I might have to spray-paint my Alliums

I’ve heard this from others about alliums aka ornamental onions – though the Virginia, USA, gardener responsible for these was mystified when I told her. Alliums can self-seed. In my sandy, part-sun and tiny back garden, Allium christophii, though lovely, can be a bit of a pest. So I’m considering spray-painting them. The gardener did it to […]

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‘Banish Misfortune’ at the RBG

Scrolling through my photo archive, I came across a set of photos I couldn’t believe we haven’t shared. These are just a taste from two visits made to the Royal Botanical Gardens‘ amazing Laking Garden iris collection in June 2014 and 2015. For many reasons, our opening shot lives up to its name. It’s Iris […]

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Gorgeous native azure blue sage

My sad story is that I constantly fall in love – with plants that I can’t grow. But if your garden (unlike mine) is sunny, hooray! Here’s a great one for you. The delightful name azure blue sage (Salvia azurea) refers to its sky-blue flowers in late summer and early fall. Right about now, for instance. It gets big bonus points for being a […]

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Enormous hardy hibiscus is not a pest

The first time I saw hardy hibiscus or swamp mallow flowers (Hibiscus moscheutos), it almost caused whiplash. Mine. We were driving through St-Laurent on Ile d’Orleans near Quebec City when I spied what looked like a tropical hibiscus. Only the flower was huge. HU-U-U-UGE. What the heck, I thought, this is Zone 4B (Canadian Zone 4B!), for […]

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Celebrate July’s profusion in the garden

Think of this as a late-blooming “Wordless Wednesday” – a visual, almost-silent* paeon to the glories of the late-July garden. These are all from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, viewed on banquet day at the Minneapolis Fling. I’m not even going to name the flowers, but you can ask in the comments if you’re interested. Just […]

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What is that white fluff, anyway?

No, it isn’t snow. It’s the fluffy seeds of the eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides). A row of mostly cottonwoods sits on the horizon at Tommy Thompson Park on the Leslie Street Spit. Walking on the Spit last Saturday, my friend Sharon asked, “What is that white fluff, Helen?” I was so glad she did. Because […]

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Your June garden needs more alliums

This Ward’s Island garden whispers to me (loudly): a garden can never have too many alliums. When you invite 70 garden bloggers to Toronto in early June 2015 (after a bitter winter and a long, cool spring), you’d better hope the gardeners have planted alliums – the ornamental onion – to fill the potentially gaping […]

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Plant profile: Echinacea, a cornicopia of coneflowers

I’d call this a jubilation of purple (and not-so-purple) purple coneflowers (Echinacea), wouldn’t you? From mid-July into September, purple coneflowers (Echinacea) are among the bright stars of the garden. Long-lasting and fairly easy to grow, on well-drained soil in full sun or light to part shade, they are a great flower for beginning gardeners. What’s […]

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July 2013 Blooms Day in Toronto

Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ with Heuchera ‘Caramel’ I chuckle when people say “nothing will grow under Norway maples.” Then I point to a scene like the one above, growing in my doubly Norway maple-shaded, root-infested, deeply sandy garden – the indomitable ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea, fattened on a regular diet of chopped leaves and, recently, duck manure. Yes, things […]

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A farewell visit to the Country Gardener

Yvonne Cunnington’s simplified Four Square Garden It took many years and tons of tender devotion aka slog work for Yvonne Cunnington and her husband John to transform their large country property near Ancaster into a horticultural work of art. Now, to simplify life, they’ve left it all behind for a small, rental property – for […]

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Faves: Helenium autumnale

Helenium autumnale  – that’s Helen’s flower, to you. Not sneezeweed. Geez. Enough about me. Let’s talk about Helenium. I don’t know what variety this is (perhaps its short stature points to ‘Ruby Dwarf’ aka ‘Rubinzwerg’), but I wish it were growing in my garden. Despite what they say about the need for full sun and moist soil, […]

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