Thank you, Kelli. I am a retired nurseryman and grower in the Dallas, Tx. area. For 30 years I have relied on the Sunset Western Garden Book by converting it's highly descriptive zones to the local Dallas conditions. This has given me a much broader view of what plants might be receptive to our conditions. I was not aware they had put out the Sunset National Garden Book nor had I visited their web site. I had always longed for a book that would cover Dallas and Texas in the detailed climate analysis that Sunset does best. Thank you so much for the information.
I lived in SoCal for 16 years and The Sunset Western Gardening Book was the bible. I've been in Austin, TX for 21 years now and eagerly bought the National book when it came out but I was disappointed in the accuracy of the zones for this area. I've looked up plants that I know grow here and the book will say that they don't. The book says that Austin is in zone 30 which is the Hill Country of TX but that only applies if you live in the hills to the west of town. In the flat part of the city, zone 31 is more applicable. According to the map, we are also close to zone 33 on the north side of the metro area and it is true that they get a bit colder just to the north of us. Zone 29 is a bit farther to the south but I can grow some things that will survive there if I give them a sheltered spot next to the house. If I look up a plant and it is good for all 4 of these zones, I know it will grow here. If it is in only 1 or 2 of them then I have to weigh what that means and put it in the right microclimate or not buy it.
I only have the first edition of the book. Have they improved the range of plants or accuracy of the zone recommendations since then? Have they actively sought out corrections from the gardening experts in the east?
The lastest edition of the National book is copyrighted 1997. I do not know how it differs from any other edition, as I have never seen the National book, only the Western. Sunset zones are not always perfect and probably nothing ever would be. There are alway microclimates and other strange things. I am supposed to be zone 19 but apparently it is a warm zone 19, for there are zone 21 plants around here that have been here for years. However, it is safer to go with zone 19 when it comes to plants that need humidity. We definitely have the lack of ocean influence of zone 19.