Annoying step back or welcome relief?


Unlike scrapbooking, genealogy, homebrewing, model trains, or cosplay, gardening brings with it an inseparable relationship to time and season. During the late fall and early spring—whenever those may fall for you—we are most at the mercy of that relationship. And for some gardeners, the interventions of the twice-yearly time changes are irksome and unnecessary complications.

As a zone 6ish resident, I’m not exactly longing to garden later in the day in November, but as a commuter I can appreciate both DST and ST. There is something eerily satisfying about driving to work at 7 when the moon is still out (DST). And I enjoy seeing the lurid Buffalo sunset at 5 p.m. on my way home (ST). Sunrise is never as pretty. Finally, when all’s said and done, I do like that extra hour on a fall weekend.

But others have stronger opinions. One of our guest Ranters, James Roush, was rather vehement in a 2010 post on his blog about this:

Please, I beg of the vast uncaring federal bureaucracy, either send us to DST year-round or at least leave us alone on Standard Time so we can adjust once and for all. I am a simple native farmboy, raised to open my eyes with the sunrise and close them at sunset, and I have never adapted well to sudden changes in my wake-sleep schedule.  My failure to roll with the clock is arguably worse than for others because I was raised and spent my first 20 years in one of the small areas of the continental United States (Indiana) that never changed time until the bureaucrats messed with our biorhythms further in 2006.

I can’t say I share the Professor’s frustration. Fact is, I really only have time to garden on weekends, regardless of time and weather. I rely on my husband to keep up with the watering, and, if I’m really in trouble, I take half a day. Sadly, I’ve had to watch too many perfect gardening days from the windows of a corporate office park.

The time changes disrupt things a bit, creating some welcome twice-yearly excitement.

But there is always anti-or-pro DST activism; according to this, someone thinks that Florida should opt out of the whole thing. And—just in—I heard on NPR as I was making my (now)daylight commute that robberies increase during standard time thanks to the increased darkness toward the end of the day. So keep your porchlights on.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. I find the time changes really annoying for my sleep patterns. Our cat can not tell time by the clock. She is up at the normal time trying to rouse everyone. It was nice not to need the headlamp to take the dog out this morning, but the excitement of that will not carry over tonight when it is dark so very very early.

  2. I’m exhausted by day’s end regardless of what the clock says, so that’s not my issue w the time change. Last week I could still work outside for an hour or two after the job & the commute. This week? It’ll be dark when I leave the house & dark when I return. Last week I could go to the garden to work off the frustrations of the office, the ridiculous drive, the messages from my son’s teacher. And really – the yard could use my attention for a while still. This week … what the heck am I supposed to do? I just wish we’d stick to either Daylight Savings or Standard Time. Choose one & stop screwing with our body clocks and gardening schedules!

  3. Oh, please don’t leave your porch lights on! All that light – from your porch and your neighbor’s and his neighbors and theirs – disturbs the nighttime feeding and mating habits of moths and other insects we desperately need as pollinators, now that the honeybees and their ilk are so threatened. Do you muse nostalgically for the days when lightning bugs cast their semaphore all around you? Turn off the porch (and other outdoor) lights, and we might get them back.

  4. You can mark me as one who hates time change. It doesn’t reduce crime – I cannot locate any support for this allegation on the internet, including the NPR website, though perhaps when they archive this morning’s shows later today it’ll show up. It doesn’t save energy (a bit dated, but another NPR interview which refutes that common claim: All it means is that, when we switch back to standard time, my dogs wake me up at 4:30 instead of 5:30, and so I effectively lose an hour for the month it takes them to adjust. Same for after the spring time switch. Bah humbug indeed.

    • I’m with you Chris, our normal 5:30 am multi-doggie alarm clock becomes an unbearable 4:30 am multi-doggie alarm clock, and the month long adjustment period is just painful.

  5. As a Zone 4 resident, gardening is pretty much done and over when Fall-back hits, so I’m never missing out on much outside sunlight time.

    My morning wakening is dictated by my dogs who have no respect for either bureaucracy or DST. This makes the otherwise pleasant (“Yay – I got an extra hour of sleep”) Fall change rather onerous when we spend the first few weeks re-acclimating to our new sunrise time by attempting to convince the dogs to sleep in past 4:30 am.

  6. Few years back they moved the time fall back to the 1st Sunday in nov. I like this better because it gives me an hour more of daylight in evenings. I get a lot done. I think we should push for partial hibernation. Work only in the daylight hours. Sleep more.

  7. I don’t punch a time clock, so it’s all the same to me as far as getting up and going to sleep, but it’s annoying to have to remember to change the clocks to synch with the rest of the world.

    The bottom line is that the days get shorter at this time of year,no matter what the clocks say, so one way or another outdoor activities are affected. For me as a farmer, that means less work and the time of year I can slow down a bit–a welcome respite, actually.

    And I agree with you Tibs–partial hibernation sounds great! As long as that means catching up on my reading too 🙂

  8. ST or DST, I don’t care – just stop with the changing back and forth. It has nothing to do with gardening – I just find it hard to adjust. (But then, I live in Indiana and enjoyed NOT changing for many a year.)

  9. It’s a government mandate- albeit, state by state, that exemplifies the worthless nature of our current state of affairs. For the folks who claim they “enjoy the extra hour”…are you kidding me? Whether this was truly said by a native American or not it summarizes the absurdity perfectly. “‘Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and believe he has a longer blanket.’

  10. I hate the fall time change, but I love it in spring. All the fall change means to me is that it’s one extra hour that I usually DON’T sleep (I’ve been a crap sleeper since infancy). You can have it.

  11. How sad for all of you with dogs that wake you up so early! That would be SO ANNOYING! My little French Bulldog sleeps until I wake up – even when I oversleep. I think it is in the breed, I’ve had 2 and they were both like this. As for the time change, for me it depends on my mood. Some years I have welcomed DST, some years I rail against it and it depresses me. Fall is my favorite time of year, so generally, I’m ok with it. I love that we have more “cozy time”. I like the darkness, the chill in the air, the fires in the fireplace. For me, it is an easy adjustment, but I don’t have dogs waking me up at 4:30 am! YIKES!!!

  12. Few years back, we also had daylight saving time and i honestly didn’t like it. I was young and at that time, i hate waking up early in the morning to go to school, and i had to wake up much earlier because of daylight saving time. We don’t do daylight saving time anymore but i don’t know if i will appreciate is if it goes back now that i’m older because sometimes i feel like there’s so many things to do but so little time.

  13. I find the changes difficult for my internal body clock, but I love the picture you paint of driving with the moon. In the country where I live, the moon is larger than life two or three days out of every month. When I worked for a law firm long ago, I begged my boss to let me come in earlier so I could have a few moments of sun on the way home even in winter By 6:00 p.m.m it was pitch dark. He thought I was crazy, but he agreed.~~Dee

  14. I agree that Florida should skip it completely.
    It’s so close to the equator that the day length difference between summer and winter is much smaller than up north.

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