Resiliency…

I sat in the garden on Labour Day Monday, resolved (but not entirely succeeding) to do no labour that wasn’t absolutely necessary, pondering the meaning of ‘resiliency’ in my own personal landscape.  It’s a word, along with ‘sustainability’ that’s been cropping cropping up a lot these past few years in landscape design circles.

I heard the word defined on the radio earlier this year as:  “will a plant bounce back from severe weather events.”  We’re very fortunate in the County, weather wise.  We haven’t had (in recent memory, anyway) the kind of ‘severe weather events’ experienced in other parts of North America:  no floods, forest fires, prolonged extreme heat, hurricanes or tornadoes.

But we do have extremes.  Last summer was the driest summer in more than 50 years.  This past spring was the wettest on record in parts of Southern Ontario.  And some plants suffered.

So I looked at my garden and pondered, with amazement, at the resiliency of so many perennials, shrubs and trees that came through it all, often stronger and more beautiful than ever.  Hemerocallis ‘Catherine Woodbury’ Daylily,  Mock Orange (Philadelphus ‘Starbright’ – hybridized in Newfoundland) and Bridlewreath Spirea (Spiraea vanhouttei) all produced more flowers this year than I’ve ever had.

Hemerocallis Catherine WoodburyMock range & Foxglove June 18 217Shileau & Bridlewreath June 10 2017

 

I also remembered the trees I lost.  Gardeners do, I think, grieve when they lose a plant cherished either because it came from a loved one’s garden or because it has been started from seed and nurtured for many years.  But just as searching deeper for water might make a plant, in the long run, stronger, seeing a tree die makes me (hopefully) wiser.  I’ll refrain from planting things that I know will not be happy in my garden.  Yes, I’ll still be challenging our 6a planting zone, but I’ll try, no matter how interesting or beautiful a flower may be, to stop myself from buying anything that loves moist, boggy soil.  I know that no matter how wet and flooded the yard may be in April, come July, without regular rain, the dirt will be bone dry.

I planted this Larch (Larix decidua 12 years ago….it sadly succumbed to last year’s drought.

Orange is the new Black

double orange daylily August 12 2017

double orange daylily, possibly Hemerocallis var. kwanso

This lovely double orange daylily is a vigorous grower in moist soil but is easily kept in check in my un-watered garden.  A neighbour gave me a few fans many years ago and now I have several large clumps in the garden.  It blooms later than most every other daylily, helping provide vibrant colour in August before the Asters start to bloom.

 

Martagon Lily August 12 2017

Lilium lancifolium

Not too sure where I found the Lily but it has been growing in a semi-shaded spot for about 12 years now.  The bulb multiplies underground every year and it also produces small bulbils on the stalk that will ripen over the summer, drop to the ground and help form a small colony.  This Lily is cultivated in parts of Asia as a food source (the bulb).

 

Daylily Dreamin’

Bonibrae Daylilies 7

Bonibrae Daylilies

Daylilies (Hemerocalis spp) started to bloom in early June in my back garden.  Well, one lovely tall spidery lemon yellow variety of daylily anyway.  The common orange ‘ditch daylily’ started to open July 1, as they do every year.  Stella d’Oro about three weeks ago and the rest, large brash colourful varieties, just this past week.

I wouldn’t say I’m passionate about daylilies but I do really like them.  A lot.  They’ll grow almost anywhere and bloom reliably given enough sunlight.  They are drought tolerant once established (long, fleshy tubourous roots helps them get through dry periods), deer and rabbits don’t find them tasty and, best of all, can be used in multiples ways.

Want a wide swath of specific colour?  Have a micro garden that needs a flash of brightness?  Want to savour a light fragrance in the evening?  Want to surprise visitors with a bizarre shape or colour combination next to a well traveled garden path?

Daylilies can do it all.

A neighbour and I visited Bonibrae Daylilies, just north of Bloomfield,  over the weekend.  Next to a small grove of ancient maple trees, Barry & Margaret Matthie maintain about an acre of daylilies, carefully cultivated in well mulched rows.  The maples provide welcome shade for visitors and the many varieties of Hosta they also sell. Barry hybridizes and grows from seed the daylilies in their fields and sells them either in person or via mail to aficionados across the continent  – most of the plants in the field are $15 each for a very generous size clump lifted by Barry for you; a few of the more rare varieties can be $100 – a price not uncommon for collectors.

For me, the glory of this nursery is experienced wandering through the rows of daylilies,  marveling at the colours and shapes, whiffing the occasional sweet scent and imagining where, in your own garden, you can add one of these beauties.

For the next few weeks the nursery is open almost every day – if you’re contemplating getting a daylily this is the place to visit.  Even if you’re not a gardener, this is a place to visit – think of it as a living art gallery – a place to overload your ocular sensors  on a warm summer day.