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« New hellebore breeding | Main | A brand new vegetable! »

January 17, 2010


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Foxtail Lilly

Yes, it has been very cold, for us!!
Warming up now, no need for the thermal undies now!!
Love Txx

Helen at Toronto Gardens

Hi from, at the moment, un-snowy Toronto, Canada, which is USDA Zone 5 (and 6, in our own wacky Canadian zoning system).

I can say from experience that there's a big difference between sub-zero temps with and *without* snow cover. In Toronto, we don't have the typical snow cover that similarly zoned suburban gardens in our area might have. Right now, we're going through one of our frequent January thaws. That leaves otherwise zone-hardy plants exposed to drying winter winds and sun – not very good for the constitution.

Graham Rice

Yes, snow cover is crucial. I don't think Brits appreciate the value of snow cover - until this year much of the country has been mainly snow free for years. And even now it's gone again in most areas.

What suits the plants best is for a big dose of snow to come first, then for it to get cold, then for it to stay cold, and then for it to warm up and spring to come. It's the cold/warm snow/no snow that so many hate. Even so, they can suffer when the snow and the top few inches of soil thaw in spring and it's still frozen underneath. The crowns of the plants sit in icy water - which they hate.

And Tracey at Foxtail Lilly... If you have any good snowy pix of your garden you wizz one or two over... None on the blog, I see.

Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening

Thank you, Graham, for the kind mention. Sometimes I feel a bit of a sham calling myself a cold climate gardener. Partly because it is not as cold here as it used to be, and partly because it never was as cold as it gets in (US)Zones 1, 2 and 3. But I try to keep a list of resources to help all gardeners trying to garden in these challenging conditions:

Graham Rice

Yes, Kathy, although you're not in the very coldest of zones there's still plenty of valuable info on your site.


I have to disagree that Britain is mostly zone 8 (US) climate wise! I garden in Scotland and regularly find that most British gardening books list plants that would not be happy here at all. In the West of Scotland it is the amount of winter wet that can be a real problem - using just hardiness in temperature terms is not enough. This year was unusually cold but we had a fall of snow (unusual) that did actually protect the plants from the -10C it went down to here in West Central Scotland. A good book to get started in Scotland would be "Garden plants for Scotland" by K Cox.

Graham Rice

You're right in one crucial aspect of all this - it's not just about temperature. The map here (scroll down) shows most of the British Isles in zone 8, with some mountainous areas in zone 7 and many coasts, the south west and much of Ireland in zone 9. But yes, Andrea, winter wet is a crucial factor - but not one easily measured by a number.

Kelsey from Ground Effects Nursery

Thanks for the shout-out. I actually use the American Horticulture Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants as one of my sources when I'm writing the plant descriptions on our website. The other source I usually use is this website: and that is where I got the information about phlox being hardy to zone 2.

Graham Rice

I agree, the AHS A-Z is very useful. My AHS Encyclopedia of Perennials gives Phlox paniculata as zone 4 (on advice from the AHS). I'm afraid this is an issue on which not everyone agrees.

dental care

the plants are very important to us all, in them we find from medicines and food up production, is a resource that should take care because otherwise it would be at Risk!

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