Sunday, November 29, 2009

More Geraniacae

Geraniums are often referred to as 'Hardy Geraniums' to distinguish them from their cousins the rather tender Pelargoniums. The truth is, that not all geraniums are hardy( i.e. cold hardy) and not all Pelargoniums are tender.

G. Maderense is from Madeira and in zone 6 has to be wintered over in the greenhouse.. I only wish I could get it to bloom, as this is a wonderful sight in early Spring, however it is worth growing as it is a wonderful foliage plant.

Pelargonium endlicherianum has proven to be hardy, but a bit tricky to get through the winter. I've tried several times without success, but my last plant has survived the winter of 2008-09. It is planted in a trough devoted to small Geraniums and Erodiums, all of which seem happily coexisting as happy family unit. I will try to document the over-wintering of this little plant and hope to show it in bloom next Summer.


Helen of Toronto Gardens recent post on Fall colour on Geraniums, has brought out in me the dormant geraniaphile.

I love Geraniums, Pelargoniums and Erodiums, but I have taken them for granted lately and they have become wallpaper in my garden (horticulturally speaking). So even though it's late in the season, I decided to look at this group again.

My choice for outstanding Fall colour is Geranium sanguineum, this plant I grew from seed from package marked G.sanguineum 'mixed colours'. I got a number of plants from this source, and the colours certainly did vary, but very subtlety.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Lucky Ones

My last posting may have left the impression that I am cruel and uncaring to my Agaves. Here is a picture of the majority of my collection. The lucky ones spending their Winter in a sunny south facing window.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Trickle Down Effect

I wonder what Edwin Lutyens would think of this picture? His garden bench designed originally for Gertrude Jekyll and copied by him for Sissinghurst Castle, has now been copied by everyone else. Here it's pictured in the window of Wilkinsons, a UK discount store, and priced at 65 Pounds! 

Hardiness -Agave

I'm sure I'm not alone in fretting about tender plants that are still outside. I still have Pelargoniums and Kalanchoe sitting right next to the back door, but just haven't gotten around to bringing them in. Perhaps subconsciously I want to rid myself of the plants that I can no longer  handle?Last year I had the same problem with four large Agave, bringing them in seemed so daunting as they really are a problem indoors once they pass a certain size. I tried to ignore them for the longest time, and then it snowed, and they remained in the snow for several days. Finally I felt guilty enough to drag them inside, and I have to say that three of the four survived. Of course if they had been subjected to prolonged sub-zero weather it would not have been such a happy ending.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


  While they are in good health and able to get around, even the most senior find time to see what's on the other side of the fence. On intrepid trips to the Alps, Asia and Africa we hope to see plants familiar to us in our gardens, greenhouses and windowsills growing in their native environment; but also we see ways in which other cultures cultivate the plant-life around them.

  I've travelled great distances, mostly connected with work ( and not very intrepid I have to admit) and always find time to checkout the nearest Botanical Garden. But most often , I seems to find gardens just wandering around as I explore a new destination. 

 These images are of gardens created in the entry-way of Chinese Shop-houses in the city of Malacca in Malaysia.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Autumn Light

The low light typical of November, does illuminate the garden in the most dramatic way. Grasses in particular seem to glow under these Autumn rays of sun.



I didn't know in advance about Bloom Day. It was great to see what's still in other peoples gardens, but wished I could have participated. So please excuse this belated record of my finds. I'm also including a few foliage shots as so many plants are taking advantage of the mild weather we are still experiencing in this region.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Vertical Spaces

My garden is enclosed in a 7 ft fence. Basically a garden in wooden box. It allows me to grow some of my favourite plants, which also are climbing, Clematis mostly , but also Ivies and Honeysuckles. 

Hardiness- Hedera helix

   Visitors are often surprised when they see 'Goldheart'  vigourously growing on a West facing wall.  Although English Ivy (Hedera helix)  is hardy in this climate, it is usually knocked back by sub-zero weather when it grows above snow cover. 
   In fact my plant took years to set down a root system that would support it's upward movement. It also had a couple of false starts, planted against a fence, it died back every Spring until it reached an adjoining wall and then really took off.
    I realize now that the fence was too thin to provide any insulation to the plant, whereas the wall provided enough warmth both from inside the house ( my neighbours actually) and also from holding onto the heat from the Sun even in the coldest days of winter. 
Now that the plant is fully established it even holds on to some territory on the fence, but not as vigourously as it does on the wall.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Alpine Troughs

Surprisingly, these collections of tough little plants survive the winter with out protection. The smaller troughs ( the ones I can lift) I group together in a south west facing  corner of the house . The rest , larger  and made of real stone are impossible to move , and so far have sailed through the Winter without damage to plants or container.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Promising Sign of Spring

Now that the leaves have fallen, I'm noticing just how many flower buds there are on flowering shrubs and trees. Magnolias, Dogwoods and Witch-hazel are full of promise for the coming season. This year, was not a good year for blossom, the Dogwoods in particular were very sparse in bloom. So starting with the Witch-hazel in February ( maybe earlier) let's hope for an excellent show in 2010.

Gates into Neighbours Gardens

At the very end of my back garden, there is a gate that, at one time was purely decorative,. Rather that run a fence along the entire rear garden we put in an old door that stopped the fence from appearing to be a dead end. Later my neighbours and I decided to grow vegetables on the other side of the fence, and so the old door became a functioning passage-way between the two spaces. 

Garden Gates

What do Garden Gates tell us about what we are about to see as we pass through? Well, in the case of my garden, you'd see a matured, recycled door, weathered and in need of a coat of paint. Despite this, it is hopefully inviting and perhaps intriguing. 

Friday, November 13, 2009


Another of my current enthusiasms is for Oxalis. I really love the South American species O. adenophylla, O. ennaphylla and O. laciniata, but also learning to love the South African species that are now breaking the surface in pots in the greenhouse.

Living Sculpture

Why go to the expense of hiring a hermit for your property, for the cost of a few bags of cat-food, a nice cat can be relied upon to drape himself elegantly on a wall, fence or flower-bed and provide a living presence in your garden.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What's Wrong with Yellow?

There is an unfortunate prejudice to the colour yellow. Many people just won't have it in their garden. But what could be more beautiful than this Sweet Potato Vine?

Hardy Cyclamen

Four years ago David Leeman and I started germinating Cyclamen seed in my greenhouse. David was then a member of the Cyclamen Society in the UK and was able to get hold of seed from some very good cultivars. 
 It's turned out to be a very exciting venture as every plant and every year has brought something new to observe and experience.  In the first year we were amazed to see the tiny plants form, they were immediately  recognizable as Cyclamen. In the second year we realized the incredible variety in leaf forms and patterns that most Cyclamen exhibit and in year three they started to bloom! This year I've planted many of those plants outdoors, these are the reliably hardy one C. hederifolium and C. coum, and also kept some select plants in pots for the greenhouse along with tender species that would not survive in zone 6.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


It's what you'd expect for this time of the year, but still startling.

The Colour Blue

 I'm always amazed at the transformation of Geranium flowers in the cooler weather. Rozanne is the best example. Through the summer it's a flowering machine, it's colouring would be best described as a blue/pink or maybe a violet, but in the cool days of Autumn it turns a vivid blue.

Sage Border at Kew

Another extraordinary site was a long border ( perhaps a 100 yards) of dozens of varieties of Salvia. It was still looking good even in early November. One variety that caught my eye was Salvia mexicana 'Limelight'. It had lime green spathes and just beginning to appear were vivid blue flowers. I wished I could have seen them in full bloom.

A beautiful bulbous plant was my favourite, and unfortunately it remains unidentified as I didn't take too many notes. It might be some form of Scilla. South African? South American?