20 Sep 2012

A Most Bizarre Year: June 2012

I like to take a post or two, or in this case three, and review the garden – what did really well, what remained at an even keel, and what might require further attention to ensure that it rebounds next year. Of course, much can be blamed on the bizarre weather patterns, namely the scorchingly hot, drought like conditions that prevailed throughout much of the peak grow season. It is only in the past two or three weeks that temperatures have dropped [some might even say plummeted!] and there has been a return of sweet sweet glorious rain! But lets step back in time to June, the lead up to the penultimate peak of the growing season here in Zone 5 shall we…..

DSC_0030 My watering regimen was in full swing – I tried to diligently water everything every other day to ensure that they remained as lushly green as was possible with temps that soared to near 40 Celsius on some days! Being blessed with a lot of shade is often misconstrued that the plants don’t need as much moisture throughout the season, but some of my most prized specimens actually require more moisture on average. One of my favourite Polygonatum specimens, P.falcatum ‘Silver Striped Selection’ was a mere pittance of its usual self, but two arching stems are definitely better than none, and its delicate silver stripe always makes me smile!

DSC_0009 Fresh from a watering, Gentiana septemfida var. lagodochiana ‘Select’ has found a reprieve from the heat and humidity in the shade of one of Astilboides large leaves. I originally meant for the Astilboides to provide protection for my beloved Cypripedium species, specifically C. reginae which was sadly decimated by a freak hail storm earlier in the season. There is always next year, right?

DSC_0013 Of course the appearance of this diminutive Penstemon actually lessened the pain of not having my regal Reginae in the garden this Spring! I adore this plant, and have learned that its one of the ones that performs best in lean soils and actually is programmed to adapt to summer droughts rather well!

DSC_0027 The distinctly whorled, starburst pattern of its foliage is a give away for those familiar with Arisaema ciliatum var. lubaense. Truth be known this was one of the main reasons behind my consistent attention to the watering regimen. I’d already witnessed staggering growth of my native species, [see photo below] of close to 1m and I was hoping for a similar performance from this one as well!

DSC_0028 My beloved yellow flowering Aconitum didn’t perform well this year. Where I normally have at least a dozen stems, I was lucky to have half dozen this year, and the flowers didn’t last near as long as they normally do. Stress will do this to plants. While on the topic, I realized, after returning from a visit to Lost Horizons with three wonderful gardening friends that I needed to make more room pronto for a handful of choice, new additions and so Aconitum lycoctanum and Aconitum kyrlovii were lifted and happily sent to new homes. I managed to keep a small division of my favourite of the two so will hopefully be blessed with their Smurfette like flowers again next year!

DSC_0001 DSC_0012 In the span of a week between taking the photo of the emerging foliage, a clutch of garden serpents appeared to my utmost delight! This genus above all other bring back bittersweet memories of my Grandparents who used to take me for walks through the Carolinian darkling woods of Lambton County. It was here that I encountered my very first garden serpent, and was forever marked as a ‘shady character!’

DSC_0031 Deutzia x ‘Magicien’ is a favoured woody shrub for me. I adore its two tone flowers that literally smother the branches as thousands of tiny tight pink buds before opening overnight to reveal their true inner beauty.

DSC_0003 Of course with my birthday falling in June, it is also the month that signifies the most purchases. What better excuse is there to add new ‘children’ to the family? A favoured purchase from the previous Fall was Corydalis ‘Wildside Blue’ whose performance a year ago was nothing short of astounding! Those familiar with the charming blue flowering species, of this, my signature genus, know that they have a propensity for summer dormancy, especially during years of severe heat, humidity and drought! A seedling from the garden of English plantsman Keith Wiley, ‘Wildside Blue’ remained in full bloom from August [when it joined the litany of children in my garden] until frost leveled it in late November. I was so looking forward to its performance this year. It got off to a splendid start as the photo above can attest, but sadly, even with consistent moisture, it struggled during the waning days of June, and by mid July I was left with a sea of tumultuous ferny green foliage, and nary a shoal of icy blue sea horses to be seen! And for me, this brought a hot, dry, waterless June to a close!

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