I am trying to get enough of you together to form a new club here. It will be called the Paris Pessimist Club (as opposed to Optimist) and will be open only to you gardeners who have become distraught to the point of dangerous despondence in this Year of Our Lord 2019. 

The talk of global warming cranked up maybe 25 years ago. Most of the voices were from such noodleheads as Greenpeace and others of that ilk. Remember Greenpeace?

They’re the ones who didn’t like what was happening, or thought was happening. They took their frustration out on oil colliers on the high seas and power companies here at home by bombing them or painting graffiti all over everything for working people to clean up. 

I would never take up figurative arms against legitimate businesses, but I have to admit that, after long years, I am warming up (no pun intended) to the global warming theory. 

Take the current year. Now, a year is but a twinkling of an eye in the grand scheme of things, but who can ignore several years of world temperatures creeping up and up?

Yes, West Tennessee  and Henry County are but specks on the global scene, but something’s going on, and not just here. 

After a winter and spring of much-above-rainfall here, the tap was closed in July and since then we have cooked under broiling skies with only a fraction of average rain.

When daily temperatures hover in the 90-degree range, evaporation of ground moisture is far swifter than if the temperatures were in the 60s.

That can be proven by the weather situation in England and much of Europe, where annual average rainfall may be only half what it is here, yet droughts there are milder and have little effect for weeks and weeks because of the cool and damp climate. 

September here was the hottest in recorded history, and October, the golden month of the outdoors, was ushered in with record temperatures also, resulting in October’s designation being changed to the brown month of the outdoors.

Numerous record high temperatures were recorded in most of Tennessee during September and early October.

There is nothing more agonizing to an ardent gardener or farmer than to see the slow, torturous effect water starvation has on a potential crop of say, zinnias or late soybeans.

For the ornamental gardener, the torture continues even into woody plants and herbaceous perennials if the drought drags on, which indeed it has and does. 

Just take a look around the countryside and here in town. In view from our living room are several large mature trees whose leaves are totally brown. They may defoliate early and save themselves from an early death, but it is problematic. 

Until a couple of weeks ago, our rain gauge had read only one fourth of an inch since the first week in August, and then it was only a half-inch. 

In 60 days or more, the total therefore had been three quarters. That is desert conditions. 

Just about the worst weather year I can remember, off hand (pessimists remember bad things), was 2007. 

A devastating freeze at about 20 degrees occurred on Easter morning that year, rendering Japanese maples and crape myrtles, among others, dead as a doornail. A wet summer would have helped, but it wasn’t wet, with yet another drought offering further mayhem to said woody plants. 

A very small plot can be succored with a hand-held hose. Four acres cannot. I’ve just got too dang much stuff and a lot of it has been going to the Great Chipper Truck in the Sky.



One thing that will surely make an optimist out of you, despite trouble all around, is planting of spring bulbs.

For the second year, the annual bulb sale at the Rhea Public Library, from Monday through Oct. 26, will give you a chance to buy quality bulbs at excellent prices, with proceeds going to a good cause. 

And it’s right here at optimum planting time for daffodils, narcissus, “buttercups” and related spring flowering bulbs. You can’t go wrong with them, and they will be around for the rest of your life.

Just put the little brown bulbs into the ground in fall and they will burst forth in bloom next spring. Get there early. Last year’s sold out.


JIMMY WILLIAMS is the garden writer for The Post-Intelligencer, where he can be contacted on Monday mornings at 642-1162.

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