Tag Archives: wildflowers

The Middle of August

August 13th, 2018 | 13 Comments »

In the middle of August the garden at Glen Villa is just beginning to emerge from an unusually long dry spell. A few days ago we had rain — buckets of it that washed out our driveway and threw a section of bank into Lake Massawippi. (We repaired the driveway; the lake itself may take care of the landslide.)

Before the rain, plants were wilting badly. The leaves on a catalpa tree we planted years ago first drooped, then began to curl up and turn brown; thankfully they are now starting to recover.

The Big Meadow suffered badly as well. Grass that in previous years was tall and lush hasn’t grown. From a distance, it looks fine although not as interesting as in previous years.


The Big Meadow
The path running through the Big Meadow makes it clear that the unmown grass is intentional


But up close, it simply looks weedy. The patch of dock that normally disappears in the thick grass stands out like a rash that refuses to heal.


Red dock, or sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella), is patchier than in previous years.


Not all is a loss. There is a dainty white wildflower, member of the aster family, that is adding a touch of interest.


a member of the aster family?
This wildflower is one of many composites or daisies in the aster family. There is more of it this plant this year than last. Calling it dainty is a nice way of saying that it doesn’t make a big impression. I’m hoping,, though, that with more and more of it, eventually it will.


The Cascade is lush and green.


The Ligularia is drooping.
The Ligularia has almost finished blooming but still provides a touch of yellow.


The Aqueduct looks good although the Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ that made such a show for a month or more has been shaved back to allow for a possible second bloom.


The Prairie Dropseed, sporobalus heterlopis is coming into its own.
The Prairie Dropseed, Sporobolus heterolepis, is coming into its own. In another few weeks it will begin to change colour, ending as a golden-orange that blends well with the rusted steel edging the reflecting pool.


in the reflecting pool, the tadpoles that gave grandchildren such a treat in early July have grown up into frogs.


Nice noises come from these little guys.
These little guys can make a lot of noise. I think their sounds are magnified by the steel surrounds.


I’m not a fan of the strong yellows and oranges that thrive in late summer so there isn’t a lot of colour in the garden at the moment.  Instead, green and white dominate.  By the kitchen door, white spears of clethra, or summersweet, pierce the green surroundings. Its fragrance is powerful in the sunshine, attesting to the honesty of its name.


clethra (1 of 1)
The yellow edge on the hosta in the background is the sort of yellow I like at this time of year — soft and creamy.


Near the front door and in the Lower Garden, lacecap hydrangeas add another touch of white. They are blooming well now, with weeks of bloom still to come.


hydrangea (1 of 1)


Near the Lower Garden, a PeeGee hydrangea is loaded with blooms.


This peegee hydrangea (more properly called Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora') is one of the most cold-hardy varieties. It was here when we moved into the house 22 years ago.
This peegee hydrangea (more properly called Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’) is one of the most cold-hardy varieties. It was here when we moved into the house 22 years ago.


Yet as so often seems the case, my favourite flowers are the wild ones. Arrowhead is shooting everywhere in the shallow waters of the pond by the road.


wildflowers (4 of 7)
Arrowhead, or Sagittaria cuneata, is also known as Wapato or arum leaf arrowhead. It is an indigenous plant that grows best is shallow, still or slowly flowing water.


Another white wildflower is blooming at the edge of the Skating Pond.


wildflowers (1 of 7)
I call this Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum). Please correct me if I am wrong.


The spires of steeplebush (Spirea tomentosa) are appearing in every field and damp spot.


wildflowers (2 of 7)
Steeplebush is also known as hardhack on account of the toughness of its stems. Butterflies and other nectar-feeding insects find the flowers highly attractive.


The scabious in the fields has mostly finished blooming but the thistles (probably Cirsium discolor) are continuing the colour theme.


wildflowers (6 of 7)
The young leaves and stems of this field thistle are edible if boiled. Or so I’m told. I can’t say I’m ready to try them. Native Americans used the roots to make poultices for treating wounds and boils.


Most splendid is the field of Joe Pye weed. It covers something like an acre of wet ground and photos can’t begin to capture the impact of so many plants in full bloom in a space contained by tall trees.


wildflowers (7 of 7)
From some angles it seems that the flowers will go on forever.


A single mown path leads through the area. Yesterday, the path was almost blocked by falling stems. Moving along, touching plants carefully to avoid the bees and butterflies, was a breath-taking experience.


Joe Pye trail (1 of 1)
When upright, some of these plants are 7 or 8 feet high.


One of these days we may make a trail into the centre of the display, with a small viewing platform a few feet above ground. I can only imagine how wonderful it would be, to look out on the flowers spreading in every direction.

Or — more likely — we will never get around to it, relying on imagination instead.

Midsummer Medley

July 23rd, 2018 | 14 Comments »
nepeta (1 of 1)
Mid-July is truly the middle of summer in North Hatley, Quebec, when both the flowers in the garden at Glen Villa and the wildflowers in the fields strut their stuff. The Nepeta racemosa 'Walker's Low' at The Aqueduct is still blooming, a month after it began. The Eremurus 'Cleopatra' that provided such a wonderful vertical accent has faded now, but its candles remained lit for several weeks. Only in the last few days  have they been extinguished.     Nearby, a clematis (Clematis 'Inspiration') with the same colour tonality as the


What’s in a Name?

June 1st, 2018 | 4 Comments »
cardamine diphylla (1 of 1)
I saw this wildflower in the woods last week and was surprised to learn its botanical name, Cardamine diphylla.     I was surprised because only a week or so ago, I looked up the name of another plant, now growing in damp areas in the garden and in the fields at Glen Villa. Its botanical name is Cardamine pratensis.   [caption id="attachment_6380" align="aligncenter" width="3264"] Lady's smock or milkmaids is growing beside the Glen Villa pond. It has bloomed for several weeks.[/caption]   What is the relationship between the two Cardamines? Are


The Big Meadow, Year 3

May 24th, 2018 | 13 Comments »
Saturday late afternoon-020
In 2016, in order to discourage Canada geese from 'littering' the  lawn, we began to transform it into a meadow. We didn't follow the advice given by experts on how to create a meadow -- their process involved too much work and too much expense. Instead we simply stopped cutting the grass. We let it grow throughout the season and cut it only once in the fall, to mulch the leaves and to cut down any trees that were taking root. Now, entering the third year of this experiment, it is fascinating to see what is appearing. From a


The Big Meadow, 2017

September 25th, 2017 | 8 Comments »
I took this photo near the end of July. The mown path remained green all summer, thanks to the amount of rain we received.
Is it accurate to call The Big Lawn at Glen Villa The Big Meadow? If you use an American definition, the answer is yes.  If you consult an English dictionary, the answer is less clear. Webster's Dictionary defines a meadow as a tract of low or level land producing grass which is mown for hay,  and that definition fits precisely. Allowing the sweep of grass beside our house that was tended for decades to remain untouched produced six large bales of hay last year, the first year we didn't mow regularly.  Those bales were


Garden Envy

June 20th, 2017 | 19 Comments »
The Upper Field at Glen Villa is a what dieticians argue against, butter spread thick on the ground.
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


A Change of (Ad)dress

May 23rd, 2016 | 14 Comments »
A froth of white dresses the fields and roadsides in Hertfordshire. What do you call this wildflower -- Queen's Anne's Lace, wild carrot or something else entirely?
  The weather at this time of year does strange things to the mind -- and to the wardrobe. One day is cold, the next is hot. Changing locations makes the uncertainties even worse. What do I pack? Summer dresses or winter woolies? I arrived in England a few days ago on a chilly morning that felt much like the mornings I'd left behind in Canada. But looking out at the countryside, it was obvious that summer was now dressing the fields.   [caption id="attachment_3982" align="aligncenter" width="3888"] A froth of white


Wild Names Flavoured with Wild Garlic

May 10th, 2016 | 6 Comments »
I don't often walk in this section of the woods in spring -- it is too wet. So it was a surprise to come across such a huge colony growing wild. That means it is a good spot for wild garlic.
  NOTE: Several readers have let me know that this blog post only had photos without any words so I'm posting it again.   A walk in the woods at this time of year is a journey of discovery. So many things are there in miniature, waiting to be spotted if you take the time to look closely. Trilliums, for example. Not many are yet in bloom but they are beginning to open up as the days grow warmer.   [caption id="attachment_3890" align="aligncenter" width="2317"] Red trilliums (Trillium erectum) go by many common


Following my tree, down a colourful garden path

September 7th, 2014 | 9 Comments »
It's that time of month again, time to write about the tree I started following in March this year. My corkscrew hazel (Corylus avellana 'Red Majestic') is looking about as tired as the rest of the garden -- late August and early September are not prime times at Glen Villa.Something is eating the hazel leaves.Something likes the leaves of this corkscrew hazel.They are welcome to it.The leaves are looking decidedly weary. Not to mention spotty and full of holes.So instead of writing about this unattractive tree, I'm writing about some


Gardening on the Wild Side

June 15th, 2014 | 4 Comments »
When I look at the wildflowers blooming in the fields and woods at Glen Villa, I wonder why I plant a garden at all. How can I hope to compete with this?Buttercups turn the Upper Field to gold.The partially visible metal structure is a sculpture called Bridge Ascending,by Louise Doucet and Satoshi Saito. Simple buttercups now cover the field, splendidly cheerful en masse, and so yellow and shiny that they brighten the dullest day and lift the heaviest spirits.There are many varieties of buttercups. I haven't tried to determinewhich this one is.This past