Sunday, November 3, 2013

I'm going to risk sounding like an "old know it all" but I DO want to share what I feel is a valid thing to keep in mind. Some gardeners are trying crops here that thrive in much colder climates and I do too as trying "risky" crops (like my Windmill palm tree and "Florida" roses in my Denver yard) is a great way to learn and I am glad to see folks doing that. But bear in mind that sometimes the first year a northern perennial does well here, leading some exuberant folks to declare "this and such does fine in Florida". Often, they falter in year two or three due to lack of winter chill, or even in year four as happened with the VERY promising strain of Egyptian Multiplier Onion that Allen Boatman brought in and shared....first three years it thrived in ALL test gardens, large scale and small scale, then as we entered year 4 the bottom fell out in all test plots! I'm not saying don't experiment...DO and share the results. But I've gardened in Michigan, New Mexico, north Florida by the Georgia border and my first veggie garden was here in 1967 when I was in 9th grade, and feel that we should not forget that many/most northern perennials ARE northern perennials because they NEED winter chill. But I know a woman in Weekee Wachee who has gotten bearded iris from her summer home in Illinois to make it past that third year! It was my 15 years in Denver that I came to appreciate the role of winter dormancy for the longevity of MANY plants like peonies, lilacs, forsythia, hydrangeas, Oriental Poppies, tulips, daffodils, rhubarb, apples, pear, plums, asparagus, cherries, Concord grapes, comfrey, bearded iris and MANY other perennial flowers and herbs, raspberries, plus a vast number of roses....on and on and on. Sadly, northern folks move here to retire and end up badly missing so many of them, having assumed they grow here in "the land of flowers". Not lecturing, just sharing some experiences of mine with brave new gardeners.

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