Gardeners watch for "global weirding"

August 5, 2008 7:05:31 AM PDT
Gardeners across Illinois are keeping watch on their plants for an early bloom or a late-falling leaf that may be a result of climate change.One of them is educator Tom Koulentes of Highland Park, who is recording his garden's natural history, from the weigela's first leaf to the butterfly bush's last bloom, for Project BudBurst.

With only a handful of researchers studying plants to chronicle global warming, BudBurst taps millions of gardeners to supplement the efforts of the trained scholars.

Participants in BudBurst monitor one or more plants, native or non-native, throughout the growing season. They record and report the dates of events such as the first flower or first seed.

Kay Havens of the Chicago Botanic Garden says there is no way scientists alone could obtain data on the effects of climate change being collected by local gardeners.