Getting into the Zone...
I travel a lot now that I am retired. Being a gardener, I am always looking at what is growing at every hotel, city, beach, mountain and roadside as I go. One of the biggest joys I have is finding all these wonderful plants I have never seen before. Sometimes, I want to cement that special memory by re-creating that in my garden.
This is how it used to go.........I see that the plant says it requires a zone other than mine. I consider this. Then I think I can I use all my power to over-ride the obstacles. I find the plant at a local nursery......fresh delivery that week. It is lovely and all those memories come flooding back so I have to have it. I purchase them, and I plant them carefully with all the loving care and best soil I could provide for them. I plant them in the sun, partial shade or shade just like the little tag says to. I water them just like it said. Then it dies. So I buy more and plant them again. They die again. I do this year after year, thinking maybe I just got a bad plant.....but that was not the problem.
We all tend to be swayed by those pretty flowers and plants at the nursery. They look lovely, and I assume that if they are at my local big box store or garden store, they would thrive with a little work and know how. I am a Master Gardener....I got this... I could re-create that vacation feeling by having the plants I adored. Wrong.
It turns out I made the same mistake most people do, and that is they do not thoroughly investigate if that plant actually should be planted in our area. Once I really started pondering about it all, it makes perfect sense. Polar bears are not found in Arizona, should not be in Arizona, and even though folks might like seeing them in zoos there, chances are they would not be happy or thrive no matter how much we like them.....so, I put this to practice in my garden and I have to say, my garden and I are happier, and I am not so frustrated. Ok....maybe I am still grieving over not being able to get a Gardenia hedge to thrive in my hot, hot, sunny garden, but I will live and so will the Gardenias that I would have planted AGAIN and AGAIN and then died.
I have always known about planting zones, but like many, we fall in love with a plant and think we can improve the chances of survival with a few changes in soil, sun and protection during heat or cold. Some times we get lucky and it lives but it struggles, and struggles and we eventually give up. What we find is that we will not get the beautiful plant we hope for because it is not getting what it needs. It looked great in the store because it was just shipped from the perfect environment, not what we can offer, no matter how much we adore it.
So...... now when I want to remember that special plant or garden, I get something like a small statue, wind chime or garden art that takes me back and I put that in my garden. No one dies, and I have my memories. I learn to enjoy the wonderful plant variety we do have in Solano County. They are awesome, and I bet those folks in my travels wish they could grow them too. But they can't. I can. Enjoy.
So.....get in the zone. Look up your zone and the zones around you. We have a big planet with many many different zones, and the joy is, they have their own perfect plants and so do we. We need to respect that. So.....get in your zone, and be happy and your garden will love and reward you for it.
Interested in getting started in your zone? ...this site will give you the references you need to fine your zone!