3810 Whites Creek Pike, Nashville, TN 37207 (615) 876-1014

Archive date:  September 23, 2010

Autumnal Equinox arrives…or does it?

We're not resting on our laurels . . .

Since today is the first full day of fall, I thought it would be a good time to discuss what our seasonal changes mean. This is the time of year where we Northern Hemispheroids (or is it hemispherians?) experience the autumnal equinox. Equinox is a word of Latin derivation meaning equal night. In the spring we experience the vernal equinox. Of course, if you lived in the southern hemisphere, these terms (and seasons) are reversed. 

I have incorrectly believed that these terms were literal, that there in fact existed two days of the year, one in the spring and one in the fall, where every place on earth gets exactly the same amount of day length. This is not so. Since the earth is a large round ball, it takes light a bit longer to arrive at the Polar Regions than is does at the equator. There is also a phenomenon known as “atmospheric refraction” in which the atmosphere bends the light and changes the day length. Due to this effect, our day length is some six-and-one-half minutes longer than it would be if we had no atmosphere. And if we had no atmosphere, well, I probably wouldn’t be writing this.

Long story short, our actual “equinox” is Sunday, September 26, since we live at roughly 40 degrees latitude. For many of our plants, the changes in day length are just as profound as changes in season. Photoperiodic flowering plants are classified as long-day plants or short-day plants; this is actually governed by hours of darkness, not the length of the day as the name might suggest. Some examples of “long-day” bloomers in your garden are dianthus and bellflower. Conversely, you likely have “short-day” flowering plants such as Chrysanthemums and strawberries.

Occasionally light pollution can interfere with the normal flowering times of plants. This is an often overlooked fact when diagnosing why a certain plant in your garden doesn’t flower properly. Street lights and security lighting are the usual culprits. There are those too that are unaffected by day length, such as roses and tomatoes. These plants will continue to flower as long as temperatures allow.

Serious gardeners never rest on their laurels, they can’t afford to. Gardening is a passion that flows like the seasonal changes; regardless of the time of year, there are always tasks that need attention. Perhaps working on your laurels is the answer. The laurels I speak of now have nothing to do with past accomplishments. I am referring to the laurels of your landscape, the actual plants. If your laurels are lacking in either quantity or quality, we have a great deal for you. All laurels in stock (and we have an extensive selection) including: Otto Luyken, Schip, Etna, Bright ‘n Tight, and English laurels will be on Sale at 20% off Friday September 24th through the end of the month, while current supplies last. Rest beside your laurels after you have planted them, if you like, but don’t rest until you come out and take advantage of this great deal! All laurels are 20% off through Thursday September 30. This special deal is just for you, our BatesRewards members. Remember too, our special pricing continues on Gold Standard Fescue through the end of October!

We have received many more shipments this week, come on out and see us, we look forward to helping you make your gardening efforts their best. We still have free iced bottled water, also!

David Bates