Sunday, November 09, 2014

ATLANTA BOTANICAL GARDENS - orchids, orchids and more orchids

Before spending some hot and humid time in the Atlanta Botanical Garden's orchid house I had no idea the variety that these beauties offer.

While many of the colours are variations on pink or white I was pleasantly surprised to find some bright yellows and even a vibrant orange.  Whatever their colour or form, all of these flowers are beautiful and some are areally rather distinctive.  

I hope you enjoy!















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Monday, November 03, 2014

MACRO MONDAY - foxglove and bee

I have tried for years to grow Foxglove.
First at the Ontario cottage in a wooded area beside our path I learned the hard way they were not getting enough sun, so then I tried to naturalize them along the side of the road where would receive more sun but where they quickly became choked out by native Bracken without me there to help keep the ferns at bay. 

Last year in Winnipeg I added them in two locations but "the coldest winter in living memory" turned them to mush. 


Still I persist, inspired by the Assiniboine Park gardens where they bloom en-masse only a a five minute bike ride from my home.

This year in the Monet Garden I believe I have found the right combination of rich organic soil and enough sunlight.  Let us hope that with some mulching they make it through our cold winters and their gorgeous spires return again next ear to provide much needed habitat for our bees.


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Friday, October 31, 2014

ATLANTA BOTANICAL GARDENS - scarecrows

In September I visited the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and aside from all the usual reasons to go, including a raised path through the trees, gorgeous sculptures & fountains and of course loads and loads of plants, there were also hundreds of "scarecrows" created by local groups throughout the gardens.

I have selected my favourites for you to enjoy on Halloween, ranked from least-scary to most-scary, so be prepared, you may want to turn up the lights as you near the end.




















Wednesday, October 22, 2014

UNDER CONSTRUCTION - digging up the monet garden

 In order to have foundation work done in our basement, the Old Sun Garden and the back of the Monet Garden outside our living room windows have been completely dug up.
August 13
The back of the Monet was not stellar looking by any stretch yet, yet it had been set on its path and I was not planning on adding much else to the Monarda, Anchusa azurea 'Loddon Royalist' Ostrich Ferns, Tree Lilies, New England Asters and Foxglove.

Oct. 15-30
Originally I wanted as much colour in this garden as possible, I was tired of the shade gardens I had in Ontario and wanted to have more sun and new options - what I have come to realize is that wanting something does not make it so. It is time for a new look at old favourites, time to  revive my appreciation for shades of green and embrace, rather than fight, the Monet Garden's shady character.

I am going to raise up the height of the back bed by bringing in a few more inches of quality soil and then expanding the patch of Ostrich Ferns so they stretch across the entire front wall.  A mix of purple Astilbe and Calla Lilies will help fill the space, should the callas survive their first winter in our basement.  The Tree Lilies were cut back but not dug out and so should return and spring forth from amongst the ferns.

The Monarda and Foxglove have been permanently moved forward into the new part of the Monet Garden while both the Asters and Anchusa have made their way to the Sun Garden now that I have become more flexible with my colour design.

I have six purple tree lilies to add to the garden, do you think they would work well interspersed amongst the Iris toward the front, creating the opportunity for visitors to pass through a 'forest' of sweet smelling lilies, or mixed with the existing tall lilies towards the back, building on an already successful choice?

I would love to know your thoughts.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

UNDER CONSTRUCTION - digging up the old sun garden

In order to have foundation work done in our basement, the Old Sun Garden outside our living room window has been completely dug up.

July 27, Old Sun Garden
I very much like where I have ended up with this particular bed, and I can see an even better version of it now that I have the chance to rebuild. The optimized bed will have half the Heliopsis, a taller grass with bigger seed heads than the Panic Grass I added earlier this year (now transplanted to the Sun Garden), the few New England Asters struggling in the Monet Garden and of course the all important combination of Liatris and Sea Holly (more of the former than the latter). 

October 15-30, Old Sun Garden
 Many of the plants I plan on leaving where I have transplanted them, only the LiatrisNew England Aster and Sea Holly wait patiently on a tarp in the garage. I will not be putting the full garden back together this fall, instead improving the soil and taking my time to carefully plan this bed's evolution.

These Heliopsis have been placed further under the large Spruce tree in hopes of turning the border that I introduced last year into much more of a patch.  Let us hope they get enough light under here. 

Heliopsis and Lamium groundcover (from the Monet Garden) are helping to make the space between my gardens feel less like a driveway and more like somewhere we could host a dinner party. There was enough material to plant on both sides of the cedars, though it remains to be seen if they will get enough sun here as well.

I am willing to take these gambles with sunlight because I learned last year how prolifically the Heliopsis self seeds and how properly spaced seedlings quickly grew to the same heights as more well established clumps, so I am not worried about replenishing them no matter how big a hit they take.

Wish me luck as I take full advantage of this "opportunity".

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

FIRST FROST

 Since starting a plethora of bi-coloured Rudbeckia from seed two years ago I have fallen in love with these long-blooming, vibrant, stalwarts of the Sun Garden.    It takes more than one frost to put these beauties down.


Upon looking at these Gaillardia I am immediately struck by how much it looks like they have been sugared and are ready to eat for dessert...unfortunately they are not amongst the edibles in my gardens.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

ATLANTA BOTANICAL GARDENS

I recently went to Atlanta for a work conference and spent the afternoon at their botanical gardens.

Having seen photos of 'plant sculptures' before I was generally not impressed.  Too unnatural I thought. 

Seeing them in person changed my mind however and now I find that they add charming whimsy to the garden.

 Who does not love orangutans?

 This grand sculpture/fountain combination was spectacularly impressive.


I liked the understated feeling of this massive fountain which was situated in the middle of a woodland, set quite a distance from the paths.

The horticulturalists created many different environments including this semi-shaded stream bed.


 The grasses in the foreground have a lovely spray effect and convey a sense of volume without 'blocking the view', so to speak.


I am 6'1" and these yellow beauties had to have been at least 8' tall. 
Wow!

Colour-blocking with some late-season Asters. 
Simple and effective.

I highly recommend making the trip to the Atlanta Botanical gardens if you ever have the opportunity.

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Monday, October 06, 2014

OUT OF SEASON BLOOMS

I certainly never thought of Forget-Me-Nots as a plant that bloomed throughout the summer, but the ones I transplanted from a friend's cottage landscape where they were growing wild certainly have.


It is well past the spring blooming period I expect to find them in, so you can imagine my surprise and delight to see these delicate beauties making an appearance to brighten up my end of season garden.

Out of season blooms can be some of the most magical, catching one unawares and reminding us that nature is never fully predictable.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

NOW THAT THE CAMEL'S BACK IS BROKEN

In my last post I discussed how I have moved away from my strictly colour-coded gardens to what I feel will be a more thoughtful design, one that allows contrasting colours to play against one another in the same bed and considers form as much as colour.

 A great example of how far I am allowing things to change is the incorporation of pink back into my gardens.  

Regular visitors will know that I have avoided pink flowers, and even avoided colour blends for fear they would contain too much pink.  I have even gone so far as to transplant pink flowers from my garden into my parents' garden and the guerrilla garden we started at my work.

Some pinks however will get a pass. The "salmon" hyacinths will be able to stay and so will the "peach" Foxglove now blooming in my Monet Garden.

 I have been trying for a couple of years to grow Foxgloves and now that it appears I have finally found a suitable habitat for them I am not about to be turned off by something as simple as their colour, besides "peach" is not just a euphemism, they are more pale than a dreaded 'hot pink' and fit nicely within my so-called "Monet" colour palette.

Welcome back peach, salmon, cerise and amaranth.  Shocking pink, rose, fuschia and magenta - you are still out of luck.


Friday, September 12, 2014

THE STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMEL'S BACK

This is the one, this is the plant combination that broke the camel's back, this is the one that has made me officially soften my stance on my strictly colour-coded gardens.

Sea Holly and Liatris make for a fantastic combination in both colour and form.

I have been headed in this direction since reading Piet Oudolf's absolutely fantastic book this winter, 

Planting: A New Perspective. After he proclaimed that understanding why anyone would rely primarily on colour as the foundation of their garden design was beyond him, given how many attributes there are to consider with every combination, it got me thinking.


Quite a bit. 
After all I think the man is genius. 

There were other signs that this change was coming:

Last week when I extended my gardens to beside our new fence, I combined yellow Heliopsis with an underlay of purple Lamium.


 While these purple Liatris were originally moved from the Monet Garden because of lack of sun, I could not be more happy with the improvement they have made to the Sun Garden - and I will be moving the scraggly Sea Holly there to join them! 

My gardens will probably always carry their colour-coded heritage with them, but a world of possibility has just been opened and I am certain that the inclusion of more variety will only improve them.

Come back next year and see for yourself! 

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