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Cold climate gardening

(8 Posts)
Unhappyexpat Fri 12-Feb-16 14:50:01

Having built a house, I now have a blank canvas and I need some advice on what to do with it!

Roughly 800 sqm, house is in the ne corner so the bulk of the garden faces southwest. Flat, not entirely sure of the soil type but geological maps of the area class it as 'brunjord' (brown earth). Underlying substrata is granite.
We are just shy of 60 degrees north. Summers are generally warm and dry with highs of 35 but more usually high twenties. Winters can get down to -25 easily. Very little daylight in winter, long days in summer so a very short growing season.

Any ideas? No gardens nearby to nab ideas off - the whole area is new and the biggest thing anyone's planted is chuffing leylandii (which will come in to my garden over my dead body...)

I'm looking for ideas on:
Hedge plant that will grow to a nice dense barrier
Trees (Apple, would magnolia survive?)
Hardy climbers (any wisteria hardy enough for here?)
Border plants
Bedding plants

Or general tips!

shovetheholly Fri 12-Feb-16 15:41:09

This is totally not my area, but you may be able to work out hardiness using the USDA zones. My guess is that you're looking for things that are hardy to USDA zone 4(ish). I would also guess (going on gut, not experience) that things are less hardy in the first few years before they establish, so that you might have to provide a bit of winter protection to help things through the first couple of years. Others may be able to provide more practical advice about this!! smile

While there might not be gardens in your immediate area, you can still gain a lot by looking at plots that are in roughly the same 'zone' further afield.

In terms of magnolias, there are several that you could use. The lovely Magnolia stellata has a toughness that is belied by its delicate flowers - it's hardy to zone 4. Magnolia 'Ann' is another possibility. I am sure there will be others too!

Google tells me most wisterias are zones 5-9. so not far off your conditions - it's worth a punt.

Unhappyexpat Fri 12-Feb-16 16:01:42

I keep getting different values for the zone... Our city is apparently 7a, but very close by one town is 5b...

shovetheholly Fri 12-Feb-16 16:30:07

Wikipedia has a list of the hardiness zones here:

7a is only down to -18C. You suggest that your area often gets down to -25C, which sounds like it can get even colder! (Brutal!) These extreme cold snaps can kill plants. (Here, we had a very cold winter for England a few years back and a lot of people lost things, especially in milder areas like the South-West).

I would go by the actual temperatures in your garden, because you will get all kinds of effects in a city like microclimate. From what you've said zone 4/5 sounds about right.

Unhappyexpat Fri 12-Feb-16 20:42:29

Thanks! I will definitely look out that magnolia...

I'm totally at a loss as to what to grow here. This is my first ever 'own' garden and I'd love to have a chaotic cottage garden look but I just don't know where to begin! I know it'll take many years to reach maturity but I'd like to get cracking this spring and at least get the hedges trees and basic structure in. The growing season is so short - things tend to explode in summer and get nuked in the winter... Swedes don't seem to garden like the Brits do, I want my garden to be a little haven for me

echt Fri 12-Feb-16 22:20:22

This might be helpful:

Or this:

Qwebec Fri 19-Feb-16 01:16:26

I live in a Canadian zone 4b (american zone 3b). My minimum in the winter is -32C I tell you, you have a ton of possibilities!
First I'd say go to your local garden center and write dow the name of the plants you like, but don't buy anything yet.
Look up on the internet in the plants you like are really fit for your area (at least a quarter of what is sold in my area is mislabled and would not survive the winter no matter what the label says) and that they are problem free plants.
Try to find out what kindof soil you have and the type of sun, the old right plant in the right spot is still true.

Apples and magnolia grow well, but you need to be careful some varieties survive the cold and other not. You still have lots of choice.

Wisteria's on the other hand are tough.
The plant survives no problem, but the blooms don't survive the cold. There was a new variety: blue moon that makes blooms on the new branches but as it is a new it is a bit early to say if it really blooms well.

I found most of my favorite plants by reading gardening books at my local library, my favorite cold climate gardener : Larry Hodgson a no non sense gardener What ever he suggests you can be sure will be beautiful, tough and well behaved.

Qwebec Fri 19-Feb-16 01:20:05

Forgot to add, at you temperature you can grow anything with a smaller harderness zone than your's too so Canada zone 0 till 5 and american 0 till 4

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