Monday, October 11, 2010

Diary Autumn 2010 - Colourful days

I used to be a great gardener as well as a great garden blogger. Now I'm neither, it would seem. Sigh... What kind of great gardener doesn't have a July and August Diary??????? A busy one I guess. Would it help if I said my garden looked really nice, colourful and lush this year? Just like last year?? .....................Doesn't cut it, huh?
Ok - well then I will at least post a good Autumn Diary with photos.
What caught my attention yesterday morning was, as I was looking out the back door, the sun was shining on my gorgeous Pin Oak, which has just started to turn colour. It was breathtaking!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so glad I researched Pin Oaks 22 years ago and then planted one near the back. It's strong, straight and a wonderful anchor for the garden design and landscape. It's in its full glory right about now.

I decided that I should do a walk around the garden with camera in hand. Here's what I came across:

Sedum 'Autumn Joy', a perennial favourite with brocolli type flowerheads that colour pinky-red-burgundy. This plant looks great with grasses:

The 'Fairy' rose always comes back for a strong autumn show:

Aconitum (Monkshood) has been a no-show after dry summers but it's blooming beautifully this year.

Feather Reed grass 'Karl Forster' sways delicately in the wind:

The little maple sapling that I cared for over the summer is doing very nicely by the back fence.

A cranberry bush Vibernum 'Popcorn', with its thick leathery leaves never succumbs to the bug that has eaten the leaves of its brothers over the last years. And it turns a marvellous deep wine colour in October.

I'll have to take my delicate tinkling wind chimes into storage to hear them when the wind blows!

The climbing rose 'New Dawn" is pushing out one last beautiful bloom:

Of course the stars of the show are my 3 large Burning Bushes in the front yard. As my Dad once said, they don't "do much" all year but Wow! Do they catch your attention come autumn!

Last year, for the Twins christening, I planted a ton of mums in the front yard but only one survived. It sure is gorgeous, though!

And last but not least - the leaves of the extrovert Oakleaf Hydrangea, have started to turn burgundy and wine. Let's raise a glass to Fall colours in the garden!!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Diary June 2010 - Late Spring

May and June's heat and rain have produced lovely garden flowers (like the gorgeous peony, above).
Let's take a little tour and see what's blooming!
In the front and back, dainty coral bells (Heuchera brizoides x) hang on long twig-like stalks. If I had lots and lots, I would cut them for a vase.

A lovely white-flowered shrub (that is very under-used) is the Slender Deutzia (Deutzia gracilis). I have it in the front garden but would recommend it to anyone as a filler shrub that looks great in early spring.

The perennial Geranium macrorrhizum is terrific ground cover with a bright pink flower and variegated leaf.

Over the years my Globe Allium have spread. They are from the Onion family and are so interesting, I try to use them in as many floral arrangements as I can.

The 2004 Perennial of the Year, Painted Japanese Fern (Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum') blooms in a small dark spot near my back gate.

I once ripped the perennial cornflower out when it spread like crazy but then missed it so badly, that I dug some out from a friend's garden and now I have it again.

Even though they only get early morning sun and live the rest of the day in fairly deep shade, my David Austin "Mary Rose" blooms! Amazing, eh? It is one of the loveliest plants I have. Can you believe it? I found it one year at Fortino's.

The tall flag Iris can be prone to borer, but this great yellow one comes back strong year after year.

2 Viburnums that have escaped a bug that's eaten my common cranberry bushes are Marie's Doublefile Viburnum and Viburnum plicatum 'Popcorn'.

And the hosta 'Paul's Glory' as well as many others are full size and impressive.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Diary May 2010 - mid-Spring

4 weeks early! They are saying that all plants are blooming 4 weeks early after the warmest and driest winter in Canadian history! And boy, does that seem right. My allergies have started already (sniff sniff ) plus it's incredible that my neighbour's lilacs are in bloom. My bleeding hearts are ready to hang their droopy, heart-shaped heads and that usually only happens after Victoria Day weekend. Wow.
So let's have a look at what's out there already!
Magnolia trees on the street that have direct sun exposure have been in bloom for over 2 weeks but mine is a bit shaded so it's always a bit later. It's stunning this year:

My lilacs are in full bud and again the neighbour, whose lilac is in full sun, already has the gorgeous blooms and intoxicating fragrance that are usually reserved for end of May.

I have hyacinths in the front and the back. Another fragrance that is so strong, some prefer it strictly outdoors.

Hah!! Hostas are up already and getting plump and full.

I tried transplanting that little orphan cedar I talked about last time and was doing fine until my (very old) shovel broke!!

The cedar has been moved to the front of some old suffering junipers so hopefully it will grow big and strong and hide them!

The cherry tree next door is exquisite.

Here's something that probably won't be successful but I thought I'd try: I pulled 4 little saplings out and will see if I can get them to be a decent size and try transplanting them into a new section of garden. Too bad it may take years before they are of any significant size at all.
Oh well - that's the fun of gardening!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Diary April 2010 - Early Spring

Yahoo - Spring has sprung!! And it's gorgoeus!!!
Winter in Ontario was a non-event (thank goodness) - hardly any snow, a very sharp cold snap in late January that lasted all of 2 weeks and no ice storms! I can handle that type of winter!
It got very warm and summer-y over the Easter weekend and everyone got their hopes up but it was a tease. There was a bit more cold for another week but now it's edging up to those lovely temps again. Paired with briliant sunshine, it sure feels like spring is really here.
On Sunday, I decided to go on a "walk-about" in the garden, front and back, and discovered some lovely things:

This is the gregeii tulip "Red Riding Hood", a lovely short (6") early tulip with very bright red petals. It's the first year in 3 years that the stupid rabbits haven't chewed off the heads! It was great to see them again. I missed them.

I love the sharp blue of muscari or Grape Hyacinths. They spread like mad which is fine by me.

At the very back of the yard are my 3 forsythia - gleaming yellow this year in the bright sunshine. A true harbinger of spring!

I think these little beauties are the mini daffodil called Tete-a-Tete. For some reason they have not naturalized as much I had hoped but the few that are here are truly delightful.

I bought one Hellebore (Christmas Lenten Rose) a few years ago and will buy many more - they are so cool!

I have Iris reticulata in the front garden and the back. They are also a sharp blue and one of the first little plants to bloom. I used to have yellow Iris danfordiae as well but they must have died out. I have to make a note to replace those in the fall - they look great together.

Spring brings out surprises too: who would have thought that an evergreen would have cuddled in under an existing cranberry bush?? It must have grown from seed because I certainly did not plant it there! Next weekend I will transplant the little tree and see what happens.

And finally - I bought pansies (which can withstand quite a bit of cold) and planted them in my empty urns. I added forsythia branches from the back and voila! A nice spring arrangement that will tide me over until I can put the tender summer plants in.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Diary June 2009 - New Front Garden

When we moved into our house over 20 years ago, I asked a (prestigious) local landscape company to draw up a front yard plan for me. I remember the design itself seemed over-priced ($250 in 1988!) but to install their plan was going to cost $13,000 – how outrageously expensive, I thought!! (Actually foolish me entertained the idea for about a day until my practical husband squashed it!)
I proceeded to design the front myself, using some of their principles and ideas.
Well, over the years I got bored with the look and it seemed silly to constantly cut an oval area of grass near the front window, that often looked ratty and had bare patches.
I had read wonderful books like Liz Primeau’s “Front Yard Gardens: growing more than grass” and always longed for all plants in the front and no grass at all.
Well, my husband and I compromised on the “no grass at all” – we agreed to remove the sod from the oval area and I designed a new garden, whose focal point would be flagstones placed in a circle with a large urn on the centre stone.
If you’ve ever removed sod, you know it’s back-breaking work so I hired a landscaping company to do that for me. My stay-at-home neighbour reported that 2 young men came, spent several hours digging up the front using shovels, spreading topsoil, adding flagstones and mulching the whole area in a single afternoon! Ah! To be young!!

As for plants, here were my ideas:
1. Shrubs to encircle the area at the back (I chose Euonymus and short hydrangea)

2. Then hostas and other perennials (mauve daylilies, Lady’s mantle, coral bells) mirrored on each side
3. Blue Oat grass beside some accent rocks
4. Creeping thyme between the flagstones
5. Bright pink or red annuals in the front
6. Allow groundcover on either side (periwinkle, sweet woodruff) to eventually creep in and eliminate the need for the annuals.
Everything seemed a bit sparse at first but already by mid-summer, plants started plumping up and filling in. The creeping thyme filled in too much! I wasn’t going to let rampant groundcover obscure my gorgeous flagstones. I ripped sections of that out in the fall.
The impatiens really filled in – we had a lot of rain last summer, and that probably helped.

Anyway – I’m thrilled with the look! This year (Year 2) the Lady’s’ Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) and the Blue Oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens) have doubled in size, the hosta are thriving and the thyme did not re-appear where I had removed it.
My annuals this year are red impatiens and red tuberous begonias. The urn is a bit of a mish-mash but should look OK when it fills in.
Anyway – sometimes it’s a lot of fun to copy ideas from books to create a whole new look!