Monday, 25 January 2010

Climate change ... breaks your heart if you're a gardener


Today I left my Florida home excited because I was planning visits to two new gardens I'd never seen before en route to Tampa airport to collect a friend from England. But instead of the usual spring in my step after garden visits, I'm feeling really sad, having seen the extent of the damage that the prolonged spell of cold weather here in Florida has caused. The picture above was taken at the University of South Florida Botanical Garden but this wasn't the glorious brown that we associate with autumn in the UK (below).

I'm sure that this garden can look lovely, with its ideal location on the edge of Lake Bennke, but my visit was a real wake-up call on climate change! And I haven't seen "The Road" yet, which is hitting cinemas all over the world, but I've read the book and when I saw the way the gardens looked today, I realised that I probably don't have the stomach to see the movie!

My second visit was the Sunken Gardens in St Petersburg - still looking pretty good under the circumstances, but an uncharacteristic amount of brown there too. Of course, it would be hard to rival the collection of palms, citrus fruit trees and lovely blooms in this little oasis, but here too the foliage on many of the plants was a deathly colour (or should I now be writing "color" in the US?). That said, little could deflect from the sun shining through the palm frowds into the garden below.

There's no doubt that this is an enchanting place - it's stuck in a time warp - from the sign on the road (above), which is reminscent of Florida in days gone by, to the wonderful, antiquated "grove" heaters strategically placed around the garden (above, centre). The original four-acre property was bought by George Turner in 1903 - a plumber, who also happened to be an avid gardener - who drained a shallow lake on the site to provide the rich and fertile soil in the garden today, which sits 15-feet below street level.

Originally opened as Turner's Sunken Gardens, the property was bought by the City of St Petersburg in 1999, but it retains its olde-world charm today, and is worth a visit if you are in the area. There is another garden nearby - The Florida Botanical Gardens - which I didn't have time to visit, but I'll let you have the low-down on that one when I get there.

11 comments:

  1. How sad to see the brown where green might be. The name 'Global Warming' is somewhat amiss... for it is 'Climate Change'... where winters will become more severe and springs and summers hotter. Our carbon footprints wield large impact. Last summer was the hottest ever recorded. Scientist say ... the earth has done this all before... right before major extinctions. Besides the name our leaders are acutely amiss. ;>(

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  2. Thanks for this Carol - I've changed the entry!

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  3. So the climate change must be so severe, that some plants react negatively. I hope the reaction is temporary in nature, and what's left will spring back into action in no time... ~bangchik

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  4. It is sad to see the effects of climate change. Seeing brown plants in Florida is a shock. I hope the plants at the Florida Botanical Gardens fared better with the cold.

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  5. The sunken gardens look great. I bet they had more moisture around to help keep it from getting too cold. We call the two top pictures, fall, around here.

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  6. Many Houston area garden bloggers have the same sad scenes right in their back gardens. We're just not geared up for such a severe winter.

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  7. It will be interesting to see what manages to recover and grow anew and what is lost. Who knows where climate change will take the World in the immediate future it will be an interesting gardening challenge but long term it will cause many ecological disasters and the poorer nations will sadly be the first ones to suffer the effects.

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  8. this is really sad, but for us here in the US climate change still hasn't been severe enough to catch our attention. Were we to live in Bangladesh, we might actually act...

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  9. It is so hard to know what to plant anymore. Two years in a row we had extreme,(the worst category) droughts. We adjusted by planting xerics. 2009 brought record breaking rains, good for the soil, but the damage was done from the drought and now the trees are falling over with high winds and eroded soggy soil on the roots. This is scary stuff, way beyond some brown leaves.
    Frances

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  10. I've been thinking a LOT about climate change, lately, and have come to the same conclusion as Carol...'global warming' is a misnomer. In fact, I actually wrote something about global warming on my FB page and got a bunch of responses letting me know that it doesn't exist...so now I, too, refer to it as climate change, a natural progression that has occurred before. Makes ya wonder how much longer we humans are going to be around. It is scary, as Frances said. I am offering a garden gift on my blog for people who write a post about their own contributions to sustainable living...perhaps you would want to participate? ...Jan

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  11. global warming and el nino does wreck alot of havoc everywhere...we haven't had rain here in hawaii in over three weeks and its our rainy season...i'm having to hand water continuously for a long time now :(

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