Ireland and the Twin Cities are northern temperate climates, but that’s where the similarities end. The continental climate of Minnesota, with its hot summers and cold, snowy winters differs from the warm Gulf Stream moderated maritime climate of Ireland with cool, wet winters and cool summers.
Despite the differing climates, you can still grow many plants native to Ireland here, from trees to ground cover. A couple trees include the white willow and its cultivar tristis, the golden weeping willow, beloved here and there. English oak and European aspen are two others.
Evergreen trees and shrubs are rather scarce as Irish natives: Unlike Minnesota, there are no pine, spruce or fir native to Ireland. We do have one evergreen shrub in common, the common juniper, represented by blueberry delight, a female that produces the pretty berry-like cones used as a culinary flavoring, most notably for gin. Copper delight is the male cultivar, and it turns a lovely orange tone in winter.
Minnesota Planting Options:
Shrubs: pussy willow and red raspberry
Perennials: moor grass, common mallow, yarrow and bloody dock
Groundcovers: ajuga, Kentucky bluegrass, blue sedge, Irish moss and aurea, a fussy ground cover area gardeners have success with in good drainage, if with no competition and no fallen leaves to smother
Annuals: corn poppy, calendula, chamomile, bells of Ireland (not native to Ireland)
Alan Branhagen is the director of operations at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.