with the Ladue Garden Club
Recent Floods Spring rainfall that caused ﬂooding in the St Louis region prompted a look at recent weather records. It seems like we have had a lot of rain in recent springs and the records from the National Weather Service conﬁrmed this hunch.
On average, St Louis receives approximately 43” of rain per year. In the past 10 years we have mostly been above average for yearly rainfall:
We don’t have the data in for all of 2017, but April was the wettest month on record in St Louis with almost 10” of rain in 1 month. We are also seeing unusual ﬂuctuations in temperatures. After a relatively mild winter, we had a series of very cold days and nights in March which were followed by above average temperatures in April. In terms of warmest years on record (data goes back to 1885), 7 of the warmest 20 years were: 2012, 2016, 2015, 2011, 2006, 2010, and 2005. The average daily temperature ranged from 61.2 degrees in 2012 to 58 degrees in 2005. Weather extremes put environmental stress on plants.
What can we do in our gardens to help our plants weather these extremes:
1. Right Plant, Right Place - Read plant labels for information on sun and moisture needs. Use the Missouri Botanical Garden website for detailed plant information (mobot.org). Consult garden experts at local nurseries. Know the prevailing conditions in your garden.
2. Plant a diverse range of trees, shrubs, and perennials. Biodiversity in your garden is like buying a plant insurance plan and improves the sustainability of your landscape.
3. Think about the importance of layers in your garden: canopy, understory, and ground layers. Each layer is integrated with the other and provides a balance in our ecosystems. Doug Tallamy and Rick Darke give excellent examples in their book The Living Landscape.
4. Use native plants wherever possible as they are better suited to withstand the vagaries of weather extremes.
More information about the effects of climate change in Missouri in the EPA's Report, https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-09/documents/climate-change-mo.pdf and the University of Missouri's report, http://climate.missouri.edu/.
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