The Q&A Archives: Easy Low Maintance Plants For Northern Gardens

Question: I have very little time for gardening lately with demands from my family and work. I however enjoy the satisfaction of an attractive garden. My climate is one that flucuates between exteme heat in summer and extreme frigid cold in winter. Ocassionally we don't get a final frost until July.Can you suggest plants of any kind that will require little maintainance, and put up with these harsh conditions?

Answer: I've found the most reliable plants for difficult situations are those considered native to the area. They generally are disease and insect pest-free, require little maintenance in terms of fertilizing, pruning or watering, and usually attract birds (which I consider an added bonus). Shrub type plants for your region include Amelanchier alnifolia (Saskatoon) Ceanothus velutinus (tobacco brush), Chrysothamnus nauseosus (rabbitbrush), Cornus stolonifera (redtwig dogwood), Corylus (western hazelnut), Elaeagnus commutata (silverberry), Holodiscus dumosus (mountain spray), Philadelphus lewisii (wild mock orange), Prunus besseyi (western sand cherry), Rhus trilobata (squawbush), Rubus deliciosus (Rocky Mountain thimbleberry) and Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry). Groundcovers and vines for your gardening area include Antennaria dioica (pussy toes), Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (bearberry), Calylophus hartwegii (sundrops), Clematis ligusticifolia, and Mahonia repens (creeping mahonia). For bright color spots, try these perennials: Aquilegia caerulea (Rocky Mountain columbine), Callirhoe involucrata (poppy mallow), Geum triflorum (prarie smoke), Monarda fistulosa (bee balm), Oenothera caespitosa (tufted evening primrose), Penstemon barbatus, and Ratibida columnifera (Mexican hat). Hope the above plants provide endless color in your garden with very little work!

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