Monday, September 15, 2014

Plant Portrait - Calceolaria mexicana

Calceolaria mexicana is annual. I got it from my friend Glen who grew it from seed. Last year, I put the few plants I had in a container, and it was not particularly successful. This year, I was once again given a few small plants which I decided to put directly in the ground, and they did much better. Glen tells me that it comes back from seed year after year. He has some nice drifts in his own garden.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Best New Plants for 2014

Every year, each of us tries new plants. Some are very successful, others do not do as well. Thinking about the plants we grew for the first time this year, I decided to write a post about the best ones among our own first timers. I restricted the choice to the best three, each of which is a plant I would most certainly keep or even grow more of.

The "first prize" goes to Oenothera (Gaura) lindheimeri 'Rosy Jane'.

Gaura lindheimeri 'Rosy Jane'

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Containers 2014

I like growing things in pots, both annuals and perennials. Most of the time I put only one variety in each pot. As with every year, this last summer, some pots were more successful than others.

Here is a review of what I grew in pots in 2014 and how well they did. The most successful was an alstroemeria. The variety, Fabiana, has variegated foliage which adds interest even when the plant is not in bloom.

Alstromeria 'Fabiana'

Monday, September 1, 2014

Three More Unusual Vegetables

A few weeks ago I had a post about Achocha, a vegetable the Inca are supposed to have eaten. I grew several other uncommon vegetables this year. Some of them are not very well known simply because they don't deserve to be, but others I am pleased to have discovered. Here are descriptions of three vegetables new to me.

Little melon
Little watermelon

Monday, August 25, 2014

Botanising at the Beach

This afternoon we stopped for a few minutes at a beach on Lake Huron. There were families with dogs, kites and beach chairs, swimmers - everything that you would expect on a hot day by the water in August. However, in the sand dunes leading to the water there were also interesting plants that are not very obvious, although they are very attractive.

Singing Sands, Dorcas Bay on Lake Huron, Ontario

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mostly Moss and Sedum

You would not expect mosses that like moist and shady conditions, and xeriscape plants that have the opposite requirements, would grow well together. They do, however, in our  Hobbit Garden.

It is called the Hobbit Garden because it is made up of small plants, and they are all growing on top of a stone wall that is only about two feet tall. Both the plants and the setting are diminutive. I wrote a post about it last year, but Hobbit Garden is more settled this year and worth revisiting.

Part of the Hobbit Garden

Monday, August 11, 2014

Not just red and pink

I let a lot of annual poppies self-seed, mostly in the vegetable section of the garden. At first glace, you would think that there are only lots of identical pinkish opium poppies (Papaver sommiferum) and red  corn poppies (Papaver rhoeas). But when you have a closer look, you realize that hardly any two flowers are alike.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Achocha or Caigua?

Had you presented me with these two names a couple of years ago, I would not have had a clue what you were talking about.  In fact these are two names used for a single South American vegetable, Cyclanthera pedata, which is supposed to have been grown by the Incas. I am growing it for the first time this year, having got seeds from my friend Glen.

Achocha, Caigua
Cyclanthera pedata

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Conversion

A few years ago, friends retired and bought a house in a village. They were quite pleased with the house but not with the in-ground swimming pool. Being keen gardeners, they resented the fact that almost half of the lot was given over to the pool and the cement patio surrounding it. They decided to transform it into a garden pond.

The new pond

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Plant Portrait - Biennial Clary

There is only one drawback to this plant (Salvia sclarea turkestanica):  it is biennial. It germinates and grows one year and, the second year, it reaches maturity, blooms and dies. I grew it for the first time last year and it turns out to be a stunning plant.
It is not attacked by any diseases or insects. In fact it attracts many pollinators. It is easy to grow and requires no special treatment. It is big, but it does not need staking. In spring its large leaves are attractive, and later on it gets completely covered with flowers for at least two months.

Biennial Clary (Salvia sclarea turkestanica)