Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Warm weather ‘brings new planting options’

It is a well-known fact that gardening is one activity that is very dependent on the weather.

However, green-fingered individuals could be able to turn this trend to their advantage and look at nurturing plants that can make the most of the hotter conditions that are just around the corner.

Indeed, back in January, horticultural editor at the National Gardening Association Susan Littlefield claimed that the early parts of the year is the best time to start planting for spring, so it really pays off to plan ahead.

She asserted that individuals can take advantage of the space offered to them in their greenhouses in order to fully prepare themselves for the future.

Atmospheric and oceanic sciences expert Scott Spak told the Daily Iowan that the US Department of Agriculture checks the temperatures and the length of the growing season before offering tips on the weather. This is what leads to the designation of growing zones, which is clearly important for US gardeners to pay attention to.

"Some types of plants can withstand colder winters and then still grow in the summer and bear fruit," he commented, adding: "It's a biological designation."

"Climate scientists have found it very likely that human activities, including increased greenhouse gas emissions, have contributed to that change," Mr Spak said.

"If the trend continues, we may – over a period of 50 to a 100 years – see a dramatic change in what we can grow and what we can't," the expert continued.

Co-president of Project Green in Iowa Cindy Parsons acknowledged that it is tempting to disregard this.

"People, me included, might try to push the envelope," she remarked, attributing this to the fact that a lot of gardening comes down to trial and error.

"It's just kind of officially establishing the new climate changes, but gardeners have already made those adjustments a while ago."

However, co-owner of Forever Green garden center in Coralville Lucy Hershberger advised a little more care should be taken.

"I'm always a little cautious when I plant trees and shrubs because I hate to see people put in a tree that won't tolerate the cold after ten to 15 years," Ms Hershberger said. "Perennial-wise, it opens up a lot of different things that gardeners can grow including different kinds of oriental grasses. They're not at a risk that a tree might be. The plants can't read the map so they don't always respect our zones," she commented, adding: "Even though the map says you're in 5a, each garden has little micro-climates."