weather changes

Uli Urban
Mon, 02 Feb 2009 15:27:00 PST
Dear All,

Here in northern Germany where I live and garden we have had a sucession
of mild winters and people (including myself) started to grow plants
like rosemary and the hardier palms in their gardens. Everybody seems to
believe in climate change in the sense of climate warming and even
exaggerated versions of us becoming banana producers circulated, not
very seriously, though. Myself I also planted some exotics. All the
previous winters I took safety cuttings or dug up a small piece of a
plant to secure it under glass, except this winter...... and.... well,
yes, it is one of the coldest winter recorded in Germany. It is not so
much the coldness as such but the length of it that seems to be
destructive. And I am still lucky. With me the lowest teperature was
about -15 to-16°C but a few kilometres away it dropped well below
There is a bed of exotics covered with cold-frame windows. There are the
hardy agapanthus, Tulbaghia violacea, Ismene, Albuca shawii and other
Albucas, Kniphofia, Oxalis, Mirabils and Mexican Salvias in it...... may
be I should say were in it? As everything is frozen, I assume the damage
will only become apparent later in spring.
Some plants such as Camellias and a Trachycarpus palm (all very
borderline here) look surprisingly good but are they perhapy
freeze-dried and will collapse on thawing?
The only flowers I have in spite of the cold weather is a wonderful
specimen of Hamamelis "Pallida" but it is too cold to detect its
delicious scent. it is underplanted with Cyclamen coum but barely any
flowers visible, even the Snowdrops are still invisible! Lucky you
Californians with wet frost free winters!
So what to conclude? It is of course not justified to deduct too much
from a single event. Here in Germany the statistics show that spring
flowers are about two weeks earlier nowadays than they used to be maybe
fifty years ago. It may also show us why garden plants are garden plants
and not wild plants.... they need human interference to survive outside
their native climate...... even this is not guaranteed. Here in Europe
it looks as if the weather becomes more extreme, more storms (we did not
have hurricanes until recently) more extreme rain, more summer heat,
longer dry spells and maybe longer and colder cold spells? Attention to
this is certainly necessary.

All the best and bye for today, Uli

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