23 Sep 2014

In The Gloamimg of Gentle Decay

A new flush of foliage on Miss Grace [Cotinus coggygria 'Grace'] has been eliciting gasps and finger pointing from people walking down the street, wanting to know what kind of tree it is. Thanks to annual coppicing when it was but a mere shrub, it does in fact resemble a tree. I have seen this genus available as a grafted specimen.

Only yesterday I was worrying about where I was going to plant the newest Acer specimen - A.pseudoplatanus 'Eskimo Sunset' - and it wasn't until I realized that with his cream coloured foliage, he would look rather stunning planted at the base of the aforementioned Cotinus. Of course when I turned one of his leaves over to reveal the startlingly claret underside.... it was a no brainer. I still cannot get over the fact that this diminutive selection is not more popular. [Must remember to reserve two or three with Darren before he places his Spring order, as I am sure once folks realize how extraordinary it is, they will be knocking the doors down next year! 

This is also the time of year when my Actaea [formerly Cimicifuga, a name I much prefer!] is in glorious bloom. The flowers ar such a pristine white, at a time when the existing whites are all looking beige and faded. And then there is the olfactory overload, thanks to the delicate sweet fragrance that they emit. Its another of the 'must have' selections, especially for those looking not only for height, late season bloom, but for fragrance! Pure heavenly sublimation!

It helps that the camera has a love affair with them as well, although all of the photos in this post come via my iPhone and not my trusted DSLR.

Grace would perhaps feel at home with the pinks in the next photos. I despise its name. but love the blooms of Hydrangea paniculata 'Pinky Winky!' Damned teletubbies! 

Paeonia mlokosewitschii, affectionately known also as 'Molly The Witch' has the most unique seed pods! This one is fully opened where the remaining dozen or so [this was the best year for bloom, even if they were more pink than yellow!] all resemble smiling mouths filled with pink teeth! Most bizarre indeed!

The gentle decline isn't being so gentle in my favourite section of the garden. There is a lot of brown, decayed leaves, and while you cannot make them out very clearly, the bare stems of my beloved Anemonopsis macrophylla bring a certain pall and sadness to my heart! I wait ever so patiently for it to bloom every Summer, and then turn around to see empty stems! Sigh! We're supposed to have warmer temps for the next week. All Summer we went above 30 twice, and one of those days were here in September. Not that this icicle Canuck is complaining. On the contrary!

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.