Canada is a country of four-season gardens. Winter is usually the longest season, due to the country’s geographic location. Its territory covers a large range of hardiness zones, from 0a to 9a according to Natural Resources Canada. Not much is growing in the ‘0a’ zone, which is tundra. Tundra covers the north part of the country. Hardiness zones are defined based on the lowest freezing temperatures. The Canadian hardiness zone system generally matches the one used in the United States.
The ‘warmest’ hardiness zones, 9 and 8, can only be found in southern British Columbia, especially Vancouver Island. This is due to the warming effect of subtropical systems from the Pacific Ocean (for example, the Pineapple Express).
To appreciate the influence of those Pacific Ocean systems, we can compare the hardiness zone in the center of Canada with that of southern British Columbia. Keeping the same latitude, we get values of 3 for Thunder Bay, Ontario. This translates into minimum freezing temperatures around minus 35 Celsius.
At the other end of the country, on the east coast, a similar pattern takes place. The four Atlantic provinces benefit from a ‘coastal’ climate. This means less extreme summer and winter temperatures.
Luckily, Canada does not have deserts. On the contrary, it is one of the countries with the most lakes (more than 30,000) and rivers. Farmers and gardeners therefore generally have access to enough water for their needs.
Most of Canada’s territory for agriculture and gardening is limited to the southern part of the country. Good growing conditions usually start with hardiness zone 5. Other factors – such as rain, sunlight hours – are also important.
Below is a list of gardens in some Canadian provinces. More will be added as this site expands.