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Home » Gardening

Does Climate Change redefine Spring?

Submitted by on October 7, 2010 – 9:49 pm

Spring has sprung, and in my part of the world, if you’re a gardener, that  means business.  To lessen my workload I’ve re-evaluated which plants I refer to as being ‘weeds’ and instead search for each plant’s more virtuous qualities; I’m left with convulvulus and twitch.  Once re-defined, I can see my garden as hyper-productive and witness the joy of spring for what it is.

Green.  Lush.

One of the joys of spring is to wander round your garden and see just what has survived the winter.  The apples blossom, the apricots appear to be producing fruit already and the mandarin pokes fresh leaves from tender buds.  But the season’s greatest triumph is the Tamarillo.

-Oh, I’ve never heard of anyone growing a Tamarillo in Christchurch.

Well, this someone created a little frost protection- a heat sink beside a black-painted concrete block garage wall and took a gamble on a tamarillo seeding surviving the winter.  The gamble paid off.

Secretly, the gardener in me thinks -well, maybe just 1degree of global warming isn’t a bad thing, if it means I can grow a tamarillo in Christchurch.  Maybe next year I can try an avocado!

I’ve often heard it mentioned – Christchurch would be perfect if it was just 10degrees warmer!

But it’s not just about having a warmer summer, or even a frost free winter.  Just think (and we’ve already seen it happen), without the frosts to kill them off, think of all those other super-invasive weeds that would also survive the winter.  There’s no amount of positive thinking that could make some of those weeds virtuous!  It’s not just the weeds either- insect pests (like fruit fly) that would overwinter in your balmy garden.  I’ll have my frost back, thank you!

What am I talking about?  My seaside garden would simply cease to exist if the icecaps started  melting;  I would be displaced, an environmental refugee, all for a few tropical fruit.

What can we do about it?

There’s a list as long as my arm of positive things to do.  Ride a bike, live simply, plant a tree. This weekend  there’s a world-wide workingbee, taking action against climate change.  Watch a film- educate yourself, paint your roof white, go for a walk. The 10/10/10 isn’t any old date, it signifies what we need to do- reduce the global atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by 10% to bring it down to what scientists believe is the safe upper limit.  Attend a swap-meet, pick up some rubbish, install some insulation. 350.org, the folks who are putting together the workingbee, tell us ” 350 parts per million (ppm) is, according to leading climate scientists, the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. From the beginning of human history until the Industrial Revolution, global atmospheric carbon dioxide did not exceed about 280ppm.” Car-pool, volunteer at your community gardens, write a letter to your politician. Within 3 centuries of burning fossil fuels we’ve upped the levels of atmospheric CO2 to 390ppm. Don’t buy plastic, get to know your neighbour, get involved.

Take positive action.

I really fancy living by the sea. I like my temperate garden with crisp white winter mornings as well as my slightly damp mid-summer evenings.  So Canterbury is prone to the occasional drought- I’d prefer a dry summer to a dust-bowl.

Luckily there are many people within my community who take the threat of climate change very seriously-  I guess they fancy their seaside gardens as well!  It will make it just that little bit easier when we try and move our ‘town’ towards transition.

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