Between the fickle weather and the lack of moisture, a Zone 3 gardener can easily get the blues.
But don't despair! There are a few plants that thrive in this climate, and once established, they require very little maintenance.
Phlox are a springtime favorite around here. They bloom early and produce beautiful mounds of flowers. Like many other perennials, phlox comes in several varieties. I personally like Phlox alyssifolia. It grows in clumps and spreads to make a nice ground cover. It is perfect for hot, sunny, rocky flower beds. AND... as you can see in this photo taken May 2nd, phlox can take a beating and bounce right back, even with the late spring snow storms that we often experience in Colorado!
Sedum is a huge family of plants, members of which are commonly known as stonecrops. They come in over 600 varieties! I honestly cannot tell you what variety is pictured in my old rusty bucket, but I can tell you that I have planted them almost everywhere and they never fail. Sedum are a succulent, so they need very little water and thrive in well-drained soil. I like to put sedum in containers like buckets, wheelbarrows and even scattered among rock gardens.
Hens and Chicks
"Hens and chicks" is a common name for a group of small succulent plants, a term that means "juicy plant." It belongs to the flowering plant family Crassulaceae, which is the same plant family as sedum. Isn't this an awesome family?! Like other stonecrops, hens and chicks can be planted almost anywhere, as long as your soil has good drainage so they don't get soggy. You only need one mother "hen" plant to get started. She will divide and grow, producing a number of "chicks" over the season. Before you know it, you will have a whole flock!