Saturday, 29 June 2013

Other People's Gardens, Part 2

Another summer means more garden tours. The East Van Garden Tour this year featured a number of small but ingenious gardens that gave me some new ideas about how to manage limited space.

Unfortunately, late afternoon wasn't the best time of day to photograph this garden, but there's still enough detail to see how cleverly a very narrow space has been planted.

A hedge on the left and a fence on the right leave just enough room for a narrow path and two long strips of predominantly foliage plants. At the far end, a rustic pergola supports a grapevine.

In another narrow space, a paved path leading to a back gate, the gardener ranked pots of assorted ferns alongside the garage, with vines draped above them.

One tiny garden still found nooks for two productive beehives,

... an ornamental birdcage (unoccupied),

a moustachioed statue,

...and this fabulous lily.

Where there was no room for anything but a narrow path, this gardener improvised with a novel window treatment.

Elsewhere, I liked these stepping stones,

...this seat enveloped in greenery,

...a delightful water tank, reminding me of Australia (the gardener is from New Zealand),

...and a lovely royal fern with a convex mirror hung above it to reflect the garden.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The Garden Gets Exciting

We've had such a good spring with alternating showers and warm sunshine, that many of my perennials are blooming ahead of schedule. In my last post, I mentioned the first flower on 'Rosa Mundi'. Now the bush is in full bloom, and I can't resist taking lots of photos. here are a couple of the best.

One more flower,

and one showing a bit more of the plant. Like many of the old roses, it casts its fragrance on the air, where it drifts through the garden and makes you look around for the source. However, if you stick your nose right into a bloom, it appears to have only a light perfume.

Growing next to the rose is a German iris called 'Midnight Oil'. I'm not generally fond of this kind of iris, but couldn't resist this one with its silky black petals and lavender-blue beard.

 My favourite hardy geranium, Geranium x magnificum is thick with blooms that echo the colour of the iris beard.

Behind it in a shady corner, Gillenia trifoliata is mixing airy white flowers and lacy leaves with the dark foliage of Actaea 'Hillside Black Beauty'. The two have similar foliage and I like the intermingling of the green with the espresso-brown.

Another shade plant, a saxifrage with a flower much like the Gillenia does its own mingling of the same colours.

Phlomis russeliana is a sun-lover with a flower like a series of yellow shrimp cocktails on a skewer. It has big, felted leaves that give some shade to the roots of the Clematis recta behind it that is now a cascade of little white flowers.

When I bought a rusty old tripod in a junk store my idea was to use it as a birdbath, but the birds didn't seem interested. Now I've filled it with a collection of shells as well as water and hope that this provision of more perching places will make it more appealing. Or perhaps it will attract butterflies instead. Meanwhile, it pleases me more.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Beautiful blooms

It's always exciting when the first flowers open on favourite plants, especially if they are ones that have taken a year or two to establish themselves before really putting on a display.
I bought 'Festiva Maxima', my favourite peony almost two years ago. Last year it produced one smallish flower, but this year it has two huge blooms open and more to come.

It's not just the pure white petals with their occasional streaks of crimson, but also its intense perfume that makes it so desirable. The only drawback is that these sumptuous blooms have to be staked or they flop. I prefer to stake them individually with thin bamboo canes that aren't very visible, rather than use one of those circular supports that make the plant look as if it is wearing a corset.

Close by is 'Rosa Mundi', an old, old rose that is crimson streaked with lighter pink and white, a reverse colour scheme of the peony.

This is one of the first flowers to open this year. I'm hoping to get a good picture of the whole plant when it is in full bloom. It was a gift from Jan, a dear friend, just before he died so it has a lot of sentimental value for me as well as being such a stunning addition to the garden.

 Clematis 'Huldine' has just produced its first flower, too.

Only the very early flowers show these grass-green tips; later ones will be pure white on the surface with three distinct purple stripes on the undersides. It's worth growing in a place where you can look up at it from below to appreciate the contrast from front to back.

An extra thrill this year is that we've had a hummingbird coming to the garden every day for the past week. Although it is visiting various flowers, the two that it is most attracted to are  foxgloves and, most of all, this one:

It used to be called Allium siculum. Then the botanists changed it to Nectaroscordum siculum (because they do prefer names that  are more difficult to pronounce). In this case, however, they've changed their minds again and it's back to being Allium. Its common name is honey garlic, which explains its appeal to the hummingbird.

Other People's Gardens

Looking at other people's gardens introduces you to plants you might like to have yourself,  clever ideas that you might want to copy, or just details that you can enjoy in their context while accepting that they would not be a good fit for your own backyard.
Here are a few non-plant additions to gardens that appealed to me on a recent tour of West and North Vancouver gardens.
 A small and lovely statue in a waterfront garden liberally dotted with tropical palms:

A very steep slope with a woodland planting, enhanced by a marvellous hanging sculpture like a giant cocoon:

The inventive recycling of a wooden pallet...

...and a toaster: