Monday, February 14, 2011

Great Plants for Zone 4

As gardeners, we are always looking to add a great plant to our gardens. There is always the urge to push our zones and look for that micro-climate in our yards where we might, just might, be able to get a plant to flourish that none of our neighbors can grow. Putting this green one-upmanship aside, nothing beats a beautifully grown plant which is grown to its potential and properly placed.

Years ago, I had a mature flowering quince, with its shiny leathery leaves, that was just such a signature shrub for me. I haven't seen one correctly cared for in a number of years, especially since I have moved to a colder zone 4.

Gardening in zone 4 has its own challenges. These are some of the plants I feel are winners here.

This first is blue flax. Sure, it only blooms until about 11 AM everyday, but it blooms in an area of my garden that is little better than a gravel scree. Neighborhood dogs pee on it. It has a rough go. Still, it bloomed nearly all summer for me.

This next is a climbing rose, William Baffin. As you can see, I have the perfect little cottage-y house for it. I have to admit, I am not a big one for tieing up plants and training them, although I am not above "topiary-torture" to make plants fit my confined spaces. Ask the juniper out back that I have been keeping at 6' tall while its neighbor is going on 20'! My across the street neighbor though tied up his one-year old climbing rose and really demonstrated the bang for a piece of string,so I followed suit this year, and was pleasantly rewarded for my effort. With our cold winters there are few roses which that are worth training to climb; William baffin is clearly one.

I have become quite enraptured with Japanese peonies. When I was a kid, every old farm house had its row of tuberous peonies planted out along the lawn. I miss those days with those peonies lined up like overblown, taudry dancehall girls. The Japanese peonies, while more refined and shorter-blooming, are well worth the effort.

This next is one of the fall blooming hydrangea, tardiva 'Unique'. Part of a shrub border along a dusty alleyway; it never dissappoints!

I'll post more of my favorites in coming days.

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