Posts tagged alliums

Oh, It’s a very good year

After my huge disappointment last year with my hydrangea, I was fully prepared to return to Kilbourne Grove and find horrible and wilty hydrangea. I had been reading people’s blogs, and they were all talking about how hot and dry the summer had been. No one is watering my garden while I am away (no one had been watering it when I lived in Toronto either), I am a firm believer in the sink or swim method. As a weekend gardener (and now long, long distance gardener),  I cannot afford to coddle plants. So I was very prepared.

And very pleasantly surprised.

My ‘free’ hydrangeas are really settling into their space and starting to fill out.

Hard to believe that these were all ‘blue’ hydrangea at one time. I was a bit of a hydrangea snob, would not take the bright pink ones. Now they are all various shades of pink, and purple, not a blue to be seen. I now that you need acidic soil to keep them blue, which we do not have in Ontario, and I am actually starting to prefer these colours.

I love how the Allium christophii seed heads look with the hydrangea. I wish I had been there when they flowered, very curious how it looked.

You can also see some seed heads of Allium ‘Purple Sensation’, these have been planted a number of years, but I wanted to extend the Allium season by planting the christophii.

The Hakonechloa ‘Aureola’ is just one of the variety of plants that I am testing at the base of the hydrangea. As you know, I have muscari planted there and when it finishes flowering I find it a bit tatty. Along with the Hakonechloa  I am testing Nepeta, Hosta and Geranium ‘Rozanne’. The geranium was the first to go, I dug it up and moved the plants to the Allee in September. I love the plant, and it certainly flowers heavily, weaving its way through the hydrangea. Unfortunately it also weaves its way onto the path, and I prefer something a bit more tailored looking in this section of the garden. You can also see at the top of the photo the nepeta. Looking at at here, I am not feeling it, but I think I should give it another couple of years before I make a decision. See how messy the muscari seedheads get, must hide them.  We shall see how the other plants make out over the next few years.


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A History Lesson: Chapter III

We move on to the piece de resistance at Kilbourne Grove.   

When I was taking a garden design course, and in all the garden design books I have read, one piece of advice is to design from the inside out. You should start with the views from your windows. There are three windows on the ground floor of Kilbourne Grove that this could apply to. A bay window in the front parlour, looks out at our neighbour,  and the bay window in the library looks out at the street. Neither of them give me much room to work with, but the kitchen window looks out the back of the house and there is 100 feet to the fence.  
This is where I stand much of the day, after all, the kitchen is the heart of the home. So this is where I placed my Lime Walk.  
In England, Tillia or Linden trees are called Lime Trees. I am not sure why this is. But there is a beautiful Lime Walk at Sissinghurst, and it was one of my first garden influences.     
After spending my summer holidays laying out the Kitchen Garden and the Flora Glade, I didn’t have any free time until early November. Luckily it was a beautiful Indian summer.     

November 2007

After pegging a straight line, cedars were planted in a line. This will be pruned into a hedge, and back the pleached limes.     

Newly planted cedars, November 2007

November 2007

The cedars were free, yay, dug up from my brothers farm. They are a bit wonky, but in time they will grow and you will never know.    

You can see  that we have planted a few cedars at the end of the walk, in front of the maple tree. This will provide a backdrop to a focal point, an urn or a statue. You can also see that only the east side is planted, we ran out of cedars before the west side was planted, so that had to wait until 2008.    

May 2008

In early May 2008,  I starting making beds.  More bricks, (where were they all coming from?) outlined the beds. Four cubic yards of triple mix had been delivered, and was wheelbarrowed into place.    


Then it was time to haul out my booty, no, not the one behind me,(thank you J Lo for making them popular). Look at all the goodies that I got  free from work.  I got busy and planted a line of leftover Easter hydrangea. If they live, fab, if they don’t, oh well, they didn’t cost me anything. in front of them a mass of muscari. This was it for 2008, except for planting some Allium “Purple Sensation” in the fall.    

May 2009

 The muscari was beautiful in May 2009 (thank god, I finally got that digital camera)!    


The alliums look beautiful, I am so glad that I purchased another 100, fall 2009.    


The Lindens were purchased bare root (and very small, approx 5-6 feet tall), spring 2009. There are 12 planted in the Lime Walk 6 per side. I am hoping that they will be tall enough this spring to start with my first tier of pleaching, it will start at six feet of the ground.    


Boxwoods were planted in June 2009, they were largish specimens, loosely clipped into balls.    


Hydrangea stay in flower a long time, until a heavy frost.    


This is the view from my kitchen window.

If you want, you can read more here.  

Future plans are very limited, I need a focal point at the end of the walk, where the bird bath is now, I am thinking of a large urn on a pedestal, or a statue, but it needs to be 7-8 feet tall for the scale to be correct.  The limes have to be pleached, and the hedges to be shaped. I am unsure if I will plant a perennial in front of the hydrangea.  I hadn’t planned on it, but I find the muscari foliage is very messy and takes away from the look. The only other project I am toying with is using the bricks as a mowing strip, edging is a pain, so it doesn’t get down as often as it should.  

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Garden Visits: No Rhyme, No Reason Garden

 I visited another very lovely garden when I was in Kingston, the middle of August. Lois Smith has a major garden on the family farm near Moscow, Ontario.  What started with a horse paddock in the front of the house, has become an obsession for the gardener.  When her children’s attention turned from horses, Lois decided that the paddock would be a good place for a garden. Starting over twenty years ago, she has carved out a huge garden, with many meandering paths through it. Her secret to having such a large garden and not have it become a weeding nightmare is “hay”. Yes, that is right! She does let it age a year before she uses it to mulch the flower beds, this way the “weed seeds” in it are not as viable.

When this garden became “filled”, Lois turned her attention elsewhere. A large field on the north side of her house is slowly being turned into an arboretum.  She has made it her mission in life to plant specimen trees here. A truly noble cause, as she will never see most of them come to maturity.  Most people would say “Why do it?”, Lois says “Why not?”. Mowed paths through the field, take you from one interesting tree to another. The best feature is the allee that has a neighbouring church as a focal point. How many of us can say that!

She has plant sales at her farm in May, where she sells plants that she has grown from seed, or divisions from her garden. She even grows trees from seed, and if you are lucky, she may even have one or two for sale.

Come see what one woman can do with many wheelbarrows, a load of hay and a handful of seeds!  

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An air of permanence

On Sunday, I visited Wal-mart.  Last weekend, I had spied some very large globe like boxwoods.  They were huge, the next size up from a 2 gallon (whatever size that is) and they were only $19.97.  I had been agonizing over them all week, should I or shouldn’t I.

I made a decision when I went to Loblaws to get groceries. Their boxwoods were tiny and they were $9.00.  Why was I hesitating?  They would give me a air of age to my Lime Walk, since this is only its second summer.


The Before

The Before

You can see in the above picture that my lime trees are leafing out, and the muscari is finished.  The allium foliage is very tatty, I hope that as the hydrangea grow, that will be hidden by foliage.

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