Wednesday, August 29, 2007


A selection of different plant pairings in my garden that I wanted to share. I love putting these types of combos together. It does not always turn out well, but when it does, it's great.

Delphinium 'Blue Fountains' and Rudbeckia 'Goldstrum'

Nepeta x faassenii 'Select Blue' and Stachys byzantina

Dwarf Dahlias and Fall Asters

Fall Asters and Phegelius 'Moonraker'

Oriental Lillies 'LaReve' and Lychnis coronaria

Delphinium 'Pacific Giant' and Crocosmia 'Lucifer'

Heuchera 'Citronella' and New Guinea Impatiens

The pairings are selected on colour and texture, height and size, form and growing conditions.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


At looking at the calender I realized that it is my blog anniversary. One year old today. So in reflecting on the past year as one often does on birthdays and anniversaries, I believe I have learned a lot. I'm a better photographer ( thank God for the 'easy to use' 'point and shot' digital cameras these days). I'm a better speller (spell check is my best friend). The parallels of the growth of the garden and my life are similar. The garden has changed and grown like I have. There are new additions to the yard, I have made many new friends this year. Some plants have gone, I had a relationship end, a loved one moved on. The garden has weathered many storms like I have. And still we both grow. Branches have broken but we still continue to reach up, and we still grow forward new branches. Life's daily drama is played out in the garden. The drama of existence has it way, but we still both grow. So on this anniversary day I remember the growth of the year. I look forward to new beginnings, I'll celebrate old and new friends. As demonstrated in my garden, I'll enjoy the natural process of life. And as always, I will continue to count my blessing :)

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Here is a new member to Bobs Garden, the Hardy Fuchsia. This hybrid is called 'Pat's Dream'. The tags reads its a cultivar that has escaped from the hanging basket, and taken its rightful place in the mixed border. The tag also mentions that it's hardy to zero to ten degrees (-17c to -12c) as well as it grows to 3 feet by 3 feet (roughly a meter by a meter). Having always been a fuchsia fan, I'll be anxious to see how it preforms. So far its bloomed for three months and is really flourishing in the shady location its planted in. I have met several gardeners in the area that have had great luck with Hardy Fuchsias, so I'll keep you posted on how well it does.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I have been growing Tigridia pavonia (Mexican Shell Flower) off and on for years. It's a bulb that is native to Mexico and I really enjoy the very different almost orchid like look it has. Far from the Orchid family, Trigridia is a member of the Iris family and is closely related to the Gladiola. The foliage resembles that of a Gladiola but more delicate, and the flowers grow on a thin stalk with generally 3 to 5 flowers opening individually. Each 5 to 6 inch flower only lasts one day but the blooming period for this plant lasts for about 4 weeks.
I grow mine in pots because they are only hardy to 20 degrees. Instead of digging them in Fall before dormancy I simply let the pots dry out and store them in my garage or protected area until the weather warms in Spring. This is a great trick with many none cold hardy bulbs like Ixia, Freesia, and Sparaxis. Plus all these bulbs like to be dry during dormancy.
Tigridia prefers full sun and ample water. It can get spider mites which I take care of with systemic pesticide and fertilizer combo. I don't mind using something so strong because it stays in the pot. I do this on other potted plants that might be susceptible to thrips, aphids, spider mites, etc. Basically it prevents any chewing, chomping, or sucking insects.

Tigridia is a wonderful bulb that should find a place in any garden.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Besides sharing some pictures of my Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) I wanted to share some fun facts about them. I hope you well Enjoy.

The name Sunflower originates from the Greek word 'helios' meaning Sun and 'anthos' meaning Flower.
The large petals around the edge of the Sunflower are ray flowers which do not produce a seed. Sunflower heads consist of 1000 to 2000 individual flowers

joined together by a receptacle base.

Native to North America, Sunflowers have been grown as a food crop for

1000's of years by the Indians.

Sunflowers in bud stage exhibit heliotropism. Which means they follow the sun.

Sunflowers are in the Asteraceae family. Which is the second largest plant family

with 20,000 members.

Sunflowers when mature yield up to 40% of their weight in oil.

Sunflower stems were used to fill life jackets before the advent of modern materials.

Floating rafts of Sunflowers are being used to clean up water contaminated as a result of the 1986 accident Chernobyl Nuclear Plant. The roots of sunflowers remove up to 95% of the radioactivity in the water by pulling contaminants out of the water.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia roundifolia) is about the orangest flower I grow. I can't even think of another flower that has such a strong saturated orange colour. Every year I grow this annual from seed to add some late summer into fall flowers in the garden. They bloom until the first frost, require infrequent watering, butterflies and hummingbirds enjoy them, and make a wonderful cut flower. This hybrid is 'Goldfinger' and it has the boldest colour of all the hybrids available today.

Monday, August 13, 2007


In the past I posted about Agastaches but wanted to share some of this years photos. The top is Agastache foeniculum (Anise Hyssop), it's a wonderful easy care perennial requiring full sun, great drainage and has foliage that smells like licorice. The bottom picture is of Agastache mexicana 'Acupulco Orange'. Like A. foeniculum it prefers full sun and wonderful drainage but it's leaves smell lemony. In addition, both are drought tolerant when established and are deer resistant. Butterflies, Bees, Hummingbirds are attracted to their colourful flowers, and both start blooming in mid-summer and go till the first frost. Dead heading is not necessary, but occasionally removing spent spikes keeps Agastache looking its best. A. foeniculum is the hardier of two tolerating temperatures down to -20 degrees while 'Acupulco Orange' is hardy down to zero.

I really enjoy both of these plants. Not only for their beauty but also for their fragrant foliage for which I love. When I'm near these plants I always take a leaf or two, crush it, and enjoy the aroma. And when guests are touring the garden I always tear a few leaves and share. It's a nice surprise. Wonderful smelling foliage is always a bonus, it really adds an additional element.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Shady areas of the garden are often filled with an assortment of foliage plants like ferns, hostas, camellias, or even a wonderful collections of woodland plants. Unfortunately this leaves these areas filled only with different shades of green. Now don't get me wrong, I love green. But under a tree canopy or on the north side of the house all green can make for a very dark landscape. There is the occasion blooms of azaleas and rhodys, camellias and hydrangeas, but when those plant are not in colour what going to add that pop.
One solution is the featured plant Brunnera. Growing comfortable with all the traditional shade favourites Bunnera macrophylla 'Looking Glass' shines brightly even in the dullest or darkest landscape. Growing about 18' inches high and wide this plant enjoys the same conditions as most shade loving plants. It's very hardy and is not bothered by many pests. The
occasion slug well try to take a chomp on them but they don't seem to care for them. It's probably because of the course hair that covers this plants leaves.
Even in the early morning or at dust, this plant glows brightly. The foliage has a silvery white sheen that seems to reflect light. An added feature is the blue forget-me-not flowers in Spring which are very charming. Brunnera is in the Boraginaceae Family (the forget-me-not family) and is native to woodland areas of Eastern Europe.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Small---Creeping Zinnia (Sanvitalia procumbens) is a low growing Mexican native that's easily started from seed. This plants grows about a foot across and a few inches high. I sprouted them because I like the flowers, which look like little sunflowers, and as a understudy for some of the shrubs and perennials in the garden. The tiny flowers are roughly the size of a large blueberry. Very sweet!

Medium---Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldstrum' is a staple of the sun perennial border. It's easy care, blooms for weeks, has few pests, and is really a tough plant. It can take a lot of abuse and keeps on going. The only challenge I have with it is that it does to well. Every 3 years I have to aggressively divide it, because it's so vigorous.

Large---Sunflowers (Helianthus Hybridus Idon'tknowus) are one of my favourite summer annuals. Easy to start, easy to grow, wonderful cut flowers, many colours, birds love them as well as we humans. They provide beauty, food, and cooking oil.
Whats not to love!

Sunday, August 05, 2007


It was a beautiful day yesterday, one of those chamber of commerce days, where the temperature was perfect with a slight breeze in the air. The gardens is all a buzz and a flutter with bees and birds, and the ornamental grass are tall and sway hypnotically in the wind. An occasional puffy cloud would meander over adding a little shade while I was toiling away in the garden. Many of springs glorious bloomers have long faded and have been cut down or have declined making room for summers bountiful colour. Sitting on my deck enjoying this magical moment I realized how mesmerized I was on the intense colour the Hydrangeas have become.
From the whitiest whites to pinks and lavenders. All shades of blue from sky to electric to royal. And lets not forget the purples, which to me are so vivid they almost look painted. This area produces some of the nicest hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla for those who are interested) I have ever seen. Depending on the hybrid, I have seen these plant from a diminutive 2 footers to mammoths of 8 feet. The maritime climate really bring out the best in these plants. Plus as an added feature if there wasn't already enough, the flowers are great for cutting once they have hardened off. These plants really are a joy to have in the garden.
Soon fall will be here and these intense colours will change. So for now I will remember what a beautiful day yesterday was and the Hydrangeas at their peak.

Many thanks to my neighbor for letting me take a couple of photos of her hydrangeas.
The top 2 pictures are hers. They are really beautiful.

Friday, August 03, 2007


I wanted to revisit these pictures that I posted about last year and share some thoughts. These are photos of my front yard and they perfectly display some design techniques that learned in college many years ago. I've shared several times of the importance of mixing contrasting textures and colours in the garden beds. As you can see, needle like foliage is paired with succulent leaves, grasses paired with larger leafed plants. One plant contrast next to another.
In the foliage colours, gray-greens next to dark greens, burgundy next to pine green next to bronze. Switching it up helps define each plants space and individual characteristic.
Even growth forms are varied. Upright plants next to mounding, spiky next to arching. Mixing all these components helps make each plant stand out. All the plants are located in grouping or drifts. As I have often said in the past while teaching design "there is strength in numbers". Planting in groups well helps solidify a yard and gives it weight and structure.

I hope some of these ideas while inspire and would love to hear what has worked well for you in your garden.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Here's a photo of a sunflower in the garden catching the last rays of sunshine.
In the near future I'll share more sunflower shots.
All the best, BOB