This recent stretch of balmy weather is very unseasonal — 70 degrees today? Muggy with a side of shorts in FEBRUARY? Climate scientists tell the Atlantic that due to "human-caused climate change, spring is happening about 2.5 days earlier every decade," and plants are blooming "earlier and earlier every year." As the earth burns, we wondered how its plant life is holding up, and reached out to a couple local experts to check in.
The New York Botanical Garden, which shared these recent flower photos with us, "is not worried about this stretch of unseasonably warm weather," according to Brian Sullivan, Vice President for Gardens, Landscape and Outdoor Collections at the New York Botanical Garden. "We've been enjoying late winter flowers, for example, witch hazels and snowdrops, which are having a great year," Sullivan told us. "We are also seeing some early spring flowers, such as daffodils and crocuses."
If we do get winter temperatures now, however, Sullivan says, "we might lose some of those open flowers or see some damage to the foliage tips. But we'd still expect to see a wide variety of flowers across the landscape in April and May."
Melanie Sifton, the Vice President of Horticulture at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, said that some of its plants are in an earlier-than-typical bloom now, like the Prunus subhirtella 'Autumnalis'—a.k.a. the cherry tree (this one blooms in both the fall and early spring). Sifton added, "Overall, it may be too soon to say if this will have any damage to the plants or if these will lead to an earlier spring bloom than is typical."
Maybe one day we'll have palm trees in NYC, or at least whatever's left of it that isn't underwater. In the meantime, down in D.C. they may be seeing a cherry blossoms peak in two weeks—the earliest cherry blossom bloom on record!
— Peter Gleick (@PeterGleick) March 1, 2017