CULT: HIST: Points of Reference
In a message dated 8/26/05 11:20:59 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
<< *This can't be overstated for those in Zone 3 to those in more
warmer climes (which is everyone else on this list): cold is not
an enemy of irises with reliable snow cover. Irises grow and
bloom well in my mountainous, acid soil. Just takes longer to
see good bloom because of the shorter growing season. >>
Some decades ago, before the USDA Zone system was developed, or had become as
familiar to many gardeners as it now is, some commonly employed phrases were
recognized as providing useful cultural information to gardeners.
East of the Mississippi, some such phrases found in catalogs and books,
included "not suitable above Washington," "not reliable north of Philadelphia," and
"not hardy above Boston" with variations, of course. Baltimore also appeared
as a point of reference, as did Nashville, Chattanooga, and Norfolk, Virginia,
which sort of sits on the dividing line between Zones 7 and 8.
It was also understood by the people who read those sorts of things that the
seasons, the bloom seasons, and so also the time of the seasonal chores,
moved from south to north, or north to south, at the rate of about a hundred miles
every five to seven days. Because they understood this, they could interpret
literature, and make it more meaningful to them, even if it had been written
by someone in a different locale. I am inclined to think some of this spatial
orientation arose from the dominant role of passenger trains in transportation.
We have a lot more information now, verily we are awash in it, but I doubt
anyone who gardens thoughtfully would dismiss pharases and indicators such as
these because they were not more finely calibrated. Maybe there is a useful
lesson there somewhere.
Speaking of calibrations, if your sundial needs setting, September 1 is one
of the four days of the year when apparent time and mean time coincide, so put
your gnomen where should be at noon, and know the true time all year... on the
sunny days, that is.
Richmond VA USA
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