Monday, August 27, 2012

Fall Garden Colour

Black eyed susans the workhorse of the garden!
Even the seed heads will provide visual interest
There is a fine Irish mist falling in my garden and the forecast is for rain all day.  Hurrah!  I was away for the weekend and returned to parched beds of drooping leaves.  The rain is so welcome, since we have has such periods of drought this year.  I was visiting a friend in cottage area, and they have also have a drought.  It is sad to look out on a parched vista.  She was telling me about visiting Larkwhistle.  That is Patrick Lima's garden in Northern Ontario.  It is right at the tip of the Tobermory peninsula.  I have always wanted to visit and must admit that Patrick's book The Harrowsmith Perennial Garden, Flowers for Three Seasons, Firefly Books, 1987 was the inspiration for my garden.  I treated it like a bible when I was first planting in my garden.  His book is arranged by seasons with inspirational pictures by John Scanlan. I would take all his suggestions for a Spring garden before moving on to the next season.  In additon to his poetic and beguiling prose, his knowledge of plants is amazing. As the seasons changed I would consult his book to plug holes in my garden for colour and bloom.  My friend obviously found the same inspiration in his books and made her second visit to Larkwhistle this Spring.  She brought a 'mystery plant' from her garden  and received a plant in return! The plant just appeared in her garden, courtesy of a bird perhaps, and immediately grew and prospered, so it must be a North American native.  I still use Patrick's book when I want to find a plant to plug a blooming gap for a particular season.
Four little seedlings, now 4 1/2 ft high , transplanted in the Spring completely fill this area.
 I would have to admit that the workhorse of my Fall garden is the black-eyed susan  (Rudbeckia).  I have several different varieties, that bloom at different heights and which start their bloom at different times, but they are all in bloom now, and they help keep the garden interesting into the Fall.  Even the seed heads of the black-eyed susans have an important purpose in the garden.  Their structure adds to the Fall landscape and keeps things interesting. Once the petals fall, the dark brown pom-poms blowing in the breezes give a unique shape and texture to the season's changing vista. Patrick Lima includes them in the category he calls  'long distance flowers'.  And once you start gardeneing you realize how important long bloomers are.  He names phlox, sneezewort (helenium), heliopsis (false sunflower - a North American native),  rudbeckia, Echinacea (purple cone flower), Lysimachia (goose neck flower) and the new addition to my garden - cimicifuga racemose (black snakeroot) to the list of flowers you can count on for bloom throughout the hot August days into the Fall.
Get the book if you are serious about blooms for every season!  You will consider it a perennial bible, too.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A good year for phlox

My favourite.   I think this cultivar  is "Eva Cullum" Long blooming, doesn't fall over, mildew resistant, beautiful colour- what more could you ask for?

 P lox is  a great scrabble word.  I don't think I have ever used it in a Scrabble game though, note to self -  make it a goal.
Still going strong, with black eyed susans competing.

This phlox (Starfire) has beautiful red spring colour in the leaves and  stem and brilliant scarlet red flowers now.

 This has been a mildew free year for phlox in our region. The hot dry summer seemed to provide perfect conditions for phlox.  Heaven knows there are enough varieties of colour to satisfy any gardener.  At last I have satisfied by urge to collect every colour.  I do have a favourite which came from my sister-in-law (the best plants are always gifts!)

I think white is an essential background colour in a garden.
I have placed a border of white phlox at the back of the garden.  I have it interplanted with orange daylilies, so that as the lilies die down the phlox emerge for a new show in the garden bed.

This one was from my mother-in-law and is a very old phlox.  She had it in her garden for more than 20 years. Perhaps it is "lilac time" introduced in the  40's.
It is a beautiful pale lavendar colour.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

One the raccoons didn't get!

The long awaited blossom!
The promise.
The shady pond with yellow flag iris, papryus, water hycinthe, and leaf lettuce.
Having a pond is very rewarding.  I love the sound of the falling water and both the Handyman and I spend time each day gazing at our little bit of sylvian bliss. I want the surface covered in plants with very little open water and I love the look of tall cypress and iris emerging from the pond.
I have had water lilies in the pond for years, but on my shady property they very seldom bloom.  I thought, at last, this year the plants were strong enough and robust enough to bloom and was looking forward to three buds on a water lily!  But one night a raccoon bit the buds off! How utterly disappointing.  Only another gardener can understand the feeling of letdown. After waiting patiently for years and anticipating each year that this might be the one for blooms, it is just hard to have your hopes and expectations dashed when they are about to be realized!  Drat those raccoons, or as my friend might say, ``Oh yes, bring your gun and kill those /!"///"! raccoons!`` Ah, the irony of being a gardener! It does stir very conflicting emotions.