27 June 2012

Once Again, Open Garden

It's that time of year again. Despite everything that has been going on in recent months, I am doing my Open Garden again this coming weekend. It's for a highly worthwhile cause, and last year was such a success, we thought we'd do it again. 
This year preparing for the event being a particular challenge, not only because of the loss of my beloved spouse, but because we've had challenging weather. It's been very dry the past several weeks, and very warm; on Saturday, the rains began to come, and continued Sunday and all day Tuesday. Things are now well-watered, but it's a bit squishy around the garden in places.

22 June 2012

Rekindling my romance with roses

 Is there anyone in the world who doesn't like roses? I can't imagine such a person, although certainly there are many who might not like growing roses. Over the years, I've gotten excited about these glorious plants sort of in fits and starts. I'll buy some new varieties, they'll thrive or not, I'll get caught up with other plants and neglect expanding the rose growing sites for several seasons.

Last year, I gave in to my desire to have more roses after spending a wonderful afternoon at gardener and rosarian Pauline Jacob's fantastic garden not far from me. Pauline has well over 100 different roses, including many of the Austins, and I felt the urge stir to start experimenting with roses again. Like the wonderfully coloured Cinqo de Mayo, above. The only trouble with roses that I have is getting accurate colour representation in some images. This particular rose is more spectacular than you can tell here. There are tinges of purple, orange and red in this beauty, which I picked up along with Sally Holmes and Morden Fireglow from den Haan's Garden World in Middleton, NS.
 My friend Catherine Neily is another ardent rose-gardener, and when she saw the photo of Distant Drum the other night, she grew very excited. This gorgeously coloured rose stopped me in my tracks a few days ago when I was at Blomidon Nurseries, and I had to have it. Catherine told me this is a Griffith Buck rose, who bred hardy roses with great fragrance. I don't know yet about the hardiness of Distant Drum, but its colour coupled with its fantastic fragrance totally caught my heart.
 I call this double white Scotch rose 'Dominion Day', because it normally blooms around Canada Day, July 1, and its buds are red and white striped. Hopefully it will still be blooming next weekend, Canada Day weekend, when I'm holding the second annual Open Garden here at my place.
 Linda Campbell is another one of those roses that is hard to photograph accurately for colour. Her rich, red blooms come out in generous clusters. Although she is a rugosa hybrid, she has no fragrance but she has definitely bright, true red blooms. I just repurchased this rose from Baldwin's Nurseries in Falmouth.

While the flowers of Rosa glauca don't overly excite me, I grow this rose primarily for its blue-green foliage and bright red autumn hips. The flowers are single and pink and not fragrant, but they do show up well against the foliage. 
 One of the best rosarians I've ever met is Bob Osborne of Cornhill Nursery in Petitcodiac, New Brunswick. Bob is the author of the wonderful book Hardy Roses, and his enthusiasm for growing own root roses has excited me and opened me to a world of new varieties. I bought this rugosa hybrid, Polareis, about 8 years ago. The shrub is now massive, and the flowers change from pink to white, with great scent. A highly recommended choice.
 I planted Roseraie de l'Hay ten years ago, in honour of the late Timothy Findley. It is without a doubt one of the most fragrant rugosa roses I've ever encountered. The flowers resemble Hansa but the scent is utterly divine.
 If I could have only one rose, it would be Snow Pavement, which is another highly scented and very floriferous rugosa hybrid. This particular plant has been trained to grow like a standard, and I got it from Skye's creations at Springvale Nurseries. This is the third Snow Pavement in my garden, and all are doing fine.
I was told by rosarian Peggy Ann Pineau of Old Heirloom Roses that this fabulous rose, 'Alchemyst', can be tricky to overwinter. Don't anyone tell my plant this, because it is currently holding ten-foot tall canes, that are covered in buds. The flowers change colour from apricot to yellow-peach to pink as they mature, and yes, this beauty is fragrant, too. 

Harison's Yellow is supposed to be a tricky rose to propagate from cuttings. I collected a number of cuttings from a farm some years ago, and one of them has survived and is thriving nicely. The beauty only lasts for a few days, but when the rose is in bloom it's just such a dazzling show. 
Pristine Pavement is a close relative of Snow Pavement, though without the wash of lavender colour. It is very fragrant, and the pure white flowers contrast well with its deep green foliage. 

I can't remember where I bought Robusta, but she is well named, presenting me with dozens of single, deep red flowers. Despite my fondness for double or quartered rose blooms, I also have a deep fondness for the clean, unfussy look of single roses.

Last but not least is another feast for the eyes and the nose, the white rugosa hybrid Souvenir du Philomen Cochet. Closely related to Blanc Double du Coubert, but with even more fragrance. The only thing I find difficult about these white rugosa types is that they tend to "ball" in foggy or rainy weather, turning into a mass of soggy, tissue like petals. But aside from that, they're pretty much perfect and I think everyone should have one. 

So far I have come home with about 8 different species this year, and I suspect more will come along as  the nurseries show off more and more varieties. What about you--do you have a romance with roses going on? (Please tell me yes. I don't want to be addicted to these fantastic plants all by myself). 

04 June 2012

Meconopsis & Other Favourite Things

 What a spring we're having here in Nova Scotia! Although today is chilly enough that I put a fire in the wood stove to take the damp and chill off inside, we've been treated to what I can only describe as a real, old fashioned, normal spring. You know, where May actually is warm and pleasant for most of the month? I don't know when we last had frost, but it was long enough ago that I feel confident in putting out the annual containers. More on those in a bit.

It's always nice to watch a plant flower in one's garden for the first time. I bought this spring clematis, 'Fragrant Spring' last summer at Bunchberry Nurseries and it's now covering itself in fragrant, softly pink flowers. And yes, it has a pleasant, spicy-sweet scent. This is the first clematis to flower here, but others are forming up buds and I look forward to a wash of colours throughout the growing season.
 The secret to growing great lewisias? Perfect drainage, and a gravel mulch to keep the leaves from rotting from being against wet soil. Since learning this, my lewisias have done brilliantly. The upper one is from the Rainbow mix collection; the salmony coloured one is 'Little Peach.' They bloom for a long time, too, and I'm hoping they'll multiply now that they're happy.
Betty magnolia is in bloom--and has huge blooms this year, about the size of dinner plates, with their long, sprawling petals. I love this shrub, though I may have planted it a little too close to the walkway for comfort.

'But you mentioned Meconopsis in the title,' some of you might be complaining. 'Why is this about pink and orange flowers?'

Patience, patience, everyone. We'll get to that, presently.
 As I remarked to someone recently, although I love irises in other people's gardens, I don't have a lot of them myself. But this one tried to seduce me at Briar Patch earlier in May, and I had to have it. It's called 'Cat's Paw', of all things. That's why I needed it. Yes, it is.
 I seem to have developed a fondness for pink-orange-yellow flower combinations, which is curious because I'm not normally fond of pink. But these plants in one container do please me--dahlietta 'Cherry Sunrise', lantana 'Sunrise rose' and there's another lantana peeking around the edges of the photo, but I can't remember if it's 'Sunrise Red' or another strain.
 Every year I think I have organized my plant purchases well enough that I can find their names and where I got them again. Hah! This is a double primrose, but I have absolutely no idea where it came from. None at all. It's pink and yellow, continuing with that curious colour combination.
 Aquilegia 'Firecracker' caught my eye at Den Haan's earlier this spring, and I bought two of them. I'm glad I did, as they are festooned with many colourful flowers, and have wine-tinged foliage to add to the pleasure.
Although we're barely into June, all of my tulips are in bloom. That may not be surprising to many people, but quite often, I have tulips flowering into July. But that isn't going to happen this year. So the garden is festooned with plenty of colourful tulips, including this delightful fringed tulip that I'm pretty sure I bought at Blomidon Nurseries last fall. I love fringed tulips, and they often flower for three or four years before they dwindle away. 
 All these hot, bright colours are getting hard on the eyes, aren't they? Let's cool down with some cool blue, shall we? Like this Gentiana acaulis, the spring flowering gentian. I bought this little plant last summer, recognizing it as a gentian but not sure which one it was. I whooped and did a happy dance when it started blooming several weeks ago. That rich colour is just soooooo...well, you know.
Equally delightful, although more contrary to grow for me, is California bluebell, Phacelia campanularia. I have several of these in containers, as they are annuals here, and cranky annuals at that, but Laura Budde of Glad Gardens said that they need a little sweeter soil than do many plants. So I've added a little lime to the containers they are in, and hope they'll oblige by blooming for a while. That periwinkle blue is wonderful, isn't it? 
And...here it is, what you've been waiting for. Meconopsis grandis, one of the blue poppy species. It's about three weeks earlier than it has been in other years, and it popped open on June 1...about 5 days earlier than I thought it might. I was expecting it tomorrow, which would have been my beloved's Lowell's birthday, but I guess he thought I needed a little cheering earlier, so he arranged for a much needed 'gift' from him. This meconopsis has several more buds on it, so the show will continue for a week or more yet. It'll be done by the time of my Open Garden on June 30-July 1st, but you can enjoy it indefinitely here. 

Happy June to all of you. Happy plant hunting and planting...

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