Zone Envy & The Joys of a Mild Winter

lime rickey heuchera

‘Lime Rickey’ heuchera, in mid-December still going strong.

Foliage perennials like heucheras (also called Coral Bells) are still bursting with life, even late in December this year. The  ‘Lime Rickey’ above was going gangbusters half way through December. Lime Rickey is classed as ‘evergreen’, but no herbaceous plant will be truly evergreen in our -25C winters here in Toronto. We have the super El Nino to thank for this year’s protracted mildness, giving our herbaceous plants a true shot at evergreen status, and I for one am enjoying it thoroughly. For gardeners, it’s been a joy to have the greenery survive this long.

We could almost imagine we are in the gardener’s dream of Zone 7, the kind of weather that the Pacific North West and the south of England enjoys. I must admit, it’s my most coveted zone. Toronto is technically Zone 6, and in the US we are considered Zone 5. This year, there are gardeners reporting making salads from greenery picked from backyard gardens in a month that would usually be filled with snow and slush. The good news, from David Phillips of Environment Canada:

This winter will seem mild no matter what.

“(Ottawa) had two of the toughest back-to-back winters on record last year and the year before,” he said.

“Even if this year is normal, it’s going to feel tropical compared to what you had the last two winters.”

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