One month from today it will be spring, but a microclimate enticed the first blooms of 2016 in my zone 6b landscape today.
Crocus are always the first blooms in my gardens. These, located near the front steps, get strong south-western sun exposure.
This location is a warm microclimate in my landscape, located near hardscape (on either side of granite steps and a concrete paver walkway). The hardscape soaks in and holds heat from the sun causing the adjacent soil to warm earlier than soils not near hardscape. The warming soil entices crocus bulbs into early bloom.
Another warm microclimate is on the opposite side of the house along the foundation wall. Notice the daffodils in the photo below already have a bud (lighter green on the right).
Though planted along the north-east side of the house where full sun does not reach intensely until mid- to late-spring, these daffodils are always the first spring bulbs to emerge. The soil next to the foundation of the heated house warms earlier than soil in garden beds farther from the foundation.
The crocus and daffodil bulbs, even of the same variety, planted in chillier sections of the gardens will not bloom until spring.
A microclimate is a section of a landscape that isslightly warmer, cooler, drier or wetter. Learn more in this earlier post on microclimates. Identify any microclimate in your landscape to allow you to use them to your gardening advantage.