The Science of Observation

We are all aware of climate changes that have taken place during our lifetimes. Phenology is an observational environmental science that tracks the timing of season changes in plants and animals and their relationship with climate. Records have been kept for thousands of years, especially for agricultural crops.

When sunlight, temperatures, and precipitation are predictable for an area, seasonal progression is taken for granted. Yet, a late spring, a severe unexpected drop in temperature or a drought at a vulnerable time can have repercussions that affect multiple species along the food chain. Record keeping can separate one-time blips from serious long-term trends.

As gardeners, we have the opportunity to observe and record data from our own gardens. A simple way to start is to note bloom times for plants that your club includes in its Standard Flower Show schedules. Teaming with other nearby clubs with the same climate can expand the plant list.

For those who would like to be more involved as citizen scientists, opportunities are abound with national and regional organizations and universities. A search using the word phenology will provide thousands of leads.

For more information, contact:
Shirley Nicolai, Chairman: Phenology