Thursday, August 16, 2012

In Praise of Daylilies

One of the perennials to have come thru the drought with no great damage are daylilies.  That was to be expected, I guess.  But what I really love is this late blooming double orange variety.  It’s a vigorous grower – I got mine from a neighbour in Toronto who was throwing out a bunch he had torn from his front yard.  They start late and have many many flower buds so put on a show usually through August, even this year, with the early start.  Most of my daylilies I start from seed.  I purchased six plants over the past 10 or so years and try to cross breed them to come up with interesting colours.  I love the deep lemon yellows.  I also really love this pink Catherine Woodbury – it’s been in my Toronto backyard for about 12 years but I need to move it – possibly in September – because the Kousa Dogwood has grown so much my previously sunny garden is now either partial or total shade.

common 'ditch' daylily
Catherine Woodbury

Monday, August 6, 2012

from July 29...

dead Echinacea
More drought damage – these Echinaceas should be in full bloom.  Instead, most of the blossoms are stunted, petals a third their normal length. On others, the entire flower head has died off – at least the plant itself is not dead and if we continue to get a bit of rain these side flowers may bloom.

healthy Joe Pye Weed
deadish Joe Pye Weed

One of the saddest sites (along with the rudbeckia) is the Joe Pye Weed.  It should be in full bloom right now.  Instead, I have this:   Again, the stalks at least are green so I’m hoping all is not lost for future years.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

more on the drought...

On vacation, with no internet - this was written on July 28 s

healthy Compass Plant
deadish Compass Plant
Well the rain barrels are full again – they had a lot of rain here in the County the same time as it was raining in Toronto.  On a quick walkabout I can see most things survived that bit of drought, but a few not so much.  One compass plant looks like it was November – Compass Plants are native to the prairies; supposedly they can send a tap root down 20 feet or more.  Other compass plants on the property aren’t nearly as bad  – so my guess is there’s a stone shelf not too far beneath the soil surface here and the roots haven’t been able to penetrate or find any cracks to get down into, despite this being its 7th year in this location.  This theory would also explain why there’s standing water in this area of the field every spring after the snow melts – no where for the water to go.

deadish Black Eyed Susan
healthy Black Eyed Susan
The other major casualty are my Black Eyed Susans – almost everywhere on the property one particular variety is dead, dead, dead, although I can see new leaves coming up from the ground so I don’t think all is lost.  Just no flowers this year.  A different variety seems to have come through almost unscathed although that may have something to do with the location.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Heading out to the County Saturday with hopes that the rain barrels have been refilled by the rain we've had overnight and forecast for today.  Last weekend the Ninebark was so wilted - leaves and whole branches wilting, curling up - never before like that - I dumped a couple of buckets of grey water on them.  Rudbeckia in several spots were dried up and crispy - disintegrating when touched.  Whole Compass Plant flower stalks browning and dying.  Rattlesnake Master falling over.  Sedum Spectabile flower crowns falling over.  Not to mention Birch and Witch Hazel leaves yellowing and falling as if it were October.  I've been watering as much as possible but the old well isn't what it used to be.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


One of the trees native to Prince Edward County is the Butternut.  Four years ago we purchased two saplings - they were about a foot high and came in a plastic bag from a conservation authority sale.  They've both grown a little bit every year until this year, when one in particular just took off.  It must have liked the mild winter.  It's grown about a metre or so this year and has sent out 12 or 18 branches from the crown.  Just wondering what it's going to look like in winter, and if I'll have to do some pruning.  Here it is, just to the left of The Mound.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

First week in July, 2012

The big gardening news this year - well, two big headlines, I guess:  DROUGHT and RABBITS.
It's been really dry this summer - only two rainfalls in the past three weeks, everything is wilty and the rain barrels are empty already.  That being said, nothing has died, yet.  I'll need to bring the pump out and start some irrigation though at the end of the month.  The main colour at this time of year is purple - with those small Alliums blooming, as well as Clematis and Echinacea. 

A success story - so far anyway - is the Lilac I rescued from the ditch.  Every year the County mows the sides of the roads once or twice.  A kilometre west of me is a lovely old house with a huge Lilac hedge in front - 12 feet high or so.  Every year it sends up seedlings in the ditch and this year I dug up two little plants (not so little - about three feet) just days, it turns out, ahead of the mowers coming along.  This little guy is getting most of my rain barrel water!

Rabbits Rabbits everywhere this year!! Where are the coyotes ???   Glad I didn't plant carrots!

Work continues on The Mound.  The Daylilies I transplanted there last fall are blooming now and taking over one section.  I have a bunch more I started from seed (including some interesting crosses between yellow and red) waiting in my allotment garden - I'll put them in this September.  I also plan to transplant the remaining Peonies (four or five I think) that once were so lovely but now are almost completely shaded out by my growing White Spruce.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Stilted Ninebark

I planted a pair of Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) a number of years ago and they've grown into a lovely shrub.  They've proven really forgiving of the secateurs - at first I pruned them for height, and then I thought I'd give them a weird sharp - start low to high like a wave, and now I've stilted them, pruning them up so you see their bare legs, and the lovely exfoliating bark.  This is a really hardy native species, growing in a really dry part of the field, shaded somewhat by some tall pines directly south.  I'll get a photo at some point of the bark, but here they are today, in full bloom:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Mound

Eight or nine years ago a contractor friend dumped several loads of "clean" fill onto a front corner of the property.  Of course the definition of "clean" is subjective, and I've since dug out from it many chunks of concrete, sewage pipe and big limestone chunks -- it seems he was digging out the foundation of an old house to make way for a new one.  Some good things have come of it, though:  Peony, Iris and Hosta somehow survived the trauma and I've transplanted some beautiful heritage varieties to other gardens.  The Mount itself I left alone and it soon transformed into a home for enormously tall wildflowers - most of them not really welcome.  Last year I started to reclaim the Mound - here are some shots:
Last June after I cleared away about a quarter of it:  
I transplanted daylilies, Peony, Iris, Rudbeckia, Echinacea last year plus dug in some Tulip bulbs; I also scattered seeds from Lupin, Liatris and Hollyhock and there are many Lupin sprouts this year.  I mulched a bit this spring and tadded stone steps to the top.

The next stages will include  clearing away the rest of the Mound, adding more steps to the centre and continuing to transplant things from elsewhere on the property - there's always an over-abundance of Echinacea sprouting up!

Thursday, June 7, 2012


I started a few Magnolias from seed seven or eight years ago - one is a Cucumber Magnolia and the other is an Umbrella Magnolia.  They went from pots in my backyard to the allotment garden to the County.  This year the Cucumber Magnolia bloomed!  Lovely smallish (compared to Saucer Magnolia) yellow flowers with a slight lemony fragrance - I've renamed it my Lemon Magnolia!

Not to be outdone, the Umbrella Magnolia is once again sending out its enormous leaves.  I love how each one starts out protected in its own tissue thin membrane that peels away as the leaf grows.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sunday, April 29, 2012
Finished the spring clean up this weekend.  Daffs are still blooming, tulips about midway through their season; the spice-bush - a Viburnum of some kind, is starting to bloom having escaped the deer this past winter.  Everything seems to be about two weeks behind Toronto - lilac flower buds are still tight while blooms are starting in Toronto.  Serviceberry has yet to flower while those on my street in the city have just about finished. 

It's weird having had such a dry winter - no flooding, very dry surface soil in parts of the property...they've had a bit of rain though - my rain barrels are almost full.  Here's a few shots - the corner garden waiting for the iris and peony to bloom and some daffs.  My camera battery ran out before I could get a shot of the new mound garden - where the tulips are in full bloom.  Next week - perhaps the iris will be out by then.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday March 17, 2012

Spring has sprung a lot earlier than usual, thanks to the winter that wasn't. Made it out for the day and started the spring cleanup several weeks ahead of schedule - the fields weren't even flooded! Cleaned up some buckthorn from behind the mound - hopefully the stuff I planted/seeds I scattered will come up; cut back perennials from the newish corner bed where all the crocuses are now blooming and cleaned up a bit around the Magnolia where snowdrops have been enjoying the fine weather. Shileau had a great day too!

Crocuses - or is it Croci?
Snowdrops near the entrance garden
the 'Mound' - near the front - a pile of not too clean fill that over the past few years grew giant goldenrod and other stuff - trying to reclaim it!