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Posts Tagged ‘blooms’

The first time I was introduced to todays plant I really did not appreciate its sublime beauty. It was at I time when I knew to gardening in this  mild  west coast climate which was like coming to a treasure trove of exotic from the plant desert i had lived in.  The plant in question was in the ‘white garden found in Park and Tilford Gardens where I was doing my practicum over the summer months. With experience I have learned big and bright are not always the most easy to work with in designing gardens whereas sublime and subtle are often the key to the best. Astrantias major (Masterwort) are delicate and sublime at the same time while being outstanding garden plants which deserve to be included in many more gardens.

Astrantia major, or Masterwort  has slight variations in  shades of color and flower size.

Astrantia major, or Masterwort has slight variations in shades of color and flower size.

Astrantias have long been known to gardens in Europe where they grow amongst the alpine meadows in the mountains of Austria through the Swiss Alps, and  into the Pyrenees of north-west Spain.  There at the  high elevations and they bloom from July into September.  (Great) Masterwort is first noted by English herbalist John Gerard(1545-1611-12?) in 1596 in his famous  publication ‘Great Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes’. In this book he wrote a detailed description of all the herbal plants which he had collected and grew at his garden in Holborn.

Frothy Astrantia major blooming with Alchemilla mollis make a beautiful floral display in this dappled spot.

Frothy Astrantia major blooming with Alchemilla mollis make a beautiful floral display in this dappled spot.

Astrantia are without a doubt are recently being discovered by gardeners here in North America. I was lucky that many years ago to have experience them in the ‘white garden’  as I did not see them again until I came to Vancouver Island and worked as a grower at a nursery here. There I soon found that there were several color forms from dark red through pinks and creams. My favorite Masterwort was one called “Shaggy’ which has a large deeply toothed bracts which are green tipped on cream, it is sometimes sold as ‘Margery Fish’ and should only be propagated by division.

The tiny fertile flowers of Astrantia major are found in the middle of the papery green tipped bracts.

The tiny fertile flowers of Astrantia major are found in the middle of the papery green tipped bracts.

Astrantias are now used in many types of gardens as they are extremely versatile.  Margery Fish, the influential English Cottage Gardener recognized their charm, as have many of the well know garden writers and designers of today.  You can use Masterwort in full sun or nearly  complete shade and still get a respectable showing of flowers. the flowers are extremely long-lasting because they are papery and dry quite well, this guarantee that they make their way into florist shops for their work. The leaves are clean and attractive.

One of  the many red forms of Astrantia major which are available now.

One of the many red forms of Astrantia major which are available now.

Growing Masterwort is fairly easy as long as you remember a few important things. Astrantias like rich fertile soil which has the ability to retain some moisture during dry periods, these plants sulk if they get too dried out. They will flower best in full sun as long as there is sufficient water available.These are plants which do not like to have their roots disturbed  therefore care must be taken when moving or dividing them, they can be slow to bounce back and patience is needed.  To get a prolonged  and repeat bloom remove spent flowers promptly, this will keep the plant vigorous.

Atrantia major will have a second flush of blooms after the first spent flowers are removed.

Atrantia major will have a second flush of blooms after the first spent flowers are removed.

To increase Masterwort you can do it in several ways by division or by growing them from seed. Division is done in the fall or spring when Astrantias are still dormant every 3 to 4 years. Division is the only way to increase your named varieties and keep them true to form and color. Seed may collected and germinates naturally on site if the plants are happy or you can do it yourself. The seed is multi-cycle dormant and I used a refrigerator to artificially speed up the process. Plants from seed will take several years to bloom using this method.

Astrantia 'Sunnidale Variegated' has some of the most attractive of all variegated plants.

Astrantia 'Sunnidale Variegated' has some of the most attractive of all variegated plants.

Before putting your Astrantias to bed in the late fall give them a side dressing of mulch and this will help them grow strong roots over the winter. Masterwort are listed as taking -20c(-4f) or zones 5 through 9.  These are tidy plant which for slowly spreading clumps of  30-60cm(1-2ft) wide. Hieght of the plants varies from 30-90cm (12-36in) high at the most, most are around 60cm(2ft) tall. New varieties are being introduced, the darkest red so far is ‘Hadspen Blood’, ‘Shaggy is said to have the largest flowers. Another Astrantia you can grow is Astrantia maxima which has pinker flowers with thicker bracts.

Here in the 'Cutting Garden' at Government House, the Astrantias are used as an informal groundcover.

Here in the 'Cutting Garden' at Government House, the Astrantias are used as an informal groundcover.

Use Astrantias in your perennial border, shade garden, woodland areas, informal areas, cut flower garden or butterfly and bee garden. Masterwort mixes well with many plants from Ferns to Rodgersia as well as Hostas, Heuchera, Tellima and Tiarellas and many others.

Mastering Astrantias:

Paghat is always a good place to start: http://www.paghat.com/masterwort.html

Astrantia ‘Shaggy’: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/3319801/How-to-grow-Astrantia-Shaggy.html

John Gerard, and one of the first important descriptive garden books: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Gerard

Until we meet again soon on this leafy path….

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My mother was born in the Vancouver(zone 8a) area and grew up in a fairly mild climate which is that of the lower mainland.  She learned to love the flowers and other plants which grew abundantly there. When she married, she and my father decided to move to Prince George(zone3a) which is located in the center of British Columbia. No longer did she see the flowers she grew up with as the climate was much colder.  When my parents built their permanent home they had a garden and of course mom wanted some of her favorite plants there.

English or Common Primrose like those in my mothers gardens

English or Common Primrose like those in my mothers gardens

When my grandparents visited from the coast they brought with them two plants, a  clump of  blue Siberian Iris and some  butter colored English or Common Primroses(Primula vulgaris).  This was my introduction to Primula species which has fascinated me ever since. Every year in the spring I am reminded of my mothers beloved English Primroses as they bloom before any other Primula.

Primulas Peeping Out From Under a Dusting of Snow.

Primulas Peeping Out From Under a Dusting of Snow.

This Primula may be called common but it is not seen as much as you might think  for a long time it was seen as an old fashioned plant and newer more exciting types came into fashion, most often the Polyanthus which you see sold at every grocer and florist shop.  Recently people have renewed their interest in English Primroses and exciting old forms are now available at garden centers everywhere. Old Double forms such as Dawn Ansell(white) and April Rose(red) and many others are making a return to the garden here.

Double Primulas bloom a little later.

Double Primulas bloom a little later.

Primula 'Hereford'

Primula 'Hereford'

Primula vulgaris has been with us for a very long time, the Romans knew this plant and Pliny wrote about it as being a panacea for what ailed his patients. Extracts of it were commonly used for muscular complaints, paralysis and gout.  It is not surprising it would have been used as it grows in a wide geographic area  from Ireland through to the Ukraine and the south as far as Lebanon. it grows in many places; wooded pastures, copses, meadows being where it is found. So popular was collecting this plant in the wild that laws have been passed to protect it form being removed completely from where is grows.

Two Color Forms Growing in my Backyard.

Two Color Forms Growing in my Backyard.

Fortunately for us these are really easy plants to grow and divide.  They need a fertile, nutrient rich moisture retaining soil for their best showing.  I have noticed the lighter colored flowers bloom first, are often deliciously fragrant and are slightly more vigorous.  to have a beautiful display all you have to do is remove the older leaves when the new ones start to grow and this keeps them tidy.  The best way to get more plants is to divide your own or a friends, one plant can be separated into many new ones.

This planting was created from dividing 2 plants.

This planting was created from dividing 2 plants.

The best use for this plant is in masses inter-planted with other later growing perennials for later color. They also can be used as an attractive edging which i have seen in a couple of places here.

An Example of Primulas used as Edging near Playfair Park.

An Example of Primulas used as Edging near Playfair Park.

If you want to see more Primulas, Government House has several varieties on their gardens, look about at older houses and you might be rewarded with the sight of some of the buttery yellow plants that have lived for many years.

Links For This Week:

All you might want to know about Primula vulgaris:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primula_vulgaris

Government House is a treasure trove of fantastic plants. Something new to see anytime of the year. Free to all with parking.

http://www.ltgov.bc.ca/

See you again on Wednesday for new clues to lead you to the identity of the next plant.

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My prim(e) name is usually connected to a Rose.

P.v

P.v

I come in many colors, pink, yellow, white and in between.

Magenta

Magenta

This is a common color you will see in me!

I am a very old fashioned plant  and am referred to in many old stories and poems.

I am Vein

I am Vein

People often say I’m vulgar.

I think I am more of a star in a star!

Pure and Pristine

Pure and Pristine

If you need more come back tomorrow.

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(Coast)Silk Tassel Bushes or Garrya elliptica are a very unusual plant to come across. The first time I saw one I was thrilled, I had never paid attention to the rather boring ungainly shrub located at the top of the long perennial border at Playfair Park in Saanich. It was early in the year and I knew  that this garden had a wonderful collection of Rhododendrons which I wanted to check on, they were not in bloom yet,  instead I found a Garrya.

Winter Damaged Garrya at Playfair Park.

Winter Damaged Garrya at Playfair Park.

The first thing I realized on seeing this plant for the first time is that at other times without its catkins I might have thought it was an Elaegnus which has similar leaves but not flowers. Garryas are dioecious meaning they are male or female plants(Holly is another plant like this). They both have long catkins but the males clones are the most prized.  Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ is the most commonly grown male clone which can have catkins which are up to 12in (30 cm) long.

Garrya Male Catkins

Garrya Male Catkins

Garrya ellipticas are true west coasters and don’t like living far from the ocean, this is because there are smaller temperature swings when closer to a large body of water (marine effect).  Their range extends all along the coast from southern Oregon through California. There are a total of 18 Garrya species found along the West coast  from Washington state through to Panama and east to Texas

A Happy Garrya at Glendale Gardens

A Happy Garrya at Glendale Gardens

Here in Victoria We live in a rain shadow which keeps us drier and warmer than the  the British Columbia mainland. We have a very moderate climate which is similar to their native habitat of Chaparral, mixed evergreen forest or coastal Sage scrub. Garryas’ where first found by David Douglas in 1828 and named for Nicolas Garry who was the Secretary of the Hudson’s Bay Company.  He assisted Douglas in his explorations in the Pacific Northwest.

A well placed Silk Tassel Bush

A well placed Silk Tassel Bush

Placement of Silk Tassel Bushes here here is a very tricky thing. They like full sun to part shade preferably in mixed deciduous trees and shrubs to show off their winter blooms. The most important thing is to make sure this plant is kept out of the drying burning winds that can occur during a cold snap such as the ones we have during the November to March period.  Best placement is bottoms of slopes or beside walls or fences. Another use is as a transitional plant from a  naturalised setting into the more structured garden.

Winter damage to the evergreen foliage.

Winter damage to the evergreen foliage.

Garryas are easy to please,  for luxuriant growth they ask for no less than 25 in.(25cm) of rain. They are not very particular to soil and tolerate clays if they are well drained and nutrient rich. They will grow into a substantial 12ft(4m) by 12ft(4m) multi-stemmed shrub which is deer and rabbit resistant. They can be lightly pruned after blooming primarily for shape, do not too far down into the bush.  Although these plants can take temperatures as low as 4f(-10c) they prefer a warmer climate.  Zones 7 through 10 is recommended.

Lnks to this weeks Subject:

A very informative site about Garryas

http://groups.ucanr.org/sonomamg/Plant_of_the_Month/Garrya_Elliptica.htm

Playfair Park in Saanich is one of my favorite parks for great plant specimens. I will be regularly writing about the plants here.

http://www.saanich.ca/resident/parks/playfairpark.html

David Douglas, an important plant explorer who introduced many species into cultivation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Douglas

Which plant will I write about next week? It’s still a mystery to me, check back on Wednesday for a clue.

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My ‘Common’ and ‘Latin’ name is often said to be the same.

My Glossy Coating

My Glossy Coating

I have a shining disposition.

I can be a male or female, and most likely I will be  male when you find me

Blooming Time is Now.

Blooming Time is Now.

I am a delicate thing that persists long after my blooming season is over.

I’m a west coast kind of soul which is most happy in a warmer place.

Floral Fuzz

Floral Fuzz

Don’t be alarmed by my floral fuzz, it’s quite Innocent and won’t harm you a bit.

If you put me in the wrong place I might burn from the exposure!

G.E.

G.E.

My silky tassels are the most famous part of me as they can be up to 12 in(30cm) long which dangle and sway in the breeze.

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I first came across the lovely Eranthis hyemalis or Winter Aconites at my grandmothers garden in South Surrey near Vancouver. My mother showed me them blooming under a huge Cherry tree and there where hundreds of  the golden gems dotting the ground . She wanted to know if she could grow them in Prince George(where I grew up), I said I didn’t know and would find out for her. As they seemed to be extremely dwarf Buttercup type plants I hoped they would grow in the north(zone3). It turns out that they can with protection as they are hardy from zone 3 to 8. Both my mother and grandmother are both dead now and I have thought about these delicate plants off and on through the years and wondered why were they so uncommon?

Winter Aconites blooming in the sun.

Winter Aconites at Glendale Gardens blooming in the sun.

I hadn’t seen any Winter Aconites until last week when I was out looking for a suitable plant to highlight for this weeks article and stumbled upon them at one of my favorite gardens. I knew at once what I had come across and  knew I would just have to write about them. after finding them at Glendale Gardens I wanted to see if they were planted elsewhere. The first place i thought of was Finnerty Gardens which are located on the grounds of the University of Victoria, so, I went there and was not disappointed. There were several groupings of them located near the edges of  of the developed gardens.

A group of Eranthis hymalis at Finnerty Gardens.

A group of Eranthis hyemalis at Finnerty Gardens.

Each plant is quite small but it’s impact is huge. they hug the ground being at the most 4in(10cm) high. Each stem bears a single large 5 petaled blossom which  is 3/4 to 1 in(2.5cm) across. Each flower is charmingly encircled by a delicate green ruffle. If these plants are happy they will increase and create carpets of bright blossoms followed by delicate foliage and then finally go dormant in late spring.

Glorious Gleaming Golden Winter Aconites

Glorious Gleaming Golden Winter Aconites

The tiny Winter Aconites  are truly one of the delights of spring which you won’t notice the rest of the year as they go dormant over the rest of the year. Being a member of theRanunculus family they do not like being moved which may have lead to their scarcity in gardens. This means they need careful placement. Fortunately there are many suitable locations which they can grow.

Fully opened Winter Aconites February 17 2009

Fully opened Winter Aconites February 17 2009

Ideally they are placed somewhere slightly out of the way that can be easily seen. Often good placement is at the base of a deciduous tree or in a rock garden niche which has sufficient moisture in the spring when they are erupting into a glowing show. They mix well with other spring bulbs such as Galanthus and Crocuses and other early blooming plants such as Primulas which bloom in the late January through early march period. It would also be possible to intermingle them with very low growing groundcovers which are not too dense.

Several healthy clumps of Eranthis hyemalis.

Several healthy clumps of Eranthis hyemalis.

Winter Aconites originate in Europe,  growing from France through Italy and crossing the sea into Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. They have happily naturalised in other areas of Europe as well. They grow there in deciduous woodlands  such as those dominated by Horse Chestnuts(Aesculus hippocastanum) and rocky places. Winter Aconite are relatively easy to grow as they are not too particular about soil and will accept any as long as its not at an alkaline or acidic extreme. It should be rich in nutrients such as a loam and able to retain moisture in the important early spring growing period.

Winter Aconite blossoms in detail.

Winter Aconite blossoms in detail.

If you are lucky you can find a neighbor who will share these dainty giants with you as they are best lifted and the tiny tubers divided up. The next best is to purchase the dormant tubers and then soak them a few days in damp peat before planting in the late summer about 1 in deep. Sow freshly collected seed in the location where they are to grow and then be patient as it tales 1 to 2 years before blossoms will be seen. Always remember to mark where you have planted the tubers or seeds so you will not accidentally disturb them while they are dormant.

Links to This Weeks Subject:

Finnerty Gardens where many of these pictures where taken is a hidden jewel at the University of Victoria grounds. It is a good place to learn the names of plants as many have been marked:

http://external.uvic.ca/gardens/index.php

A good source of information on Winter Aconites

http://www.hort.wisc.edu/mastergardener/Features/bulbs/winteraconite/winteraconite.htm

I look forward to chatting with you again next Sunday, right here.

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I am a Glowing Golden Globe peaking out across Southern Europe and all of Asia.

Glowing Golden Globe

Glowing Golden Globe

I often am found in the forest, but not always.

Green Ruffles

Green Ruffles

I have a green ruffle around each of my flowers.

I am dainty yet stocky all at the same time.

Golden Eye

Golden Eye

Buttercup is one of my more famous cousins. Now can you guess who I am?

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