago: "Calgary gardeners - don't let hail destroy your garden ever again!"
    June 25, 2020 - the article is gone, but the promo text was "Read more: Severe flooding, damage in Calgary after thunderstorm Saturday During the storm, hail caused extensive damage to homes, cars and gardens. Heavy rain also led to flooding …".
     
  14. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    Hail storms do seem to be ubiquitous in Calgary. It must take courage to garden there not knowing if (or when) it will all be wiped out by a storm.

    About 20 years ago, when I lived in Burnaby, my garden was included in the Garden Tour there. Exactly one week prior, we got an unusual, violent hail storm - you know, the kind where hail piles up like lumpy snow all over everything. The tour went ahead but, as it turned out, most gardens didn't get the full brunt of the storm like mine did and I'm sure people must have wondered why my garden in particular looked so bedraggled. At least it was green.
     
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