Pacific Northwest Gardening forum: PNW Climate Lookalikes?

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Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Plays in the sandbox Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter
Winter Sowing
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Pistil
Aug 4, 2015 9:48 PM CST
So, I and many other gardeners want exotic plants from elsewhere in the world, that will do well here. Of course there is no place exactly like here, but there are many similar places-We grow plants from the Mediterranean (but it's hotter in summer), England (wetter summers, less cold/wet in winter), South Africa (winter-wet areas only but often does not get quite cool enough), Tasmania (a bit milder), New Zealand (but when it's cold it's dry unlike here), China and Japan(but it rains in summer) and Chile (not quite so cold/wet in winter) and...
So I was looking at a huge book about bulbs from South Africa, and some of the more mountainous winter-wet summer dry spots seem close, so I thought I might somehow try to get some bulbs from those localities.
Then Rick Corey mentioned the Koppen system, this sounds good, as a way to find plants preadapted to our climate..
What do you all think?
And in this Koppen system, is there a list of similar places? I looked at the map, unsure how to just browse for similar places?
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Aug 5, 2015 11:50 AM CST
I'm no help, I'm moving more toward PNW natives which are getting easier to find in local nurseries. That said, I'll be interested to see what you find. Always fun to follow someone else's journey!
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Plays in the sandbox Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter
Winter Sowing
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Pistil
Aug 5, 2015 1:45 PM CST
Hey Bonehead-how about starting a thread about your experiments with natives-I have been trying some too...
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Aug 5, 2015 2:34 PM CST
Great idea, I will do so!
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Aug 5, 2015 4:59 PM CST
My problem with those Koppen maps is the color scheme: most of the zones seem to be very similar shades of yellowy-greenish-blue.

Probably there are ways to find text lists of areas that match any given Koppen Zone, or searchable articles .


There is one site that lists every county in the USA, plus every Koppen Zone to be found in that county.
http://koeppen-geiger.vu-wien.ac.at/data/KoeppenGeiger.UScou...

I'm in Koppen Zone Csb. "Mediterranean" climate - pretty mild temperatures and a dry summer.

Here is one site where I used to be able to download detailed maps, but our IT department really enjoys forbidding things:
http://www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci.net/11/1633/2007/hess-11-16...

Google Images lists some continental maps:
https://www.google.com/search?q=koppen+climate+classificatio...

This site DOES list multiple continental maps, and talks about uploading things into your copy of Goggle earth ... sound intersting.
http://people.eng.unimelb.edu.au/mpeel/koppen.html

Wiikipedia is usually helpful, and they have the best article I've seen, WITH examples, for example these Csa and Csb cities:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%B6ppen_climate_classifica...
Beirut, Lebanon (Csa)
Los Angeles, United States (Csa)
Khorramabad, Iran (Csa)
Rome, Italy (Csa)
Seville, Spain (Csa)

Santiago, Chile (Csb)
Essaouira, Morocco (Csb)
Porto, Portugal (Csb)
San Francisco, United States (Csb)
Cape Town, South Africa (Csb)
Seattle, United States (Csb)
Name: Kate
Kirkland, WA (Zone 7b)
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Maukahound
Aug 5, 2015 6:33 PM CST
I find this system useful as a additional knowledge base, but deficient in that it does not take into account elevation differences within a given area, as well as our topography. We've got 2 mountain ranges, lakes, Puget Sound, maritime, typical shallow snow cover & a variety of rain patterns in the mix.
Example: Sammamish is included in the same area as Seattle. These two places have very different weather patterns & while the average low temperatures might hover around 27-30 degrees in Seattle, travel 8 miles east & you've got temps in the teens. I watched this all play out while living many years in Sammamish. I found that I learned the most useful information about plant hardiness by communicating with other gardeners throughout the region.
Most gardening books rate Seattle as zone 8, Sammamish/Issaquah as zone 7. At the south end of the Sammamish plateau it was closer to zone 5or 6 as far as plant hardiness is concerned. It really all depends on siting.
The other thing not addressed is how our climate seesaws from year to year. I kept records of summer weather from 1985 on, based on Tomato & pepper growth/production, as well as the Mediterranean woody herbs. Most years June shows cool, July warms up to the upper 70s to low 80s & August would have a heat push for a couple weeks. Then it all slides downhill!
It might be beneficial to have a thread devoted to what each person has found successful for their location.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Aug 5, 2015 7:21 PM CST
I agree - no system I know of can accurately describe the micro climates in an area where the elevation changes rapidly.

Someone COULD (in theory) apply the Koppen statistics to a detailed set of weather records for one part of one backyard (if you had those records). Then you could classify that part o that yard as one of the Koppen zones.

>> The other thing not addressed is how our climate seesaws from year to year.

True! Like USDA Hardiness Zones, anything anyone says can only describe the past. Next year might be average, hotter, dryer, colder or wetter. Or all of the above, unseasonably!

Well, Koppen handles that like USDA Hardiness - by using records from a span of years. Each sub-category has limits defined by statistics. I don't know over how many years they average things, or the real statistical formulas ... this list is just a shorthand of the factors Koppen uses.

MAP = mean annual precipitation,
MAT = mean annual temperature,
Thot = temperature of the hottest month,
Tcold = temperature of the coldest month,
Tmon10 = number of months where the temperature is above 10,
Pdry = precipitation of the driest month,
Psdry = precipitation of the driest month in summer,
Pwdry = precipitation of the driest month in winter,
Pswet = precipitation of the wettest month in summer,
Pwwet = precipitation of the wettest month in winter,
Pthreshold = varies according to the following rules (blahblahblah)

Thanks for motivating me to look harder! I found this site:
http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/162263/
and it says things like:

>> "The Köppen system classifies a location’s climate mainly using annual and
monthly averages of temperature and precipitation."

The following sound like they were intended to apply to MOST climate systems in use, not just Koppen:

>> "The classical length of record to determine the climate for any particular place is 30 years,"

>> "The "normals" are computed once every 10 years which helps to smooth out year-to-year variations. ... So, when you hear what the normal high and low temperature for your location, for example, they come from these 30-year averages."

It might mean that all the Koppen numbers are like "the hottest X in the last 30 years". I was thinking they would use something like a 90% rule: like "a temperature which fewer than 10% of months exceed". If something occurs once in one year out of 30, that's 3.3%. Maybe that is their statistical rule.


That site also has a detailed list of what the Secondary Köppen Climate Categories mean, in English, instead of in math/statistical terms.
Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Plays in the sandbox Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter
Winter Sowing
Image
Pistil
Aug 5, 2015 8:57 PM CST
Well darn, I think we all know Seattle and San Francisco are pretty different (every time I drool over something in Annie's Annuals catalog I force myself to remember this), but I shall have to check out Portuguese plants!
Interesting about Morocco-I have some Iris foetidissima var. lutea that was supposedly collected from the mountains in Morocco.
I think this winter I may spend some time with Koppen. I was trying to work it out on my own which areas of South Africa would be winter-wet and get cold in the winter too, probably they have figured this out already.
I went last weekend to the Chile part of the Arboretum, they have all kinds of neat stuff there, growing out in the open. The Monkey Puzzle tree is from Chile, it grows great here..
Name: Kate
Kirkland, WA (Zone 7b)
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Maukahound
Aug 5, 2015 10:22 PM CST
Backyard microclimates, indeed! My Sammamish property helped me understand much about this: from one side to the other in both the front & the back, you could experience multiple variances. I started compiling temperature & weather pattern data (I'm a hopeless Geek...) in order to achieve a better understanding of how to deal with the spectrum of plants I could grow. For some plants, there is ample "growing experience" information; others, not so much.
Trial & error, lots of patience, scouring periodicals & books helped over the years.
Then, the internet happened. (The Geek's dream come true!)

Even still, there is so much more information needed to understand what a plant can take when it's considered borderline. What the Koppen stats show are norms over a period of time, which is practical & necessary information. But when you've sourced something that is rare, or $$$, you don't want to deal with norms.
However, all this info overlaid with experience tells a more complete picture. I am grateful for a variety of ways to approach growing a broad range of plants. If that helps me learn how to tweak the site so the plant in question can adapt, all the better.
Thanks for all the links, Rick. Homework!
And let's not meander down the path to Annie's......it's hard to make the return trip.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Aug 6, 2015 10:55 AM CST
Pistil said:Well darn, I think we all know Seattle and San Francisco are pretty different ...


True. I read some criticism of the Koppen system that said it lumped together too many different climates under each three-letter zone. It wasn't specific enough for some uses.

I'm sure that's true, even though some counties in the USA have three or more different Koppen zones inside them! Maybe that's often an effect of elevation, especially when there are weather stations reporting data for the different elevations or North/South exposures.

It looks to me as if Sunset Zones go for precision rather than generality, and they also use map-location to specify a Zone.

San Francisco looks like Sunset Zone 17:
"Marine effects in Southern Oregon, Northern and Central California",
I guess foggier and a little warmer in winter than Seattle, which is
Sunset ZONE 5:
"Marine influence along the Northwest coast, Puget Sound, and South Vancouver Island"



Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Aug 6, 2015 11:13 AM CST
I don't pay much attention to zones, likely because we are so temperate most things seem to do well here. I've never been drawn to tropical plants (bananas, palms, etc.) which I often see struggling around the PNW, although they do look lovely in the tropics.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Aug 6, 2015 11:27 AM CST
Maukahound said:... Even still, there is so much more information needed to understand what a plant can take when it's considered borderline. What the Koppen stats show are norms over a period of time, which is practical & necessary information. But when you've sourced something that is rare, or $$$, you don't want to deal with norms.
However, all this info overlaid with experience tells a more complete picture. ...
And let's not meander down the path to Annie's......it's hard to make the return trip.


>> ... so much more information needed to understand what a plant can take when it's considered borderline. ... But when you've sourced something that is rare, or $$$, you don't want to deal with norms.

I totally agree! I only approached that kind of issue from the entry-level position of wondering when to start spring annual crops that aren't very cold-hardy. I started to work towards some rules based on weather stats like
"what date has had no frost 60% of the time over the last 30 years?"
"what date has had no frost 90% of the time over the last 30 years?"

That was going to tell me when to plant my first, slightly otimistic batches, and the second was going to tell me when to plant my second, pessimistic wave.

Well, phooey. That might have worked for mass-less, frictionless, spherical crops, that grow perfectly and rapidly at 32.1 degrees, but die instantly at 29.9 degrees. Ain't no such animal.

Instead, each cultivar I have can stand more or less frost, or needs more or less extra warmth, has daylength fussies, can or can't stand soggy soil ... ad infinitum.

I'm not going to figure that out with statistics unless I develop something like Dr. Watson / Deep Blue to help.

>> all this info overlaid with experience tells a more complete picture

I agree even more strongly.

Knowledge without experience is like a new car without any gasoline.

It's pretty and interesting and has potential and was expensive and difficult to acquire, but usually you can't do anything practical with it. But add a little experience (or gasoline), and it becomes useful.

There's an asymmetry: gaining experience automatically gains knowledge, even if you never crack a book or go online. But all the reading in the world confers 0.00 grams of experience. The classic example of that was the joke about: "Consider a spherical cow."

I wonder if watching YouTube falls in-between book-learning and experience?
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Aug 6, 2015 11:28 AM CST
>> And let's not meander down the path to Annie's......it's hard to make the return trip.

Annie??
Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Plays in the sandbox Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter
Winter Sowing
Image
Pistil
Aug 6, 2015 6:43 PM CST
This chat is fun.
Corey- here is your link, but Maukahound is probably correct, although I have gotten a few cool survivors from her, for example this Alstroemeria she says survives in dry shade, but it is struggling in my dry shade. If it dies I will buy another and put it in a better place!

http://www.anniesannuals.com/
Thumb of 2015-08-07/Pistil/01b034

Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Aug 6, 2015 7:34 PM CST
Thanks! I appreciated her reminder that home gardeners are NOT the reason anyone has a water shortage.

Its agribusiness (75-80%) and
industry (15%)
I guess the rest is "residential use" and half of that goes to lawns.
The other 2.5% to 5% is washing, cooking, wasting and gardening.

Name: Kate
Kirkland, WA (Zone 7b)
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Maukahound
Aug 7, 2015 12:22 AM CST
Sorry Rick, I thought that anyone gardening on the west coast had heard of Annie's Annuals. It's quite the experience & I've been told frequently of the adrenaline rush experienced by the addicted. So many fun plants & so many NOT gonna make it here! But, I digress...

I concur with all your posted points. This is why I highly encourage those starting down the garden path to gather information, check the anxiety at the door & just experiment. We learn from mistakes as well as from the guidance of others in all matters, including the growing of plants. I so appreciate the shared experience of others as it helps me decide how to proceed down a given pathway.
My knowledge base is strongest in the arena of trees & shrubs because I had the room to grow them over a prolonged period. Annuals, though, have required more experimentation, continuing to this day. It was hard to conceive of something that would perish at the end of the season, especially after living in Hawaii. (Everything continues to live, which hones one's pruning skills! Poinsettias being the Hawaiian equivalent of Wisteria in the pruning department.) What I have concluded is to mimic, as best as possible, the native environment of the plants. Some are quite fussy & simply won't thrive, but many adapt & do so quite well. And then there are some we need to pamper. All the charts & data are snapshots of regions over periods of time. Useful to a degree, but I typically return to pushing the envelope!
Annie's perspective on water consumption was quite interesting.
Name: Linda
Bellevue, WA (Zone 8a)
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In2art
Aug 7, 2015 6:04 PM CST
I have had pretty good luck with Annie's Annuals...I purchase zone appropriate plants and my favorite so far has been Trachelium caeruleum 'Hamer Pandora'.

I also agree about topography and differences in my own yard. Cold air pools in low places. My back yard is at least 8' lower than the front, so the bananas, cannas and ginger (I DO love tropical plants) are in the front.

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