Tag Archives: peonies

Garden Envy

June 20th, 2017 | 19 Comments »

Coming home from a tour of English gardens I felt a short, sharp shock. Everything in my garden looked inadequate, not up to the standard I had come to expect. I moped. I complained. Why can’t I grow the hundreds of plants I saw and admired?  Some of them must surely suit my climate. So why don’t the garden centres around Glen Villa stock them?

Then I faced the facts. My garden will never match the perfection of an English estate that employs six or seven full time gardeners.  The garden centres will never stock the rarities — with such a small market, it’s not a paying proposition. Plants I grow will never match the size they reach in England, not as long as I live where I do, where winter temperatures drop regularly to -25 or -30C.

And since I have no desire to live anywhere else, I had to quit complaining. I gave myself a good talking to. Instead of accepting your limitations, I told myself, embrace them. And I have. I do. My garden no longer looks inadequate, it looks splendid. I am enthusiastic about what I can grow, and even more enthusiastic about what grows here naturally.

I mean, just look at it. Can any English country scene be more beautiful than our old farm field bursting with buttercups?

 

The Upper Field at Glen Villa is a what dieticians argue against, butter spread thick on the ground.
The Upper Field at Glen Villa is a what dieticians argue against, butter spread thick on the ground.

 

And what about the lupins that are dancing their way across the meadow? I’m happy to see them, and to see this year for the first time a brighter-than-average pink that I hope will spread and become even brighter.

 

This year we have a brighter than normal pink lupin. Natural hybridization, I guess.
One source says that lupins are meant to take nourishment from soil, to wolf it down, as it were, thus explaining their name.

 

My heart sings when I  see the lupins blooming amid buttercups and ragged robin, especially when set off by the citrus green of Aralia ‘Sun King’ behind them.

 

The white posts mark the entry to the China Terrace. To their right are white window frames and a cascade of spirea.
The white posts mark the entry to the China Terrace. To their right are white window frames and a cascade of spirea.

 

I take no credit for these wildflowers.  Each year they appear on their own, this year more floriferous than last. The shrub border in the Upper Field is a different matter, and it gives me pleasure of a different sort. I chose the shrubs and thanks to the fence I designed to protect them from the deer, they are blooming like they’ve never bloomed before.

 

Viburnum sargemtii 'Onondaga' is standing tall. Physocarpus opulifolius 'Golden Dart' is in the foreground.
Viburnum sargemtii ‘Onondaga’ is standing tall. The citrus-coloured shrub is Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) ‘Golden Nugget.’

 

The shrub border is doing all I hoped it would, and more. I wanted some privacy in the Upper Field, and the shrubs are big enough now to shield our view of cars driving past. I wanted the privacy screen to be truly appealing, so I’d walk up the hill to see it. And that has worked. The vibrant blossoms and foliage add colour and excitement, and draw me like a magnet to see how each plant changes, day to day.

 

Another view shows a different ninebark, Physocarpus opulifolius 'Coppertina.' I like how the hint of green in its leaves picks up the citrus of the 'Golden Nugget' beside it.
Another view shows a different ninebark in the foreground, Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Coppertina.’ I like how the hint of green in its leaves picks up the citrus of the ‘Golden Nugget’ beside it.

 

The blossoms on the Ninebark ‘Coppertina’ for instance. They start as tight pin pricks, then open to resemble tiny berries, then become as fluffy as dandelion heads, all in a matter of a week or two.

 

The same shrubs
The blossoms here are at the berry stage. They are more open now than when I took this photo.

 

All around the garden, blooms are bursting. At the Skating Pond the  yellow flag iris are shining in the distance …

 

This year the yellow flag iris are blooming riotously.
The bare patch of ground to the left of the iris needs attention. Next week, perhaps.

 

… elsewhere, single white peonies gleam …

 

Blowsy peonies... I love them!
Blowsy peonies… I love them!

 

… and camassias growing more abundant year by year.

 

I'm not sure which variety of camassia these are. Can anyone identify them?
I’m not sure which variety of camassia these are. Can anyone identify them? According to my planting notes, they should be either Blue Melody or C. caerulea. I’d like to order more and want the same variety.

 

Seeds I gathered from an acquilegia in Australia are blooming quietly on a rocky outcrop, retaining their original colour and refusing, I’m glad to say, to affect the colour of the wild Canadian ones that grow nearby.

 

Nostalgia speaks. Whenever they bloom, these acquilegia remind me of another place, and another time.
I feel nostalgic whenever these acquilegia bloom. They remind me of another place, and another time.

 

But the wildflowers capture my heart most of all. The yellow flower that is blooming in a field next to a tall grass…

 

Is this yellow hawkweed?
II haven’t tried to identify this yellow wildflower. Can you?

 

… the delicate pink daisy-like flowers that appear everywhere….

 

My granddaughter Vivienne took this photo. Thanks, Viv!
My granddaughter Vivienne took this photo. Thanks, Viv!

 

Why should I be envious of an English garden when I am surrounded by such natural beauty? Even the grass is glorious.

 

Can any manicured garden hold a candle to this?
Can any manicured garden hold a candle to this?

 

Do you have garden envy? And are you doing anything about it?

The Lower Garden

June 23rd, 2016 | 8 Comments »
The heart of this peony glows red. i love it.
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

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Lady Byng, Where Are You?

February 2nd, 2014 | 1 Comment »
5
The hunt is on for a lost peony, the Lady Byng. This special peony was said to be very pretty, and it definitely was colourful, bright crimson carmine with a distinctive cushion of buff and deep red.  It was also expensive: in 1926, it cost an astronomical $35. This is what it looked like:     The only known photograph of the 'Lady Byng' peony The peony was developed by Harry Norton, a Canadian peony breeder from Ayer’s Cliff, Québec, who bred many peonies in the early years of the 1900s.

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