28 December 2014

End of year roundup--favourites and more

Slightly belated Christmas greetings to all--we had not a drop of snow in Nova Scotia, and in fact had record breaking mild temperatures and torrential rains this year. It made travel easy, and we spent a very happy Christmas day with family. Since then I've been on an actual time-off from work, allowing myself a few days of just doing whatever I want, which has mostly been playing with photography, sorting through my image libraries, reading, and catching up with people I care about. 

We often have end-of-year retrospectives on many topics, including, of course, on gardening. I decided to do one primarily because most of my favourite plants this year, with one or two exceptions, have been around for a while and still remain some of my favourites. 

Let's start with the photo above, which is mostly of Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit'. There is a double flowered form in the background so that's why I say mostly. Otherwise, all those blossoms in the foreground, the orange, the yellow, the deep red-pink, are all from Cheyenne Spirit plants. These were planted in 2013, sailed through the winter, and bloomed their faces off this season, in these and other hues. I like them so much I bought several more, and now have no less than 8 different hues from the one cultivar. The only drawback, of course, is that you have to wait until they flower if you have a specific colour in mind. Hardy and vigourous and highly recommended. 

I don't grow a lot of annuals from seed, and mostly, I grow annuals in containers to make portable gardens that I can move around the yard. One that I usually buy started at a good nursery is morning glory 'Heavenly Blue', which is surely one of the most marvelous of flowers. Large, blue starry flowers tinged with purple, a yellow-white throat...what's not to love? 
 THIS is my must-have book this year, and I highly recommend that you get it as well. It's Taming Wildflowers by Wildflower Farm owner and advocate Miriam Goldberger, and it's an utterly fabulous book. Well written, easy to follow, and while it's not exhaustive in its scope, it does profile dozens of wildflowers that work beautifully in garden situations, and teaches you how to use them on your property. Miriam is justifiably proud of this beautiful book, and you really ought to have it in your library.
 A couple of years ago, my friend Melanie gave me this 'Coral Sunset' peony after I waxed eloquent about seeing it at Blomidon Nurseries. It has been dug up and moved twice, and has settled in nicely to its (hopefully permanent) home here in Wolfville. It's a thing of great beauty, don't you think? As an added bonus, it fades to a soft, pale yellow as the flowers age.
 Being a good science fiction geek, I knew I had to have a daylily called 'First Officer's Log', and so I acquired it last year. It has such striking shades in its bloom colours, but what really seals the deal for me is that brilliant green throat. I am a sucker for green flowers and for green accents in flowers, so this just hits all the right notes with me. Despite not having room for dozens and dozens of daylilies here, I do have 3 dozen or so, but they are all very special varieties that I had to have, including my favourite 'Pride of Canning' from Canning Daylily Gardens.
 While I adore flowers of perhaps every colour, size and shape, I also am a sucker for striking foliage, and so I always have containers of begonias and caladium outside for the summer. Of all of these, the begonia 'Sparks Will Fly' was my favourite all summer--it bloomed non-stop with small but profuse and brilliant orange flowers, which shone against the handsome foliage. I did bring it indoors and its resting, but if it decides not to wake up, I know most nurseries will be carrying it next year.
 This photo combines two of my favourite things: amaryllis 'Papilio' and Foxglove lady's gloves. My sister kindly gave me a pair of the gloves for Christmas, and while it's not garden season outdoors right now, they are also fantastic for another passion of mine: photography! They are form fitting and protect your hands but you can also do fine work with them, including working with a camera. As for the amaryllis (okay, Hippeastrum but you get the point), this is my first year growing this colourful variety but it won't be my last. Although there have only been two flowers on each of the two stems that have bloomed so far, there is a third stem coming along now, so that makes up for it. And such colours! It's a perfect Christmas plant with its red, white and green flowers.
 While I don't grow Japanese irises, I do love the look of them, and with plants I don't grow, I go to visit gardeners who DO grow them, and enjoy the fruition of their work. These gorgeous varieties are growing at Harbour Breezes Daylilies and Japanese Irises in East Jeddore, NS. Allan is also the breeder and seller of a daylily named after me, which is pretty amazing and humbling. I got out to visit a lot of gardens this past year, but intend to visit many more next year, whenever possible.
 This photo combines two of my favourite garden colours along with two non-hardy but much-beloved plants: Spanish lavender and Apricot Twist wallflower (erysimum). I also had hardy biennial wallflowers in pale yellow and clear orange, as well as one decidedly non-hardy 'Winter's Orchid', which I hope to find again next year. I love the scent of wallflowers, the vigourous, non-stop blooming, and the colours...and of course, real lavender is my favourite fragrance indoors and out.
After thinking about this plant for a year or so, I succumbed and bought a 'Pistachio' hydrangea because, well, green and hot pink, how COULD I resist? I also have half a dozen or more other hydrangeas, all of which are doing very well here. There are plenty of compact hydrangea varieties available now, so I can have more of them. :-)
 As I noted in a post earlier this year, thanks to a workshop several years ago with Pam Eveleigh of Primula World, I discovered a new passion for primulas of all types. They also have grown very well in my garden, from this P. bulleyana, grown from seed she gave us at the workshop...
... to this double flowered 'Nectarine'. There is something about a pink-yellow-orange mix in flowers that I just love, though it's not something I would have as part of house decor, or car colour!
 Another shrub which did surprisingly well for me this year was Buddleia--I had four of them overwinter with no problem at all, so I added back in my favourite variety, 'Sungold', as well as the 'Bicolor' variety and one dwarf, boisterously reblooming variety. Between good drainage last year and adequate snowcover, I didn't lose any of the others, so I have high hopes for these as well, if we ever DO get snow and cold weather.

I wrote in a post on Garden Making's website in early September about the absolute joy and excitement of discovering a new-to-me plant. In this case it was Anemonopsis, which I saw at my friend Nina's garden the month before, and which I discovered that Rob Baldwin had brought in to his nursery. I wasn't long in installing one in my garden, too! It's a plant suited for shade and rich but well-drained soil, as it doesn't like poor drainage over winter. I put it beside my blue poppy in the little woodland garden I made, and we'll see what happens next spring.
And to round off this miscellany of favourites, the drop-dead gorgeous white Datura, which bloomed for weeks on end, producing glorious, pristine white and highly fragrant, huge flowers. I had a double purple and a double yellow as well, but their flowers weren't as fragrant nor as huge--I will grow this pure white beauty again next year, for sure.

There were many other plants that caught my eye and arrived in my garden, but these are some of my favourites from this year. What about you? What were your must-haves or stalwart favourites this year?

Happy Gardening New Year to all...may we all have a blooming great year next year!


  1. I am so glad you did this round-up, Jodi. You picked some of my favorites, too. Love those primulas. I will check out the book you recommend. Happy New Year. P. x

  2. Did you move a second time ?

    These images make yearn for a Spring that is too far off.

    Wish you dirt under your fingernails and many growing things in the New Year !

  3. I enjoyed seeing your favorite flowers. Love that lavender daylily, and your 'Cheyenne Spirit' echinacea. Your hydrangea is beautiful as well. Looking forward to spring!

  4. Enjoyed seeing some of your favorites for the year, Jodi. The 'Cheyenne Spirit' is indeed a gorgeous echinacea. I waited too long to buy one at our local nursery, and they were sold out; this year I'm going to make a beeline for it before May! I have Miriam's wildflower book, too, and have been waiting for a snowy winter day to read through it more carefully--but it looks great. Wishing you a very Happy New Year in the garden!

  5. Great to see your Primula bulleyana! Keep experimenting and growing Primulas!

  6. I'm also enjoying Cheyenne Spirit, but I wish I had planted them enmasse, and not spread them about. I'd better move them, because now each color looks like a different plant, a bit messy!

  7. I like autumn colours and would be happy to have none other in my garden. (When I first moved to my house I preferred white and green but I've gone a bit gaudy in recent years.) Orange and purple or blue is a combination that always, always makes me smile.

  8. So pretty! My favorite is your peony, are they picky to separate and move? I have one that is getting too large for its space, but I am afraid I may kill it if I try to move it. Any tips? Love your blog, thank you!

    1. Peonies are particular about when they are moved and how they are replanted. Most recommend dividing it later in the season (autumn) as opposed to in the spring, and it is very important not to bury the crown too deep--it should be just about at surface level. There's a very good article on a US University Extension site: https://byf.unl.edu/Peony

  9. Thanks for the help! I hope it is alright, I added your blog as a link to my "Borrowed Wisdom" page of my blog as a reference for other East Coast gardeners - you have too many hints to not share!

  10. Your photos are outstanding. Thank you for sharing. I'm inspired to try a barrel of morning glories this year, and really, the Anemonopsis is to die for. With 2 feet of snow outside, I'll be ordering seeds today!


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