25 Sep 2015

Bearing Along.....

It's been a tough August and September for us in Ontario! The incessant heatwave and the marked absence of rain has taken its toll not only on me [he of the Heathcliff predisposition] but on my garden as well. I came home from work tonight and spent the last hour watering! We're almost into October, I am only too well aware, but I could not stand to walk past the dry and crisping foliage of my kids one more time!

I am thrilled with the abundance of growth on my native Cercis canadensis that resides between the houses. It is shaded and protected from the wind, and from these two photos, it would appear that he is quite content to send forth glorious arching branches, each clothed in his signature heart shaped foliage! I do love my Redbud, even if his Spring flower display is paltry at best!

My love/hate relationship with what I once envisioned would be a stunning addition to the garden - that of Acer pseudoplatanus 'Esk Sunset' - continues into Fall. The late May frost did a number on his emerging foliage, followed by a stint of deformed, irregular shaped foliage, followed by an infestation of some creepy crawly that seemed to find his foliage to taste.... it has all left me mightily unimpressed yet again! He's got one more year to impress before he is transplanted to the propagation bed at work! I love my kids, but I also have unwavering standards that I must maintain!

This is going to be the Fall of 'divide and conquer' here at Teza's Garden. There are so many examples of plants that could do with a good dividing, and while I have always been hesitant to disturb a happy specimen in fear of setting him back, or worse, killing it, I have been very lax in this important perennial task. The three Aralia cordite 'Sun King' specimens that have all but taken over the beds where they reside is but the tip of the iceberg! There is a massive clump of Deinanthe caerulea not to mention my bruised purple Polygonatum 'Betberg' and Disporum uniform - three plants that I know some of my garden friends would all be clamouring for were I to make a few select divisions available. It is definitely on the agenda for October!

The narrow border against the NE side of the garage is an overgrown cacophony of growth at present. You can see the crisped foliage of my beloved Deinanthe, as well as the near serpentine growth of a newly installed Wisteria that replaces a wild grape that came down in the last ice storm. I have so many delicate ephemeral beauties in the bed but for the most part they are completely smothered by mid June! And who am I kidding? There is already a new obsession on the horizon - that of the bedazzling Cypripedium genus that I will definitely need more room for in the coming years! There really is nothing wrong with the garden being in a state of flux, especially when it means healthier plants, and more room for more kids!

I have had luck keeping my resident pot of temperennials looking good this season. I absolutely adore my Zone 7 Euphorbia 'Glacier Blue', which combined with a trio of Agave 'Queen of Threads', resides on the front veranda. His icy blue, slightly twisted leaves, each one outlined with a cream variegation is quite different for a genus of dark green, purple and burgundy species. I tried to stock him this season, but was unable to find a supplier!

The Memorial Ring beneath the branches of Metasequoia 'Ogon' continues to receive my doting attention. Two new Cypripedium species as well as four new Meconopsis have me waiting ever so anxiously for next Spring when I hope all of them will emerge from a winter's rest with blooming on their mind! Fingers crossed!

I do love 'Ogon!' When I discovered a golden Dawn Redwood, I did not hesitate in bringing him home. Of course his feathery bright foliage is the perfect foil for the deep purple of Cotinus 'Grace' that you can see in the background of the photo above. I know! Do you think you can keep him of a modest size for the postage stamp sized property upon which you garden? Five years later, and with the constant removal of his leader, I have so far been able to keep him in line. It hurts me to curtail his natural growth habit, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices. Besides, he is one of the only residents who gets a loving misting from the hose three times a week to ensure that his delicate foliage does not scorch in this unrelenting heat!

My other Agave has tripled his size since being placed outside in May. Tougher than I thought where hardiness is concerned, and of the most striking colour. I think I will have to consider adding a few more next season! And how is your garden? 

19 Sep 2015

Dig While You Can!

[photo courtesy of slipper talk.com]

[photo courtesy of garden.ru] 

[photo courtesy of seedsite.eu]

The last plantings of the season, from top:

Cypripedium 'Phillip'
Cypripedium 'Pluto'
Aconitum lycoctanum 'Moldavicum'
All from my favourite purveyor/enabler 

18 Sep 2015

A Ring of Memory

It has been a hot, dry month and a half, and my beloved 'children' have been taking the brunt of it: while others are praising the extension of Summer, inside I scowl like a petulant wolf. I want rain! I want temperatures in the low teens. I want! I want! I want!

I didn't pay as much attention to the garden this season as I would have liked, but it would appear that my body has caught up with my age. I pride myself on walking to work every day and up until recently I was down to just over twenty minutes each way. It's a gorgeous walk on one of the local Cataract trails that used to be a railway line so it's quite tranquil. The river flows beneath one of the  two bridges along its length, and if I am lucky I will catch a glimpse of the resident Great Blue Heron - on other days its likely to be a fly fisherman. I've learned that you do not take either of these sightings for granted.

I have been dealing with lower back issues for the last year, but this year in particular I went through a period where it seemed no matter what I did, I was causing myself discomfort of one sort or another. My right leg has also been aggravating me more than I would like - this I can attribute to genetics - a family with weak knees! [Not just wrists! LOL!] Of course, at the end of the day, I howl if only to hear myself! I am very lucky to have mobility, and when morning comes, I great each day knowing that the rewards of a bit of pain far outnumber the few hours a day when I cringe in pain. But back to the garden....

My plant budget, for perhaps the first time ever, was actually pilfered earlier in the year so that I could purchase a new leather satchel. My murse was simply not large enough to carry my Macbook Air to and from hort presentations. It might well have been the eighth sign of the Apocalypse! I attribute part of this surplus to finally coming to the realization that my property is not getting any larger, and adding more plants only results in my losing track of where they are planted. Its a dichotomy of emotions - blissful frustration when you stumble upon something that you forgot you planted three years ago, only to discover that its half the size it should/could be thanks to an overzealous neighbouring plant that is all but smothering it! I also think I am at a point in life where I am content in being able to sit back and enjoy the garden oasis that I have created for myself. It might sound greedy, but its true: at the end of the day my garden is for me! My family gets to share in its beauty, but for me its the closest thing to a 'family' that an introvert like myself is likely to aspire to, and I am more than happy as such. More and more I find myself more comfortable and at ease in my garden than I do in public situations. I love my job, but it is tied intrinsically to the garden, and so I spend most of the time away from my garden discussing plants. It's taken half a century for me to realize that your life can be about that which you are most passionate about. Alas, once again I digress! [Get him talking about plants and he's never going to stay on topic!]

I've been slowly increasing the number of plants in a small circular bed that I created three years ago at the base of a golden Metasequoia - 'Ogon' - in the hope of it becoming a memorial ring for my Grandmother, Father, and close friend, all of whom have passed yet were each, in their own unique way, instrumental in my life. You can see in the photo above of just how golden it remains throughout most of the gardening season. It is susceptible to scorch, but with a weekly misting, he seems to be happy.

  I was gifted with the appearance of a trio of mesmerizing Meconopsis blooms two years ago, but had since lost the plants to our hot, dry summers, not to mention the fact that this most temperamental of 'Holy Grail' perennial selections is notoriously monocarpic - it blooms, and usually dies that winter. If you are lucky enough to get seed, you stand a slim chance that it will germinate. A bit of a heartbreaker this one can be, but if you're as obsessed with the colour blue as I am, you keep adding new ones year after year - almost as if they are in fact an annual. Shhhh. Such blasphemy might cause the newest ones to shrivel and die purely from spite!

 These are not the best photos: the iPhone has surpassed my desire to haul out the SLR digital every time I want to take a photo, but these results do pale on comparison. Note to self: Don't be a lazy sod and make sure the batteries are charged for moments such as this. I have added four new Meconopsis this month - three M.sheldonii x 'Lingholm' [a cross with M. grandis resulting in a rich, deep saturated blue flower] and the more traditional M. betonicifolia, as well as a new supposedly blue flowering Bletilla called 'Soryu' and two new Cypripedium cultivars - 'Phillip' and 'Pluto.' IF everything winters over, it will hopefully provide me with a new obsession with which to indulge in [that being growing terrestrial orchids [Cyp's] as well as completing a most important element of my gardens. I have always felt closest to my Gran and Dad when I am in the garden, and this small ring of plants would be the perfect tribute to them!

And so we move into September. There is rain in the forecast for overnight and tomorrow, but of course it didn't stop me from dragging out the hose to water the kids. So much burn and browning, and premature leaf drop. Thought about posting a few pics, but I am sure I am not the only one battling the drought like weather here in Ontario. Onward and upward. It'll soon be time for me to start thinking about ordering trees - and I do not mean the ornamental deciduous kind, but that other one, ubiquitous with being decorated in December - but I will focus on my new children for the next while, making sure that they are happy in their new homes. Not to put any pressure on them, but next Spring my focus will be solely on that simple ring of plants!