By Phran Novelli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Last week I saw a branch of forsythia atop a stone wall burst into bloom days before the rest of the bush. The first daffodils to open were nestled next to edging stones. And the first cherry blossoms I happened to see were on a tree planted beside a brick building, (like the ‘star magnolias’ pictured here).

In early spring, it’s easier to see how differently plants grow depending on where they’re planted. Plants respond to warmth and sunlight, growing near something that holds and reflects the heat – like a stone patio or a sidewalk – keeping the nearby ground warmer along with the plant roots.

In addition, a building, or fence nearby can also offer shelter to plants, protecting them from wind, cold and snow, reducing the chances of damage from frost and increasing the chance of marginally-hardy plants surviving our winters.

So if you’re determined to plant something that’s really only hardy a zone or two south of you (such as a Zone 7 or 8 plant when you live in Zone 5 or 6) consider giving it the added protection that being planted near a wall, patio, courtyard or your house can provide.

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