7 Oct 2015

Hide and Seek: I Am Not Impressed!

Not a lot to do when you're stuck in bed trying to stay one step ahead of a flu contagion that seems to be enveloping the town, and as I am prone to do, I find myself turning toward the garden. Under most circumstances, it is a pleasant distraction from the noise of the world, but on this occasion, it turned sombre, almost elegiac. Trying to remain upbeat, I originally titled this post 'Hide and Seek,' but then added the tagline that truly matches my mood: I Am Not Impressed!

This has been my own personal annus horribilis wherein the garden is concerned! ALL of the photos in this post represent plants that did not make an appearance this year! Distraught! Frustrated! Angry...... I am all of these and more! The weather absolutely sucked this year! A late frost, followed by extreme hot weather, combined with a lack of ritual precipitation definitely took its toll on my garden. I cringe to see the water bill - I was out every other evening after work trying to stay one step ahead of the wilting, crisping foliage on my babies, but in many cases to no avail. It seems like I turned around and they were once again suffering!

There are a few of my treasures that might be considered divas -- my sublime Anemonopsis macrophylla and the demure pink and white striped Arisaema candidissimum, but for the most part it was my stalwarts, the tried and tested plants that required little and returned year after year! What's up with that? I would have thought that my resident Morina longifolia [pictured below] would have loved the heat and near drought like conditions. Not so much! There was no sign of his thistle like rosette of foliage - and sadly no fabulous flower stalk topped with the pink and white flowers that made even me gasp!

Of course there are a few of my children whose delicate physiology makes it far too easy for them to be swallowed up by more robust neighbours. I was certain I had spotted the delicately demure Anemonella thalictroides 'Cameo' earlier in the Spring, but then again it may have been nothing more than a wandering Thalictrum seedling - heaven knows I have enough of them! Occurrences like this sadden me. My plants are like family to me, and while I believe that I make a good, decent parent, seeing them disappear makes me wonder.....

I am holding out hope that my resident Cyclamen is simply taking his sweet pink time to appear. I make a point of checking every morning on my way to work! He is one of my favourite Fall beauties! The list seems to go on and on this year! A somewhat diva-esque Primula, a fabulously chartreuse Filipendula, the purple flowered Campanula Kent Belle, [which I didn't think could ever disappear, rambunctious child that it can be!] a fabulous fully double Iris ensata, the diminutive Pinellia, not to mention a stunning variegated Polygonatum known as 'Fireworks.'

I am holding out hope - I haven't written any of them off just yet. We have had relatively severe winters, and as I say, this summer did not bring weather that any of my kids would enjoy. Once again, they are special that way. They like it cool and damp, and when Mother Nature is agreeable they respond as such. Just look at my Anemonopsis from last year! There were dozens of flowers and buds. This year his stem was all of six inches, and the two flowers that did manage to bloom, well between you and me, they were not of his usual calibre, but I do not blame him in the least! I do not want to have to resort to engaging in rain dances every summer. I have neighbours and a reputation to maintain.

Is there anyone else out there who will be happy to see the snow fall, so that it can blanket and hide the awful gardening season that was? Do not leave me to wallow in misery for too long. I need companionship and commiseration people!

25 Sep 2015

Bearing Along.....

It's been a tough August and September for us in Ontario! The incessant heatwave and the marked absence of rain has taken its toll not only on me [he of the Heathcliff predisposition] but on my garden as well. I came home from work tonight and spent the last hour watering! We're almost into October, I am only too well aware, but I could not stand to walk past the dry and crisping foliage of my kids one more time!

I am thrilled with the abundance of growth on my native Cercis canadensis that resides between the houses. It is shaded and protected from the wind, and from these two photos, it would appear that he is quite content to send forth glorious arching branches, each clothed in his signature heart shaped foliage! I do love my Redbud, even if his Spring flower display is paltry at best!

My love/hate relationship with what I once envisioned would be a stunning addition to the garden - that of Acer pseudoplatanus 'Esk Sunset' - continues into Fall. The late May frost did a number on his emerging foliage, followed by a stint of deformed, irregular shaped foliage, followed by an infestation of some creepy crawly that seemed to find his foliage to taste.... it has all left me mightily unimpressed yet again! He's got one more year to impress before he is transplanted to the propagation bed at work! I love my kids, but I also have unwavering standards that I must maintain!

This is going to be the Fall of 'divide and conquer' here at Teza's Garden. There are so many examples of plants that could do with a good dividing, and while I have always been hesitant to disturb a happy specimen in fear of setting him back, or worse, killing it, I have been very lax in this important perennial task. The three Aralia cordite 'Sun King' specimens that have all but taken over the beds where they reside is but the tip of the iceberg! There is a massive clump of Deinanthe caerulea not to mention my bruised purple Polygonatum 'Betberg' and Disporum uniform - three plants that I know some of my garden friends would all be clamouring for were I to make a few select divisions available. It is definitely on the agenda for October!

The narrow border against the NE side of the garage is an overgrown cacophony of growth at present. You can see the crisped foliage of my beloved Deinanthe, as well as the near serpentine growth of a newly installed Wisteria that replaces a wild grape that came down in the last ice storm. I have so many delicate ephemeral beauties in the bed but for the most part they are completely smothered by mid June! And who am I kidding? There is already a new obsession on the horizon - that of the bedazzling Cypripedium genus that I will definitely need more room for in the coming years! There really is nothing wrong with the garden being in a state of flux, especially when it means healthier plants, and more room for more kids!

I have had luck keeping my resident pot of temperennials looking good this season. I absolutely adore my Zone 7 Euphorbia 'Glacier Blue', which combined with a trio of Agave 'Queen of Threads', resides on the front veranda. His icy blue, slightly twisted leaves, each one outlined with a cream variegation is quite different for a genus of dark green, purple and burgundy species. I tried to stock him this season, but was unable to find a supplier!

The Memorial Ring beneath the branches of Metasequoia 'Ogon' continues to receive my doting attention. Two new Cypripedium species as well as four new Meconopsis have me waiting ever so anxiously for next Spring when I hope all of them will emerge from a winter's rest with blooming on their mind! Fingers crossed!

I do love 'Ogon!' When I discovered a golden Dawn Redwood, I did not hesitate in bringing him home. Of course his feathery bright foliage is the perfect foil for the deep purple of Cotinus 'Grace' that you can see in the background of the photo above. I know! Do you think you can keep him of a modest size for the postage stamp sized property upon which you garden? Five years later, and with the constant removal of his leader, I have so far been able to keep him in line. It hurts me to curtail his natural growth habit, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices. Besides, he is one of the only residents who gets a loving misting from the hose three times a week to ensure that his delicate foliage does not scorch in this unrelenting heat!

My other Agave has tripled his size since being placed outside in May. Tougher than I thought where hardiness is concerned, and of the most striking colour. I think I will have to consider adding a few more next season! And how is your garden? 

19 Sep 2015

Dig While You Can!

[photo courtesy of slipper talk.com]

[photo courtesy of garden.ru] 

[photo courtesy of seedsite.eu]

The last plantings of the season, from top:

Cypripedium 'Phillip'
Cypripedium 'Pluto'
Aconitum lycoctanum 'Moldavicum'
All from my favourite purveyor/enabler