Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hey, I won a prize!

The parent that donated a branch to the Horticultural exhibit at the garden club.
The Brueckner Rhododendron Garden on Lakeshore Rd. in Port Credit.
It doesn't happen often, but last night at the Cloverleaf Garden Club I won "Best in Show" for a branch of my PJM rhododendron I brought.  This is only the second time I have entered the club's competitions, but I think I'm hooked.  I won a first place for my houseplant - the "goldfish plant" last month, and now this!  

I need to tell you that the Brueckner Rhododendron Garden is having a guided walk at 2 pm on May 29. Located on the south side of Lakeshore Rd., west of Mississauga Rd. in Port Credit. Don't miss it.  These gardens are chock full of rhodos, azaleas and peonies and they are in  bloom now!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gold heart Bleeding Heart

Gold heart bleeding heart
The Gold heart blooms very early in the season.
This new variety seems like it will be really hearty!  This is its first season coming through the winter and it seems to have done really well.  It is a delight at this time when not mush else is blooming.  And I greeted its emergence with joy.  The colour of the leaves are a welcome contrast to the green of the rest of the Spring blooms.  I think you have to be Canadian and have gone through winter to get so much appreciation from the emergence of any new bud they way we do!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Conservancy Gardens

Arts and Crafts house and gardens

Arts and Craft gardens need an element of surprise, like this prickly pear cactus.
Dave Taylor, who is all things knowledgeable about Riverwood, described this house and garden as Arts and Crafts.  We don't have many in the Toronto area.  But this house built in 1919 is one of them, and the gardens have been lovingly restored amd maintained by volunteers, under the direction of the Conservancy.  In just one week the garden has gone from being bare earth with a few tulips to this abundance of emerging plants.  The magnolias have started to bloom in everyone's gardens and they are just magnificant! Even the drift of petals on the ground is pretty!

Monday, May 16, 2011


PJM rhododendron
The PJM rhododendron at least likes me and my garden.  It has bloomed every year since I first put it in, over 15 years ago.
A nice mature plant - at least 15 years.
What ails thee?

Rhododendrons can be so finickity! What's up with mine?  Any ideas out there? I tried to describe my rhodo problem to a master gardener and they said it sound like my plant has a virus!  I'm beginning to think so!  The leaves start out green and then turn brown and dash my hope once more!  The heartbreak of rhododendrons! you can see I treat them right with a blanket of pine needles, the proper fertilizer in Spring and Fall and yet they disappoint me! It looks like the blooms are intact though, so I keep it in spite of itself!

You can see the new growth at the bottom right, but they eventually turn brown and die like the branch at the far left.
Spireas are much more satisfying. They look good in any season and are always interesting as they change colour in the Spring and Fall and then cover themselves in bloom in summer. I don't even mind trimming them, because I like the way the new growth comes in with reddish, gold, or sometimes pinkish and white hues. This one was yanked out when we rebuild the deck, divided up into 3 plants and yet still looks good. I plunked it back in the ground in the same location and it looks like it never moved.
Goldflame spirea - a knockout in the Spring with its new growth!
Goldmound spirea, compact with bright yellow foliage all summer.

May forest walks

Scarlet tanager
I saw a scarlet tanager today!  Hurrah!  This is the first one I have seen in the last couple of years!  They like the pine and deciduous forest of Ontario, and I was walking in Riverwood Conservancy when one flew to a branch right above my head. I'm pretty sure I saw a female, which is yellow, the other day.  I didn't have my camera out and by the time I took it out it had moved further away. Isn't that always the way? They winter in Chili, apparently and one of the people on the walk said that he has seen them in Chili. He said what they don't have is squirrels, and people from Chili go wild for them when they move up here!  Strange when we almost consider them a nuisance, well certainly, around bird feeders the name is always accompanied by "damn". But I know a Canadian who just loves squirrels. There is no accounting for taste!
Keep your eyes peeled and listen for the low toneless call 'keep-back"

Friday, May 13, 2011

More Riverwood Birds

My friend, Sophie, took these photos and they are just wonderful, so I have to share them with you. We went for a bird walk in Riverwood Conservancy, Ontario, in early May. Before the leaves are out it really is much easier to see the birds! So talk a walk!
Chappell House - photo S. Matta

 Cooper`s Hawk, photo S. Matta.  
Early in the Spring, birding is easier without the leaves! photo S. Matta

Bloodroot gets its name from the dark colour that emerges when you break the root.  - photo by S. Matta

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Dreaded Lily Beetles are Here!

Death to the Lily beetle!
How I hate the daily chore of squishing these things.Their only redeeming feature is that they are bright red and easy to see.  You can see what a mess they make in the lilies as they chomp their way through the leaves.  They will completely decimate the plant if left unchecked and the black blobby mess which their egg sacs make when hanging from the leaves is so unsightly!  It makes you want to give up growing lilies entirely!

See the holey mess they make as they chomp the leaves.  You can make out the orgy going on. Look at the middle right area of the picture.  
A tip from a garden club member is to put coffee grounds around the plant.  They are supposed to hate it.  I will let you know. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Beatutiful big blooms for a wildflower. 
Spring in Ontario means trilliums and they are starting to burst forth in all their splendor right now.  I have planted some in my garden and I love the symmetry of their geometric heads brightening each Spring day. Every ramble you take through one of our scenic woods or conservation areas will be teeming with trilliums right now. They are Ontario's provincial flower and they just lend themselves to graphic and stylistic designs, but nothing beats the simple beauty of the actual flower.

You can see the bare earth, an indication of the early bloom period of this plant.
Trilliums are called 'wake-robins' in early pioneer texts, as sometimes they bloomed before the first robin was seen. But robins have been chirping all over the place for at least a month now. Trilliums come from a word meaning triple and this plant has three petals, three sepals, six stamens, three parts to its pistil and three leaves on the stem. They belong to the lily family.
I have some red trilliums in my garden as well. I brought them from my sister's farm in Quebec. They bloom a little later, so I will post pics in a few days.