SER President's Notes February 2012

By Sean Callahan in Presidential Proclamations

by Sue Hamilton, Southeast Region President.

Greetings and a belated Happy New Year from sunny and warm Tennessee!!!

But wait, it s February and the middle of winter. Have we even had a winter in the Southeast? It has been crazy weather for sure thus far but great for being outdoors and enjoying the garden, especially the colorful shades and hues of conifers. Speaking of being outdoors and enjoying the beauty of conifers, the SE Region has started 2012 off with a bang of two highly successful rendezvous in Georgia! Between these two events, over 140 folks attended and were able to be inspired about conifers in the landscape. Many thanks to the organizers and planners of these rendezvous and for the positive impact their efforts have had on so many. This motivates me to have a rendezvous in TN at the UT Gardens in Knoxville some time this year. I hope it is encourages many of you as well to consider having one in your area. Don t forget about the great article that Flo Chaffin had in our December newsletter about how to do a rendezvous. Her great advice and instruction leave little room for error and ensure success.

The winter months are always a great time to do some garden planning and think about what you want to add, change, or accomplish in your garden this year. As you evaluate your landscape and make plans for what you'd like to accomplish, don t forget to not only evaluate your garden s curb appeal but its window appeal as well: meaning, what you see from inside your home looking out your windows? My kitchen and bedroom windows offer me great views into my garden.

Accordingly, I have paid special attention to planting some of my favorite plants (many conifers) that I can enjoy this way. Encourage your friends and fellow gardeners to do some garden planning that includes adding a few conifers to their landscape.

If you haven t heard, one of the biggest items in horticultural news lately is the unveiling of the new Plant Hardiness Zone Map. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has re-leased the new version of the map, updating a useful tool for gardeners and researchers for the first time since 1990 with greater accuracy and detail.

The new map jointly developed by USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Oregon State University's (OSU) PRISM Climate Group-is available online.

For the first time, the new map offers a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based on interactive format and specifically designed to be Internet-friendly. The map website also incorporates a "find your zone by ZIP code" function. Plant hardiness zone designations represent the average annual extreme minimum temperatures at a given location during a particular time period. They do not reflect the coldest it has ever been or ever will be at a specific location, but simply the average lowest winter temperature for the location over a specified time. The new version of the map includes 13 zones, with the addition for the first time of zones 12 (50-60 degrees Fahrenheit) and 13 (60-70 degrees Fahrenheit). Each zone is a 10-degree Fahrenheit band, further divided into 5-degree Fahrenheit zones "A" and "B." If you have interest in learning more about the history and development of the map, Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery has posted a wonderful in-depth and thorough article on his web site.

Mark your calendar and make plans now to attend our annual regional conifer conference this August 17-19 in Asheville, NC. Plans are underway to provide a very special visit to the Biltmore House & Gardens with the horticultural staff leading our tour through the historic grounds designed by famed landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmstead. Our host hotel is the Hilton Biltmore Doubletree located in the historic Biltmore Village. More information will be forthcoming. Between the Biltmore, private gardens, renowned speakers, nurseries, garden centers, and several public gardens, this is sure to be a great meeting.

Finally, don t forget to regularly check our regional website where Flo Chaffin has the latest events and happenings posted for your information. - Sue