Saturday, January 2, 2010

Freeze and fog and plant zones

Most maps show our area to be USDA Zone 9 and Sunset Zone 8.  I have often questioned the zone 9 thing since so many zone 9 plants can't take the cold.  This week while searching for a plant I saw that Monrovia nursery, which has a large commercial nursery nearby, calls this zone 8.  I plant for zone 8, whatever it is called.  I do not like plants that freeze and turn to goop in the fog.  I don't like slimey black masses of what used to be attractive plantings.  One of my pet peeves is the local nurseries selling so many tropical plants that need protection and babying through the winter.  I make exception for one plant, the common bedding impatiens.  So many people consider these to be too mundane to bother, but I like them.  They bed out in March and bloom continuously until Thanksgiving or even Christmas.  They need absolutely no care.  Of course they do not like direct sun, but for a shady area they just can't be beat for ambiance and color.  The negative of turning to slime with the first frost is I think outweighed by 9 months of charm.  And I do have one plant I baby, my fuschia Thalia. Actually I think it is a Gartenmeister Bonstedt, but Thalia is so much easier to spell, right? And they look the same.  I first saw these coral fuschias at Disneyland and loved them.  When I had a chance to pick one up for cheap at Orchard Supply I did, and have proudly kept it alive for a half dozen years.  When frosty weather comes I move it up against the house and put an open umbrella over it.  It works.  This year I did not realize the cold front meant mid 20s and did not put out the umbrella.  In spite of some withered branches it is still bravely flowering.

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