Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gardens Worth Visiting, The Jarvie Garden.

Hellebore with anemone centre.

Hellebore- an apricot form.

A lovely Dicentra 'Burning Hearts' in Marion's greenhouse.

Last weekend was the start of the Open Garden season, luckily, the Jarvie Garden was open the whole weekend, so although I had my own garden open on Sunday, I had the chance to see the wonderful garden of Marion Jarvie on Saturday.
Marion was, as usually very generous with her time, even though she was besieged with visitors all of them with many questions. They were also, like me, a little overwhelmed by the variety and scope of this amazing collection of plants.
At this time of the year there were many outstanding specimens and collections, most notably were Marion's own seed grown Hellebores selected from the best plants from the best growers. The results are extraordinary and unique to this garden.

The Jarvie Garden is open from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.

May 29 -30

July 24-25

September 18-19

The address: 37 Thornheights Rd., Thornhill, ON L3T 3L9

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Lesser Celandine, Ranunculus ficaria.

R. ficaria 'Brazen Hussy'

R. ficaria 'Flore-plena'

R. ficaria 'Collarette'

R. ficaria 'Copper Knob'

R. ficaria A pale form, maybe ''Primrose'

Some of the variety of foliage in my garden.

Some people are terrified of this little buttercup, and understandably as there are a number of gardens that seem to be over-run by this species. Just today A friend who spent the weekend in Montreal showed me a picture she took at the Montreal Botanical Garden of an area infested with a large leaved, course form of this species. My theory for the over-bearing habit of this plant in certain (usually older) gardens, is that they were planted with a less desirable sub-species. In Dan Hinkley's "The Explorers Garden", he mentions when discussing R.ficaria "Ranunculus ficaria subsp.chrysocephalus is more robust in every regard, rising to 1 ft. (0.3m) in height and bearing quarter-sized flowers to 1 in. (2.5 cm)",this may well be the plant that has given the smaller standard species such a bad reputation.
In my garden I've grown a number of the many cultivars of Ranunculus ficaria and they have all been very well behaved. In early spring they produce masses of glistening flowers in yellow, orange and white and depending on the cultivar, foliage of green, black-purple or with marbling of green,black and pewter. The most famous of these cultivars is 'Brazen Hussy', found and named by Christopher Lloyd at Great Dixter, its shiny black foliage contrasting with the vivid yellow flowers make it a remarkable sight in the spring garden.
Being early spring ephemerals, the show is over for R. ficaria, at the end of May when it goes into dormancy.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Plant Sales

Sales table ready for my Open Garden.

Sedum, Jeffersonia and ginger.

Fritallria meleagris, ferns and digitalis.

As I was putting together the sales table for my Open Garden, I wondered how many others are getting ready for similar events, how many divisions are being potted up and how many Venetian Blinds are being transformed into plant labels,
In the Toronto area alone there are three major Plant Sales in May, starting on the 2nd is the ORG&HPS Sale followed later that week by the TBG Plant Sale on May 6th to 9th and also on the May 8th the Horticultural Societies of Parkdale and Toronto has it's Annual Plant Fair.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

In the Garden Today

Tulipa humilis 'Persian Pearl'

Jeffersonia dubia and Anemone nemerosa 'Virescens'

Dicentra spectabilis White Form

Lathyrus vernus

Monday, April 19, 2010

Helleborus Finale

A close up look at Hellebore flowers.

Hellebore flowers arranged in a 'Pansy Ring' and rice bowl.

I know that this is hardly an original thing to do, but who can resist it at this time of year. There is such pleasure in gathering up the flowers of favourite Hellebores and seeing them the way they can't be viewed in the garden. This year I bought a circular bowl that I later found out is called a Pansy Ring and as it turns out it is perfect for holding the flowers in the up-ward facing position. When I had filled the ring, I used the left over flowers to fill a rice bowl, which I later realized fitted the centre of the ring perfectly.
I realize I've devoted a lot of space in these pages to Helleborus, but they do have a special time and place in the garden at this time of year, and although the are a handsome plant for the rest season, the moment when they are at their best is passing as the season progresses. So it's time to turn my attention to other plants; the Dogwoods look promising and the Redbud is covered in buds. Watch this space!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Great Expectations

Sanguinaria canadensis 'Armstrongs Pink'

Sanguinaria canadensis

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex

A few years ago my order from Fraser's Thimble Farm included Sanguinaria canadensis 'Armstong's Pink'. It was described as having "Soft pink buds opening to soft pink flowers that fade to white. Burgundy tinted foliage." I had high expectations of this acquisition, I had seen pink Bloodroot before at an ORg&HPS meeting when a large clump of pink, double Sanguinaria was auctioned off ( unfortunately not to me). I've not seen this plant since and Mr Armstrong's selection sounded like it might be equally choice. But the following year, disappointment. "Really Mr. Armstrong" I said to myself, "you call this pink, and this foliage burgundy tinted, I don't think so".
Last Autumn I moved the plant to another site and perhaps because it was now in more shade, but more likely because I had lowered my expectations, it surprised me. Why hadn't I noticed the darker, purple tinted foliage? And the flowers were certainly a lovely pink in bud and opened to a very distinct lily shape. I can just imagine a graph showing the highs and lows of my enthusiasm for this plant, it would look like a mountain followed valley followed by montain.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Open Garden April 25th

Just a reminder to anyone in the Toronto area on Sunday April 25th, that my garden is open to the public as part of Open Gardens Toronto.
Check the link or email me for details.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pulsatilla vulgaris

The Pulsatillas have been spectacular this year, the cool, clear weather brings out the best in them, they seem to glow in the clear sunshine. Most of these are from the Papageno strain with distictively fringed and frilled edges to the flowers. The first image, however is a mystery, maybe grown from seed, it flowered for the first time this year.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Salix Vestita

Salix vestita in January

Salix vestita in March

Salix vestita early in April

Salix Vestita in mid- April

I've posted pictures of this lovely little willow before thinking it was at it's best, only to find, a few weeks later that it has moved on to another stage of growth and looking equally beguiling but in a different way. The truth is, that plants are beautiful at many stages of their life-cycle and our enjoyment of them is much prolonged as we witness this fascinating evolution..
I wish I could say that Salix vestita was endlessly beautiful, because as it goes into the hot and humid weather of summer it starts to look a little shabby. However, for now it is a show-stopper and always attracts attention from garden visitors.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Arum maculatum

Arum italicum 'Chameleon'

Arum italicum

Arum palaestinum

This Spring a couple of my Arums were victims of Over Planted While in Dormancy Stndrome (OPWDS). This happen when you plant or allow seed to germinate top of something else. Usually this is on top of a dormant plant which somehow you've forgotten about even though you consider it to be a little garden treasure.
Arum italicum was most affected, it had been covered with Cyclamen coum, and seedlings of Fritilaria acmopetala.and Meconopsis cambrica. The M. cambrica or Welsh Poppy were soon weeded out, but now I have to lift the Fritillaria and the Arum and give them both their own space.
The other Arum affected by OPWDS is A. palaestinum which is covered with Cyclamen hederifolium but can be easily recovered with a little surgery using my smallest trowel, Perhaps I should do this before taking my double espresso and while my hand is still steady.

Monday, April 12, 2010

In the Garden Today

Helleborus x hybridus

Helleborus x hybridus

Salix sp.

Foliage of Tulipa greigii 'Red Riding Hood'

Tulipa humilis violacea

There is so much happening in the garden at the moment that it's hard to focus on one family of plants or to stick to some theme or concept. So quite simply here are things I saw in the garden today. The hellebores are at their best right now and the species tulips are just starting. And although a clump of Tulipa 'Red Riding Hood' seem to have come up blind, they have made up for this with an amazing show of patterning on their leaves. I may have been premature showing the Salix in the post of a few weeks ago, because they are even more startling now that their catkins are heavy with pollen; but perhaps it is just as well that I show them at various times of growth for they are beautiful at all stages.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Garden Visits

The Garden of Clement and Leena

Scilla peruviana

Trillium luteum

Trillium sp. ( sessile?)

No one could describe me as a specialist. I do belong to a number of specialist garden organizations, but frankly, I want it all. This morning the pleasure of seeing the garden come to life after a long winter, was somewhat dampened by the realization that there was a lot of congestion in the planting, often realizing that last Fall I had planted some precious acquisition on top of a dormant ephemeral. Although I plan to 'de-clutter' at some point, it would be a while before I get around to some detailed weeding and transplanting.
So it was a relief to get out of the garden and go and visit the garden of my friends Clement and Leena and to enjoy their collection of plants. The first thing I see on entering is a lovely Magnolia kobus, it's been a very clear day and its pure white blooms glowed in the morning sunshine. Clement told me later that he grew the Magnolia from seed and now it is probably as old as his daughter who is in her first year of University.
Next I saw three pots of Scilla peruviana set out on the porch after a winter in doors; unlike most S. peruviana I've seen these plant had small multiple blooms which snaked about on long stems. I was so enthusiastic about them that Clement has promised to drop one around to my place next time he visits ( so much for enjoying plants in other peoples gardens).
Among the other plants that were grown to perfection were a number of Trillium, which are a surprising rarity in Canadian gardens, Trillium grandiflorum is the floral emblem of Ontario, and yet very few people think of them as garden flowers. However in Clement's garden it was two mature clumps of Trillium luteum and T. sessile that were real show-stoppers; although they were not yet in bloom the fabulous foliage were an incredible sight and well wort the visit.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Narcissus minor

narcissus bulbocodium

Narcissus 'Topolino'

The Narcissus in the greenhouse has finished blooming and now are setting seed in a quite corner. But in the garden, the blooming season is just starting, in the front I grow mostly N. cyclameneus hybrids, the first to bloom are 'Tete a Tete' and 'Topolino' and soon they will be joined by 'Jetfire' and by the jonquille 'Dicksissel'.
In the back garden I try to grow species Narcissus and have had some success with N. minor (pictured here with a Canadian Dollar coin) and N. bulbocodium, however I'm a bit disappointed that the N. cyclameneus which I've grown from seed hasn't flowered, perhaps it will later or maybe next year. I am not sure either about the N.pseudonarcissus I planted last Fall, of the 25 bulbs only 8 have appeared so far, but at least these are about to flower.

Monday, April 5, 2010

At Ground Level

Caulophyllum thalictroides

Podophyllum sp. ( maybe versipelle)

Symplocarpus foetidus

This morning Marjorie Harris wrote in her blog about the pleasure of seeing plants break the surface of the soil, and this inspired me to photograph some of the plants that I've been enjoying at this very early stage. In fact looking at some of my pictures I noticed there is still a trace of soil on many of the plants that have perhaps only been above ground for 24 to 36 hours or less.
Some have shown signs of life for a few weeks now like the Symplocarpus foetidus ( one of the native plants stuck with the name of Skunk Cabbage), its strange flower has been shopping around for pollinators for weeks, but just today I've noticed some fresh new leaves have appeared from the base. This is all a reminder that plants are beautiful at most stages of life and this early one is often overlooked.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Helleborus x nigercors

Helleborus x nigercors

Helleborus x nigercors

Hybrids of Hellaborus niger seem to be everywhere these days, Canada Blooms (Toronto's Annual Spring Flower Show) was awash with H. x 'Ivory Prince' and when I asked one of the 'landscapers' why this was so, he replied that "It's one of the plants that is perfect this time of year". Well so much for originality and just for the record, they were far from perfect.
I've got nothing against 'Ivory Prince', but there is a much more diverse choice out there for the person with vision and a little curiosity. And I'm not talking about finding the newest and the latest either, my favourite H. niger cross is one that I've grown for close to ten years, it is H. x nigercors ( a hybrid of H. niger and H. argutifolius). The form I have has green flowers turning to white with maturity and pink striping on the underside of the sepals.