Pushing the limits of cold gardening!!!

Discussion in 'Garden Design and Plant Suggestions' started by Canadianplant, Jan 21, 2010.

  1. Canadianplant

    Canadianplant Active Member

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    I am looking to try some "on the edge gardening". Im in what is said to be zone 3-4, but Id say its zone 4 myself. With proper multching, i belive i can bring the zone up to 5, and mabey 6, with other measures.

    Basicly, I would like suggestions, no matter how far fetched on what to try up here. If you ever wondered " i wonder how cold this can take?", or " I wonder how cold tolerant this actually is?", please let me know. Ill take any plant suggestions from, fruit trees, bamboo, palms, banana, ginger, decidious trees, pine, flowers, vines, ferns, anything. Im looking for mainly tropical looking plants, but ill take any suggestions.

    I would more then likley be posting updates on the plants as the year goes by.

    This is prompted by some information i recently read. It stated that the hardiness zones we use are made for trees basicaly. I would personaly like to know the limits of "tropical" gardening, and also the limits of certain species, with various types of wiinter protection.

    The growing season is from mid may or beginning of june to about mid september or end of october. The ground doesnt freeze till about end of december. I belive I have stopped the ground from freezing around my fargesia by multching when the ground was still soft. Id most likely build wooden boxes and insulate the plants on top of multching. Im crafty that way lol.

    So any suggestions, or help in anyway would be greatly appreciated!!!
     
  2. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    I'm with you all the way! Go for it! What I'd like to see, is bananas (Musa basjoo seems like the most likely), Palms (Trachycarpus) and bamboo - especially the Phyllostachys. How do you plan on protecting these plants. Anything that gets tall would probably be out, because you wouldn't be able to protect the whole height of the plant. You might be able to bend bamboo down to the ground, then cover it. For Palms, start with small ones, and cover until they get too big, I guess. Bananas can be cut down and covered, so probably the easiest to try.

    If you have the money, or can find some cheap plants, just order anything that is hardy to zone 7 or 8 and give it a try. Keep us updated!
     
  3. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I couldn't imagine the undertaking you face. A small area with extensive winter protection methods may be best or perhaps select plantings scattered amongst other more hardy ones. Plants that are well out of range often require specific situations to get them through, beyond just winter protection.

    Cheers, LPN.
     
  4. Canadianplant

    Canadianplant Active Member

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    can you suggest anything at all??
     
  5. Deneb1978

    Deneb1978 Active Member 10 Years

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    Well, if I were gardening in zone 4, I would definitely take out all deciduous trees as they are depressing in the winter. Fill your garden with beautiful evergreen conifers like spruce, cedar, fir and others as they add so much more colour.
    If you want to get really adventurous and are prepared to spend a lot of money on protection, as other people have said, I would definitely try small exotics as they are much easier to protect in winter. You can look into some bamboo, there is one species which is hardy down to zone 5 naturally and even the ones that are hardy to zone 6 or 7 are not that hard to protect. The one that is hardy to zone 5 is from Sakhalin island in Russia, I think it's called Sasa kurilensis. If you want to try a palm, go for a small bushy one as they are easier to protect in the winter and never get that big to begin with - Rhapidophyllum Hystrix or Sabal Minor might be good to start off with and see how that goes as they are hardy down to zone 6b-7a. Trachycarpus would be easy to protect when small but they can get rather large in time.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2010
  6. Nath

    Nath Active Member

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    CanadianPlant,

    I have been experimenting with the same over the last few years here in the UK and have found most Palms are cold tolerant, even my Citrus is thriving despite it going down to -8 a week or so ago. Many plants will surprise you, my Yucca has acclimatized to living outside too. Its a question of experimentation and gradual acclimatization. Good Luck with your garden and let us know how you get on.

    Nath
     
  7. Canadianplant

    Canadianplant Active Member

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    Deneb - Bamboo seems to be really the only "tropical" plant, that can take zone 5 winters uncovered ( some types, sorry). Fargesia seems to be the easiest, as its clumping. Im mainly looking for plants that can survive in zone 5 or 6 with little or no protection
     
  8. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    Have you tried Japanese Maple? I'd love to have one of those in my yard. How about Ginkgo?
     
  9. Canadianplant

    Canadianplant Active Member

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    Ive thought about trying ginko before ya. But it gets way to tall, unless I can trim it to hight?
     
  10. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    Too tall for protecting, you mean? You won't have to, if it is in a good spot. Apparently the University of Alberta has 2 trees. I haven't seen then, or know anything more about them, but they are in a protected spot, they should be okay. You could probably prune it too. Or, if you cover it to the height you want, and the top freezes off each year, then you will have a nice Ginkgo shrub!
     
  11. Canadianplant

    Canadianplant Active Member

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    I never thought that a ginko would survive in edmonton. They get WAY colder then us. But actually, in alberta, i still SWEAR, I seen 2, 5 foot cordyline, planted in ground, downtown. Goood ole urban heating! THis is another reason why I want to try some plants that really arent supposed to survive here. Edmonton gets WAY colder then we do here.
     
  12. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    A really cool palnt that I have overwintered is Pardancada norrisii. It's a pretty cool member of the Iris Family. Labelled as zone 4 or 5. Note: interesting that it is a hybrid genus, and yet it is given a Latin species-type name - what's up with that? I thought you couldn't use latinized names for hybrids.
    How about Golden chain tree Laburnun anagyroides?
    Have you tried Rhododendrons and/or Azaleas?

    Not sure if that's what you're looking for, as they are not 'tropical', and the last two are tree and/or shrubs. Try the Pardancada though. The plant looks a bit tropical, and the flowers are kind of cool.
     
  13. Canadianplant

    Canadianplant Active Member

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    We have siberian iris, and what looks like a ladyslipper iris. Really hard to kill, even here lol.
    That golden chain tree looks nice. Rhodendrons, and azaleas arent really tropical no, BUT they are in apperance, and are usualy found in warer climates, although I did find a few types hardy to zone 5, and a few to 4, with no protection. They stay fairly small to. Im not a "flower" kinda guy, BUT it is my parents yard. Im planning it sort of being a suprise!!
     
  14. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    What's a 'ladyslipper iris'?
     
  15. Canadianplant

    Canadianplant Active Member

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    Dunno, it looks like a type of iris i have... lol, i seen it in google
     
  16. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Winter is when deciduous trees really come unto their own, making line patterns against the sky, building walls and evergreen conifers. Fully realized, complete-looking mixed planting does not happen when whole major groups of plant types (like deciduous trees) are excluded.
     
  17. Canadianplant

    Canadianplant Active Member

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    Theres enough of em around the yard ( not in but around for sure) to do that. Not to mention, 2 big lilac trees. Im definetly investing in more bamboo if the fargesia makes it. There are LOTS more then i thought. And the good thing is, most are running, and will get killed off if they stray too far.. and its tough enough to bend down and bury. Or cut it down a bit. Banana arent to bad either, stump em , and multch. Or if that doesnt work, dig em u
     
  18. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    Here's some more ideas:
    Wisteria? Gunnera? Colocasia? Caladium?(not hardy, but tropical).
     
  19. Canadianplant

    Canadianplant Active Member

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    My grandma has wisteria, hasnt flowered yet, but its been there fer 10 years or more... and un protected, just on the south side of her house. So I know its possible fer zone 5 plants to survive here. She also has a few zone 4 or 5 rose bushes that survive just rine. Ive seen multiple Sumac trees here.
     
  20. Nath

    Nath Active Member

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    Alocasia won't survive a single frost especially if its coupled with a cold damp period, if you need more info ask PhotPro he knows all there is to know about tropical plants in a cold climate and like him I keep pushing the boundries, try something like Yukas or citrus that is cold hardy, quite a few palms will tolerate the colder climates as will Phormium and Cordyline.

    These trees will enhance the landscape and shape of any garden, Wisteria will look great in a proper spring but Passiflora will look better most of the year around even fruiting in winter.

    Nath
     
  21. Nath

    Nath Active Member

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    I forgot to mention that all sorts of grape vine genre are quite cold tolerant and will produce fruit from July onwards in colder zones having a nice sharp taste that if you grow enough can make a great home made cottage wine.

    Nath
     
  22. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    If you are only looking for what will be able to make it through the winter outside, and not bring tropicals inside for the winter, then ignore the Colocasia and Caladium.

    Your grandma's wisteria might not be blooming becasue it's not quite hardy. Could the flower buds have frozen off?

    Sumac is deffinitely hardy. I have Rhus glabra - which ones have you seen? An excellent landscape plant. Gives a beautiful red fall colour that we lack on the prairies.
     
  23. Canadianplant

    Canadianplant Active Member

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    Oh ya... but i meant then as zone indicators. Id say becasuse of them, its safe to say a 4b rating.... even 5 a depending..
     
  24. nlafrance3

    nlafrance3 Member

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    Just for the record, Edmonton does not hit way colder temps than Thunder Bay. Maybe the international airport 20km outside the city, but the city itself is very borderline zone 4a (I have seen many many zone 5a winters) which means it hardly breaks -34 and I see thunder bay breaking -30 every year. Your records show average temperatures that are lower than us most of the time. The international airport outside of Edmonton is zone 2a. Don't ask me how but they routinely blow -40 every year. Even small towns around edmonton don't do that. (leduc 2km away from the airport is always at least 5 degrees warmer.) I call it a magical sinkhole. Too bad the eastern media is always finding whatever way they can to trash our city by reporting the temperature way outside the city. Even our two major papers are owned by eastern companies and report the international readings, but for some reason weather network does the city center.
     
  25. Canadianplant

    Canadianplant Active Member

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    I have the exactl same problem. The airport is out on the edges of the city. We are 3A there, m close to the lake, so im actualyu 4b-5b. They dont do it to trash our cities. ITs becasue thats where the most weather collecting data is, becasue thats where they need it for landing planes. I lived in calgary for 2 years, and their climate is more varied then edmonton, and their data was collected at the airport ( there are actualy multiple stations throughout the cities ( most of ours), enviroment canada just uses the airports weather.

    One of the only reason why its so warm in teh city center is becasueof all the concrete and glass. Take that away, or sunlight away for a week, and your back to zone 2. Ive seen temps reported there as low as -40C, more then once in my life time ( airport or not, thats cold), we havnt seen that temp since the 80s here. I wouldnt dissagree if you said your temps are warming. Ive lived here all my life ( cept 2 years in calgary), and its been getting warmer, and it seems faster over the last few years.

    By the time were spring, and warm, you guys still get snow as well.. your windier, but i belive you recieve more sunshine. Im also not aware of how edmonton is efffected by chinook winds ( if at all). Im not trying to down edmonton either, I love alberta, id rather be there then here ( i dont miss the windchills there )LOL

    I seen you on palmsnorth,com. Grats again on the trachy..... you should post some updated pics on there soon. Id love to see how the thing likes your summers...
     

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