My garden conditions: zone 1b, a short season, acidic soil (no one lives far from a bog), brutal winter temperatures, with lots of snow from November to March (the lake thaws in May).
A few of the plants are generally known as hardy, but I've never tried them. Local gardeners are encouraged to give feedback here! I included my own photos where available.Gardenista's List of PERENNIALS FOR THE NORTH
(Z=minimum hardiness zone rating)
Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) - hardy but spreads quickly. I removed mine.
Monkshood (Aconitum napellus) – Very poisonous, Z4. I planted some in my yard in 2008. Still thriving in 2012. Very hardy and highly recommended. Blooms in late summer when other flowers are done.
Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) Z4, a favourite, beautiful chartreuse foliage, water beads collect on the leaves like beads of mercury, forms a nice neat dome-shaped plant. Mature plants died in severe winter of 2009, but self-seeds minimally if dead-headed and will replace losses.Windflower (Anemone sylvestris) Z4 - seeds itself and spreads everywhere, I avoid it
Columbines (Aquilegia) Z3 -very easy to grow, does very well here, seeds itself a bit, I have several different kinds, grow in part shade to full sun, though foliage will get brown and ratty after blooming if grown in full sun (best to trim it down when it does this). There are some cutworms around here that like to chew off all the leaves, but these can be squished by hand.
--Aquilegia glandulosa (from another La Ronge garden) - a small blue-flowering plant-->
Rockcress (Arabis) Z3 - short mat with small flowers at the same time the tulips are blooming
--Arabis caucasica (white). Very hardy. Blooms here in May. Short bloom time and looks drab the rest of the year.--Arabis blepharophylla (pink flowers) --died in winter of 2007. Not hardy.
Sea Thrift (Armeria pseudarmeria) Z4-looks like a small chives plant in flower, does okay in the rock garden. Marginally hardy in severe winters, however. All dead by 2010.
Goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus/sylvester) Z3, prefers moist soil, looks like a large astilbe with cream-colored feathery flowers that bloom for two weeks, I started mine from seed 2 years ago, they flowered in 2007. Several plants show signs of rust and were thrown out, but the rest were okay until the severe winter of 2009 killed them. Some seedlings appearing in 2012.
--Aster alpinus "Goliath" -->
Rockcress (Aubrieta deltoidea) Not particularly hardy here. Killed by most winters.Elephant Ears (Bergenia cordifolia) Z3 - excellent plant, evergreen, early flowering, highly recommended for sun or shade. Very hardy.
Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla) Z3 - very attractive foliage, hardy perennial for part to full shade. Looks good alongside hostas. Small blue flowers look like those of forget-me-nots. Killed by severe winter of 2009.
--Brunnera macrophylla "Jack Frost"Bellflowers (Campanula) Z3, very hardy bell-shaped flowers in blue, white, or purple. Highly recommended low-growing plants, flower in late June and July.
--Campanula carpatica "Blue Clips"-->--Campanula carpatica "White Clips"
--Campanula percisifolia alba (white type)
Snow in Summer (Cerastium tomentosum) Z3 - very hardy, spreads moderately so cut it down after blooming, gray foliage, carpet of white flowers. Cut it back at its margins in spring to reduce spread.
Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium, Morden series) While the grocery store mums are certainly not suited to the prairies (are not bred to flower in our conditions), the Morden mums are excellent.
|Chrysanthemum morifolium "Morden Fiesta"|
Clematis (Clematis macropetala, Clematis mandshurica)--Clematis mandshurica, white, very fragrant flowers, blooms in late summer;
|Clematis mandschurica, a fragrant clematis that I grew from seed.|
|Convallaria majalis "Rosea"|
Bunchberry (Cornus Canadensis) Z2 - grow wild everywhere here, no need to buy them!
Delphiniums (Delphinium species)- beautiful, reliably hardy. Self-seeds, so cut off dead flowers. May need to stake them to protect them in summer storms.
--D. grandiflorum "Blue Elf"
--D. elatum "Summer skies" (light blue)-->
--D. elatum "King Arthur" (deep purple)
--D. elatum "Blue Bird" (deep blue)
|Dianthus deltoides "Arctic Fire"|
|Dianthus gratianopolitanus "Firewitch"|
|Dicentra spectabilis "Alba"|
Shooting Star (Dodecatheon pulchellum) -- from another La Ronge garden. Blooms in June.
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) Z2 - very pretty, hardy tall pink flower. Mature plants killed off in severe winter of 2009. Flowers in second year and thereafter. Most kinds can be grown from seed.
|Echinacea purpurea "Ruby Star".|
Sea Holly (Eryngium alpinum) Planted in 2007, bloomed in 2009. Over 2 feet tall, unique steely-blue brushlike flowers. Eryngium variifolium never grew more than a few inches tall and never flowered, so I got rid of it.
Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria/vulgaris) Z3 - wintered well. I eventually found it a bit boring and weedy-looking so I got rid of it.
Gentians (Gentiana sp.) - Very pretty little plants with the most intriguing deep blue flowers. Very sought-after.
--Gentiana verna - blooms here in May
--Gentiana acaulis - large tubular flowers, blooms in June
Blue Oat Grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens) Z3- a mid-sized ornamental grass, non-spreading. After three years, the centers of mine rotted, but could be restored by dividing the grass and removing the rotten parts.
Daylily (Hemerocallis) Z3- do very well here. Almost all were killed in severe winter of 2009, but this is a rare occurence and I would still plant more.
Plantain Lily (Hosta sp. ) Z3- several including H. sieboldiana "Elegans" they don't pop out of the ground till late May, but look nice when they do. Good for part shade. All killed off by the severe winter of 2009, but I replaced them, as they usually are quite hardy.
Bitterroot (Lewisia cotyledon) - once of the most beautiful small perennials in existence, in my opinion. It flowers for us in June and does well in very well-drained soil. Insert pebbles around the base of the plant to keep its leaves off the soil. Quite hardy, though freakish cold winter of 2009 killed all plants. They did self-seed though, which is handy, as I find them a bit hard to start from seed indoors. Seeds seem to need the cold and changing temperature of the outdoors to germinate.
Gayfeather (Liatris spicata) Z3 - a spiky purple wildflower that looks good in clusters, attracts butterflies. Most killed off in severe winter of 2009. They do self-seed a bit, so can leave a few offspring.
Perennial flax (Linum perenne) - delicate looking foliage with pale blue flowers on 10-12" tall plant.
Lupines (Lupinus) Z4 -
--Lupinus polyphyllus "Gallery Yellow"; very attractive flowers. This is the only lupine that continues to do well for me. Not a long-lived perennial here, and tends to die out randomly.Musk Mallow (Malva moschata) - pretty lavatera-like flowers, informal looking, bit gangly. Self-seeds moderately. Removed in 2008.
Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia) Z2- thrive here and multiply easily
Bergamot/Bee Balm (Mondarda didyma) Z3- a bit invasive but controllable, attracts butterflies. Center of old clump did not return in 2008, but had new growth at edges. Short-lived perennial.
--large clump of M. didyma, started from seed;
Forget Me Not (Myosotis) - First planted in my yard in 2008, and now are reseeding around to make a gorgeous carpet of blue and pink in the spring. Biennial. Some killed in severe 2009 winter, but seedlings continued and will flower 2011.
|Myosotis sylvatica "Victoria pink"|
Poppies (Papaver orientale/Oriental poppy, Papaver nudicaule/Iceland poppy, Papaver miyabeanum, Papaver somniferum, Papaver rhoeas) Z3 - grow very well; P. somniferum and rhoeas aren't perennial, but reseed themselves reliably.
Beardtongue (Penstemon ovatus) Z3 - grows well, self-seeds a bit
Peonies (Paeonia) - still waiting for any flowers! Need full sun and moist soil.
--Peony "Lotus Queen" (single flowered, white), planted 2005.
--Peony "Bouchela" (pink), planted 2007. Removed 2008 because of rust.
Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) - one of the prettiest May/June flowers, short dense evergreen mat that is covered in flowers; comes in pink, pale blue, and white. Severe winter-kill in 2009, but still alive.
Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum) Z4 - I don't have this, but I think it grows here
Primroses (Primula denticulata Z4, P. auricula Z2, P. cortusoides Z2, Primula x polyanthus Z4) - the polyanthus is supposed to be the least hardy of these, but I've had them for 2 winters in my yard; auricula has waxy thick leaves and is extremely hardy and not killed by any winter we've ever had.
Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)- blooms at Easter, I have white, purple, red, and pink flowered plants. Very hardy. Self-seed a bit. Highly recommended.
Rhubarb (Rheum) If you can't grow rhubarb, you can't grow anything! This plant is very hardy and stays attractive all season long. Of course, it's great for pies too. Attacked by slugs in 2009, but will survive.
Rock Soapwort (Saponaria ocymoides) Z2- Flowered for one year then failed to bloom again. I wonder if it is hardy here. Bloomed nicely in 2009, but is rather unreliable.
Stonecrop (Sedum sp.) Z3-there are so many different kinds, we have a "wall" of the stuff as groundcover.
Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum)- there are many sizes and colors. These do well in some corner where not much else will grow.
|Sempervivum in bloom|
Lamb's Ear (Stachys byzantina) - fuzzy grey plant, moderate creeper, keep its edges in check, attracts bees. Self-seeds if not deadheaded. Some killed in severe winter, but came back anyhow.
Meadow Rue (Thalictrum sp) - I grow T. rochebrunianum and it does well, growing to about 7 feet tall and seeds itself around; elegant-looking plant with airy purple/pink cloud of tiny blooms at top. Looks neat growing among the tall delphiniums and at the back of the flower beds.
BULBS FOR THE NORTH [F] = Fall planting, [S] = spring planting
Ornamental Onions (Allium sp.) [F] - I am going to be experimenting with a few of the giant flowering types in 2008. "Purple sensation" came up the first year after planting, but not after that.
Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa forbesii) [F] - tiny little early spring flowers; come in blue, white and pink; plant in clusters for effect
Crocuses (Crocus sp.) [F] - only the spring-blooming crocuses are hardy here.
--tiny snow crocuses, which come in several colors-->--large flowered crocuses -->
--Narcissus "Full House"
--Narcissus "Pacific Coast"
--Giant yellow trumpet daffodils-->
Fritillaries - [F] Fritillaria imperialis is NOT hardy here, but F. meleagris (Snake's head or checked lily) is hardy
--Fritillary meleagris (purple type) 2008-->
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) [F] - Took 3 years to bloom! I have heard you need to plant them as a blooming plant (not a bulb) to have them thrive.
Dwarf iris (Iris reticulata "Harmony") [F] - I have plenty of these and love them! They are the first to bloom of all my flowers (in mid-April) in a very sunny sloped rock garden.
--Iris reticulata "Harmony"-->
Lilies (Oriental, Asiatic, LA Hybrids) [S] - do very well, I prefer the LA hybrids such as "Fangio" or, Oriental Pot Lily Farolito was very fragrant; summer flowering
--LA Hybrid Lily "Courier"-cream colored
--LA Hybrid Lily "Auckland"-white
--LA Hybrid Lily "Fangio"-->--LA Hybrid Lily "Yellow Tycoon", extremely long bloom time-->--Hybrid Asiatic "Cote d'Azur"-pink, multiplies rapidly
Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginia) [F] - grown by another local gardener
Grape Hyacinths (Muscari) [F] such a joyful spring flower, multiplies and naturalizes well
--Muscari latifolium (flat leaf muscari) - bloom is not as nice as the others
--Muscari armeniacum (blue)--> --Muscari botryoides "Album" (white)--> these multiply very slowly compared to the blueSiberian squill (Scilla siberica) [F] Z3 -spring flowering bulb, need a bunch of them to have any impact, small blue nodding flowers. Look more amazing every year.
--Scilla siberica --> Tulips, Botanical/Species [F] -These are naturalizing (return every year, spreading and multiplying) tulips that are tiny like crocuses, but come in bright colors and will outlive any of the larger showy tulips, which only last a few years. They either are wild-type or closely related to the wild-type tulips from Turkey.
--Tulipa tarda /Daystemon tarda--> --Tulipa turkestanica --> --Tulipa humulis/pulchella "Eastern Star"-->--Tulipa batalinii (in another La Ronge garden)-->
Tulips, Other [F] - I have had success with the large spectacular "Single Late", "Darwin Hybrid", and "Triumph" types; but I would never try ones labeled "Single Early/Double Early" in our climate, because the flowers could get deformed by late frosts. Gregii, Fosteriana, and Kaufmanii are probably good choices too, and they should return year after year.
--Double Late "Blue Diamond"-->
--Triumph "Negrita" (purple) and "Zurel" (white and purple) - the first large tulips to bloom
--Darwin hybrid Yellow tulip-->
This is not a comprehensive list of hardy plants by any means, but possibly informative to new northerners!