Project BudBurst: How I Can Help Scientists Study Climate Change

seedlings formated1 300x298 Project BudBurst: How I Can Help Scientists Study Climate ChangeLast week I was watching the evening news, and saw more huge ice shelves dropping off glaciers in Canada, and was again hit with just how common this phenomenon is becoming.  How many times in even just the past two years have we seen these dramatic events unfold on national TV, showing us just how drastically things are changing in the world around us, whether or not we can feel the change in our own neighborhood yet?

Hindsight being 20/20, I’m sure I’m not the only person who laments the fact that I didn’t understand the philosophy and science of unnatural climate change until a few years ago. I’m not always sure if I believe that this wave of climate change is solely the result of human irresponsibility, but I’m sure that it factors in. Sure, there are things I would have done better in the past, to reduce my carbon footprint, and give back to my local ecosystem, but with the past firmly behind us, I went looking for a way that I could make a difference using my own gifts, and interests, and found a great way that I can help scientists monitor the changing climate by sharing with them what is going on in my own garden.

Project Budburst,” is an national online database thus far only available in the USA, that allows registered volunteers to document one, or many trees, flowers or shrubs in their local area.  The purpose of the site is to feed bloom, leaf, and dormancy times across the United States into a form usable by climate change scientists, who can then use the data to monitor changes in natural plant life cycles, and any changes in pollinator activity as related to changing global temperatures. The hope is that by by monitoring these plants beginning now, scientists will have a better idea of how to plant for the future, if and when more issues related to climate change impact the crops and environments we rely on.  The website is run by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, with support and funding from several government agencies, including the National Science Foundation.

There are large lists of targeted plants that scientists want specific data on, organized by state, that can be chosen by volunteers to document. I chose to monitor my own Forsythia bush in the front yard of my house, since I will walk by it everyday to and from work. Documenting the obvious will be easier for me than trying to monitor the many plants at work, where I will be bogged down by other concerns during the day.  I’m planning to monitor the plant for the next year, and log in to the “Project Budburst” database to share the dates I find for things like “leaf out,” “budding,” blooming,” etc.

The thing I like about this project, is that it allows me to feel like my yard is that much more useful, since I can assist in the scientific research that climatologists can’t collect on their own, and I can log in to see what other people’s findings are across the nation.  The reason I wanted to share this project with you is because any green minded person can find a garden plant, or urban street tree to monitor, and can help in some capacity these climatologists in their study of changing global patterns.

What do you think: What are your thoughts on “Project Budburst?”  Would you ever volunteer to assist in a climatology study, or do you think the data these groups collect are ”too little too late?”

Saying Goodbye to My Summer Favorite: Coneflower

container idea mile a minute trees and shrubs 005 225x300 Saying Goodbye to My Summer Favorite: Coneflower

Summer is almost officially over, but the heat is still here.  Although fall is my hands down favorite season, it means that my favorite garden flower, the Purple Coneflower, will be on it’s way “out” soon.  I’ve been trimming back my cluster of the pink and purple blooms a lot these past two weeks, in the hopes that I can coax another wave or two of flowers forth, before they begin to go dormant.

This year I went a little crazy with my  Coneflowers, dividing the clumps in early June after they had only been established for one year, and probably could have benefited from another year to plump up more.  Luckily, the native plants seem almost unkillable in my yard, bouncing back from one issue after another and thriving just the same.  They are an ever popular plant with the butterfly, bee, and Goldfinch crowd, who I attempt to lure into my city garden every year, with great success.  How wildlife finds my yard, sandwiched like it is between Industrial buildings, and interstate 95 in a busy city, I’ll never understand, but I am always glad they make the trip to find me!

This past spring, the groundhog that lives under my back porch kicked off the growing season by foraging through my Coneflowers and eating them back almost to the ground, which posed a challenge to my goal of 2008 to “live and let live” in my yard.  After weighing my options, and the ethics of dragging the “hog” out from under my proch, rubbing his nose in what was left of my flowers, and punting his squeaky behind across the Daylilly bed, I optcontainer idea mile a minute trees and shrubs 006 225x300 Saying Goodbye to My Summer Favorite: Coneflowered to take the heigher road, if only to save my neighbors from the spectacle that would have been! “Confucious,” as I have named the animal, luckily pondered the errors of his ways, and has left my favorite plant untouched in the past months, leaving me plenty of flowers for summer arrangements.  He taught me a valuable lesson about Purple Coneflowers though, since his overzealous spring pruning trained the plants to grow to half their usual height, and produce prolific blooms that were mostly hidden under larger flowers and shrubs.

I’m looking forward to next years batch though already, and in the coming weeks I will be able to move the conflowers in my pot designs there into reforestation areas on the property I manage, where the native plant will hopefully thrive, and prove to be useful for the wildlife there.  If the animals I plant the Coneflowers for are even half as appreicative of the early spring foliage as “Confucious” was, I will be expecting Thank You notes on “Smokey the Bear” stationary some time next May.

Your thoughts: Do you have a favorite summer flower or plant that you are going to miss?

Mailbox Garden Idea #2: Triangular Garden for Amazing Curb Appeal

img 0285 225x300 Mailbox Garden Idea #2: Triangular Garden for Amazing Curb AppealFor the sunny garden location that you don’t want to have to “baby” with lots of water and time spent weeding, try this great plan for an easy-care mailbox garden bed that will also add some impressive curb appeal!

This bed was designed with a 90 degree triangle shape, with the mailbox snug in the “bottom” corner, between the curb and the driveway. The two sides of this triangle that make up the right angle, are planted with five evenly spaced clumps of Variegated Liriope, right at the curb, and driveway line. The middle section depth is filled with bright Black Eyed Susans for summer and fall color. The back row (farthest from the street), running the length of the final line in our triangle, is filled with a row of Dwarf Fountain Grass, or what some call “Foxtail Fountain Grass.” All of these plants are hardy perennials that will self seed, and spread on their own accord.  They each do very well with minimal watering, and the Black Eyed Susans are a terrific native plant that not only bloom from summer to fall, but also attracts Goldfinches, who feed on the dried flower heads.

For those who prefer a visual aide, I’ve also prepared a visual layout of this garden to help you plan a garden of your own!

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