Tag Archives: astilbe ‘Fanal’

The Lower Garden

June 23rd, 2016 | 8 Comments »

The downside of going away in May and June is not being at home. As much as I loved touring some amazing gardens in England and seeing some inspiring outdoor art, I missed being at Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, during the peak time for planting and transplanting.

Not to worry, though, I’ve made up for it — my arms, legs, back and shoulders will attest to that. For the last week or more, I’ve been practically living outdoors, cleaning up, pruning, planting and transplanting, dividing and moving plants from one spot to another. It’s late in the season to be doing this but luckily the weather has cooperated. Although some days have been unseasonably hot, we’ve also had several cool mornings. And thankfully, everything we divided and moved has survived without wilting or being set back.

The reward for these hours of work is a sense of satisfaction. The job is far from finished — it never is — but today I’m ready to exchange the trowel for the computer. There’s nothing deep or thoughtful about this week’s blog post — which is almost five days later than usual, due to the back-breaking activity mentioned above — simply some photos of beautiful flowers and some vignettes in the Lower Garden that I find appealing.

 

This side view of the hillside in the Lower Garden shows the stone wall that was part of a summer cottage that once stood at this spot.
This view of the hillside in the Lower Garden shows a glimpse of our house in the upper right. The roof in the upper left belongs to the garage. Glinting in the sunshine to the left of the tree trunk is part of my sculpture Tree Rings. The stone wall was part of an old summer cottage that once stood on the site.

 

When I first began work on the garden, about 15 years ago, the slope consisted mainly of a perennial geranium, several clumps of bearded iris and some tired evergreen shrubs. I removed most of the plants, refreshed the soil and began again.

It’s no surprise that the geranium survived. It continues to spread, adding a flash of colour that brings its surroundings to life.

 

Can anyone identify which geranium this is?
Can anyone identify this geranium? I like the way it tones in with the Heuchera ‘Purple Palace’ beside it.

 

In those fifteen years I’ve added plants, of course — like these Siberian iris ‘Tycoon’ that are blooming so beautifully now beside the old poplar tree.

 

I think these are Tycoon... wish I could be certain because I do love the rich colour.
I love the rich colour of the aptly named Tycoon. In front of ‘Tycoon’ is a clump of Artemesia ‘Silver Mound’ that needs to be trimmed into shape. To the upper right is Aralia ‘Sun King.’

 

I added lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) for its citrus froth, and as much as I love it, annually I pull out huge bunches — which seems not to bother the plant at all.

 

I love the contrasting colours, textures and shape of alchemilla and ligularia 'Britt Marie Crawford.' I don't like Britt Marie's orange flowers and usually chop them off.
The contrasting colours, textures and shape of alchemilla and ligularia ‘Britt Marie Crawford’ would show themselves even better if  I had trimmed the alchemilla a bit more. I don’t like Britt Marie’s orange flowers and usually chop them off.

 

I added allium, now past their peak.

 

Allium 'Purple Sensation' lives up to its name.
Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ lives up to its name. For some people it naturalizes and spreads. Not for me. I’m happy if the bulbs bloom a second time. I’m ecstatic if they bloom a third.

 

I added Astilbe ‘Fanal’, not yet in bloom, next to a teenaged Aralia ‘Sun King.

 

The dark red blooms of Astilbe 'Fanal' look fantastic against the lime green of this Aralia. Sun King is a relatively new cultivar. It performs extremely well in my garden, growing quickly in part shade. The bonus: the deer don't like it.
The dark red blooms of Astilbe ‘Fanal’ look fantastic against the lime green of this Aralia. Sun King is a relatively new cultivar. It performs extremely well in my garden, growing quickly in part shade. Even better —  the deer don’t like it.

 

I added a lovely single white peony with a frilly skirt …

 

This is
This is a single white — labelled as such in my plant list. Can anyone identify it? Could it be Auntie Sherry, sold by the now-defunct Garden Import? I hope so.

 

and a cherry peony that is not yet in full bloom.

 

This is
I think this is  Victoire de la Marne. The heart-shaped splotch of white in the upper left shows how I feel about my garden. Even when I’m hot and dirty I love it.

 

But the best plants in the Lower Garden are the peonies I inherited. Right now, they are the stars of the show.

 

Jules Elie or Sarah Bernhardt? I can't decide, can you?
Jules Elie or Sarah Bernhardt? I can’t decide, can you?

 

These old favourites are stunning from a distance and even more stunning when viewed up close.

 

The heart of this peony glows red. i love it.
The heart of this peony glows, as if it is about to burst into flame. I love it.

 

Peonies take a few years to establish themselves but they live almost forever.  And thank goodness for that.

 

I ask again: Sarah Bernhardt or Jules Elie? Or another peony altogether?
I ask again: Sarah Bernhardt or Jules Elie? Or another peony altogether? Whatever the name, it is a stunner.

 

 

Do you grow peonies in your garden? Do you have favourites to recommend?