Burnet, Sanguisorbia officinallis 'Red Thunder' at the Toronto Botanical Gardens
The air was very still and shivery cold, cold, cold when I headed out to start the car this morning. The sky at dawn was the palest shade of grey kissed by pink just along the horizon. As we headed up the hill and out of our little valley, the sun sitting just above the tree line, came into view. Though it glowed with the most fiery shade of orange you can imagine, there wasn't even the slightest hint of warmth in its rays.
Is it just me or has winter seemed to stretch on forever and ever this year?
It may be March, but the almost 6' pile of snow at the end of our driveway is looking like it has no plans to disappear any time soon.
It's time for a pick-me-up!
A little retail therapy to make me feel like spring is not as far off as the cold and snow has me thinking it is.
Here is just sneak peak at the items on my spring wish list:
Fothergilla, Gardenii from Gardenimports: Honey scented white bottle-brush flowers in spring with blue-green leaves that turn striking shades of red,yellow and orange in fall. Grows to a compact size of 5-'6' in height and spread.
I have wanted a Fothergilla shrub for years.
The spectacular fall foliage is my main motivator. For some additional pictures check out this post by blogger Sweetbay (worth a side trip if just to see the rest of this wonderful post on the NC Botanical Garden).
I need to have a plan before I make my purchase decision though. A Fothergilla can grow to 5 or 6 feet. I need to work out a place for it or hold off until I do so.
'Snow Dwarf ' Philadelphus (Mock Orange) from Gardenimports: Height and spread is 2'-3'.
A Philadelphus or Mock Orange is another shrub I have always wanted to have. You can't beat their flowers for fragrance! This is a Canadian-bred dwarf variety.
The words that caught my attention were "Canadian-bred", which hopefully signifies that this variety of Mock Orange is able to take anything a Canadian winter has to throw at it, and "dwarf" meaning I just might be able to squeeze it in...somewhere.
I ended up adding a white variety to my front garden two years ago and love the way it is fitting in with more established plants. My shrub is still small, but here is a more established version that I photographed at Sheridan Nursery in Oakville, ON:
This shrub is a neat, compact early summer bloomer. Now I want a pink one!
My local nursery has an older pink variety, but I am really tempted to try out this new Proven Winners introduction 'Yuki Cherry Blossom'.
Yuki Cherry Blossom Deutzia from Gardenimports: A spring profusion of fragrant pink flowers on a compact (1'-2'), deer-resistant shrub. Gardenimports also has a special price on a pair of white (Yuki Snowflake) and pink shrub (Yuki Cherry Blossom).
This is a long post, but if you have more time, here are a few other temptresses: Callicarpa 'Purple Pearls' for those amazing purple berries, Proven Winners Sambucus 'Lemon Lace' for the ferny lime foliage , Cephalanthus occidentalis 'Sugar Shack' which has very cool seed heads and this dwarf pink Lilac, 'Scent & Sensibility Pink'.
If money and space permitted, I would have at least one of every type of perennial! Of course that's never going to happen.
This spring I will settle on rounding out what I already have. Here are a few of the candidates on my wish list:
The Blue Agastache that I have in the back garden is terrific. It hums with little honey and more rotund bumble bees.
This summer I admired the new 'Blue Boa' Agastache they were testing in the trial beds at Edwards Gardens.
Gardenimports is carrying 'Blue Boa' in their spring lineup. It you visit the website, their picture is slightly more purple than mine. I think my photo is more accurate to Blue Boa's true color.
A Gentian in flower at Edwards Garden in Toronto
In my humble opinion Gentians are under utilized in gardens. I have photographed Gentians in Marion Jarvie's garden and also at Edwards Garden last fall.
Why do I like them?
The flowers are an amazing indigo blue and nice blue flowers are harder to find than you might like. Gentians also flower in late summer/fall when other plants are fading.
Gentian, 'True Blue' from Gardenimports: This is one of those plants where you need to get the soil right or you will be wasting your money! Gentians like well-drained, sandy loam. They also like average moisture levels and prefer a little afternoon shade.
With this next wish list item I am channeling a little Piet Oudolf.
Here is my inspiration from the natural garden at the Toronto Botanical Gardens:
See those white drippy things in the middle distance? They are a white variety of Burnet, Sanguisorba. So very delicate!
Again, here a picture showing the white variety and also the red Burnet, Sanguisorbia officinallis
'Red Thunder' at the TBG.
Burnet, Sanguisorbia officinallis 'Red Thunder' (Rosaceae)
Are you sold?
Looking back at my late summer pictures, I pretty much am. Here is the one small, black drawback:
Japanese Beetles adore this plant!
You can see a couple of them hanging out on the buds in the middle foreground of this picture.
So here are the questions I face before I decide: Do I purchase a plant that a problem pest thinks is a favourite snack? Am I really just inviting problems home with me?
Darn it! It is sooo hard to decide. They are just such a nice companion for late summer grasses. No wonder Piet Oudolf likes to use them in his natural garden designs!
Left: Burnet, Sanguisorba, Red Thunder from Gardenimports: This new introduction was selected by renowned Dutch plantsman Piet Oudolf for its impressive display. Height 90-120 cm (3'-4') with a 45 cm spread (18").
Right: Burnet, Sanguisorba, 'Alba' is even taller at 1.2-1.5m (4'-5') and 45cm (18") spread.
So far I have avoided tender bulbs and perennials that need to be lifted in the fall or grown in pots that need to be brought into a cool, dry place.
But my resistance in slowly weakening.
Look how great these Kniphofia, Torch Lilies or Red Hot Pokers as they are commonly called, look in Larkwhistle Garden on the Bruce Peninsula:
Here is a lemony colored variety of Torch Lily in combination with another tender bulb
'Agapanthus' in Marion Jarvie's Thornhill, ON garden:
Marion Jarvie's Garden
Both Kniphofia and Agapanthus are a bit of extra work, but so potentially worth it.
Pineapple Popsicle from Gardenimports: One drawback of Kniphofia is that they traditionally don't bloom until late in the season. Here in Canada that often means that you run out of garden "season" before they ever bloom. This newer variety blooms earlier flowers.
So these are a just a few of the items I am considering purchasing this spring. I feel broke just dreaming about buying them!
Have yourself a wonderful weekend!
Disclaimer: The selection in this blog post is entirely my own doing. I have received no discounts or kickbacks from Gardenimport to do this post. I am just as poor when I finish writing as I was when I began this post....Well, perhaps I am actually poorer if I go through with even some of these purchases. Why Gardenimport? For one thing, their website has great pictures. They may be a tad expensive, but they offer a selection of items that aren't always easy to find elsewhere.