Monday, 6 January 2014

Last Gasp of 2013


December brought sharp morning frosts that sparkled on the few remaining flowers, fruits and foliage.

Sedum 'Autumn Joy'




















Anthemis tinctoria "Sauce Hollandaise'
Rosa 'Lykkefund'
Then in the week before Christmas we had snow, making Vancouver briefly part of the Great White North.



It smashed my luxuriant rosemary, but  Mahonia 'Winter Sun' came through unscathed.


So did a ground-hugging Skimmia, although almost submerged in the snow.










Even a few dying seedheads on brittle stems held up well.






















That's another reason not to rush the trimming and tidying of these spent blooms. I leave them for the small birds to enjoy and also for the structure they continue to provide when so many plants other plants have collapsed or disappeared for the winter.

By Christmas Day the snow had largely melted and for the remainder of the year we were back to traditional Vancouver weather, i.e. rain interspersed with sunny but cold and clear periods.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

More Fall Colour

It's been a busy few months so I never found the time to write about how well the garden is beginning to perform in the fall. However, I did manage to get out with a camera and record some of the highlights.

I continue to be impressed with Enkianthus perulatus, which grows bigger and colours more deeply with every passing year. I love the way it complements the colour of the house and yet stands out from it.


Across the path, the deeper colours are echoed by the year-round purple foliage on Nandina 'Plum Passion', which looked stunning with silvery drops of water on its leaves.


Fothergilla 'Mt. Airy' is another good multi-season plant. Having produced its creamy, honey-scented flowers in summer, it became a riot of orange and gold in October.


Nobody expects roses to have good fall colour, but Rosa pimpinellifolia is a favourite of mine in part for just this attribute (No, I didn't tweak the saturation in these images, but I did take the photographs in late afternoon golden light.)




It's pretty much a good all-year plant with elegant fern-like foliage through three seasons, lovely scented pale yellow flowers in summer, and shiny black rosehips. Even in winter, its stems have what Gertrude Jekyll described as "a warm brown presence" in the garden. I will post a photo of it in January to illustrate her comment.

October wasn't entirely about leaf colour; there were still some late-blooming flowers in the garden as well, asters (or Michaelmas daisies) in particular. I have several different varieties now. Earlier I posted photos of  'Little Carlow', so intensely blue, but I also like the pink prettiness of 'Anja's Choice'. This is its first year with me and I'm hoping it keeps its present short stature and won't require support the way not-so-little 'Little Carlow' does.


A quite different aster is A laterifolium 'Lady in Black', whose little white daisies with their raspberry centres are visible at the bottom of the following photo, underneath the fluffy white flowers of Eupatorium 'Chocolate'. Both plants have names that describe their dark stems and young foliage, not their flowers. I'm surprised and pleased by how well the flowers combine.


There is also a charming little member of the onion family that looks rather like a clump of grass until this late in the year, and then sends up numerous stalks of bristly little lilac-pink bells. Its name is Allium thunbergii 'Ozawa'.


 And finally, there is my favourite hydrangea 'Beni-Gaku', whose praises I'm always singing. Flowers and leaves have taken on tints of burgundy that contrast boldly with a dying hosta at its feet.