Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I wanted to share some more photos and thoughts on Heucheras. The above picture is a newer hybrid called 'Citronella'. It's similar to the hybrid 'Lime Rickey' (which has been around for a few years) but I find that the leaves are larger and a paler chartreuse, more of a lemon-lime sorbet colour. Citronella as well as Lime Rickey are shade Heucheras not tolerating any hot afternoon sun. They work very well in a location under a open canopy. Planted in amongst dark green foliage and strong contrasting saturated coloured flowers shows off their unique shade.

Rosewood, Cinnabar, and Peach best describe the tones in my current favourite Huechera '
Peach Flambe'.
It can take more sun than 'Citronella' and performs best in a morning sun / afternoon shade location. Both Huecheras should be hardy with adequate mulching and I find cleaning up and replanting every so many year keeps Heucheras vigorous. 'Peach Flambe' is an unusual colour and has to be located carefully. It works well with other shade plants that have a gray tone ( like Hostas), and any peach or apricot coloured flower. Even red-violet, plum and burgundy coloured foliage and flowers complement this plant. With all the different Heucharas in the garden, I find they are not bothered by any disease or pests (even slugs and snails). As with many plants of their stature occasion light fertilization of any basic organic fertilizer or fish emulsion works great. In winter 'Peach flambe' foliage turns to plum, adding an extra quality to this plant.
Sound pretty delicious to me!

Sunday, July 29, 2007


For years I have had Verbena bonariensis growing in the garden. I've kept it around because it has a see thru quality to it that I really like, and it meshes in beautifully in the mixed borders. I'm right on the cusp of how hardy it is, so some of them don't winter over. But fortunately it self seeds readily so I'm never really without any. Every year it volunteers in different places which I like. It's always a little surprise. Any that pop up in unwanted areas are easily removed. The colour is close to liatris ( although looking paler in this picture) so it really adds small punches of colour where ever it blooms. Butterflies and Hummingbirds love it, so just on that alone I would keep it in the garden. After the seedlings reach 6 inches high they require very little water. This Verbena has a sparse stick like appearance which is why it works so well with other tall perennials, blending in with them, not detracting from them.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


I have been busy as bee, Bumble bee that is, and this evening saw this little guy keeping busy enjoying the great weather we are having. The flower he is on is a Zinnia I started from seed called "Purple Prince". It's more of dark pink than purple, of course the seed packets never really get the correct colour on the picture. It's amazing what a little photo enhancement will do to sell a few extra seeds. But still, love starting plants from seed. It's a lot of fun and very economical. When I was thirteen I use to start Cinerarias from seed and bring them up to a finished 6" pot and sell them to local florist shops in the area I grew up in. I guess I've had the garden bug in my blood for a long time. There is something so special about seeing something start from seed and watching it grow.
To this day I still have the same excitement, and I know it's something I won't out grow :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I'm often asked if I have a favourite flower. I usually respond that I really enjoy all plants, from Geraniums to Orchids (of which I use to grow commercially for 12 years). But, in giving it some thought I realized that I do have some I prefer more than others. Echinops (Globe Thistle-- Echinops exaltatus) has to be near the top of the "preferred" list. It has some wonderful qualities that get it there. First, I love the look of it. It's like blue golf balls on a stick or a cactus on a stem. Second, it's an easy care full sun perennial that can go undivided for years. Third, it's really not bothered by diseases, bugs and is super hardy.
It's so different looking. Who would of thought that this thistle relative that is in the Asteraceae family would look so foreign rather than looking like a daisy. It's just a real cool plant.

Would love to hear about some of your "preferred" plant.

Monday, July 23, 2007


This time of year the garden beds are brimming with foliage and flower. Besides looking full and lush an additional benefits is that little light reaches the soil surface. What's the benefit of this? It means their are fewer weeds in these areas. Why? Because the greater majority of garden weeds need direct sunlight to germinate.
So don't be afraid of really filling in those mixed borders and foundation planting. It not only looks great, but you might have a few less weeds :)

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I have always enjoyed my Summer Phlox (Phlox paniculata). It's continues to be a mainstay in the mixed borders, going strong in the hottest time of year (for us in the Pacific Northwest). I love the spicy fragrance that seem to intensify in the warm July evenings. The hybrids that I've selected are mildew resistant, which can be a problem in our moist climate and are real butterfly magnets.
The only challenge in growing them is that the base joints are weak and can break easily in a down poor or strong wind. As with my peonies, I have support cages for them but always seem to forget to put them out in spring. At least the cages make decorative wall hanging in the garage :/

Monday, July 16, 2007


I wanted to share this combination because of its contrast in leaf colours and foliage forms. Though there is a white Hydrangea in the photo, this combination looks interesting and fresh even when nothing is in bloom. The plants are Brunnera macrophylla 'Looking Glass', Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum', Hebes (the plant with the small gray leaves in the back ground, unfortunately I don't recall the type), Cimicifuga japonica, assorted Heucheras, and white Hydrangeas. In the dead of Winter when many of these perennials are dormant this bed is filled with Wanda Primroses (which are dormant now), adding much needed colour in February and March.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Some pictures of the Astilbes in bloom. I don't recall the hybrids, because I've had them for a few years and no longer have the tags. Each year they bloom from the end of June till the beginning of August depending on their location. Some are grown mostly in sun and need a lot of water, while others are planted in shade and are less thirsty. The Astilbes that are in sun are little shorter then their counterparts grown in shade and the leaves tend to crisp in our hottest month, which is August. Those grown in the brightest locations are cut back after blooming, flushing out new foliage which looks great until dormancy in Winter.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


As with trying to straighten a mop of unruly hair or taming a wild tiger, the garden surges forward in summer splendor.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


In the back part of some of my beds I was looking for a large shrub that had beautiful year round foliage and the added benefit of flowers. Since many of the borders have an organized chaos going on with in them, many with combinations and groupings featuring each plants individual qualities, it's was important to have a back drop that adds a lovely green canvas to showcase the plants before them. Ceanothus was a natural pick. Dark forest green pleated leaves that are evergreen and rich cerulean blue flowers that the bees love. A West Coast native it is hardy in my area and once established requires little Summer water. This full sun plant is a fast grower, obtaining a height of 5 feet from one gallon can in just 3 years. There are many varieties of Ceanothus, from ground covers to large shrubs, dark green foliage to bright green and even variegated forms. The only true draw back about this plant, other that it can become a monster of a plant( so give it some space), is that it's short lived, lasting only 10 years. Unfortunately the picture doesn't really capture how blue these plants can be and other hybrids are in colours from white to cobalt.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


A wonderful little perennial that really performs and won't over take the garden is Astrantia (Masterwort). The common name is not very pretty or descriptive but when in bloom I get more comments on this plant. It's a member of the Apiaceae family, which is the same family carrots, dill, parsnips, and celery share. When looking at the foliage you can see the resemblance to celery leaves. It blooms in shades of white, pink, rose to burgundy, obviously depending on hybrid. Very cold hardy it grows rather slowly. Mine started in 4' pots and after four years had only gotten 18" across. The above pictured is Astrantia major 'Ruby Wedding' which I grow in a mostly sunning location. Flowers stay on for a long time and unlike many of its relatives ( fennel, carrots) it doesn't reseed. Being very versatile it works beautifully with woodland looking plants like Hostas and Heucheras. Or for that English country garden look it blends nicely with Echinaceas, Larkspurs, Delphiniums, and Cosmos.