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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Trying to Adjust to My Own Climate Change

No matter what your opinion about global warming, I am struggling with my own private climate change. I am having trouble adjusting from Zone 8 Portland/Eugene, Oregon to Zone 8 Austin, Texas. It is hard to believe they are in the same USDA climate zone, but then it is hard to believe that I would ever leave the Northwest. Change. It happens.

The frozen pipes this winter in Austin and the brief heat of a Willamette Valley summer attest that the temperature variation is the same. The constant drizzle of the “Oregon Mist” as we natives call it adds up to the same inches of rain we have in Austin. Of course in Texas, it falls in three days – if it ever does. An exaggeration of course, but the deluge of water that falls out of the sky in Austin has no resemblance to the misty wetness of Oregon.

I suppose I could get used to the difference, but what really floors me is what is going on out in my garden. Please, someone explain. I have apple trees blooming, sugar snap peas coming on…and ripe eggplant. Huh? Eggplant? Okay, maybe I got a hold of some super early variety of Ichiban eggplant. Maybe the description “thrives in the heat of summer” means some other summer. That’s it.

But wait. The strawberries have just finished up, I have green tomatoes and peppers, I’ve started digging potatoes, and the blackberries are starting to ripen? Hold on there a minute little missy. Something is definitely up. These warm spring days (in the 80’s and 90’s now) have driven my plants to mature very quickly. I tour the garden every day and just shake my head at the wonder of it. Let’s see, what kind of meal can I make out of potatoes, snap peas, chard, broccoli and, oh geez, the garlic is nearly ready. STIR FRY!

I turn back to my apple trees. They are just now putting out leaves and a few blossoms are starting to show. It’s April after all, and it’s that time of year to show a little color. I guess I’m not the only northerner having issues!


  1. I was looking at photos of Olympia National Park and saw some amazing flowers - flowers that if i could, at one point have grown them, I would be heartbroken that I couldn't grow them here.

  2. The Olympics are amazing. Standing up on Hurricane Ridge is one of my all-time favorite hikes. Since it's a rain forest, it definitely has some different plant life than most of the country, even different from nearby Seattle!

  3. I made the move last summer from Austin to Eugene ( your experience backwards!), and while I love love love Oregon, for a gardener, the different conditions take a lot of getting used to! All my alkaline soil, hot climate, xeric knowledge is completely useless here.
    Being on "Texas time", it has nearly killed me to wait until Mother's Day to plant tomatoes. BIG learning curve ahead!

  4. Oh geez, that is a huge change. I'll be interested to see how you handle the gray weather. Sometimes it seems that spring will never come. But it is a glorious place, the mountains are amazing and I hope you get a chance to hike up around the McKenzie River. Try to visit Crater Lake too. Have you been to the coast yet? The Oregon coast is completely different from the Gulf. Have fun exploring!