Discovering a hidden haven in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia

Posts tagged ‘plant hardiness zones’

Zoned Out

It’s been a bit of a shock to me, but I don’t really know where I live.

Greenish Grass Dart on Golden Everlasting (Bracteantha bracteata)

Well, I do know where I live, but I haven’t really given it the thought a gardener should.

So, for the last couple of weeks ‘Stand’ by R.E.M. has been spining around in my head while I wander around the garden.

Stand in the place where you live

Now face North

Think about direction

Wonder why you haven’t before.

Now stand in the place where you work

Now face West

Think about the place where you live

Wonder why you haven’t before.

The sense of being a little lost has been exacerbated by popping around to various gardening blogs where the resident gardener confidently declares that they live in zone 5b or Zone 2 or maybe in a tropical zone or an arid zone. They all seemed to speak a common language.

Well, that’s ok I thought – I can go and look up my plant hardiness zone then post it to my page and look like I’ve got a clue too. But this time I’ve really bitten off more than I can chew!

The imported Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) on a cucumber flower

As it turns out, there doesn’t seem to be a shared language on plant zones in Australia, at least not in the same sense that gardeners in other parts of the world might be used to. Instead plant hardiness zones seem to be a subject of quite a bit of debate.

If you are confused check with the sun

Carry a compass to help you along

Your feet are going to be on the ground

Your head is there to move you around.

Here is one model, courtesy of the Australian National Botanic Gardens that attempts to develop a system that can be related to that of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map This Australian model would have my garden in zone 3 which approximates to zone 9 in the US system. So, if I’m reading the map right, similar conditions to parts of Texas, Arizona, Florida, Mexico and, probably not surprisingly, California. We certainly have frequent bushfires in common with that State.

But most Australian information does not seem to refer to a numeric system, and the most commonly used guide seems to be a climatic division of around five zones, based on temperature and humidity However, I’m guessing that those serious about their horticulture take into account a much broader range of measures. Anyway, from this measure I deduce that I live in a temperate zone.

I have also heard my area referred to as a ‘Mediterranean’ zone and I think this is more of an attempt to relate to plant hardiness for the area and give us some clues as to what might do well in the garden. So, plant things that do well in Spain, the South of France and parts of Italy.

A little bee I'm yet to identify, not sure if it's a native species.

Thanks to an earlier post By Nell-Jean at Secrets of a Seed Scatterer I had already done a little homework to try to figure out where in the world I am gardening.

So I do know that I am at Latitude 38 degrees South. This puts me roughly on a line with Rotorua in New Zealand and Los Angeles in Chile. At this latitude I am far enough South to completely miss the African land mass.

How Climate Change impacts all of this is also the subject of great debate. We certainly seem to be getting hotter, drier and more prone to drought and devastating fires. Maybe not so temperate for much longer if the heat stress that my birches are starting to show is any measure.

So stand.

Of course all the above is what I have been able to glean as a naive gardener just starting to dip her toe into all the knowledge that is out there. I am always happy to be corrected and educated by those with wiser heads 🙂

Speaking of which, as the week is drawing to an end (and I’m recovering from my stage fright) I’d like to warmly thank Jodi from Bloomingwriter for featuring my blog as part of her weekly focus on new bloggers. It was delightful to be the recipient of such thoughtfulness and sharing!