Monday, February 1, 2016

Lessons Learned

Lessons learned.
Last year the front porch area made a demand. "This large brick wall expanse is too much to look at. Fix it". I had to agree. It was too much brick to look at. Even hubby commented on this.
Surprisingly hubby had the answer. Grow a clematis. OK but that means grow a clematis in a pot, and I kill plants in pots. So I decided to buy the most ubiquitous clematis there is in the hope that it would survive, even thrive. Welcome Clematis Jackmanii.

Without the help of more photos I can attest that Jackmanii did thrive and bloom all summer and fall. Great choice Patty! (um, thanks hubby for the input).

However, that is not the end of the story. Fall arrives, cool temperatures waft in and it is time to put the clematis in winter storage. End of November it warms up 10C or so, so out goes the clematis (and other assorted pots with plants on trial). Clematis still looks great. It is green and lush still. And it has flower buds.

Early December Jackmanii is back indoors. It is a cumbersome pot to move on your own I find. The tomato cage is not helping either. I plan to check on the clematis after Christmas to see if it needs water. When I do I find this.

He isn't the best looking Jackmanii flower I have seen. But it is amazing that the clematis continued to grow.
So, lesson learned: You can grow and flower clematis in December.

(I bet you thought I was going to mention potted plants)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

One Year Later

Hello everyone. I have decided to return to this blog after more than a year. With luck there will be a few friends out there who will notice and visit me once again.

The past gardening year was pretty good for me. The highlights were the planting of five new trees to the property last spring. I have read from time to time very wise words that the gardener should be thinking about the placement of plants from inside the house, through the windows which you look at the various areas of your garden. I find this to be so true. It occurred to me last year that come spring time there is not much of interest to see when I look out the windows that face the street. After much hemming and hawing I decided on a crab apple tree, and eventually chose the cultivar SugarTyme. That turned out to be quite a lot of research as I want success. I chose SugarTyme crab apple because they claim it has very good resistance to scab, fire-blight, mildew and cedar apple rust. Its flower buds are pink which turn white when open. The blooms even have some scent which I can attest to. The fruit are small and red and persistent through winter although mine dried up by December and dropped. Hey, it is it's first year !

Near the crab apple tree I also planted a white pine given to me from a friend from her garden. Lucky for me it is a good sized tree already at five feet. 

You can even see the SugarTyme behind on the right.

In the garden area behind the house I planted (actually I should clarify - I am using "I" as "we" which means hubby had  a lot to do with planting these trees) a serviceberry tree, Amelanchier laevis 'Cumulus'. It is a bit narrower in form. Having seen it turn color this fall I feel confidant it will be a lovely tree for fall colour.

Here it is in May. I made a small bed around it with plants I expect I will have to eventually move. In the bed are two native leucothoe Girard's Rainbow which are variegated with pink and white on the leaves. Also are some foam flowers which are already  spreading beyond the bed boundaries, two kinds of Merrybells or uvularia, and campanula rotundiflora a native harebell. Finally a yellow rhododendron I lusted over called Capistrano. 

The last two trees are actually whips of Pennsylvania Striped Maple. I have always loved the bark of this tree which is green with white vertical striping. There is also a very choice red version, red bark with white striping, which is very hard to locate here. Unfortunately I have no photos for these two. And even more unfortunate is that the rabbits managed to take some bites from both while wearing tree collar protection. Darn those rabbits.

Over the next while I will show you some photos of the plantings for the last year, the good ones of course. Hope you will join me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Visit to Bruekner Rhododendron Gardens

It was only 2 years ago that I heard about the Bruekner Rhododendron Gardens located in Mississauga, Ontario. My dad told me about it, his hiking group had included it in one of their spring hikes.
As with most gardens this one has a history. From the website:

In 2008, Rhododendron Garden in Mississauga Ontario Canada was renamed Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens to honour a long time Mississauga resident and master rhododendron hybridizer, the late Dr. Joseph Brueckner. This Garden, formerly known as Cranberry Cove, enjoys a micro climate favourable to growing rhododendrons, azaleas, and other species of trees native to a Carolinian forest such as various types of beech trees and Kentucky coffee trees.

Many of Dr Brueckner's beloved rhodos were donated to, and are grown, in these gardens.

While it turned out that my visit to the garden coincided with its best show for the year, the winters harshness was still quite visible. Many of the plants had brown leaves from winter burn or sun scald.  The garden has a number of beds, some more formal than others. Rhododendrons and azaleas were accompanied by Pieris, Solomon's Seal, Bleeding Heart, and a variety of Hosta.

Pieris on the right with rhodos of all sizes

Eye popping colour on this azalea

Winter burn damage is easily seen here

If you want a look at their website here is the link

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Truly Stellar Pink

Last summer I planted my first dogwood tree. Choosing it was quite the challenge since I wanted the native Cornus florida but was very aware of the anthracnose problems it could attract. I did not want the straight kousa, although there is a mature tree down the street that has not yet flowered but when it does hold on to your hat ! flowers galore, top to bottom. The native lover in me finally ( and begrudgingly) decided to compromise (with myself) and chose Cornus Rutgan "Stellar Pink" a hybrid between the native and the Chinese dogwoods.

Here she is one year later. Her form is pretty good and the leaves presently have a pale yellow edge that should eventually turn green. I think I am still taller than Pink at 5' 6".

While certainly not covered in blooms, Pink was stellar in giving me two tiny blossoms. A feat I consider 'well done' after the cold long winter we just had. I was worried for a while in spring as she never dropped her leaves in fall and held on to them the entire winter. In April I could not take seeing her all brown and shriveled and hand picked off all the leaves. No harm done.

I hope that her blossoms will eventually become pink. Mind you the top photo is pretty true to colour and the yellow blossom with pink tinges is quite attractive. I am already looking forward to next spring!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Plan of Inaction becomes Active

Time for a change. The first flower bed I worked on when purchasing my home no longer pleases me. One of the reasons for re-doing this garden bed is that a beech tree overshadows one end of it and in the 12 years here has extended the shade further into the bed. So one of my few sunny areas is slowly transitioning to shade. The other reason change is needed has to do with plant incompatibility, which is mostly my disappointment with colour combinations and bloom times (Not a strong point of mine). I don't know whether to say choices, choices, choices, or what to do, what to do?

Below you can see that my 'Little Henry' Sweetspire did not survive well this winter. I have three of these lovely natives and all three are more than half dead. So out he goes. The dilemma was what to replace him with, a question I have mulled over for a while. I need plants that can take some shade and some dryness. I also did not want to go on a buying spree like I did last year.  So I decided to shift some plants around.

Above and below you can make out a daylily in the back, and to the left is a columbine with a sedge growing out of it (why does this happen? do the plants all think this is a primo spot because someone else is already here?)

I purchased an amsonia  "Blue Ice' and decided to place it in the front. I already grow this great plant and as it turned out there were babies this spring which I did not see until after I bought the new plant. In any case it will slowly spread and babies are welcome. The pale yellow day lily is put next to the amsonia which when in flower will  bloom along with purple lavender, Rozanne geranium and white David phlox.

The wild columbine was shifted to the side of the day lily in case their blooms overlap which is quite possible as the columbine has bloomed into early summer before (wild columbine is a pale scarlet and yellow).

The sedge has been moved to the day lily's old spot, which is closer to the tree and much shadier.

There are peonies to the right and left of this new grouping. I got out my book that talks about the colour wheel and plant combinations made by colour. I considered the colours of the blooms and the time of the flowering- which is not something that comes naturally. Give me a plant and I will place it according to its needs first.

So for now this is what I will try. There is room to add plants if needed but I intend to let these multiply and fill in on their own.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Sea of Sherwood Purple

About five years ago I purchased two plants of a low growing phlox  that I planted under a
Black Walnut tree. It thrived and so I cut long ends off the plants and replanted the ends without amendments or fanfare.  At one point early on I lost the plant tags and tried for a couple of years to locate the same phlox, but in vain it turned out.

Three years ago I showed you a photo I proudly displayed of my handiwork, this is it

Today it looks like this

I am a proud gardener today.

Let me introduce you to Phlox subulata 'Sherwood Purple'. I can see this wonderful sight from my bedroom window in early morning when it glows and shimmers in the eastern light. And around five in the afternoon it shines like a beacon reminding me of its presence. How could I ever forget now?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Indigo Bunting in the Garden

I had a rare sighting this week of the small bird called the Indigo Bunting. It is found on the eastern side of North America and prefers woodland clearings and borders. According to the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, I saw a male in his first spring plumage.

This male Bunting is considered to be in his first spring plumage because his wings still have brown colouring. He would more uniformly blue if he was an adult male.

This fellow did not move much from his perch at the feeder. Other birds move around, fly away and return, but not Indigo. He sat and took what seed he could from where he sat. I saw this same behaviour two days in a row, for that was the length of time he stayed.

 One last thing I noticed at the feeder was that other birds ignored Indigo Bunting. When a male cardinal came by while Indigo and a sparrow were feasting the cardinal scared off the sparrow but left Indigo alone.

I think he may migrate with other birds like the warblers. If you would like to see some great photos of warblers passing through the area this spring, visit Donna's blog Garden Walk, Garden Talk. She was lucky to catch them in her neighborhood of Niagara Falls USA in the past week or so.