Monday, September 1, 2008

Ipomoea purpurea 'Crimson Rambler': flowers

[Photo: Ipomoea purpurea 'Crimson Rambler']Ipomoea purpurea, known in English as morning glory and in French as gloire du matin or ipomoée pourpre is an annual vine native to Mexico and Central America. It bears numerous showy trumpet-shaped flowers, about 10 cm across, in purple, pink, or white.

This is another one of those misleadingly labelled cultivars. To me this is not crimson, it is fuchsia. It's still pretty, but it would be easier to plan the garden if people didn't give plants misleading names and descriptions.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Acalypha rhomboidea: flowers

Acalypha rhomboidea, known in English as common three seed mercury and in French as ricinelle rhomboïde is an annual native to much of eastern and central North America, with spikes of green flowers interspersed with leaves.

These plants volunteered in the garden, and when I found out they were a native plant I couldn't bear to pull them out, even if they aren't conventionally showy. I think they look kind of cool, actually.

Amaranthus cruentus: flower

[Photo: Amaranthus cruentus.]Amaranthus cruentus, known in English as "red amaranth", "purple amaranth", and "Mexican grain amaranth", and in French as amarante rouge, is an annual native to Central America. Although they are a source of nutritious grain, they are also often grown as ornamentals, rapidly growing to two metres or more with large, showy dark red flowerheads.

The ancestor of this plant volunteered in the backyard a few years ago. It was maybe three metres tall, with dark purple leaves. It self-seeded all over the place; unfortunately, many of the grandchildren have green rather than purple foliage and some even had boring green flowers.

Cosmos bipinnatus 'Purity': flower

[Photo: Cosmos bipinnatus PurityCosmos bipinnatus, known in English and French by the genus name, is an annual native to Mexico and the southwestern United states. Blooms may be in different shades of pink; plain white; picotée or with a darker ring around the yellow centre disk.

I got the seeds for this cultivar, 'Purity' (an heirloom variety), from Urban Harvest, a great Toronto source for organic seeds, plants, and amendments.

Solidago canadensis: flowers

[Photo: Solidago canadensis.]Solidago canadensis, known in English as Canada goldenrod and in French as verge d'or du Canada, is a perennial native to most of North America. Its bright yellow/gold plumes of tiny flowers are a familiar sight in late summer and early autumn.

This is a clump of volunteers in the garden. Polinators love them!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Physostegia virginiana: flowers

Physostegia virginiana, known in English as obedient plant and in French as physostegia or physostégie, is a perennial native to much of eastern and central North America. It has spires of pink blossoms with a unique property: each flower is attached by a kind of hinge, and if you push it into a new position it will stay there (hence the English common name).

I photographed this lovely clump at Earl Beatty Public School.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Oxalis stricta: flowers

[Photo: Oxalis foliage and flowers.]Oxalis species, known as wood sorrel in English or oxalide in French, are a group of small flowering plants with three-part leaves that may be confused with clover; however the flowers are quite different than clover, being single with five petals. There are a number of species of Oxalis with yellow flowers, and I'm not sure which one this is, but it volunteered all over the garden so I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt and assuming it's the native Oxalis stricta species.

Papaver rhoeas 'Double Shirley Mix': flowers

Papaver rhoeas, known in English as field poppy and in French as coquelicot is an annual native to south-eastern Europe and Asia Minor. It bears large showy red flowers with papery petals, each flower lasting only one day. 'Double Shirley Mix' has flowers with red, light red, white, and bicolour flowers. Deadheading is important to ensure prolonged blooming; the poppies in our garden set seed and died when I went away for a week. Field poppies are easy to grow; direct-sow their seeds in a sunny spot in early spring, or even the autumn before. They will self-sow.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Geranium robertianum: flowers

Geranium robertianum, known in English as herb Robert, redshank, bloodwort, fox geranium, or red robin, and in French as herbe à Robert, is an annual or biennial native to North America. Unlike the plants commonly known as "geraniums" (which are really Pelargoniums), this wild geranium has finely divided somewhat fern-like leaves and single dainty five-petaled pink flowers.

I suppose it's cheating to include this photo in this blog as it was taken in Almonte, in eastern Ontario, rather than Toronto, and growing wild rather than in a garden. But it certainly could be grown in Toronto gardens...

Coriandrum sativum: flowers

[Photo: Coriandrum sativum in bloom (with Symphyotrichum novi-belgii (mauve flowers)).]Coriandrum sativum, known in English as "cilantro", "Chinese parsley", or "coriander", and in French as coriandre, is an annual herb native to southwest Asia and north Africa. Its leaves are deliciously (or revoltingly, to some people) fragrant, and its seeds are an important ingredient in Indian cooking. By the time it bolts, like in this photo, the leaves are no longer good for eating, but the delicate flowers are pretty and there are the seeds to look forward to. I find that cilantro self-seeds to some extent.

Arctotis stoechadifolia: flower

[Photo: Arctotis stoechadifolia flower.]Arctotis stoechadifolia, known in English as "blue-eyed African daisy" and in French as oreille d'ours, is tender perennial (grown as an annual in Toronto) native to South Africa.

I got the seeds for my African daisies from Florabunda Seeds, an Ontario nursery specializing in heirloom plants (they sell it under the old name, Arctotis grandis).

Ipomoea tricolor 'Heavenly Blue': flower

[Photo: Ipomoea tricolor Heavenly Blue.]Ipomoea tricolor, known in English as morning glory or grannyvine and in French as ipomée tricolor is a tender perennial* climbing vine native to the tropics of the Americas. The large trumpet shaped blossoms, which may be blue, purple, white, or pink, open early in the morning and close as the temperature rises. The cultivar shown, 'Heavenly Blue', has especially large blossoms in an exquisite true blue. Seeds are best directly sown in the garden after the last frost; soak them 24 hours before planting.

* grown as an annual in Toronto.

Cosmos bipinnatus 'Gazebo Red': flowers

Cosmos bipinnatus, known in English and French by the genus name, is an annual native to Mexico and the southwestern United states. Blooms may be in different shades of pink; plain white; picot&eeacute;e; or with a darker ring around the yellow centre disk.

I grew these cosmos from Mr. Fothergill's seed, purchased at Canada Blooms. Despite the cultivar name, and the photo of crimson flowers on the package, the flowers are not red, they are fuchsia. They are still pretty, but I do wish that seed sellers would be more honest instead of giving plants misleading names and descriptions and photoshopping their pictures.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Helianthus annuus 'Velvet Queen': flower

[Photo: flower of Helianthus annuus Velvet QueenHelianthus annuus, known in English as sunflower and in French as tournesol or grand soleil, is an annual native to the United States. As well as the famous very tall, very large, single yellow variety, there are dwarf varieties, and cultivars in cream, light yellow, orange, and rust. Pollen-less cultivars have been created for use as cutflowers, but for wildlife the pollen-bearing varieties are more appealing, as a source not only of pollon but seeds. The cultivar shown, 'Velvet Queen', is widely advertised with misleadingly red (Photoshopped?) images. It looks more rust-coloured to me.

Symphyotrichum novi-belgii 'Believer': flowers

[Photo: Symphyotrichum novi-belgii 'Believer' flowersSymphyotrichum novi-belgii, known in English as New York aster, is a flowering perennial native to eastern North America (though not the Toronto area apparently). The flowers are usually mauve, though there are cultivars in purple (like this one, 'Believer'), dark pink, and white.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Rudbeckia hirta: flowers

Rudbeckia hirta, known in English as black-eyed Susan, gloriosa daisy, or yellow ox-eye daisy, and in French as Rudbeckie dréssé is a biennial native to most of North America.

These gorgeous flowers grew from seed I received for free from the High Park Nature Centre for Earth Day 2007. I threw them around in the garden but wasn't sure anything had grown until the second year, when suddenly there were big beautiful plants covered in blooms. It's amazing to me that one tiny seed can produce a 40-cm tall plant with 50 flowerheads on it. Each flowerhead lasts a long time; the flowerhead in the foreground, with a flatter centre that's light in the middle, is a younger bloom; as the blossoms age the centres become darker and more conical as seen in the background.

[Photo: Rudbeckia in bloom with nasturtium and hosta.]

Bees love these flowers!

Heliotropium arborescens: flowers

[Photo: Heliotropium arborescens.]Heliotropium arborescens, known in English as garden heliotrope or cherry pie and in French as héliotrope du Pérou or herbe de St Fiacre, is a tender perennial native to Peru, bearing clusters of small, dark purple flowers with a strong vanilla-like fragrance.

Here in Toronto, heliotrope is usually treated like an annual although it can also be grown as a houseplant. I bought a couple of small plants in the spring; they did not grow very much in the short Toronto summer, staying under 30 cm rather than the range of 60-150 cm often reported. It is just as well that they stay small since then they can be at the front of the border where their fragrance can be enjoyed best!

Matricaria recutita: flowers

Matricaria recutita, known in English as German chamomile, garden chamomile, or wild chamomile, and in French as camomille vraie, camomille sauvage, camomille allemande, or matricaire, is an annual native to Eurasia. The flowers are like tiny white daisies with spherical yellow centres, and have a lovely scent, like pineapple.

I got the seeds whence these plants grew from Florabunda Seeds, an Ontario nursury specializing in heirloom seeds.

Hibiscus syriacus: flower

[Photo: Hibiscus syriacus flower]Hibiscus syriacus, known in English as Rose of Sharon or Rose of Althea and in French as althéa, is a large shrub native to Asia. It is the national flower of south Korea and symbolizes immortality. The gorgeous blossoms may be mauve, pink, or white, often with a red centre, and appear in late summer. It self-sows readily.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Asclepias tuberosa: flowers

Asclepias tuberosa, known in English as butterfly weed, butterfly milkweed, butterfly flower, pleurisy root or glory flower (the last is an apparent marketing ploy to win over gardeners who won't grow "weeds"), and in French as asclépiade tubéreuse, is a perennial native to eastern North America. Although related to the common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, butterfly weed lacks milky sap. The leaves are narrower than milkweed, dark and glossy, and the flowers are a vivid orange (there are yellow and red cultivars available). Like milkweed, butterfly weed (indeed, all of the Asclepias species) is a larval host for the monarch butterfly.

I purchased the plant in the photo from Real Canadian Superstore in 2007. It didn't bloom at all the first year I had it, or show much growth at all. I was pleasantly surprised in 2008 when it emerged at least three times as big as the year before and with lovely blooms.

Monarda didyma 'Jacob Cline': flower

Monarda didyma, known in English as bee balm, bergamot, Oswego tea, or firecracker plant, and in French as monarde, thé d'Oswego, bergamote, or mélisse d'or is a perennial in the mint family native to much of eastern North America, and also the northwestern United States. Its flowers are very unusual and hard to describe—some say they look like jester's hats or fireworks; and are a lovely red. They are said to attract hummingbirds, though I haven't witnessed that myself.

The plant photographed originally came from the local Valumart, and was grown by President's Choice. PC called it a "really easy perennial" (or something like that) and it certainly was; I just planted it and it grew rapidly and was covered with long-lasting blooms.

The leaves smell like Earl Grey tea.

Hemerocallis fulva: flower

[Photo: Hemerocallis]Hemerocallis fulva, known in English as orange daylily or tawny daylily and in French as héméocalle fauve or lis d'un jour fauve, is a perennial native to Asia with showy orange lily-like blossoms. Daylilies are not true lilies; true lilies have shorter leaves than daylilies in whorls around the stem whereas daylilies have longer leaves all springing from the ground. Each flower of a daylily lasts only a day, hence the name. According to Invasive Exotic Species Ranking for Ontario (PDF), Hemerocallis fulva is a Category 4 Invasive (do not pose a serious threat to natural areas unless directly competing with more desirable vegetation). Still, I wouldn't recommend it, especially for Torontonians lucky enough to live near wild spaces. A native alternative is Canada lily (Lilium canadense).

Lavandula angustifolia: flowers

Lavandula angustifolia, known in English as true lavender or English lavender and in French as lavande vraie is a small (in Toronto, at least) perennial shrub native to the western Mediterranean, especially northern Spain. It is famous for its fragrant greyish-green foliage and small light purple flowers.

Although lavender can grow to be 1 or 2 metres high, here in Toronto I find that it dies back quite a bit each year and is seldom as tall as 50 cm. It is considered evergreen but in Toronto the foliage, while it stays on all winter, dies and turns grey.

Lobularia maritima: flowers

[Photo: lobularia maritima flowers.]Lobularia maritima, known in English as sweet alyssum or sweet Allison and in French as alysson maritime, alysse odorante, or corbeille d'argent, is a hardy annual native to southern Europe. Alyssum grows rapidly from seed sown directly in the garden in early spring (or even in the fall: it will self-sow) and is soon covered in tiny, four-petalled flowers, usually white or purple but there are pink, pale yellow, pale blue, and peach cultivars available. In our yard alyssum was still blooming well into autumn; it was the last flower to disappear.

Alyssum makes a nice flowering groundcover for sunny areas with a lovely honey fragrance.

Tropeolum majus: flowers

Tropeolum majus, known in English as nasturtium and in French as capucine is a fast growing annual native to the Andes with flowers in orange, yellow, red, or cream. The distinctive parasol-shaped leaves have a spicy flavour; the flowers are edible as well. Because the whole plant is edible, the seeds are large and easy to handle, and the plants grow rapidly and are undemanding (they prefer poor soil), nasturtium is a good first plant for children and other beginning gardeners. Nasturtiums don't like being transplanted, so sow them directly in the garden after the last frost.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Coreopsis lanceolata: flower

[Photo: Coreopsis lanceolata flower]Coreopsis lanceolata, known in English as lanceleaf coreopsis or lanceleaf tickseed and in French as coréopsis lancéolé or œil de jeune fille is a perennial native to much of North America. The bright yellow daisy-like flowers have wide petals with scalloped edges.

Coreopsis is happiest in the sun; my plant (which I bought at the Toronto Botanical Garden's spring plant sale) struggled in what I had thought was a "partial shade" location. Deadheading will result in more blooms.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Puschkinia libanotica: flowers

[Photo: Puschkinia libanotica flowers, close-up.]Puschkinia libanotica, known in English as "snowdrift", "early stardrift", or "striped squill", and in French as scille de Liban, is a flowering bulb native to Asia and the Middle East. One of the earliest spring bloomers, it bears spikes of blue-white flowers, each petal having one blue stripe.

[Photo: Puschkinia libanotica flowers, en masse.]This gorgeous bed of snowdrift was at a neighbours. I'm glad I took a photo because soon afterward the new owner decided to rip out all of it (and all the other bulbs too) and replace it with sod. My landlords' kids and I attempted to rescue some of them, though how successful we were remains to be seen.

Iris reticulata 'Cantab': flowers

[Photo: Iris reticulata 'Cantab' in bloom]Iris reticulata, known in English as reticulated iris, dwarf wild iris, and rockgarden iris, and in French as iris réticulé, is a dwarf perennial native to southern Russia, Iran, and Turkey. The flowers appear very early in the spring, about 10 cm from the ground; later long thin leaves grow to 20-30 cm before the plant goes dormant at the end of spring.

This light blue cultivar is 'Cantab', which I bought at Veseys; different cultivars include blues and violets, as well as white.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Eranthis hyemalis: flower

Eranthis hyemalis, known in English as winter aconite and in French as éranthe d'hiver, helléborine, hellébore d'hiver or aconit d'hiver is a perennial native to southern France to Bulgaria. One of the earliest flowers of spring, a single bright yellow flower, like that of a buttercup, is borne on a short (less than 10 cm) stem. Below the flower, the stem is circled by two leaves which resemble a clown's neck ruffle. After setting seed, the plant becomes dormant (i.e. it is a "spring ephermeral").

The flowers have a pretty fragrance, but you have to get low to the ground to smell it!

I bought my winter aconite pips from Veseys.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Primula 'Elizabeth Killelay': flowers

Primula, known in English as "primroses" and in French as primevère, is a genus of herbaceous perennials native to the northern Hemisphere, as well as mountains in Ethiopia and southeast Asia, and temperate South America.

This cultivar, 'Elizabeth Killelay', has very dark red-black petals edged in white. (The flowers are actually double but I guess this specimen hasn't reached that stage of development yet.} It was on display at Toronto Botanical Garden at Canada Blooms.

Canada Blooms 2008

I went to Canada Blooms for the first time this year. I was hoping to see unusual new varieties, but almost all the exhibitors stuck with a handful of species, I guess because they were best able to survive being in the convention centre--tulips, daffodills, crocuses, gerbera daisies, Himalayan birch (why not a native birch?), etc.

[Photo: dried wildflowers at Canada Blooms.]I was intrigued to see this exhibitor (some national wildlife charity, I should have written it down) got their dried flowers from Almonte! (Almonte is my hometown, in eastern Ontario.)

[Photo: Generation Gap by Nancy Wahorn.]Floral arrangement, 'Generation Gap', by Nancy Wahorn, won 2nd prize in this category, and also the Helen Chochran Novice Award--Design. Plants include Pleomele reflexa variegate, Amaranthus viridis, Strelitzia.

Photos of individual plants at Canada Blooms have their own entries.

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