Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Does Your Home Reside In More Than One Zone?

You can't imagine how excited I was when shoveling my pathway that leads from the back of my house all the way to the front.  There is a raised bed (about twenty-feet long) and on the other side a narrow strip about two feet wide by twenty feet long.  As I pushed the snow along and hoisted it a little at a time to deposit in the raised bed, my eye caught something green coming up in the opposite narrow strip.

I could not believe my eyes, the daffodils were up about four inches and muscari about two inches.  They were green and looked unexpected with the mounds of snow all around.  I threw a little snow on top of them because it almost looked like they had been born too soon!

Let me tell you about this strip, it has been an experiment for six years, and like a detective each year I try to solve the mystery.  It is certainly a zone 6 or above (it is flush with the house), and I think I could grow tropicals here - ha! ha!  My May Night Salvia does great in this area, but it blooms one month before the May Night in the front of my house.  The daylilies displayed burnt foliage, but the clematis and campanula were fine, Veronica not doing well either - burned leaves.  I even have a drip system under this area and also spend each day watering by hose.  Year after year I would plant some of the heat tolerant annuals like zinnias and marigolds, but I really wanted perennials in this area. 

Last fall I pulled out my daylilies, left the Veronica and began to leaf through the High Country Gardens Catalog.  I ordered and planted "Blue Lips" Penstemon, Dianthus "Firewitch" and "Arizona Sun" Gaillardia.  They took to that area like they were home at last, growing by leaps and bounds before the fall frost set in.  I don't know what the result is yet but I have positive vibes.  Could this be a Xeric area in zone 5?  Xeric plants thrive in hot, dry areas requiring only minimal amounts of water.  A great book to read is Lauren Springer's The Undaunted Garden.  It is a little heavy on text but contains lots of important information on water wise plantings.

We probably all know the answer to this, and I know I have learned that as much as I tried, the plants I chose would not fit the area.  Check out their catalog, the plants listed are adaptable to many areas in your garden.


Bernie said...

Sounds like you definitely have hit the jackpot with your choices for this area of your garden. It's always pleasing when you finally find a plant that's happy in that troublesome spot!
Waterwise gardening is something I'm very familiar with ... and I, like you, found a great text, but one that relates to conditions here in my part of Oz. I refer to it constantly!

Anonymous said...

Dear Eileen, I have such a clear picture of your border and of what you are trying to do. Sometimes one just has to keep on working, and then reworking until one gets it right. The Penstemon is lovely and not a cultivar I have come across before. I do hope that it continues to do well for you.

And, yes, I can appreciate your excitement at signs of new growth. I was amused at your piling a little more snow on top for added protection.

allanbecker-gardenguru said...

Hi Eileen,
If I read your blog posting correctly, the garden strip that appears to be in a zone of its own runs along the side of your house.

It is possible, that during the winter, the heat radiating from the building warms the outside earth around it. Whatever land touches the structure never gets as cold as the rest of the property.

Plants, especially spring flowering bulbs, growing in that strip think that they are in a warmer zone and will appear earlier. Plants not destined for your Zone might actually survive winter there with sufficient snow to protect them.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Allan,

I do believe this is the case. Everything there blooms earlier and burns up in the summer because my stucco must absorb and reflect the heat.

We will see if my new plants survive this area. I do have a couple of zone 6 plants I would like to try, one is a salvia and the other an agastache.

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Eileen it is good to see that you are finding plants that will grow in this section. We usually try to force these poor flowers to grow where they do not like it.That is why I am constantly moving mine. ;-)
High Country Gardens have some wonderful plants and I love how they tell you where they do grow the best.
If I would only take that advise.
Your penstemon is beautiful (crazy for blues) and that Dianthus looks very happy. Beautiful.

Dirty Girl Gardening said...

your plantings sounds gorgeous!

Dave@TheHomeGarden said...

It the microclimate effect! I've noticed it in our yard where we live in a frost pocket. Near the road things bloom faster but the same plant down in our little valley will be a week or two later. It definitely makes you wonder what kind of borderline plants you could grow doesn't it?

Tootsie said...

Oh please do join me for Fertilizer Fridays!!! your photos are outstanding!

Gatsbys Gardens said...

I would love to Tootsie if I could figure out how to send in a plant? I have tried to do this previously and could not figure it out. Eileen

Julie said...

Can't wait for Spring!!
Adorable blog!! Enjoyed my visit.