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The Gardener’s Guide to Weather and Climate

New Book
by Timberpress
June 14, 2015

If you were to gather a group of gardeners from the four corners of the earth and put them together in a room, I guarantee you that within five minutes, they’d be talking about the weather. No, not just talking—complaining. It’s what we gardeners do. And we don’t just complain—we love to play “Can You Top This?” “We haven’t had rain in three months.” “Well, we haven’t had any rain in four months, and before that we had hailstones the size of golf balls.” “Oh yeah? We had six months of drought followed by tornadoes, floods, dust storms, and a typhoon.”

The funny thing is, as much as we love to lament the outrages and fickleness of the weather, most of us don’t really know a lot about how it works. Which is why it would behoove the complainers among us to sit down with Michael Allaby’s new book, The Gardener’s Guide to Weather and Climate.

To start off, do you know the difference between weather and climate? Here it is: “Weather is not the same thing as climate. Climate describes the average weather conditions at a particular place over many years.” Got it?

From there, Allaby launches into detailed yet accessible discussions of how solar exposure, the tilt of the earth’s axis, and the movement of wind and water all combine to produce what we call weather. Along the way we learn why the tropics are wet and deserts are dry; why vast stretches of the Northern Hemisphere are blanketed with coniferous forest; why the jet stream wanders; and hundreds of other fascinating facts. In later chapters, Allaby explains how the interactions between soil, plants, and climate affect what we can reasonably expect to grow in our gardens. And in the concluding chapter, Allaby talks about the measures that gardeners can take to mitigate the effects of harsh weather.

No, we can’t really do anything about the weather, but understanding it a bit better will enable us to garden with, rather than against, the weather. Of course, we’ll still complain. But we’ll be wonderfully well-informed complainers.

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