Is climate change affecting the garden?

By Stephanie Villella
July 16, 2017 - 10:29am Updated: July 17, 2017 - 7:06pm


MEDICINE HAT, AB -- Rapid change in temperature and frequent heat waves are affecting the way Hatters garden.

Typically, the hardiness zone in Medicine Hat is three.

Hardiness zones are a geographically defined area in which a plant life is capable of growing.  Zones are defined by climatic conditions, including its ability to withstand temperatures.  The higher the zone number, the warmer the climate needs to be.

For years, Medicine Hat was only capable of planting zone three plants.  However, due to the warming of the environment, higher zones are surviving here.

"We originally are a zone three then we became zone four," said Mel Deydey, Communications Director with Medicine Hat Horticultural Society.  "And some people are actually pushing the limits and they're trying to grow plants that are zone five or zone six."

He said the zones are changing here because of climate change.

Gardener Corinne Hoffner has zone five plants, like the smoke bush, in her garden that are flourishing. 

She believes they are doing well because of its placement and because of the heat.

"The heat has really taken a toll on it and I think people's water bills are probably going to go up," said Deydey.

For Hoffner, they have, as she has to water her plants every day and fertilize twice a week in order for her plants to survive.

But what is really affecting the garden are the Chinooks said Deydey.

The high temperatures that are sometimes seen in the winter months can make plants think it is spring and will start budding.  However, when temperatures drop again, the buds freeze and die.

"You might have a lot of die back," he said. "I know that there have been winters that people have lost a lot of plants because of the Chinook, freezing, Chinook, freezing." 

Weather plays a big part in gardening and as the climate continues to change, so will the type of plants blooming in Medicine Hat.


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