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)

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