Is posies the
Where wonder I
Ris’ has grass the
Sprung has spring
This is the only poem I can recite backwards and forwards. (Hint, now read it backwards.) Gotta love spring. Flowers blooming, birds singing, grass greening, buds bursting, all that. There’s a lot that happens this time of year. It happened last year too, and the year before that. Actually, spring has sprung for a very long time now.
Have you ever wondered if those chickadees are nesting the same time this year as they did 2 years ago? Is the skunk cabbage pushing its way up through the snow the same time it did 10 years ago? Is that sugar maple flowering this year near the calendar date it did 40 years ago? Naturalists like myself ask these curious questions as do scientists studying global warming trends. This study of periodic happenings, especially as they occur in nature is called phenology.
I’ve spearheaded my Naturalists’ Club in a phenology study for the past 10 years. Henry David Thoreau, in his meticulous note-taking way, documented springtime occurrences 150 years ago. Some British naturalists have listed occurrences much longer ago than that. When we note the blooming times for specific flower species this year, and compare it to when it flowered many years earlier, that’s where the intrigue begins.
Folks at Boston University did exactly that. They compared their flower blooming times from 2004-2006 to that of Henry David Thoreau’s from 1852-1858. Location, elevation, plants studied all being the same, these BU folks learned some pretty telling things:
• The mean annual temperature rose 4°F (2.4°C) over this 150 year span.
• Events like bird migration, amphibian mating, and flowering times are occurring earlier now than in the past.
• Every plant studied blooms earlier now than in HD’s time, some a full week earlier.
• Highbush blueberry now blooms 21 days earlier.
• Yellow wood sorrel blooms 32 days earlier.
• Some species’ blooming cycles are changing rapidly while others are not.
Even in my club’s meager 10 years of collecting phenology, from 2001 – 20010, I saw a trend toward earlier blooming for many plants, including:
• Wild Blue Phlox
• Foam flower
I’m not going to get all scientific on you, but hey, things are happening and nature is responding. Even us gardeners and wildflower lovers can see it. Is spring sprouting earlier these days where you are too? Get in on the action and take notice. Start a phenology of your own. A simple chart of:
is all you really need to get going.
The longer you keep track, the more valuable the information becomes. Plus, it gets you outside and noticing the beauty of spring. You can’t go wrong. In addition, you can add your data to that of many others on the National Phenology Network online. Visit here to learn more.
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