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With spring soon upon us, it is the perfect time to learn and review some of the commonly used words and English phrases related to gardens, the seasons, the climate and weather.
If you’re a regular listener, then
you will know I speak several languages, but I am currently focused on getting my spoken French to real fluency. To do this, I listen to several French language podcasts, just like you’re listening to this English language podcast.
Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.
⭐ Mark Twain
Listening to native speakers helps me brush up on my vocabulary, my pronunciation and the speed of my listening comprehension. I use the Adept English listen and learn approach to language learning to help me with learning French. You can use it to help you with learning English.
Seasons Climate Expectations Bulbs Frost Hyacinths Terminology Solar Event
Today, let’s talk today a bit about my garden, a bit about the season, the time of year - and a little bit about climate change. And while I’m chatting to you, your brain will be learning some really good English vocabulary. So how about a cup of tea or coffee and sit back and enjoy this ‘chatty podcast’ and give your brain a chance to practise some good English language comprehension as we go?
Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.
This podcast will provide you with vocabulary about the weather and climate and climate change. It will provide you with words which you might use in gardening and for plants. And it will be a chance to compare notes with me. Are you a gardener? Do you grow things? Or do you just enjoy being outdoors and noticing what happens in nature?
So now it’s February and it’s ‘late winter’ in the UK. It’s not particularly snowy in the south of England. The children here get very excited at the prospect of snow, because it’s such a rare event - it hardly ever happens. However, cold and wet, or cold and sunny with a frost - that’s pretty common here in the south of the UK in February.
So when you’re a gardener like me, when you have an interest in growing things, you notice season by season what the changes are in your garden. And my observations this year are that it’s not been as cold a winter as usual. Plants which normally would have died during the winter, because of the cold are still alive. They have survived! That’s good - on the whole, especially for the plants in the ground which are mainly perennials - that’s PERENNIALS - and it means ‘plants that continue year after year’.
I have a pretty traditional garden. There are two circles of lawn - that’s LAWN, or grass, GRASS - that’s the green part, where you might play football. It would be a tiny game of football on my lawn though! And around the lawn are ‘borders’, BORDERS which means ‘edges’, but in gardening refers the parts of a garden where the bushes and the flowers grow. I also have a patio, that’s PATIO - the paved part where you might put your outside table and chairs, so that you can eat outside in the summer. And on my patio, I have a variety of pots with plants in them. I tend to put plants in these pots that aren’t permanent.
In the summer, I like geraniums, or more correctly pelargoniums, which give a good display and are reliably flowery from May to October, or until the first frost. I’ve planted out other flowery plants in there too - they tend to be plants that we use as ‘annuals’. If a plant is ‘an annual’, ANNUAL, it means that it only lasts for one season, for one gardening year. Often we ‘treat plants as annuals’ - because they’re tender - meaning that they’ll die if it’s below freezing point, below 0C or because they don’t flower as well the second year - we throw them away in other words. So I have a number of plants like this - although most usually die in the winter, many more of them have survived this year.
Even some of my geraniums or pelargoniums have survived the winter outside and they don’t usually. They don’t look that good, but they’re alive! Usually in the spring, these plants are all dead and I throw them away and just plant primroses in my pots or hyacinths or daffodils or tulips. You probably know these spring plants - apart from primroses, they’re all ‘bulbs’, BULBS meaning they grow out of something that looks a bit like an onion! Hyacinths are blue or pink or white and perfumed, daffodils are yellow on the whole and have ‘trumpets’ and tulips are pink, yellow, red, orange or white - and they look like lollipops.
The problem I have at the moment, is that it feels a bit unfair to bin those plants which have survived the winter and which are bushy and doing well. I feel I should give them a chance, it’s only fair! They’ve survived so let’s see how they do. But there’s not much room for any of my usual spring planting.
So my experience of things surviving when they wouldn’t normally - how widespread is this? Is this the global warming situation or not? Global, GLOBAL means ‘of the globe’ or ‘of the world’ - worldwide - and ‘global warming’ is the term used to talk about the planet heating up, as most people expect it to.
Just before we get into that, don’t forget that there are many more podcasts to listen to. If you go to our website at adeptenglish.com, you can buy podcast bundles in groups of 50 podcasts. Such a lot of good material to listen to - on all sorts of topics. The more bundles you buy, the better the price. So go to the website and click on ‘Language Courses’. Page down until you see the one in purple, which says 'Podcast Back Catalogue'.
Build you own custom mega bundle’. Using this service, you can make sure that you’re never short of English language listening on your phone or tablet. Back to our topic.
Well, if you want to know about weather and climate, the Met Office or Meteorological Office is the UK’s official government funded organisation which monitors the weather. They reported that Autumn 2021 was ‘the third warmest autumn for the UK and the warmest on record for Northern Ireland’.
There were no records broken for low temperatures in autumn 2021, but November saw Storm Arwen and red weather warnings for wind along the north east coast. And it was a powerful and damaging storm. People were without electricity for some time. What was that terminology I used? ‘There were no records broken for low temperatures’.
If something ‘breaks a record’, it means it’s ‘gone further than ever before. So ‘a record low temperature’ means ‘the coldest ever’, on record, or that’s been recorded. Or a ‘record high temperature’ means the highest temperature ever recorded. But it works for other things as well, other measurements can ‘break records’.
But as far as temperature is concerned, the UK Met Office report that UK mean or average temperature for 2021? Well, it was 9.28C. And this is only 0.12C above the average for the whole period 1991-2020. So actually what that means - very, very average temperatures. 0.12C isn’t a significant change.
Now this doesn’t necessarily mean the climate’s not changing - the survival of more of my plants suggests it didn’t get as cold as some years. But the average was just the same. Mainstream thinking is of course, that the weather in the UK and many other places will change and will become hotter and sunnier. Another possibility is that it just settles in the middle - temperatures don’t drop as low, but neither is it hot and sunny. So the average may stay the same, even if we get more dramatic weather ‘events’.
If you search on climate and gardening’, most of the UK websites describe how our climate is going to get warmer and have less rainfall - and we’re going to have to garden differently. We’ll have hotter summers and therefore we need to plant more of the plants which do well in dry conditions. This is most people’s expectations of global warming - that cooling things down and having enough water is going to be the problem.
But there is also another school of thought, one viewpoint which says that we are coming up to what is called ‘a solar minimum’. ‘Solar’, SOLAR means ‘of the sun’ and ‘a solar minimum’ is a period in time in the sun’s normal cycles in which there’s less sun activity - fewer ‘solar flares’ - which means ‘bursts of the sun’s energy on its surface’.
A photograph a garden covered in snow. Today, let’s talk about my garden, a bit about the season, and a little about climate change. While I’m talking to you, your brain will learn some great English vocabulary.
What does this have to do with our climate and our weather? Well, sun flares can raise the temperature on earth and a ‘solar minimum’ can lower the temperature. So this viewpoint says that actually between 2020 and 2053, it’s going to get colder, not warmer. This doesn’t mean that global warming isn’t something to be concerned about. That will carry on. But because of less activity on the surface of the sun, we’ll see cooler not warmer temperatures over the next 30 years. And this could have implications for heating our houses and growing our food.
I know that this thinking is opposite to most people’s expectations - so I’ve included a link in the transcript, which links to a US government website, which goes into detail on this theme.
Anyway, whichever is the bigger picture - and I’m not climate expert by any means, I don’t know! But in my garden, I’ve got the problem of what to do with all of these bedding plants which have suddenly survived the winter, which I feel ought to be given a chance. I think I’ll take each on its merit.
When it comes to the month of May, if they’re looking good, I’ll keep them another year. And if they’re not, I’ll replace them. And meanwhile, I have to squeeze my spring bedding plants round them. I will give you an update later in the year. And if you want to practise your English, we’d love to hear about your garden!
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
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- Other great English phrase and vocabulary lessons
- UK plants flowering a month earlier due to climate change
- UK forecast
- Review of the UK’s climate in 2021
- Modern Grand Solar Minimum will lead to terrestrial cooling
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