15 Jul 2015

Blue I Wonder

When the genus Deinanthe first crossed my radar some eight years ago, I was only aware of there being two species within the genus: Deinanthe bifida, a Japanese herbaceous clumping perennial with white Hydrangea like flowers [appropriate since the two genera are related to one another!] and distinctively notched tips to its foliage [hence bifida] and Deinanthe caerulea, which as its name suggests has lilac to blue suffused flowers, surrounding an exquisite boss of shimmering silver stamens. And which one did I bring home? Both of course!

Skip ahead four or so years, and while perusing the annual Lost Horizons catalogue I discovered a third! Whilst belonging to the species D.caerulea, it was named 'Blue Wonder.' Goodness me, how could I have overlooked something that so obviously spoke to my obsession with the colour blue! Did I really need another excuse to visit with Larry at his woodland plant emporium? I think not!

He confided to me that he wasn't convinced that this was indeed a new cultivar within the species, opting instead that some overzealous gardener had likely added the tag 'Blue Wonder' after noticing a difference in bloom colour from the original species. Regardless, it was an opportunity to add yet a third of this sublime genus - one which I might add, should be far more popular in woodland garden repertoires, but that is just my humble opinion.

The first five photographs in this post are of my 'Blue Wonder', and when comparing it against the final three photos, there are indeed a number of noticeable differences. More excited about their flower characteristics, I did not think to capture the distinctively different foliages - D.caerulea has a coarse, leathery leaf, whereas 'Blue Wonder' is more akin to D.bifida, a bright green, distinctively veined with that decidedly notched end to its foliage. Already I am wondering if in fact this is not D.bifida exhibiting the same character that its cousin, the ubiquitous garden Hydrangea is notorious for: if the soil is acidic enough, the blooms will indeed turn mauve - albeit blue if the acidity level remains high throughout its bloom period. Another noticeable difference is the fact that the stamens of this usurper are in fact white, in sharp contrast to the mesmerizing shimmering effect that D.caerulea exhibits from the moment it opens!

I love witnessing the wonders of Mother Nature, and which ever species this plant belongs to, it has definitely won my heart over. It is a very undemanding perennial, and unlike its cousin the Hydrangea, it is completely herbaceous, dying back to the ground every winter. There is no guess work as to whether it blooms on new or old wood, or whether it will bloom every year - [unlike so many of the so called 'Endless Summer' duds!] it has returned for me year after year, growing in size every year, and has demonstratively proven itself to be hardy to -40C! What is there not to love about this charmer. 

The photos below are of D.caerulea. There are many similarities in the overall shape of the flower, but as mentioned earlier, the foliage is markedly different, as are the stamens. I myself prefer the shimmering silver patina that the true species affords. Both have a very fond and special place in this gardener's heart. If you have an opportunity to add any within this genus to your woodland garden, trust me, you will not ever have a moment's regret!

4 Jul 2015

04 July In The Garden

A Happy 4th of July to our American neighbours! Blessed with atypical summer weather, so decided to spend some time with the children after work today! Nice to see some bloom in the garden today! Have always been a fan of Campanula latifolia var. macrantha, with his upright sturdy stems of opalescent mauve flowers. Even better is that he is tolerant of quite a bit of shade!

Speaking of shady characters, none come close to the beauty of my beloved 'Carnival!' I was speaking with one of my gardening friends, and we were both commenting on his adorable gorgeousness - we're speaking of the shrub at present people - I have been enamoured of Acer campestre 'Carnival' from my fist introduction in the display garden of Lost Horizons

Euphorbia, much to the chagrin of my boss and co worker, remains a stalwart favourite of mine, and when I discovered this smashingly handsome selection, E. 'Glacier Blue', I knew he would be an instant favourite. Of course he isn't even marginally hardy here in my Z5 garden, so he overwinters quite happily in a pot and is then transplanted out when the threat of frost has passed. 

Another genus I am growing enamoured of is Agave, yet another tender hearted group of rather spiky plants. I now have two in my collection, both of which join GB in the winter on my windowsill plant stand. The demure specimen below is Queen of Threads, and with each new floret of foliage, I am given even more silk like threads that make up its name! 

A quick 'through the railing shot reveals yet another of my favourite genera is in full bloom!

Agapanthus 'Summer Skies' is days away from unfurling the first of five umbels that I have been blessed with this year! I was thrilled to discover that the three that I have in one of the display gardens at work have proven to be fully hardy - surviving our -40C temperatures!

Where there is shade, there must also be Aralia cordata 'Sun King!' I have no less than four on my shaded property, and as can be seen here, they can grow to be rather stupendous sized in no time, provided that they have adequate irrigation - and thanks to a very wet, cool June, the ones here are thriving! I adore the fabulous chartreuse burst of colour in an otherwise shaded garden!

While most gardeners wax poetic about the seed heads of their Clematis, I find the seed head of Nectaroscordum siculum v. bulgaricum to be absolutely adorable! They remind me of something straight out of Seuss! 

 Red and yellow remain my least favourite colours in the garden, and as such I have ONE plant that conveniently combines both: Spigelia marilandica is one of my most prized possessions. Another discovery at Lost Horizons, his scarlet red, trumpet shaped flowers appear by the dozens every July 1st [our Canada Day] and open to reveal brilliant yellow stars! The fact that he is a North American native make him most attractive to those who want to plant indigenous plants in their woodland. His trumpet shaped, scarlet flowers are also magnets for hummingbirds, and who doesn't want to see more of them in the garden!

His appearance never fails to bring me to my knees, and as such, I have been patiently awaiting the opening of his swollen buds. I was worried that my Deinanthe caerulea was not going to be as robust as in previous years, and breathed a huge sigh of relief when I realized that he was just confused with our early Spring weather. It looked like he wanted to leaf out, and then we got hit with the -4C frost of late May which seemed to stall his progress. And look at him today!

Lost Horizons owner/plantsman Larry Davidson has this to say about what is without a doubt one of my Top Five woodland plants:

'... an exceptional Chinese woodlander sought by connoisseurs. Rich green leathery leaves, on stems that end in exquisite clusters of nodding, lilac suffused flowers, with lavender grey stamens that one must kneel to appreciate!' Pretty much certain that this is perhaps one of the best descriptions I have come across!

I hope that everyone is enjoying a similar thrill from their own garden! For me, the cooler, damper temps have been a bonus, as most of my children have decidedly Heathcliff like tendencies, like their Father!

25 Jun 2015

The Spotted Turk and the Vixen [Mrs. Harvey]

I noticed her buds a couple of days ago, so made a point of checking tonight to see if she was had unfurled her gorgeous spotted Turk's cap like flowers, and indeed she has!

I am also anxiously awaiting my Deinanthe cerulean blooms. You can see in his swollen buds that he is once again going to live up to his name! It is one of my favourite woodland treasures!

I do not have the sun that is necessary for one to successfully cultivate Clematis, but that hasn't stopped me from growing C. 'Mrs. Harvey' with her sublime, two tone, flamenco dress inspired flowers.

While not nearly as vigorous as some of her cousins, her flowers are far and away my favourite of any and all! Much cooler weather seems to have moved in on the heels of cloudy, rain laden clouds.