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I've only been eating Haas, since it's readily available. I see HD has a bunch of Mexicola, wondering if it's worth it to plant one.
Although mainly known for some of its exotic gardens located at milder parts of Saltspring (Zones 8(b), 9(a)), the island has plenty of cooler valleys and high elevations in the 7(b) or 8(a) Zones and I happened to be 600ft up with mainly northeast orientation, which can’t be classified higher than the 8(a) Zone based not only on winter average minimums but also on periodic damage to various tender plants I have experienced over the 36 years here.
But there are always surprizes either way of the damage scale. Take, for example Pseudopanax ‘Sabre’. Although planted on the house and protected (some would say shaded) by a much larger Camellia on the soth side I didn’t expect it to survive the two cold spells of the last winter, yet here it is, with just a few fried leaves. There was no overhead and/or supplemental heat protection, I didn’t even mulch the plant:
This true R. sinogrande has truly humongous leaves. I had a bamboo stick and plastic overhead and that was it, just to minimize the potential snow damage (our garden received 0.5 m (1.64 ft) of snow early in February:
Here is another plant that was given to me as R.sinogrande with a warning that it could be a hybrid with some hardier species. It does have somewhat smaller leaves than the Rhodo above and has survived some nasty frost since planted in (I believe) spring of 2008. The one in front is an early blooming, hardy and fast growing (i.e. of potential interest to Roger) R. barbatum. Their native habitat is much of the Himalayan Range where this species frequently reaches tree proportions:
These last two are beauties. No protection except straw mulch around the root zone. The one to the right is the fragrant and reportedly tender R. edgeworthii and the one behind to the left is a cross R. sinofalconerii: