Thursday, July 27, 2006

Echinacea and Bee Balm

Two well-known perennials are blooming this week. Both are big butterfly favourites and grow as wildflowers elsewhere in the world.

Pictured: A purple Mondarda didyma (Bergamot, Bee Balm). This plant does spread by rhizomes, popping up several new plants around the base, but it is not yet the worst of the garden thugs. If you have this plant, you need to either regularly hack up the growth around the base or give the new plants away to friends.

Pictured: Pink Echinacea, some melon-colored short lilies, and a background of pink Malva Moschata (Mallow).

My Echinacea is the old fashioned type whichI grew from seed. Of course, now they have the hybrids with orange and yellow flowers, double-flowered and double-decker flowers, and ones that can operate heavy machinery...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Hot Hot Hot in the Flower Garden

It seems the western provinces (and some of Europe!) are currently in the midst of a heat wave. The temperatures are drying out the lawn, so we're out moving sprinklers a fair bit. I don't worry about most of the perennials, as they are well established and quite drought-resistant.

Pictured: I took this picture of a colorful mosquito-eating insect in the flower garden. It was about 1.5" long and smaller than the usual 3" blue and white dragonflies so I'm not sure if it's a damselfly or small dragonfly!?
Pictured: LA Hybrid Lily "Inzell", a nice clear white lily.

Pictured: These Adenophora hybrida "Amethyst" are flopped over more than unsual because I just had the sprinkler on them for a few hours. They may look pretty from a distance, but they are invasive to the point of unruly. They will be removed after flowering.

Pictured: This hardy Rose "Morden Blush" is all but invisible behind the mass of Adenophora. I might move it to the front of the raised bed this fall. I thought it was killed by an early snow this spring. Fortunately, it sent some new growth from the roots (I'm glad I never dug it up!) and is now a nice little bush again.

Pictured: The pincherries are ripe and doing well this year. These small-ish trees grow wild around the yard. A nice jelly can be made from the fruit, but I don't have the patience to pick them! I've also been grazing on Saskatoon berries directly from the bush, of which we have wild and domesticated species growing in the yard.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Lavender Triumph

LA Hybrid Lilies: Probably "Fangio", a dark reddish-pink Asiatic hybrid (crossed with Aurelians/Trumpets).
Close-up of one of the tall Delphinium elatum "Summer Skies".

I am very excited about the survival of the lavender (Lavendula angustifolia "Munstead") which grows in the perennial border next to the driveway (loaded with snow in winter) and in the rockgarden on a slope (no special protection). This is apparently a dwarf strain and the hardiest of English lavenders. Its foliage and flowers smell lovely and I wish I had huge patch of it. Veseys calls it zone 4, others call it zone 5. Essentially, this is a ground-breaking triumph...or maybe it's just global warming.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

July's Colors

The large and bold flowers are the theme of the month. Four-foot pale blue delphiniums bloom around the yard, though I'd like to add some deeper blue and purple ones for next year. (They are started in the basement already).

The containers on the deck are growing well. I started the Petunias, Lobelia, Nicotiana, and Osteospermum from seed. All were quite easy to grow under lights.

Pictured: The large-leafed plants are Nicotiana sylvestris. People visiting the house want to know the name of this giant flower-- "Tobacco", I say..."the ornamental flowering kind". As much as I was enticed by the promise of sweet-smelling flowers, the overwhelming tobacco smell of the leaves doesn't allow you to enjoy any flower scent.

Pictured: Bright blue Delphinium grandiflorum "Blue Elf" and pink Malva Moschata. I am wondering why I put these in the rock garden, because they are both almost 3 feet tall and require staking. Hmmm. Resident-lawnmower-man says they look fine, but I think this situation may keep me up at night...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Lettuce Lamentations

I made an interesting observation in the vegetable patch the other day. Apparently, the bugs have selective tastes for leafy greens described as "gourmet". At first, I thought all my lettuce was doomed and that I would either have to rely on store-bought lettuce or install high-tech lettuce-protectors.

Pictured: At left is bug-eaten Green Oakleaf or Arugula; at right is Paris Island Cos Lettuce looking perfect!

Now that the lettuce has grown, I wish I was a little more careful in not mixing the seed between the rows. I planted Arugula (technically a type of mustard), Green Oakleaf Lettuce, and Paris Island Cos Lettuce. All were from Richter's Herbs in Ontario. I now see that the Paris Island Cos Lettuce is doing well but one or both of the Oakleaf/Arugula are looking like moth-eaten socks.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Not just perennials

I confess that I am growing ANNUALS up here. Yes, I am not a perennial purist. However, I do know one of these types, who wanted to know if I grew perennials or annuals before taking up a gardening friendship.

Pictured: Yellow pot liles "Lemon Pixie", white zinnias, Snapdragons, and Pink Lilies "Farolito".

Sometimes I even feel bad for growing annuals, yet I justify this act by emphasizing that almost nothing else will grow in containers left out over winter! Those pampered gardeners in Toronto and Vancouver can flaunt their Tiarellas, Tulips, and English Ivys flowing from ornamental containers. Unfortunately, the rule for plants in containers is that they must be hardy to a climate two zones less than your present zone. That is, if you live in Zone 6, the plants in containers must be hardy to zone 4. This might work in warmer places, but technically, it would leave us in negative numbers.

Remarkably though, the snow cover does wonders here and I actually have some yellow pot lilies ("Lemon Pixie") that made it through the winter in whiskey barrels. I intended to leave them there, thinking they would die and compost away. I was quite suprised to see them back this year, especially since our dog's brother ATE all the flowers off those lilies last year. I since found out that lilies are very poisonous to animals, but he was fine except for the yellow pollen "mustache" that gave him away!

The doggie picture is our fine friend in all her sleek summertime glory, without the heavy undercoat. She looks much smaller in the summer! The wild blueberries are growing in her backyard habitat though I don't think she has been eating any of them.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Smoke on the Water

The sky has not been clear for days, with thick smoke hanging over the town over the past 2 days. The nearest fire is about 15 km away and the smoke changes with the wind direction. I'm trying to conserve water, so the plants are getting watered less this week.

Pictured at left: One of the neighbour's floatplanes on Lac La Ronge (across the street from our house). This picture was taken around 6 pm July 6, with smoke making the sky rather dark and visibility poor.

Pictured: Cream colored Longiform x Asiatic Hybrid Lily "Courier", one of the first liles in the stone-wall raised bed.

I did plant a few more lilies 2 weeks ago and I just saw some little shoots are already poking through the soil.

Pictured: Pink flowers of Fireweed, a common plant almost everywhere! It is more common in disturbed landscapes, including those where fires have burned the landscape. This one was growing near the docks across the street.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Roadside Wildflowers

Part of being a garden-nerd is loving the flowers that grow outside my yard, including those in the ditch along the highway. Last month the showy pink ladyslipper orchids decorated the ditch along the highway running south of town.

Today, I stopped for the orange Wood Lilies (Saskatchewan's provincial flower) and the Common Red Paintbrush (Castilleja miniata).

I'm not sure why they were named "red" because they definitely are pink. The only other point of interest on the roads are the RVs with boats in tow. I'm not sure where they're planning to go, considering the evacuation of some of the provincial parks due to fire. The Nut Point provincial campground 1 km from our house is still okay (we're still here!).

Smokey the Garden Bear

dThe before and after pictures: We got crushed rock and spread it over the driveway last weekend. Much improved I say, because it makes my plants along the driveway look even better!

The Sask Environment website lists 26 new fires in the La Ronge Fire Center area today and the smoke is quite heavy. It has caused the moon to be an eerie shade of orange.
It sounds like the fires are just north of town but not threatening the town of La Ronge directly. Regardless, the resident-lawnmower-man decided not to go plant shopping with me at the nearest garden center (2hrs 20 min away) in Prince Albert.
[Incidentally, would you believe Superstore is selling apricots for $2.48 per lb!! Another excellent reason to move to B.C.]
I'm believing that lawnmower-man planned to heroically guard the garden with a hose in case of disaster (or maybe he just wanted to be home with the ice cream).