Random Things that Fall Out of My Head

Frank Michels

Frank Michels
Nashville, Tennessee, USA
March 29
Frank Michels is a songwriter, musician, and producer in Nashville, Tennessee. He likes to dig in the dirt and plant flowers, cook tasty things, walk his dog, and play really fast riffs on a telecaster guitar.


Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 10, 2012 8:04AM

Climate Change a Hoax? My Daffodils Disagree.

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Here in Nashville, we are having a very warm winter. So warm, in fact, that the thousands of daffodils I have planted over the years in my yard have all sprung up and begun blooming, at a time of year when the ground should be frozen and spring flowers should still be months away. Like, in the spring.

Daffodils are hardy, and can survive cold snaps, although if they are already blooming when it freezes the flowers will get pretty bedraggled looking. They have been coming out too early here for some years now, but this year is the earliest yet. I yell at them, “Go back! It’s not spring yet!” but they don’t listen.

So now, when spring actually does get here, I will be left with nothing but the drooping foliage of spent daffodils. What I’m really concerned about are my flowering shrubs like the azaleas. Last year they put out buds that got killed in a late freeze, and we had hardly any blooms from them. It looks likely that the same thing will happen this year.

bunch of daffodils   

It’s not just me that’s noticing this. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has revised its Plant Hardiness Zone Map to reflect the northward movement of colder temperatures, after the National Climatic Data Center released a study showing the average winter temperatures in two 30 year periods, from 1961 to 1990, and from 1971 to 2000.  In nearly every part of the continental United States, winter lows were warmer during the second period. The new map reflecting these changes can be found at: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/.




Reclassifying a gardener’s yard into a warmer zone opens new options for planting flowers and shrubs that may not have survived winters back in the seventies or eighties. But it may also mean that some current species that have thrived in your area for hundreds or even thousands of years may die back as rainfall totals change and beetles and other pests that attack plants migrate along with the warming temperatures.


I’ve got some 50 year-old hardwood trees back in my woods that died after a prolonged drought here 3 years ago, and their places are being taken by trashy invaders like honeysuckle shrub. On the plus side, last year I planted a fig tree that I hope will thrive and supply me with bushels of succulent figs in coming years. (If the squirrels don’t get them first.)


hand and daffodil   

So, even though scientists warn that we can’t make long-term inferences about global warming from relatively short-term trends, I think it is pretty clear to anyone who pays attention to the natural world that it is warmer than it used to be. It makes you wonder how conservatives can continue to deny or waffle on climate change, even as photos from space make it obvious to everyone that the polar ice caps are melting away, and the yearly number of tornados in the US has doubled since the 1950’s. 

One thing is for sure. My daffodils know it is pretty dang warm for February. 

two daffodils 

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Yup! You are so right here. Ours have sprouted as well and I'm concerned they will meet an untimely wilt. But...they might get stronger! we'll see.
Wondering how much further south Nashville than KC..?

The daffy's and such have been pushing through the surface but no blooms that I've seen... then, this week, the deep (deeper at least) freeze is here.

But... very cool. Maybe I shouldn't say, but climate change is alright by me.
I'm almost two hundred miles north of you and ours have buds opening. Of course I am also an Illinois Banana Grower so I am wel aware of what that means.
Eek... per the weather channel low temp here tomorrow and Sunday nights ...FOUR fahrenheit. Betting it can't be much warmer there so might wanna go look at the flowers one more time
Our winters have been getting progressively warmer, and this one has been the warmest yet. The forecast is for 10 degrees over the weekend - which seems cold to us now, no longer anticipating 10 BELOW. But we will see - it was 45 yesterday, which was higher than forecast.

I can empathize with Tr ig to a degree but, really, it's scary.
We've seen lots of little green sprouts here in Chicago. My hyacinths and some other early bulbs have poked up by an inch or so in the past week, several weeks earlier than normal. My hardiest rose has some tender new leaves on it. Vincas don't normally bloom here in January and February, but I've seen some in the sunnier spots in our neighborhood. Very strange, indeed.
yes everything is changing everywhere. Even here in SW Turkey people say how everything is topsy turvy. Pythagoras used to like to eat Daffodil flowers too.
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It was -28C last night here. We had a long, warm fall, but winter is as cold as ever. I'm worried about whether the cold cause die-back giving me no flowers on my deutzia and hydrangea.

I find the refusal to believe in global warming baffling. Santorum said that it's basically a conspiracy of the left to control everyone. You can accept that global warming is 1) probably taking place, and 2) probably man-made and vociferously disagree with the proposed solutions. I, frankly, thought the global Kyoto agreement was never going to work and was a poor solution to the problem.

When the temperature is predicted to drop, wrap your azaleas. My hydrangea is swaddled. You can cover it with straw before wrapping.

The thing to really watch out for is bugs. A winter kills plenty of bugs. England, which didn't get much in the way of freezing winter weather was amazing for sheer variety and assortment of bugs and diseases. My organic gardening techniques honed in Russia (mostly do nothing and hope the problem will go away) didn't work.
And the tree line is moving north, mountain snow lines are receding and the artic ice caps are diminishing. Pity the subject is too toxic to warrant public discourse.
Don't scientists always revise their claims? Isn't that what makes it science - the willingness to analyze new data and adjust accordingly? That's the exact opposite of being a "true believer", I think.

Anyway, I wonder what your daffodils are looking like, now that the temperature has dipped into the teens!
Very interesting. My daffodils are coming up and I hope they don't bloom till late Feb.! I wonder about the zone redesignations. My area, KC, has had so many warmer winters, that it's just now been changed from Zone 5 to Zone 4. But I wonder if we couldn't still be zapped with a 10 below day some year which would kill, say, the new crepe myrtle someone planted here. Thanks for the great photos and info.
To Baltimore - this from the National Academy of Science's website.
"Climate change is occurring, is very likely caused primarily by human activities, and poses significant risks to humans and the environment. These risks indicate a pressing need for substantial action to limit the magnitude of climate change and to prepare for adapting to its impacts."

You should tell those scientists who are revising the science to please notify their National Academy.
Climate definitely changing all over the world. People who don't understand that global warming doesn't mean local warming every single day don't believe that change is caused by many factors. I know in New England, the annual foliage color change has been showing the signs of prolonged heat and late to no cold snap, and the chlorophyll shift is not what it used to be. Satellite photos show the color "march" moving up towards Canada. Makes maple syrup harder to find and more expensive. We are just beginning to see the changes, wonder what else is coming.
When I took a job at the Oak Ridge National Lab in March of 1984, it was snowing on the forsythia blossoms. Climate change must be happening fast.
Yes, our snowdrops are peeping out already, too, and it seems kind of early. Thanks for the new hardiness zone map...our zone hasn't changed yet, so that' good.

Your thousands of daffodils must be so gorgeous in full bloom!
@Jane Daisy
Some plants do bloom based on day length. There's a variety of triggers out there. Most plants try to find a niche. Daffs picked early spring, so temperature is probably their trigger. Desert plants tend to bloom suddenly after a rainfall. Low temps are notorious for preventing sweet peppers from flowering or fruiting, but spinach will bolt in long days, no matter how cool. Given genetic variation, the likelihood is that most plants have several triggers and different individuals in a given subspecies have differing trigger strengths.
I picked a big bouquet of daffodils Friday afternoon...before the big freeze here in East TN. I usually have a few blooms by Feb 14....the first one this year was Jan 9. There are reports of early wildflower (Hepatica, Spring Beauty, Rue Anemone) blooms in the Smokies....to me that is a much clearer sign of climate change than early cultivated flowers. O f course I have not needed convincing of climate change before this.
In southern lower Michigan, we've had probably 10 inches of snow all winter. Last year is was porbably three times as much. Our temps are consistently above average, and sometimes that's a good deal - 37 degrees day after day when it should be 32. I haven't seen plants coming up yet, and am prepared for a bitterly cold March and April, which we've had before. One never knows.
Beautiful flowers, the photograph closeups are great, something good came of climate change, although I can understand the results for the garden may be surprising at times. As long as the honeysuckle shrub is not too present, the daffodils are safe.
We're a bit further north than you here in Hoosierland, but we're seeing the same thing. There was a tree with beautiful, pink blossoms yesterday and bright yellow daffodils by the post office.

If people just look around, they'll know climate change isn't made up. [r]
I have crocus, ret. iris, daffs, and freaking tulip noses out there right now...
not that I would mind having spring in Feb, but I worked hard to have a show this year, and I'm afraid they are all going to end up nipped. :/
well, mother earth is fickle, and it's not like I'm doing her any favors
Our daffis are bloomin' all over the place too (DC area). My husband even gave me a little bouquet of them for Valentine's Day. I've been slightly nervous about the odd weather around here. Looks like we will transition from a long autumn straight into spring.
Spot on! I must say, though, that we have no buds yet in the Upper Midwest and I appreciated the brightness of your daffodils on a gray, cold (although not as cold as normal) day. Thanks!
Achoo! Thanks to El Nina, we can expect our allergies will be severe this year. Lovely fleurs, though. Some of my early bloomers in my lush landscape are months ahead of their normal arrival dates...
We can also expect insects' invasions will alter ecology and our supply and demand for fresh fruits & veggies/herbs & edibles will force early crop harvesting as well.

I can't wait 'til my fruit trees start blossoming.
Congrats on the EP and nice Daffs, Frank! I'm expecting ours to appear early this year, along with a lot of other stuff. Sometimes, I think I can hear my plants squealling from under the ice, "Let us out!"