|Punxatawney Phil's not the only game in town.|
Meet Unadilla Bill. (source)
My husband and I want a beautiful flowering, fruit-producing tree out front, surrounded by beautiful, habitat-producing native plants. The tree's the sticking point, though. We really want to put in a Mexican plum.
|Mexican plum trees in full bloom by TexasEagle.|
Lovely aren't they? (source)
They are drought tolerant. (Number one biggest criterion: check!)
They are native to our region. (Number two biggest criterion: check!)
They like full sun. (Important when putting a tree on the south side of the house.)
But for some reason, they are listed as doing best in zones 6-8. (If you're not a gardener, all you need to know is that the country is divided into zones, depending on how cold it gets in winter, and plants are grouped depending on their cold tolerance.) My husband and I live in zone 5, which means winters would be too cold for this tree.
That's not so good. Because this tree seems perfect in every other way.
Then I stumbled on this. Unfortunately, I can't import it into the blog, but it's worth the jaunt over to the Arbor Day Foundation to check out the animation. Seriously. It's pretty eye-opening. I'll wait.
Incredible, isn't it? The zones are migrating north at a rapid clip, and that animation showed the change over a 16 year period. Only 16 years! Winters aren't getting nearly as cold as they used to. There are some benefits to that (like lower heating bills and planting the plum tree!), and some drawbacks (like flea outbreaks due to lack of a hard freeze to kill off the eggs).
That's why I'm working so hard to put in regionally native plants that can tolerate the harsher climate we seem to be moving toward. I don't want my yard to turn brown in summer. I want it to be full of color and life.
Curious about what kinds of trees and plants would be native to your area?
There are a couple of great resources that I use on a regular basis. The Arbor Day Foundation has a searchable tree database based on where you live (caveat: they only list the trees they carry in their nursery, so you might not find what you're looking for, but it's a good starting point).
My favorite resource is the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which has lists of recommended species for each state and for all kinds of native plants.
Have you noticed a warming trend in the winters? How has it affected you?