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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Entries in Flower beds (10)


Delphinium Inspired Flower Beds

This garden features Delphinium elatum Sweethearts with Delphinium elatum Sunny Skies. These are three year old plants grown from seed.

When I posted my last blog about Delphiniums, I was contacted by Lorraine Roberts of Plant Paradise Country Gardens™ who was proud to inform me that she grows and sells Delphinium elatum from seeds that she imports from New Zealand.

Delphinium elatums combine with Persicaria polymorpha, sibirian iris, campanula, malva, erigeron, Miscantheus giganteus...

Some readers may remember that I have already blogged about this variety of Delphinium, developed by plant breeder Terry Dowdeswell in New Zealand. Because traditional Delphinium are short lived, he worked to find a strain that was robust and hardier. The result was elatum, a variety that offers longevity and hardiness, growing in climates as cold as Zone 3 [that would be zone 4, USDA].

Delphinium elatums combine with Persicaria polymorpha, daylilies, erigeron, oxalis triangularis, iris pumila 'Baria', Asiatic lily 'Fangio', Malva, and miscanthus gigantheus.

Unfortunately, it is not conceivable to ship plants from New Zealand to North America. Consequently, several nurseries on this side of the globe have been successfully growing elatum from Dowdeswell seeds.

Delphinium elatums combine with Persicaria polymorpha, daylilies, verbascum, iris, Japanese Anemone 'Pamina", Silene armeria, Asiatic lily 'Fangio', and Painted Daisies.

Lorraine’s growing and selling facility, Plant Paradise Country Gardens™ is an organic perennial nursery, destination garden centre and display garden. Readers living in the Greater Metropolitan Toronto area, might like to know that, by car, it is located only 45 minutes north of the intersection of Highways 401 and 427, at 16258 Humber Station Road in Caledon Ontario, 905-880-9090. It is open from April to October, Wednesday to Sunday 9:00am to 5:00pm and there is a Google map on the website for further directions.

Delphinum elatum Sunny Skies with Sweethearts

Delphiniums are such outstanding perennials that at Plant Paradise Country Gardens™ they celebrate Delphinium Day in July with festivities that include a catered lunch, a guest speaker, door prizes and guided tours of the gardens. Tickets are available at their website

Delphinium elatum Purple Passion

Delphiniums bloom in all shades of blue, purple, pink, and white. They begin flowering, in full sun, by the end of June and continue for 4 to 6 weeks. At this nursery, when the blooms have finished, they cut down the plants to about three to six inches from the ground so that they will start re-blooming again in September and last until frost.

Delphinium elatum Morning Lights

All of the Delphiniums in the photos are staked. That care advisory is a must otherwise strong rain and wind will crack the stem of the plant. Unlike other perennials whose bent stems are sometimes no impediment to blooming, the delphinium flower experiences instant death upon cracking and there will be no additional blooms on that stem until the next season.

Delphinium elatum Royal AspirationsSome gardeners with small gardens may think they can only grow small plants. This is not so because the Delphinium gives a small garden height, which gives it the illusion of a larger garden without sacrificing space.

All images are the copyright property of Plant Paradise Country Gardens™and are used with their permission.


Garden Photography:A Photo Shoot Full of Talent at a Flower Farm

About a year ago, I stumbled across a photo of a white cottage surrounded by deep and generous flower beds filled with white begonias; I marveled how effective the monochromatic white treatment appeared when it was anchored by a white building. Accidentally, I misfiled, or deleted the image. Now it is inaccessible and I am frustrated by my own fumbling. A blog that I prepared about white gardens was based on that very image, and without it the blog loses its punch.

Frantically, I began Googling all day Saturday and, alas, the image is nowhere to be found in cyberspace, where I first spotted it. However, I did find many photos of the White House and many gardens planted with white flowers. Unfortunately, the exact photo that I need to complete my story still remains elusive.

Because two of the key words in my Google search were flowers and white, several images by photographer Irene Jeruss popped up. They were flower garden compositions that the photographer had shot at White Flower Farm. I was smitten with her images and decided that they deserved to be shared .In a search to determine to whom the image accreditation belonged, I discovered that they were the property of a photographic website of the Smithsonian Institute, called click!, a site that encourages visitors to disseminate material and information found there, as long as it is not for commercial purposes.

Cottage Garden by Irene Jeruss

From 2007 through 2010, click! invited experts from a spectrum of professional worlds—innovators, image makers, writers, and public figures—to survey the ways photography has influenced the history, progress, and practice of each of their fields of interest. In addition, visitors to click! were also encouraged to contribute texts and images, and selected visitor contributor content became part of the project’s online content. 

Garden in June by Irene Jeruss

 The photo essay that talented photographer Irene Jeruss, posted to click! was accompanied by a delightful text. Please click here to read her essay. This photographer is based in Bristol, Connecticut, uses a film camera, and specializes in business and corporate, family, people, stock, travel and tourism. Other photographic specialties include Architecture: Interiors, beauty, bio-medical and scientific, horticulture, and portfolios.

Lloyd Border by Irene Jeruss

What has drawn me to her photos, and what has blown me away, is the manner by which the photographer set up her shots:  the perspective, the composition and, of course, the colors. These are the kind of scenes that some of us wish we might wake up to each morning.


Fabulous Flowerbeds: Book Review for

This is the full version of the quickie review posted here on Feb. 9, 2010.

Fabulous Flowerbeds Gisela Keil & Jurgen Becker,           F&W Publications

This is a gem of a book. The author Gisela Keil and photographer Jurgen Becker have compiled an easy to follow guide to designing and planting flowerbeds. The illustrations are inspiring and the advice is clear-cut. There is no empty rhetoric, subjective emotion, or abstract passion about flowers or gardening in the text. The chapters are written with an economy of words that will delight the busy gardener. The information is grounded in reality because right on the first page, before one can begin to read, the author makes clear, with a photograph of a patio table surrounded by a flowerbed, that this is going to be a book about gardens, in which people are as important as plants.

The many topics that the author covers include:  the location and purpose of a garden, the contrast between formal and informal flowerbeds, how to design both of these styles, and how to maintain color all year round. The illustrations are lavish and appropriate, even though they are in color schemes that we are unaccustomed to seeing in English style gardens. The photographs will inspire readers, especially those who enjoy the multicolor of wildflower or meadow gardens.

A few details about this book are noteworthy. At first glance, I wondered about the graphic design of the book’s cover, done in purple and pink.  I was also surprised at how many illustrative flowerbeds were composed using hot colored flowers. I was then amused at the precise no-nonsense language used to instruct. Then I realized that the original text had been published in a foreign language and targeted at another culture. That explained everything. Do not be put off by the colors of the graphic design, do not allow yourself be influenced by the preponderance of hot colored gardens, and try to ignore the stilted translation from the original German text. Focus, instead, on the advice and on the instructions. This is a valuable manual.

Two features of this book stand out for this reviewer. One is the collection of blueprints for planting perennials in drifts that appears at the end of the book. This technical information is essential for those who plant gardens in the English style. Few authors include such a guide in their work, even though they might mention its importance. The second aspect that is noteworthy is the chapter on color theory. Many of us already understand how opaque and overwhelming this topic can present itself. In the hands of Ms. Keil, everything we need to know about color in the garden is summarized efficiently and is easy to understand. There is no need to navigate through the effusive verbosity that we sometimes find in the garden writings of some authors.

This book is available through Amazon Marketplace. This is where suppliers offer both new and used copies of books at hard-to-believe prices. I purchased my new copy for fifty cents at Had I opted for a used copy, I would have paid only one cent. Of course, shipping was $3.99, a pittance for the acquisition of such an important book.



Good Bye Lawn, Hello Outdoor Living Space

Image courtesy of meadowfarm.comThere has been a lot of discussion over the last few years about the declining need for a green lawn in today’s landscapes. This debate has been fueled not only by the desire to conserve water but also by the realization that changing lifestyles result in lawns that remain unused. This debate is also accompanied by the shrinkage of free time needed to care for lawns and by the toxic effect of chemicals necessary to maintain them.

Once upon a time, a lawn was a symbolic part of a private home. It included the back yard where children romped around and grew up. Today’s children don’t have the same free time to play outdoors. Many of them are enrolled in sports played on municipal properties. The result is that, for some, the back yard has become an anachronism and its maintenance a burden.

It is not uncommon to see a lawn being sliced away to create a patio or a deck or excavated to make room for a swimming pool. All of these changes, which reflect a contemporary value to live outdoors as opposed to work in the outdoors, create a need for new styles of landscaping that will soften the hard lines of wood, stone, concrete and plastic. Nature, as trees, shrubs and foliage, needs to be reintroduced into this new setting but in a more controlled and deliberate manner. In these circumstances, it’s often helpful to work with a landscape architect to create the over-all plan for one’s outdoor living space.

However, for color and passion that only flowers can evoke, it’s best to use a garden designer to add the finishing touches. The ideal balance between these two professionals is to have the landscape architect integrate the location of flowerbeds into the master plan and to allow the garden designer to fill them up. However, in determining the number of flower beds and their sizes, the needs of the client should always be elicited and never overlooked.

Many garden designers and landscape architects are so talented that when properly planned and executed, it is possible to create an outdoor living space that resembles an interactive work of art.



Budget Gardening; Protecting an Investment When Times Are Tough. Part 4- Flower Beds

This is Diana's Garden at Veseys.comA flower bed, no matter how beautiful to behold, doesn't have the same impact on a home’s value as do trees, foundation plants and hedges. Nevertheless, the visual impact of a striking flower bed on a prospective buyer is undeniable. It finishes off the landscaping just as a cherry finishes off an ice cream sundae. It makes the property more attractive even if it adds no perceived value to the home.

To effectively create a flower bed on a budget, it is necessary to begin with a master plan or vision, a blueprint of the flower bed design and a very disciplined shopping list of plants for that bed. To respect a tight budget, start with a small composition. Divide the area designated for flower beds into several sections. Do one section each season. By the time you get to the next section, some of the flowers you planted last year may have multiplied enough to be divided, thereby reducing the amount of new plants needed.

Make friends with people whose gardens are mature and who are eager to give you cuttings of what they grow. This is the least expensive way to build a flower garden. Just be sure that the plants you take actually fit into your master plan. No matter how tempting they are, avoid gift plants that do not respect the master plan.

Some online suppliers will reduce the prices of their plants soon after they ship out the spring orders. Retailers will wait until the early fall to put their inventory on sale. There are excellent prices to be had at these times. The patient gardener who is determined not to pay full price for plants can save from 20 to 50 percent by waiting for prices to be discounted.

Respect the esthetics of the community you live in by ensuring that the color of the flowers you plant blend well with the exterior of the home and enhance rather than depreciate it. Do not use tacky or recycled objects as planters or lawn ornaments no matter how cute they look or how clever they make you feel for using them. These are guaranteed to reduce the perceived value of the home.

Beware of beds that contain only flowers. They can become messy with time and diminish, rather than improve, a property’s value. Always begin a flower bed design by planting small evergreen shrubs and by adding boulders. Plant the flowers later on when funds permit. The combination of textures of evergreen foliage, boulders and flowers will create a professional-looking flower bed. This composition also offers visual contrast during the growing season and architectural interest during the winter. These are essential matters because one can never predict the season when a house will be put on the market for sale.


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