Monday, January 30, 2012

USDA Cold Hardiness Update

Samazana ni
hana sakikeri to
mishi nobe no
onaji iro ni mo

Fields we saw
blooming with
so many different flowers,
frost withered now
to a single hue.

-Saigyo, Poems of a Mountain Home

Here in the North East we are firmly entrenched in winter. Though it's been relatively mild on the whole, I still find myself staring longingly in to the cold. When I can't stand it any more, I head outside and putter about, but really, there's nothing much to do other than long for spring and contemplate these quiet times.

Now that we've mused a bit, some real news of interest, though admitedly, it effects growing plants in the ground far more than it effects our bonsai. The USDA has updated its Hardiness zones. Discussion about global warming aside, the map has been updated to reflect the trends of warmer winters here in the states since the last time it was updated in 1990. You can find a good copy of the new map here: There is an option to search for your location by zip code, which is handy for those folks on the edges of zones.

This may mean little to some people. It may be important to others. It might prompt some to try their hand at a tree not normally viable in their previous zone, but which would more easily survive with the updated map. What it will mean will be some different stock possibly available at local nurseries, and the buyers become aware of this change and can reasonable expand their stock by a whole zone. As bonsai growers, we have always, and will always, offer additional winter protection to our plants, and the change of my own location from zone 6B to zone 7A won't be changing that. But maybe I'll take a gander at a few species I was on the fence about before. Hmmmm.....