If you live in the upper Midwest, and especially in the Dakotas, wind is a consistent factor we all have to deal with. This is not a new phenomenon to any of us as most any given day we can go outside and experience some degree of wind in our environment. The days that stand out to many of us are those calm days that come along every so often where we can all sit back and just enjoy the day.

If you know me, you would also know that I detest the wind and that I find nothing enjoyable about it whether it is just a windy day or a full blown storm. I look at it all in the same way, it is unsettling and at times can cause an internal stress with the constant noise and irritation that comes along with it. There are those who will say it can cool you on a warm day, but I rarely experience a day that is warm enough where I would entertain the concept of wind to "cool me off." To the many who know me I am rarely warm, so that is just a personal dilemma I must resolve.

In all reality, winds are not always a bad thing when it comes to gardening. Yes, at times they have their destructive outcomes, but there are also benefits that can come along with it at the same time. With a slight movement of wind, plants can become stronger as they grow. Many greenhouses and nurseries add large fans into their growing houses to cause the plants to move around when they are young and to keep the air moving and fresh indoors. When you pick out your annuals in the greenhouse during spring, these plants are already conditioned to being placed outside as they have the strength to withstand most winds outdoors while they are young.

In nature, plants and trees develop a solid stem or trunk in order to withstand future winds and create a good structure for a healthy specimen. If you ever notice a young tree, it can blow quite well in the wind without snapping off at the base. Many young specimens tend to be so flexible that they nearly touch the ground in a strong wind. This motion causes the stem to develop a thicker skin which becomes bark. The stem becomes stronger and develops a greater resistance to the wind. In older healthy trees, this strength increases allowing them to last for many, many years to come.

In some parts of the world where the wind are constant, the trees and other vegetation can grow with the wind causing irregular growth habits typical of the Bristlecone pines in California. Many of them have a leaf side and a bare side where the winds constantly hit. In areas of Hawaii, the winds never cease and the trees and shrubs actually look as if they are leaning with the wind, giving them an unnatural appearance.

In the garden, wind has numerous benefits also. Not only does wind create stronger plants, but it also allows air movement around the plant to keep certain diseases and fungus from forming. Mildew is a big problem for plants such as Monarda, phlox, roses and peonies. The air movement around these plants keeps the leaf surfaces dry and discourages this type of occurrence. Wind will also dry the lawns off that may have a heavy dew in the mornings preventing them from potential molds and other ailments. Winds will also dry out the soils, keeping fungus such as mushrooms from developing, but even mushrooms have their own purpose in the natural world.

Wind helps plants to reproduce through the distribution of seeds. Not all seeds in the garden that blow around are considered weeds, but many types of wildflowers also find their way to new locations through the winds. Watching dandelion seeds or milkweeds break from their stems and become airborne is a fun activity for kids to see. I still remember helping many of these seeds along and watching them blow towards the sky.

Winds can blow in certain types of insects, many of them destructive, but along with these come the beneficial insects which keep everything in check and preventing an infestation in most cases.

Sometimes I enjoy the winds during fall as they tend to heard all the leaves into a few prime spots making them easier to pick and discard. Oftentimes they naturally blow into my gardens where they create their own drifts of insulation for the plants. This is a winning situation for me since most of the leaves will ultimately end up there.

Although I claim to detest the wind, even I will recognize the fact that there are many benefits that come along with its occurrence. I don’t have to like it, but it is a part of nature and the natural world tends to respond in kind to anything that comes its way.

This past week gave us extreme winds and I refuse to see the benefits that came along with them, but on breezy days I continue to strive for more calmness and allow them to happen. Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that wind is a part of all our lives. It can either be a nuisance or a blessing in disguise. I am still trying to see all the blessings involved, but it is a challenge for me. Here is to a calm week ahead, for my sake!

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