Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Most Pleasing Combination

I have cursed the day I planted Mountain Bluet more times than I care to remember. I can't recall where it came from or why it appealed to me in the first place but I do know that I have been pulling up its seedlings for about a decade. This plant spreads like crazy and by extension tests my sanity as a gardener. Each spring I vow to get rid of it once and for all. Then it blooms and wins me over once again. Last year I planted a Salvia "Blue Queen" next to it. I needed to fill a hole. What can I say? The combination really works for me. For once, I'm not singing the mountain bluet blues.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Let the Harvesting Begin

May I have a dumroll please? The novice potager gardener is very proud to present the first radish of the season. Not only is it the first radish of the season but it is the first ever vegetable produced in my newly installed backyard veggie plot. Whoohoo! It's working. It's really, really working. This is just the kind of success a newbie vegetable gardener needs. It's a real confidence builder. It's nice to be harvesting a good crop of radishes just as some of the more challenging late season vegetables are going into the ground. In other potager news, eight Petitbec tomato plants grown from seed starting on March 15th have been transplanted into the garden. The potatoes have sprouted. The snow peas are about three inches tall and starting to climb their trellis. The leeks and onions are standing tall in their rows while the carrot tops look like a mohawk haircut cutting across the soil. The bush beans and the nasturtiums have just started poking through. If all do as well as the radish, it will be a very good harvest indeed.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Everything I Ever Planted

I have a cookie tin that sits on top of my microwave. Everytime I put a plant into the ground, the plant tag goes into the cookie tin. It is filled to bursting. I noticed this as I crammed another four tags into the tin this week. With very cool temperatures and a steady supply of rain keeping garden work to a minimum, I saw the opportunity to document everything I have ever planted. So here it is complete with bonus notes on plant performance. (The purple coneflower pictured is from last year's garden. Right now, it's still months away from blooming. Have I ever mentioned how envious I am of southern gardener friends who have been enjoying them for weeks already? Sigh.)

Amelanchier Canadensis/Serviceberry
Astilbe/Astilbe x arensdsii "Fanal" (totally neglected but it persists)
Bloodroot/Sanguineria canadensis
Blue Cohosh/Caulophyllum thalictroides
Canada Anemone
Eastern Redbud/Cercis canadensis
Plantain Leaved Sedge
Rattlesnake Master/Eryngium yuccifolium (needs to be moved to a more suitable location, a better fit for a meadow than a woodland)
Red Baneberry/Actaea rubra
Starry False Solomon's Seal
White Snakeroot/Eupatorium rugosum
Wild Columbine/Aquilegia canadensis
Wild Ginger/Asarum canadense

Acer Palmatum "Bloodgood" (beautiful colour and shape)
Clematis "Ernest Markham"
Clementine Red Columbine/Aquilegia vulgaris "Clementine Red"
Cotton Lavender/Santolina chamaecyparissus (hated this plant at first, now I love it. It's a charmer.)
Creeping Thyme/Pseudolanuginosis or Thymus praecox
Daylily/Hemerocallis "Stella de Oro"
Dwarf Calamint/Calamintha nepeta ssp. nepeta (planted in full sun, average soil, this is a garden all-star.)
Geranium "Rozanne"
Giant Big Blue Lily Turf/Liriope Muscari "Big Blue"
Helleborus "Ivory Prince" (longest bloom time ever)
Heuchera "Hollywood"
Heuchera sanginea "Splendens"
Hosta "Golden Tiara"
Ilex "Jim Dandy"
Ilex "Red Sprite"
Japanese Forest Grass/Hakonechloa "All Gold"
Ludwig Spaeth Purple Lilac/Syring Vulgaris "Ludwig Spaeth" (outstanding deep purple colour/fragrance)
Nepeta Grandiflora "Dawn to Dusk" (lots of maintenance work but I like it)
Mother of Thyme/Thymus serpyllum
Perennial Pansy/Viola "Blue Heaven" (warning: spreads like crazy)
Perennial Sage/Salvia x syvestris "Blue Queen"
Pulmonaria "Silver Streamers"/Lungwort (I love this plant more every year)
Purple Labrador Violet/Viola labradorica
Roma Masterwort/Astrantia major "Roma"
Sedum Sieboldii/Stonecrop Siebold
Sedum spectabile "Neon" (I always assumed I had an "Autumn Joy", thank goodness fo plant tags)
Scotch Moss/Sagina subulata "Aurea"
Veronica Spicata "Royal Candles" (among my most favourite)
Wherry's Foamflower/Tiarella wherryi

Blue Star Creeper/Isotoma fluviatillis (don't even remember having this one)
Helenium "Rotgold" (destroyed by construction workers)
Heuchera "Peach Flambe" (killed this by planting it in full sun)
New Zealand Burr/Acaena saccaticupula "Blue Haze" (pretty sure I pulled this one because it was a poor performer, looked weedy)

Asiatic Lilies
Balloon Flower
Balsam Fir
Bearded Iris
Burning Bush (nothing it beats it for fall colour)
Chinese Lantern (super aggressive)
Chives (can't get enough chives, the more the better I say)
Creeping Jenny
Ditch Lilies
Foxtail Lilies
Globe Thistle
Jerusalem Artichoke
Mountain Bluet (spreads everywhere, can get weedy, have vowed to get rid of it for years but can never say goodbye)
Mystery Ferns
Mystery Giant Hosta (an absolute favourite, perhaps never to be identified)
Purple Beech (this tree brings me more garden joy than any of my perennials. It has been a thrill to watch it grow over the past four years.)
Purple Coneflower
Rose of Sharon
Serbian Bellflower
Solomon's Seal

Okay, so I may officially qualify for "Crazy Plant Lady" status especially because this list doesn't, in fact, represent everything I have ever planted. I can only imagine how long the list would get if I started in on the bulbs. My "Kill List" is WAY longer than the dearly departed plants I have tags for. I confess to having destroyed at least one hydrangea and butchering a butterfly bush in my time (but I really don't want to talk about it.) Making this list public might lead some (husband, child) to suggest this gardener should reign in her passion for planting. I think it would be way easier to get a bigger cookie tin.

Monday, May 19, 2008

New Blooms in the Garden

Blogging without a camera and photos just doesn't feel like blogging. With my camera on the fritz for the last few weeks, my blogging has pretty much come to a standstill. This weekend, however, I managed to borrow a camera to capture some new additions and recent blooms in the garden. This Red Clementine Columbine was a gift from my mother.

The Masterwort was another gift from my mother. I nestled it into a corner of ferns where it seemed like a natural fit.

I saw this Gerbera Daisy at a local florist shop and just couldn't resist. It's now part of the back porch container garden.

The foam flower was planted last year but this is the first time I'm really seeing it in bloom. I love that there are so many blooms still to come. Another bonus: the foam flower seems to be multiplying quite quickly. I've seen lots of baby plants near the original three that I planted. Foam flowers will be a big part of the front shade garden once they mature but right now they are wee.

The lilac "Ludwig Spaeth" is stunning right now both in appearance and fragrance.

And just as the lilac comes into its own, the last of the spring bulbs are putting on their grand finale. These three tulips (unknown variety) managed to survive the annual squirrel onslaught. I suspect it's because they are planted right next to a big bunch of daffodils which hold zero appeal for the squirrels. Even as the tulips fade, the garden is growing greener and more lush every day thanks in large part to an especially rainy spring. Now I've just got to get a camera so that I'll always have the memories of the many blooms still waiting for their close-up.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Creating My Urban Woodland Habitat

During a walk through the woods the other day, I came across a small, red trillium poking through the tattered layers of debris covering the forest floor. There were white trillium everywhere but only one red one. I needed a picture, of course, but the ground was wet and mucky. Getting down on my hands and knees meant the very real risk of sinking slowly into the earth. I was alone and couldn't take the chance so I used a technique often used by photographers of my calibre who find themselves in this situation. I stuck the camera under the bloom, pointed, and clicked. Terrible technique, I know, but the end result was a pretty good photo. I love the shape of the trillium, the towering trees in the background, and the blue sky. These kinds of woodland scenes have inspired me to create my own woodland habitat.

Here it is. What do you think of it so far? Admittedly, it has a long way to go. Right now, my woodland garden is sitting on the kitchen counter: three flats of native Ontario woodland plants collected and propogated in an ecologically responsible way by Acorus Restoration. My husband and I went out there on the weekend, got lost along the way, reoriented ourselves and made it with five minutes to spare before closing time. The flats were speed-loaded from a wish list I had compiled after hours spent pouring over the Acorus catalogue and the road trip ended in success.

I've put a few things in the the ground already starting with the Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). I don't expect much from it this year. I purchased the eight plants well after their bloom time. I'd be happy if they leafed out a bit before going dormant (if they do indeed go dormant, I've heard different things) in the summer heat. The real allure of this plant for me is its early spring bloom time. I need to see flowers in April when winter's grip is usually still holding tight. It will be a year before I can fully appreciate the Bloodroot. I expect it will be worth the wait.

The Starry False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum stellatum) wasn't on my woodland wish list. The individual spikes looked so cute all standing tall in the greenhouse, they called out to me. Even armed with a list, I'm not immune to the impulse purchase.

I love the flowers and foliage of the Canada Anemone (Anemone canadensis) but I must admit I planted these with some reservations. Many garden websites and books describe this plant as an aggressive grower. "Aggressive" usually adds up to a headache somewhere down the line. I've decided to give them a shot because they will be growing in conditions that are close to what they prefer but not quite perfect. I'll keep a close watch to make sure they stay in check.

A row of Plantain Leaved Sedge (Carex plantaginea) will separate my urban woodland from the sidewalk in front of the house. The plants will have to hold their own against foot traffic and the inevitable visits from neighbourhood pooches.

I picked up the Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) at a local garden centre last month. I couldn't stand waiting a second longer to purchase something; the garden season needed a kick-start. So far, the wild ginger has been especially impressive in the rain when its leaves get glossy.

The majestic Solomon's Seal was a pass-along from my in-laws who have more of it than they know what to do with.

Two serviceberry shrubs (Amelanchier canadensis) and an Eastern Redbud tree (Cercis canadensis) give the woodland bed some height. I'm also planting Wood Lily (Lilium philadelphicum), Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum), Running Strawberry (Euonymus obovatus), Foam Flower (Tiarella cordifolia), Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis) and some wild phlox (type to be determined).

The plants are all soooo small. Nothing like the plants you'd find at your average garden centre. They have a lot of growing to do. With some patience and just the right amount of TLC I hope my former patch of front yard lawn is transformed into an urban woodland oasis. A few trillium might be in order since they are what really inspired this experiment in the first place.