Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Auspicious Gales.

I spent a few weeks this Fall  in the village of Mumbles which is now a suburb of Swansea. After decades of living in Zone 6 Toronto and Montreal, I'd forgotten just how temperate my home town is in comparison to the Great White North.
Climate is complicated, and here I'm reminded that north and south are not the only things that affect cold and warmth. Montreal is just above the 45th parallel and Toronto is even further south just below the 44th. By comparison coastal South West Wales is just below the 52nd parallel, and yet experiences mild temperate weather throughout the year. The reason for this is, of course the Gulf Stream which sends warm currents of air and water up from the southern Atlantic which moderate the climate.
Plants that would be considered tender in my Zone 6 garden. Rosemary, Fatsia and Passion Fruit are completely hardy in Mumbles, even in the smallest front gardens, and can grow into impressively large specimens.


A typical row of cottages in Mumbles.

Rosemary can grow into impressive shrubs.

Rosemary still in bloom in September.

Fatsia looks almost tropical to Zone 6 gardeners.

Passion Fruit a common vine in gardens with lots of flowers and fruit.

Lavender hardy in zone 6 but never achieving this sort of size.

This garden has Dracenas, Tree Ferns, Bamboo and Phormium.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Great Plant Combinations at the JBM

My last post was, perhaps a bit negative, so I'm following it with these very beautiful images from a recent visit to the Jardin botanique de Montréal. There were some wonderful container plantings, but also flower beds planted out in seasonal (rather than perennial) combinations, one example that I show here is the pairing of a Dracena marginata possibly 'Colorama' and a pale pink Gaura .  There was a lot of use of Papyrus as a vertical element in many of the container plantings, and on closer observation we were thrilled to see it's new shots emerging from the base, reminding us of motifs in ancient egyptian art. At the time of posting this my header is an image of Persicaria 'Red Dragon' and an unidentified Coleus, another great JBM combo that I'm showing again in this collection of pictures. The final image is the base of a Penjing in the Chinese garden, the tree itself was lovely but I was most taken by the planting at its base, a combination of Sedum dasyphyllum and two unidentified ferns.

One of the many container plantings at the JBM.

At the base of the Papyrus new shoots emerging.

A hot pink Dracena marinate paid with a pale pink Gaura.

Persicaria 'Red Dragon' and Coleus.

The base of a Penjing planted with Sedum dasyphyllum and ferns.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Weedy City

I've been a little hesitant to write this post being a newly adopted Montréalais, but I can't help but be surprised by the lack of care and maintenance in private gardens and balconies in my neighbourhood.  Meanwhile municipal plantings are spectacular, especially in tourist areas, and the Jardin Botanique de Montréal has eye-popping displays that should be inspiring to the any of the population with a garden or balcony. My street is particularly weedy, it is over-run by Manitoba Maple (Acer negrundo), in fact we have huge specimens that were planted as street trees and are now seeding themselves into every nook and cranny; no one seems to care if they are growing out of the side of the house or out of (and slowly killing) their favourite lilac or honeysuckle.
This was once a very fine Peking Cotoneaster hedge,
now it is over-run with Manitoba Maple 

Conveniently at eye-level for a passing child, 
this stinging nettle is thriving in the raised beds around a café terrace.

How would you like to have this lovely thing growing
 out of the foundation of your  residence?
Also check out the clever plantings on the balconies.

This planting around a new condo development seems to have "just growed".

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Seeing the Potential.


How's this for a dramatic companion planting? It's completely accidental of course and, at the moment not perfectly composed, but this has the potential for being an excellent late summer combination. 
The berries are from Arum maculatum, the leaves of which are dormant at this time of year and the foliage is of Hosta 'Osiris Soleil Levant'. 
I'm thinking that a better composition could be created by surrounding the Arum with another one or two 'Soleil Levant' so as to combine the two plants and to make more of the differences in colour and texture. A. maculatum is also a wonderful foliage plant in the Spring with leaves marked with black inky spots and typical flowering spadix.


Arum maculatum and Hosta 'Osiris Soleil Levant'.

Arum maculatum dormant except for it's brilliant red fruit.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Agaves on the Move.





As you know, I have recently moved house, in fact I've moved cities, from Toronto to Montréal. I had to give up a number of my larger plants that were too impractical to transport and to fit into a smaller house and garden. There was some damage to some of the plants in the move, but they have all recovered and are thriving on my sunny balcony.

These are  some of the smaller Agaves that made the trip.
Lord Ganesh ensures that they have maximum growing conditions.

Two of the big Agaves that made the cut,
A. victoriae-reginae and A. filifera as well as three smaller spikey types.




Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Montréal 2. The Front Garden.

 Blooms Day. I never remember this date, but today it seems unavoidable when there is so much happening in the front garden. An unapologetic "riot of colour" made up of Daylilies, Echinacea and Geraniums and much more.









Sunday, July 6, 2014

Montréal

It has been many months since I last posted here, and in that time there have been many changes in my life, primarily my moving to Montréal and giving up my house and garden in Toronto (more of this in future posts). The property in Montréal has been owned by Michel and myself for over twenty years, and so I have a great familiarity in both the house and garden. Although the garden is mostly Michel's work, I've had a hand in shaping it's design, both in the selection of plants and the building of paths and fences etc. 
The pictures below were taken when I arrived here at the end of May, the Alliums were still in bloom and the Rogersias had just started to send up their elegant plumes. There is much use of limey green in this planting, with Hakonechloa, "Tiger Eye" Sumac and Dicentra 'Gold Heart' all  contrasting with the dark green fence and giving a cooling effect in the hot Summer days.

Other outstanding plants this Spring were Clematis "Jacqueline du Pre"
and Acer   japonicum  'Aconitifolium"

Although they are almost the same colour, Dicentra 'Gold Heart' 
and this gold form of hakonechloa have completely different foliage texture
 end up making great companions.

A well established clump of Rogersia aesculifolia.