grasses in zone 3/4

achnatherum(z4or3 Ontario)July 30, 2007

Any success stories - please pass them on! Or failures ..

In two years I will be able to report in myself, on how a number species of ornamental grasses will do in zone 3/4. We have bought a new house and take possession early next year. We & at least one of each of my grasses are moving north 1 1 /2 zones.

should be interesting!


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All those zone-envy comments over the years have driven you in the wrong direction.

How can you leave those gorgeous gardens?

What's the new (Arctic) property look like?

You should post your question on the Far North Forum as well. A few of it's denizens (especially "Pudge") have quite a bit of OG experience.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 5:29PM
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achnatherum(z4or3 Ontario)

I am going in the RIGHT direction. Shorter gardening season will control my addiction & allow me more time to travel - or that is the plan!
Leaving the gardens with mixed feelings. Although I don't want gardens as large as these, I just walked around to see what plants I would like to take with me and I have a darned long list!
I don't think I quite fit the 'far' north category - I have asked a few question on the northern gardening forum tho.
here is the house

and can't you just see a huge grass planting here ;O)

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 8:48PM
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Pudge 2b

Wow, that is a beautiful property.

Some OGs are much hardier than stated. Panicum virgatum and some cultivars are growing well for me. All of the Calamagrostis x. acutifloras have survived several years in my garden. Calamagrostis brachytricha and Deschampsias are good and hardy. Miscanthus sinensis purparescens is growing well. For Miscanthus cultivars, Blutenwonder grows slowly and bloomed last year, Malepartus also slow growing but survives. And the big surprise this year, Giganteus survived winter and is looking quite big (5' or so) and robust. I don't care if it ever blooms, I just like the size of it. Blue Oat (Helictotrichon) has no hardiness issues. Oh, another that's becoming a favourite (although it spreads somewhat) is Spartina pectinata. Again, no hardiness issues.

If it were me moving from zone 5 to zone 3/4, I'd certainly take one of everything. I am sure you'll be pleasantly surprised.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 9:50PM
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achnatherum(z4or3 Ontario)

Thanks for the incouragement pudge!!!
What zone are you gardening in??
Generally where are you gardening?
Do you have reliable snow cover?? I would think that would help.
I will definitely take one of everything - even the whimps!

I am really delighted that your M. giganteus survived - I don't suppose you can grow Arundo donax??

boy of boy do I ever have a lot of questions for you o :o)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 7:56PM
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It's a beautiful spot, and those porches are spectacular. I see all sorts of containers and rail-planters.

I shiver, however, to think of the zone. Brrrrr!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 8:17AM
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Pudge 2b

I garden in east-central Saskatchewan, technically zone 2A (but don't tell the plants, okay?) and normally there is good snow cover. The odd time there isn't - like last year we had very little snow in December and the temps neared -30C; that took its toll on some plants.

No, I've never tried Arundo donax. I don't have anywhere in my yard with consistently moist soil where it would be happiest. It's common to go thru long periods of drought here so I tend to choose plants that will tolerate it.

Of those OGs I've tried that did not winter at all - Miscanthus Morning Light, Erianthus ravennae and Panicum Northwind come to mind.

There was some limited success with Chasmanthium latifolium (seed grown, wintered the first year then died last winter), Bulbous Oat Grass (still struggling in the garden and looking rather pitiful), Koeleria glauca (about half of the original plants are still growing and doing well, others died last winter), Carex 'Oehme' (looking poor this year after 3 years of very robust growth).

I forgot to mention the Blue Lyme grass is wintering fine, and Melica ciliata is quite happy in my yard for about 3 years now.

There are a number of others that I've grown and didn't like - I'm not fond of Big Bluestem but the plants were growing well, and Spodiopogon sibiricus got the boot this year. Festuca glauca gave me a migraine with its seeding out - I'm still pulling seedlings 4 years later. I had about 100 plants and they all did extremely well.

I'd suggest you search ornamental grasses on the Far North forum as there are some old discussions where posters from slightly warmer zones discussed other grasses that I have not grown. That forum may turn out to be quite beneficial for you - if it grows in zones 2 or 3, you'll be sure to have success in your new locale. There is plenty of varied discussion on perennials, shrubs, trees, etc, and normally quite an active forum.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 9:08PM
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achnatherum(z4or3 Ontario)

Wow! Pudge, thanks all the good suggestions. I will definitely search the far north forum for postings. AND, you are right - if someone is growing something north of my zone then I really do have a good chance. Really, I am willing to try most of my grasses _ I just don't want to chance the trees.
You are growing an amazing variety of grasses in your zone. Have you contributed to that new Canadian Zone map yet? I'm sure your input would be very valuable.

Too bad you & Donn don't live closer - I have been giving grasses away all week. All the left-overs from our grass sale back in June. I hung on to them until the dreaded bus tour came through last weekend and now they are all up for adoption.

Don't worry.... most of the grasses that I want to take north with me are planted in a holding bed. There are only a couple in the 'garden proper' that I have to pop out or take a division from.

thanks again,

ps, maybe some grassy sort of person would like to buy this place :o)
It comes with 100 varieties of grasses!

Here is a link that might be useful: pictures of the garden through 2006

    Bookmark   August 2, 2007 at 7:39AM
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