Wednesday 20 September 2017

Glorious growth gladdens gardeners' hearts

Golden brown: A classic autumn scene, but October was remarkably warm and extremely dry with every garden and woodland boasting trees in full colour. Inset right, our keen green-fingered columnist Gerry Daly
Golden brown: A classic autumn scene, but October was remarkably warm and extremely dry with every garden and woodland boasting trees in full colour. Inset right, our keen green-fingered columnist Gerry Daly
Gerry Daly
Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

Gardening guru Gerry Daly reckons that in 1,000 years, when dendrochronologists (those who study the rings of trees) make their observations, they may be puzzled to see a big, fat ring equating to glorious growth in 2016.

As the year draws to a close, Gerry believes that this will go down as a stellar 12 months for gardeners, with astonishing fecundity brought about by perfect growing conditions - especially for shrubs and trees.

"The overall weather stats may say that this was an average year but for gardeners it was a phenomenal 12 months, especially for trees, and shrubs like hydrangea that love moisture," the Sunday Independent garden columnist said.

"While the amount of rain and temperatures might add up to normal, that does not take account of the timing and pattern of delivery of excellent growing conditions to garden plants.

"Strangely, trees began to colour their leaves earlier than usual, some in August, and many in September, but growth continued despite the early colouring.

"October was drier and remarkably warm and tree growth never let up. The colouring of autumn leaves was outstanding this year."

Gerry added that, like everyone else, he was entranced by the New England-style fall with every garden and woodland boasting trees in full colour.

"Even this month and the last week of the year there are still yellow leaves on some birches and green leaves on alder," he said.

It has been a strange year, with an extremely mild winter so far - though there are still another three months of "winter" weather to go. 2016 began wet and wild with Dublin Airport having its wettest January since 1948 and Cork not much better. However, temperatures were above normal, though Storm Gertrude brought the month to a close with severe gales.

February: Wet and cool everywhere. Newport, in Co Mayo, was the wettest place in the country, with 56.2mm falling in a single day (9th). In Mullingar, Co Westmeath, on February 24 the air temperature reached minus 5.9C. Two named storms struck, Henry and Imogen.

March: Cool and, except for a few isolated spots in the west, unusually dry. It was the sunniest March in six years at Knock Airport. Another storm, Jake, hit on the second day of the month but we escaped the worst of Storm Katie.

April: Casement Aerodrome, in Dublin, had its coolest April in 27 years and it was a mixture of days of very heavy rain around the country interspersed with plenty of dry days. Average rainfall was actually above average but that was down to a spectacularly heavy rainfall on the 11th, when half a month of rain fell in one day.

May: It warmed up. Temperatures all over the country were above normal and some western areas had their driest May in six years. There was only one day with gale-force winds (4th).

June: Was it really this good in midsummer? The stats say temperatures were above normal and Belmullet, Co Mayo, had its warmest June on record since the station opened in 1956. Most areas had at least three weeks of bright weather.

July: A mixed month. Around two-thirds of weather stations recorded monthly temperatures at, or just below, normal. Stand up, Co Roscommon, as you enjoyed the warmest day of the year anywhere, with 30.4C recorded at Mount Dillon on July 19.

August: This month was mild, wet and windy. Sherkin Island, Co Cork, had its wettest August day on the first day of the month with 57.9mm (just over two inches) falling in 24 hours. Some stations in the west reported their windiest August conditions for a decade.

September: It was another unseasonably mild month, and the wettest September in a decade at Valentia, Co Kerry, and Cork Airport. It rained for 26 days in Newport. The mildest September in a decade meant growing conditions were fantastic.

October: Extremely dry everywhere and temperatures above average, peaking at 18.3C in Shannon, Co Clare, on the 5th.

November: Cold but very dry with some stations in the southern half of the country reporting their driest November for 12 years. Generally, it was colder than usual.

December: We should escape Storm Barbara but it will be a wet and breezy Christmas Day and colder on St Stephen's Day.

Sunday Independent

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