I try and make a point of stopping off and visiting the 'children' every evening on my way home from work. Its not a difficult task, as I have to pass beside the 'Border of Unusual Rarities' to reach the front step, and a slight detour between mine and the neighboring house, brings us to the 'Shaded Hollow' - the long narrow space where I cultivate three quarters of the plants that make up my somewhat eclectic inventory here at Teza's Garden. Arisaema consanguineum 'Perfect Wave' has tripled in height this year and never ceases to inspire comment! 'It looks like a jack, but that magnificent leaf! It looks like a rippled starburst!' Indeed it does!
Passing to the right of the front stoop, you enter into the peaceful sanctuary, known as the 'Shaded Hollow,' and it is here where I first undertook the adventure of creating a long, narrow space [the length between mine and the neighboring house] that would be home to as many rare and unusual botanical delights as was possible. It is here where some of my most prized possessions reside. I will forever be enamoured with Acer campestre 'Carnival' - a dwarf version of the ubiquitous 'hedge' Maple. His diminutive stature is accentuated further with heavily variegated cream, pink and green foliage. He prefers a more shaded location away from the scorching sun and sometimes unforgiving winds.
Because of its propensity towards partial to deep shade, I have come to rely on bold foliage plants to help create a living screen to disguise a small space at the end of the Shaded Hollow - the place where my excess pots and composter reside. Aralia has always been a turn to plant, and this year my Aralia cordata creates a perfect foil, and the flowers pictured above will morph into deep purple fruit as the season progresses. This year it is taller than I!
We have been blessed with what I consider to be the perfect Summer: cooler than average temperatures [we have had one day above 30 C [without relying on humidex] for the entire month of July!] and consistent rainfall. [Sadly, this rainfall has often come to us in torrential downpours] The residents of Shaded Hollow have burgeoned with a growth spurt that questions whether the past winter really existed at all. My resident Cercis canadensis which came to me as a whip four years ago is bowed over with new growth. The photo below shows but one branches foliage. Huge, heart shaped leaves that never fail to make my heart beat faster!
Forgive the lack of focus, but this was the one sight that stopped even me in my tracks. I grow Veratrum migrum, a sublime foliage plant with wide, heavily pleated foliage. Truthfully it IS solely for the foliage, or WAS solely until I witnessed its stunning flower spikes last Summer. This year, it is the second of two Veratrum that has decided to wow me with yet another spectacular display.
A pair of starbursts in the garden! The photo above might help to explain my shocked reaction to just how large my resident Arisaema species have grown this year. Arisaema ciliatum var. lubiaense is one of the first species I bought when I discovered there was a plethora of Asian species available for those of us who were as addicted to the genus as I am! This year I could hardly believe my eyes when, after pulling the drooping branches of my beloved Cercis aside, I was confronted with absolutely stunning, massive foliage. My resident native species have equally impressive trifoliate foliage.
These are my most favourite days of all! When my children can cause a rapid increase of heartbeat and a catching of my breath for no other reason than that their staggering beauty!
Fellow Canadian blogger, garden geek and perennial friend Joy recently posted about the 'old' and 'new' within her garden, and, since I still feel as though I am playing catch up in the world of blogging, I thought it might be a great way of easing myself back into the 'joy' of blogging once again! One more thing about Joy - she was the very first person to leave a comment on my blog back in.... oh how time flies! I shall try and begin with the 'old' or as I like to refer to them as the 'lifers' here at Teza's Garden. I am confident in assuming that we, as gardeners, have our 'signature' plants. For me it will forever be Corydalis flexuosa 'Blue Panda.' Granted, he can be downright obtuse, seeking an early summer dormancy if it gets to hot out, but for me, none of the blue flowering species come close to his.... well lets put it this way:
'His icy blue, shimmering flowers appear
to float, as though a shimmering shoal of sea horses,
above a tumultuous sea of lacy, greenish blue foliage!'
Sadly, not all of my favourite blues were happy when planted. I was instantly besotted with a sublime form of Ceratostigma, this one in possession of not only startlingly blue flowers, but with fabulously chartreuse foliage as well. He sulked for the better part of two garden seasons before his disappearance. Sometimes you have to accept the fact that you cannot grow everything that you want just because you deem it so!
I adore both Thalictrum and Aconitum, and the photo above, as well as the pair directly below this blurb have performed beyond all expectation! Aside of the fact that the Thalictrum, T.delavayi 'Splendide', turned out NOT to be the dwarf that I thought him to be, [this summer he is easily 3m in height] he has nonetheless brought innumerable smiles to my face when I explain his placement in my garden to visitors. Remember, I assumed he was a dwarf, so it was logical to place him at the front of the border! To where he remains to this day! Aconitum falls into my Top Five. I am forever attracted towards all things of a 'lupine' nature, and whilst Aconitum was used to poison wolves throughout Europe over the last one hundred years, its legend peaked my curiosity as to whether it would grow here, in a semi shaded garden. I will forever be drawn towards the lime green/yellow one pictured below, Aconitum kyrlovii, with his unique mitre shaped flowers, which my nephew immediately referred to as 'looking like Smurf caps!' Indeed they do! I also have a number of other species, all totalled somewhere close to a dozen. The climbing one in the second photo below is Aconitum uncinatum, which is a showy selection when allowed to traipse through an obelisk. He always elicits comments from visitors to the garden!
Gentians will always be a favourite, but sadly, not all members of this intoxicating genus were happy here at Teza's Garden. I was determined to successfully grow Gentiana asclepidea, also known as 'willow gentian', but after three heartbreaking attempts, I have focused my energy towards those that enjoy my company. [I still sound somewhat bitter, do I not?] I risk a revolt where the next plant is concerned: Tricyrtis, also known as 'toad lily' simply wore out their welcome for me.... with the notable exception of this one, T. 'Tojen' with his pristine, non-spotted flowers. Yes, I have an aversion to spotted flowers of you did not know!
When you garden in predominantly shade, you quickly learn that foliage is where your focus should be aimed. I remember the first time I witnessed Dyphylleia cymosa, growing in the display gardens of Lost Horizons, that mecca for all things woodland located in nearby Acton. It was love at first sight. This photo was taken in its second year in my garden. He remains another of the steadfast, woodland garden essentials in my mind. While his large, palmate foliage is enough to cause pause, the long stems topped with blue fruit attached to ruby petioles completes the necessities of requirements in order to achieve a 'hortgasm!' Excuse me? You've never experienced one? Sorry. So Sorry!
Blue quite often 'bleeds' into purples and mauves, lending to my theory that most horticulturalists are colour blind! [blue is blue damn it all.] Gentians are decidedly blue, why else would a shade of blue possess their name? The Iris pictured below combines the best of both worlds. There is most definitely a purple presence, but in living colour, he is decidedly a velvety blue with a slight purple undertone. Regardless, I.s 'Regency Buck', a stunning 'siberian' selection is also one of the most requested names for visitors.
Two more of the 'tried but not happy with' plants. I was convinced I wanted to try Scutellaria baicalensis as well as Veronica spicata, but soon grew disillusioned with their somewhat weedy habit. It truly had nothing to do with the plants in and of themselves, its just that I have slightly lofty expectations of my kids, as any proud Father would!
Strobilanthes attenuata 'Purpurea' with its ram horned shaped flowers is on the cusp of opening. Its tall habit, slightly tomentose foliage, and masses of steely purple flowers add a pop of colour to the August garden. Sadly, its flowers tend to last all of a week at best! Enjoy them while you can, and pray that it doesn't rain the week they open. Been there, done that! She will forever reign as the Queen of the Woodland. Cypripedium reginae is one of our native terrestrial orchids, one I might add that is sadly risking being categorized as an endangered species. Buy only from reputable suppliers, and please do your homework beforehand, as she, beauty personified, is without a doubt a Grand Diva insomuch as what she 'demands' in order to remain happy! Mine had four blooms this year, but I will always come back to a series of photos I was able to capture in her second year in my garden. You cannot deny her regal beauty!
I like to try and mirror plant structure whenever possible, and as thrilled to have Dracocephalum ruyschianum and Primula vialii blooming at roughly the same time, and both being within four feet of one another. Visitors confused 'Draco' with either a Nepeta or Salvia, and while most were able to discern that 'Vi' was in fact a Primula, few had witnessed her before. She is also known as 'Pagoda' and as with most within the genus, she remands consistent moisture and is a heavy feeder during bloom.
Yellow was not a common sight in my garden for a number of years, but with age comes an appreciation. I will forever be smitten with the buttery yellow-orange flowers of Corylopsis spicata, an Asian shrub that grows and mimics the more common Hamamelis. I am also head over heels for the single Erythronium species that grows here - Erythronium japonicum. Every Spring I wait patiently for the 'star' to drop from the skies! I only wish he were quicker to bulk up, but basking in his beauty is enough for me!
While most Pestemon want sun, this gorgeous blue-purple selection has deemed my companionship amenable and returns every summer. I wish the same could be said for the unusual flower pictured below. I cannot even remember its name..... how sad is that! All I know is that he was once accidentally pulled by my nephew, mistaken for a thistle, to which it is often mistaken, was transplanted, bloomed in its second year, and then promptly disappeared! Oh, wait... here it comes..... Morina longifolia! The mind can work wondrous miracles when it wants to!
' I came, I lusted for, I conquered. I lost.'
Arisaema was the first genus I learned to recognize in the 'darking wood' of Lambton County, and as such, it will forever have a presence, front and centre here at Teza's Garden. The count is coming close to a dozen and there are still at least that many more that I want to offer a home to!
Some plants you love for their precociousness! My Dodecatheon seeded themselves among the Astilboides to the delight of all who witnessed what has been my most talked about planting combo! A perfect example of my belief that Mother Nature is the true gardener! And then we have my most beloved of all, those harbingers of the Spring woodland garden. I adore Polygonatum, Disporum, Epimedium, Syneilesis, Euphorbia, Trillium, Glaucidium..... goodness, but there are more denizens of the woodland that I am forgetting......
Thanks again Joy for the great theme! Its given me the opportunity to revisit the garden of the past, the present, and to look forward to the next chapter in its life!