Where you are located in the country dictates your climate, or the overall weather and temperature conditions in your area. Climate also affects what activities you may be able to do during a given season.
The term growing zone is used by the nursery and gardening industry as a common reference point for determining the range of a plant.
For example, hibiscus (Hibiscus rosasinensis) is hardy only to Zone 9 where the average low temperatures are 20-25°F. Gardeners in Chicago, which is Zone 5 (average low temperatures reaching -20°F), would be advised not to use this plant. Alternatively, if a gardener in Chicago was looking for a flowering shrub, they would be better advised to select Dwarf Lilac, which is hardy in Zone 5.
See Seasonal Considerations to access more information about your growing zone.
What is my microclimate?
Microclimate refers to the small-scale conditions specific to your site. For example, if your garden is on the east side of a large building, it likely will be sheltered from prevailing western winds during the winter and may only receive direct sunlight during the morning hours. Conversely, if your site is on the southern or western side of a brick building, it likely has hotter, drier conditions given the exposure to afternoon sun and radiant heat from the building.