Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Early Summer Treats

The best part of summer for me is the blooming of the big rambling roses. When we lived on acreage in the Fraser Valley, I had many of these lovely plants, but now on a Vancouver city lot I have room for just two.

Why these particular ones? Well, 'Ghislaine de Féligonde' has the distinction of being just about the only rambler that produces a second flush of bloom. It's not as spectacular as the first flush, but it does give something extra to look forward to later in the summer. Flowers start out as apricot buds, open in shades of buff-yellow and peach, then fade to cream. All colours are present over its bloom period. 
If this rose has a drawback it has to be the fleeting scent, not really noticeable unless you put your face close against a flower.

'Lykkefund', on the other hand, has a perfume that drifts across the whole garden, especially in the evening. 
Like most ramblers, produces all its flowers in one great cascade: the photo below shows only half of its full length along the fence.

It begins with peach-coloured buds, which open to loose-petalled white flowers.

What makes it rare among among ramblers is its lack of thorns, a really useful quality in a tight space like a city lot.

A view across the garden from the house shows 'Ghislaine de Féligonde' at the centre top with just one truss of 'Lykkefund' visible on the right behind the old pear tree.

Over to the left a trio of perennials are in bloom.

In the foreground is blue star (Amsonia hubrichtii) with pale blue flowers on willowy stems. At the back the haze of little white buttons belongs to Ranunculus aconitifolius 'Flore Pleno', which will bloom generously for at least two months. Although it's a buttercup relative it stays in a well-behaved, tidy clump.

Between them are the sturdy stems of Astrantia 'Roma'. Unlike many of its family, 'Roma' is sterile so it doesn't necessitate ongoing weeding out of its many children at other times of the year.

Elsewhere in the garden a Roscoea has slowly progressed from one flowering stem per summer to several.

I think it's Roscoea cautleyoides, although it looks paler than other images I've seen. Whatever it is, it lights up a shady spot under the pear tree with its curious blooms.

Sunday, 26 July 2020

The Merry Month of May ... and a new Blog Title

It's no wonder that May is called the merry month. The garden fills out with fresh green growth and early perennials sprinkle it with blossom, gladdening any gardener's heart. 

Most of the small willows I grow have shed their catkins already, but creeping Salix nakamura var. yezo-alpina is still holding up its bright little candles over green leaves fringed with silky hairs.

Hostas are breaking ground,

Hosta 'American Halo'

... and sharing the shady area with them are Brunnera 'Looking Glass', Japanese painted ferns and two Heuchera - 'Sugar Plum' and 'Green Spice' .

Hydrangea 'Kiyosumi', also in the shade, is leafing out in similar colours.

Where there's more sunshine, Clematis 'Willy' is dangling its delicate bells through the branches of its rosemary host.

A more spectacular relative, 'Miss Bateman', has opened a first flower with many more to come.

Gradually the green bars will fade and the mature flowers will be pure white, with that beet red centre darkening to purple. 

Watching these kinds of transformations take place in flowers is one of the pleasures of having a garden. Another one will occur when the green and white bracts of little woodland Anemone nemorosa 'Bracteata' lose their petals to reveal a splash of cobalt blue around the stem. There's one flower already doing that in the bottom left of my photo

The anemone is growing under a variegated dogwood, Cornus alternifolia `Argentea', which is just leafing out. Even on a cloudy day, this lovely tree gives the impression of being bathed in sunshine.

Two bright spots in the garden right now are Geum 'Cosmopolitan', awash with peach-coloured flowers rimmed in red.

...and the tomato-red clusters of Enkianthus 'Red Bells' that look from a distance more like tiny fruits than flowers. 

And on the back fence, my earliest blooming rose, Rosa pimpinellifolia, is making its usual generous May display of heavily-scented cream flowers with golden stamens and is abuzz with bees. Even as the flowers fade, their fragrance will hang in the evening air as we come and through the nearby gate.

This will be the last post on this blog under the name Grand Folly. It was a good name for the adventure of restoring some character to our much-modified house and gradually surrounding it with a new garden of the plants I had already come to love. Ten years on, the garden is maturing and there's little now that I haven't recorded in previous years. 

I am changing the name to A Planted Place, which will allow to me continue recording this garden but also give me more scope to write about other gardens and the interesting plants in them. You will be able to find it under the new title or under my name @blogspot.com

Friday, 24 April 2020

Pear Tree Blossoms

When the pear tree blooms, I always find myself thinking of the poem Home Thoughts From Abroad by Robert Browning. Everyone knows the first line, "Oh to be in England, now that April's there...",  but further on he remembers "where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge/ Leans to the field and scatters on the clover/ Blossoms and dewdrops..."

Where my pear tree grows, there's no hedge or field or clover, but it does scatter its petals like large white snowflakes over everything beneath it.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

A Week of Contrasts

On the last day of March, we had a sudden afternoon thunderstorm accompanied by a flurry of hail.
As so often with these spring weather happenings, it was so local that our friends further west had none of it.

Now, just a week later, we have a spell of sunny weather and everything is bursting into bloom. 
The daffodils were already flowering and to my surprise came through the pummelling without any visible damage. 
My favourite grape hyacinth, two-tone blue Muscari latifolium has emerged underneath them to make a cheerful combination of colours.

A variety of different primulas scattered about are are making bright patches where later perennials have yet to break ground.

The first to bloom are a couple of fat little doubles that hug the ground in tight clumps. I find them a bit lacking in elegance but the fact that they are so early and flower in such profusion without crowding their neighbours has led me to acquire a number of different varieties.

Primula 'Sue Jervis'

Primula 'Dawn Ansell'

The blue flower accompanying 'Dawn Ansell' is Anemone blanda, one of several wood anemones I've collected. It pops up virtually overnight around the beginning of March and sticks around until it's overtaken by the more delicate Anemone nemorosa 'Robinsoniana', a paler lavender-blue.

Anemone nemorosa 'Robinsoniana'

Going briefly back to the primulas, I've been charmed by 'Lady Greer', another delicate woodlander. The opening petals have a slight pink blush that fades to cream.

Primula' Lady Greer'

It's in the same bed as some trilliums, but luckily not too close as I think their crisp white petals on stiffly upright stems might make 'Lady Greer' look less ladylike.

Trillium grandiflorum

Lastly, a small triumph for me this spring. I've never had much luck with snakehead fritillaries, but for once I've been rewarded with two small flowers on Fritillaria meleagris. Behind them is Heuchera 'Sugar Plum' in similar colours.

Fritillaria meleagris

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Good-looking Hellebores

Every gardener knows that not all varieties of a particular species are created equal. Some thrive, some sulk. I know I've posted lots of images of hellebores in previous years, but it's worth highlighting the ones that have flourished and expanded to give the most satisfactory results.

My favourite this year is 'Rose Quartz', which has not only blossomed enthusiastically, but gone through an interesting colour change in the course of four weeks.
In February it looked like this:

A month later, it had opened out to show the stamens while the colour had changed to a warm pink with darker feathering.

'Cherry Blossom' is usually first of the Lenten types to flower and never disappoints. It lasts for a long period too, at least 6 weeks. In this photo it's beginning to lose its freshness but still looks pretty good.

'Rachel' has been another star performer and complements the colour of our house. Its green ruffs frame it enough to allow it to stand out.

Finally, I've mentioned in the past how sad 'Jade Tiger' was when I acquired it and how well it seemed to be responding. This year it looked much more like a happy plant although it still needs a bit of support to keep it upright.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Welcome to Spring

What a difference a month makes!  On February 5th, I was recording the aftermath of a sudden snowfall.

On March 6th, the same crocus were luxuriating in spring sunshine. 

By mid-month, the black willow (Salix gracilistyla 'Melanostachys') was at its prettiest and a considerable contrast to its bedraggled black February buds.

The back garden is still a long way from its summer profusion, but the beginnings of growth are visible everywhere.

One of my most successful corners at this time of year has quite a few early flowers competing for attention. Under the pale yellow canopy of Corylopsis pauciflora, fading winter aconites and snowdrops have given way to several hellebores and the blue, daisy-like Anemone blanda.

A single golden Erythronium is in bloom behind clumps of double white primula 'Dawn Ansell', which is just showing buds. In another couple of days, they and the delicate wands of Tulipa turkestanica will fill in some gaps.

The little anemone is a spreader and will, I hope, eventually fill in more of the gaps.

 Its drawback is that it disappears completely by summer, which means I need to find it a later-blooming companion able to live in harmony with it.

On the other side of the back garden, Narcissus 'Jack Snipe' has just leapt into flower.

This is such a good performer, expanding its flower production every year. Back here among the raspberry canes, its dying foliage will be rapidly obscured by the leafy growth of perennials in front of it.

Meanwhile, along the side of the house, fresh leaves on Schizophragma hydrangeoides 'Moonlight' are brightening the very dark alley.

Perhaps this will be the year that this climbing hydrangea relative will bloom for the first time. Even if it doesn't, the marbled foliage will provide some interest here, as will the cyclamen planted below. I've planted both spring-blooming Cyclamen coum and fall-blooming Cyclamen hederifolium to make the most of a narrow strip of earth in a very shady location.

Monday, 9 March 2020

Hail and fare well

 Late on Sunday afternoon, a sudden hailstorm blanketed the garden in white.

Fortunately, the pellets of ice were semi-soft rather than hard little bullets. 
Although they refused to melt for 24 hours, allowing me to take these photos the following morning, they didn't have much effect on the spring bulbs.

Everything seems to have fared well. Snowdrops, daffodils, crocus and even hellebores all withstood the beating without any obvious damage.