Zone 3b is the plant hardiness zone that Edmonton, Alberta, lies in. As a city, we form an island of relative warmth in a sea that is zone 3a. Click the Zone tab above for more information on Canada’s plant hardiness zones.
Zone 3b is my garden journal. It is about naturalistic gardening in a cold climate.
Naturalistic gardening – an idea I first examined in my last year of Horticulture studies. It was born out of a frustration with the sterility of the yards in the surrounding neighborhood and throughout our city. Typical front gardens were lawn and a spruce tree, lawn and a birch tree, lawn and a mountain ash tree…. Foundation planting was the norm: cedars and junipers, (and sometimes even the ubiquitous spruce or pine) crammed tight against walls, blocking windows, covering paths. Flowers were almost always annuals, also planted along the foundation or in a ring around a tree trunk. The bolder gardener would line the front-door walk with pelargoniums or petunias, or potatoes….
Our first years of home ownership were concerned with paying the mortgage and maintaining the house, and my only environmentally-friendly garden acts then were the use of a reel type push-mower and a compost bin. Our front and back yards were typical and dissatisfying – why all this land devoted to a monoculture of lawn? Why own a home with land at all if it was just a weekly burden, requiring regular mowing and irrigation, with the required fertilizing, pest and weed control, aeration and de-thatching that a “healthy” lawn demands? Why was there so little identity in the homes around us? Is every one really as characterless as the appearance of their homes and yards indicated? Why this voluntary conformity in a land of free people?
I had been a nature lover since a child, and to now own a home and a small piece of land was a chance to express myself as never before. What I had learned through my studies, travel and wide reading outside of conventional Canadian horticulture, I now began to put into effect. The back yard was planned first – the space which was to include a maximum of trees, shrubs and perennials and a minimum of lawn. A pond was essential, as well as more compost bins, rain reservoirs and an area for growing vegetables. With encouragement from my wife, we began to pull the plan into three dimensions. We have not had a chance to look back since!
Zone 3b will be the continuing record of the little island we helped create. I will share our struggles, our failures and our successes. I will tell of our lives in the garden and the creatures we share it with, through the seasons. More than just occasionally, I will attempt to look deeper in and further out.
(Adapted from my introductory post)