Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Colourful Inspiration at TBG

I love perennials. They are crammed into every available space in my garden. From about May to November they look absolutely fabulous. Through most of the winter the sedums, coneflowers, black-eyed susans and globe thistles stand tall, braving the elements. Right about now, though, everything is looking...well... like a horticultural horror show. There's nothing to see but mud.

I would much rather have a winter garden that looks like this. For one thing, it's not all the colour of dirt. I found this little bit of inspiration at the Toronto Botanical Garden. It made me want to introduce some year-round colour to my garden.

Cornus Sanguineum "Winter Beauty" caught my eye from across the garden.

Its twigs have an orange-red to almost pink quality about them. The picture doesn't do them justice. The twigs were like a glowing beacon, beckoning me to start planting for a four-season garden.

The Golden Scots Pine or Pinus Sylvestris was golden, of course. I was planning to add some evergreens to the garden this year. I'm that much more excited knowing that evergreens don't necessarily have to be green.

Pieris Japonica "Mountain Fire" can certainly light up a gloomy late-winter garden. In spring, new growth emerges as a fiery red and the shrub also drips with pendulous creamy white blooms. And how's this for a bonus: it doesn't mind shade. Adding just these three shrubs to my perennial border would improve the garden infinitely. So that's where the garden budget will go this year: shrubs that provide winter interest.

If I'm lucky, the budget will also allow for the purchase of a Magnolia "Elizabeth." The fuzzy buds on "Elizabeth" were the size of small plums! I didn't even mind that the buds were grey, my favourite colour for describing our interminable winters. The sight of those buds was breathtaking and only made me more eager than ever to get planting again.

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