Sunday, March 8, 2009

Diary June 2006 - New & Old Favourites

In the Perfect Garden, I would like to bring along some of my all-time favourite plants and get some new ones that I’ve always coveted.
Please see my lists of Favourites – I would probably incorporate many of those but I would also like to mention some more that are dear to my heart:

Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum): When I renovated my garden 5 years ago, I dug up my favourite plants and housed them temporarily at the back of the yard. Then when the new beds were created, I was able to put full-size plants back, creating a lush, full look from the very start. I always regretted that my 20-30 Solomon’s Seal plants were not up yet in early April and I couldn’t seem to find them by roots alone. I lost them all. So I purchased 3 new ones, which have already multiplied to 8. I adore their graceful arching stems and the beautiful small white bell flowers hanging underneath. They look great in the garden as well as in vases.
Viburnum x burkwoodii: During the same renovation, I re-positioned my Viburnum x burkwoodii to just beside my deck underneath the Dining Room window. Why? Because in early May, this shrub produces countless clumps of the most beautifully fragrant flowers which I can enjoy, just by stepping out the back patio door!! The bush has grown to about 7 feet high and seems to like its new spot in southern exposure by a brick wall. The leaves are glossy, semi-evergreen and turn a neat burgundy colour in the fall.

Epimedium (Barrenwort): I saw my first Epimedium plant in my Dad’s garden in Cambridge, Ontario. He had a great, shady backyard, which I was envious of, because ours was still a brand new property with no shade at all! But my front walkway is very northern-exposure dark and so I planted a pink flowered one with burgundy variegated leaves (Epimedium rubrum) and a yellow flowered Epimedium and they have thrived. 2 years ago I bought an Epimedium x youngianum (I think of it as my Baby Epimedium). Apparently it is a hybrid between E. grandiflorum and E. diphyllum. I love it – it’s a much smaller plant, with tiny heart-shaped leaves and tiny white flowers in early spring.
Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s mantle): I know I mentioned this one in my Favourites, but I must talk about it again. Lately I’ve been using it in garden design for its bright green chartreuse colour, furry, pale-green leaves and lime-green blooms. It blends well with almost all other colours and is reliable and drought tolerant. Lady's Mantle makes an excellent ground cover or front-of-border plant and is a wonderful companion for roses.
OK – that’s what I have and want again. Here come the ones I’ve never had but definitely want to get!

Aster x frikartii ‘Monch’: Every time I see this plant in a magazine or a book, I remember how much I want it! It blooms in August/September, lasts until late fall and has a great colour range of purple, mauve, pink, red, blue or white. The petals look like stars. It needs good drainage in winter (which is how I probably lost the 2 that I had several years ago).

Hybrid Japanese Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’: This is an heirloom plant from the 1800’s. Some call it invasive, others call it “vigorous” (!) so I guess I’ll prepare for it “taking over” certain areas! I’ve always liked its narcissus-type of bloom and dark green foliage. Anemones thrive in full sun or partial shade and require deep, rich, moist soil. They sometimes take a year or two to get established, but then they fill in quickly. Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ blooms late in the year, presenting a fantastic display of pure white flowers when most of the garden has faded.
Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’: This was THE PLANT to buy several years ago – it seemed as if everyone was talking about it, magazine after magazine insisted we MUST HAVE it – but any time I saw it for sale, it was $40 for a tiny pot!! Yikes – were they kidding??? I saw one just recently and it’s still too expensive, ($24 for a small pot) but eventually when the price comes down, I want this gorgeous plant, with its highly frosted, veined, heart-shaped leaves and the small blue forget-me-not flowers that bloom above them in spring. It’s a true beauty! Take a peek:

White Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’): I have the pink version and love it, but I read that pink combined with its white cousin looks very sophisticated and classy.
Tree Peony (Paeonia suffruticosa hybrid): The horticultural society I belong to used to take care of a lovely little shade garden, which actually belonged to the City. I volunteered there every once in awhile and one of my favourite plants to see in bloom was the tree peony. It bloomed in May and seemed to love its home in the partial shade. Tree peonies come in many shades: true yellow, salmon, deep purple and pink. They can be very slow to establish but patience is the key!

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’): I had a client once in Oakville who had a most interesting tree. I asked her what it was and she said a Redbud ‘Forest Pansy’. I was disinclined to believe her because it looked so different from my Redbud! But it was true – this was a Redbud. Its unique burgundy foliage color emerged in the spring, with heart-shaped leaves. The color can fade to green throughout the growing season but it does hold its color longer in full sun verses more shade. It makes a great landscape tree because of its smaller size.

And last but not least (I’m sure I’ll come up with even more plants I can’t live without!), I’d like a Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ – one of the trendiest plants of the season. 'Black Lace' has dramatic, almost black, dissected foliage and produces beautiful creamy pink buds and flowers May to June. It’s hardy and thrives in a wide variety of soils. It is similar to a Japanese Maple but has almost black foliage, not red.

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