Sunday, January 18, 2009

As climate change turns up the heat, how can our gardens survive?

With climate calamities threatening on all sides, citizens seek an authoritative voice to explain what’s most important. Such a voice is the Miami Herald: Climate change promises hotter temperatures, heavier downpours and more intense hurricanes -- and changes in our gardens.

Scientists predict that in the near future the southeastern United States will be wetter, but Florida may be drier. That could mean more wildfires and more stress on the water supply even though water restrictions are already in place. We can help our gardens adapt by modifiying the design as well as changing our practices.

We've already seen our warm weather move north. In 2006, the Arbor Day Foundation revisited the U.S. Department of Agriculture's plant hardiness zones, which indicate the lowest temperatures in a given area. While South Florida remains in Zone 10 a and 10 b (lows are 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit), Zone 10 has made a substantial northward move (see map), reaching Brevard County from Palm Beach County on the east coast, and Hillsborough/Pinellas counties from Charlotte on the west coast.

With these weather extremes, we must adapt and change our gardens. But how? We can plant more natives, increase our tree canopy for both carbon dioxide absorption and the protection of plants that need extra humidity and moisture. We also may become more selective with exotic plants….

Moonlight Garden, Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers, Florida. Shot by Cornellrockey04, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License.

2 comments:

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Pete Russo said...

I maintain a detailed and interactive map browser that displays the USDA plant hardiness zones for the continental US using the google maps api. Your readers my be interested in using this as a reference:

http://www.plantmaps.com/usda_hardiness_zone_map.php

let me know what you think

thanks