Wednesday, March 5, 2014

With a Little Persuasion.

Usually by this time of year, my witch-hazel ( Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena') has been in bloom for weeks. As early as January, given a warm day, it will burst into bloom and close up again when the weather turns chilly again. 
This year, the brutally cold Winter has held it in check, and even now in the first week of March it still sits waiting for a moment of warm air and sunshine.  Today I decided to treat myself to a little preview and cut a few branches and brought them into the kitchen, where they opened up in the course of an hour.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

My Favourite Blue

It has been a long, frigid winter and many plants have perished in the greenhouse on the coldest nights. However I was thrilled to see that almost all my clematis cuttings and seedlings have survived, despite being left on one of the coldest areas of the greenhouse.
Among these are several cuttings I made last year of a plant that I grew from seed that was collected from Clematis 'Helsinborg'.  When it finally flowered it turned out to be coloured a very lovely clear blue, quite unlike its parent which is described as having slightly twisted tepals and, together with its steminoides, coloured a deep purple or mauve. C. 'Helsingborg is a cross of C. ochotensis and C. alpina and it looks was if "my favourite blue" has inherited its form from its alpina parent. Blue tepals with white staminoides are also common in C. alpina.
Clematis cutttings and seedlings. Including my favourite blue.

My favourite blue.

Clematis 'Helsingborg' one of the parents of my favourite blue.

St. David's Day

It's St. David's Day and Wales will be celebrating the saint's day of its patron saint. The floral emblem of Wales is actually the leek (Allium pornum), but the daffodil is more often used as a more attractive substitute. On this day, people in Wales will be wearing one of these on their lapels with great pride.
This gives a sense of the scale of Narcissus asturiensis.
The delicate little N. asturiensis is actually from Spain,
and blooms in my greenhouse around this time of year

Saturday, February 22, 2014


It's been a miserably cold winter, and any sign of the survival of plant life is welcome, but I was amazed to see just how well this little colony of Sempervivums had survived. In fact they looked pretty damn good.
A granite alpine trough containing a little golden Chamaecyparis,
Sempervivums, Sedums and other perennials.

Three different varieties of Sempervivums emerge from the snow 
in excellent condition. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Plant Lust

There is a fine line between the enjoyment of observing the plants that we love and rabid Plant Lust. You know how it is, we see a picture of a plant and just have to have it; perhaps it's new to us or it has been a nagging yearning spread out over many years.
This was the case for me, I've wanted to grow ( well really, more honestly, wanted to have) Narcissus cyclameus for many years, it is the lovely parent of the cyclamaneus hybrids that many of us grow and love. The obliquitous  N. 'Tete a Tete' as well as 'Jetfire and 'February Silver' all have the reflexed perianth of their N. cyclameneus parent. Although these hybrids are readily available in nurseries,  it has taken me years, here in Canada, to source their lovely parent; finally last Spring I found some bulbs for sale at Beaver Creek Nursery in B.C. and over the last few days, the first flower has opened and several more are on their way.
Narcissus cyclameneus

* There is a site called Plant Lust ( link in the opening sentence of this post), unfortunately it's not much help for sourcing plants here in Canada, but it's fun to browse.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Winter Meadow in Montreal

When I was in Montreal over  Christmas, I saw this wonderful art installation near Place des Arts. It was a dull afternoon so these pictures give only a hint of the effect it has at night. It is made up of hundreds of reflectors which at times pick up the coloured lights surrounding the site. Suddenly they picked up the red light and turn into a field of poppies.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Inspired by Helen Battersby's recent post in Toronto Gardens I thought I would answer her question "Are their any things you love and hate in your garden".
In my case it's snails, I've always loved them, in particular the lovely ones with striped shells; they used to be quite rare in my garden so I always turned a blind eye to them when I came across them. More recently the population has exploded and has taken a toll on many plants turning them into delicate lace. 
Now I won't hesitate crush them under foot.
A cast metal snail found in Bankok slides across one of my alpine troughs.

I have a number of chinese copies of japanese Netsuke...

quite a few of these are in the shape of snails.

The real thing seen here sliding across the glass in my front door.