Right about now, gardeners are aching to get out and plant. Usually, in the February dregs of winter, that desire is dashed by cold, wet, maybe even frozen soil. But this year is different.
Here in Washington, D.C., snowdrops came up almost a month ago, and the daffodils have been blooming for two weeks. It's tempting to think that if these harbingers of spring showed up three weeks ahead of schedule, it's safe to plant early, too.
If you haven't noticed, gardens are popping up in some unconventional places – from prison yards to retirement and veteran homes to programs for troubled youth.
Most are handy sources of fresh and local food, but increasingly they're also an extension of therapy for people with mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD; depression; and anxiety.
If you live in the Northeast, this has been a wacky winter: It has been deathly cold in Eastern Europe, as flowers bloom in New York City and temperatures rise to the high 40s and even 50s.
I went in search of flowers in bloom and was not disappointed. There were bushes of red camellias, and gorgeous yellow flowering Adonis. Kristin Schleiter is the acting director of outdoor gardens at the New York Botanical Garden. She took me to an outdoor test garden.
It's official: Gardeners and farmers can count on warmer weather. If that's you, it might be a good time to rethink those flower and vegetable beds for this year's growing season.
That's the word from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which released a new version of its "Plant Hardiness Zone Map" this week, the first update since 1990. The color-coded zones on this map of the United States are widely used as a guide for what perennial flowers will survive in a particular area, or when to plant your vegetables.