Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Beginning at the End

This past weekend Toronto hosted garden bloggers from around the world. For me, the Garden Bloggers Fling was a wonderful opportunity to meet some many of the bloggers I feel I know well, but have never actually met.

The final event of the three day Fling was a buffet dinner held at the Toronto Botanical Garden. As well as great food and good company, there were marvellous plant combinations to be seen in the gardens. Here are a few highlights:

Blue Star, Amsonia tabernaemontana var. salicifolia + Salvia x sylvestris 'May Night' 
+ False Indigo, Baptisia 'Purple Smoke' + Salvia nemerosa 'Amethyst' 

Salvia x sylvestris 'May Night' has deep violet-blue flowers. This medium sized Salvia tolerates heat and humidity and is drought tolerant once established. Cut back the plant hard after it blooms to rejuvenate the foliage and encourage a second round of flowers. Full sun. Normal, sandy and clay soil are all fine for this plant. It can also tolerate anything from moist to dry conditions once established. Height 45-60 cm (18-23 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA Zones: 3-9

False Indigo, Baptisia 'Purple Smoke' is a recent introduction from the North Carolina Botanical Garden. This plant forms a nice upright mound of bright green foliage. Smoky-blue flowers are carried on dark green stems mid-spring. Normal, sandy and clay soil are all fine for this plant. It can also tolerate anything from moist to dry conditions once established. Divide plants every 4 to 5 years. Height: 100-135 cm ( 39-53 inches), Spread: 75-90 cm (29-35 inches). USDA Zones: 4-9.

Masterwart, Astrantia major 'Roma' has wonderful pink starry flowers. This perennial likes moist conditions in sun or part shade. Sandy or clay soil is best. Remove spent flowers to encourage more buds and to prevent it from self-seeding everywhere. Height: 60-70 cm (23-27 inches), Spread: 45-50 cm (18-20 inches). USDA Zones: 3-9.

I love the height and architecture of this plant.

Amsonia ciliata 'Spring Sky'

Perennial Sage, Salvia 'Madeline' was bred and introduced by Piet Oudolf. This sage has violet-blue flowers with a white lip. It will grow in a range of soil types and is drought tolerant once established. Height:70-85 cm (27-33 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA Zones: 4-9.

Phlomis tuberosa 'Amazone' is a recent introduction to North America, so the bad news is that this particular cultivar may be a little hard to track down and find. When not in flower this plant makes a large mound of coarse green leaves. Flower shoot skyward on these incredible reddish colored stems. Once finished flowering the spent flowers continue to add architectural interest well into winter. Normal or sandy soil that is on the dry side is best for this plant. Full sun. Height: 90-120 cm (35-47 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA Zones: 2-9.

Peony lactiflora 'Krinkled White' + False Indigo, Baptisia 'Purple Smoke' in the distance

Perennial Sage, Salvia nemerosa 'Amethyst' has tall spikes of rosy-purple flowers mid-spring. Full sun and well drained soil. Height: (12-30 inches), Spread: (24-36 inches). USDA Zones: 5-11.

Purple Smoke Bush + Astrantia + Allium

Purple Smoke Bush, Cotinus is a shrub that left to its own devises can grow into a tree. It can reach a height of 12 feet and can spread to 12 feet. It requires full sun and can be grown in a variety of soils. USDA Zones: 4-9.

I have never grown these, but believe them to be Stars of Persia, Allium christophii.

Stars of Persia, Allium christophii are a bulbous perennial.  They have grey-green leaves and a flowerhead with star-shaped flowers that have a slight metallic sheen. Flower heads dry well. Full sun in rich, well-drained soil. Height : 45-60 cm (18-24 inches), Spacing 15-22 cm ( 6-9 inches) USDA Zones: 4-9.

False Indigo, Baptisia (Specific yellow colored cultivar unknown) + the tall pink spires of Phlomis tuberosa 'Amazone' + blue colored Baptisia australis (on the left).

Some yellow cultivars of Baptisia you might want to consider: Baptisia 'Solar Flare', Baptisia 'Carolina Moonlight' and Baptisia 'Lemon Meringue'.) 

Unknown peony cultivar. Quite likely Peony lactiflora 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Unknown single white Peony.

Unknown variety of Catmint. Here are two cultivars you may want to consider:

Blue Catmint, Nepeta racemosa 'Walker's Low' is a long blooming perennial (if regularly deadheaded) that has a mounded, bushy habit. It has grey-green foliage and blue flowers. Full sun. Height: 60-90 cm (23-35 inches), Spread: 75-90 cm ( 29-35 inches). USDA Zones: 3-9.

Nepeta x faassenii 'Blue Wonder' is a bit more compact. Height: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches), Spread: 38-45 cm (15-18 inches). USDA Zones 3-9.

Catmint, Nepeta + Salvia x sylvestris 'May Night'

Many thanks to the Fling Committee: Helen Battersby, her sister Sarah Battersby, Lorraine Flanigan, and Veronica Silva. Thanks also to all the bus captains and other volunteers who worked so hard to make this year's Garden Bloggers Fling so much fun! 

To see some other Fling highlights check out the Garden Blogger's Fling Facebook page.

Many apologies, I am well behind on returning visits. 
I promise to catch up with everyone in the next few days.


  1. So many beautiful perennials in full bloom.........Should have liked to be there.

  2. I really, really "need" Astrantia 'Roma.' Beautiful photos.

  3. Jennifer - so many beautiful photo's to look at the colours are really wonderful especially the deep violet-blue flowers of the ' Salvia x sylvestris 'May Night' I hope I got the name right ?

    All the best Jan.

  4. How fun! I wish I could join in with some of the blogger events that go on in the cities.

    Lovely plants!!

  5. I am so glad you all got to meet for this event! I heard many bloggers talking about how excited they were to attend! Your photos have a magic about them in this post! The light you captured in these shots is amazing! And what striking combinations as well! Have a great week Jennifer! Nicole xo

  6. Absolutely fantastic planting, you must have had such a wonderful time, wish I could have been there!

  7. It was fabulous to meet you Jennifer! Looking at your photos transported me back to that happy place. Now, back to reality...

  8. I've been following the updates and photos. What a pleasure to enjoy the fling, but would have been a joy to have really been there! The photos here are wonderful and I have made note of the Purple Smoke Baptisia and Phlomis tuberosa Amazone. Doubt if I will find them here but will look online. These are two perennials that do really well in my amended sandy soil.

  9. You have captured those perennials perfectly, some great looking Salvias.

  10. My oh my...so beautiful. I would love to see this in person it is magnificent.

  11. What a beautiful bunch of photos! I so love your photography.

  12. All these flowers work so well together - you don't need to have gaudy colours to make an impact. Glad you enjoyed the Bloggers Fling - a great opportunity to meet other bloggers.

  13. Oh, so many beautiful photos, I am looking at garden blogs with a new view these days as I have moved into a new house and might be able to squeeze in even more plants than I used to have in my old place. What I am mostly looking for are plants for complete shade, normal or moist soil level, with white flowers. I would like flowering period for as long as possible, and various plants for all year flowering, plants that don’t spread too much or become thugs and height 20-50cm. I am looking for suitable plants every time I visit a new blog, suggestions are very welcome :-)

    So glad to hear you got to meet up, the fling sounds really exciting, I have met 2 of my fellow bloggers who have visited me at home, but arranging this fling I am sure was a lot of hard work.

    1. A few shade lovers with white flowers:
      Lamium Maculatum 'White Nancy' is a good non-invasive groundcover. Dwarf Goat's Beard, aruncus aethusifolius has really nice ferny foliage, a compact shape and somewhat insignificant white flowers. Some heuchera have creamy white flowers. You might find some dwarf hosta with white flowers. Bleeding Hearts are taller than you indicated, but they have white flowers. Again, it is a bit tall for what you are looking for, but Sweet Cicely, Myrrhis odorata has white flowers and really nice ferny foliage.

  14. Gorgeous pictures Jennifer girl ! ... I so wished I could have made it to the fling ... to actually meet garden bloggers in person would have been wonderful.
    Love all of these plants .. so pretty grouped together like that.
    Yes ... the work is being done so much better than being thrown together last year .. big lesson learned with that.
    I can't wait for them to be finished so I can go back to playing in my garden again : )

  15. I loved that angelica, too. It just stood out from all the other plantings but seemed to fit right in, too. I was so wonderful to meet you. :o)

  16. You've captured some of my favourites from the TBG. Gread pictures, Jennifer!

  17. I have a real affinity for well designed garden spaces and the Toronto Botanical Garden did a great job. Nice photos, Jen. I was going to start at the end too since I thought this was my favorite garden event. It was nice meeting you in person. You do know we can get together some time and go garden hopping since we live pretty close to each other. In fact, you coming to Garden Walk Buffalo would be a nice time.

    1. I would love to come to Garden Walk Buffalo.

  18. Again, my pinning finger just got a serious workout.

  19. Oh wow, your post is a siren song for this tired teacher that yes, summer is here! The salvia! The peonies! Those gorgeous colours, those dressy petals! And my heart did a little flip for the robust and handsome Angelica as I loved growing that herb when I had the house and was gardening. It was so easy to grow and looked so great. I also loved its long history as a very useful (medicinal as well as otherwise) plant. Thanks once again Jennifer for bringing the garden to my desk when I most needed it! Glad to hear all of your blogger pals had a chance to meet and share some lovely botanical moments together! Can't wait for your next posting.

  20. What a wonderful idea to have a garden bloggers fling! Your photos are terrific, I've just become another follower.

  21. I LOVE seeing photos and thoughts from the Fling. I hope I get to go someday. I knew nothing of it until last year. I was looking forward to seeing the gardens this year (vicariously through other bloggers). I thought it was an invitation only event......
    Thanks for the photos. I love the purple/blue hues, so this post fed right into my fancy!

  22. All these swathes of wonderful blues, pinks, yellows, white… my dream! I have grown Salvia 'May Night.' Its color is wonderful. I will grow it again. I also grow baptisia here, which is a native of Alabama. It is great to see it growing in Toronto!

  23. A wonderful event and what a beautiful garden I missed....glad it was so wonderful!

  24. What astounding photographs! And I really thank you for naming the ones I don't know and providing info about them.


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