27 July 2008

The White Garden...sort of!

Just about the time I was beginning to think we were trapped in Brigadoon, we emerged from the fog today into hot sunlight and to a wild yard and garden. I was afraid my longsuffering spouse would have to mow and bale the lawn for hay for the horse and donkeyfrommars, but he managed to get through it all--it had been three weeks since he'd been able to mow, and all that moisture...well, let's just say I have a nice supply of mulch for the garden now. When it gets raked up, of course.

While I was doing some badly needed weeding, deadheading and even planting, I was struck by how lovely the white-flowered plants look in brilliant sunlight. The asiatic lilies shine like stars. The hydrangeas look like puffy clouds or snowflakes. (Ooops, shouldn't say that yet!) White can be a cool, soothing colour. While I don't have a white bed or border a la Vita Sackville-West and Sissinghurst, I like to use white throughout the garden. At dusk, it glows with a light of its own. Of course, in fog it tends to disappear, or flowers turn to soggy tissues (especially some roses) but that's just one of the vagaries of gardening.

Take a stroll with me around our yard. Make sure you don't mind cut grass getting in your sandals, though. Here's an 'Annabelle'-type of hydrangea; not as big flower heads as that cultivar or of the mopheads, but it flowers very well. I have two of these, and the other one I cut way back this year as it's spreading and has delusions of grandeur, so it has few flowers. This one, however, looks wonderful.

I like astrantia so much, that even though we used it in the previous post on pink, we can pull it into this discussion of white flowers, too. And when I do the next post (on black in the garden)...I have a deep wine coloured one to use there too!

This is just a white annual poppy, one of the Shirleys that selfseeds around here. But the morning dew obviously caught pollen from the plant's stamens and made this fascinating pattern on the petals.

Yuccas are just such terrific architectural plants, aren't they? Surprisingly, they do fine for me here, though they take a while to flower. I planted several given to me a few years ago by a woman from Shelburne in the lower garden where the drainage is good, and they've been very cooperative for me.

A beloved viburnum, the doublefile 'Maresii'...some call this Summer Snowflake, and it's truly a handsome, graceful plant. Ours is still quite small, but that's not stopping it from flowering like crazy this year. It sometimes throws a few flowers later in the season too.

A gold-foliaged elder, but not Sutherland's Gold, which spitefully died after living here for a year. This sambucus, however, has done very well; it's not a huge plant, but I also keep it quite trimmed so as to enjoy its gold colour and keep it in bounds, too.

A white rose campion splashes its flowers all over its gangly branches, which are an attractive silver colour. The daylily in the centre of the conversation is currently unnamed (I can't find the label, and need to go visit Wayne and Wayne to find out what it is again, and has lovely large flowers, if a somewhat odd colour. But I like it!

This perennial mullein is one I bought from a now-defunct nursery out in British Columbia about 8 years ago. It self seeds a bit so I never know where it will pop up, and it's not the most handsome of flowers. But again, it's a terrific bee and hummingbird magnet and does well with no interference from me, so I just let it pop up where it will.

This is Hydrangea paniculata 'QuickFire', one of the Proven Winners Colorchoice shrubs that I'm trialing from last year. The literature said that it blooms earlier than most of the PG type hydrangeas. The literature is correct, because here it is, starting to flower nicely already, whereas Limelight is only starting to think about forming flower heads. I planted this shrub last summer and it settled in brilliantly. I'm hoping that the others planted here will do as well. Hydrangeas tend to do well for me probably because I know what will work here--lacecaps, paniculata, arborescens and even the climbing one, though mine is overwhelmed by our giant clematis. Mopheads, not so much.

This is a dandy shasta daisy called 'Ice Star'. Now there's another one out called Goldrush that is also doubled, but with golden centre rather than the snowy white seen here. I have THAT one too...shastas are delightful plants and great butterfly magnets.
Which reminds me...we saw the first monarch butterfly of the season up here today. They've been reported elsewhere around the province, of course, but I suspect they got lost in the fog trying to find us earlier than this.

24 July 2008

In the pink of summer heat

Wandering around the garden today despite the stinkin' hot weather--we didn't get Cristobal's rainy fury here, just more tropical temps and humidity--I was struck yet again that for someone who claims to not care for pink, I have a lot of it in the garden. Beginning with the profusion of poppies that are scattered all around the yard--my freerange flowers, I call them, popping up everywhere. They look fine entwined with these huge Asiatic lilies (again, name unknown).

They weave themselves sweetly in amongst the branches of the Nishiki willow, and make a perfect match to the rosy tint in some of the foliage.

A little richer than true pink, this hot fuchsia rose campion always glows in the garden, as do the foxgloves, astilbe and cranesbills in their various shades of rose to pink nearby,

This is 'Sunningdale Variegated' astrantia, a terrific masterwort I discovered last year. Masterworts delight me because of their beautiful, subtly complex flowers. They also flower for a long time and come in different colours; I have two with darker wine-rose flowers, but this one with just hints of rose and green really makes me happy. Butterflies and other pollinators also love it, and that just adds to its charms.

We still haven't identified this Asiatic lily, but to be honest I haven't gone looking for its identity either. It's almost done, and a slow-growing variety--it also is dwarf, growing about 15 inches tall in my garden. It's planted beside a deep purple Japanese Barberry and shows up marvelously against that foliage, too.
Edited to add: Yea for smart bloggers/nursery operators! The erudite George Africa of Vermont Flower Farm and The Vermont Gardener identified my mystery lily as 'Lorelei'.

You'd think it was pastel heaven at our place depending on where you stood. Actually, this photo is from a few days ago, because the delphinium are all standing up. They've since been hit by the delphinium wind/rainstorm so they're a bit bedraggled. But the main pointer here is the big clusters of pink clustered bellflower, a lovely plant and a departure for me from my usual purple or violet or white bellflowers. I love bellflowers of all kinds, though.

This Grootendoorst rose looked pretty sad earlier in the spring, with a lot of tip die-back after some real cold weather. I went at it with the pruners and it responded happily by putting up lots of buds.

I've written of my love for annual ice plants before, with their neon-hot colours. They just make me grin whenever I look at them. Here, the best thing to do with them is plant them in containers where they'll bake hot, or else in the rock garden I'm slowly developing. They catch everyone's eye with their brilliant, starry flowers.

One reason I do love rose, pink or fuchsia is as a foil or flowery counterpoint to orange, blue and chartreuse. It just makes other colours pop so much. In the background of this photo of 'Orange Meadowbrite' echinacea, you can see some Geranium sanguineum. This isn't a colour combination I'd wear, but in the garden, it makes me shout hurray!

Do you have colours you love in the garden that you don't want anywhere else?

18 July 2008

My Foggy Fundy Garden

We're into yet another session of fog here in beautiful upper Scotts Bay. Honestly, this has been the summer of much fog, and while it doesn't bother me at one level, it does get tiresome not seeing the moon at night. Rumour has it that tonight or last night is the full moon, but I haven't seen the moon since last weekend. It's stinkin' hot in the Valley, and not exactly cool up here.

But the fog, even when not real cooling, does bring moisture to things and makes a nice artistic look for many plants, like the pink clustered bellflower at the top of this post.

"The fog comes in on little cat feet" wrote the poet Carl Sandburg. Well, here it's more the size of cougar feet, the way it slams in off the bay.

The hot temperatures that we're having when the fog is gone and the sun is out? They make things bloom and go past quickly. It's been fun to see what is new in bloom each day, but also amazing at how quickly some things are fading. The poppies started bursting in the past couple of days, while the lupines are fading.

I think I've mentioned in the past that things grow really large up here, sometimes. This year everything is of brobdingangian proportions. Submitted for your approval, this tiny white clematis bloom. That's a luncheon plate I put beside it for some sense of scale. I've never seen a clematis flower this big. We usually have lots and lots of blooms but not monsters!

Our honeysuckles are coming on nicely, too. This is Graham Thomas, one I bought from Bunchberry nurseries several years ago. Lovely plant, and makes the hummingbirds quite happy too.

And this is Mandarin, which was bred by Dr. Wilf Nichols, formerly of the University of British Columbia, but now at Memorial University of Newfoundland, where he tends to the awesome botanical garden.

This is Clematis recta purpurea, which has really purple foliage up til it blooms. I love the clouds of tiny white flowers, somewhat like Sweet Autumn. And the cranesbill is 'Red Admiral'. I'm liking it a lot, because it's quite tall and has that great colour, whereas most of the brilliant coloured ones are much lower to the ground.

Flowering alliums make me happy. This blue jewel is Allium caeruleum, and it's been making babies so I have more of them this year. I notice 'Hair' is starting to flower too, but I didn't take its photo just yet.

I wish I could remember the name of this lily! It doesn't get tall, and it doesn't multiply very fast, but the colours are just great, especially when festooned with fog.

And my favourite of the annual poppies, the deep wine ones. They're just totally awesome.

And this is a gratuitous shoutout to my alma mater, the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, where the school colours are blue and gold. I didn't PLAN this planting to work out, but it's definitely blue and gold: Yellow loosestrife, blue monkshood, yellow foxgloves and blue clustered bellflower. Aggies for the win!

Maybe the sun will come out tomorrow properly and we'll see the garden by a different light. Today it's dreamy and water coloured.

12 July 2008

A Walk Through Baldwin Nurseries

There are very few people who can get me up and going when I'm sick. Especially if it means getting in the car on a hot day and going for a drive to another county.

Good thing that Robert Baldwin is a buddy of mine as well as a nursery operator. He called several days ago when I was really in the yuckies, and I hadn't called him back. I was working in my office this morning when the phone rang, and I felt guilty because I hadn't returned his call. So naturally, I answered. And feeling guilty because I hadn't been down to visit in at least a month, I put on some sunblock, drank some gingerale, and told LSS I was off to photograph Rob's nursery again.

Longsuffering spouse just grinned. He knew I'd come home with more plants.

I've said before that Baldwins is one of my favourite nurseries, but friendship aside, if you've ever been there, you know why. The plants are just SO healthy and well cared for. And profuse. Lots and lots and lots of healthy, well-grown shrubs, trees and perennials. In the past couple of years Rob has, like many of us, become concerned over pollinators, and he's brought in a lot of pollinator-friendly perennials as a result.

We spent quite a bit of time with our noses in the buddleia, and then spied three or four hummingbird moths. I then spent the next twenty minutes almost standing on my head to get a few good photos of these unusual, graceful creatures.

Then it was time to walk around the nursery and resist temptation to bring every plant home with me.

The Karl Foerster feather reed grass is blooming marvelously right now, and the flowers are a lovely rosey-green. Watching them en mass is especially appealing, as they move just like an ocean wave.

Of course, when we arrived in the greenhouse where Rob's coneflower collection is, I was a goner for good. Of all perennials, these are definite favourites. And they do well for me, which makes me even happier to add half a dozen new ones to my collection.

Little Giant is one of the more compact cones, but has a rich colour to its flowers, which grow on strong stems.

I didn't have success with the Meadowbrite coneflowers several years ago, but I blame that on a nursery bringing in tissue cultured plants which weren't grown on properly. These cones came in as tissue culture babies, but have been grown on properly by Rob over the past several months. This is Mango Meadowbrite...

And this is Orange Meadowbrite, the first of the coloured cones I saw, back at Canada Blooms a few years ago.

Big Sky Twilight is one of the deepest-red-rose of the true 'purple coneflowers', and its richly coloured centre cone is pretty handsome too. Some of the cones are fragrant, but with as many in the car as I had, I didn't stop to check them all out--yet!

This IS fragrant. I know it's not going to be to everyone's tastes, but I've been wanting Coconut Lime, and the first one I got died--it was a bit of a spleeny plant when I purchased it, and the nursery I purchased it from is a reputable one that I frequent a lot, so I simply got a different plant and carried on. This new one I got from Rob is very vigourous and I just have to decide where to plant it.

I had read about 'Hope' and forgotten about its story til Rob reminded me. I went to the Terra Nova website, and sure enough, here's the story:
Calm, fragrant, soft pink flowers of great size, fragrance, and substance adorn this long blooming perennial. It is dedicated to the breast cancer survivors and the memories of those who have succumbed to breast cancer. Terra Nova will make a donation of $.25 for each plant sold, to the Oregon & SW Washington affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation to help further the search for a cure for Breast Cancer.

I'm going to be putting this echinacea in my memory garden for Marilyn, my former mother in law, and though it's called 'Hope' I've nicknamed it 'Living on a Prayer' coneflower. Let's hope there IS a cure someday soon--for all kinds of cancer.

That's my thought for today!

11 July 2008

A Walk through my Garden

Where does the time go??? Well, it disappears when you're sick AGAIN with diverticu-frakkin-itis and have to spend time in bed. Yuck. I'm cranky about this but also know I'm facing surgery in the not-too-distant future as a result of too many sessions of this in recent months. And as a result of being sick, I'm once again behind in my reading, behind in my work, behind in posting...ever try to write on a laptop when you're flat in bed? Not recommended.

However, I did get some nice photos today, when I did go out and walk around the yard for a little while. Despite my neglecting it, the garden is galloping along quite nicely without me. Everything is profusely, profoundly lush, which works well at shading out some of the weeds. And some of my interesting and less common plants are blooming. Like the yellow digitalis, which aren't as tall as their common relatives, but are striking nevertheless.

Valerian grows free-range in our yard, both in gardens and in wild areas. At the moment, it is crazily in bloom, and looks like a pale version of Verbena bonariensis--and is equally beloved by butterflies.

One of my favourite peonies is just opening: 'Primavera' is white with gorgeous yellow centre.

This is a common, oldfashioned peony, possibly 'Rubra Plena'; it was here when we came, and continues to flower joyously every early July. The blue corydalis behind it adds an equally fine fragrance to the air, so walking to our door is always pleasant.

One of the nicest and most stalwart roses we have is 'Robusta', a single, dark red shrub rose that flowers until frost. It gets a few aphids on it, but I occasionally hose it off and that handles them sufficiently.

Alliums are just so cool! This is 'Star of Persia' (Allium christophii), a real stunner. The only problem is that it's not as tall as I thought it was, and where everything is having a robust growing season, it's behind some plants. I don't want to try moving them, so I may just prune other things so the stars will show up better.

The swallowtails are around, and it was fun to finally have camera in hand when I saw one in an easy-to-access spot. These are among my favourite butterflies, next to my beloved monarhs, of course.

Blue-star is one of those under-used perennials, and I just love it. I did get my hands on another variety this year, with slightly bluer, wider-petalled flowers; it's not planted yet because i have to find out how tall it grows and then make a spot in the jungle for it to grow and bloom properly!

Ah, my gas plant. A slow growing perennial but such a beautiful thing. Fragrance like lemon in the evening especially, and wonderful seedheads when it finishes its bloom. This is a plant that you have to determine the right spot for, then plant it and leave it! Because it hates being moved, and will pout and die if you try such tactics.

I've long had a love for sea hollies, and this Eryngium alpinum is a particular favourite. I'm hoping it will seed itself the way E. planum does, because I now have LOTS of the latter, in wonderful swathes of blue later in the summer.

Nishiki willow is a favourite plant for its graceful shape and of course the dappled colours of its foliage. I pruned ours this year to give it a bit better shape, and it's really taking off.

Another plant for the butterflies--orange butterfly-weed (Asclepias tuberosa). I have yellow variant here somewhere too, but it's not flowering yet. I hope that doesn't mean I weeded it in a fit of absent-mindedness. It seems to me it's a bit later, though, so I won't worry about it yet.

Well, I've been up long enough now...more tomorrow or Sunday, depending on how I feel. If I've not been by and left a comment lately...you know why. "I'm getting better", though, in the words of Monty Python..."I'm not dead YET!"

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