A late-blooming Welsh poppy gave the Cox garden some unexpected colour last month. Photo by Leslie Cox

A late-blooming Welsh poppy gave the Cox garden some unexpected colour last month. Photo by Leslie Cox

DUCHESS OF DIRT: La Nina signs not necessarily steeped in science

LESLIE COX

Special to The Record

I am beginning to think climate change is knocking the predictability of certain weather patterns askew. Case in point: the weather forecast is for a La Nina year.

According to weather scientists, this occurs when summers are dry and winters are cold. Agreed, that fits our weather pattern… a dry summer of bailing our kitchen sink and reclaiming our laundry water for the garden and our first hard frost of -5 C on Oct. 25.

We also had some late-blooming flowers in the fall – the roses and honeysuckle to name but two. And would you believe, we spotted a large dogwood tree in the Oyster River area which was covered in blooms in late August, of all months. Quite the sight to see white flowers at the same time as the red berries.

Speaking of berries, it was a good harvest year judging by the 12 pounds or so of aronia berries from our one shrub and the Amelanchier x grandiflora (serviceberry) was loaded as well. Another sure sign of a La Nina year, apparently. But did not notice that the apple skins were overly tough. Maybe because we were regularly giving some of the bailed water to the espalier apple tree so the apple crop would not suffer unduly.

Other La Nina signs weather forecasters note include: birds migrating early, the width of the rust band on the wooly bear caterpillar, leaves dropping off the tree later in the fall, thicker skins on the onions… the list goes on.

While I cannot comment on the onion skins because we do not grow them in our garden, I can say that I noticed the robins had disappeared around the middle of September. But then they reappeared later in October, just for a couple of weeks or so before disappearing once again.

Not so the hummingbirds in our garden. They are sticking around for yet another winter. Have to check my records but think this must be the fourth or fifth year they have stayed.

Here is a puzzle for you: could the hummingbirds be staying here because of the global warming effects in the garden, or are they acclimatizing to the periodic temperatures reaching -10 C and lower? Certainly, the -12.5 C that I recorded on Dec. 15, 2016, had me frightened for their welfare. And yet they endured. Thankfully.

We were very surprised the chestnut leaves did not all drop off the tree the day after the hard frost in late October, which is the tree’s normal behaviour. Good news for me since it gave me more time to pick up all the nuts before the leaves buried them. And we still have beautiful golden yellow leaves on the birch tree… even after that horrific windstorm and snowfall.

What about the wooly bear caterpillar’s winter prediction? I have seen several of these caterpillars in our garden this fall. Some of them have wide rust bands and some have narrow ones. Is it going to be a cold one or not?

If the raccoon who was foraging for grapes on the arbour the other night is any indication, it could well be a tough, cold winter for many in this La Nina year. Especially since the grapes had been picked clean weeks ago. So sad as the coons never venture up there this late in the year.

With all these variables in weather forecasting now, I just look at the thermometer and check the sky to see how I should dress in the morning. Time to leave the folklore to the “folks” and listen to the science.

Leslie Cox co-owns Growing Concern Cottage Garden in Black Creek. Her website is at www.duchessofdirt.ca

Comox Valleygarden life

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tidal Café owners Blythe and Kurt Reimer (left) and Toscano’s head chef and general manager Tristan Taylor have been sharing deck space to help both businesses during the expanded COVID public health order restrictions that ban indoor dining. Photo by Terry Farrell
Neighbouring Comox restaurants share patios for mutual benefit during COVID restrictions

Two restaurants in Comox are working together to help ease the burden… Continue reading

Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
A little girl’s wish is answered as her cat came back

Courtenay family reunited with cat that went missing in Ucluelet in 2019

John Ludlow is making leis for sale for $20 each, with all proceeds to be donated to the Comox Valley Transition Society. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Celebrating kindness, joy and helping others on Lei Day

Ludlow is making leis for sale with proceeds to be donated to the Comox Valley Transition Society

Cumberland is finalizing its tax rate bylaw for the year, which will see a 4.93 per cent increase. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland moving ahead on 4.93 tax hike

Residential rates’ hike was less than projected during planning stages

The Coastal Fire Centre is looking ahead to the wildfire season on Vancouver Island. (Phil McLachlan – Western News)
Coastal Fire Centre looking ahead at wildfire season on Vancouver Island

‘We’re asking people in the spring to be very careful’

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

A teacher-librarian in Nanaimo was fired in 2019 for checking out an age-inappropriate graphic novel to a student. The discipline agreement was published Wednesday, April 21. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo teacher-librarian fired for checking out too-graphic graphic novel to student

Teacher had been previously disciplined and suspended on two occasions

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus is putting a 41-passenger electric bus through its paces in a three-month trial run between Nanaimo and Victoria. (Photo submitted)
Electric bus on trial run serving Victoria-to-Nanaimo route

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus trying out 41-seat electric coach for three months

There are lots of resources for seniors looking for information about COVID-19. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
COVID questions? Here are some phone-based resources available for seniors

Here is a list of numbers to keep on hand for Vancouver Islanders who aren’t fond of computers

Chum Salmon fry being examined with multiple motile and attached sea lice on Vargas Island. (Cedar Coast Field Station photo)
Study: Tofino fish farm sea lice infestations add fuel to push to remove open pens

Ahousaht First Nation asking for higher standards than what DFO requires

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Most Read