Sunday, May 28, 2017

Long-awaiting Blooming of the Tree Peony

After planting my clearance sale tree peony in 2014, I finally get my first blooms now in 2017.  These are spectacular large blooms!  The plant was labeled as "Lilac", with no other details.  Mine has very large blooms and seems to support these well on the plant, better than with herbaceous peonies.   
 I am so excited about this plant that I recently went online and found a Canadian source for an Itoh peony, which is a cross between the herbaceous and tree peony.  I would have tried to get another tree peony, but either they are just terribly hard to find, or just not sold again till fall.  Also, there is not much familiarity with these lovely plants. 

Of course, this is not a "tree", but a woody stemmed deciduous shrub.  A family member looked at me strangely when I said I had this blooming "tree" in my little rock garden.  No worries, no actual tree here.  I would like to see it get bigger and have even more blooms in coming years.  I understand that these plants can easily outlive me.  I would be nice to have some enduring beautiful things in my garden!  I am sold on peonies. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

May Flowers! Wet Spring for BC

May 5: Light pink blossoms of our solitary peach tree, with King Edward Flowering Currant behind

Apparently we have been breaking some records out here, with the wettest spring ever recorded for the Okanagan.  We have had 139 mm of precipitation for 2017 as of May 15.  There is hand-wringing over the over-abundant snowpack still in the mountains and our creeks are running high.  There is no fear for our property though, as we sit on a hillside, with a base of mostly sand under us.  This is a great year for garden procrastination, as the cool weather has been unsuitable for early planting of tender plants. 

Crevice plantings: Sempervivum rosettes, colorful varieties of sedum, and Elfin Thyme (lower left)
 I have dug out a few plants that didn't make it through the unusually cold winter.  One climbing rose was killed down to ground level and is now returning with only a few new shoots from below the mulch.  My Rhododenrons "Cunningham White" were just partly under the eave of the house and likely had little snow cover.  They had a large amount of winterkill.  Only a few bottom branches were spared.  As ugly as it will look, I will have to cover those for winter from now on. 
Fritillary imperialis, blooming May 10
 I must have bought this single Fritillary as an impulse buy at the fall display in the garden store.  It does look a little lonely by itself.  On the other hand, it is difficult to plant things in this particular area of the yard, as the soil is pure sand and has to be amended every time I plant (after removing the 12 inches of bark mulch!).  Fritillary plants are also tricky to locate in the fall, since they go dormant and their leaves dry up and disappear by the time for bulb planting.  I'll have to go out there and put up a marker so I can add some friends for it in fall. 
Bleeding heart, Dicentra spectabilis
 We are getting to the end of Daffodil and Narcissus season.  I got up at a crazy early hour today and took pictures of this Narcissus Jetfire.  It is now a new favourite, adored along with my "Geranium" Poetaz narcissus.  This picture doesn't show it well, but the trumpet is a darker orange.  It is blooming later than most of my other similar flowers, which maybe is because this is its first year?  Regardless, it is extending my narcissus season and I think it looks very nice.  
Narcissus "Jetfire" blooming May 19
 The most well-established bed in the rock garden is full of color now, with the deep pink Aubrieta and the chartreuse Euphorbia as highlights.  Frittilaria meleagris came and went so quietly and its foliage will disappear soon for the summer.  I think this bed never looks so good as it does in May.  All the blue flowers are nearly gone by now, with the early spring Muscari (grape hyacinth), Chionodoxa and Scilla all done.  However, those blue flowered early spring bulbs are great at self-seeding and multiplying to bigger bunches each year and I love how they do that. 
Rock garden full of color

White Iberis "Snowcone" in front of a purple Aubrieta

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Passionflower Project

Passiflora caerulea (Blue passionflower)
I put my blue passionflower plant outside April 28 this week, for the first time in its life.  I started it from seed early in 2016, after many previous failed attempts to germinate passionflower seeds over the years.  The difference this time was that the seed obtained was fairly fresh, according to the company I got it from.  Also, there were instructions to soak the seed for a day, but I forgot them and accidentally soaked them for about 4 days before planting them.  Apparently, this worked!  I gave away a dozen seedlings and kept 2 for myself.  I have another in my heated greenhouse.   Temperatures are down to around 5 degrees C at nights recently.  I might want to take this plant inside on the cooler nights.  I've never grown one before so I don't know how it will do.  I'm hoping for some pretty flowers if all goes well.  I bought the trellis this week and stuffed that poor vine into it.  I think it survived the trauma so far.
April 28 in the perennial bed of the yard's landscaping
 The perennial beds still look rather empty, with many flowers not yet making an appearance above ground.  I have lost some plants in the yard, due to the unusually cold winter.  Most that didn't make it were near the house and therefore not protected by snowcover. 
Pulsatilla, Aubrieta, and Arabis (white blooms) flowering in the rock garden
We dug up the two mislabeled table grapes yesterday, replacing them with the seedless Himrod and Vanessa grapes.  It took 2 years to figure out that the previous ones planted were NOT seedless and that the nursery had labelled them erroneously.  Hopefully second time is the charm.  Now we just need the dog to refrain from chewing on the vines. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A Slow Spring

Spring is certainly taking its time in southern BC this year.  The cherry blossoms are finally appearing in Vancouver this week and today I saw a forsythia in bloom down the road. 

The apple trees in the orchard have not yet produced any leaves.  Peach trees that were in bloom this time last year have not yet leafed out.  I heard cherry producers saying that this late cool spring weather could be a positive thing for them.  I suppose the late start may mean less chance of frost damage to the buds.

I don't have many flowers to post, with only some scilla, crocuses and Iris reticulata in bloom so far.  In fact, I have a picture of the same white Iris reticulata blooming last year a full four weeks earlier! 
Iris reticulata, looks like "Eye Catcher"

 Things are looking a bit grim for the a few of the shrubs.  The unseasonably cold winter may have killed my only remaining rhododendrons.  The leaves are cripsy and curled.  Some herbs that usually make it through the winter are also gone. 
Some crocuses and dwarf Iris in my rock garden, April 14
I'd imagine even the garden stores are noticing the lack of early gardening enthusiasm.  I've picked up a few bright spring flowers for the containers, but haven't done much in the vegetable garden yet.  Dear husband planted 10 baby apple trees in it this year though.  I wasn't impressed.  Apparently, they are extras that will serve as replacements for trees in the orchard that don't manage to thrive this year.  Several hundred newly planted grafted trees didn't make it through last summer and were replaced this spring.  I don't want more trees to die, but I really want my valuable veggie garden space back!

I'm going to try to be at the Summerland Gardens annual spring plant sale May  6 & 7.  There are many good deals on plants there, and I enjoyed finding some unusual and native plants there last year.  Just remember to get there early!