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Archive for January, 2009

I was found in the woods.

I am blushing

I am blushing

I can be spicy and sweet.

or I can be a bit prickly looking

Tall, Narrow and prickly Sometimes.

Tall, Narrow and prickly Sometimes.

Most of the time you will not pay attention to me

Except NOW!

Pretty in Pink

Pretty in Pink

Can you tell who I am…..I need HELP!

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Victoria has a reputation of being thought of as being the most ‘English’ of North American cities, therefore,  you would expect to find the most ‘English’ of all plants commonly planted here. It is true that Erica carnea or Winter Heath(Heaths have needle like foliage and Heathers have scales) is planted here, it’s not very common and good Heather gardens are hard to find at all. The best one which I know of is the Heather garden at Glendale Gardens in Saanich. This garden covers the range of species which are commonly called Heather including other Ericas,  Calluna and Daboecia.

Heather Garden At Glendale Garden

Heathers at Glendale Garden

Erica carnea is the most adaptable of all the heaths.  This type of Heath originally comes from southeastern France and grows east toward Switzerland  and southern Germany to Austria then south to Yugoslavia.  It is found in mountainous areas which is why it is more cold hardy than other Heaths (zone 4-8).

Erica carnea varieties are low growing shrubs that are no more than 8in.(20cm) tall with a spread of 22in.(55cm) at the most.  They have a fine texture being that they have fine needle-like foliage and delicate racemes of tiny colorful bell shaped blossoms.

Flower and foliage fo Erica carnea Isobel

Flower and foliage fo Erica carnea Isobel

Erica carnea blooms in the darkest, coldest months of winter and is often seen happily poking up through a blanket of snow in full flower. Since it was introduced into Britain in 1763 there have been over 100 cultivars  selected with flowers ranging in color from white through to strong red purples as well as those with unusual foliage colors.  The most commonly seen cultivars in Victoria are ‘Springwood White’ and ‘Springwood Pink’ which is light pink, ‘King George’ that is mid pink and ‘Vivellii’ which has a rich pink flowers.

E.c. 'Springwood White' the purest of the Whites

E.c. 'Springwood White' the purest of the Whites

The needle-like foliage also can be selected for its color effects. It normally is a fine mid to dark green hue, but varieties such as ‘Aurea’  have a lime yellow color in the summer that turns a more golden tone as the weather cools. E.c. Bell’s Extra Special  is similar and has reddish blossoms.

E.c Bell's Extra Special foliage color.

E.c Bell's Extra Special foliage color.

Heaths are long lasting plants which look best in a bed completely devoted to heathers species. A few smaller conifers and bulbs such as daffodils are suitable to add. Careful selection can create an ever change display of color both in foliage and flowers throughout the year.

Dazzling color display with dwarf conifer in the background.

Dazzling color display with a dwarf conifer in the background.

These are low maintenance plants which can be lightly pruned soon after blooming. It also will grow in a wider range of soil types and does not need an exclusively acidic site. They do not tolerate drought as they are shallow rooted therefore adding some peat for moisture retention is a good idea.  Also plant them so their foliage rests on the soil.  They require full sun for the best  growth.  For best impact plant in groups of 5 in a single type, a bed can be made up of several groupings like this. Mass plantings are very common as well. Single plants can be used with great effect in rock gardens.

The Links of the Week

Glendale Gardens in Saanich is where all the pictures here come from.

http://www.hcp.bc.ca/index.php

To learn more about Heath and Heathers go to  The Heather Society

http://www.users.zetnet.co.uk/heather/

Royal Horticultural Society page on Erica carnea.

http://www.rhs.org.uk/WhatsOn/gardens/harlowcarr/archive/harlowcarrpomfeb.asp

Until we meet again  next Sunday at this time…..

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I am called a ‘She’,  I am called a ‘He’.

Golden What?

Golden What?

Prickly….Maybe?

I am in many colors, both in my flowers and foliage.

I'm blushing!

I'm blushing!

I am so Shy, so, What am I?

P.S. check the bottom of the Jelena post, there is a new picture from yesterday.

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A plant species I mostly find boring is Cotoneaster. They are one of the most commonly overused group of plants seen as groundcovers, hedges and often in utility mass plantings. Some Cotoneasters are beautiful in their own right. The Willowleaf cotoneaster (Cotoneaster salicifolius var. floccosus) is such a plant that is stunning in the correct setting. In Victoria this location would be at Government House.

Looking down from the top of the Ballroom Terrace Garden

Looking down from the top of the Ballroom Terrace Garden

The most fantastic view from the building is out the of the ballroom overlooking a steep slope called the Ballroom Terrace Garden.

Most of the year these Willowleaf Cotoneasters are merely a green backdrop which other more delicate plantings are the highlights. It is true that these Conoteasters have masses of cream 5 petal flowers in May-June, but no one is likely to notice with the abundance of other plants at their peak of show.

The Cotoneaster on the left acts as abackdrop to the Erysimium 'Bowles Mauve'.

The Cotoneaster on left acts as a backdrop to the Erysimium 'Bowles Mauve'.

It is later when the garden goes dormant and the days are gray that a person sees these plants in their glory, in full fruit with their glossy roughly textured dark green willow-shaped leaves undamaged by the worst of winter weather.

January 16 2009 after a deep winter freeze and heavy winds.

January 16 2009 after a deep winter freeze and heavy winds.

The only damage is a slight wine tinge to the leaves and deepening of the berry color which is typical for this plant.

.

Typical berry coolor from late October 2006

Typical berry color from late October 2006

Indeed the berries are the glory of this shrub and set it apart from others at this time of the year. The berries are dense and seem to stay firmly on the bush. After the storms I saw little evidence of many on the ground. Branches of this small tree would make an attractive addition to decorate inside I think.

Brightly berried Willowleaf Cotoneasters glow in the winter murkiness.

Brightly berried Willowleaf Cotoneasters glow in the winter murkiness.

it is unfortunate the place you are likely to see this plant is in an apartment complex where it often is dwarfed by the building and never pruned to show what a lovely form it can have. As you can see it forms a small multi trunk tree or shrub which grows to no more than 4 M. (12ft.) which would be on the tall side, and a spread of up to 3M (10ft). Willowleaf Cotoneaster has an arching habit of growth.

Cotoneasters are unfussy plants to grow, they prefer well drain, loose soil. They are their best in full sun so they can produce the best crops of flowers and berries later. It has a fairly rapid rate of growth at 60 to 90cm(12-18in.) per year and is easily pruned to keep it in shape and size. It grows in plant zones 6 though 8 and tolerates low temperature of -20c(-4F).

a beautifully pruned stems of a Willowleaf Cotoneaster

a beautifully pruned stems of a Willowleaf Cotoneaster

A  steep slope is an excellent use of this type of plant.  Another site might be along the edge of a of shrub border or where an area is more natural or in a mixed shrub border where the berries will shine in the winter months. Cotoneasters are often used in mass plantings which when maintained properly are effective.

I would suggest choosing carefully when getting one of these plants as they vary in quantity of berries, some have fewer. It might be a good idea to buy in the fall when you will see what kind of crop is produced. If you want to grow one for yourself I would suggest taking a cutting from a bush you know produces lots of berries. Softwood cuttings are taken in during the first flush of growth or slightly later on non blooming wood.

Links for this Week:

Cotoneaster salicifolius, this is a simple site with straight forward information.

http://yardener.com/YardenersPlantHelper/LandscapePlantFiles/FilesAboutShrubs/ShrubFiles/Cotoneaster/WillowleafCotoneaster

Taking cutting, a how to site which is easy to understand.

http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-8702.html

Government House, scroll down  for a description of  the ‘ Terrace Gardens’

http://www.ltgov.bc.ca/gardens/individual-gardens.htm

Until we meet again next week.

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I am RED

I am RED,ROUND and MANY

I am RED,ROUND and MANY

I am ROUND.

single Red

single Red

Scarlet? Crimson? Salmon?

—————————————————————————————–

cotoneaster-green-elliptical

I am GREEN and ELLIPTICAL

Elliptical

Elliptical

WHAT AM I?

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One place I like to on a regular basis is Government House in Victoria. Yes it really is related to the Government, as the Lieutenant Governor of B.C. lives there. The nice thing for gardeners and plant fanatics is that it has extensively planted beds that hold a vast collection of plants. I nipped into to town to see what was coming up in the beds and what looked the best. I always take the same route through the garden when I leave my car. First the path through the towering Camellias which meanders down to the Fountain Pond which was frozen, the ducks looked somewhat out of place walking on the ice. The pond leads to the long Rockland Border that is full of perennials and shrubs.

Government House Driveway

Government House Driveway

This is where I was coming to check out a favorite planting scheme and the star plant of this week: Helleborus argutifolius or Corsican Hellebore.

Favorite Plant combination Along Rockland Border.

Favorite Plant combination Along Rockland Border.

I have been lucky to had a grown this plant for a number of years and was not crazy about it at first. I didn’t appreciate the subtle pale apple green shading of the flowers or the dark green coarsely textured and toothed leaves.The flowers may not be that big but are make up for it by being in clusters and they turn up as they age. The foliage is almost indestructible and looks attractive all year.

The WOW Effect.

The WOW Effect.

That wasn’t until I saw some perfectly grown plants in full sun that I said “WOW” to myself.

The problem is most of the time these plants are treated like other Hellebores and people assume they need to be in a shaded location. They need sun to be their best.This should not come as a shock when you consider that they are called Corsican Hellebores, named after one of the two (Sardinia is the other) islands they are native to. These islands are located in the Mediterranean Sea about 28 miles off the Italian coast. The climate of the islands is hot and dry in the summers with an average of 11 hours of sun during the day, and mild in the winter with a glorious 7 hours of sun time. Temperatures never get near the freezing (0C or 32F) mark even in the coldest weather.  Corsican Hellebores are somewhat tender and are rated at zone 7 to 9 (-10C being the lowest temperature tolerated).

Flowers Opening on January 5, 2009

Flowers Opening on January 5, 2009

To grow their best these plants need full sun here in Victoria as well as sufficient moisture in our annual summer droughts. Any rich soil will do, even that which is a little alkaline does not seem to bother it. The one thing they don’t like is the combination of cold and damp which is what the winters are here, so careful placement is important if one wants a long lived plant. Fortunately if Corsiican Hellebores are fairly happy they will self sow and regenerate on the same spot or close to it. Be careful where you place them.Being that they are from the Ranunculus family, you know they will hate to have their roots disturbed in any way.

In Their Glory, Late January 2007.

In Their Glory, Late January 2007.

And the last question, Why call them the “giants of the hellebores”? This is becuase the grow up to 6ft (180cm) heigh in their antureal habitat. Don’t worry that is not likely, the pictured examples are in the comfortable range of 2-3ft (60-90cm) so easily blend into the garden, preferably near the middle or the back.

Some Useful Links:

all you ever need to know about Corsican Hellebores is here:

http://www.grahamrice.com/hellebore/species/argutifolius/index.html

The islands of Corsica and Sardinia:

http://www.usd.edu/~clehmann/pir/SardCorsica/geography.htm

Government House, Victoria, British Columbia. Canada:

http://www.ltgov.bc.ca/gardens/individual-gardens.htm

I bid you adieu until next week.

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It will be green. It is blooming now. It’s blossoms are  pale green.

Puzzle

Puzzle

 

Where am I? 

Where am I?

I will post on Sunday with all new jammed packed dispatch from Vancouver Island. 

What am I?

What am I?

All will be revealed, all will be told, all will be known…..

on SUNDAY

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