Six on Saturday – Suddenly Summer

Camassia and Sorbaria May26 2018 small

Sorbaria sorbifolia ‘Sem’ & Camassia quamash.  These two are both new to me – I’m loving both the deep blue of these bulbs, native to North America and once a food staple for Indigenous Peoples’ diet, and the rosy hue on this variety of Sorbaria.

Officially we’ve nearly a month left of spring but with temps close to 30 yesterday it was suddenly shorts and sandals weather.   Most of the spring bulbs have had their days of glory, and now that the Camassia are swooning around in all their blue splendour there’s only the Alliums left to bloom (Purple Sensation has started but karataviense and the Globemasters are still swelling up).

Allium karataviense May 21 2018 closeup small

Allium karataviense.  Unique amongst the Alliums in that its striped foliage is at least as attractive and interesting as its flower – which will likely open this week.

I hope to get all my seedlings in the ground over the next three or four days – still have annuals (Cosmos, Marigolds) and lots of perennials (Liatris, Echinacea, Alcea) to plant – some may wind up being given to neighbours or the community gardens if I can’t figure out proper homes for them all here.  (That’s kind of hard to believe, but true!)

Viburnum carlesii May 20 2018 small

On still, warm days this week you could smell the fragrance from this Viburnum carlesii all over the Island garden.  The distinctive clove aroma makes me think it’s Christmas in May.  I need to plant more!

Most of my Lilac bushes have not produced very many flowers this year – I need to research why (didn’t add fertilizer; didn’t prune at all…it’s a mystery).  But I’m happy that my native Redbuds – Cercis canadensis – have survived the ravages of rabbit and deer to give us more than a few blossoms.  No fragrance, unfortunately, but it’s so neat to have watched the buds spring out from seemingly smooth hard trunks and branches and produce such lovely purply flowers.

Redbud May 26 2018

Canada Redbud – Cercis canadensis

It’s going to be a great year for Irises!  My row of re-blooming white Iris, just in its second spring, has a gazillion flowers stalks and should be spectacular in a week or so, as should the Siberian and flag Iris that seem to love the soil here, even when the summers are so dry.

Dwarf Iris and Leucojum May 26 2018 small

I transplanted a bunch of dwarf Iris – just plain yellow and purple ones – two years ago to the top of this stone ridge and they’ve hit their stride this spring.  I’ll be adding to the row a few other varieties from other parts of the garden this week, I think.

I had a Tree Peony in my previous garden.  It grew quickly and became relatively huge but it was one of many things I wasn’t able to bring with me here to the County.  It’s on my wish list for this year – I’m hoping to find one with a single, yellow flower. The large, pink, many petaled flowers on my last one often were too heavy and I needed to tie branches to each other to prevent them from snapping off when the flowers were in full bloom.  I do have  a dozen or so ‘regular’ peonies though (the blooming has just begun with the Fernleaf Peony); pictures to come in the weeks ahead!

Fern Leaf Peony May 26 2018

This beautiful Fern Leaf Peony – Paeonia tenuifolia – is always first t bloom.

Head on over to The Propagator’s site to see Six on Saturday from all around the world!

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.

more Allan Garden delights

Allan Gardens March 7 2018 looking up

Under the main dome, filled with palms reaching up to touch the glass.

The wonderful thing about Allan Gardens Conservatory is you can be satisfied and invigorated by visiting for just 15 minutes or by spending as long as 45.   Take a quick walk through the entire complex to enjoy the colours, fragrance and humid air, or, leisurely stroll the meandering pathways, examining the large and sometimes tiny specimens, many of them exotics (for Ontario), all of them meticulously cared for. The city horticulturalists pack hundreds of species into the half dozen greenhouses; some seem to have been there forever and some are obviously seasonal.  Here are a few of my favourites from the permanent collection and the current Spring Blooms installation.

From the spring show – lots of Muscari, Narcissus, Hyacinth and Tulips, plus the occasional surprise, like Winter Aconite.






Rhodo and Koi Pond at Allan Gardens

This koi pond is there year-round, but the Rhododendron is now in bloom!


Also in bloom is Agapanthus – I’ve heard it being called a weed in more tropical parts of the world but here, not so much!  I love the blue flowers.  And this variegated Brugmansia is quite spectacular.




Surprising for me was this patch of kale, left to flower – the yellow flowers are really quite beautiful when massed like this – and the lemon tree!  I wonder if the staff enjoy G&T’s after closing time…



Cactus at Allan Gardens March 7 2018 small

There are lots of succulents and cacti in the desert house, some of them so tall they’re brushing the roof.  For me, this quartet epitomizes the look. If I lived in Arizona or New Mexico I’d likely have a bunch of them on either side of the front walkway.

Seen in the metal roof struts; I wonder what he’s found to chomp on…

Squirrel at Alan Gardens