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)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Some berries will have to wait

Fortunately our black currants are still not ripe. The white currants and the gooseberries are almost ripe. However, ready or not, a few of them will have to wait as some birds, some kind of native sparrow, have decided to build their nest right in the middle of the berry patch. They are not interested in the berries, just in the extra protection afforded by a thorny gooseberry bush in the middle of an enclosed garden.

'Pink Champagne' white currants

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

An Outing

I belong to the local gardening club and last week we had a bus trip to visit two gardens, one of which includes a nursery. We left at 9AM, had lunch at the garden-nursery and were back around 5 PM. The day was beautiful, but this means the pictures are not as good as they would have been had the day been less bright and sunny.

Earthbound Gardens

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pavement Gardening - edge of the path

Here is yet another series of rock garden plants I grow among the stones on the garden paths. However these are some of the ones I grow only on the edges of the paths, because they cannot be stepped on.

The first one is a variety of Iberis sempervirens. Normally the flowers are white. However, in this variety, they start white, but as they age, they slowly turn pink. It is a low variety whose name I do not know as I grew it from a cutting I was given at Larkwhistle Garden many years ago. It probably would prefer more sun than the 4-5 hours that it gets, but it seems to manage well.

Perennial candytuft

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

London Pride and other saxifrages

When I think of rockfoils, the genus Saxifraga, I think of the small plants, either the encrusted varieties or of the mossy saxifrages, but not of the relatively big London Pride. Yet, London Pride (Saxifraga × urbium) is the saxifrage that grows best for us. Ours is a variegated variety (Saxifraga×urbium 'Aureopunctata'). It has been growing beautifully here for many years.

Variegated London Pride at the base of a low retaining wall

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Rose in a cold climate

Whoever was the garden writer who quipped that for Canada and the northern US, hybrid tea roses are annual shrubs, was quite right. In our climate, when it comes to selecting roses, the first consideration has to be hardiness.  In many ways, this simplifies your choice as most roses are not very hardy. Here is a review of some of the roses that are grown at Roche Fleurie.

Explorer Rose
John Davis rose on a trellis

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Road Side Flowers - late June

The garden is in an area designed as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Because this part of Ontario was always, and still is, sparsely populated, with hardly any industry and no intensive farming, the flora and fauna are particularly rich.

The following pictures were all taken on roadsides, on June 24.

Wood lily

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Short Stay in Paradise

The garden proper is supposed to be completely rabbit proof. No rabbit has managed to break in for a few years. However the gate is sometimes open for a while, and a hare (the only kind of rabbit we have around here - they turn white in winter not to be noticed on the snow) will sneak in and is quickly chased out.

Last week however, we noticed that not only one of them had been locked in, but he had become familiar enough with the garden to find hiding places and the moment you tried to chase him off towards and open door, he disappeared. He was not interested in leaving. He had a wonderful week or two. No predator could get to him, there were lots of young vegetables. Fortunately for us, his favorite meal is not lettuce, but the clover and grass growing on the small lawn (although he was developing a taste for Swiss Chard).

Like all holidays, it ended too early this morning when, like an illegal immigrant, he was escorted to the border, that is outside the garden fence. He did not seem to be afraid of humans, being used to seeing us plodding around. He knows we are quite slow. You can see he is not slow when you look at is hind leg.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Dianthus Aplenty

There are lots of dianthus at Roche Fleurie, both species and cultivated varieties. We like them very much and, perhaps more to the point, they like the garden with its basic well-drained soil.

From a botanical point of view, there are many species and cultivars of dianthus, but for a gardener's purposes, there are basically three kinds:  the pinks, the Maiden pinks and the Sweet Williams. Carnations are, of course, dianthus, but they really are grown as cut flowers and are not adapted to growing as a border plant.

Most dianthus bloom in late spring, roughly at the same time as peonies, but for a longer period. Dianthus are not only attractive, but also very fragrant, very hardy (some survive in zone 2) and low maintenance plants.

Assortment of pinks

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The opulence of June

June is an opulent month in the sense that it is rich and lavish in all it has to offer, especially in blooms. My first example is the Pink Lady Slipper, an orchid that can hold its own with any tropical ones. This is the queen (reginae), the Showy Lady Slipper (Cypripedium reginae). Ours is a rather darker pink than is usual.

Showy Lady Slipper