Baptisia for Garden Days 2017

Look at these yellow wild indigo (Baptisia tinctoria). When Sarah and I saw them at dusk a week ago at the Toronto Botanical Garden, they were glowing like candles in the dimming light. Immediate crush! But I fall in love easily, it seems. It has been an unusual spring, cool and wet. We’ve had late […]

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‘Green Spice’ is a fabulous Heuchera

A shade gardener who values foliage design, someone like me, needs a healthy appreciation for the huge coralbells family (Heuchera). Hybridizers have created a ridiculously wide array of choices in coralbell leaf shape, colour, patterning, and size. Some have even put the “coral” back in the coralbell flowers. When you add crosses with Heuchera cousin Tiarella you get many more […]

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Double bloodroot blows me away

Every spring, a small, white, puffy flower explodes on the shady north side of my garden – and every year, it’s pure excitement, all over again. It never fails, and it never fails me. In fact, this double version of the native Sanguinaria canadensis has multiplied constantly, ever since it came as a gift from Cold […]

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The long, lovely season of Helleborus

Hellebores (Helleborus spp) are fabulous, long-blooming spring flowers for a dry-shade garden like mine. Although I’m hoping to incorporate more native plants in my garden, this gorgeous Eurasian will likely stay – not only for its months-long show of flowers, but as an early-spring pollen and nectar source for pollinators. In fact, an interesting tidbit […]

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Another use for Luffa (or loofah)

This desiccated winter planter turned my head near George Brown College a few weeks ago. Not for its artistry, but for the realization: Hey, those red “pine cones” are loofahs! Loofahs! Not sea creatures, but the fibrous cores of mature gourds such as Luffa aegyptiaca – all in the cucumber or squash family. We associate loofahs with sponges because they hang […]

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As if it knew, ‘Moonlight’ amaryllis bloomed

A while back, I bought a bare amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulb from the Toronto Botanical Garden shop. Did I plant it right away? No. Silly me. I procrastinated and I procrastinated. So, while all my gardening friends were posting images of their gorgeous amaryllis(eseses) on Facebook, mine sat sideways on (not in) the pot it was supposed to […]

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Snowdrop alert 2017. On the early side.

After all my whining observations about the early wave of spring in other parts, we are finally seeing signs of hope in Toronto. One of spring’s bellwethers for us on the Toronto Gardens blog is the arrival of snowdrops (Galanthus) in our small city plots. Well, they’re here. Today! Or one snowdrop is, as you can see above – and glory […]

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Opuntia will come back from the dead

If this seems a gruesome way to begin, it’s because of my “undying” admiration of the paddle cactus or prickly pear (Opuntia spp.). Did you know that southern Ontario has a native cactus (in the wild, it’s endangered)? This is the family, if not the one. And we can overwinter it here in Toronto’s USDA Z5/Canadian Z6. When […]

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Not a native plant (but it sure looked like one)

When Gail of Clay and Limestone reminded me about her upcoming Wildflower Wednesday meme, I got all excited. I’d been saving the shot above for a post with the working title “lesser-known native plants.” Trouble is, the more I looked, the more I saw it isn’t the plant I’d thought it was (Uvularia grandiflora or merrybells) – though at […]

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Invaders I wish I’d never planted

This is not a picture of a spring garden. No, it’s a stand-off between the Hatfields and McCoys, with Prokofiev’s ominous Dance of the Knights as the sound-track. To the left, the Hatfields, wearing purple. To the right, green-clad McCoys. Each creeps towards a battle in the middle – and takeover of my garden. What is an invasive plant? […]

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Clematis tangutica: Careful what you wish for

I have lusted after Clematis tangutica, the late-flowering beauty with the common name golden clematis or sometimes orange-peel clematis due to its thick petals (really: sepals). And I have planted Clematis tangutica. And, like many of the clematis I’ve grown, I have killed Clematis tangutica. You can imagine my surprise, then, when researching this post today I […]

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