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USDA Hardiness Planting Zones

To determine if a plant is sufficiently cold-hardy, the USDA created numbered zones indicating winter low temperatures; the lower the zone number the colder the winter.

  • If the coldest winter temperature expected in your area is -15°F (zone 5) then any plants rated zones 3-5 will survive the winter temperatures in your area.
  • If you live in very warm winter areas (zones 9-11) plants with zones 3-4 ratings are not recommended. The lack of freezing winter temperatures do not provide a time for winter dormancy (rest).

This year's Wildflower Bloom has begun.

Gorman, CA in early March

Gorman, CA in early March

I know. I know.  When the snow's piled up outside, it's hard to believe, but mid-February is when it all starts.  Wildflowers in North America begin their bloom in the SW Deserts, and it slowly rolls east and north as spring arrives for us all.  Chances are you've heard of  "Storm Chasers" who track twisters.  Well, I have a friend who is a "Bloom Chaser."  Don Paulson happens to be a fantastic nature photographer, and he and his wife, Kathy, when they're not off traveling in some more exotic place, often visit the deserts and chase the early flowers.  In California, Arizona, and other arid spots is where it all begins.  And it's different every year.  Without the proper amount of spring rain, there may be almost no bloom.  But in some years, it lights up quickly with one of the biggest wildlfower shows on earth.  The recent rains in the area are getting everyone excited about this year's bloom, and the wildflower hotlines (See Blogroll at right.) are buzzing.  As of today, there are sightings of bursts of bloom of California Poppies in the Death Valley Area, and great bloom near Lake Elsinore, CA.  At this time of year, there's always some bloom in Arizona, and the reports at DesertUSA.com show spectacular flowers, especially the incredible early cactus flowers.

April in Texas. Two happy horses.

April in Texas. Two happy horses.

 If you want to enjoy it all,  just plan well with the hotline reports.  It goes on now through April when the bloom rolls into Texas for their world-famous bloom of the bluebonnets and other Texas natives.  I don't know if the Paulsons are chasing the flowers this year, but I hope so.  Enjoy these spectacular wildflower photos they've taken in the past few years.  And if you can, plan a trip!  Imagine what you're missing.  (For more of Don's beautiful photos, visit his site at DonPaulson.com.

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