Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cooling Whites

Paraisea liliastrum and Stellaria graminea

Ranunculus aconitifolius 'Flore Plena'
or 'Fair Maids of France'

Aquilegia vulgaris and Cornus kousa 'Wolf Eyes'

Thalictrum aquilegifolium 'Sparkler'

Here in Southern Ontario, we are experiencing some unusually hot weather for the month of May. For several days now the temperatures have been in the low 30's (centergrade), and on cue ( I wish I could claim to have planned this), the garden has produced some wonderfully cooling combinations of blooms and foliage.
Thalictrum aquilegifolium 'Sparkler', despite it's firey name, is tall and elegantly cool and a self-sown Aquilegia pairs well with the foliage of Cornus kousa 'Wolf Eyes'.
Ranunculus aquinitifolius' Flore Pleno' is an antique , double flowered form of the species that is also known as 'Fair Maids of France'. I'm told that it is quite common in Newfoundland, and if true, it might be among some of the earliest european plants to be imported to North America. It forms a little cloud of white button-like flowers and seems unaffected by the heat and humidity.
Equally at ease in the summer heat is Paradisea liliastrum, which blooms the same time as a little plant that I found growing in the grass at a local sports arena, I've since found out that it's Stellaria graminea, a chickweed, but a very well behaved one.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Zoom in to Sunshine

Little trough filled with Delosperma congestum

Moving in tighter on Delosperma congestum

Close-up on Delosperma congestum

This afternoon took a friend to visit Erika in her garden. We were blown away by her collection of exquisite alpine troughs and native plants.
Coming into the garden, this little trough packed with Delosaperma, just glowed in the brilliant afternoon sun.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Atragenes

Clematis 'Purple Spider'

Clematis 'Brunette'

Clematis koreana

The interior of Clematis koreana

The most familiar species in this group are C. alpina and C. macropetala whose charming nodding flowers are the earliest of the genus to bloom in the garden. But the others in this group are worth growing and have given rise to a number of interesting cultivars. I grow a form of C. koreana and I'm not surprised to discover in Clematis on the Web that it is one of the parents of C. 'Brunette' as there is a distinct family resemblance. I can see this at first hand as I recently bought C. 'Brunette' as well as C. 'Purple Spider' at Lost Horizons. Both plants looked vigorous, and most importantly were already in bloom, so I knew exactly what I was getting.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Open Garden on May 23rd.

Sir Cedric Morris with garden visitors at Benton End

I will again be opening my garden for Open Garden Toronto on Sunday May 23rd from 1.30 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.
Your $4.00 admission is donated to the Canadian Women's Foundation. There will also be plants for sale.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lady Slippers

Cypripedium 'Michael' ( C. macranthos x C. henryi)

Cypripedium calceolus

It's been a long wait, but finally Cypripedium 'Michael' has settled in and is blooming annually. The first year in 2007 it had two blooms and I missed them completely as I was out of town for a few weeks. Since then it has produced more blooms every year and this season has produced bi-flowered as well as a few tri-flowered stems with a total of twelve blooms. Last year I added another hybrid, C. 'Emil' (C. parviflorum x C. calceolus). It arrived in the mail, looking a little fragile, from Fraser's Thimble Farm (as did C. 'Michael'),it survived the winter, but so far no flowers.
In the meantime I'm able to enjoy two plants of C. calceolus given to me by a generous friend, and I'm now looking forward to C. reginae, which blooms a few weeks later than the others.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Iris reichenbachii

Brown Iris pumila

Pale Blue Iris pumila

Iris pumila with Artemisia 'Oriental Limelight'

Iris lacustris

The first iris to bloom in my garden this year was the tiny I. lacustris which in nature grows only in the Great Lakes region. It is now a threatened species and is no longer available in commerce, making it a rarity in gardens; I was lucky enough to buy my plant in the last year that it was legal to trade. My rather poor photograph can only give an impression of this diminutive beauty, it is tiny in all it's parts, the flowers are held singly on short stems at a height of about 8cm.
Another minuture iris presently in bloom is a dwarf form of I. reichenbachii which is 12cm tall with yellow flowers and although it appears to be quite delicate has survived several winters, unprotected in a small stone trough.
I also grow several forms of Iris pumila, and although they are not as rare as their smaller cousins, they are equally rewarding. I've had some success in pairing them with companion plants ( and rather unruly ones at that), an iris with brown/ coffee tones looks great with Euphorbia dulcis 'Chameleon' and a lovely purple and white contrasts beautifully with Artemesia vulgaria 'Oriental Limelight'.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Workshops in My Garden

Hardy Succulents in Containers.

This growing season, I have teamed up with friend and neighbour Gayla Trail (author and urban food grower) to offer hands on gardening and canning workshops in Toronto. We’ve started off with 3 workshops in the month of May and plan to offer a few more later in the season based on interest, time, etc.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

On the Frits.

Fritillaria hermonis amana

Fritillaria acmopetala

Fritillaria pallidiflora

The Fritillaria meleagris are almost finished, but close behind them are the delicately marked F. hermonis amana and the stunning F. montana. But as these flowers fade others take the limelight, F. pallidiflora and F. acmopetala are now at their best and F. davisii is still to come.
This makes for weeks of bloom from this rewarding family of plants with their delicate bell-shaped flowers and each with distinctive chequering and stripes.