Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Conceptual Gardens

Last August, we visited Les Jardins de Métis which, every summer, host an international garden festival. The competing gardens are conceptual gardens. These are not traditional gardens but rather conceptual installations. Opinions are very divided about these gardens. Some people love them, but I think a majority of gardeners, fail to see them as gardens or are puzzled by them. Not long ago, I read a post by Chloris about Whether the Garden is an Art Form, and of course conceptual gardens were mentioned. I thought I would look up what these gardens are meant to be. All the pictures were taken in Métis, in Québec, last summer.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Seedy Saturday in Kitchener, Ontario

Yesterday, I attended "Seedy Saturday". This is a yearly event that brings together people interested in growing plants from seed, biodiversity, heritage gardening and organic gardening. It takes place in many cities all across Canada. The one I attend is organized by the Kitchener Master Gardeners group of which I used to be a member. It takes place in a branch of the local public library.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Small but Packing a Punch

Mazus reptans

Creeping mazus is the most successful mat-forming carpeter in our garden. It grows between rocks, and in the spring it is covered with mauve-lilac snapdragon-like flowers with a yellow-spotted lower lip. It is a very tough little plant that does not require any maintenance whatsoever or any work from the gardener other than to plant it.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Lady'-slipper Orchids

I mentioned in a previous post that the large yellow Lady'-slipper (Cypripedium pubescens) grows wild around the garden. Nurseries sell them as well as other species and many beautiful hybrids, but they are not easy to grow. On two occasions in the early Roche Fleurie years, when clumps of Lady'-slipper were about to be bulldozed, I tried transplanting them but with no success, even if the large yellow Lady'-slipper is listed as one of the easy Cypripediums to grow in gardens or in pots. So I thought I would read about them to see what their requirements are and compare these to my experience of seeing them grow profusely in the wild.

Cypripedium pubescens

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Other Foxgloves

When foxglove is mentioned, we think of the biennial Digitalis purpurea, the best-known and most common foxglove. However, that particular foxglove does not do well for us. It is not that you cannot grow it. It does grow, but rather reluctantly. In both gardens I have had, you could grow them, but not very successfully. It must be due to a combination of climate (they can be killed by our winters) and soil (they prefer a slightly acidic soil). However the other foxgloves, mostly yellow, do very well for us.

Digitalis naturalized
Various Digitalis naturalized

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Rock wool for seeds germination

I start many perennial plant seeds which I get from seed exchanges. Over the years I have tried various mediums/substrates for starting seeds. I have mixed my own, using peat moss and sterilized garden soil and vermiculite or Perlite. I have also used peat-based commercial mixes as well as very sandy mixes. Ideally, you would choose the medium best suited to the plant you want to germinate.

For instance, a peat-based mix should do well for plants that like an acidic soil. However, if you start seeds of many different plants, creating a specialized mix for each seed would require a great deal of work. Ideally, you would use a substrate appropriate to most seeds. Last year I tried something new, I used rock wool. The results were mixed.

Seeds from seed exchanges

Sunday, February 2, 2014

What is in Bloom in Kitchener, Ontario

Last week I had a post on what was in bloom in Victoria, British Columbia. I thought I would do the same thing for Kitchener, Ontario this week. Nothing is yet in bloom. These pictures give you an idea of the kind of winter much of North America is having.

Table in a garden