Lee Valley Tools    Gardening Newsletter
   Vol. 8, Issue 3
   March 2013
   Gardening on the Hardiness Edge
To over-winter my redbuds, flowering dogwoods, fringe trees and black gums (Nyssa sylvatica) developed from seed, I gather up the branches and secure them with panty hose. I place a 12" to 16" cardboard tube over the young plants and fill the tube with straw or leaves. This helps ensure they come through the winter with viable leaf buds. Applying 3" to 4" of mulch helps insulate the ground and even out root-zone temperatures. Be aware that woody plants facing southwest may develop frost cracks as a result of heating up quickly in the day and cooling off rapidly at night. Don't be too quick to remove plants you think haven't made it through the winter, as they often play possum while waiting to break leaf. Shade plants native to more southern regions may benefit from being placed in a sunnier, warmer location. Even if there is severe dieback, you might be able to prune them into an interesting shrub form. Finally, in my experience, trees and shrubs grown on the edge of or outside their normal hardiness ranges do not reach the size and stature of their southern cousins.

Don't be afraid to experiment with plants that test your area's hardiness limits. The results may amaze you. At the least, your successes will earn you the envy of your gardening friends.

Text by Frank Kershaw

Photos by Marnie Wright

Frank Kershaw is an award-winning horticulturist with some 35 years of experience. He teaches garden design and horticultural courses at George Brown College in Toronto, Ontario, and at the Toronto Botanical Garden. Frank is also a presenter at the Lee Valley Tools Ltd. seminars at the Toronto stores.

Marnie Wright (gardenwright@muskoka.com) is a lifelong gardener, writer and passionate garden photographer. Her Rocksborough Garden, developed over thirty years, is located in Bracebridge, Ontario.
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