With cold temperatures outside, it’s a reminder of how important is to know what plants are hardy enough to survive our frigid winters. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending money on landscaping and plants for your garden or patio space, only to have them not emerge the following spring. Winnipeg is a zone 3, or 3a, meaning anything planted in your yard should be cold hardy to -35/-40’C.
Many plants sold or featured at local landscape and garden centers are certainly attractive, but almost certainly destined to not survive (sooner or later). Some plants are grown in entirely different climates and then shipped here in bulk (like those $20 upright cedars at local big box stores), but don’t stand a chance come winter.
Whenever we plan a yard for a landscaping project, we’re sure to pick species that we know are hardy and will make for a long-lasting beautiful garden. We stand behind this with our plant warranty – not only do we provide a free replacement for a dead shrub or tree, we remove the old one and put the new one back in the ground as well.
Below are a few of our favourite varieties that are tried, tested and proven in Winnipeg.
Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass: Almost everyone is looking for a low-maintenance landscape, and this tall ornamental grass is about as care-free as they come. Growing to 4’ or higher, it looks good from June through the remainder of the summer and fall. Plant them in masses for big curb appeal.
Daylily: Many people are familiar with them, but not everyone knows how diverse they are. Look for them in different colours and sizes. Some are even re-bloomers, meaning they’ll have bright colourful flowers throughout July and August, rather than just for a couple weeks. Our favorite is a low, yellow re-bloomer called “Stella D’oro” as it’s dependable and very showy.
May Night Salvia: Another low growing, mounding perennial (meaning the entire plant is attractive with nice scale, rather than just a tall, thin stalk producing a flower that needs to be buried within the garden to look good). Bright purple flowers show early (May-June) and the flowers will return if you dead-head them as they dry out.
Popular perennials you might want to avoid: Heuchera (Coral Bells), Liatris, Fescue
Annabelle Hydrangea: There are many kinds of hydrangea, but we’ve found the most successful to be “Annabelle”, which features large, white ball-like flowers mid-summer. Many people are drawn to try more colourful hydrangea (pink, blue, etc) but Annabelle gives you the best, most reliable show.
Ninebark: If you need some colour or contrast in the yard, try Ninebark. They’re larger shrubs (usually 5-8’) and are available in a range of colours (dark purple, copper, lime green, etc). They produce a small but attractive flower. Ninebark, especially in full sun, require a bit of annual clipping or pruning as they’ll shoot up long stalks out of scale with the bulk of the plant.
Spirea: A low, mounding shrub that again can provide some nice contrast. There are several varieities, some of our favourites being “goldflame”, which turns from bright green and then darkens with some coppery orange leaf tips, or “goldmound”, a lime-green which stands out strongly against deeper green foliage or evergreen.
Popular shrubs you might want to avoid: Weigela, Barberry, Roses
Hawthorne (Toba or Snowbird): A perfect tree for a smaller space or yard, or for some low massing in front of bigger trees. It’s a no-mess tree with beautiful white or purple flowers in the spring time. It’s a great tree to have near the house or patio without worrying about branches hitting the roof or eaves as they don’t grow beyond about 15’ wide or tall.
Maple (Silver Maple, Manitoba Maple, Amur Maple): An attractive large shade tree with fairly quick growth. In this picture, a much smaller variety (Amur maple) flanks the front door and are nicely pruned. They’ll bring brilliant red fall colour.
Popular trees to potentially avoid: Paper birch, Schubert Chokecherry, Crabapples that drop fruit (mess)