Thursday, May 31, 2012

My New Favourite Tulip

I've always been a fan of single late tulips in my garden, being later-bloomers not subject to damaging early frosts.  They are tall strong flowers that often last for several years.  This year, I tried a new tulip, a mix of Impression Series tulips.  I was very impressed with these huge flowers on sturdy stems.  They bloom just ahead of my single late tulips and the flowers are nearly twice the size.  How did I live without these?  They are a hybrid between the single late tulip and Fosteriana tulips, so at least are related to my good old favourites.  My usual sources of bulbs only sell these new bulbs in shades of red and pink, but perhaps more colors will be available in the future.    
Impression Series Mix tulips in my raised bed.
Impression Series Tulip

The white Erigeron compositus contrasts stunningly with the red Saxifraga flowers.      
The alpine garden is packed with blooms at the moment.  I enjoyed seeing the white flowers of Erigeron compositus and bought a yellow Erigeron chrysopsidis (dwarf golden daisy) last year from Wrightman alpines.  It flowered for the first time this spring.  It is a tiny plant, only a couple inches tall.  It is a native plant from higher elevations of Oregon and Washington states and like many of the alpines, likes drier conditions.  I don't put the sprinkler on this garden bed, as rainfall satisfies most of its needs.    
Erigeron chrysopsidis "Grand Ridge"

White "Wildhof" Single Late tulips and pink shades of Impression series tulips in the raised bed.

Narcissus "Minnow" among the blue Aquilegia glandulosa.  Too cute!

The weather in La Ronge has been quite nice and I'm sure that the cabins on the lake will be well-used this weekend.  More folks are out strolling around or walking dogs, or like the fellow who cruises by our house every evening, running their dog down the street alongside a golf cart.  At least one of them is getting some great exercise! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Oh, the Primulas

I bent down low to get a photo of this lovely cream flowered Primula auricula and noticed a wonderful scent.  My other auriculas are not scented, but this one was heavenly.  I bought it from Wrightman Alpines and though there was a sign for the auricula "Chorister" in the area, I do not think this is "Chorister", as that is an intense yellow flower with white center.  I have no idea what my primula's name might be.  There is another quite similar but with some hints of pink in the flowers.
Unnamed Primula auricula
Another hardy Primula auricula
     This beautiful clump of purple and gold blooming primula has been divided several times already and was a gift from my friend Barbara.  It thrives in the part shade under a deciduous tree.  Among these are several other tiny primulas, violas, and the miniature narcissus "Minnow".  It is a charming combination.  Not enough good things can be said for garden auriculas.  They do so well here.  Don't make the mistake of buying a "show" auricula though, as they are intended for a sheltered life in very particular conditions indoors.  However, you are unlikely to find one of these unless you are seeking plants in more specialized garden shops (i.e. not Walmart or Canadian Tire, or probably anywhere in Saskatchewan for that matter).      

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sun, Stones and Cedar Mulch

The raised beds inside the rock walls are looking more green every day.  Though full of perennials, they look so bare until late May, when the earth comes alive with plants that the winter had driven underground.  There are innumerable trucks towing boats rumbling down the road to the boat launch at Nut Point Provincial park.  They get to see me digging dandelions out of the flower beds, and the occasional slow-driving sightseer seems to appreciate the effort.  

Last night, I put four bags of "Natural Cedar Mulch" into this flowerbed adjacent the driveway.  I had a bit of mulch here before, but nearly the entire bed is mulched now.  Not only does this smell wonderful, but I find the mulched areas have minimal weeds and require less water.  Of course, it looks great too.  Cedar mulch contains oils that repel bugs and it is one of the longest lasting mulches, breaking down a lot slower than the other types of wood mulches.  There was also mulch available in black and a tandoori-red, apparently dyed in these colors for people that need their mulch to look more vibrant or whatnot.  I don't really care for the dyed ones, though I can't find that they are harmful.  One website even offers a spray-on dye to renew the color that your mulch came in.  That just seems dumb.
Newly mulched flower bed.
Grape hyacinths in the raised bed.  These are a great little naturalizing (multiply freely) bulb.
The large raised bed.  The foreground highbush cranberries (Viburnum trilobum) have not leafed out yet.

Alpine garden with all its white spring blooms.
 The alpine garden is bright with the masses of spring blooms, including Erigeron compositus, Cerastium alpinum, and Dryas octopetala.  Of these, Cerastium and Erigeron spread rapidly, and I occasionally pull bunches of them just to maintain the aesthetic.  Dryas is nicely behaved and slowly creeps over adjacent rocks.  Erigeron seems to spread by seed and is easy to pull, so I don't mind it much. 
Dryas octopetala, a nice evergreen creeping groundcover flower in the alpine garden.
Phlox subulata "Herbert" is said to be one of the lowest creeping phloxes available.  It certainly is an attractive little specimen.  Even the flowers are miniature.

Erigeron compositus, a generously spreading plant that I have let have run free in the alpine bed.  Sometimes you have to let something take over just so that the weeds don't have any available room.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bright Bulbs of May

After being gone for a few weeks, the dandelions are thriving and the plants have grown by leaps.  Tulips and daffodils have appeared, and the primulas and creeping phlox are blooming bright.  Resident lawnmower-man spent the day with the noisy tools, trimming grass from edges and beheading the dandelions.  At this time of year, it becomes obvious that gardens containing perennials are the only ones with May color.  Most annuals haven't started blooming yet and most bedding plants are to be planted outside in early June.  My indoor-raised annuals are spending some time in the fresh air today, but will be pulled inside for the night.   

Impression Series mix of pink and red tulips with daffodils and blue grape hyacinths in foreground.  The Impression series tulips have very large flower cups and are blooming slightly ahead of most of the Single Late tulips. This is the first year I have grown them.

Tulipa tarda, from my ever-enlarging clusters of this naturalizing species tulip.

Fritillaria meleagris, the checkered lily.  This unique plant does well here.  There are a few more blooms each year, which is rewarding.

"Big Smile" Single Late Tulips.

I plan to go out later and get some better photos of the current blooms, but I couldn't just let a blooming garden go without observation on this beautiful sunny Saturday morning.  Even the five-year-old got in the garden mood and planted all my peas and beans!  Yay!  

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Rise of the Bulbs (and Tubers)

The spring bulbs are sending up their green leaves, making the garden beds look more alive.  The lake is still frozen though I hope no one is trying to traverse the ice anymore.  I think most locals would consider it foolish at this point.  The lawn is starting to green up and I have finished planting all the direct-seed (vs. raised indoors in pots) annuals in the raised beds.   This will hopefully be a great year for cosmos.  I love their long blooming season and enduring color into the fall.     
Puschkinia libanotica - A delicate looking bulb that I tried for this first time this year (planted in fall).

Eranthis hyemalis -- Probably the smallest of all my plants.  These ones could fit on a quarter.  They were planted in fall as a tuber.  Though I planted many of them, this seems to be all I got.  They are a bit finicky, requiring soaking of the tubers before planting.

Rhubarb pushing its colorful leaves out of the earth.  It keeps company with the flowers, where it is both ornamental and delicious!

Sloped perennial bed with Chionodoxa, Siberian Squill, Pulsatilla vulgaris, and large-flowered crocuses in bloom.
I'm planning on visiting my brother's place soon, where I've been given the great opportunity to go to the garden center to consider plants for his new landscape.  Can a person get any luckier than that?  My Felco #6 and garden gloves are packed and ready!  I just love it when someone asks for some "garden consulting".  I'm also planning on trying out a new iPad app (iScape) that can do digital landscaping.  It doesn't look as good as my desktop computer landscaping program (Realtime Landscaping Photo), but sometimes gardening must go mobile.  

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

More Spring Flowers; Gardening Sessions in La Ronge

Indoor plant starting is running in high gear at the moment.  Vegetables, annual flowers, and a few perennials are starting to grow in pots under fluorescent lights.  I like growing my plants in re-usable plastic pots in trays lined with felt-like wicking fabric (I bought mine at Lee Valley Tools).  I water the plants by pouring water in the front of the tray and the fabric wicks it up to the bottom of all the pots.  I have a fan keeping the air circulating in the room, reducing problems with fungus. 
Light garden in full production.

Bunny sitting among the Primula auricula.

Unknown variety of Draba in flower.  This plant is three years old but still would fit within the palm of my hand. 

The hairy flowers of Pulsatilla vulgaris (left) are adding to the color of the crocuses.

Tiny yellow Iris danfordiae is said to be a zone 5-9 plant, but it made it through our recent mild winter just fine.

Ruffed grouse on the compost pile.

Kona out for a walk in the forest.  Snow remains in shady areas.
I was unaware of the habits of the grouse, wondering for days what the repeated drum rolls in the backyard were all about.  It didn't seem to be of human origin, yet it seemed too loud for an animal.  I could hear the drumming at night, from my bedroom.  Finally, dear resident-lawnmower-man told me that it was the sound of the grouse.  I did finally see the bird flapping his wings in his eager efforts to attract a mate.  His choice of location just meters from the fence containing our grouse-eating dog was interesting, however. 

If you are a local person interested in gardening, we are lucky to have "Gardening Wednesdays" sessions at 7 pm in La Ronge. 
  • May 9 is Planting Seeds and Propagation at Churchill Community High School, 
  • May 16 is Flowers in the North at Churchill Community High School
  • May 23 is Creating and Gardening in Raised Beds at 1312 Houghton Place, and 
  • May 30 is Container Gardening at 1331 Kowalski Place.  
I'll won't be able to attend, but am excited that local gardeners are out spreading the word about growing plants here in northern Saskatchewan.