Posts tagged perennials

Calling all Gardeners

I need some help, and it is the kind that you are qualified for.

If you look at this picture, you will see a mass of blue muscari, running the length of my Lime Walk. I love it when it flowers, not so much after. The foliage hangs on forever, not to mention sending up fresh leaves in the fall.

And looking the other way.

 I am looking at planting something over top of the muscari, something that will come up a bit late and hide the dying leaves. But I do not want it too tall, I do not think the hydrangea will every grow and I do not want to compete  with them.  And I prefer one type of plant to run the whole length, I do not want to get into mixing perennials. I trialed a Nepeta last summer, but all the neighbourhood cats, came and went into ecstasy, rolling over it, and killed it. I do not want to run a halfway house for drug addicted cats!

Any thoughts?


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Garden Visits: Toronto Botanical Gardens

Three weeks ago, , I took a garden course at the Toronto Botanical Gardens or TBG. I had to take a bus as I do not have a car, and I wasn’t sure how long it would take.  I got there a few minutes early and I walked around and took a few pictures before my course started. The sun was just starting to set, so some of the pictures may be a bit dark.  The plants were all marked with their name, but I didn’t have time to stop and write them down, if there is something you really want to know the name of, I might be able to get back.

The TBG was redesigned a few years ago. It is now 12 award-winning, themed gardens, encompassing almost 4 acres.  The main building is a glass pavilion and features a “green” roof.

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Walking from the bus stop, you walk through the Entry Garden Walk, which is a “sophisticated Meadow” and inspired by Piet Oudolf. A mix of perennials and grasses, I think that it is at its best this time of year. See if you agree.

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I wish I knew what the name of everything was.TBG 003

 Not that I have the space for it in my own garden.

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 But they are very beautiful.

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At keast, I know these, hakonechloa (my fav) grass and japanese anemones.

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You then arrive in the Arrival Courtyard, (if you drive, you arrive directly here). Sculptural hedges made up of cornus mas and beech are being trained inside of a metal cage.


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There you can find a map of the garden.

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From here you can go into the different gardens a number of ways. Lets go into the Garden Hall Courtyard.

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This area features a sunken courtyard with a diverse mix of trees, shrubs and perennials, and features a large selection of Japanese Maples.

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I believe these were the full moon japanese maple. They are underplanted with hakonechloa  grass again and with euphorbia myrsinites.  Love that chartreuse and blue together.

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From here I went into the President’s Choice show garden. This is made up of two sections, one featuring evergreens and small trees and shrubs suitable for a small urban garden and a trial garden area.

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Tigers Eye sumac is a great contrast against the blue.

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 Echinacea with  a paniculata hydrangea, heuchera, grass and a dwarf cleome.TBG 038 From the other end, this was a great combination, all that pink reminds me of Grace. Here at the end is a petunia and variegated pokeweed.

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A closer look, not sure what the pale butter, yellow flower is, but I like the contrast to the pink.

There are many more garden areas at the TBG, including the Herb garden, Kitchen garden, Knot garden, Teaching garden, Spiral Mound, the Terrace garden and the Woodland walk.



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Garden Visits: Northumberland Hills

When I was in Kingston my friend took me to a couple of good garden centres. She felt sorry for me, because I am always complaining that there is not as many of them in Owen Sound.

The first one was GardenNet. They are north of Trenton, and have a beautiful setting. Based at the owners house, there is display gardens all around the house and nursery area.


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You walk into the display garden through a cedar arch. I took a picture to make sure that my husband gets a look. Tools are always at the ready!



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She has an amazing sense of colour and plants a lot of containers. Look how the colours in the container pick up the paint colour on the window trim and door.


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A few more.


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Part of her display garden near the road. Who says they don’t like red?




GardenHouse Perennials is another great nursery.

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They used to be based in Coburg, but moved up to Morganston. 

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 The building was an old cheese factory that they renovated and turned into a shop. The outside has a huge display garden that the owner built in one summer, just him and his trusty dog.

As well as selling plants from the shop they have a mail order business for daylilies and peonies.  They also have a garden design and consultation business.

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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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Flora Glade

 The area directly behind the garage I have dubbed the “Flora Glade”.  The name was stolen from Roy Strongs garden “The Lasket”.  I felt as it was going to be a mix of flowers and trees the name was appropriate. This is where almost all of the perennials are, as well as some shrubs.  It is the one area that is a more ‘natural’ planting, instead of the straight formal lines that I so love.

When we moved in, the only thing behind the garage was a large number of weeds.  There was a huge pile of bark chips from some trees that had been cut down after being damaged during a storm the previous winter.   Bricks were piled against the garage and there was 5 maples in roughly a straight line.  So it was quite shady. 

I started by planting a cedar hedge in a straight line just east of the trees and then running (again in a straight line) between the trees and the “Kitchen Garden”.  From the rest of the garden, this area will look geometric, not to be revealed as more “cottagey” until you are inside (at least, that is the plan). Then I made a bed under the trees,by laying bricks directly on the soil, then a layer of newspapers and then filling with topsoil. I  divided them with paths (and used up the bark mulch) to the “Kitchen Garden”, and paths to the west, east and another to the south. 


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In this bed you can see 5 variegated willows that were left over from a planting at work.  These I cut back to the ground in the spring and they are a lovely pink, white and green. Behind them is a birch clump. One problem with mulching the paths with the bark chips and the bed as well, no definition shows between the beds and the paths. There are bricks there, but they are slowly sinking down to ground level (another job to do, pull up my bricks). One I have more plants and the beds are filled in more, It should be more obvious, what is bed and what is path.

 I also put a large island bed in the middle.  This I started in the summer of 2007.  In the large island bed I planted a small redbud tree.  I was worried that it wouldn’t be hardy in Owen Sound, but it has flowered and grown alot ever since. To balance it at the other end is a sambucus “Black Lace”.



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Sorry, for the poor quality of these photos, they were the very first shots that I took with my new digital camera, and I didn’t know what I was doing (I still don’t). The tree on the left has now been lost in a storm.

I also built a smaller island bed west of the large island bed.  In this I have planted a cornus kousa.  This is my memorial garden to my mum. The cornus was her favourite tree, and she tried in vain to get one to grow for her in Niagara.  It was replaced three times, before she gave up.  This one has lived through two Owen Sound winters since she died, I think that she is looking after it for me.

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 Here you can see the redbud and the cornus in the next bed.


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 Can you see the cedar hedge, I don’t think so.  It really needs that definition of edge.


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Behind the garage we are thinking of building a pergola , with a vine trained over the top.  That is a set of harrows that my dad gave me. I saw a set turned into a gate at Stonyground, that great Canadian garden. There is still more bricks to be put to use somewhere. Everytime we dig in the garden, it seems that we find more bricks, I don’t know why they are buried.


I have planted a lot of shrubs at the edge of the bed. I hope that as they grow, the paths will become hidden and more mysterious.  You will not know what is around the corner. Then I will be able to take out a lot of the “free” perennials that I have been given.

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