Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Sense of Scale

I'm very fond of Geraniums (did I mention this before?). I tolerate them self seeding all over the place, and by being selective in my choice of species and varieties, as well as being a ruthless editor, I've managed to find a place for a large number of my favourites.
Of those favourites, the small 'rock garden' types such as G. cinereum and G. argenteum are the most difficult to place.To look their best they need lots of sunlight, and they can easily be overwhelmed by any larger plants surrounding them, and it was this in mind that several years ago I came up with the idea of making a trough large enough to hold a collection of the small Geraniums.

This is the Geranium trough newly minted.

I filled the bottom with crocks and rubble.

I added some gravel and placed rocks.

This is how it looked when it was first planted.

This is how it looks today, now moved to an even sunnier location.

Geranium x lindavicum 'Apple Blossom'.

Geranium argenteum.

Geranium cinereum 'Alice'.

I've also been able to grow the smaller Geraniums in the ground at the edge of a gravel pathway, here Geranium sessiliflorum ( with the dark brown foliage) self-seeds around and seems to thrive in the inhospitable location.

Geranium sessiliflorum.

Friday, May 25, 2012


I was about to call this post "Poppy Time" when I was reminded by my copy of Poppies by Christopher Grey-Wilson, that the Papaveraceae family have been around in the garden for months.
Stylophorum lasiocarpum flowered weeks ago and even its foliage will soon disappear for a lengthy dormancy until next Spring. Sanguinaria canadensis is another early blooming Papaveraceae, but its beautiful foliage remains until the Fall.

But now is the time of the early Spring and Summer poppies, today Papaver orientale opened. These are plants that I grew from seed many years ago, but they are poorly located, impossible to move and tend to over-whelm the plants surrounding them, however I've learnt to live with them and to enjoy the short but spectacular show.

The buds of P.orientale are a beautiful sight in themselves.

The buds open suddenly to satiny cups full of purple/blue pollen.

Today the first Eschscholtzia californica opened, but I'm still waiting for my favourite creamy white ones to open in the hot section of my back garden.

The double form of Papaver altlantcum is always reappearing in the garden, it is a prolific self seeder and always welcome.

The orange-flowerd form of the Welsh Poppy, Meconopsis cambricum var. aurantiaca.

Meconopsis cambricum in its more common form.

Glaucium (corniculatum?) is a big favourite in my neighbourhood, a good thing too as it is a prolific self-seeder.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Arum palaestinum

How exciting to find the flowers of Arum palaestinum in bloom, at first I saw the two flowers tucked in amongst the foliage and back-lit by the morning sun; the effect was a glowing ruby-red. Later that day I was able to photograph the same blooms evenly lit and with the foliage held back to reveal the extraordinary structure of the flowers. This is a plant that I grew from seed some years ago and only saw a single bloom last year, and so I'm thrilled to see it continue to thrive.

A. palaestinum back-lit by the morning sun.

Later that day evenly lit by evening light.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pelargoniums Gone Bad

It is no secret that I am very fond of the family Geraniaceae. But sadly something has gone terribly wrong with the Pelargoniums, in particular those in the family that are raised commercially for the mass market, I can't understand who is still growing these plants with ugly double flowers and course foliage. Even more bewildering is understanding why anyone is buying them.
At a recent plant sale I was reminded how lovely these plants can be if chosen with some discernment. At a table set up by the local Geranium Society there were some stunning varieties that were for me, quite irresistible.

However these clunky old plants (pictured above) are turned out by the millions, their flowers are like wet tissue paper and look worse as they die clinging to the stem and turning brown ( this is especially unsightly on the white flowering forms). The foliage, too, seems to be bred for mediocrity, having lost the striking dark zone that is so attractive on superior plants.

This is more like it! These are the plants bought at the sale, many are old varieties, such as 'Crystal Palace Gem' with its lime green leaves and darker centres. I also chose plants with single flowers which are more delicate.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Super Plant Sale on May 6th.

A number of visitors to my garden last month were interested in Hedera helix 'Gold Heart'; it grows on a west facing wall outside my kitchen window and always looks impressive this time of year when fresh new foliage appears amongst the older, but still handsome leaves.
We promised them then that there would be some available this month, and I'm glad to let them know that we are donating our cuttings for sale at the Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plant Society (ORG&HPS) Super Plant Sale at the Toronto Botanical Garden on Sunday May 6th.

Hdera helix 'Gold Heart' cutting waiting to be potted up.

Some of the plants in my garden being donated to the Super Plant Sale.