Human Flower Project
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Weaving among Hardiness Zones
Kentuckian Allen Bush pushes the limit with new plants from Florida, seduced by the USDA’s new maps.
Edgeworth chrysantha: an early bloomer, “insanely intoxicating”
Photo: W.J. Hayden
By Allen Bush
The long awaited interactive garden tool was released a few weeks before our Florida vacation. I didn’t study the new map, though I could see Louisville, Kentucky, was colored some shade of green. There were adjacent greens but I’m red-green colorblind. It was all a muddle.
On our vacation to Sanibel Island, a few weeks later, Mary Vaananen, my Jelitto colleague, emailed and announced that Louisville had been upgraded from 6b (-5 F to 0 F/-20.6 C to -17.8 C) to 7a (0 F to 5 F/-17.8C to -15 C). I started shopping for native Florida plants the next day. Florida and Kentucky have a lot in common. Florida once sat at the bottom of an ocean floor; so did Kentucky. In 1824, botanist Constantine Rafinesque wrote in Annals of Kentucky: “The briny oceans cover the whole land of Kentucky.” Kentucky was only 10 degrees north of the equator, when we were sitting under a shallow ocean in the Devonian Period 380 million years ago.