Floral Arrangements

I determined this year to create more bouquets/floral arrangements than usual, altho’ I wasn’t sure how that would happen, since I’ve always thought I have a pretty colourless summer garden.

As it turns out, even without the surprising dahlias ( I’m terrible at growing dahlias, unless they’re ones I don’t like), I actually have quite a lot of summer colour.

I’ll start with the elements:


Dahlia of unknown provenance


Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora, possibly ‘Prince of Orange’


Another Dahlia, no-name. This has survived in-ground for probably 6-7 years, and this is its best year.

dahlia 'romance'

Dahlia ‘Romance’–I think. Planted this last year and it didn’t bloom. Both blooms are from the same tuber.

Hydrangea arborescens 'Invicibelle Spirit'

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Invicibelle Spirit’

Dryopteris affinis 'Cristata'-- Crested Male Fern

Dryopteris affinis ‘Cristata’– Crested Male Fern

And now, the finale, the piece of resistance:

Dahlia arrangement

Dahlia arrangement

dahlia arrangement

Precariously balance

dahlia arrangement

Still pretty precarious.

dahlia arrangement

Lighting indoors gives completely different colouring–I tried to photoshop to achieve something like the natural colours,, but I’m terrible at it. Added parsley flowers and Leycesteria formosa branches


Viewpoint Part II, and Ferns

Take Advantage of Timing

Yesterday I mentioned the two ephemerals Sanguinaria (bloodwort) and Erythronium (trout lily). The Sanguinaria was coming up under the foliage of the Asplenium (hart’s tongue fern), and the Erythronium is concealed behind the Buxus (boxwood). But spring ephemerals are perennials that erupt, bloom, set seed and “die back” all in spring, so that by early summer there’s nothing to be seen but a bare space.

So in fact, I could in theory have left the fern where it was, cut off the foliage, which is normal procedure for most hardy ferns, and allowed the Sanguinaria to grow and bloom (or “bloom and grow”), because by the time the fern’s foliage was well up and in danger of  hiding the Sanguinaria, there’d actually be no Sanguinaria left visible to be hidden.

Sanguinaria canadensis

Sanguinaria canadensis

Now, as it happens–and this is where “Viewpoint Part II” comes in– from my “preferred view from my living room window”  the fern was obscuring my view of the waterfall, and I couldn’t have that! So fern was moved, replaced with something that will stay shorter.

But that brings me to ferns, and cutting down foliage.

Of all the ferns with really ratty late winter/early spring foliage, Asplenium is the least ratty. In fact, were it not for the utter beauty of the new foliage coming up but hidden in the old foliage, one wouldn’t feel the need to prune away the old foliage at all.

Asplenium Scopularium

Asplenium scopularium in January

But then I’d miss this:

Asplenium Scopularium

Asplenium scopularium

Asplenium scopularium

Asplenium scopularium today Ap 11

Some other ferns I don’t hesitate to prune to the ground as soon as I can, there being nothing of aesthetic value. E.g., the following:

Dryopteris affinis 'Cristata'

Dryopteris affinis ‘Cristata’ late Feb 2020.

Dryopteris affinis ‘Cristata’–Crested Male Fern–is one of my (many) fave ferns. Not at all beautiful in Feb, tho’ technically “evergreen”. But in summer:

Dryopteris affinis 'Cristata'

Dryopteris affinis ‘Cristata’–almost 4′ tall, about 3′ in diameter.

…stunning. So I chop off everything above ground, and now I’m waiting for the “tarantulas” to unfurl:

Dryopteris affinis 'Cristata'

Dryopteris affinis ‘Cristata’

Dryopteris affinis 'Cristata'

Dryopteris affinis ‘Cristata’

Adiantum venustum–Maidenhair fern–behaves differently from year to year. This winter, altho’ not any more severe than any others lately,  she suffered a lot of die back, so even tho’ the dead and “mostly dead” foliage was lying flat on the ground, and new growth rises prettily above it, I pruned away most of the dead stuff so that when the new growth began it would indeed be pretty, like this:

Adiantum venustum

Adiantum venustum–click to enlarge–in fact, all images can be clicked to enlarge.

And then this:

My favourite combination: Adiantum venustum and Athyrium niponicum 

Adiantum venustum

Adiantum venustum

So two take-aways:

  1. Understand the life cycle of your plants, and you’ll be able to coordinate blooming times, colour combinations, pruning times.
  2. Most hardy ferns can and should be cut down to the ground so you can see the wonder of new growth.

Whose Viewpoint?

I’ve posted too little over the last two years, so with this forced isolation still upon us, I think I’ll try to post a little something most days. Remains to be seen–it always takes longer to write than I think it’s going to…

So for today, it’s about your viewpoint. This is the view from my living room window, where I stand and stare just about any time I’m not doing something else. (Duh! I mean when I’m not actually working on something else.)

See the little white flowers in the bottom of the screen? Sanguinaria canadensis, aka “Bloodroot” (altho’ you know I hate to promote “common names” because there are too many names for the same plant, depending on your location, and very often the same common name applied to more than one plant).  A few weeks ago, when they were just emerging from the soil, I couldn’t see them from my preferred viewpoint, because they were hidden under the foliage of an Asplenium scopularium–Hart’s tongue fern. They could be seen from another vantage point, but not my vantage point. So there’s the thing: who are you planting/designing for, who’s viewpoint gets priority? Is it you, from where you stand staring out the window? or is it passers-by? or the person wandering through the garden?

Sanguinaria canadensis

Sanguinaria canadensis

I decided to dig up the Asplenium and put it into two areas (it was big once removed, so I split it into two) where they could grow as much as they liked, not overshadow anything, and enjoy being the stars of their own shows.

Another example:  at the top of the screen (beginning of the short video) you’ll see a Choisya ‘Goldfingers’, and behind it an Edgeworthia chrysantha, in bloom from January, before the leaves appear. Edgeworthia begins to bloom when it’s still cold and miserable, so it’s great if I can see them from the window and not have to brave the weather to do so. But these two pretty shrubs were cleverly concealed by a Nandina domestica, species variety (so growing pretty big, unlike some of the cute little cultivars like  ‘Firepower’ or ‘Moon Bay’). Thus, my two little shrubs behind, and especially the Edgeworthia which is still quite young, small and not massively blooming, were invisible to me from my preferred viewpoint. So out came the Nandina, got pruned back a little, and replanted over near the street. Now the Nandina is fully visible to anyone walking by, but almost invisible to me because there’s an evergreen in the way. Hmmm, we’ll see how that works out…

Edgeworthia chyrsantha

Edgeworthia chyrsantha

Sometimes it’s worth having things a little hidden. This little Erythronium is unintentionally concealed behind a row of boxwood. I chopped away at a nasty rose which gave me access into this little space.

Like the Sanguinaria, it’s a spring ephemeral–it disappears completely once the weather heats up. So in this case I really do have to go out to find it. Worth the effort.

Erythronium americanum

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day–the Ides of July

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day–the Ides of July

May Dreams Gardens hosts a monthly blogger’s party called–you may have guessed it–Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day

(Oh and btw my keyboard has had a little too much spilled tea so the period and comma aren’t working)

I don’t know if one has to be invited to join the party but if so i’ll probably find out when I tag this post

In the meantime here’s a picture-rich text-poor (because of no periods and no commas) tour of my garden today

Starting with the dragonfly (four-spot skimmer–Libellula quadrimaculata) who just loves this one spent flower stalk among the Iris:


Among my favourite flower combinations: Crocosmia 'Lucifer' with Leucanthrmum x superbum --Shasta Daisy and Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purople'--smoke Bush

Among my favourite flower combinations: Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ with Leucanthrmum x superbum –Shasta Daisy and Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’–Smoke Bush

thumb_IMG_1835_1024 2

David Austin Rose ‘William Shakespeare 2000’

This is one of the most difficult colours to accurately capture–it’s a little more magenta–

Crocosmia x crocosmiflora

Crocosmia x crocosmiflora probably ‘Star of East’

This small crocosmia is a lovely fountain of orange and green

This amazing carpet of Sagina subulata has been blooming for well over a month

This amazing carpet of Sagina subulata has been blooming for well over a month and clearly isn’t finished yet

This Scotch moss–Sagina subulata–is about 1” high the flowers about 1mm


Pretty sure this is Echinacea ‘Cheyanne Spirit’

Two no-name hostas

Two no-name hostas

I seldom like the look of hosta flowers and occasionally cut them off–these are pretty however

On the other hand this ‘Elegans’ is less than optimal in every way: doesn’t keep its blue; leaves burn with the least sun despite a lot of moisture and truly ugly flower stalks

Hosta sieboldii 'Elegans'

Hosta sieboldiana ‘Elegans’

But I love the idea of collecting the seeds so I’ll leave it

And now for this year’s selection of my own hybridized daylily keepers (as opposed to the dozens I’ve shovel-pruned):


No-Name daylilies–Hemerocallis–#1and 2

Hemerocallis #3

Hemerocallis #3

Hemerocallis #4--I love this one--the flower is only about 3'' across but the scape is tall enough to see above all the local foliage

Hemerocallis #4–I love this one–the flower is only about 3” across but the scape is tall enough to see above all the local foliage

Hemerocallis #5--another butter yellow and little larger and taller almost hidden in the raspberry bushes

Hemerocallis #5–another butter yellow and little larger and taller almost hidden in the raspberry bushes

Hemerocallis #6--slightly boring colour but I love the shape and it's been blooming for weeks!

Hemerocallis #6–slightly boring colour but I love the shape and it’s been blooming for weeks!

Hemerocallis #7 is my favourite especially when its neighbour the Jude the Obscure Rose is in bloom; which it currently isn't alas

Hemerocallis #7 is my favourite especially when its neighbour the Jude the Obscure Rose is in bloom; which it currently isn’t alas

Another view of #7; can't get enough of it :-)

Another view of #7; can’t get enough of it 🙂

Enough of daylilies now on to the rest of the garden

Can't get enough snapdragons

Can’t get enough snapdragons

Rose 'Magenta'--pretty colour but terrible shrub; black spot magnet and weak branches I'll give it one more year to perform better

Rose ‘Magenta’–pretty colour but terrible shrub; black spot magnet and weak branches I’ll give it one more year to perform better

Hypericum 'Albury Purple'--one of my favourite garden plants

Hypericum ‘Albury Purple’–one of my favourite garden plants

Not blooms but oh so colourful Imperata cylindrica--Japanese Blood Grass

Not blooms but oh so colourful Imperata cylindrica–Japanese Blood Grass

Rose 'Rosemary Harkness' with Clematis jackmanii

Rose ‘Rosemary Harkness’ with Clematis jackmanii Neither doing well but since I’ve tried to kill Rosemary several times can’t complain

Hibiscus syriacus 'Red Heart'--Hardy Hibiscus aka Rose of Sharon

Hibiscus syriacus ‘Red Heart’–Hardy Hibiscus aka Rose of Sharon

Echinacea purpurea--coneflower

Echinacea purpurea–coneflower with bee; I notice the bees like this echinacea and the white one but haven’t seen any activity on Cheyanne Spirit even tho’ it allegedly sets seeds

Hydrangea arborecens 'Invincibelle Spirit'

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Invincibelle Spirit’

None or my hydrangeas do really well; Invicibelle Spirit has beautiful blooms but the canes are very floppy

A Hydrangea expert from Heritage Hydrangeas spoke at my garden club this week and described how he stakes his Annabelle Hydrangea (same species and series as ‘Invincibelle Spiri’t and ‘Incredibelle’)

I guess it’s not just my plant care at issue here


Floppy Hydrangea arborescens ‘Invicibelle Spirit’

I may move it into more sun in the fall

Couldn't resist one more hemerocallis--#8

Couldn’t resist one more hemerocallis–#8

And finally

Acanthus mollis

Acanthus spinosus– Spiny Bear’s Breeches–and spiny it is indeed!

Acanthus spinosus

Acanthus spinosus — See those booomerang shaped poiny bits? Seriously sharp!

So that’s the garden tour for mid-July–now the 16th because it took me that long to compose it

As I’ve said many times this isn’t a “designed” garden–just one that meets my needs of having as many fun interesting wildlife attracting plants as possible

Having said that I try to incorporate design principles as I go along and as I change things around

Next post will be on plant combinations

Stay tuned