More precocious blooms

Jane McGary
Sat, 06 Jan 2007 11:23:26 PST
Here in the foothills of the Oregon Cascades, I think there is no bulb 
flowering in the open garden except Galanthus 'Allenii'. Weather is chilly, 
though not too far below freezing yet, and very, very wet; 3 inches of snow 
on Thursday, melted by a hard rain last night.

The atypical weather patterns in North America are being attributed to ENSO 
(El Nino and the Southern Oscillation), a cyclic event that is not directly 
associated with global warming. These patterns are not all harmful either 
to the environment or to human activity. Our correspondents in Australia 
will face yet another drought, and probably wildfires, but on the Pacific 
coasts of the Americas farmers will revel in extra moisture (though the 
offshore fishermen will suffer). Ski and snowboard teams have moved from 
European training areas to the mountains of Oregon to take advantage of the 
snow conditions, and when the snows melt the native plants will flourish 
and the salmon will find it easier to get upstream.

And for plant enthusiasts, we can expect a year of flowering deserts. I 
went to northern Chile after the last El Nino winter and saw marvelous 
sights, and many of us remember the epochal flowering in the southern 
California deserts a couple of years ago, when Death Valley's floor became 
a shallow lake. I hope to return to Chile late next fall and find seeds in 
some of the places I photographed in flower in October, and to visit some 
mountain areas that were still under snow when I was there before.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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