what would I gain/lose moving from MD to NH (z5b)

hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)July 9, 2014

For several reasons, including traffic, housing costs, and family, my DW and I are looking at leaving the DC/Baltimore area.

One area we may consider is the area around Nashua, NH as well as the part of MA closest to it. We're up here visiting family right now. This is a zone 5B area, with similar temps to Akron, OH where I used to live, but somewhat higher precipitation (47" vs. about 39").

Nashua itself is zone 5B, with all-time record lows in the -20ish range, Avg Jan temps 32/12 and avg July temps 82/59. The cooler summers (with somewhat lower overall incidence of drought) probably add some benefit for many trees.

The other area would be around SE PA - which is similar enough to where I am now that I'm not as concerned from a gardening perspective.

While moving somewhere a zone and a half colder means I "lose" some plants, I also think my chances improve for others, and that's the discussion I'm trying to start. I'll use Nashua as the specific area, but could be anywhere between Lowell, MA and Manchester, NH,

Some trees I like and want some feedback on, plus others I may be missing:

Acer saccharum - while Sugar Maples grow reasonably well in MD with proper siting, there are far more in MA and NH that are very, very large and healthy, I've seen some huge, very healthy ones since we've been up here, so I assume they'd be somewhat happier up here...

Acer palmatum - probably OK for the most part, but with more attention to sticking to the hardiest varieties.

Other Asian maples - not so sure, looking for feedback.

Conifers - I'll post more regarding conifers specifically over at that forum, but I'd think I lose the Cedrus but gain a lot of Abies in return as well as some others. I'm cautiously optimistic that Taxodium and Metasequoia would still be OK, although I haven't seen one up here.
I'd think conifers like Abies concolor and other firs would do even better.

Oaks - I'd only "lose" the evergreen oaks, I think - I assume that of course the oaks that are native like Q. alba, coccinea, bicolor, rubra, etc are fine as well as Q. michauxii - although not native, seems OK in zone 5b.

Redbuds - I'm guessing that as long as the seed sources is northern I'd be OK, but the newer cultivars might be too tender.

What would YOU take advantage of if making such a move?

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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

I don't know what soil conditions you are currently working with, but SE Pa is known as a hotbed of acidic clay. Nashua, and the coast in that area are basically a sandbar. So even though it gets a lot of rain, irrigation is very common, as are watering restrictions.

I'd expect Acer palmatums will have trouble outside of an urban heat island.

If you wish a tale of death and destruction, look up the entry for doublefile viburnums in Dirr. That winter is still the local standard for worst case scenarios. The moral is to beware Indonesia volcanos when zone pushing.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 4:05PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

We are acidic clay to silt in MD so that would be a wash.

The sand in NH is noticeable-the lawns are browning here already. Must dry out fast.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 5:10PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

"The moral is to beware Indonesia volcanos when zone pushing."

That's pretty funny mad gallica.

"The sand in NH is noticeable-the lawns are browning here already. Must dry out fast."
That's interesting, I've only been in coastal New England in the fall but I didn't remember it looking parched at all. But, the vast majority of Americans are absolute idiots when it comes to taking care of their lawns so I wouldn't ascribe too much meaning to that. They probably just need to cut the lawns at 3" instead of 1" and it would stay green. If you add the necessary organic material to sandy soils (and other things in some cases), you can have great plant growth. For example parts of the Tripleoaks nursery display gardens in NJ are plenty lush looking, with big ferns, BLEs, vines, etc. Pure pine barrens sand soil there.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 6:17PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

I disagree on the acer palmatums. Last winter here showed most of the box store purple leafed bloodgoods or whatever folks planted right next to their houses a decade or two ago to be marginal in zone six.

FWIW my Higayasama(sp) leafed out entirely even if its foliage just looks ugly and off this year. My Purple ghost got through winter fine but as usual is scorching in mostly full sun.

I THINK we hit -10F a couple nights and seems like we had two weeks of below 0 weather with quite the snowpack.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 10:51PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I'd be more focused on exposure, lot size, terrain and soil type more so than anything vs trying to figure out what you gain or lose for species.

I'm on a sandy loam slope and I grow a crap ton of plants and I get nothing near 47" of precip...damn that would be awesome! Tack on the fact that I get "some" of the worst winter weather in the US. 40+ days of sub zero this past winter and still have some JMs pull through. All about exposure and soil type.

Good luck on your potential new venture.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 11:19PM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

Yep, I'd add that you really need to learn about taxes on acreage before you ever purchase. I have six but if I had 10 my taxes would be significantly-less. You should talk to the assessors office as well as Department of Natural Resources and learn fully what you may qualify for from DNR programs, etc-. I was talking to a local guy selling land recently and he converted 16 acres to prairie and his taxes are less than 90 dollars a year and DNR sends him a check for 2,000 each year. The local fire department (for free) comes each fall and does a control burn and he happily gives the guys a hundred bucks as a thank you.

Learn, learn, learn, then purchase.

Cheers, and also "Good luck on your potential new venture."


    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 8:16AM
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I'm perhaps a bit biased . . . but I like the full 4 seasons in NH. I like the state's beauty as I travel around, and I love that I rarely have to deal with crowds, traffic jams, etc. though the closer one lives to the MA border, the less this is the case. I live in the central part of the state, about 15 miles north of Concord.

With regard to the above comment about "the better soils and sunnier climates of the midwest", it's not that our soils are bad per se - mine is the epitome of the moist well-drained soil that so many plants like, but we have lots of rocks included, lots and lots of chunks of loose granite and granite bedrock, locally known as ledge, which made farming difficult. However much they troubled the farmers, the rocks can be a boon for the gardener, allowing some gorgeous rock walls and rock gardens. Our soil is fairly acid, and IME, growing a relatively wide range of plants is lot easier than it ever was in the soil I grew up with in northern OH which had a slightly basic pH and was sticky clay. I like the fact that we get fairly regular rain, enough so that I rarely need to water anything except the veggie garden on occasion. I often plant woody plants including conifers in September since days are getting shorter and the air cooler while the soil is still fairly warm.

I do grow broadleaved evergreens, including a bunch of different rhodies, Kalmia, Ilex (both deciduous and evergreen) and boxwood. I am way more limited in my choices on specific plants than you are in MD, and I also have to site carefully with regard to winter sun, but I am fairly happy with what I can grow.

Your growing season will be a lot shorter and so winter interest is really important. In my part of the state the first frost is usually between about the 3rd week of September and the end of October. We have also had snow the end of October, though that isn't the norm, and we can have snow in April and frosts until well into May. Farther south in the state you'll have a few extra frost-free weeks spring and fall.

I can't add much as far as conifers, though there are quite a range of spruce that grow in NH, but I love the variety and fall color of maples here in NH. I have grown Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium' (until the cursed voles killed it under the snow one winter) and currently am growing Acer shirasawanum 'Jordan'. Native maples include saccharum, saccharinum, rubum (please pardon any spelling errors.) There are a fair number of cultivars of Acer palmatum that I see around, though I don't personally grow any. I am sure there are far fewer than you can grow where you currently are, however.

I have a redbud of northern provenance that is about 6 or so years old that's doing fine, and know of others at UNH near the seacoast and Plymouth State most of an hour north of here. From reading I think that there may be one white one that is hardier than normal as well, but I don't have direct experience. If you are in the zone 5b-6 area and don't mind zone pushing you may try a few others.

I don't know about Taxodium, but there are Metasequoia on the UNH campus in Durham.

As far as taxes, the bulk of ours are land taxes (along with a lot of various fees), but large undeveloped parcels can be put into "current use" which seriously reduces the taxes beyond where the land has buildings.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 3:35PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Good info, nhbabs!

Back home in MD today.

I'm cautiously optimistic on Metasequoia and Taxodium in MA/NH since NE Ohio (I lived there for 29 of my 37 years) has a few nice large specimens of each that survived the winters of '77, '78, '85, and this past winter mostly undamaged.

One thing I did like seeing were all the Fagus sylvaticas and Abies concolors there - both species looked GREAT. Here in MD the straight species and purple beeches do OK if sited well, but the tricolor and golden leaved ones seem to get scorched.

Abies concolor does OK for a couple decades then declines - there were some up there that looked great.

Here are some other trees I'm curious about in the Southern NH/north central MA climate:

-Aesculus - I'd imagine leaf scorch is less of a problem - I saw a lot of large A. hippocastanum that looked perfect (although it's only early July) - and I'd bet my favorite Aesculus, A. flava, would do beautifully.

-Liriodendron tulipifera - not technically native that far north, but I can't think of a reason it wouldn't do well, esp. a northern seed source (MI or OH?)

-Liquidambar styraciflua - would it do OK sticking w/the hardier ones like Moraine?

-Pseudotsuga - anyone got a Douglasfir up there that can tell me how they do?

-Cladrastis kentukea - appears hardy enough?

-Quercus michauxii - I have 3 healthy little seedlings I'd hate to have to part with - would they do OK up in NH? Usually I see it rated zone 5, but some sources do say 6.

-Ulmus parvifolia - I assume this would be more cultivar-specific?

This post was edited by hairmetal4ever on Fri, Jul 11, 14 at 9:59

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 9:23AM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

You might want to check the web for nurseries in this area and take a look at their stock to give you an idea of what's hardy up here. Although sometimes local nursery stock can be limited.

Anything hardy to zone 5b I will plant. I've been tempted lately to try to push to Z6 more but after last winter's cold am rethinking that!

I've never considered the soil here sandy. Not nearly as sandy as the soil where I lived on LI. We don't have to water much and the lawn is as green as ever. I'm in the Manchester area and have a fairly wide variety of trees and shrubs planted. Many Japanese maples, Aesculus pavia, European larch, acer triflorum, a couple varieties of beech, Tetradium daniellii, dogwoods, and many, many others.

I've all but given up on many evergreens because most I've purchased mail-order and while they were great trees, they were small and the deer appreciated the buffet. This winter really finished off a bunch of evergreens I had due to the frigid temps.

One note about NH taxes......if you can pick or choose the town, you may want to check property tax rates. While we don't have an income or sales tax (MA has both), the property taxes in some towns can be quite high.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 4:34PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Well, Akron, OH where I used to live before Maryland - used to be zone 5B but is now 6A. However as far as first/last frost dates and average temps NH is *slightly* colder by a degree or so (summer nights in particular are cooler). I would probably start by using what was hardy when I lived in OH - although NH soils are probably more adaptable being more well-drained.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 5:27PM
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I would stick with the warmer zone, so SE Pa. But doesn't your wife feel strongly one way or the other? Her, any kids or other family and you, are who really need to weigh in on what is important. Think rural if you want less crap to bug you. Maybe not in the sticks, but close to the sticks, and close to civilization. I am glad to have that here. It may take a while to find, but will be worth it. Oh, duh, another important factor, finding a job in the area, with short commute. My area is not good as far as good jobs, though. I inherited my house, though, so I don't need to pay a mortgage. Enough about me. Maybe rent somewhere for a while, and check it out. I have seen folks who post on different states garden forums, and ask about certain areas, or ask where is a good place to live etc. I've done it once myself. Good luck

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 10:47PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Jobs will be a big factor.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 6:39PM
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ilovemytrees(5b/6a Western, NY)

I won't add anything about trees, climate or anything about NH since I don't have any knowledge on that, lol, but I did want to add how fun it would be for you and your wife to be closer to family. To me, that is the most important thing of all, other than jobs of course.

I bet your wife is really excited at the prospect of moving. Good luck to you both!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 7:13AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Just because Ohio and New Hampshire have the same USDA zone, doesn't mean they have the same climate. The precipitation patterns and temperature patterns are actually rather different, and some plants like one much better than the other. I imagine most marginal plants would much prefer Ohio.

The other thing is that the major factor making the winters of '78 and '79 so bad was wind. I don't remember anybody talking about temperatures, it was all about wind chill. The Alberta Clipper was in full gear, and there is nothing in NE Ohio to even slow it down*. It is common here to dismiss wind chill as having nothing to do with plants. That is true for normal wind chill, but that level of cold, dry wind definitely has an affect. Our house faced west, and in the spring it seemed the west side was zone 4, while the east side was zone 6. So you can get a lot of benefit from a shelter belt there.

*I once got lost north of Youngstown, and found my way back home by looking for hills.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:25AM
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If you have a degree in the medical field or another area that is going to be in demand in almost any area, you may be in luck. Now my brother is great with computers, but in my area he can't find those great paying jobs, even with a degree. Most places may not be as crappy as mine. But it's not real expensive here to live, it could'nt be, but Pittsburgh is semi-close, maybe 60 miles, as a guess, and things are more busy, more jobs, more expensive, not sure about actual numbers. But dreary surely compared to Jersey, MD SE Pa, where the beaches are closer. Well, I don't know what you are lookin for.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 8:03PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Oddly, despite the fact that, historically, droughts are somewhat less common in New England, it does seem that it's been pretty dry this summer compared to normal up there. Pockets of "D0" on the US Drought monitor.

Can anyone confirm?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 4:04PM
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Baby G (Z10, 300?CH, SoCal-LA)(10)

As someone who grew up in zone 5 Maine and now lives in zone 10 California, I really miss: rhubarb, real lilacs, hydrangea, crocus, gardenia. (Though some of that is due to soil acidity, humidity...not just temperature.)

However, the season is so short (in Maine) that its hard to grow a good tomato. My step mom is always talking about "Maine-grown tomatoes" and I just don't have the heart to tell her how they pale in comparison with the tomatoes in warmer climates. I bet you can grow decent tomatoes where you are now.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 2:50AM
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joeinmo 6b-7a

Freedom, low taxes and sensibility :-)

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 10:09PM
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