A casual comment I made on Tina's blog In the Garden got me thinking about our obsession with microclimates in the West. USDA zones 9a and 9b mean nothing to us, we are all about the 24 zones in the Sunset Western Garden Book, which is basically our gardening bible out here. My design practice isn't that big, not more than 40 square miles, yet my clients' gardens cover three different zones. Sounds manageable, but lately things are getting out of hand, as Californians seem to think taking a few steps out the back door puts them into another climate zone entirely, because, they are convinced their garden is hosting a vast collection of microclimates. I put this in italics, because the word is usually emphasized in a very earnest way.
Is having a garden with a microclimate the new status symbol, now that none of us have portfolios or in some cases even jobs to brag about? How many microclimates in your garden? Just two? I have three - so exhausting to manage, but worth it! And just picture the poor out of state garden enthusiast who tries to get in on this conversation. No microclimates at all? Just the one big climate for everyone?
I see. Not very exclusive.
Thinking about this has allowed a truly disturbing thought to rear its ugly head - what if there aren't really 24 climate zones in the West, or any microclimates at all, and Sunset has performed the most successful hoax since the Bush administration convinced us of the existence of weapons of mass destruction? Conspiracy theorists, feel free to chime in on this one.