Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bloom Day

Can anybody play? I gather from blogs I read that every month (even January?) has a Bloom Day and that it is the 15th. Am I right here? Anyway, I thought I'd post some pictures of some good things that are in bloom here right now. Yes, I know I missed the 15th. I've been super busy getting pottery made for Midsummer Herbfest.... which is a plant-related event so I can mention it here. Check out the link - Herbfest is just what it sounds like and lots of fun!

So, what's in bloom at Pine Ridge? Heaps of hot colours: Red-flowering Raspberry (Rubus odoratus), Spirea (no idea what species), and Lychnis Fulgens against the rail fence. This Lychnis is about 18" high, blooms for several weeks or more just when you need it, and is solidly perennial. It mixes well with daylilies, too.

My pale yarrow is blooming. It has the size and stature of Coronation Gold, but the soft ferny leaves of the gone-native Achillea millefolium. The flowers are a soft yellow. I am convinced it is a cross of the two species, and an improvement on both.

While we are looking at cool colours, the green flowers of Anemone riparia are really quite striking when you see them under the sumachs. They seem to like shade, but don't let them into your garden unless you are prepared to let them run free - they seed themselves around with the usual, er, anemone abandon.

Milkweeds of all kinds are in full bloom: the weedy Ascelpias syriaca in its multitudes (but not in my garden, thank goodness), the Swamp Milkweed, A. incarnata, both pink and white forms, and my favourite, A. tuberosa in its wild orange form. This plant likes, indeed must have, deep sandy soil. It has a deep but brittle tuberous root, so is hard to move, and can take a while to establish. It grows here locally only in one location, that I know of, and that is an area of sand dunes along the Ottawa River. I have it here with ornamental grasses and it is quite happy, thanks.

That Fireweed is another one I wouldn't recommend for the border, but in a wild corner it is quite attractive.One of those plants that you don't really want, but if you don't have it, you need to get it. Gardeners will know what I mean.

All kinds of yellow daisies blooming, of course. Rudbeckia, several species and many colour forms, Coreopsis, Ratibida, Anthemis..... July is certainly the month of yellow daisies. Here are the developing flowers of Grey-headed Coneflower in front of a pale inky-blue Delphinium.

My favourite Delph is always the white one, of course.

There are lots more good things in bloom, and I want to include them all, but my mouse is getting over-heated! I'm not kidding - it is jumping around just like a real mouse that's been in the sun too long.

I can't wait for Bloom Day in August, this was so much fun!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Garden Thoughts

Somebody said gardening is a matter of pushing back the wilderness. I was reminded of this just now when I read a post on one of the lists I read asking if it was alright to make something in the garden which would be good for the plants she wants to grow, but which wouldn't look very 'natural'. Given that the wilderness around her is already well pushed back, I don't see why not!

The idea of 'pushing back the wilderness' really resonates with me, on many levels. For one thing, I really am. My place is smack in the middle of forest which has never been cleared. It is mainly a rocky ridge, with a large marsh on one side and a stream, now beaver pond, on the other. No pioneer was ever dumb enough to try to clear it. It could not have been plowed anyway. Some of the trees were burnt in the great fires of 1860-1890, but that has quite a different long-term result from clearing. Clearing means cultivation, and cultivation changes the soil and the drainage patterns. So my spot is still wilderness.

The bear that came and smashed my bird feeders (again) is at home. I have to remember that.

The sumachs, maples, horsetails and other wild things that keep coming up in my garden want their wilderness back. I get no chance to forget that.

Areas that are in the sun today won't be in a few years when the trees all around them grow tall enough. Another thing to remember.

The driveway keeps getting narrower and narrower - the brambles and shrubs have as their job the task of colonizing new openings to get them ready for the trees to move in. It takes a large bulldozer and huge truckloads of crushed stone to push back simple shrubs. The wilderness is a worthy opponent.

On another level, we humans have a deep need to push back the wilderness. We need to create areas of safety and comfort for ourselves. Even in a City, we make gardens to satisfy our impulse to improve on the wilderness around. A precise bed of hostas and begonias, carefully mulched with purchased bark chips, edged with a metal surround, and needing daily watering, gives us a feeling of security against the wilderness of streets, buildings, cars, jobs, and other people.

The expanses of open front lawns that define the American and Canadian city garden are a visible (but polite!) way of thumbing the collection nose against the wilderness.

Which we need to do, to keep up our courage.