Written by Noel Kingsbury
|My office in rather more of the white stuff than we’re used to|
As a visitor to the US I am always slightly bemused by the discussions of hardiness zones, overhearing conversations amongst gardeners like “I’m 3a and I can’t grow lady’s mantle, but friend is just a few miles away with 3b and it grows like a weed”. When asked “what zone are you?” I feel a bit like when visiting India and someone asks you “what caste are you?” (yes, this has happened). We, in Europe, simply do not use hardiness zones, although the USDA system has been applied here, and there are European Hardiness Zone maps doing the rounds – but we don’t take much notice.
So, with temperatures here plunging to –13C (9F), which I suppose might be regarded as a rather pleasant day in some places where this is being read, but is exceptionally cold for us, there isn’t much else to talk about. And we’ve had several weeks of this. Most unfair. A lot of gardeners wondering what’ll be alive at the end of it, especially after 20 years of mild winters (usually no lower than –5C (23F).