... Zonal Denial
For ABC Wednesday this time last year, my chosen Z was Zones, the way of broadly categorising climate into regions so familiar to our gardening cousins across the pond. However, it was only whilst reading Noel Kingsbury's blog the other day that I came across the term Zonal Denial.
I'm sure many of us are guilty of zonal denial, irrespective of whether we're guided by the zone system or the RHS hardiness classification used here in the UK. After all, it's all very broad-brush and as gardeners we know other factors affect what can be grown successfully, such as aspect, soil type and height above sea level. Besides, most gardeners also love to experiment, so why not try growing some plants which are borderline hardy?
I'm sure talk of climate change and global warming have also fuelled our desire to have something a little different to our neighbours, plus the concern that we may no longer be able to grow some of our best loved plants has led to us seeking out alternatives. For some, a tropical garden is the preferred garden style, or an ongoing experiment to see exactly what can be grown in our climate. For many younger gardeners, a hard winter has been an historical fact rather than a present danger. Despite all the 'how to protect your garden for winter' guides around, it's tempting to leave the taking of precautionary cuttings plus the garden fleece, straw and bubble wrap safely stored in the garden shed, because it's all a bit a faff and the results look rather ugly.
So yes, I'm guilty of zonal denial and like many of us I was caught out last winter. Luckily my Dahlia duvet still worked (though I do wonder if this year's will prove sufficient), but I lost a prized Echeveria and a tree fern (Dicksonia antarctica). Surprisingly, the tree fern which was languishing in a plastic pot for 2 years in the nursery area did survive to replace it: I think my laziness in not taking it out of its plastic bag may have been enough protection. And despite my initial fears, my Fuchsias just about recovered sufficiently to put in a rather late flowering.
I'm glad we had last year's warning, because in late October I diligently put fleece around my surviving tree fern, thoroughly mulched everything in the garden and shifted lots of potted tender plants to snuggle up together in my cold frames. These are permanently lined with sheets of polystyrene, so I'm hoping this is cosy enough for them this extreme winter. However, there's one exception: a vigorous Anthemis tinctoria 'E.C. Buxton' was left to fend for itself this year because my cold frames were full. As you can see, it hasn't withstood the effects of the icicles on my leaky gutter dripping down onto it :(
As with any extreme weather event we have, our month of very cold temperatures has left many questioning whether global warming is happening. But what we're experiencing is day to day, really variable weather: climate is the average of this variation measured over time (30 years at least) and the trend is resolutely on the up. However, this and last year's winter clearly show we can't afford to continue to be zonal deniers, without taking some precautions. Or when things do fail, perhaps it gives us an ideal opportunity to try something new instead?
For more in the way of Zingy Zeds, do head on over to the ABC Wednesday blog.