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

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at  gardengurumontreal.ca

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

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Entries in Pink flowers (10)

Wednesday
Dec072011

Succulent Jade Garden Sculptures with Hot Pink Trim

http://www.joycreek.com/Sedum-Carl-075-049.htmImagine a plant that needs no irrigation beyond its establishing year. Instead of the gardener, nature is its primary caregiver. That right!  Simply plant it and forget it, even if the soil is clay. Welcome to the world of the no-care perennials of the Sedum family. Swollen, succulent foliage, resembling jade sculptures in both color and texture, enable these plants to withstand extended periods of drought and neglect. A shallow root system and water conserving habit also make this plant an ideal candidate for use in rooftop gardens.

Overhead shot of Sedum Carl in a client's gardenSedum will not interfere with any gardening scheme as it blossoms when most other perennials have completed their flowering cycle. Throughout the season, it supplies a neat, semi-gloss texture to garden compositions; the forms of the upright varieties resembls serene broccoli-shaped flower bouquets that seem to ground the flamboyance of other plants around them.

Alternating Sedum Carl and Hosta in the first season of a planting.Allowed to remain intact for the winter, its dead heads provide visual interest to gardeners and food for birds. As a design element in the garden, this plant is one of my favorites. Strategically planted, it may transform any messy flowerbed into an attractive, interesting garden composition.

However shade, wet soil, and a placement unaligned with the sun, will prevent this plant from performing impressively. Some believe that it will grow successfully in shade. That is stretching the point. While it may grow in reduced sunlight, it does not thrive there with the same robustness that it displays in a sun-filled location. In addition, wet soil will cause its root ball to decay. A sunny, well draining placement is best. Fastidious gardeners should bear in mind that some varieties of this, otherwise upright, disciplined plant might sprawl horizontally if they are not aligned with the sun’s path.

I found a Sedum plant of unknown pedigree in the first garden I tended. A neighbor, who previously had owned our property, placed it there. When I mentioned how much I admired this dignified plant, and asked where I might find another, he dug up mine, sliced the root ball in half, and handed me two plants. When a rootless stalk of one of the newly propagated Sedum fell away, he inserted it into the soil, like the peg of a tent tether, promising that it would grow into a third plant that same season. It did!

The Sedum propagating trick took place almost fifty years ago. Since then, the lone plant that I found in my flowerbed has generated hundreds of gift plants for anyone who admired it.

Recently, a client installed a new front walkway and asked for suggestions how to landscape around it. The first, and most effective, treatment did not sit well with her. Originally, I recommended bordering both sides of the walkway with small round boxwood shrubs, to delineate the concrete  from the grass. When the client found the round, neat shapes of the Buxus too severe, we agreed upon a treatment of alternating mid-height Sedum with low growing Hosta. The images above describe the final plan.

At the time, I could not propagate sufficient Sedum in my garden to complete the project, nor could I locate more of the same. The name of the strain growing there had always been a mystery. Therefore, I had no chopice but to select stock from among the newer varieties currently offered by the trade. I chose Carl, [a.k.a. Karl]  because it was the tallest Sedum available that season.

However, I had not expected Carl’s florets to bloom in a color so impressive. The almost-iridescent, dark, fuchsia-pink [a.k.a. magenta-pink] was a welcome change from the duskier shade, usually associated with Sedum. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised with the color impact that Carl created and the client was delighted with her newly trimmed walkway.

Sunday
Mar212010

Pink Filipendula,a Romantic Perennial

Pond garden with Filipendula by Mooseys Country Garden. Click on the image above to visit their site.

 

F. Kahome,12 inches tall, bright pink.About 20 years ago, when I came to understand how much the color pink in the garden meant to my wife, I began a search to find as many pink perennials as possible. On a hunting trip to the nursery, I stumbled upon a perennial that was new to me: Filipendula. Not really knowing what to expect, I added it to the pink repertoire in my garden.

 

 

F. Multijuga, 16 inches tall, pink.In its first season, it produced a modest low mound of foliage that produced tall spikes topped with feathery pink flowers; it maintained that dignified posture throughout the growing season. That was impressive. I also noticed that the foliage of this plant was similar in character to Astilbe. The base of the plant is always neat, and never spreads excessively. Like Astilbe, it is easy to lift and divide.

 

 

 

F.purpurea Elegans, 24 inches tall, dark pink.By year two, the number of spikes doubled and so did the number of pink plumes. By now, it had “gotten” to me. It was beautiful in a romantic way. By the third year, it was magnificent and made the garden into an enchanting place. Compared to other perennials that grow exponentially, this one never became messy and never spread very far. Yet, I have been able to propagate many offspring from this very first plant.

 

F. rubra Venusta Magnifica, 72 inches tall, Pink.I forgo the shorter, intensely pink varieties of Filipendula, that are include here, in order to focus on one variety only. Filipendula rubra Venusta Magnifica , the tallest and my favorite, has the power to transform any perennial garden from ordinary into majestic. Here is a perennial whose presence adds a romantic element that references the English style gardens.

 

F.rubra Venusta Magnifica in the old rectory garden of Sudborough, UK.

 

Garden photo, with Filipendula in the background, was taken by Brenda Adams, for the Anchorage Daily News. Click on the image to read the article.Filipendula will show best when grouped in threes or when planted repetitively in odd numbers. Do not plant it as a single specimen because it will not project from a distance. Its coloration will appear pale and its flowers will look too delicate. This perennial grows in sun to part shade in zones 3 to 8. Depending on the variety, its flowers will bloom from July until August or September. It is not too fussy about soil. Click here to see another image of tall Filipendula.

Sunday
Jan312010

Very Vivid Pink Pinks are Attractive Perennials

Copywrite image courtesy of Intrinsic Introductions.Gardeners who can never have enough of the color pink in their flowerbeds, will be pleased to learn that a new pink Dianthus, cousin of the Cheddar Pinks, will shortly reach the market. Dianthus gratianopolitanis St. Benedict is the name of the new cultivar. Its claim to fame is an over-the-top shade of pink. Up until now, most gratianopolitanis cultivars had red flowers only.

Close up image courtesy of Intrinsic IntroductionsThe grower advises that for best vigor and beauty, St Benedict needs excellent drainage and soil with a 6.6 to 7.8 pH level. Higher acidic soil will require balancing with periodic applications of lime. It is reported that the more-silvered-than-most foliage of St Benedict grows 6 inches tall and forms a clump 12 inches wide. The almost-beyond-pink blooms appear on stems 8 inches high. Flowers measure 1 inch across with 4 to 5 serrated-edge petals.

Image of Iris pallida variegata courtesy of Shoot Gardening. Click on image to visit their site.St Benedict blooms in May and June and some intermittent re blooming may occur. The plant is hardy in Zones 5 to 10 and requires full sun. Gardeners in hot climates, however, should consider planting in filtered shade. Iris pallida Variegata is another perennial that blooms at the same time as St. Benedict. Together, they create a beautiful color combination that is accompanied by the spicy scent of cloves from the Dianthus. After blooming, the variegated leaves of the Iris continue to interact with the silver-blue mat of the Dianthus foliage, to create an eye-catching composition that will continue to enhance the garden, all season long.

Thursday
Oct292009

Comtesse de Bouchard: a Pink Flowering Vine for the Perennial Garden

Problem solving is an exciting aspect of perennial gardening. When my neighbor installed a swimming pool last season, municipal by-laws compelled him to secure his back yard. He chose to surround his property with a beige-colored vinyl mesh fence. My challenge was to camouflage that portion of the fence that divided our two properties.

The  plan was to cover the fence with flowering vines. I began the project by planting bluish-purple Clematis Durandii, purple-blue Clematis Jackmanii and vivid mauve-blue Clematis Elsa Spath.

This selection established a richly colored background to showcase perennials that would ultimately grow in front of the vines. Once the blue-purple theme was in place, I found an on-line supplier from whom I was able to purchase 2 unusual flowering vines: Schizophragma hydrangeoides Moonlight, with white flowers and Schizophragma hydrangeoides Rosea, blooming in pink. These arrived by mail, rather small in size, grew very little and did not bloom this first season. However the Clematis vines were mature when I bought them and they bloomed impressively.

The Clematis are happy in their location because the upper portions get sun and the roots are shaded by the perennials. Now that I see how well they have grown here, I am ready to kick it up a notch, so to speak. Next spring I plan to insert cyclamen-pink Clematis Comtesse de Bouchard between the purple-blue Clematis to create additional color drama. I understand that the pink petals might fade in the afternoon sun. I’ll take that chance. I have 40 feet of fence to cover and experimenting will be fun.

Comtesse de Bouchard belongs to that class of vines that needs trimming in the spring because it blooms on new growth. The truth is that I have never trimmed Clematis in the past. I want the vines of the previous season to act as supports for the following year’s growth; in winter, these now-brown bushy vines offer textural interest to the garden as well. Some gardeners report that Comtesse needs hard pruning. I wonder if it’s because the dense and heavy vines threaten the integrity of their support structures.

This pink Clematis was chosen because it is one of the most popular vines of its species. It produces flowers 5 inch wide. The petals, the texture of crêpe paper, appear to smother the vine in pink. It blooms from midsummer until early fall, in sun to part shade; it is hardy in zones 4 to 9 and can reach a height of anywhere from 6 to 12 feet. Some growers even report success growing this cultivar in full shade.

Because it is dense and heavy, it needs a strong structure for climbing. Trellises made of light-weight wood are too weak. A sturdy fence, an arbor or a pergola are all ideal supports. Like most Clematis, it will require help to establish itself upright for the first few years. Then, the previous season’s vines will trap some of the upward reaching new growth. The gardener will only have to assist part of the vine to climb. I am fortunate that my neighbor sunk his fence posts into reinforced concrete for strength and chose vinyl wire mesh fencing. The wires eliminate the need for cord or stakes to support my vines. All I need to do is to insert a petiole into the mesh. By naturaly twining itself around the wire, the petiole will keep the vine growing in an upright direction.

Thursday
May072009

A Vivid Pink Flowering Shrub

Planting the wrong color or the wrong shade of a color in the garden can sometimes be a serious matter. If gardeners or their clients have fixed ideas of how they want their gardens to look, choosing the right plant becomes critical. Here is an example of a challenge I sometimes face.

My clients all ask for vivid pink Rhododendrons or Azaleas, as long as they are not pink-lavender or orchid-pink in color. Before breeders introduced new cultivars that could survive here in zone 5a, only lavender-colored Azaleas and rhododendrons were available to us. Each spring, some neighborhoods would be covered in seas of lavender. Consequently, my clients, who wished to distinguish themselves from their neighbors, insisted that I plant any other color but that one.

Here is a photo of Rhododendron Olga Mezitt. Unlike the picture, the flower is lavender-free when grown in the garden. It glows like a giant luminous pink neon bulb. I try to plant it as often as I can in combination with Azalea Mandarin Lights [orange] and Azalea Lemon Lights [yellow]. These three non-lavender flowering shrubs combined on one lawn, create an explosion of multicolor that effortlessly erases the drab grey of early spring. It’s like the overture to a Broadway musical!

If you live in a climate that has been growing many richly colored rhododendrons ever since you can remember, try to imagine what it might be like to live where only one color rhododendron exists. Spring gardening used to be very boring here in zone 5a. I’ve made it my goal to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

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