Climate change impacts the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden | Time

Pine and oak pollens surged recently as the warmest spring air poured into Virginia.

Although it has been a little dry since the start of the year, many gardens are doing well so far this season. Tulips are in full bloom at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Lakeside.

Brian Trader is a professional horticulturist, originally from the East Coast and alumnus of Virginia Tech. Last year, he became President and CEO of the Garden.

Unsurprisingly, he noticed changes in the pollen season over the years in central Virginia.

“We are seeing earlier pollen blasts than we might have had 15 or 20 years ago. But the species that we are suffering from, especially with our sinuses, is pretty much the same species .

He also noticed changes in plant species as Virginia’s climate warmed, especially over the past two decades.

“It’s really hard to know where to start. Plants that were once heard here, but not invasive, are now starting to become problematic. »

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Nandina, commonly known as heavenly bamboo, is one example.

“My grandparents, and maybe their parents, would have planted it as a specimen in their garden. It is not native, but generally the winters were severe enough that it did not spread. But now the nandina is becoming invasive in our area.

Plants that were exclusive to climates warmer than Virginia are also heading north.

“We can get away with growing a few more tropical specimens now. Like figs…we can grow different things that we…maybe 20 years ago…were not able to do.

Pest control also becomes a challenge.






Purple and white tulips in bloom at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, April 13, 2022.


Sean Sublette



“15 or 20 years ago, our winters were severe enough — that is, we would have freezing temperatures for a longer period of time — which would kill insects like ticks. Twenty years ago, you wouldn’t have imagined getting a tick in December. Now, if you go hiking in December, you might find a tick on you.

Adapting and growing the garden for the future remains at the forefront, as Trader wants to be sure it is prepared for the long term.

“We are certainly not looking to plant sugar maples. They won’t thrive here in the heat and humidity now, especially as it gets worse in the near future.


Allergy season in Richmond is getting worse

And if you think the spring pollen season in central Virginia is worse than other parts of the country, you might be onto something.

Despite the challenges, he says their prospects are good. In addition to keeping the garden looking its best, they’re bringing back M&T Bank Butterflies Live! this weekend and until the beginning of October. They also re-emphasize the importance of pollinators, not only for ornamental plants, but also for food crops.

And in the longer term, the Garden is renewing its focus on showcasing the ecological importance of plants native to Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic, particularly for local landscaping.

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