"Forecasts of up to a week in advance are about seventy percent likely to be true," writes Peter Wohlleben (The Hidden Life of Trees) in his fascinating look at the natural world, The Weather Detective: Rediscovering Nature's Secret Signs. But that 30% of uncertainty can wreak havoc on a garden. Luckily, he continues, we can learn to make weather predictions ourselves that are often at least as--if not more--accurate than what our local meteorologists tell us. That's because meteorologists, he says, are predicting temperature and other averages for swaths of land that cover many miles. But those averages can vary over a couple of blocks and even from one corner of a garden to another.
That's why looking closely at the subtle signs of change that nature gives us every day, from those in the soil to those in the clouds, is so important. And Wohlleben, who's been a German forester for more than 20 years, is just the person to teach us how, when and where to look.
Flowers and birds, he says, are great tellers of "true local time" (as opposed to "clock time"). They sing their songs and open their petals according to the sun's precise location in the sky. He also shows how to link the consistency of soils, the size of snowflakes and the phase of the moon to weather patterns that will affect the garden. Written for nature enthusiasts of all levels and backgrounds, The Weather Detective is as fun as it is informative. --Amy Brady, freelance writer and editor