Monday, August 31, 2009

Niagara Parks' Botanical Gardens, August 24, 2009

Here's another set of shots from the Niagara Parks' Botanical Gardens in late August. I had just discovered the macro function on my little digital camera, so there is a slight emphasis on close-ups.

Good ol' Echinacea purpurea with a Bumble Bee doing its duty.

I'm fairly certain this is Hibiscus 'Kopper King' -- an outstanding hybrid by the Fleming brothers of Nebraska.

One of the several dark-leaved Canna that are available these days. I almost find the clash of colours a little garish -- but to each his own.

Another shot of a back-lit Ensete leaf. I have a hard time resisting taking another picture of these plants every time I see them -- they are magnificent.

I believe the correct name of this plant is Canna 'Phasion' but it is also known as Tropicanna™ or 'Durban', 'Inferno' and several others. It's history is almost as colourful as the plant itself.

Of all the forms of Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), this one called 'Prairie Sun' is my favourite by far for its consistent form and height and outstanding colour.

This is another plant that fascinated me early on -- the Turtlehead or Chelone sp., a genus of four species native to much of eastern North America. Although some suggest otherwise, I think the flowers do look like a turtle's head. Our native species here in Ontario, C. glabra, has flowers that are usually a lighter pink (almost white) than the one pictured below, and can be found in sunny, moist locations.

Here's Sedum sieboldii 'Mediovariegatum' again, this time nicely back-lit.

Here's a pleasant pink Japanese Anemone, probably A. hupehensis, a valuable plant for the late summer garden, but yes, it does spread a little in good garden soil.

This Agave americana (Century Plant, American Aloe) caught my eye with the interesting "water mark" down along one side of a leaf. I know of some people using syrup or nectar of this plant as a healthful natural sugar substitute.

I can remember seeing this plant, the Castor Bean (Ricinus communis), for the first time many years ago, and being instantly impressed by its size 2-3m (7-10'), and colourful foliage. I'm not sure why this plant remains so elusive in the retail environment, as I find it irresistible.

Here's an interesting, back-lit shot of the seed-heads of Chasmanthium latifolium, the Northern Sea Oats. While it does seed itself around quite a bit, it is still a useful grass -- it is one that can certainly tantalize most of the senses on a quite summer evening.

This is a cool close-up of a flowers from Ligularia dentata. A biology professor could make good use of this to teach his/her students all the "intricate" parts of a flower! ;)

Finally, good ol' Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln', the popular Fountain Grass in all its glory.

Here's to dirt under your nails -- summer is quickly coming to an end.

MPD, the coolplantsguy

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Persicaria amplexicaulis, the Mountain Fleeceflower

I almost always feel like the proverbial "kid in a candy store" every time I stumble across a nursery that specializes in some genus or type of plant, and see their list (or website) that boasts dozens of varieties that I've never even heard of.

Such was the case the other day, when I discovered the website of Persicaria breeder Chris Ghyselen from Belgium. Over the years I've grown maybe two to three forms at the nursery, but never one in my garden for some reason. I'm not sure why exactly -- it certainly is a beautiful and useful plant.

Here's a variety of P. amplexicaulis (syn. Polygonum amplexicaule), the Mountain Fleece Flower combined with Geranium 'Rozanne' in a planting over at the Niagara Parks' School of Horticulture & Botanical Gardens.

It's possible my hesitation comes from the fact that Persicaria/Polygonum has a bad reputation for a few species that are noxious weeds. Armitage does state that this species requires significant space, and forms dense large clumps that slowly get larger with time.

That being said, they flower from mid-summer until frost, and they look just so European -- Piet Oudolf design plant for sure!

In anycase, I was very impressed with Chris' website -- it lists over 30 cultivars of P. amplexicaulis -- very cool.

Here's to dirt under your nails.

MPD, the coolplantsguy