Friday, 31 July 2015

Ornamental Seedheads - Clematis

Clematis are a staple in my garden. Most are species or Clematis viticella cultivars for several good reasons: they follow the late spring/early summer flowers, bringing a new and different look to the garden; they have smaller flowers, but many more of them than the dinner-plate types; they don't suffer from the dreaded clematis wilt which can destroy a seemingly healthy plant in less than 24 hours; when they die back in late fall, you cut them down to knee-height and they remain tidy through to the following spring; quite a number of them are scented.

This year, a long and unusual hot spell has driven all but one into shedding their petals early. However, their seedheads add subtle interest to much of the garden.

'Willy', a spring bloomer starts off with tufts of fluff that slowly turn to silver spirals.


'Miss Bateman' prefers the look of brass.


'Nelly Moser', a volunteer that I may not keep because I don't care for its candy cane flowers, presents blond fright wigs.


Little Clematis ochroleuca has a cluster of pea-green seeds with curling shreds of palest yellow.


Clematis  integrifolia is still producing a few cobalt-blue flowers alongside its spidery white seedheads


And Clematis recta is a mass of green fireworks.

Eventually, those green stars will turn to iridescent blue and the wispy tails will turn white and feathery, as they are in last year's post "November Colours"

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Brave Survivors of a Hot July

Why leave Vancouver in summer to go to Sydney, Australia in winter? A new grandson, that's why.


 We came back to a Vancouver that was suffering from unusually hot weather. In fact, little or no rain had fallen during our absence. Wildfires were close enough to the city that the cabin staff on our plane had to reassure passengers that the burning smell as we descended to the airport was not coming from the plane.
Thanks to kind neighbours, the garden was surviving fairly well, although many summer blooms seemed to have wrapped up their flowers already and were going dormant.

Echinops ritro, being in the thistle family, was feeling no pain and making a definitive statement to that effect.


Growing beside it and jostling for space was a single plant of lovage (Levisticum officinale.) At more than 8 feet high it was taller than I've ever seen it. I grow this herb both for its statuesque green presence as well as its usefulness a a celery substitute in home-made soups and stocks.


In front of these two, Rosa gallica 'Versicolor' was shedding crispy brown petals. It looks messy while it is doing this, but its round red hips will brighten fall and winter if I leave it alone right now.

Most plants in the shade of the old pear tree were doing well. While hydrangeas in less protected beds were wilting, leggy-but-lovely Hydrangea 'Kiyosumi' was thriving, even if its colour was paler than usual. A single spire of Actaea ' Hillside Black Beauty' was unfurling in front of it, making a pretty contrast.


Other bright spots were the last flowers on daylily 'Wild Wine' ...


a double pink poppy...


and Salvia viridis, one of my favourite annuals for filling the blank space left by spring bulbs.


Two plants new to me this year were also doing well. The grey foliage of Scutellaria incana was topped with trusses of soft blue flowers. So far it only has a couple of stems, but I think it will make quite a show in future years when it has bulked up a bit more.


And Echinacea 'Green Jewel' was just beginning to open. I rather wish the petals stayed that very Irish green, but the white is attractive and fresh-looking nevertheless.