Gardening Etcetera: Climate Change and the Backyard Gardener

Author: Lynne Nemeth | Published: May 19, 2018

As a gardener, naturalist, and Director of The Arboretum, I pay close attention to weather and water, particularly since we live in the arid southwest. During the entire 12 years my husband and I have lived here, Arizona has been in drought. Yes, we’ve had some wetter winters and monsoons, but overall, our state has suffered for 21 years. It’s warmer now, too. While I know that 12 years (or even 21 years) of weather observation doesn’t constitute a climatic trend, we are indeed experiencing the effects of climate change. Trees and flowers are leafing out and blooming earlier and earlier, potentially disrupting life cycles of pollinators, birds, and other wildlife species. And animals are moving northward. Whoever thought we’d see denizens of the desert, javelina and coati, in Flagstaff?

We at The Arboretum face climate change issues every day. Irrigation needs, wildfire danger, and endangered plant survival are top of mind. We’ve developed climate science curricula, and host an outdoor interactive Climate Change Center and phenology garden. We are also involved in the Northern Arizona Climate Change Alliance, and offer talks about our changing landscape through that organization.