Tag Archives: panicum ‘Shenandoah’

Colour in the Garden

October 26th, 2014 | 4 Comments »

It’s been raining steadily for the last few days and most trees have lost their leaves. But not all. The linden tree  at the end of the lawn was radiant one day last week, just before the rain began to fall.

A stormy sky in the late afternoon adds drama to the scene.
A stormy sky added drama to the scene.

Colour remains, but you have to look more closely to find it. The hydrangea bushes by the front door don’t shout like the linden tree; instead they glow, softly pink.

The pink tones of a hydrangea blossom are in sharp contrast with its yellow and green leaves. This is not a colour combination I would normally favour, but here it looks just right.

Carpeting the ground at the feet of the hydrangea are the brilliant red leaves of Persicaria bistorta ‘Superba.’

The matted leaves shine in a light rain.
The matted leaves shine in a light rain.

More subtle are the colours of the Siberian cypress (Microbiota decussata), a wonderful evergreen that grows well in filtered shade.

Water droplets accentuate the purple and bronze tones of Siberian cypress.
Water droplets accentuate the purple and bronze tones of Siberian cypress.

The older leathery leaves of Bergenia cordifolia are an intense red, in sharp contrast to newer green leaves and to the Italian parsley running wild in the planter box beside it.

Some people call this plant pigsqueak , others called it elephant's ear. I prefer its proper name,  Bergenia.
Some people call this plant pigsqueak , others called it elephant’s ear. I prefer its proper name, Bergenia.

Ornamental grasses come into their own in autumn. I’ve used three of them around The Aqueduct. Most colourful now is the switchgrass ( Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah.’)

Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah'
I chose this variety of Panicum because its varietal name reminded me of Virginia’s Shenandoah valley, where my grandparents had a farm.

The plumes of Korean feather reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha) are fading from silvery-pink to creamy white. This stately grass isn’t as strongly upright as Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ but I like its relaxed look.

Feathery foliage holds raindrops.
Calamagrostis brachytricha blooms well in light shade.

Prairie dropseed (Sporabolus heterolopsis) grows slowly here in Quebec, but I’m prepared to give it time in order to see here what I saw at Le jardin plume in Normandy: a mass of golden-orange hues that shone so brightly in the sunshine that I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The colour on the plants at Glen Villa are beginning to show, toning in beautifully with the rusty steel plate that provides a backdrop.

Rusted steel combines with gold: if it looks this good now, it will be amazing when the grass has grown to full size.
Rusted steel combines with gold: if it looks this good now, it will be amazing when the grass has grown to full size.

Along with the ornamental grasses, sedum planted atop the gabion wall adds colour to The Aqueduct. I used three types, S. rupestre ‘Angelina,’ S. reflexum ‘Blue Spruce,’ and S. spurium ‘Red Carpet.’ The contrast between them provides colour from spring to fall.

Sedum rupestre 'Angelina' sometimes develops amber tones in autumn. Mine is still bright green.
Here you can see just a touch of S. ‘Blue Spruce’ and a hint of S. ‘Red Carpet,’ dominated by S. Angelina.’ ‘Angelina’ sometimes develops amber tones in autumn. Mine is still bright green.

Near the front door the tiny ribbon-like flowers of American witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) form a yellowy haze.

Forked twigs of witch hazel are used as divining rods. The flowers are a bonus.
Forked twigs of witch hazel are used as divining rods. The flowers are a bonus.

Gorgeous colour abounds. Thankfully. Because what comes next is snow, a very cold blanket of white.

Ornamental grasses: Part 1, at the aqueduct

October 27th, 2013 | 4 Comments »
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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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The Aqueduct, Part 3: Planting It

July 15th, 2013 | 4 Comments »
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Spring in Quebec comes late. It was mid-May before the ground was dry enough for trucks to cross the lawn. And we needed trucks to complete The Aqueduct. The Aqueduct on April 6. Snow still lingers in shady areas and everything is a mess. The reflecting pool went in -- first concrete blocks, then steel plates to cover them. Inside the pool we added a square box with a perforated bottom. Water would drop into the box and seep out into the pool itself, eliminating splashing and keeping the water in

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