27 December 2009
The year in review, sort of: faves from spring
Okay, we're probably all sated with turkey and other holiday delights, have had a day or so of slothdom to recuperate, nap, read and relax. Time to return to conversing about plants, at least for me. Since it's the end of the year and there are plenty of retrospectives happening just about anywhere you read, I thought I'd add my own retrospective, with a twist.
It's no secret that I'm very fond of plants. Most of them, anyway. Don't get me started on aegopodium (goutweed), but for the most part, I'm plant crazy. It doesn't matter if they're heritage or heirloom plants, or newfangled hybrids. Not everything grows real well for me, but I experiment, adapt conditions where possible, and when something doesn't work after several tries, it's on to others, either tried and true, or more new experiments. It's like that amusing sign that hangs in my (soon to be renovated) greenhouse: "There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments." I offer up to you some of my favourites from the past gardening year, favourites old and new. We'll start with spring, of course, although my spring garden experiences were truncated by that temporary employment experiment away from home that was not-so-much a good one. Onward and upward.
I have chattered on in the past about Hamamelis or witch hazels, and really encourage others to embrace these wonderful shrubs. Above, catching some spring light, is Hamamelis 'Diane', one of my favourites for her flower colour, but also for her vigourous, no-problem growth habit. I love these shrubs/small trees for their ease of growing, their oh-so-early flowering, their fall foliage.
Thanks to the help and encouragement of Frances, who provided some great advice on getting hellebores through late winter/early spring, I can now claim pride of place in a well established clump of 'Ivory Prince' hellebore, actually planted UNDER 'Diane' hamamelis. Hellebores are just so cool; the flowers may fade, but the bracts stay intact for a long time. This is a plant I need to get to know much more about, so I'm glad to have found the website Hellebores.org. Next year, hopefully, I will add a couple more species or cultivars to my hellebore-friendly area.
Oh, my katsura tree. I love my Cercidiphyllum so much, and this photo is a good explanation for that love. Look at those new leaves, that colour, the heart shape of the foliage. The fall colour is equally exquisite, with brilliant shades of carmine, gold and pink. My tree is going on four years here in our garden, and has had no problems establishing and growing on. Since it likes moist soil and falters in dry conditions, it's in the perfect situation in the soggy clay of my back garden.
If I have a favourite colour of flower, it would have to be true-blue, though there's a place for almost every colour in my garden-scheme of colours. Scilla erupt in mid-spring with this outburst of blue, and gradually spread themselves into larger and larger clumps. Some plant them with daffodils for a nice yellow/blue contrast, but I just let them go where they will.
You gotta love the enthusiasm of pulmonarias. At least in my garden, they are barely out of the ground before their flowers open. But even if they didn't flower in their various shades of blue, rose, 'red' or white, I'd have them for their foliage, which is generally splashed, spangled, spotted or painted entirely with silver or paler green accents. Pulmonarias light up a shady area, take sun with good composure so long as there's moisture for them, and are well behaved, clump formers. Some do self-seed, which is fun because you never know what the seedlings are going to look like.The bees are very glad to see pulmonaria start to bloom, which is probably why one of its nicknames is 'bee bread'. Borage is also sometimes referred to as bee bread. This is why we learn botanical names, even if we can't always spell or say them correctly (that would be me. Am okay with that.)
I love corydalis. Everyone should grow these amazing plants, which are relatives of poppies and bleeding hearts. Somewhere, I read a description of their flowers as being guppy-like in shape, and that amused me but is also true. The plants are fabulous, with lacy, fern-like foliage, and in some cases, such as with this 'Blackberry Wine', the flowers are fragrant. The longest-blooming perennial in my garden, hands down, is the unassuming little C. lutea, which begins blooming in May and goes until snow or a real heavy frost does it in. Then there's the amazing blue beauty of C. elata, but we'll get to that another time.
Viburnums are just awesome, although there's such an array of them that it sometimes gets confusing as to which one is which unless you have a good number and have them labeled. I have a mixture of native and non-native planted around here, and this is one of the best of the fragrant viburnums, 'Juddii.' It likes well drained soil, so it won't fare well in some parts of our property, but we do have areas where I put the plants that don't tolerate long periods of wet wet wet cold clay.
If you can get your hands on 'Vestal' anemone (A. nemorosa 'Vestal') do so as soon as possible, especially if you have a shade garden. Unlike some anemones that tend to go a bit boisterous, 'Vestal' sits politely in her clump, producing these simply-gorgeous, double, white blossoms. I just got my hands on one last spring, and raved about it then, and continue to do so.
Did I mention that I really, really, REALLY love plants? Stay tuned for more favourites.