Field of Science

April showers bring floods

This April nearly concluded will go down in the record books as the rainiest April in over 50 years. Rainy also means cloudy, and cloudy also means cool, and this translates into general depression and miserable field conditions. Early spring perennials do well in this type of weather as do early plantings of trees and shrubs, and any transplantings, if you could find a day or two without rain to garden. And of course April is windy. That's spring here in the upper midwest. But it is without question that such weather slows down growth and flowering, so many flowering events in our gardens are running 7 to 20 days behind last year. While the mild winter and late spring means that some shrubs have burst forth with some amazing flowering displays, for example, our tulip-flowered magnolia, but unfortunately rain and wind have then conspired to fore shorten their longevity. Nature gives and nature takes away, so you enjoy them while you can. The weather is affecting migratory species too, and several avian visitors usually seen April have yet to arrive. Maybe they're taking Amtrak. As a natural consequence of flood plain levees and rain up here, down stream, especially where the Missouri, Illinois, and Ohio join the Mississippi, it floods. It always has, but without wide flood plains to spread the water out, and wet lands to absorb, reduce, and slow down the flow, the flooding tends to be sudden and catastrophic. This part of it is man made, and right now decisions are being made whether to flood farm lands or cities, but neither one should be there without being ready to deal with the consequences. Guess we can look forward to May flowers.

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