Friday, March 7, 2014

Beginning to Build my Spring Wish List

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 first admired a pink Deutzia shrub on Tammy's blog Casa Mariposa

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:

Gorgeous right? 

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.


  1. I hope your dreams will be reality this year Jennifer. So much beauty your are showing.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  2. My mouth is watering at the sight of all these lovely plants. At the moment I am increasing my rose stocks I believe you can't ever have enough - fragrance is very important in a garden isn't it. I love your dream choices.

    1. Roses are also on my list Elaine. I have scoped out a few, but have to go back and make a decision. I wish more of the smaller Polyanthus roses I have been eying had a fragrance. Roses without a fragrance are always a bit disappointing no matter how pretty they are.

  3. Jennifer, you have some great wishes that I might transfer to my list! I have several Fothergilla of the dwarf variety that grow only three to four feet. I believe they are Gardenii but dwarf. I also put in a Deutzia last year called Chardonnay Pearls which grows only two to three feet.

    I am going to look up that Agastache because my Blue Fortune grows too tall for my garden.


    1. Eileen, I love my present Agastache, but like you I find it is really huge. It looks great where it is, but it is crowding out other plants. I am thinking that the smaller 'Blue Boa' might be better in that same spot.

  4. Una belleza todos estas flores y las fotos!!
    un fuerte abrazo.

  5. Oooh, I like your list!
    I so want a mock orange, but can you imagine one in my tiny garden? How big does your dwarf variety get? ‘Dwarf’ doesn’t necessarily mean small, just ‘smaller’ than its normal size – as I have had to experience myself. What is the full Latin name of it, would be nice to see if I could get it over here, that is if it is small enough to be squeezed in somewhere in my already full garden. Good luck with your list, would be nice to see what ends up in your garden eventually, I also have a very long wish list, there is no way all on that list could ever get into my garden :-)

    1. Hi Helene, The Mock Orange is Philadelphus 'Snow Dwarf'. The catalogue describes it as "a compact, multi-stemmed shrub with an upright, arching habit and an extraordinary profusion of 3.8cm (1.5"), double white flowers in clusters of 5 to 7. Hardy to zone 4. Ht. and spread 60-90cm (2-3'). "
      Two to three feet sounds like it might actually fit into your small garden!

  6. Beautiful! I cannot wait until the snow is gone...

  7. What a list of lovelies friend!! And yes I am sold!!! I too feel as though the snow won't be leaving anytime soon... Which makes for another short growing season again this year in Chicago!! Beginning to think I am in the wrong location! Thank you for the pick me up right about now! A wonderful weekend to you! Nicole xo

  8. Great choices! I'm thinking I need to plant some agapanthus in pots this year. That way, I'll get the colour but won't have to dig them up in the fall. I usually keep my tenders in the garage to overwinter and that seems to work.

    1. I wish I had a garage too Heather. It would be great to have that space to store tender plants. If time permits, one of my projects this spring will be to build some place to store tender plants.

  9. Such a pick me up! So inspiring..and I want one of each of those as well ;-) Have lost two Fothergilla so won't try again. The Burnets are wonderful, but many are travellers... however the burgundy one you show is like mine and has behaved very well for five years. and it is just as you enter the veg garden so had reason to travel but didn't. It is tall enough that it brushes my cheek when I walk through the arbour. Lovely plant and a great cut flower as well. Enjoy your photos so much!

    1. Thanks so much for the warning about the Burnets Bren. I will definitely keep your experience in mind.
      I wonder why the Fothergilla didn't survive. Too much Maritime dampness in winter?

  10. It looks like garden imports is a fun place for your retail therapy. I just checked out their website and it is a bit too spendy to ship to the states. I almost planted a mock orange hedge last year but opted not to since I have never seen one other than in photos. Catalog shopping can be a bit deceiving. But I am not a fan of the red poker plants. In high school, I tore out a red poker border because I wanted geraniums instead. It was not easy pulling them out of the ground. Hope your snow melts soon. I have never experienced a real winter so I can't even imagine what it must be like.

    1. Stacy, I like to buy locally whenever I can. There is nothing like seeing and smelling the fragrance of the plant or shrub you are about to buy.
      I must say I am questioning the purchase of the Red Hot Pokers. They seem problematic so a number of reasons.

  11. All such wonderful choices, Jennifer!
    Winter has seemed to hang on forever, but it was just over the past week, and even though it is still very, very, cold, that I've noticed a difference in the weather. I'm hoping that this means spring is not too far away.

    Have a great weekend!

  12. Oh my...these are all so wonderful, you have a wonderful choice of shrubs. I wish my weather and climate permitted me to grow some of these. Your garden is going to be spectacular this year.

  13. I felt like a kid in a candy store reading this....I was saying yes, yes yes to everything!!!
    It's so hard to choose isn't it, I would have to go with the fothergilla and the mock orange....for starters anyway!xxx

  14. This winter has felt so long and I too am longing for spring planting. The plants on your wish list are all wonderful. I am hearing a lot about the new Deutzia and am getting tempted to purchase one. The 'Blue Boa' and Blue Agapanthus are also tempting! Now I want to go and run to a nursery...soon..spring is on its way!

    1. Spring can't come too soon. I agree Lee: it has been a really long winter!

  15. You have a beautiful wish list - I hope you´ll get all of them! :-)

  16. Fothergilla is hard to resist, isn't it? There are smaller cultivars such as 'Mt Airy', 'Blue Mist' and 'Jane Platt'. I'm replacing my loropetalums with 2 'Mt Airy'. I love that you're looking for a pink deutzia! I so rarely see them on blogs or even at the garden center, which is a shame because they're such tough shrubs. But a dwarf cultivar is so much easier to work into a garden. I am absolutely keeping an eye out for that little mock orange!! So tempting! I may have to dig up more grass.... :o)

    1. Tammy, A few other gardeners have also recommended 'Mt. Airy' as well. I may have to drop a few items off my list when I see the tally, but the pink Deutzia is on it for sure. Like you I may have to dig up more grass!

  17. I approve your wish list entirely. I too adore that Red Thunder. Too bad about the Japanese beetles. As far as the Torch lilies go, in my garden only the Knifophia rooperi has the bad habit of blooming too late, only to be frost bit. I'm surprised to see that they can even be grown successfully in Canada - I thought they were hardy only to zone 6. Aren't you in zone 5?

    1. Sarah I remember your post on Knifophia. I was hoping this was a different earlier variety than your late bloomer.
      I am in Zone 5, but I have seen them blooming on the Bruce Peninsula in August and they are north of me (with a much later spring).
      Marion Jarvie's garden is also Zone 5. I looked at the date of my photographs and she has them well into bloom on August 18th! How are they managing to get them to bloom early? This is a real plant style mystery! Perhaps as Barbara suggests in her comment below: Marion may start her Knifophia indoors and then perhaps she plants it out the pots. I will have to see if I can find out...

  18. You should not have any problem with Mock Orange weather wise, though they are well-known to do better in alkaline soil. I have grown three varieties over the years. Whichever cultivar you decide to buy, make sure it is one that has a smell. I think nothing has a more beautiful perfume in the garden than Mock Orange, however some varieties have no smell whatsoever. I felt cheater when I bought one of those.
    You pictures are marvelous.

    1. Thanks Alain! This is great advice. Fragrance is one of the main reasons I want a Mock Orange.

  19. I've had a couple of the newer varieties of kniphofia in my garden for the last couple of years. Because I plant everything so close and they're so late, I practically have to go in with a machete to find the blossoms. Don't know for sure, but Marion J may do hers in a pot and sink them later for effect - and quite a lovely effect it is. I say, Japanese beetles be damned - plant what you like - and give me a call when you need my J.B.B.D (Japanese Beetle Bucket of Death). Fingers crossed this cold has done a number on them.

    1. I have had the same thought Barbara. I hope the extreme cold we had this winter has done in all the Japanese Beetles in my garden. More likely it has done in my Japanese Maples instead. Sadly, bugs have a way of surviving just about anything! I have a very similar J.B.J.D. (Japanese Beetle Jar of Death). I position the jar just so and slam the lid down causing them to drop into the jar. Japanese Beetles bring out the worst in me. LOL

  20. Hi Jennifer
    Your choices for spring look amazing!! gosh darn - I can hardly wait for this ridiculous snow to melt and for us gardeners to get out there!!! I am as excited as you….

    1. You and me both Astrid! Snow be gone.Tomorrow is to be a balmy 8 degrees. I can hardly wait!!

  21. Jennifer this is a perfect post for my Seasonal Celebrations meme if you want to join in. I love thinking about plants to add or bloom. I added a mock orange this past fall and hope it makes it through to bloom in spring. I love the fragrance.


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