Pushing the limits of cold gardening!!!

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

  1. nlafrance3

    nlafrance3 Member

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    Thanks Canadianplant. Sorry I get really defensive because I continually have to put up with people from other provinces coming here and asking me how I live with -40s all the time. I've never experienced colder than -37 and that was the coldest its been in the city my whole life. Of course the international hits -40 every year. Most years its -27 to -33 as a low in the city. Even when its only -29c as a low in the city, it still breaks -40 at the international. Its somehow colder there, than fort mcmurray most of the time???!!! Either way, I love my city and would rather have people see the temperatures I have to live with day to day. There are many amazing mature trees in the city that are rated zone 4 and 5 that would not be living here if it was zone 2 or even borderline zone 3. Yes it is the urban heat island effect, but the airport is the rural arctic impossible freeze effect.

    I will post a picture of the palm at the end of the growing season to see how far its made it. My new trees this year are the sweetgum and london plane tree. My northern pin oak has been in the ground 3 years in an extremely exposed wind position with no protection and looks amazing. Theres one example of a tree that would not be alive if we were hitting below -40.
     
  2. Canadianplant

    Canadianplant Active Member

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    Oh your trying Eucalyptus???? They grow as a die back perennial in zone 5. If you protect some of the trunk i bet yout get a jump start. They can get around 13 feet in a season.. not bad.

    You should aso try common fig, which grows in this fasion ( Ficus Carica(sp)).

    For something to do, go check out the ginko biloba thats apperantly growing in UOA or E, one of the 2.

    I hear you about getting defensive. The airport is part of the city..... I never agree with how they dont show the wole cities differnt temps. They used to do that in calgary on global..... sometimes there would be a 10 C difference in temps... and tornado warnings and sunshine...... You have the mountains to keep your temps moving up and down all the time... Lake superior moderates our temps, andhas an effect sometihng like 14km inland....... the closer to the lake, the warmer you are.

    You really should protect it this year a bit.... even just soem leaves.. .and a good bury in snow........
     
  3. nlafrance3

    nlafrance3 Member

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    Nope im not trying eucalyptus. I can see the confusion with sweetgum. Im trying a Liquidambar styraciflua. Its zone 5 hardy but I've heard of good reports from zone 4 Minneapolis. But I would love to try a eucalyptus. Our russian olive trees and silver willows remind me of them very much so, especially the leaf color and shape. I love the silver leaves. The london plane tree reminds me of california freeways and i've read of many zone 3a reports on about 5 websites.
     
  4. nlafrance3

    nlafrance3 Member

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    I see the two ginkgos you're talking about almost everyday. They did really well this winter, when we had so many trees dieback from the snap frost of -5 we had in october after being +30 a week before. Now that I bring it up, most of the "tender" trees did the best compared to the rough as nails ones. The willows took a huge beating as well as green ash which normally lose their leaves early but not last year. Cork trees also, a very nice crimson king maple, sugar maples, red maples, red oak, horsechestnuts....those are all products on the U of A grounds that do very well. Honeylocusts and northern pin oak seem to be the next boulevard trees of edmonton, aloong with autumn blaze maple. All of the trials have gone perfectly, along with 95% of the norway maples planted.
     
  5. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    Where are these Gingkos growing? I was at the U of A in the spring, and wanted to see them, but didn't know where to look.

    As for this heat island effect, yes it is true, but not everywhere. If it was true for all large cities, Winnipeg too would be a zone 4 or 5, which it is absolutlely NOT!! The airport here is near my house, so I use those readings, and they are not much different from downtown or areas outside of the city. Slightly different, but not enought to bring the zone up. I'm really amazed that Edmonton is zone 4 or 5. Which part of the city are you in? Are other parts of the city also that warm? I can understand possibly in sheltered areas away from the wind.

    Am I understanding right that you have a Trachycarpus growing outside??!! Very cool. Looking forward to the pics.
     
  6. nlafrance3

    nlafrance3 Member

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    I have monitored many different stations in the city over the past couple years just to see the difference in zones and they hold pretty true. The outside edges of the city are consistently zone 3a-4a along with most suburb cities of edmonton. City centre is mostly zone 4-5 with a couple years in a 30 year period between zone 3b and 4a. I live about 5 min south of downtown and my temperature readings are almost identical to downtown. The north east seems to be the warmest spot as I have noticed their readings are even a couple degrees warmer than downtown most of the time. That is near an industrial area, so possibly all of the pollution is warming the area :P.

    I have looked at the extremes of every year individually. Our best year in the late 80's gave us a minimum of -17c which i believe is a zone 7a year!! Even Montreal has had an extreme low of -40 in their records and they are rated zone 5a but their winter averages are definitely warmer than here. I think what kills zone 4 and 5 trees here is their inability to shut down early enough for freezes and waking up too early in the spring just to be killed by a late freeze. Thats what did my butterflies magnolia in this spring. It was budding out early april. Now its just a small shrub compared to its 6 foot self.

    The ginkgo are about a 100 foot walk east from 114st just north of university ave against a building by a parking lot and just north east of the daycare which has 4 red maples growing fine.
     
  7. nlafrance3

    nlafrance3 Member

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    And yes I left a windmill palm outside unprotected last year and it survived!!! I am guessing thats a world record. It was a -35c year. I will post the new growth its put up. Probably not even close to the amount it could have had in a warmer summer area like kelowna.
     
  8. Canadianplant

    Canadianplant Active Member

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    Kevin, edmonton is different becasue of the mountains... the get a huge surge of warmer air a few times during the winter, not as much as calgary, but they still get that warm air.

    The peg on the other hand, has absolutly nothing to funnel in warm air. Not to mention the huge windchills, and huge amounts of snow you get there. Winnipeg, if im not mistakin, is the coldest major city in canada, or at least the coldest city in the world with a population over 600 000 ( wikipedia). You guys have around 60 days where the temp is -20. The flat land all the way up to the arctic is what does you guys in there. You have to remember as welll, edmonton has double the amount of large buildings downtown then the peg. No matter how much concrete you guys have there, I dont think the heat island effect will do alot for you guys. mabey a zone higher.

    Nic - Interesting list. I think we grow lots of those plants here ( i know for a fact we have sugar maples). Cork tree ?!?!?! REally??
     
  9. nlafrance3

    nlafrance3 Member

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    There are four cork trees on the u of a grounds that ive never seen show any winter kill. They all look pretty good and are about 20 feet tall with a spread of about 18 feet probably. Ill have to take pictures one day. As far as your explanation of Winnipeg, spot on. I've had debate after debate with a fellow gardener from winnipeg and he's convinced that we can compare the two airports and not the city temps. One, their airport is closer and two....every reason you just listed. Im not interested in what I can grow at the airport 20km out of the city and nobody travelling here is interested in that temperature either. As far as I'm concerned, there shouldn't even be a listing of that temperature except for the people sitting in the airport that want to the know the temperature outside the doors.
     
  10. Canadianplant

    Canadianplant Active Member

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    Thats jsut crazy about the cork trees. Cant wait to see the pictures.

    Im not saying winnipeg wont have any micrclimates or any effect from the pavement. They could still get to zone 3 or 4 there i bet.... which is pretty good IMO. And I agree. To me, knowing the airport temp or what is reported, is a decent benchmark to go by, if you know how your temps vary. You can listin to what people tell you what the temp is, or jsut get some thermometers.
     
  11. Alavone

    Alavone Member

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    I am here in Tx where it gets snow and I have a ponytail palm out front that is hardy and it puts up with the cold. I cover it on the really cold days/nights with plastic and sheet over top!
     
  12. montreal

    montreal Member

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    Gingko grows very well in Montreal without protection. I have seen a group on Ste-Catherine Street and more in the Botanical Garden.
     
  13. andree

    andree Member

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    There is a lovely gingko tree in Montreal's Botanical Garden.
     
  14. fridgidbamboo

    fridgidbamboo Member

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    Hi. Interesting to read this post. I have been trying to push the limit of hardiness over the years here in zone 5. I have had success with only 1 kind of palm witch is Rhapidophyllum hystrix (needle palm) with little winter protection. They have survived in the ground for 1 to 3 winters but grow very slowly. The best results I had with tropicals is with cacti and succulents. I have a large border raised by about 1 1/2 feet and fill with plain sand. I haver at least 40 species planted in there and most survive without protection. A few don't survive and a replaced by new ones that usually suvive, but most often thrive. Most are there for several years now and increase much in size. I order them on rockgardenplants.com in BC and I am very pleased with them. The choice of cati is impressing and most are hardy in zones 5, 4 and even 3, which is not surprising since a few species are found naturally in the prairies. I am now into bamboos, but it's too early to have an opinion on them. Finally, why not use tropicals that grow fast in your landscape and consider them as annuals? Many people spend a lot of money each year on annual flowers only to see them die in the fall. It's a good way for a tropical look in the garden. I hope that my experience will help you.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2012
  15. sgbotsford

    sgbotsford Active Member

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    Don't be afraid to try. Zone info is a crapshoot at the best of times.

    1. It's based on the average 10 year mininimum. So you can get away with some things for several years at a time, then Whack!.

    2. The freeze mechanism of plants is complex. So it doesn't just matter how cold it gets, but also how fast it gets cold.

    3. The cold sensitive parts of the plant vary. E.g. Mountain hemlock is nominally zone 3. But it grows where there is very heavy winter snowfall. The roots never get more than a degree or two below freezing


    4. Work from seed, not from cultivars. Seed based plants have some natural variability. Cultivars are almost always genetically identical. (Some are grafted, so if it's root freezing to death, you may have some partial success from it's variability. I started with 500 mountain hemlock two years ago. I lost 90% the first year, perhaps 10% of the remainder last year. This year has been warm, but very low snow. We'll see.

    5. Plant lots, and be ready for massive die offs.

    6. Mark the location with a labeled stick. Very frustrating to try to figure out what this dead stick is in spring.
     
  16. fridgidbamboo

    fridgidbamboo Member

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    Interesting way to do testing on marginally hardy spiecies. By planting so many specimen of the same kind, you get a selection of th thoughest, the ones that should be propagated because of their increased hardiness. But for such experiments, you need lots of space and specimens to work with, wich is not the case for most gardeners. At least there are adventurous gardeners like you that have such an opportunity and are able to collects useful datas. Go on with your research and keep us posted.
     
  17. sgbotsford

    sgbotsford Active Member

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    I do this for a living. (Ok, I don't make any money at it yet.) I've got 80 acres to play with.

    If there are readers in the Edmonton area who would like to conduct this sort of trial, please contact me. Currently I've got 12 acres of mixed bush lightly managed for firewood; 16 acres with a 4 mile trail that will eventually be a Christmas tree maze, and 40 acres that is in the process of reverting back to prairie.
     
  18. sgbotsford

    sgbotsford Active Member

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    The other aspect of this: if you are starting with forestry seedlings they are really cheap by the box. 1 year old seedlings range from 20 t0 90 cents.
     
  19. cagreene

    cagreene Active Member

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    wow! I listen to ya'll splitting hairs over 3 degrees,lol!! when the temp here drops to plus 5 I break out my snow suit! we complain here if we see snow or hail just in case it doesn't melt right away! While living in northern ont,( picton trenton region) we found that it was difficult to get a tropical look to the yard. so i started growing local trees, and braiding them together and bonsai others to give our yard a more original look. rhododendrons take to shaping well, and flowers are very showy and bloom twice a year here in bc. By adding a water source, a moving pond and water fall, you can bring your winter temps up, or a Jacuzzi close by can help tropical plants winter outside. I have a lemon tree from seed that I keep out doors here, in a large ceramic pot. It looses most of its younger leaves during the winter, and starts to recover in late feb. good luck with your yard project!! p.s. I think edmonton gets a bum wrap too!! when its a beautiful place with truly genuinely good people.
     

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