Cold Climate Gardening
Cold climate gardening is a possibility almost everywhere.

Dreams of a lush, green, tropical paradise keeping you from starting a garden in Stockholm or Quebec? Donít let climate get the best of your green thumb.

After all, there are plants of one kind or another in almost every corner of the earth. The only real limitations are extreme polar climates and those at altitudes so high plants canít grow. But those are climates where almost no one lives, or gardens, anyway.

In some respects, this method isnít much different from gardening anywhere. Some plants are naturally more inclined to thrive in one climate than another and the key is matching plant selections to climate.

As a very general rule of thumb, the climate is colder the further away from the equator one goes. This distance from the middle of the earth means that days are very short and dark in the winter but they are very long, often sunny and bright, during the growing season.

These extended sunshine hours during the growing season make gardening in cold climate so remarkably rewarding. Many plants that thrive in this climate grow vigorously, with lush green leaves much bigger than their southern counterparts, in order to absorb as much of that nourishing sunshine as possible.

And the flowers available for cold climate gardening are often more richly colored than their cousins down south. The reds and yellows are bold and vivid and the blues and purples seem almost surreal to a gardener familiar with warmer climates.

Fruits and vegetables require extended periods of sunshine in order to bear fruit and the long days of the growing season in colder climates provide so much sunshine that growth seems to come in concentrated spurts of growth so vigorous itís almost possible to watch it happen.

A very wide assortment of vegetables such as asparagus, artichokes, peas, and squash are available to the gardener in a colder climate than are available to kindred spirits in warmer locales. And many of our most treasured mushrooms are harvested in darker, damper, colder places.

Cold climate gardening brings such delicacies as juicy grapes; lush berries of all kinds; crispy, delicious apples; and cherries that just arenít possible in warmer climates. Hazelnuts, filberts, and many walnuts would wilt before ripening in many other climates. In fact, many of our favorite tree fruits and nuts will not bud in the spring and bear fruit in the summer unless they experience several hundred hours of temperatures below freezing during the winter.

One very rewarding aspect of gardening in cold climate comes at the end of the growing season. Those spectacular colors of the autumn months that set the countryside ablaze cannot exist without cold winters.

And one visual delight that is only possible in cold climate gardening is the sight of that first fragile-looking crocus, raising itís regal purple head through the icy crust over the glistening snow, bringing the promise of warmer days and rich harvests in the weeks ahead.

Cold climate gardening has its own unique rewards and should be enjoyed with vigor. Never let those tropical daydreams keep you from enjoying your northern garden.

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