Six on Saturday – blooms fit for a Royal Wedding

red Tulips May 18 2018 b small

I sat for many minutes yesterday afternoon, and could have spent many more, just gazing into the luscious velvety red of these most gorgeous Tulips.

Confession: there’s a gorgeous pink sunrise at the moment, but it appears the weather forecast was accurate and it’ll be raining within an hour or so; my Six photos today were taken yesterday or Wednesday.  Just as well, really, since for once, I’d rather be inside watching TV (Horrors!) than out in the garden, laying on my dew tarp taking early morning photos.  It’s Royal Wedding day in England – so as I type I’ve got an eye on the arrivals to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding.

Cherry Blossom May 18 2018 small

I have only a dozen or so blossom’s on my dwarf cherry trees this year.  They’re pretty, nonetheless.  My trees are from the ‘Romance’ series of trees bred here in Canada, at the University of Saskatchewan.  I have a Romeo and a Juliet.

Narcissus recurvis May 18 2018 vintage camera small

Narcissus recurvis – the last of my daffodil varieties to bloom – has just started to open.  So dainty, so beautiful.  Also called Narcissus poeticus, or the Poet’s Narcissus.  Wikipedia, quoting many sources, says: “Linnaeus, who gave the flower its name, quite possibly did so because he believed it was the one that inspired the tale of Narcissus, handed down by poets since ancient times.”

Serviceberry and Rock May 16 2018 small

This Serviceberry, Amelanchier canadensis, now in full bloom behind The Rock (which I wrote about earlier this week). It’s the best year ever for my Serviceberries.  Pollinators are very happy!

Bleeding Heart May 16 2018 small

Bleeding Hearts do not do that well in my soil.  Too dry, perhaps.  Or too much limestone affecting the Ph.  Nonetheless, this one has hung on since I brought it here about five years ago.  It’s not called a Dicentra any more, but rather Lamprocapnos spectabilis.  It’s the sole species within the genus!

Shileau and F. persica May 16 2018

And finally, looking regal, here’s Shileau admiring the dark purple bells of Fritillaria persica.

That’s it for this rainy Royal Wedding day;  I wish everyone a splendid long Victoria Day weekend, with thanks to The Propagator for starting this lovely garden post theme.

 

Planning for Next Year’s Spring Garden

Island May 16 2018

The Island this week – lots of daffs but lots of bare spots too.  I need to plan now where to plant bulbs this October for next spring’s flowers.

I hate to say this out loud, but the window of opportunity for planning next year’s spring bulb display is rapidly closing.  Foliage from the earliest bulbs is quickly fading; foliage from the earliest perennials is quickly expanding.  Within a week or two it will be difficult to easily see where the bulb gaps are and, if you’re like me, come autumn there’s no way you’ll remember, with much accuracy, what needs planting where.

There’s a few ways to tackle planning for next year’s bulbs:  notes, sketches, photos and place markers.

If you have a wide open area (a lawn, a new garden bed) or an area with no bulbs this year, it’s simple enough to jot down what you’d like and wait for the bulb catalogues to appear.  You may want to tackle this as a multi-year project, adding more and more as you see what the affect is each spring.  For example, if you think you’ll be planting shrubs or trees in the future, you likely will want to wait to plan or plant bulbs.  If, on the other hand, you know the area will always be lawn or meadow, you could scatter daffodil or Scilla over the whole area.  For me, an example of taking notes is: ‘Plant daffodils, several varieties, in two’s or three’s amongst the Echinacea growing between the two parallel paths in the Island bed.”  I know exactly what I mean with that brief description.

It gets a bit trickier when you want to add bulbs in areas that are already planted with perennials, shrubs and bulbs.  The last thing you want is to be merrily digging away only to discover you’ve sliced in half a prized Allium or Fritillaria bulb! (Trust me, it’s a moment of horror!) This is where planning and a bit of artistry or technical know-how comes in handy.

If you love to sketch, you could draw (or paint if you’re truly artistic!) the area you want to augment with bulbs, colour code (or not) for different bulbs and clearly indicate where things should be planted.  This is kind of fun and could provide a lasting piece of art.

You can use computer skills to augment photos of areas.  Here, for example, I’ve taken a photo of my Hyacinth micro garden – just a corner of the Island bed where purple and Hyacinth corner May 5 2018white Hyacinths bloom first, followed by daffs and then Lupins, Aster, Echinacea, Hemerocallis…  I used the Paint software on my laptop to add dabs of colour to indicate how I’d like to expand the Hyacinth area.  Although it gives me a good enough indication of what the final product will be, I’ve also jotted some notes (“start below the daylily and continue to the Spirea”).

Hyacinth corner May 5 2018 paint 2

Same photo using Paint to add more Hyacinth – I think I need more exact locating for additiona bulbs though, so I’ll add markers.

In tightly planted areas that already have bulbs I use stones or sticks to remind me where to plant new ones.  Below on the left the foliage from both the Galanthus ad the Colchicum will be gone come October so I put a row of stones to indicate where to plant new bulbs.   On the right, back in the Hyacinth corner, I used Popsicle sticks (bought at the dollar store) – you can barely see them now so I hope I can see them (and they survive the summer) come October!

The area below has clumps of Echinacea (can’t see them yet) surrounded by Crocus and Narcissus.  There are; however, two clumps with no bulbs at all – I just transplanted them last week.  So I need to remember which clumps have and don’t have bulbs already.  This photo, in October, will remind me.

where bulbs are needed May 16 2018

Daffs or Tulips… what variety… planning is half the fun!

There you have it.  This coming Monday is Victoria Day in Canada – a national holiday – I hope to spend a few hours looking at pictures of pretty bulbs and planning next spring’s bulb display.

My Favourite Rock

Columbine on rock close May 12 2018

Last week.

One of the first big landscaping things we did when we started to sink roots into The County was buy this big limestone boulder.   We generally call it The Rock, and wanted to use it as a quasi headstone for the ashes of our beloved dog, a black Lab named Bogart, who had recently and quite unexpectedly died.

Bogart’s ashes are, indeed, buried under an overhanging part of The Rock, as are the ashes of  a subsequent dog and cat.  I used The Rock to anchor a new flower bed and patio  I created; a paper birch (Betula papyrifera) is on the other end, and there is a Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago), large upright Juniper and a white Spruce (Picea glauca) on one long side with a wide grass passage on the other.

The Rock Oct 19 2017

Last October

For the first few years the rick was barren – scraped clean by the mechanical process of yanking it from the ground, transporting it to our property then planting it in a a two foot deep hole.

Over the years plant life appeared on The Rock, growing from the fissures and holes that occurred naturally, finding the bits of sand and soil that were blown into these fissures and cracks, sending roots deep into The Rock and surviving our cold winters.

There are bonsai-like conifers: a cedar and two junipers, one upright and one prostrate.

Three Dwarf Conifers on the Rock Oct 19 2017

Three conifers growing in The Rock

There are grasses, Echinacea, Sedum, moss, dandelions (of course!) and my favourite, Aquilegia canadensis – our native columbine:

 

All these plants just found their own way to The Rock – seeds either dropped by birds, buried by chipmunks or insects or blown in by the wind. I don’t do much ‘gardening’ on The Rock – just a bit of editing now and then (ie puling dandelions).

It’s an ever evolving micro landscape that fascinates me every year.

rock and black eyed susan

10 years ago – the Rudbeckia is long gone; it was too hard to keep the lawn grass out and the site is too dry most summers  for it.

Patio in the snow December 28 2017

And in the winter, under an insulating snow blanket.

Six on Saturday – and all of a sudden…

daffs and Hyacinth May 5 2018 small

Daffs and Hyacinth

All of a sudden, it seems, we’re in the middle of spring.  A few days of 20 degree temps and sunshine means the bulbs are bursting, buds are opening, dandelions are blooming and there’s way too much gardening to do in a day!  Here’s a quick Six taken this morning, with a nod to The Propagator, who started this theme.

Hardening Off May 5 2018

Flats of Hollyhock, Echinacea, Liatris, chard, parsley, basil and a few other things got their first taste of the great outdoors this morning as the hardening off process begins.  So exciting!!!

Frtillaria persica May 5 2018

Fritillaria persica are looking good this year.

emerging fern Peony May 5 2018

I really love fern leaf Peony – it’s always the first Peony to bloom and the foliage is really romantic.

emerging Chestnut bud May 5 2018 small

Expanding buds of the chestnut tree I started from seed 10 or so years ago — in a few days I’ll know if this will be its first year to bloom…report next week!

emerging Solomon Seal May 5 2018

I know I’m behind schedule when the Solomon Seal is this high and I haven’t yet transplanted any!  My goal in life is to have this magnificent woodland perennial throughout the property – all starting from a single small clump a neighbour gave me many years ago.  Tomorrow’s project. (Well, one of tomorrow’s projects!)

 

 

Prince Edward County Seedy Saturday Report

It must be a sign that folks in the County are tired of winter and itching to get their hands dirty and digging in the garden – the Picton Seedy Saturday was packed right from the get go.  Dozens of vendors were there selling seeds and other garden related do-dads; local horticulture related societies were there providing information; presentations were made and everyone, I’m sure, left the school gym feeling inspired, loaded with seeds and making plans for spring planting.  Next seedy stop for me will be March 24 at the Quinte West Seedy Saturday in Trenton.

The busiest spot was the seed exchange tables:

Seed Exchange table at Picton Seedy Saturday - 1006 a.m.

Seed Exchange table just after opening…

Seed Exchange table at Picton Seedy Saturday - 1017 a.m.

Seed Exchange table 10 minutes later…

Fuller Native Plant Nursery was there – I’ve written about this great Belleville nursery before; it’s where I purchased my first Echinacea pallida and Silphium perfoliatum seeds two years ago.

There were lots and lots of heritage, hard to find and unusual seeds available, and a number of booths with seed and gardening related stuff.

Thyme Again at Picton Seedy Saturday

Lorraine from Thyme Again Gardens had seeds, condiments and spices from their organic farm in Carrying Place.

Hawthorn Herbals at Picton Seedy Saturday

Registered herbalist Tamara from Hawthorn Herbals  had a variety of herb related products and was talking about some of the really interesting workshops she’ll be running this year.

Green Wheel Farm with sunfloweer sprouts at Pictin Seedy Saturday

Green Wheel Farms and a tray of sunflower sprouts.  They had a variety of micro greens including cabbage, mustard and pea and are keen to share the story of their Belleville off-grid (ie bicycle powered), sustainable farming operation that uses reclaimed urban land to help educate and provide micro greens to local schools.

Elegant Edible Enclosure

I know – the title of this post is a stretch – but I do love a catchy tautogram!

 

LO Congress January 9 2018 011 formal garden of edibles

Kohlrabi, greens and Thyme growing in a raised bed

I’m always jealous of gardeners who can maintain a perfectly weed and disease free veggie bed beyond the end of June.  You’ve seen pictures of them in glossy magazines (paper or virtual…) – lovely potagers or kitchen gardens, colourful, bountiful and beautiful.  Something most of us, I suspect, fail to achieve beyond mid summer.

While at the Landscape Ontario trade show last week I spotted this raised bed.  Raised beds aren’t new, I know, but it caught my eye because its  shape is sophisticated yet it’s being used to grow edibles.  If the walls here were made with natural stone instead of the more affordable decorative concrete block, this would be at home in a backyard in the toniest neighbourhood in town.  If this was my raised bed, I’d likely have added Nasturtiums for colour (still edible though) and to soften the edges – but that would change the whole look, wouldn’t it?  More to the point, a veggie bed like this just begs to be regularly weeded, harvested, watered, pinched back – all the things that can often get overlooked or ‘put off ’til tomorrow’  when the plants are far below eye level.

Kudos to the students at the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture for building this, demonstrating that  ‘formal’ can also be useful – and for bringing your mini Monarch house to the show.

2017 – The Island Evolution

January 21 2017

From January 21, 2017 – trunk of a small Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum) – someday to be a focal point on the Island

Earlier this year, during a radio interview, the head of the Toronto Botanical Garden described gardening as a type of performance art.  He was right, of course.  That’s one of the fascinations of a garden – watching it change day to day, week to week, month to month and year to year.

Sure, you can create a space that never changes, using stone walls or pathways to maintain rigid boundaries, pruning hedges and shrubs the same way year after year. But even then, if you have trees, they will grow and conditions will change.

I, like most gardeners, like an evolving space.  I enjoy the four seasons, the unexpected seedlings, moving perennials, planting bulbs, deciding whether to keep a growing shrub or prune it back or maybe even remove it.

The largest micro garden on our property is The Island.  I’ve documented its changing patterns in 2017 – you can see it by clicking the tab above that says ’12 Months on an Island’ – or by clicking the link below.  The Island will keep changing in 2018 and beyond and I’ll keep taking pictures of it.  Hopefully my skills with a camera will also evolve!

https://wordpress.com/page/countygardening.wordpress.com/2366