No More Normal

Posted on: September 6, 2017

Super storms, droughts, 80 degree temperatures in January but 40’s in May. Sharks in the Chesapeake Bay, out of cycle cicadas.  There truly is, no normal anymore.  Some say climate change is to blame. Others refuse to believe in the science behind the notion.  Regardless of your position, you have to agree that the world is getting stranger and the weather even more so.

There used to be regularities that we could all count on.  “Prune your roses when the Forsythia blooms.”  Well, this past year, my Forsythia began blooming in January.  Throw that one out the window.  It’s a good year for corn when it’s knee high by the 4th of July.  Most corn these days is genetically modified.  As that is the case, many are in silks by July 4th, well past that old adage.  Oh well.  Even trees can’t be counted on anymore to behave themselves. Take for example Amelanchier canadensis, also commonly known as Shadblow Serviceberry. This tree gets it common name because it could always be counted upon to flower when the shad were running.  This past year, warmer waters cause the shad to run earlier than ever; February 12th to be exact.  In Maryland, we saw A. canadensis begin to bloom in late March.  And so too, with that old adage, we shall part.

So what do we do when the things we could always count upon to be the same no longer are?  When someone asks me, “Which red maple shows their color first and which one is the most vibrant?” That used to be an easy answer! Red Sunset would reliably color up first, putting on a week to 10 day display of vibrant red fall color. While October Glory preferred to wait a bit longer, putting on its most dazzling display just as Red Sunset was beginning to fade.  This past year at Ruppert Nurseries, our Red Sunsets put on a lackluster fall display for about a day and a half before dropping their leaves and heading into their winter slumber.  October Glory, not wanting to be late to the party, was in full color at the same time as and persisted for 11 days or more.

Red Sunset October 30, 2016

October Glory Nov. 1, 2016

Another out of the ordinary consequence of all this non-normal weather is an influx all our “favorite” nursery pests.  Pests for which we typically only see one generation per year, we’re now frequently seeing multiple generations.  Sigh…  One happy consequence though is an increase in the population of our beneficial bugs as well.  We are seeing much higher than usual concentrations of lady bugs, assassin bugs and praying mantis than in years past.  Just this past week, I spotted lady bug nymphs and adults on the same trees; I even spotted a pair of mating lady bugs on the same tree!  At least there is one positive side effect to all this out of cycle behavior!

I read an article recently where the author suggests “we are not in Mayberry anymore”.  He further goes on to say that not only are we not in Mayberry but we may in fact be in the “Twilight Zone”! I don’t know about you, but I wish for a return to some sense of normalcy.  Days when shocking news headlines don’t dominate the internet and television, when shad run on schedule, sharks go back to where they belong and Mother Nature finds her calendar and gets back on schedule!