Growing On Up…

Wow…it has been way too long since my last post. As you may remember, I was offered a job teaching horticulture at a community college.  After an entire semester, I still absolutely adore helping my students learn.  This semester I am teaching a tree identification course and I am beyond thrilled and love it!  So, now that things are moving forward, it’s definitely time to get back to blogging.  🙂

A student let me know about this today, how I missed this interesting bit of information, I have no idea. I learn from my students just as they can hopefully learn from me. So…on that note.  Many of you may now about growing zones.  The idea of growing zones is that there is an average low temperature for where you live and garden. For me, I’ve always been Zone 5, meaning an average low of -10 to – 20 during the winter.  The map is based on average low temperatures during the winter. So, that means before you can make a decision about plants that you want permanently in your yard (trees, shrubs, perennials, vines, ground covers and such) you should know your growing zone.

Well, the last time the USDA had released a hardiness zone map was in 1990.  So, doing some very basic math, 2012 subtract 1990 means, that map is 22, repeat, 22 years old.  About that…yes I do feel weather patterns are changing.  I am not a scientist, but you know today was January 30th and the high in Central Illinois was 60 degrees. Doesn’t seem quite right to me.

To continue with our wacky escapades, we will move forward in history.  In 2006 the Arbor Day Foundation decided to release their own update map which showed some interesting and significant changes in some growing zones.  It took Illinois, and showed most of it being Zone 6 now and not mostly Zone 5.  Even after that, I told people to not rush out and buy a bunch of Zone 6 (warmer by 10 degrees) and plant in their yard.  Anyone remember last February?  I do. Crazy….the college campus I was teaching at actually shut down for 3 days which is absolutely unheard of.

Come to my student informing me today that the USDA finally, 22 years later, released a new and updated map.  The USDA map and the Arbor Day foundation do have discrepancies. USDA map shows Central Illinois still as Zone 5.  The USDA map only includes weather data through 2005, still trying to figure that one out.  Either way, the end point of the post is to make sure that you know your zone before choosing plants.  When In doubt, I would recommend going with the colder zone between the two maps as long as the plants you are choosing can tolerate it.  So for me, I will still choose Zone 5 plants over Zone 6.  To explain further, if it does get down to -20 degrees in the winter that means that my Zone 5 plants can tolerate the cold, where a plant labeled as Zone 6 and warmer risks the chance of cold injury or death. I guess to take things a step further is that my other point of this whole rant, is to think right plant, right plant and plan before you plant.

Here is the Arbor Day Foundation Map

Arbor Day Foundation Hardiness Map 2006
Arbor Day Foundation Hardiness Map 2006 Copyright Arbor Day Foundation

You can link to the Arbor Day Foundation website here.
And the new USDA Hardiness Map

USDA Hardiness Zone Map
USDA Hardiness Zone Map Copyright USDA

You can link over to the new map on the USDA website here.

Oh…and of course why you all showed up and for those who made it through my crazy hardiness zone map rate…pictures!  Of the good stuff. 🙂

Jack Frost Siberian Bugloss
Jack Frost Siberian Bugloss

Okay, I would rather work with shade perennials than sun perennials.  Sun is good for growing veggies and a lot of trees.  🙂  Above is Jack Frost Siberian Bugloss.  I love this plant.  Does great in the shade, pretty much glows.  Okay, so this is a total tease shot and the colors isn’t perfect, but not bad.

Jack Frost Brunnera
Jack Frost Brunnera

This may also be found as Jack Frost Brunnera.  The scientific name is Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’.  The pictures are show this as way may blue than it is. The next photo is a bit more realistic.

Jack Frost Siberian Bugloss
Jack Frost Siberian Bugloss

Okay…so I need to save more photos until to make it through until things really start growing.  🙂  Next time, I’ll get into choosing seeds and seed selection. You know we all are getting itchy for spring.


2 thoughts on “Growing On Up…”

  1. Great post! I’ve also found that depending on how land is situated that even our yard has different “zones”. We’ve had good luck finding pockets of warmth and coolness to plant various garden plants. While I would not necessarily go out and buy a tree that is a zone or two away from normal for our yard I might be tempted if I knew I could keep it pampered in a warm zone. That’s a commitment but someday I really want to try fig trees if I can find a good spot for them.

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