A brief garden update, 2017

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Every garden year is different and this one was no exception. As our yard matures, some plants have settled in, new challenges have developed and I have shifted my focus from acquiring new specimens to editing and caring for plants that I have an affinity for. (But let’s be honest: I will always have difficulty passing up a good plant trade or garden centre bargain!)

Spring brought the welcome sight of botanical ephemerals. Hepaticas and the Jeffersonian dubia are favourites for their exotic and delicate appearance. Inside, I was surprised to see an orchid I had purchased on clearance years ago, finally bloom again.

In May, I started to see the rock garden perennials wake and the Oak fern (Gymnocarpium dryopteris) is starting to spread. Sadly, I had no success with cultivating Mason bees that I had overwintered as cocoons. I did catch a photo of one below as it briefly visited some Dwarf Valerian.

I credit the mason bees for doing such great work pollinating the cherry trees this year. On both my potted ‘Nanking’ and ‘Carmine Jewel’ we had profuse blossoms which yielded large quantities of cherries.

Unfortunately, the beauty of our crabapples was marred by the discovery of Fire blight. I am carefully pruning away affected branches of our ‘Spring Snow Flowering’ crabapple and this was the first autumn where I had to dispose of the leaves which I would normally use for mulch. At least the distinctive leaf markings made for an interesting drawing study in pencil crayon.

Other lesser garden challenges included finding out a Martagon lily I planted two years ago was actually not an ‘Alba’ but some unknown magenta imposter as it finally bloomed this summer. The specimen Saxifraga  borisii  ‘Vincent van Gogh’ also spent most of the summer recovering from vole damage incurred last winter. (With the amount of snow we are currently having, I wonder if our lawn and perennials will be visited again by those marauding beasts!) And unexpectedly, a ‘Morden Blush’ rose which I thought I had dug up and given to a friend is back in full glory after I let a wayward piece of root have its way. This proves to me that roses need not be temperamental!

The last challenge which is a continual one every winter in Calgary is a long standing Chinook that led to 14ºC temperatures in December followed by the current -27ºC we are enduring. I took this photo of the seed heads of Clematis koreana ‘Brunette’ while watering the evergreens on December 10.

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It has been a whirlwind trying to summarize my creative pursuits in three blog posts in 2 days. Now that I have reformatted this space, I hope to visit it more often in 2018 in this less formal way. Best wishes.

(All photos taken with iPhone 5 or iPhone 6s.)

Baker’s dozen of flora

In 2016 I took a lot of photographs… on my phone. Here are 12 photos from my garden and one from a local park we discovered this year. All photos taken with an iPhone 5 using ProCamera app and Photoshop Express.

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Winter aconite emerged early. March 5, 2016.
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Narcissus ‘Thalia’ – new to the garden. April 17, 2016.
townsendia-parryi
Remarkably, Townsendia parryi survived the hail storm of June 30, 2016.
cherry-brandy
We had a lot of rain. Rudbeckia ‘Cherry Brandy’ gift from my Mom. July 2016.
carmine-jewel-cherries
Early spring and lots of moisture brought a bounty of ‘Carmine Jewel’ cherries. July 2016.
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And ‘Dragon Tongue’ beans. Grown in containers which saved them from slugs. July 2016.
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An Oak fern was planted to remember family in Terrace, BC. July 30, 2016.
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Also from Rundlewood garden, a 2nd year Veronicastrum shot up like fireworks. August 21, 2016.
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A new calendula also bloomed in our garden. Thanks to seed shared from my Mom. August 2016.
calendula-closed
The beauty of this annual was its state before unfurling. August 2016.
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Despite frequent hail and rain, our small garden flourished. August 2016.
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Alpine Rock Jasmine was the inspiration for Christmas cards. School boy was inspired by Christopher Boffoli. October 22, 2016.
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There is nothing like nature to truly inspire. Ralph Klein park. July 31, 2016.

Deschampsia

My garden is small and Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Pixie Fountain’ is finally making itself at home in places I think it will be happiest. A photograph shows how light plays on it – even in winter. An image of a linocut I printed last week is a reminder of a pleasing time I had in November, studying and carving lines.

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Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Pixie Fountain.’ Image iPhone 5.
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Linocut. Oil based ink. Strathmore print paper. 10 x 10 cm. B. Wanhill 2016

Photo sketches

There is ease and immediate sense of gratification with photography. I find this even more the case with a phone in hand. Moments are captured quickly and become sketches for drawings that rarely materialize!

Last week provided the opportunity for some quick documentation of the hoarfrost that gilded our City – stunning against the clear blue sky.

In the garden, the still standing remnants of Cimicifuga ‘Chocoholic’ seemed to bloom again. Below are photos from last week’s frosty show and the Bugbane’s September blooms – all taken with an iPhone.

Cimicifuga Jan 16
Cimicifuga ‘Chocoholic.’  January 9, 2016.
Cimicifuga Sept 15
Cimicifuga ‘Chocoholic.’  September 25, 2015. All images iPhone 5. B. Wanhill

 

Pink

Echinacea ‘Magnus’ and Anemone hupehensis ‘September Charm’ stay in my garden not necessarily for their colour, but for their strength of character, form and as havens for bees. My garden has persuaded me to reconsider my indisposition to pink.

Image copyright B. Wanhill 2014

Image copyright B. Wanhill 2014

Image copyright B. Wanhill 2014

Image copyright B. Wanhill 2014
All images Canon T3i. B. Wanhill 2014

 

 

 

Spring has its own designs.

Gardening on the Canadian prairies is definitely an exercise in patience.

  • A solitary clutch of Galanthus nivalis holds court over a still thawing garden.
  • A spiky tuft of hand grown blue fescue defiantly announces it made it through the winter.
  • Branches of crabapples show silhouettes of nothingness – evidence of the robins’ 2 day feast.

Galanthus nivalis. Image copyright B. Wanhill 2014Festuca glauca. Image copyright B. Wanhill 2014

Malus baccatta 'Rosthern.' Image copyright B. Wanhill 2014
All images Canon T3i