Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Parade of Spring Bloomers

Spring marches on.  So many blooms.  So little time to blog. Here is the parade of flowers in my spring garden.

Eastern Redbud

Old-Fashioned Bleeding Heart

Grape Hyacinth

Pulmonaria "Silver Streamers"


PJM Rhododendron

Wood Poppy

Epimedium "Orange Konigin"

Tulipa Sylvestris
Although there are more blooms to come, the flower parade is slowing down.  A towering Norway Maple has already plunged the garden into dense shade, creating conditions for an urban woodland garden.  These springtime blooms usher out the winter and now that their job is done, foliage and groundcovers will take over the show providing a cool and restful space at the height of summer heat.    

Friday, April 20, 2012

Three New Daffodils

Three new daffodils are blooming but I don't know what they are. I planted 15 new daffodil bulbs last fall. 5 came in a bag labeled "Variant." 10 came in a bag labeled "Sorcerer." I thought I was planting two varieties of daffodil. Apparently not. Now that spring is here, there are three distinct daffodils in bloom.

I love the pure white petals on this daffodil. The pink cup was totally unexpected (pink is not my first choice when selecting daffodils). And yet, compared to pink cups I have seen and grown, I quite like this one.

This small-cupped daffodil could be "Sorcerer." I found only one image of "Sorcerer" online and this comes pretty close.

This is the largest daffodil bloom I have ever seen. It is freakishly huge and the stems bend under the weight of the flower. The colour succession on this flower is quite dramatic: the orange cup is surrounded by yellow petals that fade to white at the tips. Very interesting.

The true identities of these daffodils may forever be a mystery to me. Just another reason to never trust a plant label.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

An Exceptional Year for Daffodils

It has been an exceptional year for daffodils. One of my favourites is "Barrett Browning," with its white petals and frilly orange cup. The water droplets are a nice touch. This daffodil has under-performed in the last two years. It is said to be a good naturalizer, however, so I hope it eventually finds its stride because it really is a beauty.

"Minnow" is a miniature with a bloom about the size of a thumb print. Even a small grouping of "Minnow" looks very impressive as each stem can carry multiple blooms.

The King Alfreds (which aren't really King Alfreds) look stunning as usual.

Tete-a-Tete, another miniature, continues to bloom its little head off. The first blooms appeared in late March. This is a garden work-horse. I dare say it's a guaranteed bloomer even for gardeners who have a lot of bad luck.

This unknown daffodil variety continues to be my favourite. It has returned reliably for years.

I was worried for the daffodils during our March heatwave. But now that temperatures have returned to seasonal and even a little below seasonal, the daffodils seem quite content and I am more than happy to enjoy their long-lasting blooms.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Time for Tete-a-Tete

The Tete-a-Tete daffodils have been in bloom for a couple of days already. Through sheer luck I've managed to place them in such a way that a few clumps are poking through the cinammon-peach foliage of the "Southern Comfort" Coral Bells. Despite my various attempts at garden design, some of the most pleasing combinations in the garden are simply a fluke.

Tete-a-Tete is a miniature daffodil with a real sense of drama. Notice how the petals flare back and away from the cup? That's some serious floral attitude.

There are so many reasons to grow Tete-a-Tete. The bulbs bloom reliably and profusely. The flowers are long-lasting, much more so than regular daffodils. Tete-a-Tete is a very early bloomer. Once the crocus are done, Tete-a-Tete fills the garden with sunshine. Their diminutive size is very charming. And, perhaps the reason I love them most: the squirrels don't touch them. If you are looking for an easy bulb that all but guarantees lots of blooms Tete-a-Tete is a winner.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Three New Crocus in Bloom

The giant crocus are in bloom. Here's a nice bunch of "Pickwick."

"Pickwick" is definitely the showiest crocus in the garden with its many stripes. If it weren't a flower it might be a delightful hard candy. It's certainly a popular choice among gardeners: I've seen many of these fancy crocus in bloom throughout the neighbourhood.

Another giant is "Jeanne d'Arc." It has a massive flower that is pure white.

This is "Silver Coral," another white bloom distinguishable by its pale purple base.

I'm still waiting to see Crocus "Advance." The first time I planted "Advance" the corms were mislabeled. I got what appears to be "Spring Beauty" instead. So I tried again, planting some "Advance" last fall but so far it has not made an appearance. Despite some confusion over the names of several similar white/purple varieties and the inevitable damage by squirrels, it has been an excellent year for the crocus.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Crocus: Yalta and Prince Claus

Happy spring! There's one new crocus in bloom to welcome the changing of the season. Crocus "Yalta" was easy to identify with its distinct pattern of alternating purple and white petals.

Sadly, out of the twenty I planted, only two are in bloom. I've said it before and I'll say it again: squirrels! I hope these flowers make a comeback next spring. They are an eye-catcher.

After staring at this bunch long enough I have convinced myself that these flowers are Crocus "Prince Claus."

"Prince Claus" has what I would call "smudgy" purple highlights on the outside of the petals (as opposed to the distinct stripes and feathers of Crocus "Fuscotinctus".

There are a few crocus varieties that have yet to appear including some of the Dutch Giants but I would say the majority have bloomed and are already fading. Hard to believe that's the case on the first day of spring.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

More Crocus and a Hellebore

This is the prettiest bunch of crocus blooming in the yard right now. They were planted long before I kept track of plant names so I'm not sure what they are.

Now that I keep track of names I find it is not enough to stay on top of what's blooming. Last fall I planted an assortment of white crocus featuring purple highlights on the petals. Today, I can't tell any of them apart! They all looks so similar. My best guess: this one is Prince Claus.

This one looks like Spring Beauty.

Crocus Minimus?

I have no idea. A valuable lesson learned: it's worth mapping what's planted where. It's also worth choosing a variety of distinct colours to make identification easier. No more white and purple combos for this garden.

While the crocus are proving a bit confusing, there's no mistaking this garden stunner. Hellebore "Ivory Prince" is nodding slightly and very low to the ground, growing taller by the day. Whether I've got the right names or the wrong names, these winter blooms are a more than welcome sight. The garden season is off to a great start.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Crocus Parade Continues

I was worried for my crocus last night. Environment Canada issued a severe thunderstorm watch and warned of the potential for "toonie-sized" hail. Toonie-sized hail! That could dent a car. Were my crocus doomed? Fortunately, the storm was limited to a heavy downpour. The crocus are none-the-worse for wear.

Blue Pearl is back for another year. There's an almost imperceptible dusting of lavender-blue on the outside of the petals. The insides are pearly white. This was easily my favourite selection from last year but this year it is underperforming.

I loved Blue Pearl so much last spring that I added another 40 corms to the garden last fall. I don't see them yet. A little disappointing for sure. I blame the squirrels.

Squirrels did quite a bit of damage to Crocus Tricolour last year but these cheerful blooms seem to be making a comeback.

These blooms feature an orange-yellow base, a band of white and purple-tipped petals.

Ruby Giant is making a really great impression this year. Only one flower survived the squirrel onslaught last year. To have a group of four in bloom is a treat.

The purple of Ruby Giant is much deeper than that of Tricolour. It is definitely a drama queen among the crocus.

There are many crocus still to come including: Jeanne d'Arc, Silver Coral, Pickwick, Prince Claus, Advance, Yalta, Minimus and Lady Killer. If you are able to deal with the disappointment of losing some corms to the squirrels, crocus are the perfect flower to kick start the gardening season.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Another Early Crocus

Crocus Fuscotinctus is back for another year. I love the feathered, purple stripes on the petals but prefer the creamy, mellow yellow of Crocus Romance. Like Romance, Fuscotinctus is early compared to last year. Is it too soon to sense a theme for the garden season ahead?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

First Crocus

Wow! The garden is really ahead of schedule. Crocus Romance is in full bloom one full month ahead of last year. Romance first bloomed two days ago.

I love these buttery yellow blooms. Remarkably, the squirrels have not touched them. I can't say that about all my crocus. Critter damage is apparent in some selections that are still emerging. Maybe the squirrels don't like yellow. I, on the other hand, am loving it! Bring on spring.

Monday, February 27, 2012

First Snowdrop

The temperature reached 9.3 degrees celcius today. Reason enough to get outside and do some garden clean-up. I found the first snowdrop of the year when I cleared away the dried stems of the calamint, which was also greening up at the crown. There's snow in the forecast later this week. Glad I was able to enjoy this February day in the garden.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Signs of Spring

You know it has been an unusual winter when daffodils are poking through the soil in February!

These two snapshots were taken in a full-sun Hamilton-area garden over the weekend.

In my own garden, the snow crocus are starting to push skyward. It won't be long now before the bulbs starts producing some fabulous colour. Can't wait!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Garden Talk on the Evergreen Garden Market

I'm looking forward this talk on the Evergreen Brick Works Garden Market hosted by the North Toronto Horticultural Society. I have always wanted to visit the market and am especially interested to learn about the native plant selections. I'll take notes and start planning ahead for spring planting (although it feels like I could plant today....our January has been CRAZY mild.)

Toronto and area gardeners are more than welcome to attend. The talk is free. A $2 donation is suggested for refreshments. All the details are in the links.