In this post I will be listing alphabetically perennial plants suited for cultivation in Hyndford, or any other Zone 4b location. I will include only the most basic information on each plant, hardiness, expected growth, function(s) and placement in a typical food forest, clearing/meadow or wetland. I expect the list to continue to develop over time but hope to have the majority of my research completed by December 2015.
I am doing this so that I have a master list of plants: some I already have and will be transporting, those I definitely want and others I *might want*…This list will then be used in designing first, our potager or kitchen garden and, later, broadacre food forests with meadow clearings. The list will not be exhaustive. I will only be including plants I might be interested in using. I dunno if any of you have had this experience, but an awful lot of plant lists for cold temperate permaculture include plants that are not suited to my hardiness zone. I read the lists and plant descriptions (which often to not include specifics on hardiness), then get super excited about a plant…then I find out I would need a greenhouse to grow it. Shattering. We plan to eventually include greenhouses, but will prioritize their square footage for starting plants and for subtropicals we are addicted to: bananas and cinnamon, for example. Lovely thought to build 50 acres of underground greenhouses, but it is not going to happen.
Later, I will be making a list of Zone 5 plants I am really in love with. Eventually, as we develop the property and learn itès microclimates, we may give some of these a go. But none of them can be counted on and we need to start by focusing on plants proven to produce in Zone 4a.
From this primary, alphabetized list, I will then develop function-specific & placement-specific plant lists for Zone 4b. I am primarily conducting this research in preparation for our move to Hyndford, ON in late spring 2016 but hope others might also find it useful in food forest or garden planning for cool temperate climates.
Notes on my notes
- Each plant name will be connected to a descriptive internet link.
- I have included brief notes on each plant’s potential functions: Food (for humans or domestic animals) WILD (known to be particularly beneficial as food or habitat to wild species) Mulch (potential mineral accumulation and/or fast growing for mulch) WOOD (lumber, tool handles, fencing, fuel uses) Coppice (known to grow back after coppicing or pollarding) Greywater (good plants for purifying water) Hedge (usually thorny plants well suited to hedgerows) NF (nitrogen fixing) and/or Medicinal.
- For design purposes, food forests are usually divided into 7 levels: Canopy, Under story, Shrub, Herbaceous, Ground cover, Tuber, and Vine. I have modified this for my own notes because I will be designing two different types of food forest: Zone 3 broad acre (taller and including pasture) and zone 1 kitchen garden (shorter and closer to home.)
My categories are:
1. Tall canopy (trees expected to grow taller than 50ft),
1/2. Medium (Canopy and/or Dwarf trees I expect to use as canopy or in my home garden, these may also be used in the broadacre food forest as under story trees),
2. Understory: Shade loving trees suited for under story in the broadacre application, but not for canopy in the kitchen garden)
3. Edging Shrub: Woody shrubs suited to full sun/part sun in the kitchen garden or south facing applications in broadacre food forest clearings,
3. Understory Shrub: Woody shrubs that are happiest in partial shade, likely best suited to broadacre food forestry.
4. Clearing/Edge Herb: Herbaceous plants that need more sun, suitable for the kitchen garden or southern exposure in food forests.
4. Understory Herbaceous: Herbaceous plants that prefer part shade, primarily suited to broadacre food forest applications.
5.Clearing/Edging Groundcover: Ground creeping plants that need more sun, suitable for the kitchen garden or southern exposure in food forests.
5. Under Story Groundcover: Short ground cover plants that want partial to full shade.
6. Edging Tuber: Tuberous or bulberous plants that need more sun, suitable for the kitchen garden or southern exposure in food forests.
6. Under Story Tuber: Tuberous or bulberous plants that want partial to full shade. Useable in broad acre or kitchen garden.
7. Climbing Vine: When perennial vines are planted (at which stage of food forest maturity) is more important then where, as they are capable of climbing up trees to grab their share of sunlight. As a result they are grouped together, being suitable for virtually any placement, if succession is taken into account.
- At the end of each plant description, I have made notes on whether this is a plant I have in my current garden (GOT), or am considering adding to my collection (?) or have decided I definitely would like to try growing (WANT).
Encyclopedia of Perennial Plants for Zone 4b, Alphabetized
Angelica – Angelica archangelica BIENNIAL (Hardy Z.4 , 5′-6’T , Food, Medicine: Tall Layer 4 – Herbaceous Edge or Clearing/Understory – Full-Part Sun) ?
Black Eyed Susan – Rudbeckia hirta (Hardy Z.2, 2′-3’T , WILD- long blooming, late season pollinator food, Layer 4 -Herbaceous Edge or Clearing/Understory – Full-Part Sun) WANT-NATIVE!
Chives – Allium schoenoprasum (Hardy Z.3-10, 12″T x 12″W, Food, Garden Border Layer 4.Herbaceous Edge-Full Sun) GOT
Columbine – Aquilegia (Hardy Z.3-9, 1′-8’T. depending on variety, mine are 1-2′ x 1′-2’W, WILD – esp. birds, Herbaceous Edge/Understory Part Sun-Part Shade) GOT
False Indigo – Baptisia australis (Hardy Z.3, 3-5ftT x 2-3ftW, WILD-butterflies, Deep rooted dynamic accumulator, medicinal Layer 4-Clearing or Edge Herb-Full Sun) ?
Garlic Chives – Allium tuberosum (Hardy Z.3, 1-1.5ftT-potentially invasive, Pest Control Companion plant!, Food, Layer 5-Edge or Clearing Groundcover-Full Sun) GOT
Heirloom Chinese Yam – Dioscorea batatas (Hardy Z.4? Grown in Montreal, Tuber up to 3ft underground, Vine 9ftTall x 5ft wide, Food. Layer 7 Vine) WANT
Original Poet’s Daffodil – Narcissus spp.(Hardy Z.3a-9b 12″T & clumping, WILD: Early Spring Pollinator Plant!, Layer 6 Edging or Forest Tuber, Clearing-Part Shade to Full Sun) GOT
Rosa rugosa (Hardy to Z.2, 4′-6’T x 4′-6’W, Hedge, Food, Medicinal, Layer 3-Edging or Understory Bush) WANT
Valerian, Common – Valerian Officianalis (Hardy Z.2/Z.4-7, 3′-5’T x 2′-4’W, Medicine, Tall Layer 4 – Clearing or Edge Herb-Full Sun) WANT