When I first moved to mid-Missouri in the mid 1970s, I could easily guess when I would see my first spring daffodils.
Through the 1980s and 1990s, my garden diary shows only a few anomalies.
These past few years, though, the pattern has changed. Our winters are now regularly milder so there are more bugs in spring. Springs are wetter so the growing season starts later. By the time summer arrives, we have increasingly higher temperatures for longer periods of time.
This past summer, we broke records for most of the days, and my poor tomatoes struggled for yet another year.
Scientists have been warning fossil-fuel energy-based consumption is warming the planet. That causes major fluctuations in not only weather conditions but animal and plant patterns. It's not that it hasn't happened in the past. It's that current changes are happening at unprecedented rates, not giving nature a chance to adjust.
Some of my gardening friends have lost a lot of their gardens because of the record heat. Although I have lost a few plants, I have been planting a variety of native trees, bushes and plants. I not only find them easier to grow but they seem to be surviving these rapidly changing conditions. One of my favorite places to shop is George O. White State Forest Nursery in Licking.
The nursery sells locally-grown 1 year old barefoot seedlings, sometimes 2-3 year old stock, now in quantities of 10, 50 or 100 trees.
For example, hardwood trees and shrubs are $1 each up to 40 trees, then the price drops to 36 cents for 50-90 trees.
This year, the nursery is also offering buyers the opportunity to build their own plant bundles.
If they can't ship the plants you ordered, you can ask them to substitute a suitable species.
Orders are shipped February through May, or you can pick them up at the nursery. Order early; they tend to sell out. You can order online at mdc.mo.gov/node /3328.
I re-planted smooth sumac in back of my house a couple of years ago. Bluebirds like to eat the berries in the middle of winter and, according to one of my gardening books, smooth sumac can be used in salads and as a food seasoning.
With the exception of two plants mistaken for poison ivy that ended up under a pile of recently-moved soil, the 2-foot starts are now forming a lovely 5-foot high grove, in spite of my forgetting to give them extra water this summer.
Charlotte Ekker Wiggins shares her gardening tips at http://www.gardeningcharlotte.com. Copyright 2012 used with permission by Gatehouse Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Contact Charlotte at firstname.lastname@example.org.