As I mentioned in an earlier post, I spent most of last week at the Mid-Atlantic Horticultural Short Course, which is an annual event sponsored by the Virginia Horticultural Foundation. I think that this might have been my 15th time, and it was probably one of the best. There were many currents running through this years schedule. Among them was the battle of the natives versus the exotics which is not a new issue, but it sure was prominent this year. I am not a gung-ho, natives only advocate; I think there can be a balance between what is native, and what is not. You have to consider the plant and if it is appropriate. I have a "the more the merrier" attitude in my own garden, which includes natives and exotics. Another current I noticed was that the green industry is finally taking going green seriously. For a long time, certain elements in the business of horticultural have been behind other sectors in their efforts to make environmentally sound decisions, when in fact we should be leading the way.
On Wednesday one of the last speakers was Todd Forrest of the New York Botanic Garden and he spoke about gardening in a changing climate. This was a pretty alarming talk about global warming and its impact of horitculture. He had a collection of scary graphs, charts and images displaying temperature changes past and in the future and what some possible consequences could be. One showed the slow steady march of southern tree species like River Birch, Pin Oak and Sweetgum into New England as other trees retreated into Canada. The image I found most alarming was one in which he superimposed a map of New York city ontop of the area of the east coast whose climate it could most resemble over the course of the next 90 years. In the best-case scenario, given we make real progress slowing climate change, New York could have a climate similar to what we now have in Virginia. In the worst-case scenario where little progress is made, New York could, by the end of the century, have a climate similar to today's Charleston SC. I guess by then that gardeners in Virginia will be able to grow the Bismark Palms I have long had zone envy for. If you would like to see the same presentation, you can click here and look for the .pdf file marked "Download the Proceedings", but please don't blame me if you have nightmares.