Forsythia and Life in a Cold Pocket

I tell Master Gardener friends that I live on a cold little ridge in the western part of Shenandoah County. Some of them tease me that I’m imagining it’s colder “up here” at 1,300+ feet, but it truly is! When you add in that chilly breeze from West Virginia blowing through the gap, it’s downright cold here when it’s seasonal elsewhere.

In a perfect example, this is my forsythia yesterday. It’s in full sun, and it’s in the middle of our driveway turnaround,  surrounded by warm gravel. It’s also huge and in much need of pruning, but that’s a topic for another day.

staceys forsythia

staceys forsythia

See that? Three blooms. There are a couple on the other side, too, but in general, it’s a mass of tightly wound buds.

Just down the road, about two miles away at the neighbor’s, it’s a different tale. (Out here, two miles is still a neighbor!)

neighbors forsythias

neighbors forsythias

Now, it does have the advantage of being next to an asphalt road, but it’s the same with all of the forsythia I saw in my drive yesterday “down the valley.” Most forsythia’s are at or near full bloom!

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map has our zip code at 6b. Because my zip code stretches all the way to 81, it doesn’t hit the nail on the head for my little ridge, but it’s great information to know. When you shop for perennials, the information will often say “hardy to zone 7” or “winter hardy to zone 4” or something similar. By using this map, you can decide if a plant will work for your location. I personally play it safe and up the zone. If something is hardy to zone 6, I normally plant for something hardy to zone 5. Though rare, we can winter cold below -5 or -10.

Click to learn YOUR winter hardiness zone. Here’s mine.

Photo courtesy of USDA Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, and Oregon State University.

Virginia Hardiness Zones

Virginia Hardiness Zones

*** This site is comprised solely of the opinions of its author, Stacey Morgan Smith. She works to promote gardening and tourism in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, from Roanoke to the Potomac River.***

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