Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Vagaries of Names

With the Internet, common names of plants have taken on a new dimension. We all know that some plants have various common names, and that some common names (like Dusty Miller) are used to describe a multitude of different plants. However, we and our gardening acquaintances are usually familiar with the one or two common names out of several that can be used. With the Internet, you are in contact with gardeners who live very far from you, and you realize that some of them actually use these names you read about but have never heard anyone use.  

Are these common poppies, corn poppies, corn roses, field poppies, Flanders poppies, Shirley poppies or all of the above?

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Unless we garden in very small areas, we all have "wild" parts of the garden where we expect plants to be able to take care of themselves and compete with the local vegetation. Plants  that can be relied on to do so will be different for each of us, depending on local conditions. I have tried in this post to list some of the ones that can put up with our poor alkaline soil, which tends to be on the dry side in summer and is always wet (when not flooded) in winter.

One of the most interesting of these is the Grecian Foxglove, Digitalis lanata.

 Grecian Foxglove

Friday, January 9, 2015


I have mentioned that the garden is on an alvar. However, I have never properly explained what an alvar is.

Wikipedia describes it as: " a biological environment based on a limestone plain with thin or no soil and, as a result, sparse grassland vegetation. Often flooded in the spring, and affected by drought in midsummer."

Here is what part of the alvar looks like at Roche fleurie. As you can see on the right, a stone pavement, just about as smooth as a concrete floor, which is crisscrossed by crevasses such as the one on the left.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

One's Treasure is someone else's weed

Rereading Margery Fish, a garden writer most active in the 1960s, I was struck how plants can behave differently from one garden to the next. Plants she describes as invasive are not so here, and some I finds invasive she does not. As she puts it: "one can only speak from one's own experience in the gardens one knows". Lysimachia Clethroides, with its shepherd's crook white flowers, was a menace in our previous garden, but M. Fish finds it does not spread much.

Lysimachia Clethroides and Morning Glory

Monday, December 22, 2014

Commemorative Trees

Commemorative trees are usually associated with special events or are planted by an important personage visiting an area. Usually, each one is accompanied by a plaque to remind people of the event.

There are also private commemorative trees planted by individuals to commemorate a family event, like the birth of a child. These do not usually have an explanatory plaque and are mostly or exclusively known by the family. Many years after they were planted, no one remembers why they were planted or what they were supposed to commemorate.

However that is not always the case. The sequoia pictured below is one of several that commemorate a family event which is remembered.

Monday, December 15, 2014


Some plant combinations we work hard to create, others appear by themselves often producing a better effect than the result of much thought and effort on our part. Here are some examples of combinations that are mostly the result of serendipity.

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) and violas

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cold Beacon Hill

We are in Victoria, British Columbia, where winters are usually very mild.

However, today things were topsy-turvy with temperatures apparently above 10C at Roche Fleurie, whereas here in Victoria it was a chilly -5C with a dusting of snow. I took the opportunity that it was very sunny to take the following pictures in Beacon Hill, the largest park in the city.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Most Unusual Break-In

Having been away for two weeks with no one staying in the house, you always feel a bit nervous when you come back, not knowing what to expect. Not that we ever have had any problems since we started living full time here at Roche Fleurie.  This time, however, there was an unpleasant surprise when we turned the corner and first saw the porch. The glass in a window just above the door was smashed.