14 Oct 2013

To My Garden, With Thanks!


I should like to remove the presence of the vehicle from this photo, and perhaps have shifted the line of focus slightly to the left, but for it it epitomizes how perfect a fall day it is! I am also just noticing that you can see… well let me ask you this…. how many trees [or lesser shrubs] can you see in this photo? A short game of ‘Where’s Teza?’ if you like!

DSC_0279My fall flowering, shade loving, yellow to boot Salvia koyomae is reveling in it’s gloriousness! I have never seen a plant respond as energetically as this one did! What started out as a modest one gallon plant has morphed [in this one season alone] into a plant that take up a 1m section of the shaded garden between the two houses. Next to Salvia sclarea v. ‘Turkestanica’ it is my favourite within the genus of typically sun loving species. I readily admit to planting it more for its amazing arrowhead shaped, blue green foliage, which, now that it is covered in bloom, is a delightful contrast to the yellow flowers.

DSC_0267I had planned on taking my Full Moon Prince to work and transplanting him into the newly created propagation bed for the winter, but decided that I wanted to be able to keep a close eye on him – typical of any parent is it not? He [Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’] was the first ‘substantial’ purchase that I made in this, my first season at my current place of employ! For most of the season, he has resided in a large ceramic pot, strategically positioned on my front veranda out of harms way – away from damaging winds and scorching mid day sunlight. Another vampish sort of character if you ask me! The more the merrier!


While we’re talking about foliage, I need to make mention that I am the proud parent of no less than three sublime members of the genus Cercis![Redbud] Those of you in warmer climates [Zone 6 +] re not likely to appreciate the fact that for me, it has been an uphill battle getting one to survive a winter, let alone carry foliage and flowers! Even twenty minutes from here, they tend to grow like weeds! This is our native, Cercis canadensis. The photo below is of a newer, supposedly hardier cultivar of the exquisite C.c ‘Forest Pansy,’ one that I have tried and killed in my last two attempts. Third time lucky? Judging on the incredible amount of new growth this season, I think I might have stumbled on to something special! Oh, its bot-latin name is Cercis canadensis ‘Greswan’ or ‘Burgundy Hearts.’ [He was substantial purchase number two! Methinks that was the moment that my employer realized that he had a die hard plant geek on his hands! [ A short side tangent if you will!] We had been told that at the far end of one of our suppliers’ property, there was a building that contained a small collection of some of the more rare and unusual tree materials that were new this year! Of course between myself and the building in question were at least half a dozen rows of other trees and shrubs. Oh. And it was raining, and the ground beneath our feet was getting soggier with each precarious step! Ask me where the Dappled Willows were, and I would have simply shrugged my shoulders!] Needless to say, he came home with us, and has been one of my most prided acquisitions this year! He will definitely be making a return appearance as part of our inventory for 2014!

DSC_0246I am a major fan of Aconitum, and while my tendencies lean towards the earlier, mitre cap shaped flowers of A.kyrlovii, not to mention the sublime two toned A.alboviolaceum, I do wait patiently for the sublime blue/purple, helmet shaped, fall flowering species as well! 

DSC_0253Aconitum incisofidum is a tall and sturdy species with, as its name suggests, deeply incised shiny dark green foliage. It helps to keep the wolves from howling at my door this time of year!

DSC_0262Similar, but not, is this shorter, less substantial stalked species whose exact name eludes me at the moment. It saddens me to hear gardeners say they would like to grow it, but for its toxicity. These same gardeners grow Digitalis along their walkways! Avoid touching, and for the love of Sweet Baby Jesus, do not ingest it, and always as a safeguard wash your hands thoroughly when coming in from the garden….. otherwise, why not join the few and voraciously vocals among us gardeners known as the ‘helmet-heads!’

DSC_0270‘For a guy who most identifies his personality with that of a wolf, you sure do grow a lot of wolfsbane!’ A dear gardening friend once made this comment after counting no less than six different species growing here in the gardens. I miss her sharp tongued, sharper witted repartees.  

DSC_0271 My Actaea matusmurae ‘White Pearls’ flower wands are now a mass of seed-heads which in time will hopefully offer sustenance to the birds this winter. Otherwise they will drop and hopefully ensure the longevity of this must have Fall garden plant. Nothing comes close to replicating its intoxicating fragrance when in full bloom. It makes for a most pleasurable surprise, being that it blooms when much everything else has entered their ‘gentle decline.’

DSC_0285Earlier in the season I squealed like a girl and pontificated on what is without a doubt, one of my all-time favourite woodland perennials – anemonopsis macrophylla! Now all the remains are these delicate, dangling seed pods which I am going to collect later in the season in an attempt to propagate this most bewitching of plants! Fingers crossed. Looking at the ground in front of it, I was thrilled to make a new discovery!

DSC_0289Another native, terrestrial ground orchid, Spiranthes cernua v. odorata ‘Chadds Ford,’ is one of the last to bloom in the garden. It is also known as ‘fragrant ladies tresses,’ and is native to moist boggy, slightly acidic soil in partial shade. It is another one of those ‘drop to your knees’ to fully appreciate type plants that never fails to stop visitors in their tracks! The distinct light vanilla fragrance is the proverbial icing on an already beautifully decorated cake! Please, please, please seek a reputable grower if you want to add this demure darling to your garden. Leave those in nature to themselves!

DSC_0290DSC_0247DSC_0296  Next week will bring the semi annual application of Compost Plus to the garden, a well deserved ‘thank you’ on my behalf for what has turned out to be a stellar garden season. And sooner, rather than later, will come the first of the frosts. I’m too busy enjoying my children’s last seeming burst of rambunctiousness to be bothered worrying about when the first flakes will fly.

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