Friday, July 31, 2009

All for the Love of Poppies

Annual poppies are one of my favourites in my big raised beds. They require little work to plant, as you simply need to spread the seed on the ground in spring (April or early May here). Ideally, you should thin them so they have the room to grow to full potential. My big breadseed poppies (Papaver somniferum) self-seed and surprise me each year when the genetic "deck of cards" is shuffled to yield more beautiful color combinations.

Of course, remember that the foliage looks terrible after bloom time, so either plant them near the back, or rip them up when they're done (they come out very easily). These poppies are easily distinguished from the others by their blue-green foliage that is reminiscent of the color and texture of broccoli stems or cabbage.

Papaver somniferum, pale pink with pale purple cross :

The new color crosses have all come from crosses between this pale pink poppy and the dark purple poppies, from which I started two years ago. I assume that there is no cross-species pollination, so that the P. somniferum does not cross with the P. nudicale, P. orientale or P. miyabeanum in my yard. If any botanically-wise people know better, please let me know.

This year, I noticed one new color combination that takes my breath away. It's rather hard to capture in a photograph, though. It has deep pink petals with just a stain of grapey-purple on its edges.

Other combinations have included a new coral-red flower with a deep purple cross and a pale lavender flower with a deep purple cross. I've tied strings on the stems of these flowers so I can spread their seed for next year. The rest of the seeds will be excellent in muffin and loaves!

This year, for the first time, I grew some annual Shirley poppies (Papaver rhoeas) as well. I bought and sowed some "Cedric Morris Mix" from Thompson and Morgan and some poppy seed I surreptitiously collected in 2008 at a public garden in BC. I am guessing that these were P. rhoeas as well.
Papaver rhoeas, red and white flower:

This red and white flower had finely divided leaves, unlike the pink one, which had broader leaves. Has anyone else noticed a difference in leaves between the colors of this poppy, or maybe it's not even a P. rhoeas?
Foliage of the pink poppy:

Papaver rhoeas, pink flower:

While they are not poppies, I would just like to thank my Sweet Williams (Dianthus barbatus) for looking so fabulous in my raised beds. As an added bonus, they are fragrant! Once a patch is established, these biennials do a great job of putting on a long-lasting show of blooms with a nice mix colors.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Vermicomposting Style and Life Lessons

I really appreciated this video on how to create a "wormery" the UK's Telegraph website. This appears to be the same project we have going on in our garage, except we call it "the worm boxes". The British can make a plastic box of worms and dirt sound so much more sophisticated. This video demonstrates the assembly of a vermicompost box as a calm and beautiful activity, with Bach's Air on a G String playing softly in the background. The casually-dressed, attractive young man in the video gestures gracefully, while using his bare hands to add layers of material to the worm bin. I almost expected Nigella Lawson to appear at the end of the clip, wanting to sample some of the end product.

I love how the British esteem gardening so highly that their news media dedicates nearly the same attention to it as to international politics. The last time I looked, CNN's website did not have a "gardening" tab along with the finance, news, and sport sections.
On another note, I recently realized how lucky I was to have survived my childhood. My mother shared with me her perspectives on child-proofing a house, and how she believes that children should simply learn not to touch the plants. I don't want my plants messed with either, but being realistic and safe, I have made sure that I don't have any deadly plants around the house.

Interestingly, mother agrees that safety locks for the cleaning products are a good idea. Anyhow, she informed me that she kept "only a dieffenbachia and a philodendron" in the house when we were small. Only BOTH of them are poisonous! I don't recall having poison control's number plastered to our telephone. I think the key educational point here is that a person has to LIVE through an experience to take a lesson from it. It's a good thing I didn't eat the plants.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Wave of Delphiniums has Started

Here are some photos of the large raised bed with the blues and purples of the delphiniums just starting at the back of the bed. The breadseed poppies are also blooming now, but because I didn't thin them, many are small this year.

By the way, I'm having a terrible time with poplar suckers popping up in my raised bed. Glyphosate (Roundup) only seems to kill the few leaves onto which I drip the herbicide directly and the suckers just keep on growing. I'm going to eventually lose control over my raised bed if I can't get the suckers out. Any ideas? I can't pull all the huge cable-like roots out without pulling out my plants. Does Roundup even work for trees?
Large raised bed:

Large raised bed:

The alpine garden looks much nicer in late evening photographs. Maybe the rocks create too much glare in midday? I just removed the tallest perennial, a Scabiosa columbaria, because it wasn't small enough; its 18 inch height was towering over the dwarf and low-growing plants. Instead, I left the Scabiosa japonica "Pink Diamonds" plants that I grew from seed. Those are much shorter, though they have similar flowers.
Alpine Garden, showing lots of color:

Alpine garden, with a dense mat of the hardy succulent Delosperma nubigenum at the center and dwarf mugo pine at the back:

Alpine garden, with wooly thyme at the foreground and nest spruce at the left:

I bought this next plant from a local store at an end of the season sale. They were selling a bunch of stuff as annuals though I bet that they were actually perennials, even in our climate. I must have a good sense for plants, since the row of Salvia nemerosa "Marcus" did very well over the winter and are now creating a highly-visible punch of purple at the front of the center raised bed. They are my replacement for the catmint, which had just become weedy and invasive because of its self-seeding.

Zinnia "Uproar Rose" is in my half-barrel planters. It is one of those plants that makes me think "Wow, that's just too nice a flower for the little effort it took me to start that from seed a few months ago". Truly, it is easy to grow and looks spectacular.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pumpkin Growing NOT at its Finest

I know about as much about pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) cultivation as I do about installing toilets. I can tell if the end result worked, but not much before that. Of course, this gives me a good reason to do some internet research on this topic. My husband (resident-lawnmower-man, or RLM) knew at least that pumpkins need a longer season that we have, so I started some pumpkin seeds indoors long before the last frosts. I am not aiming for prize-winning giant pumpkins, so I planted the small sugar pumpkin type. Pumpkins do take up a lot of space, so I didn't plant them in the small raised bed we use for vegetables.

Instead, the pumpkins inhabit this fantastic plot:

No, there aren't any deceased pets or enemies hidden under this mound. Lying here is an accumulation of soil, weeds, dead trees, and discarded plywood. I figured I'd make full use of this refuse pile by digging three holes in it, filling those with composted manure, and inserting the pumpkin plants. So far, the vines appear to be doing well and are well-watered by all the rain we have been getting.

I was getting concerned that there were flowers but no pumpkins, but then I remembered my cucumber experiences and that only the female flowers produce pumpkins and the male flowers don't accomplish much (Does this sound familiar to anyone? Of course this does not apply to any male gardeners).

I think this is a baby pumpkin, looking like a gnome head under a green hat. What stage are everyone else's pumpkins at this time of year? Am I going to have pumpkins this fall? If not, I didn't lose much, and the refuse pile gained a few orange flowers.

Alpine Garden Shining Bright

I am happy to see that the perennials in the alpine garden are creeping around as I had hoped, and are putting forth bright flowers to create a quilt of color. The only problem with the garden is the excess of weeds! Since this bed is new and used poor soil from around the yard, it contains a lot of weed seeds. I follow one rule when weeds go bad and I don't have too much time: at least try to pull them before they flower and set seed.
I keep a border of bare soil just inside the rock wall so that I can walk around the bed and access the plants:

Pink flowers of Lewisia (top) and cobweb hens and chicks (bottom) as well as a mauve Scabiosa and white Dianthus microlepsis:

Veronica armena in bloom:

I need to get out in some good lighting to get better pictures of this garden, since that bright light does not do justice to the colors. However, there is no ideal lighting that will fix that weed problem...

By the way, did you see the CBC article about the University of Toronto professor's report that argues that "grow local, eat local" may not always be environmentally sound? I just think of growing food up here and this becomes clear. Sure, Vancouver could grow lots of tasty stuff outdoors without special equipment so that its folks could have a 100-mile diet. Growing enough produce up here would have to involve heated facilities to extend the growing season, using electricity generated in this province by coal or natural gas, (and some hydroelectric and wind facilities). There's a reason why we don't get our lettuce and strawberries from Yellowknife!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Novelty Flowers and Old Favourites

Aren't these neat Osteospermums? They're fun to look at. The petals are like little spoons. A description of one of the spoon-type Osteospermums on the Proven Winners plant website states that they don't require deadheading for continuous blooms. I like how they put it: "Plants will bury their dead". How considerate.

Finally, I have blooms on my Siberian iris clumps. Not on all of the clumps, mind you. I am an inpatient gardener and it has taken about three years for my Siberian irises to bloom! So if you are having this problem, just wait longer.

Sweet Williams:

Multiple colors on one stem! I should feel that this Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) is giving me such a great deal for my dollar. Once I got these plants established, they have proven to be reliable biennials for me here in the north. The ones that are unprotected at the edges of the beds don't make it through the winters, but the ones towards the middle do just fine. The colors are bright and really add alot to the mid-July flower slump (post-tulip, pre-lily).

The sloped rock garden: yellow Digitalis grandiflora is in full bloom at the top. The fuzzy grey mound on the right is Artemisia "Silver mound".

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Raising the Little Gardener

I am not ashamed for not being a hockey fan. Yes, I am Canadian, but our TV is more likely to be turned to HGTV than to a hockey game. Furthermore, we won't be sending our kids to hockey camps. Not a chance. I had no idea how fanatical people could get about hockey until I moved to Saskatchewan. Some of these folks are certifiable hockey-lunatics. Instead, I am planning on raising little gardeners and hope to cultivate the love of plants and gardening in these impressionable minds. The assistant gardener (two years old) already knows "tulips", "dandelions", and "alliums". I will be proud if she knows the botanical names of half a dozen plants before going to preschool. She has three garden tool sets, several watering cans, a wheelbarrow, and a couple of gardening gloves (though they're still too large). I may not be able to convert any adult non-gardener into a plant-lover, but as terrorists and cults have shown, you can have great influence on the young. So here I am, somewhere between a hockey fan and and a terrorist..

As a part of my strategic plan: surround the child with garden-themed toys. I have found a favourite online toy store (Ape to Zebra) that sells quality non-toxic toys, such as this wooden Plan Toys vegetable garden:

I already have the Plan Toys wooden chalet dollhouse and family. Between taking baths, jumping out the skylights, and rearranging the furniture, the family certainly could enjoy tending the carrots and turnips. I see that there is also an "Eco House" with a windmill, recyling bins, and solar panels, for the environmentally-conscious wooden doll family. We have decided that children's toys should be about fun and having your child to grow up to be a good little citizen. Teaching your child to be wise with resources and grow their own food is a great thing.

Other garden-themed toys on my wishlist: the Haba baby's first soft vegetables:

Then you can teach about pests (and how they can be cute, I suppose) with the Haba Pommella apple and worm:

Healthy food goes hand-in-hand with gardening, and I love the cute wooden play foods. We have a little collection going already. This is the Melissa and Doug crate of fruit for cutting:

Finally, we have the Plan Toys "Farm wife". Hmmm. Aside from the scarf, plaid shirt, and long skirt, she looks strikingly like me! I'll wait till I find the ultra-stylish, Tilley-hat wearing "Gardener Mom".

(By the way, Ape to Zebra has really good shipping rates and I've been happy with the orders I have made.) While parents may not be able to control who their child marries or what career they choose, I'm hoping to create gardener-offspring. Does anyone have stories of success in this type of endeavor?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Digital Garden Renovation

There is a patch of flowerbed alongside our driveway that reminds me of a perpetual bad hair day. I spend a lot of time pondering what to do with this awful patch. I don't want to dig it up entirely, since it contains many spring bulbs which are just getting established as good clumps.

I need some larger plants with interesting textures to cover up the dying foliage of the early spring bulbs (mostly Siberian squill). The new plants can't clash with the dwarf lilac to the right, which I just tolerate. The cedar (Thuja) on the left has put strong fibrous roots through this whole area which make life difficult for many plants that have tried but failed to live here.

The cedar shades this spot in the morning, so the plants just get afternoon sun. I used my newly updated Realtime Landscaping Pro 5 program (PC) to get some ideas for new plants in this spot. Here is the proposed design:

The large central planting is a pale/yellow leaf Japanese barberry. Around it are Brunnera, white flowering begonias, a hosta, a green leaf coral bells (Heuchera), and another Campanula carpatica "Blue clips", since that plant already lives here and thrives in these conditions. I threw in a chives behind the barberry, since that plant thrives anywhere. Click on the photo for a closer image.
As an aside, here is my favourite columbine in the garden this year. I believe it is one of the "Songbird mix" plants I started last year. I bought the seeds from Swallowtail garden seeds, from whom I have bought many seeds and always been happy. I like this columbine because of the color, long spurs, and upwards-facing blooms. A real winner. Now I need more good pink columbines...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

My Very First Dahlia

I ventured into a new world with my first purchase of dahlia tubers this spring. Since I first planted those tubers (indoors first, then outdoors in June), I have discovered that dahlia growers are a peculiar kind of gardener. I know several that are passionate about their dahlias. Their care for their favourite flower is nearly obsessive, so that no one dare harm their dear babies. They have a philosophy far from my "grow the tough perennials and toss the rest" approach to plants.

Here is the cactus dahlia"Tahiti Sunrise". Looking at the photo, I see that a spider has made this flower its home.

I'll be cutting off the dead flowers, hoping for more blooms!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

What's With Mosquito Repellent Patches?

I just saw an ad in my current Canadian Gardening magazine for a patch which claims to repel mosquitoes. Having an intense hatred for all biting insects, I was intrigued, though suspicious of its efficacy. The "OmeZone Insect Defend Patch" apparently contains thiamine (vitamin B1), which is released into your system through your skin. It starts acting within 2 hours and can deter mosquitoes for up to 36 hours, according to the ad. It is promoted as safe for children and pregnant women, which probably appeals to the people who are cautious about synthetic chemical repellents. It costs $6.95 for a pack of 5. My questions about the patch:
How does it work? I have read that it essentially makes you appear stinky to mosquitoes. A repellent odor oozes out in your sweat, though this is not apparent to other humans.

Does it work for all kinds of mosquitoes, including Culex tarsalis (spreads West Nile virus in this province), and the Aedes and Anopheles species? I can't find any published articles demonstrating its proposed effect. If it is effective, then why hasn't this been already used widely in prevention of malaria.

Why not just take oral thiamine, if this purpose is to get it into your body and into your sweat?
Stewart C. Harvey, Ph.D. recommended 100 mg of vitamin
B1 as an effective mosquito repellent in a 2002 comment to the New England Journal of Medicine (not a study or review article). The oral thiamine is certainly cheaper. One major drugstore sells thirty 100 mg tablets for $5.41. I suspect the patch format fools the general public into ignoring the fact that this is still a drug acting on your body, albeit an essential vitamin. Perhaps the manufacturer aims to make the drug more long-acting by formulating it as a transdermal patch? In that case, I'd probably rather just take a few tablets of the thiamine over the course of 36 hours.

Other reasons to use a patch:
(a) you can't take anything orally because you are unconscious or don't have a functioning gastrointestinal tract
(b) you want to avoid metabolism of the drug in the liver (which does not apply to thiamine, but commonly applies to hormones) or
(c) you want a slow steady release of the drug over time (good for narcotics, nicotine, and hormones).

Are there any good studies on humans that show that a thiamine patch is effective in repelling mosquitoes?
A search of OVID Medline with the search terms "mosquito" and "thiamine", limited to English and humans, revealed only 4 articles. Only one had an abstract (
Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association. 21(2):213-7, 2005 Jun.). It described their study, where oral B vitamin complex supplements failed to have a relationship to the mosquito repellent qualities of the compounds released from the participants' skin. There were no articles on the transdermal (patch) use of thiamine.

A July, 2002 article in the New England Journal of Medicine has a very pertinent study of the efficacy and duration of action of several different repellents (thiamine not included), noting that 10% citronella oil can protect you for all of 19 minutes!

(5) Would I rely on this product to protect me in a country where malaria is endemic?
Absolutely NOT!

Note these sad facts: More than 40% of the world's population is at risk of malaria, and more than a million people die of it each year. Malaria kills a child every 30 seconds: 90% of people who die from malaria are children not yet 5 years of age, and most (90%) of these deaths take place in sub-Saharan Africa. (Greenwood BM, Bojang K, Whitty C, et al. Malaria. Lancet 2005;365:1487-8.)

One website promotes this product by asking: "Are you planning to travel abroad to areas possibly infested by various insect populations?" and "Are you in an area where you know that mosquito-borne diseases are present?" Unless they mean northern Canada or parts of the USA, where the mosquitoes don't carry malaria, this is a reckless product recommendation. If I had to decide what product to use to prevent my own DEATH, I'd probably go with the one that has substantial evidence to prove that it works (DEET + prophylactic antimalarial oral medication + permethrin-treated bednets).

Aside from malaria, I know for sure that there are no published studies showing that this patch has any efficacy for prevention of yellow fever, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, or any of ther other mosquito-borne diseases.

(6) Should pregnant women use products like this because they are safer than the alternatives?
It should be pointed out that pregnant women need particularly good protection from malaria (DEET and certain antimalarials are okay), since malaria will kill a fetus and occasionally the mother too, since immunity is lower in pregnancy. Several deaths have occured in Canada due to misinformation on the prevention or treatment of malaria in travelers. If we are just talking about nuisance mosquitoes, then you may as well use any product that isn't known to be unsafe.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal publishe
d a critical review (DEET-based insect repellents: safety implications for children and pregnant and lactating women. August 5, 2003; 169 (3)) which concludes that "There is no evidence that the use of DEET by pregnant or lactating women poses a health hazard to unborn babies or children who are breast-feeding."
Another quote from the promotional website:
"Just one small OMEZONE TM Defend Patch, applied discreetly on any hairless area of the body creates an invisible virtually impenetrable shield against the ill effects of mosquitoes and the diseases they may carry."

Yeah, well I'll bet that the mosquitoes probably find it hard to bite you THROUGH the patch. I propose that the application of several hundred patches, so as to cover every bit of exposed skin, would be effective as a mosquito repellent.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Bonsai Update: Baobab

I don't claim to have any expertise in bonsai, but find the whole process of miniaturizing trees fascinating. When I'm old and eccentric, I plan to collect all sorts of miniature things. Or maybe I'll make whole miniature gardens and landscapes!

I have had two projects going for 5 years now. The fig and baobab have suffered under my pruners (as RLM puts it) and matured a over this short period of time in the world of bonsai. To keep it simple, let me just show the baobab today. I started it from seed back in 2005. Initially, I let it grow until it was several feet tall. I did some cautious pruning in the second year.
July 2007:

In late 2007, I cut the main trunk to about 6 inches tall. I applied Japanese cut paste at the wound (not totally necessary) and new growth appeared at the cut and below it. In retrospect, I probably should not have pruned this late in the season.
October 2007:

I let it grow and thicken its branches for a while.
July 2008:

I am starting the bend the branches more horizontally this year. I hope to make the tree look more mature this way, creating the appearance that the large branches are bowing under their own weight. The baobab branches are quite brittle, and thus are not easy to wire, like the flexible fig tree. I chose to tie them down with string attached to elastic bands, which are stretched around the top of the pot.
May, 2009, a few weeks after the first pruning of the season:

July 2009, before pruning:

July 2009, after pruning:

I am trying to make sure there are branches pointing outwards in all directions, to get a balanced tree:

The baobab grows in a sunny indoor place all summer and in the fall it gets yellow leaves, which is the sign to stop watering it. When it starts to go dormant like this, I take it down to the basement and put it up on a shelf. It needs no light during this time, which lasts about 6 months. At some time in the spring, I see new green growth and bring the tree back up into the light. I won't bother putting it into a real bonsai pot until I get it a bit more developed.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Columbines and Cranesbills

It seems we are in a transitional time period: post-tulips, but pre-lilies. There's something about those show-stopping flowers that defines the rapid passage of time the summer garden. In the meantime, I am now enjoying the columbines (Aquilegia) and cranesbills (Geraniums, the hardy perennial kind). I have an English friend who claims not to know the North American common name for Aquilegia, though I think she's just trying to outwit the people who don't know botanical names! You know, I'm surprised I haven't heard of any [eccentric] celebrity naming their child "Columbine". I rather like floral names for children, but RLM would not agree to any flower children. Too bad. I guess we will never have a little Amaryllis or Petunia (just kidding).

Here is my favourite white columbine, surrounded by the pink cranesbills on the bottom right and cheddar pinks on the top right. I grow several of my columbines in full sun, which is generally not recommended, but I get away with it here. Of course, the columbine foliage looks rather ratty later in the summer, so I sometimes cut it back.

At the bottom of the picture is the pale purple alpine aster "Goliath". I love the color combination. It's just perfect, since there is NO ORANGE. That is essentially the color theme of my yard, summed up in one rule (which of course is broken by that one rebel lily in the back of the yard).

Thursday, July 02, 2009

A Sluggish Photo

For those who deny that we have slugs up here in the north, here is the proof to the contrary. I know gardeners who swear they've never seen a slug around here, and others that complain of slugs eating their plants. I personally have never noticed any slug damage on my plants. I am one of those fortunate gardeners who has some lovely hostas and no problems with slugs treating them like a salad bar.
Slug in my La Ronge garden:

Actually, this pale brown, approximately 2.5 cm long slug was making his slimy little track across the the alpine garden. This slug doesn't really bother me, when I think back to the monstrous plant-chomping slug-terrors that live in the Vancouver area. You nearly need to stop your car to let them cross the road (okay, so I exaggerate a bit). We are having quite a bit of rain recently, which the slug probably likes. Today, we had thunderstorms with hail. Of course, I immediately ran to check on the potted tomatoes on the front deck. The well-being of the house and vehicles was of secondary importance.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Alpine Garden Plant List

The alpine garden was created in the fall of 2008. I have grown alpine perennials from seed and purchased some others from garden centers. These plants are all low-growing and good candidates for rock gardens. They are growing in full sun and in relatively poor soil. I will make notes of any plants that don't survive the winters, as growing alpine plants in zone 1 in northern Saskatchewan is a bit of a gamble in hardiness.

Many of the plants form low mounds. I hope for these little mounds to nearly coalesce and eventually form a nice carpet of plants around the rocks. I will keep adding plant photos to this list as the plants grow and bloom.
  • Acinos alpinus (Rock thyme)-- small purple flowers
  • Alchemilla alpina -- gift plant from local gardener, blooms in June. Spreads and can get a bit messy-looking if not trimmed back.
  • Allium flavum v. minus -- yellow flowers, bloomed July 20, 2009
  • Androsace primuloides “Sheppard” – died after planting
  • Arabis caucasica “Rosea” -- started from seed, bloomed early June
  • Arabis ferdinandi-cobergi “Variegata”--very attractive white and green foliage
  • Aster alpinus “Goliath”-- started from seed
  • Dianthus microlepsis white -- bloomed July
  • Cerastium alpinum ssp. lanatum – white flowers, grey hairy foliage, growing and spreading fairly fast
  • Delosperma nubigenum – yellow flowers, spreads very well
  • Delosperma deleeuwiae -pink flowers, from Wrightman alpines spring 2009, bloomed July 21, 2009
  • Draba mixed -- started from seed
  • Draba polytricha – very tiny, feeble as of June 09, but overwintered extremely well without any damage to its evergreen foliage. Yellow flowers April 2010.
  • Dryas octopetala “Alpine Carpet”- from Wrightman alpines spring 2009, overwintered well. Appears evergreen.
  • Erigeron compositus--started from seed spring 2008, bloomed July 20, 2009
  • Jovibarba small rosettes mix – started from seed, look like Sempervivum, overwintered well
  • Lewisia hybrids -- very pretty flowers, plants reliably hardy over several winters only if in well-drained soil. The ones in the alpine bed rotted in winter.
  • Lewisia cotyledon “Little Plum”, “Regenbogen”, plus Lewisia mix started from seed
  • Muscari armeniacum
  • Narcissus “Tete-a-Tete”-planted fall 2008
  • Papaver miyabeanum “Pacino” (Japanese poppy) – Self-seeds easily, with new plants starting to grow in late March.
  • Penstemon rupicola “Pink Holly” --arrived in the mail mostly dead
  • Saxifraga x arendsii “Peter Pan” – pink flowers, from Dutch Growers, overwintered extremely well.
  • Saxifraga x arendsii “Purple Robe”-- from Dutch Growers, overwintered extremely well.
  • Scabiosa japonica “Pink diamonds” – grown from seed, first blooms in 2008 on June 28. Cut off dead blooms after flowering season to keep it looking neat.
  • Scilla siberica (Siberian squill) -- tiny spring-flowering bulb with deep blue flowers. Looks good in dense clusters, naturalizes and multiplies every year. Plant tips emerging from the ground April 20, 2010.
  • Sedum kamtschaticum 'variegatum' -- red and yellow flowers, bloomed July 21, 2009. Winter hardy.
  • Sedum laxum ssp. laxum--grey and pink foliage, very slow to start growing
  • Sedum makinoi “Ogon” -- bright yellow foliage
  • Sedum ewersii (Ewers Stonecrop) -- grey-green foliage, grew well; pictured in spring
  • Sedum rupestre “Angelina”
  • Sedum spathulifolium “Cape Blanco”
  • Sedum spurium var. coccineum “Dragon’s Blood”
  • Sempervivum (Hens and chicks) – various types
"Cobweb" hens & chicks"Ashes of Roses"

  • Thymus pseudolanuginiosus (woolly thyme)
  • Thymus serpyllum (creeping thyme)
  • Thymus serpyllum “Elfin” -- the most low-growing, compact thyme I have ever seen
  • Lemon thyme -- gift from family member, variegated fragrant leaves
  • Veronica allionii
  • Veronica armena – from Wrightman alpines
  • Veronica whitleyi -- from Dutch Growers in Saskatoon
  • Actostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry). Foliage turns burgundy in fall/winter.
  • Dwarf balsam fir. Minimal winter damage, with some brown needles in spring 2010.
  • Dwarf mugo pine. Almost unaffected by winter damage.
  • Nest spruce. Very little winter kill, but had good snowcover and little wind.
Ideas for more plants to try in the alpine garden:
  • Phlox douglasii, Phlox borealis
  • Silene uniflora 'Druett's Variegeted