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

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Entries in Jardins Michel Corbeil (3)


News From the Test Garden

The image posted in August showed a close up of this intensly pink Dianthus.On August 14, 2009 I wrote about a new plant discovery that I had made at one of my favorite nurseries, Jardins Michel Corbeil, in Ste Eustache Quebec. There I found Dianthus Carthusianorum. When I first planted it in July, I had read on-line about the concerns of some gardeners who were anxious about combining it with companion plants. The challenge was the tall slender stems that create empty spaces between the flower heads and the base of the plant.

Well here we are three months later and I am pleased to report that there is no need to be concerned about its placement. The fuchsia-pink of the flower heads is so intense that one should grow this plant just for its color. It looks great even without companion plants; it doesn't need a supporting cast to put on its show. Delicate and small as its flower head may be, it is an attention grabber. Plant it where it can be seen and admired.

This plant was in full bloom when I purchased it in July and it has been flowering non-stop since then. Three months of flowering is a perennial gardener’s dream. The best gift of all, though, would be to see it reappear vigorously next season. I often worry about perennials that are destined for zone 5. Some are unable to tolerate severe winters. Only time will tell.

Click here to view a close-up photo of this vivid perennial.


Dianthus Carthusianorum: a Little Known, Hard-to-find, but Hard to Beat Perennial 

Nature has given me a challenge. I have discovered another unusual perennial and I need to learn how to use it effectively in the garden. The nursery that stocks this plant recommends it as a “must” for the English garden look. However, incorporating it into a garden composition will not be an easy task.

What sets this plant apart from all other Dianthus is its relatively tall flower stalks. Small but extremely intense fuchsia-pink blooms sit on top of thin reed-like stems arching 28 inches high. This is the tallest Dianthus that I have seen so far and finding appropriate companion plants for it has become a challenge.

It is clear from studying the slender stalks that this perennial will need substantial looking companion plants to fill the negative space between its stems. Some suggest that Campanula latifolia Brentwood would be an ideal choice because the intense purple of its flowers running up and down its stalks creates a richly colored backdrop. Others say that Brentwood is too coarse looking. I will need to do further research and some old-fashioned experimenting to discover my options. Perennials with a rich shade of purple either in foliage or in flowers will be considered and I will experiment with white Liatris, Veronica Sunny Borders Blue and Salvia Caradonna.

This perennial blooms from July to September in zones 5a to 9b in full sun. Like most unusual perennials it is not easy to find. I found mine at Jardins Michel Corbeil in Ste Eustache, Quebec.


The Power of Pink Perennials: Dianthus 'Bouquet Rose'

No matter what our favorite color might be, most of us are drawn to vivid pink flowers. Even though I prefer the color blue, when I visit the nurseries I gravitate towards any pink perennial that is in bloom. I cannot explain this phenomenon.

It is not surprising, therefore, that I purchased still another pink perennial for my test garden. This one is called Dianthus barbatus Bouquet Rose. I used to think that the barbatus Dianthus were biennials but there is no mention of this fact in any of my research on Bouquet Rose. If it is indeed a perennial, then my clients and I will be very pleased.

While one plant is growing in my test garden, I have placed another in a client’s garden at the edge of a swimming pool. The white paving stones that surround the pool create a perfect backdrop for the pink color while the round shape of the plant works well with the other plants in the garden that were specifically selected for their architectural shapes.

What makes Bouquet Rose an interesting plant is the fact that it grows 18 inches high in the shape of a generous flower bouquet while each flower in that bouquet blooms in a different shade of pink. The base of this bouquet measures between 10 and 14 inches wide making this a very neat perennial. But the best reason to add this plant to one’s collection, if it can be found, is the fact that it blooms from June until September.

This fragrant perennial will grow in sun to part shade in well drained dry soil and will survive winters up to Zone 4. When force-grown commercially for its cut flowers, this plant will produce stems up to 36 inches in height. While I was unable to locate any on-line nurseries that offer this plant, readers living in southern Quebec can find this plant at “Jardins Michel Corbeil” in Sainte Eustache.