Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Flower Color Clash

Can flowers or plants clash? This is the garden question of the week. Of course they can, I say, and the situation should be remedied as soon as possible! Mr. Resident Lawnmower-Person disagrees. He is of the opinion that any combination of plants looks good together and flowers blend by the mere commonality of their "flowerness" (not his exact words). Of course, this same man requires consultation on which pants and shirts look okay together...

So tonight I set about moving plants all over the yard in a need to restore color harmony. One particular color combination was polluting the garden aesthetic: Blue/purple-flowered Jacob's ladder and the Purple-leaf rose (Rosa glauca). How could I have left these two together for so long? I retch at the ugliness. I searched the net and found this pearl:

(1) Purple-foliage plants combine well with blue-grey foliage plants.
Plan: Remove Jacob's ladder. Will add an Artemisia schmidtiana "Silvermound" (from division of existing plants) in front of rose next spring. Divided a few Lamb's Ear (Stachys byzantia) and placed next to rose. Move a bunch of silver/purple leafed Coral Bells (Heuchera) to between rose and blue oat grass (blue-grey).

To illustrate my point: Center photo = bad combo, Side photos = show better options to combine with the rose (seen in center photo).

Other garden pearls from my yard: NEVER plant tansy. It is an invasive weed that even several applications of Round-up can't destroy. Any bit of root grows a new plant. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a close second in that regard.

Monday, June 26, 2006

First Lilies

My first blooming lily is this Oriental Pot Lily 'Farolito', a fabulous pink lily. I got it as one of Botanus' bonus gifts with an order this spring. The blooms are amazing and I will have to keep this one around for a great show in the raised bed next year.

In the background are the yellow flowers of the "wall of sedum" that divides driveway and lawn.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Red Ants and Herb Signage

Pictured: Filipendula hexapetala/vulgaris (Dropwort), a 2 ft perennial wildflower with fine fern-like foliage and delicate puff of flowers on thin stem. Started last year from seed.

The poplar has blown its fluff all over the lawn like a shedding polar bear. I'm starting to cut spent blooms off the columbines and Polemonium.

The tiny herb garden/raised bed is growing well in part shade. Next year I'll probably grow lettuce there. I've just read that lettuce does well in that kind of lighting. The stoneware signs from Gardenscape add a little artistic detail. I have four more signs in the back herb bed, marking basil, thyme, dill and oregano.

If anyone knows how to eradicate red ants from the yard, please let us know. Two old whiskey barrell planters and one corner of the house are infested with them. I'm thinking they like old or rotting wood -- and the flesh at the back of my knee. I could post that photo as well but I'll save you the grief.

Pictured: Dianthus deltoides "Flashing Lights" (dark pink) and "Arctic Fire" (white/pink) in the rock garden. I can easily divide these and have moved bits of them around the yard.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Almost Lilies

Pictured: A pleasing combination of the tiny pink flowers of Saponaria ocymoides (Rock Soapwort) and Aster alpinus 'Goliath' both started from seed last year. Both never flowered last year.

Pictured: Primula acaulis started from seed in 2005 and planted out this spring. Grown in part shade next to coral bells.

Here's a random smattering of plant shots from this week. It is the post-tulip, pre-lily period and somewhat lacking in pizazz. On the other hand, the dianthus and hardy purple rose are starting to bloom.

My Delphinium elatum "Summer Skies" will be blooming soon, but they are few in numbers this year as I chopped a few off at the base early in the spring and they haven't developed any significant buds. I had started them indoors and they were quickly growing out of my space, but next year they'll probably grow normally.

Pictured: Armeria pseudarmeria 'Joystick Lilac' (Thrift) started from seed 2 yrs ago. Some people will mistake it for chives, but unlike those unwieldy onions, these don't seed themselves all over creation and will perpetually stay tidy.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Garden Fauna

Well, no garden would be complete without wildlife. My not-so-wild furry friend is a Siberian Husky x Alaskan Malamute. She escaped the yard by digging under the fence this week. We think she found this deer antler in her morning "on the lam". Who knows where she found it? If it's one of the neighbours' cherished garden decorations...well, sorry about that! I think the dog is cherishing it more at the moment.
Last week we woke to hear the dog barking (VERY unusual for her and for the breed) and found this woodchuck cornered. It eventually got out of the yard, after we got photos of the stunned animal. I looked it up on "Hinterland Who's Who" (they have a website now, for those Canadians who fondly remember the TV clips...) and learned all about this type of marmot (http://www.hww.ca/hww2.asp?cid=8&id=109).

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Bigger Picture

Pictured: Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium caeruleum) and I think that's a yellow jacket collecting polllen...

Well, I have deemed the yard "green enough" to get a bigger picture of the yard with the lawn and raised beds. Previously, the bigger raised bed has looked mostly empty. I will be working on filling it in over the next year.

A colorado spruce and crabapple are the large trees and amid some tiny holes in the lawn you can see the "Carmine Jewel" tart cherries.
The dry stack rock raised beds contain only perennial flowers. At foreground are "Maureen" white Single Late tulips. I also have a few hostas, blue and white Jacob's ladder (Polemonium caeruleum and P. caeruleum album), a purple-leaf rose, "Double River Wye" daylily, yellow Gaillardia and other perennials in the same bed.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

June Flowers and Showers

We've had a fair bit of rain this month, but the flowers are looking great. At left is "Coral Star" columbine, which is a small 12" plant with flowers looking skyward.

Pictured: My collection of semi-shaded coral bells (Heuchera) with shades of purple and green foliage. The blooms are yet to appear.

Pictured: Purple and white columbine, I believe this to be "Origami Blue and White" of the Origami series. It is a mid-size plant and doing well in part shade.

Pictured: unnamed white columbine with very long spurs and outwards facing flowers.

Columbines [Aquilegia] are the showy ladies of the month, with a variety of colors and shapes in my yard. I inherited some pendant downwards-facing purple flowered plants with the yard, but have planted several others. I think the perfect columbine would have upturned flowers, long or curly spurs, and a long-blooming period. So far, the white one is my favourite. It bloomed for most of the season last year. I took seeds from it and grew 5 new plants from it this year. I'll have to wait and see what I get out of the new plants, as they may have crossed to make similar or different plants.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Wildflowers and native species

I wandered out behind the house this week, braving the thick bog-dwelling mosquitoes to photograph the native flora. The pink ladyslipper orchids [pictured] (Cypripedium acaule) are just past their prime but appear to be thriving. No doubt the blood-sucking bugs reduce the amount of foot-traffic parading over their bed of reindeer lichen.

The wild shrubs such as low-bush blueberry, low-bush cranberry [pictured] (lingonberry, Vaccinium vitis idaea), bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), and Labrador tea are flowering now.

I have planted a Bailey's compact highbush cranberry in the yard (no flowers this year) and there are wild raspberries, pincherries, and Saskatoon berries already growing in the yard. I haven't the patience to pick pincherries, but I do appreciate the pincherry jelly that is made around here. The local berries make for delicious waffle-toppings!

I also have been searching Blogger for other gardening blogs, but haven't yet found many companions into true cold-weather northern gardening (you folks in northern California think you have it rough, but you're zone 5a for goodness sake!). Let me know if you find a real do-it-yourself adventurous gardeners with a photoblog.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Late Night Gardening

Pictured (left): Dicentra spectabilis "Alba" -- the white version of the common pink bleeding heart. This one was burning in part-sun, so I moved it under a tree where it is doing well. It grows about 2.5 to 3 ft tall, which is shorter than the pink version.
Pictured (left): Blue-purple unnamed Hardy Geranium (Cranesbill) started from seed last year.

Pictured (left): Raised bed with pink Single Late "Menton" Tulips. Behind the tulips is Nepeta Faassenii (Ornamental Catmint) started from seed last year. So far it has not been invasive and it flowers late May to frost. Bees and butterflies love it, thus it is part of my "butterfly" garden which includes Monarda, Echinacea, and Liatris spicata.

I was out gardening until 9:45 pm last night. Sunrise was at 4:25 am today with sunset tonight is at 9:36 pm. Here at 55° 6' North we will bask in the 17.4 hrs of sunlight on the summer solstice (June 21). The sun and warmth has the plants growing at an incredible speed. Unfortunately, the weeds thrive along with the flowers.