Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Heart's Delight

Heart's Delight sounds like a town in Newfoundland, and it may well be so, but it is also the name of lovely kaufmanniana tulip.
It could well describes how I felt when I arrived home today, from an early appointment, to find so many of the early Tulips open in the warm morning sun. It has been a miserable Spring so far, so cold that most reckon that we are two weeks behind the usual progression of the season. So it was with an extra special delight to see these early tulips finally in bloom.

Tulipa kaufmanniana 'Heart's Delight.

Tulipa turkistanica.

Tulipa humilis 'Violacea'.

Slowly Across the Pane of the Front Door

Friday, April 22, 2011

Looking Closer at Snowdrops

Like many plants, Galanthus can be viewed en masse in great drifts or close up to enjoy their delicate markings. In both cases, they are very rewarding and happily one does not have to choose one method of viewing over the other. I suppose it's the attraction of the close up method that has led to the current Galanthomania trend. Galanthus seem limitless in their ability to experiment with variations in their form and colour markings and observing these differences can be an absorbing activity.
I found this out recently when David Leeman and I were given permission to examine an old planting of Galanthus nivalis and G. nivalis 'flore-pleno' in the gardens of an historic house on the outskirts of Toronto. The results were very interesting. There were indeed, many variations from plant to plant, especially in the double flowers. You can see what we found in this link to David's post on this subject.
Interestingly, when I got home I looked more closely at the Snowdrops in my own garden and found similar variations. The doubles were again the most individualistic. From this observation, I've decided not to seek out the numerous named forms of this flower , but to enjoy the differences of those in my own garden and in those of my friends and neighbours. This may just be sour grapes on my part as the importation of plants into Canada is a daunting exercise and at this time I am unwilling to resort to smuggling. However here are some of the varieties of flowers found in my well established colonies of Snowdrops, I think some would be well worth cultivating.

This double Snowdrop has prettily marked reflexed petals. It will be interesting to see if this feature reappears permanently in years to come.

There are lots of green centres, this seems to be a fairly common variant.

Door Opens on Sunday

On Sunday 24th April from 1.00 to 4.00p.m. my garden will be open as part of Open Gardens Toronto.
Use link for my address and directions.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Simple and Sumptuous

Eleanor Perenyis loved Dahlias, and when a friend implied that they were a little less than tasteful, she defending them by saying "But to me they are sumptuous, not vulgar, and I love their colors, their willingness to bloom until the frost kills them and, yes, their assertiveness. I do like big flowers when they are also beautiful".
I was reminded of this when I looked again at my recent purchases of new Hellebore cultivars, they too are sumptuous with flowers of rich colouration and complex structure. They have come a long way from the forms they would have in the wild and although many people abhor anything that differs from this primal state, I still seek out the variations that Nature can supply, and find them so extraordinary and beautiful.
But I suppose I want it all, as I also love the simplicity of the species and primary hybrids, they are at their best in my garden at the moment and I decided to look at them again as a group.
We often see Helleborus hybridus displayed by floating the flowers in a bowl of water, but not so often this group and so I gave them a chance to strut their stuff in the same manner.
In the picture below I've put together H. niger (also pictured in header), H. niger 'Praecox', H. nigercor, H. foetidus and H. 'Ivory Prince', and although they have a simple palette of colour and structure they still make a lovely composition.

A composition of Hellebore species and primary hybrids.

David taking the last of our plants (Helleborus "Ivory Prince') to be sold at our local Hort Soc.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


I'm not sure where it came from, but I've found Chrysosplenium alternifolium growing in my garden this Spring. I have to admit that I am increasingly forgetful of what I've planted, and this seems to be another example of my failing memory.
I think I must have been decisive in placing this little Saxifrage relative, because it is situated close to one of it's cousins the exotic asian species Chrysosplenium macrophyllum which I bought at Crug Farm in North Wales.
I had my doubts that it would be hardy here in Southern Ontario, but it seems quite at home and happily spreads around by stolens to produce satellite plants each producing these strangely beautiful flowers

Chrysosplenium alternifolium.

Chrsosplenium macrophyllum flower.

Chrysosplenium new leaves unfurling.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Last of the Cyclamen

At this time of year when I'm beginning to move plants outside, the greenhouse is losing many of it's best performers, the Cyclamen coum have been spectacular for many months and are now, literally, going to seed. The one exception is the lovely Cyclamen peloponnesiacum which is the last to bloom and is, at the moment, at its best. These pictures show a pot of about six plants showing a variety of leaf markings and delicate flowers that also sweetly scented.

Garden Visiting

I was looking for an image to accompany the announcement of the dates for my Open Gardens and found this picture of Margery Fish ( with her back to the camera), the caption read "A tour of the 1/4 acre garden with her could take up to five hours".

I'm often disappointed at how little time some visitors take when they visit my garden and love it when others stay for an hour or so with lots of questions and observations. I think five hours might be excessive, but hopefully Mrs Fish did stop for tea at some point.

My garden will be open as part of Open Gardens Toronto on April 24th from 1.00 to 4.00p.m., and on the following dates this Summer and Fall: June 12th, July 10th and October 16th, all these dates fare Sundays and from 1.00 to 4.00 p.m.

Margery Fish showing her visitors around her garden in East Lambrooke Manor in Somerset. This photograph by Valerie Finnis is from Garden People by Ursula Buchan, a wonderful book on the photography of Valerie Finnis.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hellebore Sale

Today was the first day of our two day event Hellebores Galore. We had an unprecedented turnout as a large number of people had been alerted to the sale by an article in the Toronto Star by garden columnist Sonia Day.
She'd warned me that "if I put this in, you'll get a hoard off people", and she was right , so much so that we had practically sold out in the first hour.
This was great for us, but now I feel bad for the folks who turn up tomorrow. I will take their email addresses and hope to have more plants available on another weekend soon.

David getting the plants ready for the event.

Some of the plants we had for sale.

We had to use every available surface to display plants.