One Garden's Climate Struggle (And How To Save Yours) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

One Garden's Climate Struggle (And How To Save Yours)

Play associated audio

At the Hillwood Estate gardens in Washington, D.C., the new norm is: "Expect the unexpected." So says volunteer coordinator Bill Johnson, who has worked on property belonging to the heiress of the Post cereal fortune for 30 years.

Like home gardeners, the horticulturalists and professional gardeners at Hillwood are confronting an unpredictable climate.

"We've been getting mild winters, things start growing sooner, so the bloom time is skewed on everything," Johnson tells NPR's Linda Wertheimer.

So what's a home gardener to do? Johnson says it's likely you have to change plants.

Picking which plants fit your climate is crucial. Your first stop might be the U.S. Department of Agriculture's interactive "hardiness" map to compare the local climate with the plants' needs. (The USDA also has plant care guides to see what those needs are.)

For more on what weather to expect, the National Weather Service has drought predictions for the rest of the summer.

Hillwood garden supervisor Jody Fetzer says the agency has also teamed up with the American Public Gardens Association to help the public — and its gardens — adjust to changes in the climate. To an extent, Fetzer says, these kinds of shifts come with the territory.

"Almost every person out there who's a gardener is a flexible person," she says. "You know, you have to be flexible in body and also in spirit because we know we're at the beck and call of weather."

Many of the plants and flowers at Hillwood are doing well, despite fluctuations in the weather. Fetzer says the weather has even opened opportunities for early blooming.

But less welcome guests have sprung; frequent rain has helped the Dead Man's Fingers fungus grow. Flower leaves must be checked for signs of fungus or bacteria.

In addition to keeping up with the weather, some public gardens are trying to reduce their impact on climate change. The Union of Concerned Scientists has tips on how home gardeners can do their part in sustaining a more "climate-friendly" plot.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

MacArthur Fellow Terrance Hayes: Poems Are Music, Language Our Instrument

Hayes, a professor of writing at the University of Pittsburgh, was recognized for "reflecting on race, gender, and family in works that seamlessly encompass both the historical and the personal."
NPR

Diet Soda May Alter Our Gut Microbes And The Risk Of Diabetes

There's a new wrinkle to the old debate over diet soda: Artificial sweeteners may alter our microbiomes. And for some, this may raise blood sugar levels and set the stage for diabetes.
NPR

House Passes Bill That Authorizes Arming Syrian Rebels

Even though it was backed by both party leaders, the vote split politicians within their own ranks. The final tally on the narrow military measure was 273 to 156.
NPR

3.7 Million Comments Later, Here's Where Net Neutrality Stands

A proposal about how to maintain unfettered access to Internet content drew a bigger public response than any single issue in the Federal Communication Commission's history. What's next?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.