Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cyclamen, The Late Bloomers.

Cyclamen libonoticum is usually the last of this genus to bloom in my greenhouse, it is well worth waiting for as it is one of the most beautiful with flowers that gradate from light to dark pink at the tip of its petals that have been likened to 'drowsy butterflies'. The tubers are small and can be grown in containers in small groups, the flowers seem to be uniform in shape and colour, but there is some variation in the leaf markings.

Cyclamen libanoticum.
 There was a flurry of postings a few months ago praising the foliage of Cyclamen hederifolium, and quite rightly so, as this species has some of the most distinct and endlessly variable foliage in the genus. It is also the earliest of the cyclamen to come out of dormancy and to produce flowers, but at the other end of the scale, the late bloomers of the subgenus Psilanthum, are, for me, also praiseworthy. This group includes C. repandum and its relatives. I grow a few including C. balearicum and C. peloponnesiacum. Their flowers are small and modest but are said to be very fragrant and the foliage have lovely markings, usually flecked with silver or grey in patterns less distinct than C. hederifolium, but none the less attractive.
Cyclamen balearicum a modest flower that is said to be very fragrant.

Cyclamen baleaicum, a young plant with interesting foliage.

Cyclamen balearicum foliage has endless variation.

A few plants in this pan of Cyclamen peloponnesiacu
have some very nice marking on their leaves.

A seedling of Cyclamen repandum showing some nice foliage.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

14 Days of Botanical Interest

This is one last look at my winter holiday in Barbados. I had planned to photograph a flower for every day of my two week stay, but since many of my pictures were of leaves and fruit and berries, i've decided to widen the scope and make this 14 days of botanical interest.
All I have to do now is identify everything!

Day 1. Orange Bourgainvillea.

Day 2. Adenium obesum.

Day 3. Ruellia brittoniana.

Day 4. Hibiscus at the Barbados Flower and Garden Show.

Day 5.  Bromeliad flower.

Day 6. Clerodendrum thomsoniae.

Day 7. Sansevieria flower.

Day 8.  Chrysothemis pulchella.

Day 9. Variegated Alocasia.

Day 10. Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet).

Day 11. Petrea volubilis.

Day 12. Lovely variegated Agave ( anyone recognize this variety?).

Day 13. Fallen flower of Cordia sebestena

Day 14. Fallen flower of Frangipani  (Plumeria obtusa).

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Edwin Smith, Photographer.

If you are familiar with gardening books from the 50's and 60's, you will probably have seen the photography of Edwin Smith. Most notably he was the sole photographer in Edward Hyams 'The English Garden" ( an irritating title since the book includes Bodnant, which, the last time I looked, is in Wales).
His subjects were mostly landscape, architecture and gardens from which he created atmospheric images with sometimes somber moodiness. For gardeners, many of his pictures give an insight into post-war Europe when extreme austerity made garden construction and repairs very difficult.  New building materials were hard to come by and probably expensive, but there was plenty of old material from the demolition of buildings after the blitz. Evidence of this can be seen in Edwin Smith's photographs of the gardens of Park House, the post-war home of Lanning Roper and Primrose Codrington, where old bricks and bits of architectural decoration were used to construct charming vignettes of visual interest.
In his pictures of Sissinghust, you see a more lived-in look to the famous garden, in a view looking back from the Rose Garden to the Tower Lawn, pieces of old pipe can be seen either side of the pathway and in the view from the Tower to the Entrance Court the Irish Yews that stand as sentries either side of the path look a lot more shaggy than they do now under the care of the National Trust.

Park House used recycled materials with great effect,
 sadly this garden no longer exists.

At Sissinghurst old pieces of pipe used, perhaps,
to train the boxwood hedge.
Looking across the entrance court from the Tower.
The Villa Gargoni, used as the cover on "Evocation of Place"
The photography of Edwin Smith.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Sempervivum, Ever Living.

A week ago the storm that immobilized the eastern seaboard, past this way leaving over 30 centimetres of snow.  This was not an unusual amount for this part of the world, but it was the most we've experienced since 2008, and was also one of the most dramatically beautiful sights after the constant snowfall piled itself vertically with very little drifting.  This left two urns of Sempervivums into  two busby wearing sentries. 
Remarkably, after only seven days these helmets have completely disappeared, revealing the Semps. looking completely unfazed by wind or snow. The conventional wisdom is that Semps. are best wintered over in a dry location, such as under the eaves of the house or in an unheated porch, but these plants have survived perfectly well fully exposed to snow and rain and growing in containers without particularly good drainage. 
One of the urns wearing a busby and stylish collar of snow.

A week later all the snow has gone and the sempervivums are revealed.

The plants are unaffected by the extreme weather.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Beautiful Paving.

While in Barbados, we noticed the creative re-use of bricks and other building materials, in the making excellent mixed paving.  The bricks, it turns out were made available after the demolition of plantation buildings ( mainly old chimneys). The bricks made mostly in Scotland were used as ballast on the ships that in turn, took sugar and molasses in the easterly direction.

Bricks re-used as paving interplanted with ground hugging plants.

Cinder-blocks interplanted with low growing grass make a great parking space.

Jonas Spring loved this sensual surface.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Huntes Gardens, Barbados

Huntes Gardens in Barbados had been given rave reviews by David Leeman who had spent last winter on the island, he went as far as to say it was the best tropical garden that he'd ever seen. So it was with great expectations that we visited it last week in the late evening with just hours to explore before the sun went down. I'm glad to say that David was not exaggerating, Huntes Gardens was an fantastic place that had been artfully put together with extraordinary taste and artistry. Part of the success of this garden is the choice of site which is a huge sink-hole created by the collapse of an underground cave. This has provided a natural amphitheatre for the staging of imaginative planting and the creation of numerous seating areas as one descends into the deep cavity. It was hard to believe that this was all started only six years ago, when all that existed in this place were some splendid mature palms and a mass of overgrowth. We later we were able to meet with Anthony Hunte the owner and creator of Huntes Gardens  and to spend some time chatting to him over some delicious rum punch.
This gives you some idea of the scale of the garden and the size of the mature palms.
Bromiliads were well suited to the site and came in every shape and colour.

Colour and texture was artfully combined. 

An unusual form of Caladium, turned the ordinary into the extraordinary.

 The clever use of texture brightened even the darkest corner.

How's this for a living coffee table?

Nothing was left to chance, this was a truly artful combination.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


I've just returned from Barbados where I was able to meet up with Toronto area garden bloggers David Leeman and Deborah Mills, and together with hatmaker/ gardener John Therrien, we spent the day visiting Andromeda Gardens on the rocky, wind-swept east coast of the island.

David, Deborah and John meet for coffee before heading to the east coast .

The main reason for our trip was to visit Andromeda Gardens.

The striking structure of Frangipani trees is revealed when they are dormant.