garden photos

Perennial bed next to path in back garden, pink delphinium, grey foliage, heuchera "Timeless Orange"

In Bloom

Another garden post! The truth is I can’t think of anything to say about writing that I haven’t said already. So no rule-quibbling, nothing about the WIP, and no buy-my-books message (although you can find out about those via the menu at the top or in the sidebar).

Red-leaf rose (Rosa glauca) in foreground, white climbing rose in background on Norway maples
Roses are in bloom now. Here is a nameless (to me) white climber held up by the Norway maples I’m always complaining about, and (in the foreground) the red-leaf rose (Rosa glauca).
Red-leaf rose (Rosa glauca)
Close-up of red-leaf rose foliage and flower.
Blue delphinium, standard privet (in bloom), foliage of dahlia "Bishop of Llandaff" and pergola
Blue delphinium with standardized privet in bloom behind it and dahlia foliage in front.
Blue delphinium with white bee
Blue delphinium with white “bee” (the bit in the middle of each flower)
Lavender pink delphinium, from volunteer seedling
Lavender-pink delphinium. This was a volunteer seedling I identified and encouraged to grow. I’m quite happy with it.
White Lychnis coronaria, grey foliage, with foliage of hellebore and bergenia
Campion (Lychnis coronaria a.k.a. Silene coronaria). This is a quasi-weed that does well almost everywhere. The white form is quite elegant, especially when it’s just starting to bloom. Hellebore and bergenia foliage in background.
Long-spurred Columbines (Aquilegia)
Long-spurred columbine with hellebore and heuchera foliage in background.

Hopefully I’ll have something worthwhile to say about writing by next week. Suggestions are welcome–from writers, readers, or gardeners!

Coloured foliage of Brunnera "Looking Glass," Pulmonaria, and grass Milium effusum "Aureum"

Green Isn’t the Only Colour

Plants are green. Everyone knows that. But green isn’t a single colour; there are a million shades of green. Throw in texture and an all-green planting is anything but monotone.

But many plants have leaves in colours besides or other than green. Combinations of white and green, for example. Or colours such as orange, red, purple, or even blue. Blue leaves–imagine that!

Here are some plants from my garden with colour variations.

Green and white Hosta
Green and white variegated hosta
Green and white ornamental grass
Green and white grass
Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum
Japanese painted fern
Heuchera "Green Spice"
Heuchera “Green Spice.” Note the similar colours to the fern!
Heuchera "Key Lime Pie"
Heuchera “Key Lime Pie”
Heuchera "Timeless Orange" with grey foliage in the background
Heuchera “Timeless Orange” and grey leaved plants
Brunnera "Looking Glass"
Brunnera “Looking Glass”

The last one is my favourite. Cerinthe “Pride of Gibraltar” starts out with leaves of pale green, but as the flower buds develop, the leaves close to them turn a bronzy purple, and then a pure blue. Some are almost navy blue. The flowers are those little purple tubes sticking out at the ends.

Cerinthe Pride of Gibraltar close-up, blue leaves
Cerinthe "Pride of Gibraltar"
Laburnum and Erysimum "Bowles Mauve"

Bigger Pictures

My garden photos are often closeups of individual plants or groups of plants. So I thought it was time to post some wider views, in the form of a tour. The garden is at its best right now (early May), when it’s still lush and green.

Laburnum and Erysimum "Bowles Mauve"
A nice conjunction of bloom next to the driveway–laburnum tree and wallflower (Erysimum) “Bowles Mauve”
Front walk, perennial bed, lawn, and magnolia
Up the front walk… Perennials on the left, magnolia on the right
Perennial bed to west of front walk
Perennials on the left (west) side of the walk
Perennial bed on west side of house, looking north
Along the west side of the house. More perennials and the lilac in full bloom
Back garden
The back garden. The part to the right of the path used to be a vegetable patch, but is now a mixture of herbs, refugee plants, and volunteers. The pond area is behind the trellis and the shed is in the right hand corner, hidden by the apple tree.
Garden pond
The pond is at the end of the main path in the back garden
Back garden looking toward shed from pond
Looking east over the pond toward the shed. The ladder is there because of work on the shed’s roof, but I issued a stop-work order because chickadees are nesting in the birdhouse under the eaves.
Back garden, looking west to pond bench
Looking west from the shed to the cedar stump bench by the pond, which is hidden by the ferns
Perennial bed on west side of house, looking south
Leaving via the west side path
Heuchera "Key Lime Pie"
Heuchera “Key Lime Pie” and potted hellebores wave goodbye.

I hope you enjoyed the tour!

Crocuses along front walk

Spring Again

My garden to-do list for February and March

  • Finish winter pruning and haul brush pile to curb for collection
  • Clean up beds, cut down dead stalks, etc.
  • Uproot or cut suckers of lilac, snowberry, and Oregon grape from spots where they’re not wanted
  • Dig up or at least cut down plants of invasive Italian arum (aka Arum italicum or lords-and-ladies)
  • Pull up maple and laburnum seedlings, shotweed, and other weeds
  • Lay out soaker hoses. (They won’t be needed until June, but it’s much easier to wrestle them into place when plants are small)
  • Edge the beds that adjoin lawns
  • Acquire materials for mulching mix: bagged manure, lime, slow-release fertilizer, kelp meal, bone meal, alfalfa pellets
  • Mix above materials with compost to make Alfa-Omega* mix for mulching, and distribute among the beds
  • Repot potted delphiniums and hostas to larger pots; ditto the rose “Fragrant Cloud,” which was grown from a cutting and therefore is on its own rather feeble roots, rather than grafted onto a vigorous rootstock
  • Seed tomatoes
  • Execute the colchicum-clematis move as per plan.

*Alfalfa plus the “end product,” i.e., manure.

I’ve already done some of these things; others are in progress. Pruning was easier this spring due to the acquisition last fall of a ladder designed for use in gardens, as opposed to home maintenance.

Three-legged ladder and Photinia
This ladder is way more stable than the four-legged type, and can be adjusted for uneven terrain. Pruning the Photinia was much easier this year! (Photo taken Feb. 27/21)

While racing around doing the tasks on the to-do list, it’s nice to stop and admire something that looks wonderful.

Iris reticulata
Iris reticulata (Photo taken Feb. 19/21)
Hellebore "Pirouette"
Hellebore “Pirouette” in its new pot (repotted last September)
Hellebore "Pirouette"
Hellebore "Pirouette" flower closeup

Hellebore photos taken Mar. 6/21

Front arches and cotoneaster with snow February 2021

First (and Last?) Blast of Winter

Until last week, the winter of 2020-2021 was a mild one here on the west coast of Canada. That’s the way it should be, right? A couple of weeks ago, I was anticipating spring.

But this is a La Niña winter. You know La Niña–she’s El Niño’s evil twin sister. Her style is to hold back until spring is just around the corner, and then to descend on the unsuspecting saps who’ve been busy sending photos of stuff blooming in their gardens to folks in places that always get real winters.

miniature daffodils
Early daffodils in 2019. This year they didn’t quite get to this stage before the snow.

Last week, temperatures as low as -9C (16F) were forecast. I raced around the garden, lugging pots into the basement and moving other pots into what I hoped would be sufficiently sheltered spots to withstand the predicted northeast winds that were supposed to produce a wind chill well into the minus degrees. Then I covered up plants that couldn’t be moved with odds and ends of pruned twigs and things like old bath mats and car seat covers that I keep in the shed for these weather eventualities.

Snow on front garden shrubs February 2021

I kept hoping it wouldn’t be as bad as predicted, and it wasn’t, but a low of -4.5C (24F) is pretty cold, especially with a wind gusting to 70 km/hr (35 mph). Having done what I could for plants, I worried about how birds were faring. I made sure the two hummingbird feeders went out first thing in the morning. On Friday, February 12th there were three Anna’s hummingbirds tanking up at the same time at one feeder, a sight I haven’t seen before, since each feeder is usually hogged by one aggressive dude who chases any others away.

Hummingbird at feeder February 2021
Anna’s hummingbird tanking up.
Hummingbird in cotoneaster February 2021
Keeping watch on his (or maybe her?) feeder.

On Friday night, snow began and fell steadily until after noon on Saturday. Total was 30 cm (1 foot). Fortunately, the wind diminished and the temperature rose to an almost tolerable -1C (30F). Rain is predicted for next week, and a return to normal temperatures, meaning lows of 2C (36F) and highs of 8C (46F).

Bird bath and snow February 2021

Returning to plants, I would have been happier if this wintry blast had turned up in December or January, before plants were starting to sprout and even bloom. Now the hellebores, which were in bloom, have gone limp. I know they’ll rebound once it warms up, but it’s still depressing to see them lying on the ground. Buds of Clematis armandii, the evergreen clematis that’s the first to bloom, may have been blasted to the point of no bloom at all by that cold northeast wind. Some of those potted plants may have suffered as well.

Snow on front steps February 2021
Pots near front steps. You can see limp hellebores hanging over the edges of the pots on the left.

While distressing, this sort of snow and cold event is by no means unheard of here. We get one every couple of years. I just wish La Niña had better timing.

Snow on front walk February 2021
Snowdrops (Galanthus) January 9, 2021

First Signs of…

Someone I worked with used to declare, as we all returned to the office after the Christmas break, “Okay, now it’s spring!” The rest of us would beg to differ, because rain, cold, and even snow are possible until March or even April.

But my coworker had a point. If you know where to look, even early in January, you can see plants budding or even blooming.

Corsican hellebore (Helleborus argutifolius) January 9 2021
Corsican Hellebore (Helleborus argutifolius)
Hellebore "Ruby Wine" January 9, 2021
Hellebore “Ruby Wine”
Hellebore "Ruby Wine" January 9, 2021
“Ruby Wine” close-up
Algerian iris (Iris unguicularis) January 9, 2021
Algerian Iris (Iris unguicularis)

Best of all, as far as I’m concerned, the Chinese witch hazel, which hardly ever blooms, has managed a respectable show, due to extra watering last summer. OK, this is a pretty substandard photo, but if you look carefully, you can see the threadlike yellow flowers in the upper third of the picture. If you look even more carefully, you might spot a dark-eyed junco (bird) perched on a branch. These juncos are frequent visitors to the bird feeder all winter.

Chinese witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis) in bloom January 9, 2021
Chinese Witch Hazel (Hamamelis mollis) in bloom, with visiting Dark-eyed Junco
Chinese witch hazel, Hamamelis species
Chinese Witch Hazel flowers close-up

All photos taken January 9, 2021, except the last one, which is from January 2015