Friday, June 25, 2010

Talinum calycinum

Talinum calycinum close up of flower

Talinum calycinum

Talinum calycinum is in the portulaca family and is native to North America. Hardy to zone 4, it is deciduous and disappears after the first frost but survive as a succulent rootstock under ground. In the summer months it rises from tufts of succulent leaves on long wire like stems, and opening in the late afternoon in billows of brilliant magenta flowers.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Clematis 'Yukikomachi'

Clematis 'Yukikomachi'

In 1996 I was a visiting lecturer at India's National Institute of Design (NID) and luckily at a time to witness the events in the Indo- Japanese Shibori Conference, which was held there that year. Both India and Japan share the tradition of decorating textiles with a very sophisticated version of what we in the West call 'tie-dye'; in Japan it's called 'Shibori' and in India 'Bandini'. The technique is common throughout Asia, but the application of the craft differs from country to country and from culture to culture.
This is particularly true in these two great cultures and as I went from one display to the next at this conference, I was struck by the contrast between exquisite textiles exhibited in the galleries. The Indian works were complex, vibrant and showing a fearless use of colour, whereas the Japanese exhibit was full of subtle hues and sensitive skill that produced an under-stated elegance.
I am reminded of this when I see Clematis 'Yukikomachi' come into bloom in my garden; it has large white flowers edged with a pale lavender that seems to have been applied by a Shibori artisan, the effect is to give the flower an almost silvery brightness, that is at once dramatic and subtle. I find this highly discriminating taste common in Japanese bred Clematis, as it often is in most horticultural pursuits in this country.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Geranium cinereum 'Alice'

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Clematis 'Cassis'

Stage one

Stage two

Stage three

Stage four

Stage five

Although I'm not always fond of double flowers, there are a few exceptions, one of them is Clematis 'Cassis'. In Clematis on the Web it's parentage is described as "C. Venosa violacea X unknown" but C. florida var flore-plena must also be part of the mix.
Clematis on the Web also mentions that 'Cassis' is variable depending on growing conditions, sometimes it is a bi-clour with strong central bars, but I'm glad that my conditions give it this wonderfully textured purple veining that develops in intricacy as it ages. I've broken it down into five stages, in these pictures, but it just as well might be ten or twenty, depending on how closely you may want it to be observed.

Friday, June 11, 2010

South African Celebration

Sparaxis tricolor

Pelargonium x zonarctic

Ornithogalum dubium

Rhodohypoxis baurii

Helichrysum 'Country Park Silver'

Clivia miniata

This morning I found that some Sparaxis flowers had opened on the very day of the opening of the World Cup in South Africa, not deeply symbolic, but a nice coincidence. It occurred to me to make note of other South Africans that are currently in bloom in the garden.
Choosing only those in flower, I found Pelargonium x zonarctic ( which as far as I can gather refers to zonal pelargoniums crossed with a species). I grew this from seed and this year for the first time it has bloomed; it turns out to be a lovely large white flower with red and pale green markings. There is something very satisfying about growing species and close to species pelargoniums, their interesting structure and subtle flowers are fascinating. Check out Matt Mattus for some more images of this genus.
Other South Africans include Helichrysum 'Country Park Silver' ( hardy here in a trough for the last 5 years), Ornithogalum dubium, Rhodohypoxis baurii and Clivia miniata.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Going Vertical

Reinforced fence with gritty urban landscape beyond.

Bare obelisk.

Honeysuckle finally covers one of the obelisks.

I've been gardening here for the last 24 years, all the time yearning for a 'mature garden'. Well I've finally achieved that, but now I have to deal with aging infrastructure, the most worrying of which are the fences that I built in the late 80's. I know that I will eventually have to replace them, but for the time being, I'm doing all I can to make them last a little bit longer.
A few years ago I had someone reinforce the fence that separates me from my neighbour to the east, it was quite ingenuous really, 2" x 6" planks that were staggered to over the top of the fence that strengthened the weak points at the posts. It worked, but left me with this heavy horizontal, unbroken by finials or even taller trees or shrubs. Worse still, it became a runway for squirrels, racoons and neighbourhood cats. My solution was to attach three wire obelisks along the length of the fence with the idea that they would eventually be covered with wreaths of vines and break the overbearing horizontal.
It was a risky move as the obelisks themselves looked rather stark against the sky and I was forever apologizing for them fearing that people would think they were poorly conceived attempts at ornament. This year finally, one of the obelisks has been covered and achieved the hoped for effect. It is covered in honeysuckle which is now in bloom and perfumes that part of the garden.
It is my hope that the other two will be similarly covered this year if not by the next, the larger obelisk in the centre has been under-planted with another honeysuckle, as well as, several Clematis viticella and the third obelisk is under-planted with Actinidia kolomikta.

Wordless Wednesday? Hey I can do that!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Michel's Garden

Michel's Garden

Rodgersia flowers close up

Erodium manescavii

Michel's garden is L shaped and wraps around the rear and side of his apartment in Notre Dame de Grace in Montreal. He is always despairing about the condition of the garden as if to prepare you for the worse, but one is inevitably met with the lovely green tapestry of carefully chosen foliage plants. It is a small space, but Michel is not afraid to use big plants; the most impressive feature is an enormous Hosta nigrescens 'Eliator', a giant of the genus, that has an almost tropical feeling to this zone 5 garden.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hosta 'Frank Gehry'

Hosta 'Big Daddy' aka 'Frank Gehry'

Last week I was in Montreal visiting Michel. In his garden was lovely this big Hosta caught my eye, it's not the biggest in this garden, H. nigrescens 'Eliator' is by far the largest, but this other, we think it's H.'Big Daddy' looks like it might have been designed by Frank Gehry.