I simply want for it to be May again! Here in Z5 Ontario, its usually when my garden starts to come alive without the risk of damaging frosts. To clarify, they still lurk in the forecast, but by then the kids have reacquainted themselves with the notion that sometimes you have to bare down and weather the storm. Its usually always greener on the other side! I know that Spring has truly arrived with the appearance of Polygonatum x hybridum 'Betberg' - he of the stunning brownish purple bruised juvenile foliage that is the perfect foil to the apple yellow pearl shaped pendulous flowers that hang daintily at each leaf axil. Fellow collector/hoarder Barry Parker, although recently relocated to Montreal, is always close at this time of year!
In recent years I have focused most of my garden energy towards the narrow border that is protected by the east side of the garage. While it tends to be one of the last areas on the property to melt every Spring, I cannot help but think that the near consistent snow coverage throughout the long cold winters works best to its favour! It is in this narrow border where the vast majority of my rare and unusual treasures reside.
Glaucidium palmatum [oh how its name rolls off the tongue like melted butter!] is one of the earliest of the children to make it's presence noted every Spring. So early in fact, that I have purchased three wonderful glass cloches for fear that the young leaf and flower buds might fall victim to Jack Frost! It would be heartbreaking to lose their magnificent Spring presence!
The vast majority of my Epimedium collection resides here as well. It is always a challenge for me when asked what trait about this beguiling genus I am most fond of. For many, it is the wonderful marbled/mottled Spring foliage that often includes rich wine and burgundy coloration that wins out, but I have always been partial to those whose demure flowers include the delicate claw like spurs! They remind me of delicate pink spiders - an insect that I usually give as wide a berth as possible! I can often be found sprawled out on the ground, aiming my trusted camera at the latest one to emerge. If you're a fellow connoisseur like myself, be sure to check out the catalogue listings at Lost Horizons, located in Acton, Ontario. This is where I was first 'bitten' by the Epi bug!
I do not have much in the garden by way of 'art' or statuary, with the exception of this delightful concrete Buddhist boy, who in early Spring is most visible. Within months he is all but buried beneath the foliage of other cavorting children including my ever present Corydalis 'Blue Panda.' A small patch of Mertensia virginica provides the very first of the true blue flowers, and it usually at this time that my favourite Clematis [Mrs. Harvey] begins to flush out in leaf! It truly is my favourite time in the garden.
I have recently ordered a new Kew monograph on the genus Erythronium which is one of the plants in my garden that I am adamant about increasing as far as presence in concerned. I have tried numerous times to secure additional white and pink flowering species, but have sadly come up short. I am not convinced that the corms that are sold by most bulb suppliers are even viable. Too many times I have felt around in the mesh bags and come away with shrivelled or dried up examples. I ordered the one in these photos from Fraser's Thimble Farms on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, and am presently putting together my Spring order, which will for the most part be made up of these intoxicating beauties! One can never have enough!
And then of course there are the delightful Helleborus species that no Spring garden should be without. I find myself drawn to the recent double flowering hybrids that have flooded the market. One of my all time favourites is 'Mrs. Betty Ranicar' with her pristine white blossoms!
It is hard to make out, but the photo above is yet another example of the sublimely gorgeous foliage of P. x 'Betberg'. His tall, thick stems emerge from the ground looking more like shoots of bamboo than of its true identity. I am thrilled that when happy, it quickly forms formidable sized clumps - making it easy for me to take divisions to hopefully propagate and sell to my clients at Cedar Spring Nursery. Below is one of my most cherished woodland plants - Disporum maculatum, our native 'spotted fairybells.' His foliage is covered in a light dusting of hairs, making them appear as though velvet, and his flowers are perhaps one of the largest in the genus, each one adorned with purple spots! He is slow to clump up, but is another of the 'true' signs of Spring here at Teza's Garden!
We're still a ways off, and I really shouldn't try and rush the season, as soon enough I will be running to and from the nursery like a madman, and my beloved children will have to all but trip up my feet to get to me slow down and admire their beauty. But fear not..... once this narrow border stirs into life, I will be there like the proud Father that I am!