Monday, October 13, 2008

Diary December 2005 - Shades of Green

December 2005
Even though many gardeners want colour from May till October, very few perennials or shrubs actually retain flowers that long. I used to love 3 season colour but lately I’m becoming very fond of the many relaxing shades of green!
Blue, green and purple are known as cool colours. They promote feelings of peacefulness and calm. Evergreens, which have no flowers, come in shades of dark green, light green, golden-yellow green, silver and many hues in between! Besides that, they have varying types of needles: soft, sharp, long, short and even curved and curly.
Here is a photo I took while on a Garden Tour – doesn’t it evoke a sense of peace?
Not only are the plants differing shades of green, but they have varying sizes and textures of leaves. Included are a number of hostas, some silver-edged lamium and some grass-type plants. Stones, rocks, a small tree and lovely aromatic cedar mulch add to the atmosphere. I can imagine myself with a cup of tea after work, de-stressing just by sitting in this gorgeous garden!
It’s interesting that traditional Japanese gardens usually are a green monotone with only a splash of colour. You can understand why they refer to “the music of the colour green”. Japanese gardens often incorporate water, rocks, sand and greenery which, when properly placed, produce an artistic sense of serenity and invite quiet meditation.
I guess all my years of having a southern exposure garden with small, young trees casting no shade have sparked a wish for darker, quieter corners.
I have learned that shades of one colour are just as interesting as a riot of hot colour. In fact, they have a completely different sense of beauty – much more serene and calming.
I will certainly attempt to include these shady spots in my “perfect garden”.

Diary November 2005 - Outdoor Rooms

November 2005
Lots of books and magazine articles give tips on making a small garden seem bigger. Well, I’m spoiled - presently I have a third of an acre. I don’t want a retirement garden that’s small but looks big. I want a garden that IS big (not just looks big) regardless of how much work and effort it will require. But can a large garden have a cozy feel to it? Can it have intimate corners that invite admiration and relaxation? How can I achieve that?
I think “The Daily Muse”
says it accurately: “…I want to shape the backyard so that visitors will feel compelled to explore each of the very distinct spaces along the garden path. There will be no one single destination, but rather, a series of them, all interconnected; one will lead to another, yet each will have its own identity.” Another article by Lindsey Bond Totten says: “Even experienced gardeners struggle with the concept of garden ‘rooms’ perhaps because it has less to do with growing plants than it does with their special relationships to each other.”
So what destinations or rooms could I create? Well, I have always admired wrap-around porches, so maybe I could have one at the front of the house.

I envision it with a polished wood floor, a rattan area rug, wicker furniture with big, fat striped cushions, hurricane candle-lamps on the floor beside white railings and columns and for a final touch – baskets of flowers and some hanging plants!
I’ve always enjoyed a deck or patio in the back of the house, off the kitchen or family room. The retirement garden should have one cozy enough for an intimate dinner party or big enough for a celebratory family gathering. My husband has always preferred wooden decks but I long for a flagstone patio. (We’ll have to negotiate on that one). Really nice comfy chairs, a big table with a sun umbrella surrounded by pots of colourful flowers and more hanging baskets.
Wouldn’t it be fun to have a small private patio off the master bedroom (because of course, I want a ground floor Master Bedroom, just like every other aging Boomer!)
Maybe a small area with enough space for 2 oomphy chairs, an end table for cups of coffee or glasses of wine, all surrounded by plants and flowers. This would be an ideal spot for tiny beauties that are best viewed close up: Viola labradorica, with its purplish-green leaves; Sempervivum ‘Purple Beauty’; Sedum ‘Silver Moon’; Coreopsis ‘Moonbeam’ and ‘Limerock Ruby’; Primula veris (English cowslip)which has fragrant, nodding light yellow blooms; Knautia macedonia “Mars Midget’, which is a sturdier, only 16” high version of the super-tall species; many lovely types of aquilegia and of course Epimedium x rubrum or x youngianum. I would surround this delicious private area with French Hybrid Lilacs (Syringa vulgaris ‘alba’ ‘Madame LeMoine’.) The double white flowers would smell so lovely in June!
I’d like to repeat one area that I have in my present garden: a wooden trellis which invites a short walk along a flagstone pathway past shrubs and perennials. When my husband was building the wooden arch, I asked my oldest son how he liked it. He said it looked like “a vortex to another dimension!!” We’ve called it the Vortex ever since!
If the new area incorporated a few large, sturdy trees, maybe I could set up a hammock for aforementioned hard-working hubby! In the Perfect Garden maybe some dependable climbing roses could go up and over: the continuous blooming ‘Blaze Improved’ with its dark red flowers and also ‘Blush Noisette’, a light pink and white blend that has repeat blooms and smells like – baby powder!! Other interesting border specimens could include: Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’ with carmine petals; Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’; early blooming peony ‘Festiva Maxima’ with its fragrant, large, white double flowers with crimson flecks, strong, tall stems and dark green foliage; an early blooming daylily like 30” high, rich, deep velvet red ‘Ed Murray’ and a mid-season tetraploid one, perhaps ‘Strawberry Candy’. Add a few clumps of Shasta daisies, a very vertical grass like Feather Reed grass ‘Karl Foerster’; some deep green prostrate junipers and a few lovely shrubs like Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’ for bone structure.
Lastly, maybe hidden farther into a corner of the property (maybe near a pond or creek??) a screened-in cedar Gazebo, with bench seating, flowered cushions, candles and lanterns, surrounded by dark green Emerald cedars and a few large shade trees like Pin Oak or Sugar Maple. Clematis could climb up the lattice sides of the structure, maybe 3 different types: an early one C. Montana ‘Tetrarose’, then a June-August bloomer C. lanuginose candida and finally sweet autumn Virgin’s Bower C. dioscoreifolia. A variety of wonderful plants could surround the gazebo: Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (burgundy leaves in spring, dainty white flowers in June); pale yellow and dark purple Siberian Iris, fragrant ‘Casa Blanca’ and ‘Black Beauty’ Lilies; Scabiosa ‘Fama’ (pincushion flower) and a dramatic combo of golden ‘On Stage’ Hosta with Heuchera ‘Velvet Night’ (as suggested by John Valleau, Corporate Horticulturist for Valleybrook Gardens).
Wow!! That’s pretty greedy, all that stuff! I think I may have gotten a little carried away there, but hopefully it gives both you and me LOTS of ‘outdoor room’ suggestions to think about!

Diary October 2005 - Autumn

October 2005

I love spring. I love summer. I love autumn. (I could do without winter, but oh well, can’t have everything).
I find autumn to be a very exciting season. As much as I like being warm in the spring and hot in the summer, I relish that fresh, crisp chill of an autumn morning or evening.
As I walk through my present garden, I see great combinations that I would surely repeat in my ‘perfect’ garden:
(a) Behind a boulder stands Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ – plush, full, and 5 feet tall (without the plumes!) In front of it is an annual fountain grass (Pennisetum) and my sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, which just turned pink and is full of bees.
(b) In the backyard, some black-eyed susans (Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’) are either still in bloom or their heads have already turned into little black knobs.
(c) Beside the mugho pine and within a sea of periwinkle, my autumn-flowering bulbs – Colchicum ‘Lilac Wonder’ – are starting to open. They will stand 6-8” tall with delicate pinky mauve flower.
(d) The grey-purple kale and dark burgundy chrysanthemums look wonderful beside the bright red burning bush (Euonymus alata)
(e) The elongated flower cones of my beloved oakleaf hydrangea have already turned from white to pink to brown. I now eagerly await the leaves to start turning a bronzy orange and deep maroon.
Years ago I bought gardening columnist Allen Lacey’s book The Garden in Autumn.
“Autumn is a time of sweet disorder and permissible procrastination” writes Lacey, in the first chapter, while later he says: “I was suddenly struck by the accumulated evidence in my own garden that autumn could be the very best of seasons.”
Lacey gives many examples of great plants and combinations that often ‘come into their own’ in September and October. Some of his favourites include:
(a) Boltonia asteroides ‘Snowbank’, tall white, daisy-like flowers that he shows spilling over a white picket fence (p.10)
(b) Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) with annual Centranthus’ pink bachelor-button type flowers, pale pink Anemone ‘September Charm’, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and the variegated leaves of Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’. (p.24-5)
I love how he writes: “The autumn perennial border tends, in particular, toward tapestry, as the red stems of the tall seaside goldenrod lean into the more upright stems of the even taller tatar Aster. The autumn garden becomes, to be honest, a little tatty around the edges. Slugs have long since had their way with the hostas and leaf-miners with most of the aquilegia. Boltonia ‘Snowbank’ and Aster ‘Hella Lacy’ refuse to sing a duet; the Boltonia has put in its final note when the aster begins to sing.”
But I digress….
More combos:
(c) Pale mauve Aster frikartii ‘Monch’ beside bright yellow Coreopsis ‘Zagreb’.(p.40)
(d) Hosta sieboldiana, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’ all in front of a bright orangy-red Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis)(p.55)
(e) Viola ‘Blue Elf’, Ajuga ‘Burgundy Glow’, Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ and Japanese painted ferns.(p.74)
(f) Viola ‘Molly Sanderson’ (almost black in colour) amid a golden sheet of Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’).
(g) Clematis tangutica, with its multitude of little yellow nodding blossoms, Clematis ‘Lady Betty Balfour’ a large flowered purple hybrid with reddish overtones (looks beautiful when draped over a Quince bush (Chaenomeles japonica)(p.96-7)
(h) Bronzy-orange Hellenium ‘Moorheim Beauty’ with pale lime-green Artemesia lactiflora and the silvery purple cone-heads of Echinops.(p.109)
Some shrubs really shine in the fall: Japanese maple, Ilex decidua and Ilex verticilata (Hollies), Aronia or chokeberry, viburnums (especially ‘Mariesii’ and opulus) and Asian Dogwood (Cornus kousa).

I try to enjoy every minute of autumn, because just like the other seasons, it’s gone in a flash!

Diary September 2005 - Spring Bulbs

September 2005

Every spring, I eagerly wait for beautiful tulips to appear in my garden, and when they come up “leaves only”, I remember that I didn’t plant anything new the previous fall!
Well, this September I’m going to invest a bit more thought and cash and replenish my poor depleted bulbs.
Most of my daffodils and small bulbs – snowdrops, scilla, and iris reticulata and iris danfordiae - are still in pretty good shape. (I must make a note, though, to fertilize the bulbs after flowering next spring – something I always neglect to do! And I forget to mark where they are!)
I’m going to designate 8 small niches in my present garden to feature new bulb groupings.
Even though I always imagine seeing hundreds of new tulips in my garden, I must remind myself that tulips are a squirrel’s favourite lunch! Nothing is more frustrating than seeing all your hard work undone by hungry, pesky squirrels a day or two after planting!! Nope – I’ll stick with daffodils, crocus, allium, muscari and puschkinia – the bulbs that the little rodents don’t like.
First area:
Some early colour right beside the driveway: purple and yellow crocus in among the dark purple ajuga, along with some white snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) and Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa gigantea alleni.)
Second area:
8” ‘Tete a Tete’ (Jack Snipes) golden yellow daffodils with 14” white, fragrant ‘Thalia’ daffodils – both so tiny and dainty surrounded by anemone blanda “Blue Star’ (St. Brigid) and pale blue, striped Puschkinia scilloides (libanotica). If I feel bold, I may throw in some bright red 8” kaufmanniana ‘Showwinner’ tulips.
Third area:
3 great daffodils: lemon yellow ‘Baby Moon’ (7”), white ‘February Silver’(10”), fabulously fragrant ‘Sir Winston Churchill’ (16”), in a sea of blue and white muscari mixture.
Fourth area:
Strong, tall 16” white ‘Mount Hood’ and 20” bright yellow ‘King Alfred’ with dark blue-purple muscari armeniacum.
Fifth area:
Here are some of the double early tulips I cannot resist: soft pink-on-pink ‘Angelique’
(16-18”) and double white 12” ‘Schoonoord’. They look like baby peonies, come a month early! I could plant dark purple Johnny Jump-ups around them.
Sixth area:
A section devoted to peach and pink daffodils, which I will plant in the shade so they don’t turn yellow-ish: 16” ‘Mrs. R.O. Backhouse’ (this used to be THE pink daffodil from the 1920’s and 1930’s); 16” white with pink corona ‘Accent’ and the 12-18” ‘Easter Bonnet’.
Seventh area:
Sorry – I can’t resist – this one’s going to be a squirrel’s buffet, just like the double earlies: 3 beloved tulips: (26” deep rose pink) Renown, (30” ivory) Maureen and (26” soft pink) Menton, surrounded by dark purple pansies and a sea of white perennial candytuft.

Eighth area:
I used to have a lot of these and they truly deserve to planted again: 24” ‘Estella Rijnveld’, white and red striped parrot tulips, 30” ‘Queen of the Night’, the it’s-so-dark-purple-it-almost-looks-black! tulip, 24” Lily-flowered tulip ‘White Triumphator’ and super tall (3 ½’!) Allium giganteum ‘Globemaster’. Maybe I could plant them near the lilac bush.

Wowee!! Am I going to love spring 2006!!

Diary August 2005 - Containers

August 2005
This summer I needed more knee surgery. I knew that creating and maintaining containers for the deck would be tricky – dragging the bags of dirt, buying annuals, planting them, etc. My mobility would be limited but I really wanted the pots to be full of flowers.
Hey! What if I bought hanging baskets, cut the wires off and placed them in my ceramic and clay pots? Easy technique – same result!!

As usual, I made sure there were some tried and true standards in the pots: helichrysum (licorice plant which creates a soft, silver background), wave petunias in many colours, potato vines – bright lime green and dark eggplant purple – trailing geraniums, ageratum and bacopa.
I also have my herbs in pots under the kitchen window: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (Hey! That would make a great song!! Ha ha), oregano, basil, marjoram and mint.
There’s nothing nicer than fresh herbs in a dinner recipe.
And under my Linden tree, I have a wonderful flowering maple tree that my Dad gave me last summer and I overwintered in the house plus one of his variegated-leaf pelargoniums (that he picked up at Canada Blooms years ago and has grown from cuttings ever since) called “Vancouver Centennial”. They’re happier in the shade than on the hot sunny deck.
One last note about successful container plants. At Sheila’s last weekend, she showed me her magnificent containers that she hopes to enter in the Fine Gardening magazine’s “Container Contest”. They were spectacular – I think she has a great chance of winning.
She promised to take some cuttings from a most unusual coleus called “Kong”. Huge leaves, I mean HUGE! Would they ever be spectacular in my front porch urns next summer. Now if I could talk a deal with my Dad to grow them under his gro-lights over the winter…..hmmmm……let me work on this……

Diary July 2005 - Basics of Design

July 2005

Last weekend I had a chance to visit one of my dearest friends in Elora, Ontario. Sheila, a Master Gardener, is as obsessed about gardening as I am. We spent hours admiring every single plant in her garden and both enjoyed every minute of it.

I told Sheila about this website and she was quite excited. When would it be ready? What was it about? I answered that I was going to plan my retirement garden and make it as close to “perfect” as I could.

“What are your concepts ?” she asked
“My concepts???” I echoed, looking blank.

Gee whiz – what were my concepts? Had I even formulated concepts yet?
Well, OK – let me think (quick!) Ummmm…. Let’s see:
The garden will need STRUCTURE. I want an arbour, a patio, a bench, sculpture, flagstone walkways – structural elements that will ground the plants. So the first concept would be structure.
The second concept would be a LAWNLESS FRONT YARD. No grass. No maintenance. NO fertilizing, no mowing. Something much more unique to look at than boring turf. (I may have to fight my husband on this one, though).
The third concept would be drought tolerant plants. Summers seem to be getting increasingly hotter and drier. A lower maintenance garden would have plants that can manage on little rain or watering.

There- I knew I could come up with concepts that would form a great foundation for my future plans. Throughout this planning section on the website, I will expand on all 3 concepts and more.

Diary June 2005 - Getting Started

June 2005

OK! So let me start planning my next garden.
It’s so difficult to know where to start! Should I try to plan out the basic landscape design? How can I? I don’t know where we’ll end up buying the “retirement” house or how big the lot will be.
Should I start digging through the shoebox of ideas I’ve collected? Start highlighting favourite sections of books and magazines from my library?
I know! I’ll start by looking at my present garden, which has so many pockets of hidden delights that maybe I can re-create some of them in a future spot.
Here are some of my favourite little areas right now in June:
1) Explorer roses ‘John Cabot’ in front of variegated green and white Dogwood leaves (Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’)

2) My 2 ft. statue of “Elaine” (a little girl holding an apron full of seeds to feed the birds) surrounded by Hosta ‘Golden Tiara’ and annual Lisianthus (Eustoma) in deep purple
3) My deck surrounded by white, pale pink and deep fuschia peonies
4) Hostas “Great Expectations” and “Paul’s Glory” in front of a golden Euonymus and beside a dark green prostrate juniper
5) In a quiet corner near the garden gate are climbing roses “New Dawn” (pale pink) and “Don Juan” (dark velvety red), golden juniper, variegated phlox paniculata “Nora Leigh”, 2 painted Japanese ferns, a nicely shaped rock, a fat clump of European Ginger all surrounded by pale pink impatiens and white alyssum
6) On one side of the wrought-iron/wooden bench: red geraniums and purple allysum in front of a boulder with variegated Karl Forster reed grass rising behind it

7) Beside the bench on the other side: my 2 foot statue of Brer Rabbit in his little waistcoat surrounded by 2 dwarf daylilies “Fairy Tale Pink” and “Little Wine Cup” and red geraniums
8) Near the neighbour’s fence, listed in layers from the back: Marie’s Viburnum, yellow loosestrife (Lysimachia punctata), Salvia “Ostfriesland” and Hosta “Night Before Christmas” with variegated white and green leaves
9) Dark green columnar junipers, Karl Forster reed grasses and silvery Himalayan potentilla with its deep red flowers
10) Weeping Norway Spruce with tall apricot lilies (ready to bloom soon), my Koa fish statue and red geraniums
11) Tall, deep purple Siberian Iris surrounded by Hosta “Blue Cadet” and white baby-mum flowers of feverfew.

Sigh…………Remind me again why I want to move??

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Diary - Drought tolerant plants

Drought Tolerant Plants:

Summers ain’t what they used to be in Southern Ontario! Heat and humidity would set in in early July and stay until mid-September. Rainy days were nicely scattered throughout the spring and summer seasons and everything seemed so predictable!
Not so lately! I remember that in the summer of 2000 or 2001, it rained June 30th and then not one drop more until late September!! Yikes! Lawns, flowers, trees and shrubs dried up and withered away. It was pathetic to look at. Water bans were imposed, so even the lucky few with underground sprinkler systems, were not allowed to use them. Most summers since then have had real elements of drought as well.
So, gardeners being the resourceful souls that we are, began to research plants that could withstand drought.
Here are some excellent examples of plants that do well in hot, dry conditions:

Perennials:Alchemilla mollis – Lady’s Mantle
Aquilegia species – Columbines

Bergenia crassifolia
Campanula species
Coreopsis species
Echinops ritro – Globe Thistle
Eryngium species – Sea Holly
Gaillardia species – Blanket Flower
Galium odoratum – Sweet Woodruff

Hemerocallis hybrids – Daylilies

Paeonia species – Peonies
Penstemon species

Perovskia atriplicifolia – Russian Sage
Rudbeckia species – Black-eyed Susan
Sedum species
Veronica species – Speedwell
Vinca minor – Periwinkle

Allium species
Chionodoxa species – Glory in the Snow
Galanthus species – Snowdrops
Lilium species – Lilies
Narcissus species – Daffodils
Tulipa species – Tulips

Annuals:Brachycome iberidifolia – Swan River Daisy
Centaura species – Bachelor’s Buttons

Cleome spinosa – Spider Flower
Cosmos species

Petunia species
Targetes species – Marigolds
Verbena species

Roses and Shrubs:
Amelanchier species – Serviceberry
Cotinus coggygria – Smoke Bush
Cotoneaster species
Euonymus species
Kerria japonica
Philadelphus species – Mock Orange
Prunus species
Rosa species - Old garden types – Rosa x alba, Rosa Gallica

Rugosa roses
Explorer roses ‘John Cabot’, John Davis’, William Baffin’
Spirea species
Syringa species – Lilac

Monday, September 29, 2008

Diary - My 10 LEAST Favourite Perennials

My 10 ………………….LEAST FAVOURITE………. Perennials

Mostly I have had these fast, vigorous plants spread - (and spread and spread!) throughout my beautiful flower beds and take over. Gardener – Beware!

Ajuga reptans – Bugleweed, Carpet Bugle – Zone 3 - 6-8” tall
I really like this plant in spring – deep burgundy, ground-hugging leaves and lovely blue spiky flowers. But after that, the faded flowers need to be dead-headed or they look brown and ugly. But the worst is how this plant takes over – it even pops up the lawn next to the flower bed!

Aegopodium podagraria – Zone 1, Ht: 12”
The common names for this plant are Bishop’s weed, Goutweed and Snow on the Mountain. It has pretty green and white variegated leaves and tall lacy flowers BUT put in one small plant and trust me, you’ll never get rid of it.

Achillea Millefolium – Yarrow – Zone , Ht: 12-18”
I’m sure some yarrow have redeeming qualities but I put in a pinky-red type and have proceeded to yank out huge sections of it ever since as it spreads through the bed.

Stachys byzantina – Lamb’s Ears – Zone , Ht: 10”
a. The common Lamb’s Ears provides a lovely, low-growing, soft silvery edge for a bed but look out – the flower is tall, rangy and then floppy and the stuff spreads like mad. Some newer varieties are more controllable.

Cerastium tomentosum – Snow in Summer – Zone 2 – Ht: 8”
Again, lovely in springtime with its lacy, silver foliage topped by dainty, star-shaped white flowers but it spreads quickly.

Convallaria majalis – Lily of the Valley – Zone 1 – Ht: 6”
Everybody’s grandmother will bring you a small pot of this for your new garden, so plant it around a tree so you can smell the gorgeous white bell flowers in spring but won’t have to watch as it quickly takes up half your garden!

Mentha – Mint
The only safe place for this is a pot!

Nepeta – Catmint – Zone 2, Ht: 12”
A relative of mint, it spreads quite a bit, despite being pretty in June with its low-growing purple/blue flowers.

Oenothera fruticosa – Evening Primrose – Zone 3, Ht: 8”
Flowers emerge as red buds then change to sunny yellow drops, but they spread and spread and spread…..

Malva moschata – Mallow – Zone 3
Quite pretty, tall spikes of pink flowers on top of bushy foliage. But they self-seed prolifically. I’m always yanking out the new babies!


Diary - My 10 favourite Conifers

My 10 Favourite ………………….. Conifers

Weeping Norway Spruce (Picea abies ‘Pendula’)
Zone 4 Height: 5’ Spread: 4’

“A distinctive specimen with weeping branches. It will remain prostrate along the ground unless staked, when it becomes weeping”

Dwarf Hinoki False Cypress (Chamaecyparis Obtusa “Nana Gracilis”)
Zone 5 Height: 3’2 Spread: 3.2’

“Dwarf specimen plant with rich green broadly upright, fan shaped sprays”

Moor-dense Juniper (Juniperus Sabina ‘Moor-Dense’)
Zone 3 Height: 12” Spread: 3.9’ Bright Green

A dense mound with graceful bright green foliage. Flat branching. A good substitute to Tamariscifolia. More blight resistant variety

Hoopsi Blue Spruce (Picea pungens ‘Hoopsi’)
Zone 2 Height: 65’ Spread: 20’

One of the best-shaped Blue Spruce, slow growth at first. Foliage a clear blue silvery blue. Outstanding colour – bluest of all species. Dense foliage. Very straight trunks (pronounced Hoop-see-eye)

Nest Spruce (Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’)
Zone 3 Height: 30” Spread: 4.9’

“Light green, interesting, low, broad, nest-like plant. Hardy” Tidy, dense, circular, dwarf shrub – often with depression in centre like a giant birds nest

Swiss Stone Pine
Zone 2 Height: 32’ Spread: 8’

“Slow growing and narrowly columnar, the narrowest of upright pines” Keeps its lower branches as it ages. Needs good air circulation. Violet cones. Drought tolerant . Requires loamy well-drained slightly acidic soil.

Mugho Pine (Pinus mugo pumilio)
Zone 1 Height: 3.2’ Spread: 6.5’

“Compact bush of dwarf globular form much used in foundation and rock plantings.” Will grow big and must be pruned
8. Dense Yew (Taxus media ‘densiformis’)
Zone 5 Height: 3.4’ Spread: 6.5’

A broad compact slow growing variety which can be used as a hedge. Great for shade . Takes well to pruning.

Emerald Cedar (Thuja Occidentalis ‘Emerald’)
Zone 4 Height: 13’ Spread: 3.2’

Introduction from Sweden. Also know as ‘Smargard’. This is a bright green dense pyramid.

Rheingold Cedar (Thuja occidentalis ‘Rheingold’)
Zone 3 Height: 3.9’ Spread: 3.2’

“A dwarf broadly globose to conical cedar. New foliage. Golden and bronze. Best in full sun.”

Diary - My 10 Favourite Deciduous Trees

My 10 Favourite………………………….TREES – Deciduous

1. Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana)
Zone: Height: Spread:
A very showy tree when in flower in the spring but one day or two of wind and rain and all the flowers end up on the ground. And that’s about it for this tree – it’s pretty boring the rest of the year. (But on a calm sunny spring day, you can’t beat those huge, pink blooms!)

2. Autumn Delight Crab Apple (Malus ‘Autumn Delight’)
Zone 3 Height: 14’ Spread: 9’
A delightful, disease resistant smaller, pendulous crabapple. Highlights include a white spring flower with pink buds, bronze fall colour with fruit that changes colour from yellow-orange to brilliant scarlet.

3. River Birch (Betula nigra)
Zone 4 Height: 42’ Spread: 32’
Great birch tree that is not susceptible to borer. Has the same beautiful ‘peeling” bark but it’s brown not white. Never needs painting or spraying of insecticides. Appreciates a wet spring but survives in a dry summer and autumn. Fall colour: Yellow.

4. Legacy Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum ‘Legacy’)
Zone 4 Height: 55’ Spread: 39’
A rapid growing maple with a symmetrical oval crown. It’s resistant to summer heat and leaf tatter and has a lovely reddish-orange fall colour.

5. Devil’s Walking Stick/Japanese Angelica Tree (Aralia elata)
Zone 5 Height: 14’ Spread: 11’
Great tree for smaller yards. Has clusters of long-lasting white flowers in August. Does well in dry soil and city conditions.

6. European Beech (Fagus sylvatica)
Zone 4 Height: 50’ Spread: 39’
Most beech trees are excellent and hardy. Many have finely cut foliage. The most interesting are Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea Pendula’ – Weeping Purple Beech, a small pendulous tree with dark purple leaves and Fagus sylvatica ‘Rosea-marginata’ the Tricolour Beech, with pink and white edged leaves.

7. Marshall’s Seedless Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica ‘Marshall’s Seedless’)
Zone 3 Height: 55’ Spread: 45’
Dark glossy green leaves, a bright yellow fall colour, its pyramidal shape and disease resistance make Marshall’s Seedless one of my favourites!

8. Goldenrain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata)
Zone 6 Height: 30’ Spread: 8’
A lovely, smaller tree that grows copious spikes of bright yellow flowers in midsummer. Its green fernlike foliage and yellow fall colour make it an outstanding choice.

9. White Oak (Quercus alba)
Zone 3 Height: 50’ Spread: 50’
This majestic tree is a strong but slow grower, disease resistant and drought tolerant. Other favourite oaks include: Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea) which is best for fall colour, Pin Oak (Quercus palustris), a lovely pyramidal oak that I’ve had in my backyard for 18 years and English Oak (Quercus rubur), another strong, large tree with glossy leaves and a wide rounded head.

10. Regent Japanese Pagoda Tree (Sophora japonica ‘Regent’)
Zone 3 Height: 65’ Spread: 49’
This large spreading tree has small leaflets, spectacular creamy white flowers in August and it withstands pollution well.

Honourable Mentions

I love these trees, despite their problems.

Canoe or Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera)
Zone 2 Height: 42’ Spread: 32’
I love the white, peeling bark of these graceful trees but constant spring vigilance with CYGON is necessary to keep borer away. My favourite is the clump version.

Maples (Acer saccharinum, rubrum, platenoides)
Zone 3-5 Height: 40-60’ Spread: 40’
What’s more spectacular than blazing scarlet maple leaves in autumn? As beautiful as they look, these trees often cast dense, dense shade, their branches and trunks are susceptible to splitting and shedding as well inviting a host of rot and fungi.

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
Zone 6 Height: 25’ Spread: 20-30’
This lovely graceful tree has pea-shaped pink flowers in May and gorgeous dark brown bark but it can’t be part of a flower bed garden. It hates having the soil disturbed around the roots with bulbs and annuals. I found that out the hard way, when I planted it in a section of my flower border to serve as “the focal point” and it died after several short years. It’s also susceptible to canker.

Greenspire Linden (Tilia cordata ‘Greenspire’)
Zone 3 Height: 52’ Spread: 39’
Lindens are graceful, hardy, beautiful trees and ‘Greenspire’ is one of the best. Its glossy dark green leaves are small and heartshaped. The fragrant flower is creamy yellow as is its autumn colour. Branches are brittle, though, and older trees produce a lot of twig litter.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Diary - My 10 Favourite Broadleaf Evergreens

My 4 Favourite…………………………Broadleaf Evergreens

Rock Spray Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster horizontalis)
Zone 6 Height:20” Spread: 36”

“Excellent plant for rock gardens or against walls.” Pink flowers, bright red berries in the fall. (pronounced co-TOHN-ee-AS-ter)

Euonymus (Euonymus fortunei)
Zone 4-5 Height: 4-5’ Spread: 15” – 4’

White/Silver: ‘Emerald Gaiety’ variegated green and silver
Gold: ‘Sunspot Euonymus’ green edged leaf with yellow centre
Dark: ‘Sarcoxie Euonymus’
Euonymus can be a ground cover, small shrub or a vine. Likes sun or shade. Great plant in a border or as a hedge. Leaves stay on in winter

Wilson Ivy (Hedera helix ‘Wilson’)
Zone 5 Height: 10” Spread: 4.9”
Sun or shade. Great ground cover. Most leaves stay over winter

Adam’s Needle (Yucca filamentosa)
Zone 4 Height: 30” Spread: 24”

Sun. An Interesting addition to a border. Tall spikes or creamy white flowers that bloom in July above broad pointed leaves. Tie up over winter to protect from snow damage.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Diary - My 10 favourite Perennials

My 10 favourite…………………………………..PERENNIALS

Astilbe (Astilbe X arendsii) (Garden Astilbe) (Sun to partial shade)
Zone 3 Ht: 24-36” Spr: 18-24”

Feathery flower plumes in many different colours (from pink to white to red). Foliage is lacy. My favourite red is ‘Fanal’ and favourite white is ‘Deutschland’. They love partial to full shade and adore moist, mulched soil. Depending on the type, different astilbes will bloom June – August

Aquilegia (Columbine) (Sun to partial shade)
Zone 2

This is an old fashioned perennial that’s lovely in the spring landscape. The Hybrid strains are the most commonly grown and my favourite is ‘McKana Giants’ (Height: 30-36”). The flowers hang like large winged bells and come in a variety of soft shades. Another columbine that appears in my garden year after year (wherever it chooses!) is Wild Columbine (Aquilegia Canadensis Height: 2-3’) with delicate red bell flowers with yellow centers. It obviously self seeds.

3. Hemerocallis (Daylilies)
Zone 2
18 years ago, my friend’s father brought me a clump of daylilies for my new house. “One-a-Day Lilies” he called them. I smiled, knowing that he had the name confused with One a Day Vitamins, but when I thought about it later – he was right! Each flower only blooms one day, but there are often 12-14 blooms on each stem, making the plant full of flowers for weeks on end. In sun or shade, colours may range from yellow to red to purple to almost black! Hundreds and hundreds of cultivars exist and more appear in nurseries each spring. Their leaves are grassy-looking and fit well into a border. My ultimate favourites are ‘Hyperion’ with large, fragrant yellow blooms; the ‘Chicago’ series and ‘Woodside Ruby’, a dark ruffled, deep red shade. Also, in my opinion ‘Happy Returns’ is better than the famous ‘Stella D’Oro’ for repeat blooms. The only ones I advise against are the common orange ones that grow in ditches. These spread like crazy and can take over a flower bed in no time flat! Trust me, I know!

4. Polygonatum (Solomon’s Seal)
Zone 3
This shade-loving, spring blooming perennial has gently-arching green striped leaves with tiny, delicate bell flowers hanging underneath. It is delicate, elegant – a real harbinger of spring. The bloom period is relatively long, especially if the ground stays moist. The most common is Polygonatum x hybridum (Common Solomon’s Seal) but other fun varieties include Polygonatum commutatum (Giant Solomon’s Seal) which can reach 7’ in very rich soil and Polygonatum odoratum var. pluriforme ‘Variegatum’, a variegated version with creamy white and green striped leaves.

5. Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’
Zone 3 Ht: 30-36” Spr: 12-18” Full Sun
I love my Penstemon ‘Husker Red’! (Perennial of the Year in 1996). Deep burgundy clumps of leaves emerge in spring slowly changing to green with tall stems holding delicate pinky-white bell flowers. ‘Husker Red’ looks great massed together in a drift. (I have about 7-8 plants together in one area). They last for a week or more as cut flowers and people often comment that they look more like silk flowers instead of real!

6. Hosta
Zone 2 (Sun or partial shade or full shade).
Hostas are almost as plentiful in variety as Hemerocallis (Daylilies). There are hundreds of different types ranging from tiny to huge! Ones that have done particularly well in my garden (which ranges from full sun to complete shade) are: ‘Blue Wedgewood’ (Ht: 12”); ‘Night before Christmas’ (Ht: 20-22”); ‘Frances Williams’ (Ht: 24-28”); ‘Golden Tiara’ (12-16”); ‘Great Expectations’ (20-28”); ‘June’ (12-16”); ‘Paul’s Glory’ (22-26”); ‘Sagae’ (30-32”); sieboldiana ‘Elegans’ (24-30”); ‘Sum and Substance’ (30-36”). Hosta love moist soil but watch for slugs near the thin leaf varieties! Slugs and snails think Hosta are delicious as a midnight snack!

7. Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan) Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ (Full sun)
Zone 3 Ht: 24-30” Spr: 18-24”
‘Goldsturm’ is a very familiar, very reliable Rudbeckia cultivar. Lovely bright golden daisy-like flowers with a dark brown ‘eye’. Books and guides often call it a late-blooming flower. I always thought that meant September but in my garden it already opens in late July and is gone by mid-August. Nonetheless it gives any border a “happy” quality and while it’s blooming and attracts very few problems or pests.

8. Iris sibirica (Siberian Iris) (Sun to partial shade)
Zone 2 Ht: 24-40” Spr: 18-24”
A very elegant, stately addition to any border! Siberian Iris love rich moist soil (add manure!). Strong slender upright stems rise above clumps of grassy foliage in late May and early June. My favourites are the dark blue/purple bloomers as well as the light blue/mauve but Siberian Iris are also available in rose, yellow and white.

9. Perovskia (Russian Sage) (Full Sun)
Zone 4 Ht: 3-5’ Spr: 24 – 36”
Perovskia is a large but delicate focal point in a border. Quite tall (4-5’) and half as wide, dainty mauve flowers dot the long upright stems. When rubbed, the flowers and leaves exude a distinct herby fragrance. I’ve never had much luck using beautiful Russian Sage in fresh flower arrangements – the little flowers end up in a pile around the vase in a very short while. But in the garden, it peaks in August and September and turns an interesting grayish-white in late fall and early winter. Don’t trim it lower than 2’ for winter and only to 6-8” in spring or you won’t have much of a show the following summer.

10. Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’ (Thread Leaf Coreopsis ) (Full sun)
Zone 4 Ht: 12-18” Spr: 12-18”
I incorporated this beautiful, dainty yellow bloomer into almost every garden I designed! One of my all-time favourites, pale yellow flowers rise over ferny foliage. It was proclaimed the 1992 Plant of the Year. If divided every 3-4 years, it will retain its vigour. I am not as fond of coreopsis rosea (pink flowered coreopsis) probably because their flower fades to white in really hot summers but 2 others I’m starting to really like are: coreopsis rosea ‘Limerock Ruby’, an interesting ruby-red shade (that doesn’t seem to fade) with a yellow eye and coreopsis verticillata ‘Zagreb’, a bushy form similar to ‘Golden Shower.’

Honourable Mentions:

Alchemilla Mollis (Common Lady’s Mantle) (Sun to part-shade)
Zone 2 Ht: 12-18” Spr: 18-24”
I remember first seeing alchemilla mollis on a garden tour in Toronto in the early 90’s. My friend and I asked the garden guide what the flowers would be like when they emerged. She answered “That’s them!” She must have noticed our disappointed faces as we stared at the soft lime green flowers on the large scalloped leaves because she quickly added: “But no one grows them for the flowers! You should see them after a rainfall – the leaves catch drops of water that sparkle like diamonds later in the sunshine!!” Our faces lit right up as we scribbled down “alchemilla mollis’ to add to our nursery lists. Now I can’t imagine my garden without it. It thrives in wet or dry and is not fussy in the least. Not a showpiece in itself, but a must-have as a background for all the other showpieces! (And raindrops really do sparkle on the leaves like diamonds in the sun after a shower!!)

Dictamnus albus (Gas Plant) (Full sun)
Zone 2 Ht: 2-3’ Spr: 2’
Another Toronto Garden Tour discovery! Wonderful strong tall stems hold airy spikes of white or pink (var. purpureus) flowers. I was warned that it takes up to 3 years until the gas plant becomes truly established and puts on a show and that I must be patient (not one of my strong points). But the advice was correct – now every summer the beautiful gas plant rises in a small corner near my arbour and I look at it in sheer delight. It hates to be moved, so find it a permanent home and leave it be.

Heuchera (Coral Bells) (Full sun to partial shade)
Zone 3-4 Ht: 10-30” Spr: 18-24”
I have 2 distinctly different types of coral bells in my garden and I love them both! Heuchera x brizoides hybrids has low clumping, rounded leaves which produce long stick-like stems with tiny coral-coloured bell flowers on the. Lovely additions to a vase combo (they’re so dainty!). If well watered, coral bells last for months in a semi-shaded garden. My other favourite is one of the Americana hybrids called ‘Palace Purple’. It has dark burgundy-brown leaves with sprays of creamy white flowers above. Again, it’s used more for foliage than flowers. Looks great with hosta.

Gaillardia (Blanket Flower) (Full sun)
Zone 2 Ht: 18-24” Spr: 12-18”
3 great blanket flowers add a splash of colour to my garden starting in late June. One type has yellow tips with burgundy centers (‘Goblin’); others are solid yellow (‘Golden Goblin’) and one of mine is a deep wine red (‘Burgundy’). Dead-heading ensures constant summer bloom. Another ‘happy’ plant! Really cute!

Underused Perennials

Eryngium giganteum (Sea Holly) (Full sun)
Zone 3 Ht: 30-36” Spr: 12-18”
My husband was helping me pull thistles from my flower beds but (smart man!) always checked before actually yanking the weeds out. “This one?” he asked. “NO!” I screamed in horror, “that’s my Sea Holly ‘Miss Wilmott’s Ghost’!” “OK, OK, just checking” he mumbled as he moved deeper into the garden-jungle. This is one of the coolest, new flowers to grace my border and I just love it. Tall, with large silvery gray flower bracts that have sharp spiky thorns. It starts out pale, pale mauve and fades to grayish-white. A real eye-catcher and visitors always ask about it. Dies after flowering but self-seeds.

Brunnera macrophylia (Siberian Bugloss) (Partial to full shade)
Zone 4 Ht: 12-18” Spr: 12-18”
The small sky-blue flowers of bugloss are often mistaken for forget-me-nots, but this garden beauty is actually its aristocratic cousin. Brunnera is a spring bloomer with masses of large, heart-shaped leaves. A few years ago ‘Jack Frost’ created quite a stir (and broke a few budgets at $20-40 a plant!) because of a totally new look: it had frosty silver-coloured leaves that had mint-green veins! The blue flowers looked superb against this interesting background.

Cynara cardunculus (Cardoon) (Full Sun)
Zone 7 Ht: 3-6’ Spr: 3’
This year, my city’s boulevards featured Cardoon as its focal point surrounded by fuschia and purple petunias. Grown in my area as an annual, Cardoon features arching, spiky silver leaves that produce tall, globe thistle-type flowers in late summer. This rare eye-catcher could be an excellent design feature in your garden.

Scabiosa caucasica (Pincushion flower) (Full sun)
Zone 4-9 Ht: 20”` Spr: 8”
Years ago I ordered seeds from an American seed company (when there wasn’t such a huge difference between the Canadian and American dollar!). The seeds were expensive even then ($1 a seed!) but I grew a pincushion flower called ‘Fama’ with intense blue/mauve blooms. What a beauty and it’s still going strong 15 years later ( and I’ve moved it twice.) It’s beautiful as part of a vase flower arrangement and everyone always asks about it.