27 May 2013

Allium 'Purple Sensation'

I was given these bulbs as a gift last year; now I am puzzled as to why I never tried them earlier.  I risked planting them in shade--open shade, at that, but realistically they never get any direct sun throughout the day.  Us shade gardeners experiment with this technique frequently- just like the gardeners out there that live in zone-denial, I live in full sun-denial.  (OK, as I wait on Lobelia tupa, Canna, Colocasia, and Eucomis to show their beautiful tropical faces, I accept that I, too, am one of "those" living in zone-denial.)

Anyways, they have fully performed in shade and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend trying this if you're lacking a tall, dramatic perennial for those shadier spots.  Like the photo below, I have underplanted my grouping with a swath of variegated green-yellow hostas.  You'll want to do something similar since Allium's foliage is a little ratty looking at the base.  

 I read somewhere recently that sometimes, people will even spray paint the flowerheads after the color has faded, since the strong stems will hold all summer.  Maybe tacky, but I think I'll test this with one when that beautiful purple has faded and see if it's worth doing!

Thanks to my success with 'Purple Sensation', in Fall I will have 3 new varieties added to my bulb order.

Allium 'Summer Drummer' - prized for its interesting purple stems

Allium atropurpureum - love the intense dark burgundy colour

Allium 'Silverspring' - A smaller flowerhead at 4'', but licorice scented!

 *Last 3 photos from Botanus - a mail-order nursery out of Richmond, BC that I highly recommend!

18 May 2013

ferns in my spring garden

Although I seem to complain about my mostly-shaded exposure, I do appreciate it when considering all the beautiful plants that would not survive in baking hot full sun.  Ferns are a must for any shaded woodland garden, and they provide that tropical rainforest feeling that I always seem to be chasing.  They are perfect companions for japanese maples, rhodos, hostas and hellebores, all of which I have plenty!  I seem to constantly be adding more and more ferns to my wishlist.  Evergreen or deciduous, green, red, or purple, black stems or fuzzy rachis, delicate fronds or thick bracts, they truly are indispensable.  Here are some of my favorites as they look today in my garden...

Dryopteris erythrosora - Autumn Fern

Cyrtomium fortunei - Japanese Holly Fern

Dryopteris pycnopteroides - Japanese Wood Fern

Dryopteris sieboldii - Siebold's Wood Fern

Polystichum munitum - Western Sword Fern

Athryium niponicum - Japanese Painted Fern

Adiantum aleuticum - Western Maidenhair Fern 
Asplenium scolopendrium - Hart's Tongue Fern

Blechnum spicant - Deer Fern

Matteuccia struthiopteris - Ostrich Fern

Adiantum hispidulum - Rough Maidenhair Fern

Pteris cretica - Ribbon Fern


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