A few surprising perennial blooms have braved the repeated frosts of zone 3. Normally November is a bleak month in the garden. Permanent snow has usually settled in by now. This year, we have had only a few flakes, and the odd snowfall has not stayed for longer than a day. Although we have had frosts for two months now, a few daring bellflower blossoms have incredibly ignored the cold.
This Campanula rotundifolia (harebell) still has a few delicate purplish blue bells rising above the brown tree leaves. I don’t think I’ve ever had flowers still blooming at the end of November in Edmonton. This hardy defiance of the cold has endeared the plant to me even more. Amidst the dried fallen leaves, the green leaves and pretty flowers are a startling reminder of the bright colours of summer. These are a naturally hardy perennial, but some daytime temperatures above freezing, and a lack of snow have allowed them to carry forward through 8 weeks of nightly frosts. I have a compulsion to cover my garden in these astonishing survivors.
The Campanula poscharskyana ‘Camgood’ (blue waterfall Dalmatian bellflower) above are also carrying a few scattered flowers into winter. They persevere, with glimpses of blue, despite the repeated frosts. These resolute bellflowers have leaves that are almost all green, a rare colour in the November garden.
Besides the bellflowers, a few other perennials have kept their green leaves until the end of November. Usually conifers supply the main greenery in the garden from November to April. There are few broad leafed plants that keep their leaves through the winter in zone 3. Without the typical snow covering, the green foliage of a few plants is still on display. The Linum perenne (flax), undaunted, are showing their bluish green foliage. Although the feathery leaves look delicate, they are a tough survivor in zone 3. This perennial is providing the only green in my sunny area.
The thick, round leaves of Asarum europaeum (European ginger) are also persistent. This green ground cover is a welcome change in November from the shades of brown covering most of the ground in the shade. I will have to plant more of this delightful ground cover next year. They are not as glossy after repeated frosts as they were in the summer, but even a simple green is admirable now that this colour is so scarce.
The long leaves of Pulmonaria ‘Samourai’ are still silvery green in the shade under the trees. The silver tones are not as prominent now after all the cold, but every bit of green at this time of year is a welcome sight. With such a short growing season, extending the season with plants that keep their appearance ensures that the garden stays interesting as long as possible into winter.
The Helleborus ‘Ivory Prince’ are displaying wonderful foliage, with no decay. The perky green leaves are a welcome change from the dried brown twigs and leaves of other plants which surround them. I just planted the Helleborus two months ago, and they continue to enliven the shade with their stiff scalloped leaves and red stems. Since these might be borderline hardy, I’m going to pile some extra tree leaves over them for the winter.
At 53° N latitude, and far from the moderating effects of a large body of water, November is normally a harsh month in my zone 3 garden. My bloom chart, where I keep track of the flowering time of my perennials, only goes up to September, because we rarely have any flowers make it through October. This year I would have to extend it to November, due to the warmer conditions and a few bellflowers that won’t give up. All summer they have delighted me with their constant blue beauty, and now they give a reason to tour the garden in late November, searching for these unlikely, but persistent blossoms. Do you have any extra hardy survivors, or did any plants surprise you?