On January 25, 2012 the US Department of Agriculture released a new version of the Plant Hardiness Zone Map. Based on a thirty year period of study, 1976-2005, it reflects many of the weather pattern changes since the last Map was released in 1990. (That one covered only a thirteen year period, from 1974-1986). In short, it now appears that much of the US is 5 degrees warmer.(Or put another way, since each zone covers 10 degrees, one half -zone warmer). Possibly unsettling proof of global warming?
While gardeners will surely benefit from the more accurate planting zone information, it doesn’t explain the extreme shifts in the weather year to year and even week to week. Here it is February 1 and the weather’s been so balmy the birds are singing Spring courting songs. Compare this with last year when we had so much snow the bare ground wasn’t visible from November-May. Mother Nature is certainly havin’ a bit of fun with us.
You can download the 2012 Plant Hardiness Zone Map (national, state, or even the zone map specific to your zip code) free of charge on USDA’s website: www.planthardiness.ars.usda.gov.
Speaking of birds, have you heard about the study which demonstrates that pigeons are good in math? Pretty impressive. (See The New York Times,Dec.23,2011,p.A17) Well, it put me in mind of the time when Lawrence H. Summers, then President of Harvard University, declared that women were genetically incapable of excelling in science. Do ya think he would have demanded separate math tests for male and female pigeons? Just sayin’.