Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Morning visitor

Yesterday, I was just in time to capture (but only on camera) this small passer-by out in front of our house.

The little creature was limping and appeared slightly dazed - perhaps had been hit by a car or attacked by a dog. It was oblivious to me standing on our front porch, which was probably just as well. I was not game to go closer, and it disappeared up the street.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Splashes of Colour

What a difference a month makes. A look back to my post of October 28 shows the garden still full of foliage and flowers. But the last couple of weeks has brought days of frost followed by strong winds and rain, leaving few signs of colour anywhere. The Enkianthus that I was admiring in the previous post has reacted by dropping most of its leaves, and those that remain have turned brown. At least the withering rosehips on climbing 'Lykkefund' are still red,

... and the last leaves on another rose, Rosa pimpinellifolia, still glow brightly.

 Leaves that have already fallen are making a pretty pattern at its base, but it won't be long before they are all bleached of colour.

However, there is one solitary star at this time of the year, flowering when nothing else does. The aptly named Mahonia 'Winter Sun' is gearing up for its shining performance at the very darkest time of the year.

Although still quite small it is starting to fill its corner. As it grows, I'll remove some of the lower leaves to show the cinnamon bark of the stems and thin the flower clusters so that they stand apart.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

November colours

Many of my perennials have collapsed and I've tidied them up for the winter, leaving bald patches of earth between the few plants still clinging to green foliage. Nevertheless, there are still some bright patches like Enkianthus perulatus, which is, with good reason, my favourite shrub at this time of the year. It just gets better and better as it grows to fill its allotted space.

Underneath it,  Begonia grandis leaves are now a mixture of lime and sulphur-yellow, providing a sharp contrast to its striking pink seedheads.

Richer colours have infused the purple leaves of a nearby Heuchera...

...and Corylopsis pauciflora is a golden beacon in its backyard corner.

Sharing the same bed at the back of the house, Clematis recta  has exchanged its star-like white flowers of summer for a froth of seedheads.

A closer look shows the electric-blue seeds in the middle of those wispy white feathers. It is one of those plants that goes through an untidy phase after flowering and the temptation is there to cut it back. I need photos like these to remind me what a bad idea that is.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Fall Begins

Coming back from a 10-day visit to Chicago and St. Louis, we found fall-blooming perennials in full swing. The view towards the house was filled by lipstick-pink Penstemon 'Garnet, white-flowered, dark-leaved Eupatorium 'Chocolate' and blue Aconitum carmichaelii 'Arendsii'.

Looking in the opposite direction, Aster 'Anja's Choice' was a cloud of pink at the feet of the aconites, while in the background, the lavender hues of another aster, 'Little Carlow' complemented their intense blue.

On a sunny day, 'Little Carlow' was buzzing with bees.

Fall colour was also on show, particularly bright on the blueberry foliage...

...and more subtle in the shade of the old pear tree, where the foliage of Actaea 'Hillside Black Beauty' had switched from sepia to a medley of soft pink and gold.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Mammoth Apple

My espaliered apples are producing fruit for the first time this year. There are not many, especially since I thinned each cluster to one or at most two apples, as instructed by Derry, my apple mentor. However, they are certainly making up in size for what they lack in quantity.

Macoun, a heritage variety introduced in 1923, has only four fruits, but they are BIG. The largest fell off a few days ago, presumably because the stem could not hold its weight any longer.

 It weighs in at 11 oz on my old kitchen scale.

I've read that the skin of this apple turns deep purple when it is ripe, so I'm wondering whether to sample it now or wait a little while in the hope it will ripen further off the tree.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The Doldrums of August

This is the month when I am least satisfied with the garden.The early summer outpouring of flowers is over, and the late summer bloomers are still waiting in the wings. It's a time when I pay a lot of attention to other gardens for suggestions on how to improve my own.

It's not all bad, though. Dominating the back garden is good old reliable Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm', a cascade of brilliant yellow and black.

And Geranium 'Rozanne' never gives up, churning out more little bright purple flowers every day.  (My photographs always come out too pink; the flowers at the top left and right are truer to the right colour.)

Lobelia siphilitica is doing well too with lots of sky-blue spikes. It's a rather floppy plant, but since it blooms now, and in such a lovely colour, I'm willing to give it space. It has self-seeded a little so I will have more if I want to build up a good clump of it. I suspect a lot more people would grow it if it had a change of name.

In the second photo, rosehips on a trailing stem of  'Lykkefund' have entered the frame. These will begin to turn orange and then red as the season winds down.

Ever-reliable Penstemon 'Garnet' is starting to bloom and will get better over the next few months if I keep up the deadheading.

An unexpected pleasure is a few gorgeous flowers on Clematis 'Miss Bateman'.

 It bloomed in May, as always, but I then cut it back hard as we were installing a screen behind it. Its response has been to grow vigorously and now to put out more flowers. This old variety has been around since 1869, and is one of my all-time favourites of its genus.

In the front garden, tree hydrangea (H. aspera ssp. sargentiana) continues to shift through a series of watery hues,

...while Daphne 'Eternal Fragrance' lives up to its name beside the front path. Not much to look at really, but the scent is powerful, especially in the evening, and the plant is neat, evergreen and flowers for about nine months.

Beside it is Sanguisorba 'Finale', which would be just as discreet except for its height. (I didn't expect it to grow so tall and will re-locate it when it is dormant.) At about 7 ft, it towers over me, and its little dark red thimbles of flower are hard to see. The bees certainly find them, though - it's abuzz all day with honey, bumble and mason bees as well as an assortment of wasps and other flying insects.

Also in front, Heuchera 'Marmalade' is compensating for a lack of flowers in my shadiest bed with its bold contrast of pink, lime-green and gold.

In a different shady bed, there are toad lily flowers, not very visible from a distance but spectacular if you get up close. This is Tricyrtis hirta 'Blue Wonder'. I've never had much luck with the species, but this particular cultivar seems more robust and has larger, more vibrant flowers.

Behind it is the purple foliage of Actaea 'Hillside Black Beauty', a subtle, but welcome addition to the predominant green. Its shepherd's-crook flowers look rather like seedheads right now. Within a week or two they will open into long white bottlebrushes.

Where true seedheads are appearing, however, they're providing some extra interest

Allium sphaerocephalum,

 ,... and  Clematis 'Durandii' are two such contributors.

 But neither can compete with Paeonia obovata, which is doing a good impression of a small alien landing in the garden.

 I tend not to notice our collection of Sempervivums out near the back lane, alongside our car space, perhaps because they are always there, always the same. But those are attributes I should appreciate more, especially because these are all named varieties from an Ontario nursery that sadly no longer does mail order.

I haven't kept track of which is which, although I still have the list of about 10 names.

Finally, even if the ornamental occupants of the garden are taking a break, there's always the pleasure of vegetables ripening to compensate.
It's been a good year for tomatoes,

Black Cherry

San Marzano
... as well as green beans,

Blue Lake
...not mention lettuce, arugula, broccoli and onions.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

July Delights

Several lovely things bloomed in July. Among them were all my poppies, which have mutated into a collection of singles, doubles and semi-doubles in a variety of colours.


My one and only daylily, 'Wild Wine' gave them some competition, although it's slow to bulk up - only two stems of flowers this year.

Tree hydrangea, Hydrangea aspera subsp. sargentiana is a quieter but more complex flower, opening pale pink and white then shifting to blue and white.

 A much smaller, more delicate hydrangea, H. serrata 'Beni', one of this year's acquisitions, is settling in well and shows off its cherry-red flowers nicely against a backdrop of variegated hosta.

Mosquito grass Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde' catches all the sunlight in its elegant flowerheads floating on fine wiry stems.

Some plants that flowered earlier in the year are already living up to their promise of more than one season's interest by now producing a different kind of show. Rosa pimpinellifolia, having flowered back in June, is covered in glowing deep-red hips and playing host to numerous ladybugs.

...and Clematis 'Durandii' is producing seedheads like shiny golden pinwheels among the chartreuse leaves of Hydrangea 'Sikes Dwarf'. It's also still producing occasional cobalt-blue flowers like the one I photographed in an earlier post.

Not far away, the first cyclamen are emerging among the fronds of a Korean fern.

Meanwhile, at the front of the house, the lavender I was eagerly awaiting in June made a scented July display,

... an interesting comparison with the photo below in my previous post.