Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Landscape Ontario - thrive '15

My blog-post gap is due to a little case of "It's now September, so now what do I do with my life".  Did I figure it out?  Well no.  Every year it happens.  Every year I'm alarmed that it has happened.  Perhaps if I bought one of those old-fashioned brocade tufted fainting couches and made a needlepoint cushion that says "It's September, Let's be Melancholic" I might remember that this has happened before and all I need to do for the next month is recline, sigh, and read sad books about sad lives while eating good chocolate.   

Fortunately for me and this blog post, it hasn't all been clouds and smelly socks, last week I went to Landscape Ontario's new Fall show.  It's earlier and it's in a new location:  The Ancaster Fairgrounds.  They're further away for me, but closer for the growers and many of the folks doing business that week.

Also, having the show so early in the Fall season, so many of the plants are still looking good - the suppliers don't have to scrape around trying to find something to make an attractive display.

And there were some new plants for me.  More fancy perennials for Texans, annuals for us, like this:

Now the 'Purple Gentleman' Penstemon might just make it through, but the beautiful and unusual 'Mighty Velvet' Stachys is a solid Zone 8 - so learn to love it and let it die if you're on this side of the Mason-Dixon Line.  The HGTV tags have quite a bit of information.  Just wonder if the homeowner will read it?

Now if they're being truthful, look what a great plant this will be - only 1.5M high and 1.25M (5x4 feet) wide.  So many of the Physocarpus tend to be taller and not as compact as 'Burgundy Candy' looks.  Nice large leaves too - would be interested to see this one in my garden.

Lots of these Carefree Roses on display:

Over at Blue Sky Nursery they had several little oddities on display.  For people in the Oakville/Mississauga area,  they said that you could request these plants at Bulows.  This Albuca is called 'Frizzle Sizzle'.  Although it's a Zone 6, I'm thinking it's a cool house plant rather than something you could count on in the garden.

Echinacea colours and vigour are getting better and better.  The Sombrero series was really pretty.  The folks at Valleybrook Nurseries say they sell these out immediately to nurseries as soon as they're in bloom.

This is the Flamenco series:

And with the focus of perennials in bloom at the nursery, look for shorter, beefier little plants.  If you can't keep it tidy on the nursery bench - it isn't going to make it to the market.  This little Anemone 'Fantasy Cinderella' was sweet.

I was given a sample of Bush Honeysuckle 'Kodiak Orange' to try - great colour in the centre here.  It really had trouble and so I've had to cut it back drastically.  Will be interesting to see if I get it to winter over given its rough start.

Thought that this was very pretty - although no flowers other than the tag.

And another plant that looks better than mine.....

Really great to see such a good display at NVK:

More new-to-me plants over at Terra Nova.  They asked their suppliers (again Blue Sky Nursery) to send over some material for their booth.  Here is a Mukgenia - half Mukdenia & Berginia.  Nice flowers in the spring - not evergreen.

Now this is a good sized leaf!  Heuchera 'Spellbound'.  Just fantastic what Terra Nova's breeding program has been able to do for Coral Bells.

As you may know, Terra Nova has a huge breeding program for Echinacea as well.  I've become concerned about the pests I've had completely destroying the blossoms mid-summer.  Scott Christy has promised to let me know what they're doing about it in their fields on the west coast - as soon as I have the intel, I promise to share.  Until then!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wildflower Wednesday

It has been ages since I participated in Gail's Wildflower Wednesday.  So, last week when Kevin, Bart and I went to the trails at the Royal Botanical Gardens, I was on the hunt for anything wild, petalled and ready for its close-up. Coming back with my images after this walk, I realized how out of practice I was, and why I need to participate a little more often!

Just off the parking lot and into the beginning of the woods I found this pretty pink flower.  Definitely from the rose family, but with flowers that are more like raspberries.  As close as I can come, and I welcome correction from any and all, is Rubus odorata.  And the next time I'm on the trail, if the fruit is still there, hopefully I'll be able to get a better i.d.

Only 10 feet away from the first lovely flower, I found this bodacious plant.  For all of you having a head shake and a giggle, yes I know, I'm probably borderline going to be banned from any further WWs.  I was having trouble finding it in any of my wildflower books, so I opened my Publication 505 Ontario Weeds and there it was on page 214 of publication 505 Giant Ragweed - Ambrosia trifida.  Further digging on the net showed a gal in Texas with one that was 16 feet tall, this one in contrast is about 6 feet tall.  See how important participating in these great events are.  Now I know what Giant Ragweed looks like, and so do you!

This was tricky to find too, until I did my web search (big, yellow, daisy-like, wild), and presto - guess whose site came up?  Gail's. This was one of her 2014 Wildflowers of the Month.  It is Silphium perforliatum.  It is growing in a damp bright area and is over my head.

I always find it interesting to find big leaf plants that the bugs aren't too fussy on.

A little Daucus carota, Queen Anne's Lace.

The water levels seemed a bit lower considering all the rain we had had.  Not sure if they've adjusted the water levels?

When you leave this point, you head up a hill.  I'd said to Kevin that I'd hoped to find Herons.  Little did I know, I'd find 5!   Long lens and silly branch in the way, but if you play Where's Waldo for a moment, you'll find all of them.

At the halfway point we stopped to have a look at the waterlilies Nymphaea odorata - one of the best years ever for blossoms.

More blossoms here - the much maligned, though not so much of a problem now - Lythrum salicaria and a pretty patch of white Eupatorium.

Bulrushes....and lots and lots of green.

On the return around the pond, I was able to see one of the parent Blue Herons - until I Googled, I had no idea that the immature birds were white.

Close to the ground Prunella vulgaris.

And another bird I hadn't seen before a Red Bellied Woodpecker.  (yes, even though it has a red head - it is not a Capital "R"ed Capital "H"eaded Woodpecker)

And then, (theme song from Jaws) the most dreaded late summer-Canadian moment.  That Primal Scream Time when you see your first leaf changing and you realize that Summer really is on the way out, and those cool nights and days are fast approaching and you have to cherish every last pre-frost day.

Maybe we'll be lucky and have a long stretch of great weather.  The oracles at Environment Canada say we'll have warmer than normal weather up until November.  And, if they're right, I'll be back, no excuses, ready for the next several months of Wildflower Wednesday.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Buffalo Dazzles and Charms with 400+ Great Gardens and their Fabulous Gardeners

How on earth do you choose what gardens to see when a city offers you over 400 open gardens?   Even though some are just wee front gardens, there's no way on earth you could do them all over the two days.  So, Kevin took a quick look at the map and said, "No do-overs - let's just find neighbourhoods we haven't visited over the last two years and begin from there."  So, we started in Elmwood Village - gorgeous old homes, apartments, shopping, churches, synagogues, chapels, restaurants, schools, community centres - pretty much everything you might want.

*A note...it's been a couple of weeks between my visit and this post.  Some gardeners are credited, others aren't - if you see something that belongs to you or your gardening friend and want me to say so - let me know in the comment section and I'll be delighted to add you in!

Buffalo gardeners are devoid of Annual-snobbery.  I remember when a Canadian-gardening legend said, that the best gardeners gravitated toward leaves rather than flowers.  Texture and shape rather than colour - so glad that memo got lost crossing the border.  I adore the little splotches of colour, and I'm sure the pollinators do too.

Not only were private gardens on display, there were a number of Grassroots Gardens you could visit.    These gardens are put together by the community, greening the neighbourhood and making it more pleasant for everyone.  In open lots I saw vegetables, fruits and herbs grown, as well as flowers and shrubs, giving life to a deserted lot in the middle of a street.

I thought this garden was amazing.  Horrid little location - pure enchantment when you're walking through now.

Look at what they had to work with - parking garage, deep shade, long narrow lot that was completely uninviting:

Echinacea was the hallmark flower of the tour.  Theirs doing so much better than mine as far as damage from sunflower moth larva.  Don't know if it's the variety they're growing or there just aren't as many of the offending creatures.  You can see one or two buds below that have the pest toward the bottom left of the photo.  The centre of the buds become misshapen when the eggs hatch and the larva start to munch away.

Always a pretty combination Echinaca and Perovskia.

When you're not looking at gardens, you're looking up at the decorated homes.

This section of town has lots of large trees and really pretty shade gardens.

Not only were there friendly gardeners to speak to there were many friendly dogs.

More hardscaping here than in other gardens, but what a lovely place to sit and entertain.

And, if it isn't enough that the gardens are open to the public for free, the kind gardeners often offered visitors refreshments.

Oh to be a little girl again and have such a wonderful house to play in.

On to Jim Charlier's garden of Art of Gardening!  Last year I had come within steps of his home when I visited Penzey's spices.  So after spending time with him on the Toronto Islands during the Bloggers Fling 2015, I was determined not to miss his beautiful home and garden this year!  Here it is:

Jim is in the centre with his visitors.  And, I can assure you his home and garden are even more lovely in person.

Along the street was this gorgeous back-yard shade garden - their Crocosmia doing much better than mine and I really like the effect of mixing different Heuchera:

As I was wandering through the gardens and saying hello to the gardeners, it struck me just how relaxed the homeowners were.  Here in Oakville, we are having a difficult time getting people to be on a garden tour.  There are security concerns:  "Someone will case the joint and come back a week later with their ladders and break-in equipment."  There are "My garden isn't perfect." concerns. There are "I don't want my privacy invaded." concerns.  Or, "my garden is going to be in a magazine, so it isn't necessary." concerns.  And, the old standby, "I couldn't possibly." Which may be a combination of all of the above.

I spent time talking with the gardeners about being on the tour and asked them if they might have their picture taken in their gardens showing just how relaxed they were.  I'm calling them Worldwide Garden Tour Ambassadors and hope that they might encourage more people to open their gardens.

Here is a prime example of Buffalo cool - Allen Yasgur.  I told him about our problem about getting gardens on our tour and remarked at how calm he was.  He said it was easy, because Helen did all the weeding.  We asked if the Dahlia in the hell-strip was a dinner plate variety - he didn't know, but suspected it was because I was the second person to ask.  He directed us to his Hydrangea in the back garden and off we went.

Who cares what the variety is, it's gorgeous.

Allen said, "All you have to do is treat the soil and you too can have blue Hydrangea - it's not rocket science."  Next year, I too will have a selection of blue Hydrangea.

Look at all the ideas here.....and what sweet little bird houses below:

Even though the front yard was under construction, the owners were kind enough to let us come visit their back garden....

with it's carefully chosen shade plants,

shrubs, flowers,

water feature, and

other sweet little treats.  It was wonderful.

Even folks who weren't on the tour gussied things up:

As we were walking down the street, visitors told us - "You have to go to the basset hound's garden!"  So while James and Annabelle, may do all the work, Cornelius seems quite content to take all the credit.

This garden has expanded over the years to include the neighbouring lot.

Great combinations of tropicals, perennials, annuals and shrubs:

Monarda teaming with bees.

Tucked in the back was a Hemerocallis collection.

Home of the hound!  And, look at all those magnificent containers, especially the lovely Cleome that Cornelius has chosen for his entry.

Annabelle is obviously the Queen of the container and preserving tubers, corms and bulbs year-to-year.  I was able to ask her how she got her Pineapple lily to bloom every year - turns out there is no trick, but sometimes they re-bloom and sometimes they don't.  Good to know.  Also, something else I didn't know, about Colocasia and Alocasia - apparently size of tuber isn't always an indicator of leaf size.  She has some wee ones she's saved and they have the most spectacular large leaves.  Other great big bulky ones have much smaller leaves.

This lovely home has been passed on from parents to son who is an avid gardener.  Great idea to have the Box hedge to hold up the 'Incrediball' Hydrangea.

Post-blog scribble, I'm taking this outside to show the two I've got growing to show them what they're supposed to look like.

On the other side of the house he had this wonderful collection of perennials.

He has come to appreciate a quieter style of gardening and his back/side garden had a very peaceful feel.

One of them-there re-blooming Eucomis - Pineapple Lily.  (Yet another photograph that will be shown to my non-blooming variety.)

Pretty not-on-the-tour Anemone.

We were getting pretty close to the 4:00 p.m. Saturday deadline when we were invited up for a Buffalo Porch Experience by Tom and Louise Yots.  They spend their summer out here - dining on this side and just relaxing on the other side where I'm standing.  They cleverly raised the hedge ever so slightly so they can dine in privacy while still enjoying breezes and everything the street has to offer.

Another porch garden and nice conversation with Susan Kellogg - she too encouraged anyone who wants to be on a tour, to just do it.

And my last lovely porch of Saturday!

On Sunday morning we started with Elizabeth and Dennis Horrigan's garden.  Their three grandchildren were having a sleep-over and I think her granddaughter has definitely picked up the gardening gene.  She spoke about all sorts of things she's had success with from seed.  Kudos to both her grandma and mum for encouraging the next generation of fine gardeners.    Elizabeth said that her son was on the tour this year for the first time showing his front garden - nice that you can start with opening a porch, a front garden and then graduate, or not, to a side and back garden.  Makes it seem a little easier to participate doesn't it?

Elizabeth has a beautiful home and garden on the old Albright Estate.  He was penniless when he died so his land was divided and new homes were built many years ago.

Elizabeth like many other gardeners were kind enough to leave tags identifying the plants.

Here she is, early Sunday morning - yet another relaxed Buffalo Garden Walk participant!

And then it was on to West Delavan - woooohooo!   May I draw your attention not only to the lovely pink flamingos, but look at the hanging pots on the upper level:

Kevin with Sunny - the ultimate relaxed Buffalo gardener:

I like this combination:

So many cool architectural bits and pieces:

Beautiful Lilium - and not a dreadful little orange lily-beetle in sight!

Now here was a wonderful garden to get lost in belonging to Jennifer & Jim Guercio.  Lots of flowers, ideas and so many things to see.

After enjoying so many porches the day before, thought, I'd climb up to see what Jennifer and Jim see when they're sitting (not that they could possibly sit for very long with this garden!).

The back garden was shaded, trellis'd, paved and full of eye-candy.

And, look at how beautifully the owners were presented - and I must say in spite of all the work that went into everything, they too looked very relaxed.

We took a quick break dashing in for coffee.  I used to have Danes, and can't help myself when I see one, just have to say hello.  This fellow is named Blue, age 5 and was from the Humane Society.

With not a lot of time to spend on Sunday, we picked out Putnam, Livingston and Auburn Streets because there were so many gardens open in such a small geographical area.

We saw another community garden - and were encouraged to taste the fruit!

More friendly people offered us water and biscuits:

We had a lovely conversation with Kate Willoughby, an educator, who with her husband had moved concrete and earth to create her wonderful garden.

Tucked away in the shade at the front of the garden:

And voila - no more concrete pad!

Nothing prettier than a good yellow and purple/blue at Rich and Paulette's house:

Note the sign.....grass is meant to be walked on.

More excellent combinations:

And, to all of those people in Buffalo who refuse to be beige!  I salute you:

Which brings us to our last stops on Windsor Street.  We did two of the three gardens - both lovely - sadly no gardeners about.

Now, I know it's not nice to compare to other places,  but I'm thinking if we all might borrow some Buffalo calm, some enthusiasm, some "well, I'm not sure where that plant's going to go, so I'm going to plunk it down here still in its Proven Winners pot until I figure it out and not be bothered that it hasn't found its permanent home" and open my garden to the masses, I'm thinking we'd have more garden tours, more fun and meet a lot more people.

And until we can get more cities to sign their lives over to garden fun, I hope you'll consider visiting Buffalo next year on the last weekend of July to see how it's done.