Wednesday, March 12, 2014

R is for Reflective Heat

So, I go all over the place giving funny gardening speeches. In one of the presentations I give, I talk about reflective heat and I try to cover what reflective heat can do, but in a quick funny way. I admit to the crowd that NOW would be a great time to go to the bathroom. Because when I get sciencey, I get tripped up.
So WHY am I gonna tackle reflective heat in my blog?
Because I have visual evidence that will help me with the point I'm trying to make. So if you could please NOT go to the bathroom for the next 120 seconds that would kinda rock. Thanks.

Ok, in my presentation I start out by talking about reflective heat as it applies to trees, you know, sun scald on trunks. My visual for the crowd is a sun scalded tree. This is caused when a dormant tree gets all heated up during the day, it thinks its spring and juices get grooving' and then night time comes and all temperatures fall to shit and the tree just can't handle that drama. I liken it to how potholes are caused, all that freeze/thaw, freeze/thaw.
No one ever laughs at that.

Then I go on and on about how our houses, hardscapes and what-have-you can soak up heat from the sun all day and continue to emit that heat long after the sun has gone down. At my house, this has caused a sensational microclimate that I can pretty much keep rosemary going all winter (unless it's THIS winter).

So, along the foundation where the snow is melting, in that corner, is the sweet spot. Between the wall, the darkish paint and the Arborvitae* I not only create a somewhat protected spot, but it's warmer there too. If I didn't already know because the plants in that spot make their appearance, literally, a month before their friends, I'd know it because the snow melts there first. That's reflective heat.

Have you gone to the bathroom yet?
Terrif.

So, if you wanted to use this little exercise to help you with figuring out where reflective heat comes into play on your property, look for where the snow has melted away**. Now, the snow could have melted because you have reflective heat, or it could be windy as @#%$ in that location, or it could be under something that prevented much snowfall from the get go. But in the case of these stairs, I thought it was tres interesante how the snow melt happened on one side and not the other.
That's because of how the sun hits. Oh, you have to keep in mind that the Earth revolves around the sun and that's a pretty constant thing. So this is always changing.

Ok, so you've noticed a pattern. You have areas of reflective heat. SO WHAT? Well...

  • You can use these areas as microclimates to grow things a zone out of everyone else's reach, for me that's Cardoon, unmulched Canna and Dahlias that I want to hurry up.
  • These areas may require a lot more watering, so you may want to plant tougher, more drought tolerant crap in there
  • Plants can experience that freeze/thaw, freeze/thaw in these spots, of shizzle
  • Places where the snow never melts until May? You betcher dupa that's probably a full shade area
  • You might start thinking that hardscaping is total BS and start rethinking that
You may now tinkle. 
Thank you. 


**I took these photos 2 days ago, we are now under a BRAND NEW thick blanket of snow.

*Forgive the crunchy Arborvitae. There was a trellis built way too close to it that was there for way too long.