Category Archives: Plants

Tasmania: lots of flora and a fauna

November 24th, 2013 | 6 Comments »
Looking at the photo below, it would be easy to think you were in Canada or somewhere in the mountains in the United States, walking alongside a clear, untroubled lake. For a moment you might wonder at the colour or the patterning on the bark of the fallen tree, but any differences from normal would be easy to overlook.  A typical mountain lake: but where is it? If you walked a short distance beyond the lake, you'd come across vegetation similar to many high altitude areas, where winds sweep the ground clear

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Ornamental grasses, Part 3: What not to do (unless you want a good laugh)

November 17th, 2013 | 3 Comments »
My first attempt to use ornamental grasses was in a section of the garden I call the yin yang. An old resort hotel once stood on the property (to my amazement, I find I haven't written about that... must do so soon. ) In front of the hotel was a low circular stone wall. Horse-drawn carriages would drop guests off at the front door of the inn, then proceed around the circle and head back out the drive. The stone circle is on the left. When we moved into Glen

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Ornamental Grasses, Part 2: at the Lake and the Skating Pond

November 5th, 2013 | 12 Comments »
I've been using ornamental grasses for about ten years now, and I've used them in various parts of the garden, including at the aqueduct, which I wrote about last week. One of the first places I put them was on the hill that slopes down to the lake. The plants, ordinary miscanthus sinensis, were a reasonable size when I planted them; now the small clump has grown to cover a large area, as I've divided and spread them out several times. Dividing miscanthus -- a hard day's work. Environmental regulations

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Ornamental grasses: Part 1, at the aqueduct

October 27th, 2013 | 4 Comments »
I don't know when ornamental grasses began to gain popularity but I'd say that 20-25 years ago, few gardeners used them regularly. Thanks among others to designers like Piet Oudolf from Holland and James van Sweden and Wolfgang Oehme in the U.S., perennial grasses have become popular staples in many gardens. Their fluidity suits a looser, more naturalistic approach to garden design; in turn this more naturalistic approach reflects a modified view of what gardens are, or can be, and how gardens relate to the landscape around them.I first planted an ornamental

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Fibonacci numbers in nature

October 20th, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Ever since writing in a recent post about Througham Court and how Christine Facer Hoffman, the owner and designer, incorporated Fibonacci numbers into the garden, I've been noticing photos of plants that illustrate this natural sequencing. Deborah Lee Baldwin showed this one in a recent entry on Gardening Gone Wild.Apparently this plant is euphorbia gorgonis.Who would have known? Not me.And I saw this one in my own garden, in a gravel section I'm playing around with.sempervivum arachnoideum 'Cobweb' This sempervivum is named 'Cobweb.'  A close look at the central white portion tells

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Glen Villa in Autumn

October 14th, 2013 | 6 Comments »
Travelling is wonderful, but nothing beats being at Glen Villa on a perfect autumn day, when the air is clear, the sky is blue and nothing in particular has to be done.This morning I walked around the garden, my first walk-about in three weeks. A few flowers are still blooming, like the never-say-die sedum 'Autumn Joy.'Sedum 'Autumn Joy' is still going strong in mid-October.The bergenia I planted this spring to complement the aqueduct is showing its full fall colour.Which name do you prefer, bergenia or pigsqueak?The peegee hydrangea that was

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Vertical Gardens, Spanish style

September 30th, 2013 | No Comments »
Patrick Blanc's vertical garden at the Caixa Forum in Madrid is even more spectacular than the photos suggest. It is located in the old section of Madrid, beside the busy Paseo del Prado and near the Reina Sofia, one of Madrid's outstanding art museums.Passers-by give a sense of scale.I wish I could give you some stats about this wall garden: how many plants there are, how high the wall is, how wide, but I can't. I do know that it dates from 2007. And that the expanse of green was lush when I

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Is Mosaiculture topiary?

September 22nd, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Strictly speaking, the answer is -- no. Both are living sculptures, but they are made in different ways. Mosaiculture is also a contemporary form of plant display, while topiary has a long and distinguished history, dating back to  Roman times.So, what are the differences? The most obvious one is that topiary uses a single plant to create architectural and sculptural shapes while mosaiculture creates forms by combining a variety of plants with different colours and textures. Traditionally, creating a topiary took a long time; a plant, tree or shrub was clipped and shaped

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Mosaiculture: a different kind of art

September 16th, 2013 | 4 Comments »
Mosaiculture is the name given to three dimensional sculptures made of plants. This summer, the Montreal Botanical Garden played host to dozens of creations from around the world, all illustrating the theme, Land of Hope. I postponed visiting the show until a few weeks ago, thinking I wouldn't like it. But I did. I was captured by the skill, the scale and the imagination. And by the humour. Who couldn't smile seeing these lemurs, parading along the walkway, tails held high? These ring-tailed lemurs are from Madagascar, an island rich in biodiversity.

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My favourite plant: Jeffersonia diphylla

September 9th, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Gardeners in temperate climes may wonder why I love Jeffersonia diphylla. For them it grows easily, spreads nicely and offers a touch of light in a shaded border. A nice plant, but nothing special. Jeffersonia doesn't grow easily for me. I have to coddle it, and it is one of the few plants at Glen Villa that gets this care.  As for spreading nicely, no such luck. My one plant grew for quite a few years before it produced a baby. Nonetheless, I love Jeffersonia. It is my favourite plant. Not

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