Santa better be wearing his breathable cotton suit tonight, because it's been very warm this week. The warmth has meant that blooming flowers are making an early appearance at the New York Botanical Garden.
The NYBG says, "Visitors can see hellebores, cherry trees, camellias, viburnums, and winter blooming jasmine, just to name a few." But while they are very beautiful, it seems alarming, so we asked Todd Forrest, the Arthur Ross Vice President for Horticulture and Living Collections, if he was worried. Forrest replied:
We have a variety of plants that are pushing growth or flowering. We are concerned by a few things, but we are also seasoned gardeners who have seen this sort of thing before (2006, I believe most recently).
What concerns us:
1) Any flower that is open now, will not be open this spring.
2) Any growth that pushes now will be damaged or destroyed when winter actually comes, which it will. This will be an added stress on top of the drought and heat of last summer. We would expect an increase in damage from secondary pathogens (insects and disease) in some cases.
3) Winter weather is good for killing pests of plants. Extended warmth in fall and winter gives pests additional opportunity to attack our plants.
So we are concerned, but our gardeners will be primed and ready to do everything we can to take the best possible care of our plants now and into the future so that visitors to the Garden will be completely unaware of the impacts of this unseasonable weather.
The NYBG is open today, closed on Christmas and reopens on December 26. The wonderful holiday train show—it's really fun—is open through January 18.