The plants of Canada Blooms 2019

Have you ever paused to think what a challenge it must be to force 70,000 plants into leaf or peak bud or bloom in time for the March opening of a show like this? Especially over the dark, rainy, sleety, snowy Ontario winter like the one we’ve survived in 2018-19! That’s an accomplishment in itself. And to […]

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2017 was a great year for Hydrangeas

In 2017, we’ve had rain, we’ve had rain, we’ve had more rain. It’s raining now! My annuals are slow to bloom, probably due to lack of sunshine. But one thing for sure seems to be doing well around Toronto. Hydrangeas! The smooth hydrangea or Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ in my dry-shade front garden (above) is mammoth! Lots of rain and […]

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Wow, when clematis met smoke tree!

Here’s a combination to remember! A burgundy-red Clematis (perhaps ‘Nike’? [Ed: My clematis-loving friend Marie suggests it might be C. ‘Mme. Julia Correvon’) clambering over a Japanese maple and then up through the “smoke” of a golden smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria Golden Spirit aka ‘Ancot’). Wow-ow-OW! Let me show you my shoes. I was walking in […]

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November in Corktown Common

Before the rain began this morning, our walking group headed west for a change. The Distillery District would be our turnaround point, but I never made it that far. Corktown Common and a golden patch of flowering witch-hazel fixed me and my phone camera to the spot. Click the arrows above for the slideshow. What an excellent […]

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Pros and cons of fragrant sumac

While camping at The Pinery provincial park a few years ago, I took the green picture below, curious about the shrub. It had “leaves of three,” similar to poison ivy (formerly known as Rhus radicans, now Toxicodendron radicans syn. T. rydbergii) But those berries, if that’s what they were! Fuzzy, kind of like a staghorn sumac (Rhus typina). Turns out […]

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The rosy (and not-so-rosy) Rose of Sharon

A hedge of Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) near us used to look absolutely show-stopping in late summer – a time when flowering trees and shrubs are rare, and rarely so generous with their flowers. Tired of being stopped by people asking what it was, the homeowners resorted to posting a sign: It’s called Althea!* Althea is another of […]

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Yum, a candy-coloured garden

What fun! Pool seating in a handful of jellybean colours. As my beloved would tell you, I’m not keen on surprises. However, surprises in the garden are a few of my favourite things. The last thing Sarah and I expected to find behind the lovely Georgian home in Port Hope, for example, was this playful […]

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Yellow leaves on my hydrangea

Green veins, yellow between them – a symptom of chlorosis It was on a lot of hydrangeas I saw around town this year – yellowing leaves, with the classic green veins that signal chlorosis or lack of chlorophyll. Unsure why this happened more often in 2014, but when it did on my own Hydrangea ‘Quickfire’ […]

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Light my ‘Midwinter Fire’ dogwood

A bright dogwood hedge (likely Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’) on Lakeshore Avenue East* [See Ed: below] You know that it would be untrue. You know that I would be a liar. If I was to say to you, this is my ‘Midwinter Fire.’ No, it probably belongs to Loblaws, whose parking lot it borders along […]

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Fall colour in Hydrangea ‘Quick Fire’

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Quick Fire’ isn’t famous for fall colour. It probably should be. Even the Proven Winners site doesn’t mention fall foliage in its write-up for Hydrangea ‘Quick Fire.’ Why on earth not? The colour this year in my garden is a show-stopper, giving the dried blooms a flattering new outfit. Just look at the […]

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Idea file: Four unusual native flowering shrubs

Fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) in the Westview Terrace at the Toronto Botanical Garden What is a native plant? We weighed in on this complex discussion – or argument – in 2011. Let’s just say that the four lesser-known flowering shrubs in this Friday’s Idea File are native to North America. All are hardy in Toronto’s […]

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Two shrubs to add that touch of pink

Leucothoe fontanesiana ‘Rainbow’ – ‘Rainbow’ drooping fetterbush or dog hobble Variegated foliage is my weakness. But, I have to be careful. A garden full of typical green-and-white “interesting”  foliage can be too much of a good thing. But these two shrubs – both seen growing in Toronto – can introduce a kiss of pink into […]

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