Some claim it was a high pitched breaking of the ice in the river, other are leaning more to the idea that it was a series of branches all snapping off at the same time, while the more imaginative, exercise minded think it was a pack of coyotes hidden from view along the Cataract Trail between Fergus and Elora! All in all at approximately three fifteen on Friday, March 14, 2014, a series of high pitched ‘squeals’ could be heard along a section of South River Road in Elora. Nothing like getting the local tongues wagging! It has after all been a monotonously long winter! It doesn’t hurt to let people have their own opinion, but some of us know otherwise!
Its getting to be that time of year again! Granted, with the barrage of ice and snow that greets me every morning on the way to work, not to mention the completely buried perennial department, it would be very easy to think otherwise, BUT, when you get a new shipment filled with the intoxicating beauty and goodness of new and exciting perennial treasures with which to stock up your perennial benches once Mother Nature releases us from her icy grip. [Why in my mind does she appear as Angelina Jolie in the trailers from Maleficent?] one might not be able to control said squeals of delight!
I recently celebrated my first anniversary at Cedar Spring Nursery. I cannot believe its gone by as quickly as it has, nor can I believe that I’ve only known Jon and Sasha for only one year! I am sure in past lives we might have been considered the Three Musketeers, or is it more likely to be the Three Stooges? Regardless, part of the vision and mandate that I brought to the table was to ramp up the perennials, tree and shrub department – and what better way of getting our loyal clients to sit up and take notice, than by tempting and tantalizing the horticultural perennial weakness that exists in ALL gardeners! If last year was about getting my feet wet, 2014 is about the full immersion!
Ariseaema sikokianum is one of those breathtakingly beautiful rare oddities guaranteed to leave visitors, well, short of a better term, squealing with delight when they stumble across it in your woodland garden. Its sublime spathe becomes cowl shaped, housing a spadix that most describe as a pristine golf ball perched precariously on a tee, awaiting the first game of the season. Its typical trifoliate foliage is sometimes embossed with pewter inlays, making these mutated few even more sought after.
I have always been an advocate of Aconitum in the garden, and toxicity aside, this delightful pink flowering species, Aconitum napellus ‘Rubellum’ is a stand out when interspersed among its purple and yellow flowering cousins!
I grow only two species of the genus Lilium in my garden, partly due to the arrival of the insipid Japanese Lily Beetle, but more so because I’m not a fan of most. Lilium martagon is also known as the ‘turkscap’ lily, with its delicate pink, white or purple flowers, each with reflexed petals, on stems that can reach 2m in height. The candelabra effect can be mesmerizing when you are witnessing up to thirty flowers on one plant! Patience is a virtue with this beauty, as mine took five years to bloom….. BUT, having witnessed the luscious size of the bulbs we just planted, I can guarantee that you’ll have blooms inside of three years! Its like the old slogan for Heinz ketchup…… ANTICIPATION!
Lilium napalense is a staggeringly beautiful plant! As its name suggests, it is native to Nepal, making it a full fledged member of the Zonal Denial club, but fear not…… treat it as you would a Begonia or any other bulb that is lifted for the winter. Mine has yet to bloom, but has survived quite candidly in my small bar/bulb refrigerator for the past two seasons! Similar in height to L. martagon, given time, space and the exact growth requirements that it demands [it RESENTS wet feet] you can soon have visitors lining the sidewalk begging for an intimate introduction to this true connoisseur inspired plant!
My steadfast inclination towards the rare and unusual definitely extends to the Paeonia species that I cultivate in my own garden. ‘Molly the Witch’ [P. mlokosewitschii] and ‘Going Bananas,’ a sublime single yellow flowered ITOH hybrid are two of my most prized treasures. When I spotted Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Kokuryu Nishiki’ in my travels along the internet, I knew of a select few gardeners who would jump at the opportunity to grow this intoxicating selection. As a member of the ‘suffruticosa’ or tree peony family, this plant is completely different from the ubiquitous garden varieties that your Grandmother grew. These plants, while not precisely ‘trees’ do grow like a mid-sized shrub, with woody stems that persist from year to year. In their native Japan they are extremely long lived, some reputed to be over two hundred years old! This particular selection boasts deep wine infused flowers that have delicate white painted edges. It may attain heights of 2m, but this may take decades in order to achieve. Our potted selections are two year old seedlings. And while on the topic of the genus Paeonia, I had a number of clients requesting my final new selection of the week:
Paeonia tenuifolia ‘Itoba’ is the true feather fern leaf Peony that holds its fans enraptured year after year! Methinks it has everything to do with its delicate green/blue foliage, which is a marked contrast from any other members of this ubiquitous garden favoured genus! I love the single red flowers, with the golden explosion of stamens in the centre of each flower, but I’m also known as a bit of an oddity in the garden community so what do I know?
I already introduced the stunning beauty below – Sanguinaria canadensis var. ‘Multiplex’ – a sublime double flowering species of our native ‘bloodroot,’ but thought it deserved a placement among the newest treasures that you’ll find at Cedar Spring Nursery this Spring. I can hardly wait to see what this coming week’s deliveries reveal….. stay tuned!