21 Sep 2014

Looking Back: Teza's Garden Highlights

When I find myself relegated to trying to make pots of Chrysanthemums look appealing, I know that the gardening season has entered its waning days. The garden is preparing itself, and is sending gardeners those first signs of its gentle decline. Its the time of year when I like to do a quick backward glance - to look back at some of my most favourite moments of the gardening season. Got to admit that four precocious Arisaema candidissimum spathes are better than one! And it looks like my serpentine Prince has seeded itself next to his cousin A.consanguineum 'Perfect Wave,' which will hopefully result in a stunning display next year! While we're on the subject of serpents in the garden, both A. thunbergii var 'Urashima' and A.consanguineum var. liubaense put forth stellar performances this year - largely in part thanks to the cooler, damp conditions that prevailed for most of the summer. This gardener was most grateful! And one must not forget the tender hearted A.griffithii [last photo in my serpent series] which I was able to watch grow in a pot during the early days of April here in my room. Grew me a serpent. [Wow! If ever I was misquoted it was that posting! LOL!] 

I was thrilled to discover that once a Veratrum nigrum flowers, [sometimes they can take between five and seven years!] it seems to continue to do so with each successive year! I bought this sublime plant solely for its enchanting deeply pleated light green foliage, hoping it would create a foil for the more ubiquitous, boring Hosta specimens that were planted the year I started the garden. When it flowered for the first time last Summer, I was immediately smitten with its long, wand-like stems that are topped with deep wine infused flowers that resemble miniature stars. This year, the second of my plants bloomed most prolifically. I even managed to rescue some seed!

I try not to show favouritism when it comes to the 'children,' but I would be my most prized and beloved Anemonopsis to bloom. I spent five long, tortuous years for him to bloom, and now, he continues to blindside me with his stunning beauty! I am not sure who is enjoying this annual love affair more, me or my trusted camera. I can spend hours creating a visual montage of this plant alone!

Truly, I could continue showing photos from this year alone, but I sense the other kids are getting a tad jealous of my obsession! Moving right along....

Epimedium x 'Windfire,' the latest addition of yet another obsession of mine caused his fair share of 'stir' with visitors this year! It had everything to do with the deep wine wiry stems that were topped with bright yellow spidery looking flowers, each with what appeared to be a droplet of blood where the flower meets the stem. He is a diminutive wee guy, but believe you me, he sure knows how to bring conversation to a screeching halt, followed by, 'whatever is that?'

My Bletilla striata, a sublime Japanese terrestrial orchid, outperformed itself this year! He can be notoriously petulant, disappearing if the soil does not meet his exacting specifications - high in organic content, slightly acidic, and never allowed to dry out. Seems like everything was to his liking this year. He was literally everywhere I turned, and trust me, I am not complaining in the least!

It was a stunning year for foliage, especially in the shaded and protected section between my and the neighbouring house. I'd relegated my Acer shirasawamum 'Aureum' to this section last Fall - confident that he would have a better chance of surviving the winter in the ground and not the pot where he had resided for the season on my veranda. I had intentions of repotting him this Spring, but noticed what a wonderful contrast his foliage made against the wine coloured siding on the house. He also created a beacon of fabulous chartreuseness that beckoned people forth from the walkway. 

The same can be said of Acer campestre 'Carnival' - my super sweet dwarf variegated hedge Maple that was my very first indulgent purchase. I was shocked that so small a shrub could cause such a hefty dent to the pocketbook, but five years later I find myself loving him even more!

A whirlwind trip to Whistling Gardens in May netted me my third prized Acer. I have been enamoured of Acer pseudoplatanus 'Eskimo Sunset' since I first laid eyes on it four years ago, and when I spotted a lonely single specimen in a three gallon pot, well lets just say I'm now contemplating where I will plant him for the winter. Uh huh! Another pot head during the season. The stunning foliage, cream with green veining on one side, and a deep claret colour on the reverse..... its a hortgasm waiting to happen!

These are but a few of the highlights of the year. What were some of the moments in your garden that brought you to your knees?

28 Aug 2014

PP: Plant Pontificating - Strobilanthes attenuata 'Purpurea'

 Are you like me, and I don't mean in the way some of you are thinking! What I mean has more to do with the fact that when I discover a 'new and exciting plant' - and here I refer to new and exciting for ME - I have an overwhelming desire to shout it from the mountain tops [of which I am not sure that we have any here in Ontario] so that everyone else can hear what it is I am pontificating about. 

 I wait for the last week of August every year with bated breath, knowing that barring some sort of freak anomaly, I will be blessed with masses of steely purple blue, ram horn shaped flowers that absolutely cover the tops of what has quickly become one of my favourite late Summer stars - Strobilanthes attenuata 'Purpurea.' I don't think there is anything about this plant that I do not like.... okay, well maybe the fact that it wants to flower inside of a week - less time if there is torrential rain and wind! There are hundreds of flowers this year - the ground beneath it is like a magical tapestry of blue-purple! An interesting aside is that these are the flowers that are used to create indigo dye!

 As you can see from this photo, when it is happily located, it can form a rather substantial sized clump of what are relatively woody stems [at ground level] that rise to almost 2m in height. I love its foliage. Light to almost lime green in some cases, each elongated heart shaped leaf is lightly serrated along its edge, giving it an almost rippled appearance. Mine has never been bothered with insects that want to munch on its sublime foliage, and as I mentioned earlier, if given the space, it creates a wonderful presence in the sunnier border here at Teza's Garden. Its stems are square in appearance, causing me to wonder if it might be a distant relation of Salvia or Nepeta. There is no apparent fragrance associated with this statuesque beauty.

He is fully hardy here in my Zone 5a garden where he is cut back to the ground in late fall' and given a healthy amendment of Compost Plus in the Spring. There is a lot of confusion around this plant, hindered by the fact that most people are familiar with the tropical/annual species that is also known as 'Persian Shield.' I literally have to walk people to it to get them to understand that it is unlike its lesser annual cousin. Websites that refer to it as a perennial claim that it requires zone 6 or above, but take it from me, mine gets to special TLC outside of what I mention above, and he is getting taller and spreading with every passing year. I was somewhat worried with the harsh winter we just had, but it seems that he is bigger, healthier and more robust than ever. I only know of one vendor that supplies this charmer here in Ontario [LH] but hope to divide my plant next year and offer him for sale for my fellow rare and unusual connoisseurs. 

26 Aug 2014

Thursday Garden Review: That Once In A Lifetime Week in the Garden!

So thought I would mix things up a bit. Joy insists that her meme can be about 'anything garden related,' and as such. I have decided to look back in time to a magical week back in June, 2013, when I was blessed with one of gardening's rarest and most treasured sights!

 As Joy can tell you, I am somewhat smitten, beholden, obsessed, enamoured with the colour blue! The REAL blue that is! Do not try and foist off a mauve-purple-blue... no no no, that will not do. It has to be the true, either crystalline shimmering icy blue, or the bright summer sky blue, or, and truly, I am not overtly particular, it can be the deep rich blue you only find with Gentiana, but for the love of Mother Nature, make it BLUE! And thus begins a week in which I was gifted with what many of us consider to be the bluest of blue...... that of course being the beguiling Meconopsis, also known as the temperamental blue Himalayan poppy! I knew within my heart of hearts when I noticed three buds in the waning days of May that I might - if Mother Nature would deem it so - bear witness to the first of these beguiling yet frustrating beauties right here in Teza's Garden. Its one thing to stumble across one on the internet, or in a book, but believe you me, it is something else entirely when you can actually reach out and gently caress the slightly unfurled bud!

Most, but not all within the genus, and more so with the blue flowering species, are notoriously and frustratingly said to be monocarpic, meaning that they will flower and die. If you're lucky, the plant will set viable seed before hurling itself off of the green mortal coil. They also tend to despise hot, humid weather, much happier in areas where cool, moist conditions are prevalent throughout the summer. Having said such, its a rare treat to find them outside of the coastal regions of Canada. Those who have borne witness [Larry, Jodi, Pat, Inge] to their intoxicating beauty are usually the first to try and dissuade someone like myself from 'having your heart broken!' Problem is, blue is my signature colour in the garden, and having already mastered Corydalis and a slew of Gentiana, there really wasn't much left to challenge me...... except the elusive, Holy-Grail Meconopsis.

Blue is my signature colour for many reasons aside of it being my favourite colour, but when stripped to the most honest reason, it is because it will forever be associated with my late Grandmother, whose eyes were a magical blue. My Father and I have both been blessed with a similar hue, but hers were like no other blue I have ever come across. When both she and my Father passed within four months of one another, I was more than determined to add as many blue flowering plants to my garden repertoire as was possible, and of course, I started with this one! 'Cory' and my Gentiana were all thriving happily. so now it was time to up the ante! He unfurled his first flower on what would have been my Father's birthday, and was still blooming [three flowers in all] on the ninth of June, which was my Grandmother's birthday, and continued on well past the eleventh, which marked what I will always consider to be the 'once in a lifetime' week in the garden. Sadly, true to its frustrating nature, he did not make a return engagement this year, nor did he set seed, but for me, one who is always looking for a new challenge, I think I can set back and rest on my laurels for a while! Its even better having a visual testament of such moments. The remainder of the post still comes nowhere close to capturing their jaw dropping, stunning beauty! 

This will be the last posting, as, with life scurrying around us all, Joy has closed her meme. Its still a great blog to visit, so pop over and see what's new in Kingston!