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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Winter Warmth

With seasonable temperatures melting what little snow cover we garnered thus far in the East, one might be tempted to pack away the winter garb and consider this blustery season a ‘done deal’. You might even think certain woody plant material or perennials might overwinter that you thought weren’t possible before. Alert to all hort dorks. You may be particularly interested in an online USDA news conference tomorrow, January 25, 2012, 10:45 a.m. EST where the unveiling of the 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map will take place. According to a USDA news release, "The map is an important tool for the country's estimated 80 million gardeners and those who grow and breed plants for them."

So keep your eyes peeled for these new zone changes as this certainly alters a plant’s marketing. One thing to pay attention to when chatting about the hardiness zone map; it does not take into account the heat index. The Plant Hardiness Zone map is all about cold but nothing about fluctuating and sometimes extreme differences in summertime temperatures. For example, coastal environments are moderated by the ocean i.e., less extreme high temperatures whereas inland locations are exposed to more abrupt heat spikes. Without getting into the many layers to the heated side of this conversation and how you should approach a planting, always take into account any specific microclimates for that site location despite a plant’s zone hardiness. Yes, it’s been talked about here before so feel free to check ‘Search this Blog’ button – type in ‘microclimates’ and do a quick review.

So while we may want to play it safe with what zone works best for our plantings, get out of your winter comfort zone today and enjoy the ‘January thaw’ temperatures. As Brian Tracy concluded, “Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” Which reminds me; don’t forget to revisit or check out yesterday’s post. Be one of five folks to win a copy of ‘A Gardener’s Guide to Blueberries’. Follow the easy guidelines. So far, no one has cinched a copy. What are you waiting for - the spring planting season is how many days away?   

Image from the Internet

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© 2009 Ann St. Jean-Bilowz/Bilowz Associates Inc. (including all photographs, unless otherwise noted in Annie's Gardening Corner are the property of Bilowz Associates Inc. and shall not be reproduced in any manner nor are they to be assigned to any third party without the expressed written permission and consent of Bilowz Associates Inc.)