Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Perennial Plants For Shade - Part 3

Here's the third installment of Perennial Plants For Shade:

Amsonia. Star shaped blue flowers flower in June. I'm partial to blue in the garden. Not many shade tolerant, blue perennials flower in June. This one is a keeper.
Meadow Rue; Thalictrum aquilegifolium - great for height and textural interest. May require staking in dense shade.

Brunnera macrophylla- this is the plain green variety.
Brunnera flowers are like forget-me-nots. Real hardy and fairly drought tolerant.

Gallium odoratum; Sweet Woodruff. Great ground cover. Flowers at end of May into June. Easily controllable and favours both sun and shade. Fragrant blooms.

Rescued this Aquilegia Vulgaris 'Leprechaun Gold'; Vareigated Columbine from the left over perennials at Canadian Tire. Bought this entirely for it's spotted variegation. Has beautiful double blue flowers to boot.
Columbine have dense habit when first emerging in spring. Loose, habit once in flower. Why buy green varieties, when you can get this spotted variegation! Can seed every where. Easily transplantable.

Helleborus x Gold Series. Evergreen and one of the most beautiful flowering perennials come spring (some varieties flower in autumn).

Pulmonaria angustifolia; Lungwort. Lovely bell shaped flowers in early spring, ranging pink to blue in colour.
Great substitute for hostas.

With silvery...

...or spotted foliage. Best planted in masses.

Convallaria majalis; Lily of the Valley.  A runner, spreading quickly, but great as a ground cover. Fragrant flowers.
Still more to come....click here for part 4!

Check out previous posts: on Perennial Plants for Shade - Part 1 and Perennial Plants for Shade - Part 2

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Don't Throw Away That Garden Hose - DIY Fix It!

I was quite surprised the other day when I saw frustration in regarding a garden hose end attachment that leaked. The immediate response was, "we've got to get a new hose".

The yellow hose end has been bent due to frequent use. No longer makes a tight seal.
No, you don't need to get a new hose. Hose will just wind up in the land fill.

For those of you who don't know this, simply go to a nearest hardware store and pick up some new attachments. You'll need the following:

1.) hose end attachment (male or female)
2.) threaded clamp
3.) sharp pair of pruners (real sharp)
4.) flat headed screwdriver

Hint: You generally find clamps and hose end attachments together in packages. This is ideal.
First, cut the old end off with sharp pruners. If there is a leak in the hose at this point, cut beneath the hole to fix.

Make as flat of a cut as possible.

Before anything else, thread the clamp over the hose end before you proceed. Push it down the hose about 6 inches, so you have room for the next step.

Take the new brass fitting end and place at the mouth of the newly cut end. With the flat head screwdriver, insert it through both and...

...press firmly, so that the screwdriver presses it firmly down. Less strain on your fingers this way. Some hoses have tough rubber, hard to get the fitting in. If so, place end of hose in a hot bucket of water for a few minutes. This makes the rubber more pliable.

Push the brass fitting down, until the rubber meets the lip of the brass end.

Move the clamp towards the brass fitting, but not to the end of the rubber. Screw tight. You must leave a gap between the lip of the brass fitting and the clamp. The other hose end has to thread down over the fitting and sometimes it overlaps. Having the clamp too close, will not make a good seal.
Note:  it is important that you get the right clamp for the right hose thickness. Too large, and the clamp will make the end too heavy and when tightening, it will damage the rubber. It's best to bring the cut off end of the hose to the hardware store and get the best fit. No two hoses are alike.

No more leaks! 
Sometimes, there is more frustration buying new rigid hoses that are hard to recoil and wind up again. Reuse and fix your hoses before you give up on them.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Plant Profile: Petit Faucon Clematis (Evisix)

All one's hard work gardening pays off at this time of year. When plants respond to your TLC, it's sooo worth it.

Petit Faucon Clematis
This herbaceous clematis nearly choked out last year. Having been smothered by overgrown shrubs and perennials, it nearly died. Heavy pruning this spring and resituated neighbours enabled this lovely clematis to bounce back with a great flush of colour.

This one is quite unlike the popular varieties out there.

Blue-ish yellow stamens age to deep yellow. Making lovely seed heads once the petals fall after bloom is over.

Unlike several climbing clematis, Petit Faucon (trade marked as 'Evisix') needs a little help to get rambling. Staking and tying up new stems is key to keep it from growing as a ground cover. Its leaves grow twice as large, weighing the growth down. Once upright, the new tips of the growth reveal lovely bell shaped flowers opening to  these 4 petaled, deep blue blooms. Quite unusual. The vine grew quite large this year, given the amount of snow coverage overwinter. Lots of moisture at the root level. Different in habit, this is a true eye catcher. 

Another beautiful feature: deep, shiny-blue bars on under-sided petals when in bell form.
Hint: Partner these herbaceous clematis with other vigorous upright clematis. With other varieties like: Jackmanii or Patens series, which bloom more towards the top.  You can train Petit Faucon to flourish below. This is paired with:

Clematis patens 'Miss Bateman'

They compliment each other so well.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Photo of the Month - July 2014

Captured this Euphorbia polychroma in the evening, with some sunset twilight. Turned the grey-green foliage to blue. Every garden should have this plant.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Perennial Plants For Shade - Part 2

Gee, I can see myself making several parts to this sort of post. There are so many choices out there. Not the run of the mill either. Choices like these:

Not your average shade plant. This Chiastophyllum oppositifolium "Cotyledon" has wonderful grape clustered, yellow flowers in early June. I don't grow it for the flowers, but more like a ground cover. Habit is rather low and quite tolerant of dry shade. Adds shiny leaves and different texture to garden.

Here is a close up of the flower cluster.

Foamflower, or Tiarella. This one is called Iron Butterfly. Love, love, love. Foliage is golden all summer and doesn't scorch in shade. Flowers come up in late May early June. Tolerates a fair bit of drought once established.

Epimedium davidii, or Bishop's Hat. Fabulous little columbine like flowers in late May, with semi evergreen foliage which....
...turn lovely shades of reds and bronzes with frost.

Viola cornuta "Bowles Black" - a dwarf variety, with purple/blue flowers. Foliage in spring is quite bronze purple, maturing to dark greens and a tinge of purple. Self seeds every where, but easy to hoe out if you don't want them. Great planted with Lysimachia nummularia "Aurea" beneath!

Alchemilla molis - Ladies Mantle. Nothing looks more glorious than leaves covered in dew on a  spring morning. Yellow flowers in June/July. Lovely paired with blue/yellow hostas. Can grow in a fair bit of sun as well.

Matteuccia struthiopteris, commonly known as Ostrich Fern. Lovely fiddle heads in spring (edible), unfurl into soft fronds. A bit of a runner. Must remove baby ferns in late spring to keep at bay. Great for dense shade and tough spots like under trees, or to cover an area quickly.

Tricyrtis - Toad Lily has long lily stems bearing orchid-like  flowers late in season (August-September). Real visual interest against evergreens or autumn changing foliage.

Anenome x hybrida "Honorine Jobert". Fall flowering Anemone. Some of the most delicate blooms that flower, standing above deep green foliage. Gently blowing in the breeze - they are stunning in masses.
Part 3 post here...

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Clematis Wilt - Phoma clematidina

Clematis are some of the most beautiful flowering vines available to the avid gardener. However, several cultivars are prone to clematis wilt.

This newly transplanted clematis (moved this past spring) has shown signs of the wilt disease.

Rather a young plant, we waited for the flower buds to unfurl, but with the heavy rains we've had and humidity, the buds never got large enough to flower.

On closer inspection, the flowers were wilted and lost some colour.

The stem bearing the flowers at the base had the typical Clematis Wilt brown leaves.
Clematis wilt a few years ago was known as Ascochyta clematidina, but now it is classified under Phoma clematidina. A fungus which in wet weather, multiply by spores, creating blotchy lesions and eventually browning of leaves - making the plant wilt.

Even though the leaves at the tip of the stem are green, the base leaves are all like this.

The best route of action, is to cut back (as far back to the ground level) any stems and leaves that are infected. Do not compost the remnants. Destroy or remove. Re-situate the plant, if it is prone to dampness (frequent foliage contact with water).

Cut right back to ground level. No sense in letting any remaining leaves to infect other healthy ones.

This clematis was planted in a fair bit of clay soil. Adding compost and humus rich soil will help boost it back to health.

Clematis generally like to have "cold feet" which is a term used to describe cooler roots. Help clematis by shading the base of the plant. Planting the clematis slightly deeper than it is in the pot is wise. Make sure the roots are deep enough to keep cool. Planting a perennial or placing a rock over the root system is also beneficial.
While recovering, it's best not to let the remaining foliage get overly wet. You can't help the rain, but any additional waterings should avoid the foliage getting wet.

This is the stem in question. Discarding it, I have cut it in half. The wilt began at the base, slowly working its way to the tip. A sad shame, but thankfully, the wilt didn't spread to the other stems.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Fabulous Bird Bath - Renzo Cattoni

Gardeners know that birds are crucial to promoting a balance between insect populations and healthy plant life. Helping to attract birds to a garden is key. Adding just any old bird bath is the challenge.  Why not this one?

I am blessed to have creative people in my life. Renzo Cattoni designed and made this bird bath himself. I giggle every time I see it. Not only does it bring visual interest to the garden, it does attract hundreds of birds each season. I think it's fabulous.
The face is meant to enable smaller birds to stand in less deep water, as well as provide relief and visual interest. The finger/hand is used after the bird has bathed. Perching there to wiggle and dry off. The large basin size enables more than one bird to bathe at a time.
The detail is what makes me giggle.

We've had the pleasure to see Robins, Baltimore Orioles, Red Winged Black Birds, Yellow Finch, Cardinals...you name it!

Happy bathing birds. Great design, Renzo!

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