The US Arbor Day Foundation released an update to the US Hardiness Zone map that is a basic tool for gardeners as to what plants will thrive in their area. SE Michigan has shifted from Zone 5 to Zone 6, because as Bob Cairns, librarian for the Master Gardener Association of Wayne County explains, "average temperature has changed enough to rezone us."
As for the affect this change will have on the average gardener, Cairns expects little: traditional favorites such as geraniums, azaleas and roses are all hardy into much warmer and colder climates. But for serious gardeners, it is an opportunity to plant flowers and shrubs that would not have thrived in this area as recently as 5 or 10 years ago.
Carins, for one, looks forward to planting a crape myrtle tree in his backyard. Common in the Carolinas as a flowering tree with spectacular wintertime bark, the plant is only root hardy in Zone 5. Cairns explains that this means that the plant will survive a Michigan winter, but will die down its roots in the cold only to grow back the following spring. "We've never seen crape myrtle bark in Michigan," he says.
He also expects vegetable gardeners to enjoy a longer growing season. "They'll have more zucchini left over than they ever did before!"
The Master Gardener Association of Wayne County is a group of certified master gardeners that host regular educational events, perform volunteer gardening work and maintain a library of useful gardening resource books.
On April 18, Cairns will facilitate a course in the "Introduction to Gardening" series entitled "Get Ready for Gardening Part II."
For more information, visit the groups's website at www.mgawc.org; the calendar of events and classes is here.
Source: Bob Cairns, MGAWC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh