September’s magical light….

September is my favourite time of the year and it’s no wonder why. There is something strange and magical about the light of early fall.  The gaudy bright yellows and oranges clashing with magentas and purples suddenly looks right in the garden.  It’s the last vibrant scream of the flowers before they begin their autumn decent.  As the sun shines lower, the sky above appears bluer and light reflects more directly off each leaf and surface. All the subtle patterns of nature, such as the textured relief of a tree trunk, are more readily revealed in the subtle play of light and shadow.

I love to observe a well tended and lush garden in the fall.  There are so many amazing flowers that thrive now. One of the true luxuries of having a garden is to be able to enjoy flowers for as long a season as possible.  Perhaps consider some of these choices next spring when you’re in the garden center.

Hardy Fucshia (Magellanica)

Classic Sedum 'Autumn Joy' with Purple Aster

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) echos the colour of the house here. Black Eyed Susan " Rudbeckia Goldstrum" adds the bright, brassy yellow

Hydrangea

 Grasses add so much life to the fall garden.  These cool striped ones are called   Miscanthus sinensis ‘Strictus‘. The wider leaved grasses are Phormium species, generally not reliably hardy below Zone 9

Sword Fern

Graceful Miscanthus with seedheads (background) and Lobelia Tupa (not reliably hardy below Zone 9)

Gallardia (Blanket Flower) surrounded by annuals (orange Zinnias, pale mauve Verbena and Magenta Cleome)

 

Stipa tenuissima -(Mexican Feather Grass) with the plumes of non-hardy Purple Fountain grass in the background

Happy Birthday fellow Virgos!

 

Queen of all flowers…the Rose

From earliest childhood, I have memories of the flowers my mother grew in our garden.  Snowdrops and crocus in early spring, sweet bi-coloured columbine in May and fountains of pink and red roses all summer long. As long as I’ve had a garden, I’ve grown roses.  From those uninspiring thorny canes sprout the promise of heavenly beautiful and often fragrant blooms every year.

Now in a townhouse, I have space for a few roses.  But lucky me, I have only a short walk to one of the prettiest rose gardens in the whole city.  I have to give much credit to the man that created the Queens Park Rose Garden as well as those who maintain it with love and attention.  This garden contains roses of every shape and colour in the possible palette. From purest white through every shade of pink, apricot, yellow, red, mauve, burgundy and combinations of red or pink and white stripes. My favourites are the roses where the petals melt from soft yellow to pink to salmon….just like the most beautiful sunset.

If I could share a few bits of wisdom on growing roses, first it would be to pick a trusted variety for health and disease resistance.  This can vary by region, so get opinions from knowledgeable gardeners in your area.  Roses get all manner of bugs and problems so chosing well and treating them right will go along way in your overall  enjoyment of your rose(s).  The second most important thing is to meet their needs of good quality soil, something akin to fluffy chocolate cake by liberally mixing in manure and compost.  Also feed the soil, not the rose, which means using organic fertilizers like bonemeal, alfalfa, greensand, kelp and epsom salts.  Of course you can buy a premade mixture, but best to pick one with these kinds of natural ingredients.  It’s very important to pick an area with at least 6 hours of sun a day and good air circulation.

Every time I walk through the rose garden, I take a moment to stop and stick my nose deeply into a variety that comes in a soft red colour but does not have the most perfect blooms. But just like with people, sometimes we look past the imperfections to the hidden beauty, which in this case is the most delicious ‘Fragrant Cloud’ of sweet perfume you could possible imagine.  Aside from health and beauty, in my opinion, fragrance is a top consideration when choosing a rose.

Happy sniffing!

"Enchanted Evening"...notice the unusual scalloped petals

"Love Struck"....each petal is 'painted' with a deeper pink

"Playboy"....one of my favourites

"Rapsody in Blue"...the closest a rose ever gets to the colour blue

"Scentimental"

"Rock 'n' Roll"......this one really catches your eye

 
 

This photo doesn't do this colour justice..."Wild Blue Yonder" is the most beautiful shade of vibrant magenta

Blue shades…Homes and Gardens of Queen’s Park…part 2

Come on a pictorial journey with me through Queen’s Park neighbourhood to enjoy the enchanting blues of my favourite flowers and these charming gingerbread cottages…….

The gorgeous blue flower is called Corydalis 'Blue Panda'. It is native to China and likes shade and quite moist soil. Here with other shade lovers like Astilbe and variagated Astrantia

Who wouldn't want to sit and enjoy the neighbourhood from this inviting chair?

 
 

Campanula Persifolia or "Peach Bells"

I love how the campanula is growing up into the boxwood here!

Can-can petals of buxom loveliness!

 Bodacious, buxom, plump and luscious! No this isn’t about your butt! I’m talking about the blooms of the Peony, Queen of the early June garden.  Easy to grow and long lived but requiring support of those heavy blooms. In Vancouver you can almost guarantee rain on the day the buds burst open, so it’s best to insert a wire frame early in the growth process so as not to detract from the glory.
 
From the moment of emergence in early spring with the bulbs, the stems and leaves enhance the garden with their lovely cherry red hue. Later fat buds enlarge to the moment when they burst forth like skirt of a can-can dancer to enchant us with their outrageous display. Overlapping petal after petal of shades from white stained with lipstick, every shade of pink, coral, cherry and deep red will delight you with loveliness every late May or June with their beauty and sometimes even soft fragrance. 
 
If you don’t have room to grow these beauties, head over to your local florist for an armful of in season, fleeting loveliness!

Cut flowers of fleeting yet extraordinary beauty ..... @ Dean & Deluca NYC

Fabulous heritage homes and garden’s of Queen’s Park

 It’s time to get walking! Thanks to the new pedestrian overpass, my route takes me up 5 sets of stairs (great for my butt!) and right over into the trails and gardens of Queens Park.  Within the next week I’m predicting an explosion of rose blooms to enjoy on this walk.  Past the park is the neighbourhood of Queens Park;  featuring so many lovely heritage homes and more beautiful, well tended gardens to pass.  Bursting peonies, flags of iris and the delicious scents of mock orange and honeysuckle brightened this journey. Join me on this first of many trips to come!

Bright orange Geum and brick red hens and chicks echo the vibrant colours of the paint

 

Bodacious Azaleas in salmon and pink complement or clash? I love it!

A pretty wrought iron gate and punchy red door jazz up this tasteful beige beauty

No shy paint colours here! I love how the graceful japanese maple accents the trim