Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August Update - Catching Up With the Weeds & Flowers

Lettuce, not tomatoes.  Just one of those years.  It has been cool and wet - spa weather for plants.  Those that were close to death after this fierce winter have their little leaves dancing around their crowns bigger and better than ever.   And, the weeds - so lovely and lush, and in such abundance.

Speaking of leaves, I've had the best luck with Renee's lettuce mixes this year.  Planted both the 5-variety Mesclun Organic Blend and the Paris Market Blend this spring and am still harvesting.  Turns my guests into little kids.  After a few bites of their salad, they start pulling it all apart wanting to know which one is which and where could they buy this particular type of lettuce.  With all the different varieties included in these two packages, I don't have a clue, so I simply encourage them to eat up, drink more wine, and maybe grow their own lettuce next year.  Below are more lovely leaves of Renee's Swiss chard and beans.

My pots have done very well too.  Loblaw had provided a great number of plants to replace the ill-fated and popular Impatiens.  These bright orange begonias are a new favourite of mine.

Quite a bit of spider mite here and there throughout the garden.  First time I'd seen it on Colocasia.

My new favourite Hosta 'Wheee!'  My little H. 'Praying Hands' that lived beside it obviously hasn't been praying hard enough - it's down to two tiny leaves that I trod on yesterday.

And two weeks later, more colour in Hydrangea 'Mystical Flame' and Heuchera 'Amber Lady'.  (and a few less weeds up front)

I'm zipping you back to the front yard again.  What a year for Hydrangea 'Limelight'.  It's next to Persicaria polymorpha which looks so much better when it hasn't been devoured by Japanese Beetles.  Eupatorium 'Gateway' is a little more than waist-high this year.  But on a positive note, the leaves have not been mutilated by leaf miners as they have almost every other year.

You can see the limelight colour a little better in this shot.

A couple of morning walk shots - silver, pinks, and blues are such pretty combinations.

Back to my garden....This is H. 'Incrediball'.  I believe I'm into year 4 here.  Still very small.  Shocking white blossoms, but very slow growth pattern.  May take another 2 years until it earns its incredible moniker.

More 'Limelight':

Did I hear you say Uncle?  Until I do, more 'Limelight'.

Hybiscus syriacus 'Blue Chiffon'.  This was one of the plants on death watch after the rough winter.  Just shows what a cool wet summer will do for a shrub.

H. 'Invincibelle Spirit'.  Wasn't keen on this when I first planted it.  Now, I really like it.  Very unusual pink colour, and it continues to send out blossoms throughout the summer.

This is my favourite new perennial of the year.  Be aware though, this is only year one.  Can you believe all the blossoms?  The colour in person is richer and better, and just when you think it should be done, it provides even more colour.   I wish they'd spent as much time on the name as they had on plant development, I'm finding Coreopsis 'Permathread Red Satin' a little hard to remember.

Two weeks later:

After the rain:

Coreopsis 'Route 66' - one of the first fancy thread leaf varieties to survive year after year - yet another Loblaw feature.

It was a good year for birds & squirrels - what a feast on the Cornus alternifolia berries.  The party remains on the hosta.

The mixed pots have done very well.  I use a 15-30-15 mix every two weeks.  Am surprised at how well the petunias have done.

The Ipomopsis rubra are in bloom.

More monarchs than last year, but not many more.  Good to see them enjoying the milkweed I let grow in the big perennial garden.

Best Hemerocallis year ever.

Lost one of the Begonias when we had the last thunderstorm.  But the rest of the bunch is looking just fine.  The green bit is a plant left over from last year.  Waiting to see what colour it will be.

Couldn't believe it was time for these blossoms - always think of this Clematis as one of my end-of-summer plants.

Great year for Platycodon.  The white gunk is pine blood from the still open wounds of the Eastern White above.

More 'Limelight' from this a.m.

And one last shot - a very clever bee staying dry on Eupatorium 'Gateway'.  Hope he finds a better spot by this afternoon - looks like we're going to be hammered with thunder and heavy rain for most of the afternoon.  There's simply no let up on this lettuce summer anytime soon.  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Great Weekend at the Buffalo Garden Walk

I left my weeds to improve in size and quantity this weekend in order to enjoy hundreds of beautiful gardens on the other side of the border in Buffalo.  Over 300 fine citizens opened their gardens so that I and thousands of others could stroll through their 'hood and admire their fine work.  

Not only was I able to enjoy their work, it was grand to be able to say hello and find out more about the challenges and triumphs of their garden.  Like this one:

Here is Rob Petersen.  He's lived in his house for over 40 years. 

He has a garden of abundance - brimming with sweet smelling old-fashioned plants. 

I've come across many signs in tour-gardens over the years - usually starting with the word "Don't".  How refreshing to be compelled to "duck for low hanging branches and squeeze past plants sticking out in the pathways".  Adventure garden touring at its finest.

So we ducked under the Rose of Sharon allee, down the side of the house

Until we came to the wall of plants.  See how many varieties you can count:  Impatiens, Ipomea, Helichrysum, Lantana, Pachystachys lutea, Tagetes, Salvia, Lobelia, Nasturtium, Isotoma......

This will give you a little bit of an idea of the size of the wall and the number of pots - Kevin is about 6'4" or so.  Check out the wooden structure behind on the wall that the pots are secured to - old Christmas Trees!  And yes, Rob takes out the watering wand and gives them a drink every day.

you can see even more varieties of plants from this angle.  Rob had another sign beside the Heliotrope inviting us all to have a good sniff.

Lots of lovely dahlias.

Took this so you can see the size of the garden and to show you some of the little pathways that you needed to squeeze through - little did I know I'd be playing duelling digitals:

The first day we'd started in the Cottage district.  Tiny wee homes and wonderful gardens:

Annexing hell-strips seems to be an approved sport in Buffalo.  When I look at a garden like this, I'm thinking I need to plant things a little closer.

So many good ideas.  Isn't this a lot prettier than just a big plastic black surface?

The phlox are well ahead of mine.  And not a bit of mildew on any of them.

I wonder if people bring the blossoms to the paint store to choose their house colour?

A good reminder to one and all - if you've got an empty spot, just fire in one of your houseplants.

And if the flowers weren't enough there were dogs and some kitties to adopt.

Even though there isn't a lot of yard, look how the vines, pots and perennials make everything look good.

I'm rethinking my beige house.

Nothing like a pair of guard poodles to keep things in order.

This gets my ultimate coordination award.

Look at the concrete pad at the base of the stairs.

My award for the best use of semi-tropicals.  I covet all these colourful leaves.

There I am peaking out from behind the foliage:

Every inch of this garden was a picture.

I don't think this was on the tour - but so pretty all the same.

It is sensible to get rid of the grass when your front garden is petite.

The Hemerocallis were particularly pretty.

And in no particular order - colourful homes & gardens:

The steps may be crumbly, but I defy you to find any plants better cared for:

Not only do they keep this house looking fabulous:

The owner made a little 1:20 reproduction.  

Kevin purse-guarding while I ran to to the other side of the house to take a photo.

That morning when we left the hotel - we pulled out the map - and set off in the wrong direction.  When we finally figured out our mistake, turned around, found our street and parked the car - I took this picture in the first garden we looked at - know what that blue building is in the back....yes, that's our hotel.  We could have walked.  Oh well, never mind.

A newer area, with equally passionate gardeners:

No one seems to be spared from the emerald ash borer - look at the holes:

Look at the tree:

The garden at Evergreen:
The security guard was kind enough to take me out to have a look - would have missed it otherwise.

I bet there's a story for absolutely everything in this front garden.

We spoke to the homeowner.  Kevin said how great the front door looked - she remarked it was nice to be able to spend money on something that people could see rather than just upkeep of this wonderful old home.

The adjoining lot used to be have a home.

Unfortunately, every time they go to add more garden, they end up harvesting stone from the old home.

This is what happens when you visit so many gardens - there's so much to show.  Pretty window boxes here:

Lovely cool shade beside the two homes.

Quite surprised to find this double Hydrangea quercifolia.  The owner said he'd had it for about 12 years - a Home Depot death watch plant - felt so sorry for it he brought it home.  With the cold winter he lost a fair bit and cut it back by a third - definitely thinking some of my birthday money should be spent on one.

And for those of you who believe the only good gnomes are dead gnomes:

And the last area we visited on the former (1900) Fargo Mansion grounds:

From here it was off for lunch, Penzeys Spices and the border.  What a great weekend.

For anyone who is interested in visiting next year - it will be the 21st anniversary of the Buffalo Garden Walk - mark off the last weekend in July, find a hotel - one day isn't enough, you'll want to do both.  

I'm planning a return visit, after all once they've got this house painted, I'm dying to know what colours they'll choose for their garden: