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It's culture....IMO:

Message from Mike coastal CT

Don’t get me wrong….I think there is a difference between a southern zone 7 and a northern zone 7…..because the normal highs are much different. Raleigh has a normal January high of 50 F…that’s 9 F warmer than Atlantic City (41 F) and 12 F warmer than Bridgeport…but I’m not sure the difference between AC and Bridgeport (3 F ) is all that huge. Still, I would guess that the few degrees of add warmth helps, it has to.

Now as far as the difference is what is grown where…I agree with you 1000% (make that 10,000% - lol). However, as we were talking about last spring, I think that has to do much more with cultural differences/provinchlism than climate. Not just between southern CT and southern NJ, but many places.

A good example (and one a see every year) is as you head down the East Coast. Drive along I-95 from NJ to the South/North Carolina state line. You’ll notice as soon as you cross into South Carolina (if you happen to get off the highway) you’ll see palms and other subtropicals planted very frequently. Yet, cross the line (away from the coast) into North Carolina – and you struggle to find subtropicals. Is there that big a difference climate wise between Florence and Lumberton or Fayetteville? Or is it because the bigger beach/sunbelt resort concept in South Carolina (Myrtle Beach has more hotel rooms than Las Vegas), Hilton Head, Folly Beach...etc is much stronger?

The real reason (IMO) is that culturally most people in the USA have no idea where they should get gardening inspiration from. The typical garden/landscape, even in the more southerly sun belt areas, seems to be routed in the formal looking European style of landscaping. You know the deal - this consists of formal looking, rectangular-shaped planting beds, low height/ low density tightly-pruned foundation plantings, conservative plants that lacked any bold or interesting shapes or patterns, and the use of European garden statuary. It's that or the “Default Boreal Landscape” that's seems to think everyone in the USA lives 50 miles from the Canadian border: Alberta Spruce, Common Juniper, and Japanese Yews for walkway or foundation plantings, a sparse mix of conifer trees like Black Spruce, Northern White Cedar, and Eastern White Pine, and of course a few Maple trees.

Most people have no idea even what is native and works well with the climate of their region. Ask someone in NJ if they think opuntia cactus or an Alberta Spruce belongs in their landscape? What can handle the sun at 39 latitude, 90 F heat, and droughty conditions better, a Norway Spruce or a (native) sweetbay mag. IMO, we are finally entering an a time (though we have a long way to go) when American landscapes are starting to reflect their geography and climate, rather than some being held hostage by past notions of what worked or looked right in Europe.

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