Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Something New to Do With Your Lilacs

In my opinion, every home gardener should join the USA National Phenology Network. What's that, you ask? The teacher in me wants to say "go to the website and find out," but I'll say something about it here. USA NPN is an organization that, among other things, is collecting data on plant phenology from citizen scientists. According to the site, "phenology is the study of recurring plant and animal life cycle stages, or phenophases, such as leafing and flowering of plants..."

Why are they doing this? To monitor changes possibly caused by global warming (or climate change, global weirding or climate disruption, as others call it). What you do is pick a plant or two from their list of over 200 species, observe it daily or weekly to record leafing out and blooming dates, and enter your data at the site on an incredibly simple-to-use form. Do this and you have just become a citizen scientist doing your part to study the effects of climate change.

Two lilacs happen to squat at the back of my yard next to the compost heap, overlooking the raspberries, rhubarb, oregano, and beebalm. It's high time they worked for their keep! So out I toddle on a fine, early spring day such as this one (sun and 58 degrees) and check them out. Today there were no leaves (late winter budstage), but there'll definitely be action within three days, with the weather this warm. On the way back I greet a red squirrel who is up on hind legs like a meercat facing the sun. Then indoors, about one minute on the computer, and I feel I've done the ecosystem a small good deed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think your lilacs are a good choice. They signal their changes pretty visibly, and getting near their lovely scent is a good thing for any reason.
MRG