Saturday, May 30, 2009

Monarda didyma 'Jacob Cline': foliage

[Photo: Monarda didyma Jacob Cline foliage.]The beebalm is growing like a weed! I never noticed last year that the centre vein of each leaf is red (click to enlarge); don't know if that's characteristic of the species or just this cultivar.

Tagetes tenuifolia 'Lulu': in bloom!

[Photo: Tagetes tenuifolia Lulu flower.]The 'Lulu' marigolds that I started from seed back in March are just starting to bloom!

I much prefer single marigolds to the double marigolds that have been bred to look like pompoms, though I seem to be in the minority judging from the bedding plants sold around here. It's nice that they're so easy to grow from seed.

Matricaria discoidea: foliage and flowers

Matricaria discoidea, known in English as "pineapple weed" or "disc mayweed" and in French as matricaire odorante, matricaire en disque or matricaire sans ligules, is an annual native to northeast Asia which is now a widespread weed. Its fine foliage and bulging yellow disc flowers are reminiscent of its larger cousin, German chamomile (M. recutita), but it lacks chamomile's white rays. When crushed, the flowers and foliage give off a delicious pineapple scent.

Ipomoea tricolor 'Heavenly Blue': seedling

[Photo: Ipomoea tricolor Heavenly Blue seedling.]My morning glory seedlings are coming up! The weird two-pronged cotyledons remind me of dragonfly wings.

Geranium robertianum: foliage, flowers, and unripe seedpods

Last year I cheated and included a photo of this pretty native taken outside of Toronto (in my hometown of Almonte in eastern Ontario). I was so happy to discover it growing in a flowerbed at East Lynn Park (on the Danforth near Woodbine) (surrounded by invasive Vinca minor, alas).

Geranium macrorrhizum: foliage and flowers

[Photo: Geranium macrorrhizum foliage and flowers.]Geranium macrorrhizum, known in English as "cranesbill" and in French as géranium or bec de grue, is a perennial native to southern Europe.

Aquilegia spp. in bloom!

[Photo: Aquilegia canadensis flowers.]For the last week or so, columbines have been blooming all over the neighbourhood. My favourite, of course, is our native wild red columbine, Aquilegia canadensis. This is in a neighbour's garden; unfortunately I somehow managed to kill mine.

This huge beautiful plant was inherited from the previous owners. It didn't bloom last year, and I don't remember it doing much before that, so I was surprised to see how huge it is this year, and smothered with flowers! I think it is A. vulgaris 'Tower Dark Blue'. (A. vulgaris is native to Europe.)

[Photo: Aquilegia vulgaris Tower Dark Blue.]Here's a closer look at one of the purple flowers.

[Photo: pale pink Aquilegia.]I discovered this very pretty pale pink variety when I was exploring the neighbourhood.

The columbines are considered short-lived perennials, but they will at least in theory self seed. Columbines are considered fairly easy to grow so I'm not sure how I managed to kill mine. I guess I'd better not invest in any of the really delicate plants, like the Cypripediums (lady slippers) until I figure out what I'm doing wrong.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Athyrium niponicum var. pictum 'Applecourt'

[Photo: Athyrium niponicum var. pictum Applecourt.]Athyrium niponicum var. pictum, known in English as "Japanese painted fern" and in French as fougère peinte, is a fern native to east Asia with beautifully coloured fronds.

My landlords' son got this beauty for the front shade garden (which we are hoping will replace the lawn eventually) at Valumart on the Danforth.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tradescantia ohiensis: flowers

[Photo: Tradescantia ohiensis flowers.]Tradescantia ohiensis, known in English as "bluejacket", "Ohio spiderwort", or "snotweed", and in French as tradescantia de l’Ohio, is a perennial native to much of eastern North America.

Unfortunately, my attempt to grow spiderwort (and a bunch of other natives) from seed was a flop. I learned the hard way that peat pellets are not the way to go; I sowed them and put them outside in the winter to cold moist stratify the seeds, but I find they are impossible to keep moist outside.

This beautiful plant was growing in a neighbourhood garden. The flowers are larger and even prettier than I expected. I still have some seeds left so I'm going to try again next year (I figure it's the wrong time of year to start now.)

Phlox divaricata 'Sweet Lilac': foliage

[Photo: Phlox divaricata Sweet Lilac foliage.]Phlox divaricata, known in English as "woodland phlox", "wild blue phlox", "wild sweet William", or "Louisiana blue phlox", and in French as phlox bleu, is a woodland perennial native to eastern North America. The wild type has five-petalled mauve flowers; cultivars are available in white, blue, and pink as well.

I'm hoping this cultivar, 'Sweet Lilac', will be similar to the wild type. My landlords' got it at Valumart on the Danforth.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Convallaria majalis: flowers

Warning: this plant is invasive in Toronto. [Photo: Convallaria majalis flowers.]Convallaria majalis, known in English as "lily-of-the-valley" and in French as muguet de mai is a perennial native to Eurasia. Its attractive scented white flowers which are easy to grow in somewhat difficult conditions, for example as a ground cover in shady locations, have made it a popular garden plant. Unfortunately, in Toronto it is an invasive species; SER Ontario ranks it as Category 3: "moderately invasive but can become locally dominant when the proper conditions exist" in their Invasive Exotic Species Ranking for Southern Ontario.

[Photo: Convallaria majalis invading High Park forest.]Here is a large colony (about 2-3 metres across) of Convallaria growing in the middle of the forest at High Park. I don't know if this colony got its start by an uninformed human deliberately planting it here, or if it was introduced by nonhuman means such as birds. Once the first plant grows, it spreads by rhizomes to form large colonies.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Waldsteinia fragaroides: foliage and flowers

[Photo: Waldsteinia fragaroides.]I've posted a couple of pictures of my new barren strawberry plant already, but here is a nicer clump I discovered growing in a garden down the street.

Syringa vulgaris: flowers

[Photo: Syringa vulgaris in flower.]Syringa vulgaris, known in English as "common lilac" and in French as lilas commun or lilas français, is a deciduous shrub or small tree native to southeast Europe. Its fragrant flowers, usually mauve, are a well known event in spring. This huge lilac is in our neighbours' back yard.

Parthenocissus quinquefolia: new foliage

[Photo: Parthenocissus quinquefolia: new foliage.]Parthenocissus quinquefolia, known in English as "Virginia creeper" and in French as vigne vierge de Virginie, is a climbing perennial vine native to eastern and central North America.

Virginia creeper is such a vigorous grower that some consider it invasive, though I prefer to reserve the label "invasive" for non-native plants. In the fall, it is one of the first plants to turn colour, a gorgeous bright red. The dark blue berries provide food for birds.

I photographed this plant in front of the Danforth/Coxwell Library.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Polygonum cuspidatum: foliage

Warning: this is an invasive plant in Toronto. [Photo: Polygonum cuspidatum foliage.]Polygonum cuspidatum, known in English as "Japanese knotweed", "fleeceflower", "Himalayan fleece vine", "monkeyweed", "Hancock's curse", "elephant ears", "pea shooters", "donkey rhubarb", "Japanese bamboo", "American bamboo", and "Mexican bamboo", and in French as renouée du Japon or renouée du Siebold is a herbaceous perennial native to east Asia which is invasive in North America and Europe. SER Ontario ranks it as Category 2: "Exotic species that are highly invasive but tend to only dominate certain niches or do not spread rapidly from major concentrations." in their Invasive Exotic Species Ranking for Southern Ontario (PDF).

I photographed this plant at High Park.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My first time volunteering with the High Park VSP!

I've been wanting to get involved with the High Park Volunteer Stewardship Program for over a year but usually my son is with me on Sunday mornings when they do their thing. But this weekend he's at the cottage with his dad and stepmother, so I got to attend today and help pull garlic mustard, a plant I love to hate as readers of this blog will know. We were working on an area south of the Black Oak Café, which had about a zillion garlic mustard plants in bloom, and some starting to set seed. Frankly it looked rather futile to me, but with a large number of volunteers we cleared a huge area in only a couple of hours. I'm hoping the before and after pics the organizers took will be posted online soon; if you're in High Park, just follow the road downhill behind the Black Oak Café and note the huge difference between the right side where we were pulling and the left side which is still a sea of garlic mustard.

[Photo: toad.]For me the high point was discovering this very well camouflaged toad, which I thought was a clod of dirt until it started to hop. Anyone know what species this little treasure is? Our work also uncovered a chipmunk (too fast to photograph), starry false Solomon's seal (native), greater celandine (not native), and numerous maple seedlings.

[Photo: How to Know the Wild Flowers.]Afterwards, I headed for Rainbow Market Square to see Star Trek, arriving a couple of hours early to make sure I got in (it was sold out when I tried to see it yesterday). Ticket in hand, I went to a nearby antique store, Ephemera Too, where I discovered this wonderful book, How to Know the Wild Flowers, by Mrs. William Starr Dana, published in 1899! It's a treasure trove of short articles and full-page black-and-white illustrations of a variety of north-eastern North American wildflowers, mostly native. How could I resist? I decided it would be my birthday present to myself (only 6 weeks early).

(The movie was great too!)

Chelidonium majus: foliage and flowers

[Photo: Chelidonium majus leaves and flowers.]Chelidonium majus, known in English as "greater celandine" or "tetterwort" and in French as grande chélidoine or herbe aux verrues, is a perennial native to Europe which is sometimes found growing wild in Toronto forests. (It's not listed on SER Ontario's Invasive Exotic Species Ranking for Southern Ontario (PDF).) Its large leaves are deeply lobed; the four-petalled yellow flowers appear in the spring. This plant was photographed in High Park south of the Black Oak Café.

Alliaria petiolata: flowers and seed pods

Warning: this is an extremely invasive plant in Toronto.

[Photo: a zillion garlic mustard plants in High Park.]Yes, I know, this is my third post about garlic mustard in May, but this is the first time I've shown the fully opened flowers and nefarious seed pods of this plant. Here you can see how garlic mustard practically forms a monoculture. (Photo taken in High Park, south of the Black Oak Café).

[Photo: closeup of Alliaria petiolata flowers and seed pods.]Here's a close-up of the flowers and seed pods. If you missed it, or if you aren't convinced that this plant should be uprooted on sight (at least in North America), reread my post about why garlic mustard is horrible. Then read Sarah's article, Top 10 Reasons to Search and Destroy Garlic Mustard. Then if you still aren't convinced, google it and see why experts agree this plant does not belong here in North America.

Maianthemum stellatum: foliage and flowers

[Photo: Maianthemum stellatum foliage and flowers.]Maianthemum stellatum, known in English as "starry false Solomon's seal", "starry Solomon's plume", "starry smilac", or "spikenard", and in French as faux sceau de Salomon or maianthème étoilé, is a woodland perennial native to North America. As you can see, its gracefully bowed stem and its leaves are reminiscent of Solomon's seal (Polygonatum commutatum), but the flowers are completely different, being a cluster of small white flowers on the end of the stem rather than Solomon's seal's pairs of light greenish bells hanging along the underside of the stem.

[Photo: Maianthemum stellatum foliage and flowers.]Here is a slightly blurry attempt to get a closer look at the flowers (click photo to enlarge). They are quite similar to those of its little cousin, wild lily-of-the-valley (M. canadense).

I photographed this plant in High Park, a bit south of the Black Oak Café on the right side of the path.

Veronica serpyllifolia: foliage and flowers

[Photo: Veronica serpyllifolia.]Veronica serpyllifolia, known in English as "thyme-leaf speedwell" and in French as véronique à feuilles de serpolet is a small, creeping perennial native to much of North America. It is one of a number of small veronicas that grow wild in Toronto, some native and some alien; I identified this one as V. serpyllifolia based on the leaf shape. [Photo: Veronica serpyllifolia flower.]Here's an attempt to get a better look at one of the flowers (click to enlarge). The veronicas have four petals, with the bottom petal being smaller than the others. V. serpyllifolia is usually white with dark blue stripes, but may also be light blue or white, like this one.

Although the Ontario government considers this a weed, I think it's rather dainty. I'm going to see if it will spread enough to act as a ground cover between the more showy plants.

Eranthis hyemalis: seeds are ripe

[Photo: Eranthis hyemalis gone to seed.]My winter aconites' seeds are ripened.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day May 2009

[Photo: Waldsteinia fragaroides in bloom.]Once again, it's Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. This is not the best picture of my new barren strawberry (Waldsteinia fragaroides), which I got at the North American Native Plant Society's plant sale last weekend.

This pansy (Viola x wittrockiana 'Delta Pure Rose') led me to break my promise to myself not to buy plants I could have grown from seed if I had been more organized. There are so many interesting new varieties of pansies these days; I especially like the pink ones.

[Photo: purple and white viola.]I think this little viola is the grandchild of the 'Sorbet Coconut Duet' violas I had two years ago. (The first generation of volunteers, last year, looked nothing like the original.)

[Photo: yellow violas.]I love it when plants volunteer, at least when they are pretty like this yellow viola.

[Photo: Tulipa Angelique in bloom.]Here is one of the 'Angelique' tulips I got for almost free from Brecks (they had a $25 off sale, no minimum purchase). Unfortunately only about half of them bloomed; at least I didn't have to pay much for them.

[Photo: pale pink tulip.]Some of the bulbs the landlords' kids and I rescued from a neighbour who was replacing the previous owner's garden with sod are blooming. We had no idea what would come up from these bulbs, of course, so I'm happy that they are so far all very pretty, like this pale pink tulip,

[Photo: dark pink and white tulip.]and this striking bicoloured dark pink and white one.

[Photo: pale yellow tulips.]My landlords' pretty pale yellow tulips are back again this spring.

[Photo: another pale pink tulip.]I don't know where this pink tulip in the front yard came from; a gift from the squirrels, perhaps?

[Photo: Pyrus sp. flowers.]The pear tree (Pyrus sp.) has just started blooming. So far we have never got edible fruit from it, but it still works as an ornamental.

[Photo: Muscari flowers.]My grape hyacinths (Muscari sp.) are behind the rest of Toronto, for some reason, even though they were one of the earliest plants up in our garden. This is the only one in bloom; the rest have just tiny undeveloped green buds.

[Photo: Dahlia?]My landlord just got these pretty yellow flowers, which I believe are Dahlia?

[Photo: Narcissus Cheerfulness.]My daffodils are on their way out (Narcissus 'Cheerfulness' from Vesey's). I'm very pleased with the vigor of these plants.

[Photo: Dicentra spectabilis flower.]Finally, the bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis) is doing well. This was one of the first flowers I learned to recognize, for obvious reasons.

Thanks, Carol, for hosting Bloom Day!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Maianthemum canadense: foliage

[Photo: Maianthemum canadensis foliage.]Maianthemum canadense, known in English as "wild lily-of-the-valley", "Canada mayflower", and in French as maïanthème du Canada, is a low-growing (10 cm) perennial wildflower native to much of Canada and the north and eastern United States. It bears spikes of tiny white flowers in late spring, followed later on by red berries.

Looking at my rather boring photo, you wouldn't guess how thrilled I was to find this little plant at the North American Native Plant Society's native plant sale this past weekend. I have very fond memories of these little flowers carpeting the forest floor around our house in eastern Ontario when I was a kid. We just called them "lily-of-the-valley" and when I first saw what most people call "lily-of-the-valley" (i.e. Convallaria majalis) I thought it was too coarse. (I've learned to appreciate the different type of beauty of Convallaria since then; if only it wasn't invasive!) I've been looking for wild lily-of-the-valley for a while now, and it's not easy to come by, so I felt very lucky to find such a healthy plant for sale.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Waldsteinia fragaroides: flowers

[Photo: Waldsteinia fragaroides in bloom.]Waldsteinia fragaroides, known in English as "barren strawberry" and in French as waldsteinie faux-fraisier, is a low-growing perennial native to eastern North America. Its three-part leaves and five-petalled yellow flowers are reminiscent of strawberry leaves and flowers (Fragaria spp.), but the flowers are yellow and it does not bear edible fruit.

When I was growing up in eastern Ontario, barren strawberries carpeted the forest floor; i.e. they can make a good groundcover for shade in the right conditions. I bought this plant at the North American Native Plant Society plant sale last weekend.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Don't forget the NANPS native plant sale tomorrow!

The North American Native Plant Society's Spring Wildflower Show and Expo is happening tomorrow, May 9, 10am-3pm, Markham Civic Centre, 101 Town Centre Boulevard (west of Warden Avenue, north of Highway 7). They will have a huge selection of ferns, grasses, sedges, trees, shrubs, and vines, as well as wildflowers, at very reasonable prices.

Acer negundo seedling

Warning: this is an invasive species in southern Ontario.

[Photo: Acer negundo seedling.]Acer negundo, known in English as "Manitoba maple", "box elder", "boxelder maple", or "maple ash", and in French as érable du Manitoba or érable negundo, is a deciduous tree native to eastern and central United states and southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

I like finding volunteer tree seedlings in the yard and was disappointed to find out that this was Manitoba maple, which the Invasive Exotic Species Ranking for Southern Ontario (PDF) ranks as a category 1 invasive, "Aggressive invasive exotic species that can dominate a site to exclude all other species and remain dominant on the site indefinitely." At least this one is small enough to be removed fairly easily (I'm assuming).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Toronto Botanical Garden plant sale is on now!

Oops, I forgot to post earlier that Toronto Botanical Garden's plant sale is now underway. It is every day from now through Saturday, May 9, and is open 10am-5pm, at TBG, 777 Lawrence Ave. East (at Leslie; served by TTC bus 54 Lawrence East from Eglinton Station, directions available here).

Unfortunately they don't seem to have posted a plant list this year; unless you count the vague "[c]arefully selected annuals, perennials, succulents, native plants, ornamental vegetables and heirloom favourites". Last year I picked up Aquilegia canadensis (wild columbine), Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf coreopsis), and Geum triflorum (prairie smoke).

There are lots of lovely plants to enjoy at TBG anyway; on the weekend I saw as well as the usual daffodills and Muscari a very pretty pale yellow magnolia in bloom, various natives including Hepatica, Trillium grandiflora and Dicentra cucullaria, and much more which I can't remember right now. Right next to TBG is Wilket Creek Park, always worth exploring, especially now with so many spring ephemerals in bloom!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Caltha palustris: flowers

[Photos: Caltha palustris flowers.]Caltha palustris, known in English as "marsh marigold" or "kingcup", and in French as caltha de marais, souci d'eau, souci de marais, or populage de marais, is a perennial native to temperate regions of the northern hemisphere.

It's been decades since I've seen marsh marigold in real life. I was thrilled to see these gorgeous flowers at Wilket Creek Park.

Alliara petiolata: flower buds

This is an extremely invasive species in Toronto. [Photo: Alliaria petiolata flower buds.]Although I just posted a whole long thing about why garlic mustard is evil, I haven't posted a picture of the flower buds. I was disheartened to see it's that time of year again already. Photo taken at Wilket Creek Park.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

May flowers!

I've just returned from a pilgrimage to Wilket Creek Park with over 40 photos which will eventually make their way into the blog, time permitting. It's too gorgeous outside to waste time blogging now. Currently in bloom: white trillium, barren strawberry (don't know what it is yet), marsh marigold, Virginia bluebells... The trout lilies weren't fully open, though maybe that's because it was cloudy today. In any case, don't waste such beautiful weather indoors reading blogs about flowers when you could be outside seeing the real thing!

Hepatica nobilis var. acuta

[Photo: Hepatica nobilis var. acuta.]Hepatica nobilis var. acuta, known in English as "sharp-lobed hepatica", "sharp-lobed liverleaf", "kidneywort", "liverwort", or "pennywort" and in French as anémone hépatique is a forest perennial native to the northern hemisphere. The flowers may be white, pink, or blue-mauve.

When I was growing up in Ontario, the hepaticas (var. obtusa) were the first flowers to bloom in spring, so I was surprised to see them blooming still in May. I photographed this plant at the Toronto Botanical Garden.

Podophyllum peltatum: foliage

[Photo: Podophyllum peltatum emerging.]Podophyllum peltatum, known in English as "mayapple", "hogapple", "umbrella plant", "wild lemon", "wild mandrake", "American mandrake" or "devil's apple", and in French as pomme de mai, is a perennial native to eastern North America. To me, the big umbrella-shaped leaves have an intriguing tropical look.

I photographed these plants in Wilket Creek Park.

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