December 10, 2017 – Snow Leaves and Ponzetters

Climate change or weather anomalies?

I received an email from meteorologist Rick DiMaio, who passed along two articles that more or less highlight the state of climate variability in the world today. The first is about another round of devastating fires in California, this time near America’s second largest city, Los Angeles. Here’s a map that he attached:

As you can see, some areas around L.A. have had less than 5% of their average rainfall in the past six months. No wonder the area is going up in flames.

Rick also wrote “Excellent overview on The Year In Climate……and what a year it has been!” and he added a link to a story in the New York Times called  2017: The Year in Climate.

This is actually an overview of a number of stories that the NYT printed this year. Among them is something that appeared on September 19 with the headline, Climate Change Is Complex. We’ve Got Answers to Your Questions.


Here’s one of the questions and its answer:

4. Is recent crazy weather tied to climate change?

Some of it is.

Scientists have published strong evidence that the warming climate is making heat waves more frequent and intense. It is also causing heavier rainstorms, and coastal flooding is getting worse as the oceans rise because of human emissions. Global warming has intensified droughts in regions like the Middle East, and it may have strengthened a recent drought in California.

In many other cases, though — hurricanes, for example — the linkage to global warming for particular trends is uncertain or disputed. Scientists are gradually improving their understanding as computer analyses of the climate grow more powerful.

But what about the strange Midwest weather–the abnormally cool October followed by the strangely warm November? And what about the way the local trees have been reluctant to drop their often still-green leaves this fall? What’s that all about? Peggy and I have mentioned it on the show in the past few weeks, and then I saw this column by Bert Constable in The Daily Herald:

“We are getting those calls: ‘Why are the leaves still on my tree?'” says Doris Taylor, veteran plant clinic manager for the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. “We get one or two a day.”

The short answer is, “Nature is messing with us,” Taylor says. But, as is the case with trees, we get a better picture if we go back to the root of the issue.

“We’re going to go all the way back to spring,” Taylor says. Our wet spring gave trees lots of leaf growth, producing lush trees for the summer.

Then came “undulating temperatures,” a dry August and September, and some wet and warm periods through October and November.

“For two to four months, we were doing all this up and down,” Taylor says, explaining how the trees react to whatever the weather brings them. “We’ve just sort of jacked them around since August.”

Well, that answered some of my questions, but not all of them. So I decided to give Doris Taylor from the Morton Arboretum a call. I’ve known her for about twenty years and have interviewed her many times on the various incarnations of my radio show. She joins us this morning, and in addition to the answer to the weird tree leaf issue, Doris says that the arboretum has a lot of great info for winter tree care, including

And, especially for this time of year,

Speaking of Christmas trees and other holiday plants…

For the second straight year, we welcome the good folks at Lurvey Garden Center, 2550 Dempster Street in Des Plaines, to The Mike Nowak Show to talk about care of those holiday plants that you buy for yourself and that sometimes end up in your home as gifts from friends and loved ones.

Of course, the simple goal is to keep them thriving, which is why we have horticulturist Kate Green on the show with us this morning. While the Christmas tree is probably the most iconic holiday plants, it’s generally not one that you intend to keep alive, since it has been severed from its roots. That takes us to the number two iconic plant, which is the poinsettia.

Speaking of that, WTTW’s Chicago Tonight has a informative story about how to care for poinsettias, and even dares to have a poll about the proper way to pronounce the plant’s name. Personally, I always go with “ponzetter.” Just sayin’.

Of course, there are many other plants can land in your living room, including amaryllis, Christmas cactus and more, and we’ll get as many growing tips as we can cram into a couple of short radio segments.

Meanwhile, we encourage you to stop by the magnificent Lurvey Center in Des Plaines, and to take advantage of their remaining holiday events, all part of their Embrace the Season campaign. Those events include the Holiday Centerpiece Workshop at 10am on Saturday, December 16 and campfire, cookies and carolers from 11am to 1pm on the same day.