12 Oct 2015

Preparing For A Gentle Sleep

Perfect weather for the task of prepping the garden for it's gentle sleep, and with said gardener suffering from a severe case of 'cabin fever', thanks in part to his battling a persistent head/chest cold, it was almost finished this morning. I still have to do battle with a gargantuan Persicaria on the west side of the house, bring in thirty bags of compost, and put the garden accoutrements in the garage for winter's safe keeping.... and then I will be done! I am always surprised at how much garden waste there is every season. Between my Baptisia, Kirengeshoma and two species of Aralia, I filled three of the large paper garden waste bags!

I always argue with myself over what to cut back and what to leave standing. The evergreen Epimedium species I have always left as they are, but find their Spring flowers get lost amongst the old foliage, so this year I sheared them all off. The same dilemma with the ferns. I know that by mid November they will be well past their looking pretty phase, but to cut them down now?

I mentioned in a previous post about the fact that the garden is getting too over crowded, to the point that some of my most cherished kids are buried and lost beneath their more exuberant siblings. Case in point with this diminutive Larix kaempferi 'Wolterdingen' - an absolute darling with the softest blue grey foliage imaginable. In the Spring he looks all cuddly and adorable, but my mid Summer he is lost beneath the arching branches of the resident diva - Paeonia obvata. It's only now, as I strip everything else away that he catches my eye and makes me giggle! I have decided that I am going to give Acer pseudoplatanus 'Esk Sunset' another year to prove his worth. I was so enamoured of this diminutive variegated form when I first stumbled across it, but in the past two years, he has been riddled with one pestilence after another. Frost, chewed, deformed leaves, and then of course with the persistent heat and sun this past Summer, he shrivelled to a crisp by the first of August. It isn't his fault. I could have planted him in a shadier spot, but wanted him to be front and centre for when he put on his early Summer foliage show. He truly is a stunning species when he is happy!

This is the narrow border along the east side of the garage. Most of my most treasured children reside and frolic happily in this bed. It has the best soil of the entire property - hence five of the soon to be applied compost will be designated for this bed. I worried over Anemonopsis macrophylla this year. He was a third the size of the year before, and I cannot bear to lose him. Fingers crossed that he recovers from a Summer that was simply everything that he despised most: too hot and humid and not nearly as wet as his native Honshu Japan affords him. Note to self: Coddle this baby next year!

Every October I cut the leader out of 'Ogon,' my stunning golden Metasequoia. He is looking very 'fluffy' this year, and because I have installed a group of my beloved Meconopsis and well as a pair of sublime Cypripedium at his base, this bed has been watered twice a week, every week since they were brought home. I also mist him when it's extremely hot and humid, which was a good part of the summer past!

I have to decide how I am going to contend with my tender perennials this year. I have four Agave, a stunning variegated Euphorbia as well as a variegated Acanthus, none of which would be able to withstand our winter weather. I think I am going to take the largest pot to work and see if I can store it in the store. The remaining two will come back into my room for the winter. It never ceases to amaze me how I wait all summer for the Acanthus to show its variegation, and it isn't until the week before I bring him inside, after which, he quickly reverts back to green! Just because he can!

And now I have to get round to the other side of the house and do battle with the resident Persicaria 'Milk Boy' who grew to such astounding proportions that he is now completely covering my wee Abies councillor 'Blue Cloak.' Note to self: Move one or the other next Spring! Always something to do come Spring, is there not?

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?