Look up!

The tulip trees, Liriodendron tulipifera, are in bloom and don't disappoint! Underplanted, I love these beauties for several reasons: they make great shade trees, are native and the seed capsules in winter are eye catching and interesting.

A posy of pansies

For the last few weeks I've swapped out spring for summer, containers that is. These pansies were winners all season long, still are, now in a vase. There's so much waste in this industry already that every small act feels significant; bulbs that land back in a garden instead of the garbage, tropicals taken indoors to extend their life.... and a posy of pansies.

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A prelude to summer

One of the joys of being a gardener is sharing your garden with others. Lovingly collected and grown plants suddenly go on display for others to enjoy, if only for an afternoon. Today marked a highlight on the calender: touring fellow Ontario Rock Garden & Hardy Plant Society members' gardens.

Join me in my continued admiration of those special Niagara region gardens:

  David Austen 'Crown Princess Margareta' rose: an arching climber with prolific and repeat blooms. For best results seek out only plants that are either original stock or have been grafted onto hardy Canadian rootstock. Also bury the rootstock much deeper than you normally would.

 

David Austen 'Crown Princess Margareta' rose: an arching climber with prolific and repeat blooms. For best results seek out only plants that are either original stock or have been grafted onto hardy Canadian rootstock. Also bury the rootstock much deeper than you normally would.

  Another David Austin in a classic combination: rose and Clematis tangutica. All the more striking by the colourways here. 

 

Another David Austin in a classic combination: rose and Clematis tangutica. All the more striking by the colourways here. 

  Magnolia sieboldii 'Colossus' blooms later than standard varieties. The large cup-shaped blossoms entice you closer to reveal a lovely scent and rose stamens.

 

Magnolia sieboldii 'Colossus' blooms later than standard varieties. The large cup-shaped blossoms entice you closer to reveal a lovely scent and rose stamens.

  Behold the forming fruit and enormous thorns of Poncirus trifoliata, or hardy orange.

 

Behold the forming fruit and enormous thorns of Poncirus trifoliata, or hardy orange.

  Judicious bird that chose to make its nest safely tucked into the crown.

 

Judicious bird that chose to make its nest safely tucked into the crown.

  A delight to unfamiliar eyes: hardy orchids. These were but a sampling of cacti, amaryllis and other tenders normally relegated to the indoors or far more southern zones. Yet here, they not only survived our most recent harsh winter outside but are thriving examples of the possible.

 

A delight to unfamiliar eyes: hardy orchids. These were but a sampling of cacti, amaryllis and other tenders normally relegated to the indoors or far more southern zones. Yet here, they not only survived our most recent harsh winter outside but are thriving examples of the possible.

  Succulents in a bed of stone always stop me in my tracks. I love their foliage, maintenance-free nature and unique blue-tinged colours.

 

Succulents in a bed of stone always stop me in my tracks. I love their foliage, maintenance-free nature and unique blue-tinged colours.

  A garden tour wouldn't be complete without a visit to a fantastic nursery. Vineland Nurseries specializes in rare and unusual plants, including an excellent selection of dwarf conifers. This beauty came home with me.

 

A garden tour wouldn't be complete without a visit to a fantastic nursery. Vineland Nurseries specializes in rare and unusual plants, including an excellent selection of dwarf conifers. This beauty came home with me.

"share plants, share ideas, freely"

At this month's Parkdale Horticultural Society meeting, writer Tony Spencer gave a presentation on his personal journey and garden inspired by time spent studying with the great Dutch plantsman, Piet Oudolf.

I walked out afterwards into the chill of the night feeling warm and smiling. I'd met Tony in person (having only previously known one another through social media); traveled to the Netherlands and back in one evening; heard Oudolf's voice in my head as I read his quotes from the screen; and graciously been offered a visual storybook of Tony's hard work, tenacity and experimentation in his own garden.

A faithful fan of Oudolf's work myself, it was a pleasure to experience, through another, what studying under him had been like. Moreover, I was reminded of several valuable tools:

• aim to see "the purpose of a plant in four dimensions", the fourth one being time

• try the "acid test" on your own garden: photograph it using the black and white setting of a camera. This enables you to assess plants and layout for form, texture and structure without being distracted by colour

• lastly and beautifully: "share plants, share ideas, freely" -Piet Oudolf

If you're unfamiliar with Oudolf's work I highly recommend taking a peak - you might discover that you've walked amongst his plantings afterall, perhaps at the Toronto Botanical Gardens, New York's High Line or Chicago's Lurie Garden.

www.oudolf.com

See too for yourself some of Tony's adventures and images on his blog:

www.thenewperennialist.com

 

Tony Spencer (left) and Piet Oudolf (right) at Hummelo, Oudolf's home, this past summer. Photograph by Adam Woodruff

Tony Spencer (left) and Piet Oudolf (right) at Hummelo, Oudolf's home, this past summer. Photograph by Adam Woodruff

Leslie Spit

One of my favourite places to visit is Tommy Thompson Park. I love that our waste has been re-purposed to simultaneously provide wildlife habitats, recreational use and ad hoc art installations all in one. It also infinitely pleases me to see the tracks of cottonwoods, goldenrod, wild apples and other normally categorized "weeds" that are allowed simply to be- part of an evolving ecosystem.

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Seedheads

Their beauty never fails to astound and delight me. I photographed this collection of seedheads in my backyard under the overcast, but perfect light so typical of November.

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