Sunday, June 28, 2009

Spring at Niagara Parks' Botanical Gardens, June 7th

Here's another set of shots I took recently...

Despite the wonderful attributes of the now very popular Geranium 'Rozanne' and its very similar cousin 'Jolly Bee', I still like many others, including this one, G. × magnificum (a sterile hybrid from G. ibericum × platypetalum). I like the two or even three-tone flowers and their relative abundance. This plant is a good example of the principle of "hybrid vigour" for this child easily out-performs both of its parents. In any case, it's a great plant for a partially shaded location.

Also at its peak was Campanula 'Samantha', a likely C. carpatica hybrid that has very pleasant upward facing bellflowers, and a somewhat longer bloom-time due to its sterility.

Here's a great, and a not-so-great plant in a colourful combination. The gold-leaved Sedum reflexum 'Angelina' is a superb plant for its drought-resistant and vigorous nature, and obviously, its colourful foliage. The dark one in the middle however, is S. 'Black Jack', a sport of the deservedly popular 'Matrona', that was once promoted as possibly the best of the dark-leaved Sedums. Black Jack was a major disappointment for most, being rather prone to mildew and genetic instability. The two plants do here make a pleasant combination, but I'd hate to see how 'Black Jack' looks in a few weeks.

This is Dianthus gratianopolitanus 'Tiny Rubies', a cute dwarf, and floriferous Pink that is ideal for the rock garden or little alpine planters. It's been around for years, and oftentimes puts most of the new hybrids to shame due to its hardiness and durability.

Here's the old Campanula 'Birch Hybrid' (C. portenschlagiana × C. poscharskyana) in all its glory -- just covered with beautiful purple-blue, star-shaped bellflowers.

This is the rare but beautiful Sedum sieboldii 'Mediovarigatum' -- relatively rare for a Sedum due to its instability, which makes it difficult to propagate; beautiful for its multi-coloured leaves and stems.

This is one of my favourite Hostas, especially for a variety that is non-variegated, or has a solid-coloured leaf. In any case, H. 'Sun Power' is a great plant for its vigour and size, and its beautiful yellow-green leaves. As its name indicates, it is also relatively sun-tolereant.

The Perennial Sages are certainly in the Top 10 Perennials by Genus, likely on the coattails of popular varieties like 'May Night' (Mainacht) and 'East Friesland' (Ostfriesland). Below is the more recent variety 'Caradonna', one that I like for the contrast between the purple flowers and the dark stems. It is from Zillmer Nursery in Germany, and was discovered as a seedling of S. 'Wesuwe'.

Here's a pleasant combination in the butterfly garden, of Nepeta 'Walker's Low', a Weigelia, and Geranium × cantabrigiense 'Biokovo'.

A Dogwood of some sort, Cornus kousa would be my guess -- what a beautiful plant.

This is a very cool small tree called Old Man's Beard (Chionanthus virginicus), native to most of the eastern U.S. It is also known as White Fringetree.

We've enjoyed a lengthy Spring-season here this year.

Here's to dirt under your nails.

MPD, the coolplantsguy

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Spring at Niagara Parks' Botanical Gardens, May 17th

Here's another set of shots I took of various cool plants at their peak...

This is the plant that started it all for me -- Gentiana acaulis, the Stemless Gentian. There's just something about the blue, tubular flowers that I've been entranced with ever since I first saw pictures of them in catalogues and books. Now I make a special trip each spring just down the road to see them in the little alpine garden at the Niagara Parks' Botanical Gardens.

While the above plant, and the genus as a whole, is considered relatively exotic to most gardeners, it is interesting to note that a renowned expert is Dr. James Pringle of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Ontario.

The outstanding variegated Tuliptree, Liriodendron tulipifera 'Aureomarginatum'.

The very cool Camassia in full bloom. This plant was a food source for the native peoples of North America, as well as those on the expedition of Lewis and Clark.

A couple of unidentified ferns:

Here's another plant I love to admire and photograph -- Rodgersia (Rodger's Flower), a genus of about five species from China and Japan, named after U.S. navy commander Admiral John Rodgers.

Here's a near-perfect shot of the Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum) showing the pink-purple mid-ribs on the silvery leaves.

Here's what I believe to be Geranium himalayense 'Gravetye', although Armitage refers to this species as "summer-blooming". In any case, it was in full bloom here in mid-May, and very impressive, despite not being long-blooming like 'Rozanne'.

I'm not sure exactly what this is, but my guess is a Dogwood (Cornus sp.) of some type. But what a sight!

This is such a great Hosta, but unfortunately with an old, un-cool name: H. montana 'Aureomarginata'. In any case, it is a show-stopper every spring.

This grass-like Sedge, Carex elata 'Aurea' (Bowles' Golden Sedge) is well-known for its bright foliage, here showing a pleasant contrast with its dark "flowers".

It's funny -- in the UK (and certain parts of the U.S. I'm sure), this plant is described as a weed due to its spreading nature. Here in Niagara, where it is likely just hardy enough, it survives the winter well, and spreads only very slowly. In any case, Euphorbia grifithii 'Fireglow' is a unique beauty.

Here's to dirt under your nails.

MPD, the coolplantsguy

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tree Peony Eye Candy

Here's some pics I took last month of some Tree Peonies blooming at the nursery.

'Hana-kisoi' (Floral Rivalry):

The Tree Peony is of Chinese origin, and dates back to before the year 750. They are essentially hybrids involving at least three species, P. suffruticosa, P. lutea, and P. delavayi. The hybrid selection is then grafted onto a herbaceous peony root stock.

'Howki' (Charming Age):

'Kamada-fuji' (Kamada Wisteria):