Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Microclimate: You Can Grow That!

Gardening requires both long- and short-focus in order to determine your garden’s “neighborhoods.” Close to the house, you have Phoenix, or the warmest region in the land. It can take the form of early-sprouting bulbs, tiny plants in low places, or blooms that don’t seem to realize it’s winter.
A bit further away you can either plunge right into Siberia or glide into a zone made warmer by surrounding trees and structures. Our garden’s former caretaker wanted privacy from the neighbors and installed a line of yews and arborvitae along the entire eastern edge of the property line. When we moved in we put up a five to six-foot wooden fence along the western edge of the lot to keep our dogs safe.

Another game-changer in pushing the zone envelope is concrete and its relatives, cement and brick. An interesting article about Heat Islands explains the concept in a much larger scope.

Rosa 'Popcorn Drift' takes on a different coloration
in cold weather
I’m not saying I’m the only one in the Midwest to have enjoyed a last-minute bask in the warmth of an unseasonably balmy December weekend. But I did notice the closer I was to the house and the brick patio, the warmer it was.

Today's my birthday, and the warmest since I can remember. The best gift of all are the plants still hanging on in the garden. I'll take them over a bouquet of florist roses any old day.