Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My Choice, My Climate!

The ample rain two weeks ago was enough to green up the buffalograss and provide some much needed relief to the perennials here in Kansas.  It also brought some relief to gardeners here, not from the sweltering heat which continues to stress my garden and its gardener daily, but the rain at least provided a respite from daily watering chores.  And it was enough to entice ProfessorRoush to order some rose bands for Fall planting.  I like to plant own-root roses, even young bands, in the Fall in Kansas as the cooler weather and higher rainfall gives them a better start next year before the heat hits.

I had a great afternoon in the air-conditioned indoors, choosing rose varieties online and planning the layout of a new bed.  Imagine my surprise, however, two days after placing an online order with "Rose Paradise" (not its real name, but I don't want to single out the real nursery), when I received a return email thanking me for my order and informing me that it would be held until next Spring because "Rose Paradise" had ceased shipping to my area for the  Fall.   When I contacted the nursery directly, they explained that it was getting too cold to ship to my area and the roses wouldn't have time to become established before winter.

AHS Heat Zone Map
I suppose it is a positive development that mail-order nurseries have fully taken notice of the USDA Hardiness Zones and are trying to keep horticultural idiots from planting tropical palms in USDA Zone 2 in September, but it is past time for these nurseries to also begin taking note of the AHS Heat-Zone map.  On it, one would find that my portion of Kansas is currently listed as AHS Zone 7, meaning that it has 61-90 days annually where the temperature is above 86oF.   And the current AHS Zone Map was based on data from 1974 through 1995 and has not been updated.  Given the changes of the 2012 revision of the USDA zones, I'm probably now in AHS Zone 8 or 9, with somewhere (I'm guessing) around 120-150 annual days of >86oF highs.  Believe me, please, when I tell you that I've got plenty of time left before Christmas to get new roses established.

Recently, at Walmart, I tried to purchase a fan and had a store employee tell me (on a 102oF day) that they were no longer selling fans because it was getting too cold.  I gave the customer service representative at "Rose Paradise" the same response I gave that misguided Walmart employee, which is to say that after a moment of silence during which I labored mightily to calm myself, I pointed out that it was still plenty warm here and would likely remain so for some time.  Fortunately, in terms of my future purchases from it, the "Rose Paradise" employee cheerfully informed me that they would be glad to go ahead and ship my order, however the roses would not carry their normal guarantee.  Jumping ahead to the end of this story, in my garden on this day there are 9 new roses trying to survive the predicted 99oF high.

My point here is a plea to all mail-order nurseries to give consumers the benefit of the doubt, as long as we don't giggle fiendishly or otherwise exhibit latent plant-icidal tendencies, and let us decide when we want plants delivered.  It would also be nice if the AHS would update their Heat Zone map, and if all nurseries would take a closer look at it, but that is probably too much to expect.  Gardeners know our climates best and, in fact, I have similar issues trying to get nurseries to send me plants in the Spring before my climate gets too hot for planting.  I don't need any extensive guarantee because as long as I receive the plant in good condition, I'm never going to claim a death was the nursery's fault three months later after I've forgotten to water the little seeding.  I know full well who deserves the blame for dead plants in my garden.


  1. I never have understand plant guarantees. I understand guarantee to species. All guarantees do is double the price of plants it seems to me. I can see plants which are planted by the nursery to be warrantied but guarantee to live?

  2. I have just about quit buying from mail order nurseries in the spring, because by the time the plants arrive in May it's way too hot for any new little thing to live outside! Glad you got your new roses, hope they survive your hot temperatures until fall arrives!

  3. I agree! You should have your roses. I also agree that plant guarantees are not wise. I think that plants should be guaranteed to arrive alive and in great condition, but after that it is all in the gardener's hands!


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