Thursday, June 23, 2011

Late Spring Garden beds

Among the various garden beds on the property there are two that did really well this year. I have been tweaking the rose bed over the years and have never been satisfied. Roses have been planted and dug up and I am slowly coming to the realization that roses and I do not work well together. There are four roses in this bed, one a patio rose, is swamped by a columbine and a masterwort. Father Hugo has already bloomed this spring (and spectacularly too) while Sombreuil, a climbing tea, and Muscosa or Old Pink Moss, have yet to bloom. 

Rosa hugonis or Father Hugo


So over the past few years I have slowly altered the plants in this bed, adding Max Frei geraniums and two types of Willow Blue Star. My motto is keep adding what is already doing well. And so I am. The colour combination to my eyes is wonderful.

From the left is peony Miss America, wild columbine, Willow Blue Star, Max Frei geranium and a dwarf variety of Blue Star. The columbine seeded itself there and has been left for the season. Fortunately you can not see the patio rose and the masterwort duking it out.

Miss America
Another bed that has had a good spring showing is by the front door. It is fairly new and I call it the Red Bed. Three Diablo ninebarks dominate the bed at spring and bloomed profusely this year. A good chop after flowering by about one third gets great results. For spring colour there is Thalictrum aquifolium or Meadow Rue and Blue Alliums for contrast. This planting also includes two clematis, one pink and one red, a ruby red hollyhock, japanese maple, and of course pink liatris and coneflowers.

Ninebark and Japanese maple

Allium cernum in bud
in flower
Meadow Rue
I post this on a rainy day. A day when it is good to remember how wonderful the garden looked, if only a couple of days ago.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Chlorosis, really ? Ants too. Good Grief !

Chlorosis, is considered a disease in the plant world. Chlorosis is when the leaves of a plant can no longer make chlorophyll and the leaves turn yellow. It is usually associated with an iron deficiency in plants, or when plants are unable to  use the iron in the soil due to poor pH levels (too alkaline), poor drainage or damaged roots. It may also be caused by a lack of manganese or zinc in the soil. To tell the difference between low iron versus low manganese you look to the leaves themselves. Forget that the deficiency creates cool looking designs in the leaves. Look at whether the chlorotic leaves are at the tips of the branches or closer to the center. In other words: old leaves or new leaves?

For the first time ever I am witnessing chlorosis in my garden, on one of my clematis, which happens to share a bed with roses. I believe it is due to a lack of manganese or zinc rather than iron. First have a look at the leaves. Gorgeous aren't they?

However, if you look towards the end or tip of the vine, the leaves are green.

I think because the clematis is in the same bed as some roses I will take the easy route first and apply a low solution of fertilizer that includes all the micro-nutrients. The roses will then get fed (and at an optimum time too since they are only still in bud form) and I might be able to stop the chlorosis from spreading. If that doesn't work I guess I will have to put my thinking hat on in case I have misjudged the culprit. Soil tests, checking the soil for compaction would be other factors to look into.

Ants have been a thorn in my side for years now. They are in the grass and tend to move house from one spring to the next. You discover them when you suddenly trip over a mound that wasn't there before, or find that the edge of your gravel driveway ( a curse and a love both)  has sand along the sides. Huh?

Where'd that sand come from?

We have big ants, little ants, carpenter ants in the house (oh don't get me started), and yellow ants that smell like lemon when you crush them. They turn up in the lawn, the garden beds, the leaf compost pile and the containers. I just planted this container of succulents a few days ago and already there are ants. 

Can you see the holes?

The soil is pushed up in places too.

Now what was my mantra again? Oh yes. I love gardening, I love gardening.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Last of the Spring Flowers

Some of you must be in full summer swing by now. I know this. I read your blogs and see your wonderful photos. Here we are still a bit behind by about two weeks and so there are still some spring flowers in the garden at Pomona. 

the last of the Redbud

Labrador Tea

Growing the Labrador Tea is still a mystery to me. It is a circumpolar plant and therefore can take a range of conditions. However, as you can see there is either sun scald or winter burn or wind burn from over the winter. This has happened since I planted this three years ago. It goes brown over winter and then does a partial recovery in spring. Obviously I have to move it, as it is not happy with its accommodations, but where to?

Phlox 1
Phlox 2

Phlox 1 and 2 are the same plants. This is a special plant for me because of all the effort I have put into the two measly plants I could find. I am 99% sure it is a Phlox subulata but in broadleaf form. I have searched for three years now for additional plants but no such luck. The plant was to grow it around the base of the Black Walnut tree. Today I can say I am succeeding, but it has been yearly cutting stems and replanting them, in order to have come so far. 

Shooting Stars
The beautiful white form of Shooting Stars. I only have one plant. I could have added the pink form but I like the white.

Wild Columbine
Columbine (L) and Geranium maculatum(R) in bed
The columbine is growing in almost every bed I have. It is not happy to be in one place for too long, it is free spirited and so moves right along where ever there is an open spot. I do not grow any other kind of columbine as they are also quite promiscuous and I would prefer to keep mine pure.

False Solomon Seal
Here is the False Solomon Seal in bloom. It is similar to the bugbane, below.

Lastly, Bugbane or Cimicifuga racemosa, now Actea racemosa, is the native one for North America. I have a few plants and they have been very hard to come by around here as the Chinese ones are everywhere. This is the first to bloom this year and is a beauty.
These plants are all native to southern Ontario and are all woodland plants. If you missed some of the earlier ones check out an older post here.
Next time we'll move to the front of the house for some sun lovers. We'll see what's in bloom then.