Thursday, July 30, 2009

Niagara Parks' Botanical Gardens, July

Here's a set from several dates during the month of July.

The following are several pics of the very cool Ensete, commonly called the False Banana, although it is closely related to the true Banana (Musa sp.). While the fruit is not edible, the root is an important food crop in parts of Africa. In any case, it makes a dramatic and very tropical statement in the garden. The Niagara Parks Commission is using more tropicals each year in their gardens, and doing so quite effectively.

Most of the Daylilies were at their peak during the second half of this month. The first is 'Fairy Tale Pink', an older diploid bred by Pierce and registered in 1980. It has however, won several awards, including the Silver Stout Medal (the American Hemerocallis Society's highest honour) in 1990, and remains an outstanding pink-flowered variety.

This was a nice but unidentified red.

Here's Stamile's 1989 introduction, the tetraploid and aptly-named 'Strawberry Candy'. It is also a multiple award-winner, including the Silver Stout Medal in 1998.

This is a close-up of the older (1967 introduction by Fay) of 'Mary Todd', another award-winner, including the Silver Stout Medal in 1978.

This is the classic Liatris spicata 'Kobold', or Dwarf Blazing Star (the "kobold" is a goblin-like creature from German folklore). Unfortunately, most nurseries are propagating this plant by seed these days, the result of which is the usual variability, and therefore some not-so-dwarf plants. I have seen however, some offering a plant called 'Kobold Original', which should grow to only 40cm (16").

This combination caught my eye for the designer's principle of the use of "semi-transparent" plants, in this case, the white flowers of Artemisia lactiflora 'Guizhou', through which one can see the hot flowers of a Helenium.

A close-up of an Echinops (Globe Thistle) flower.

This is a good example of the effectiveness of a mass-planting, in this case, Stachys monieri 'Hummelo' in front of a gold-leaved Cedar.

There's certainly been plenty of attention paid to the genus Echinacea in recent years, in particular regarding all the new hybrids and selections. Below however, is the species E. pallida or Pale Coneflower, native to Ontario and most of the eastern U.S. I like it for its drooping petals, and although it is usually relatively pale in colouration, some darker forms exist as well.

The flowers of Salvia sclarea or Clary Sage, are unique to those used to the typical purple-blues of S. nemerosa, and are also a good plant to learn about the details of the parts of a flower, as it is the larger bracts that surround the actual flower that provide the ornamental value.

For most of the spring and summer, I have a hard time resisting taking yet another picture of Hosta 'Sun Power'. This one has some interesting lighting showing off the texture and colours of the beautiful golden-yellow leaves.

Finally, I'm not a big fan of Astilbe, simply because they require too much water to grow well and look nice here. This year however, with all the rain we've had, they are simply beautiful. This unidentified pink-flowered variety caught my eye with its darker pink stems.

Summer is moving quickly -- enjoy the long weekend, and here's to dirt under your nails.

MPD, the coolplantsguy

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Niagara Parks' Botanical Gardens, June 21

After so many years of living here, I've finally had a chance to visit these wonderful gardens every couple of weeks or so. Here's another set of shots...

Tradescantia 'Concord Grape' with a gold-leaved Cotinus. The bluish leaf of Concord Grape plays an interesting part in this combination.

This is Geranium 'Patricia' from Alan Bremner, the excellent breeder from the Orkney Islands (north of Scotland). It has been out for years, and somewhat overlooked, but this is a simple beauty. It is the hybrid G. psilostemon × G. endressii.

I can remember seeing this plant, Filipendula ulmaria 'Variegata' for the first time many years ago at a nursery in the Netherlands. The nurseryman there described it as "too unstable" which it usually is, especially in commercial production, but once established, it is very dramatic. I will admit however, a particular attraction to variegated plants.

Years ago, I can remember reading about an Oenothera (Sundrops) with red buds -- it remained elusive for so long, I thought it had been lost in North American horticulture. More recently, a nursery in Pensylvannia offered the "true form" of O. fruticosa 'Fyrverkeri' (Fireworks) -- and what a beauty!

Here's a pleasant combination of Athyrium niponicum var. pictum (the Japanese Painted Fern) along with Hosta 'Blue Cadet'.

The combination possibilities of yellow and purple are near endless in the world of perennials -- here's an interesting one with Allium moly and Salvia Marcus. I've never been a big fan of the dwarf Marcus, but in this situation, it is certainly useful.

This is an outstanding combination of three plants (clockwise from upper-left): Cryptotaenia japonica var. atropurpurea (Japanese Purple Parsley), Carex elata 'Aurea', and Lychnis × arkwrightii 'Vesuvius'. The Japanese Parsley is relatively rare, despite the fact that it self-sows in abundance. The Lychnis is a short-lived perennial, and may even be best treated as an annual. In any case, this combination is stunning.

Geranium pratense 'Mrs Kendall Clark' in all her glory -- a plant that I've loved (note the past tense) for its unique flower colour, but also despise for its extreme height, being prone to mildew, and a nasty habit to self-sow.

Finally, Salvia Marcus with Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ears), in this case showing the usefulness of silver foliage.

Here's to dirt under your nails.

MPD, the coolplantsguy