Perceptions of Zones and Hardiness
Sat, 07 Feb 2004 10:26:59 PST
(First, apologies if this more or less duplicates a previous posting; as
far as I can tell, it never went through.)

As everyone clearly agrees, cold tolerance does not define hardiness!  Here
in zone 5 (lows to -20F), for example, I grow (in the open, unsheltered
garden)the following South Africans: Kniphofia hirsuta, northiae, stricta,
typhoides, breviflora, linearifolia, brachystachya, caulescens,
triangularis ssp. triangularis, ichopensis, and maybe a couple of others
I've forgotten; also Dierama igneum, dracomontanum, trichorrhizum, and
pauciflorum; Gladiolus oppositiflorus ssp. salmoneus, old G. dalenii
hybrids ("primulinus" types) and G. saundersii; Moraea huttonii; Eucomis
montana, autumnalis, and bicolor; Tritonia disticha v. rubrolucens;
Galtonia viridiflora and regalis; and a bunch of herbaceous things
(Berkeheya purpurea, B. multijuga, Artemisia afra, Geranium robustum,
Wahlenbergia rivularis, to name most of them).  The secret here is snow
cover: usually there from December through March.  Last week we got 5 feet
in 36 hours, so I guess we're set until about May this year. The ground
stays relatively warm under all that insulation.

But I have to disagree with some people about kniphofias not tolerating
wetness.  Here, at least, they revel in it.  They freeze and thaw in it for
weeks in early "spring" (what we call "mud season" here).  Because I garden
on a hill, even the wet areas are moving wet, so perhaps that's the key - I
don't know.

So the bottom line is that minimum temperatures tell you relatively little -

Ellen Hornig
Oswego NY USA
Zone 5

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