Sunday, August 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, August 2010

August is prime blooming time here in Toronto!


    [Photo: Agastache foeniculum.]
  • Agastache foeniculum (anise hyssop, hysope anisée). I'm very excited about this one because it's the first time I've managed to grow it successfully from seed; in fact this plant is in it's first year and already blooming!
  • Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed, asclépiade tubéreuse)
  • Conyza candensis (horseweed, vergerette du Canada)
  • Eupatorium 'Phantom' (Joe Pye weed, eupatoire naine)
  • Monarda didyma 'Jacob Klein' (beebalm, monarde)
  • Myosotis laxa (bay forget-me-not, myosotis laxiflore)
  • Oxalis stricta (wood sorrel, oxalide) [Photo: Rudbeckia fulgida.]
  • Rudbeckia fulgida (black-eyed susan, rudbeckie voyante). This one was a surprise because I was sure this plant was one of my Echinacea purpurea seedlings, but obviously not. [Photo: Rudbeckia hirta, Petunia 'Carmine Madness', and Lobularia maritima 'Snowstorm'.]
  • Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed susan, rudbeckie dressée)
  • Solanum ptycanthum (eastern black nightshade, morelle noire de l'est)
  • [Photo: Solidago sp.]
  • Solidago sp. (goldenrod, verge d'or)


    [Photo: Antirrhinum majus 'Montego Pink'.]
  • Antirrhinum majus 'Montego Pink' and NOID (snapdragon, muflier)
  • Calibrachoa NOID
  • Cerinthe major 'Purple Bells' (honeywort, grand cérinthe)
  • Cuphea hyssopifolia 'Lavender Lace' (false heather, étoile de Mexique)
  • Glandularia NOID (verbena, verveine) [Photo: Helianthus annuus and leaves of Juglans nigra.]
  • Helianthus annuus (sunflower, tournesol)
  • Iberis umbellata 'Fairy Mixed' (candytuft, ibéris en ombelle).
  • Impatiens walleriana 'Xtreme Pink'™
  • Lobelia erinus 'Cascade Sapphire'
  • Lobularia maritima 'Snowstorm' (alyssum, alysse odorante) [Photo: Monarda 'Bergamo'.]
  • Monarda 'Bergamo'. This annual was supposed to "attract butterflies by the dozen" according to Park Seed but the butterflies who visit my garden ignore it.
  • Pelargonium NOID (geranium, pélargonium) [Photo: Pentas lanceolata 'New Look Pink'.]
  • Pentas lanceolata 'New Look Pink'. Another supposed butterfly attractor that local butterflies have ignored.
  • Petunia 'Carmine Madness', 'Ultra White', and NOID [Photo: half-barrel planter with Scaevola aemula, Petunia 'Carmine Madness', Petunia 'Ultra White', Tagetes patula 'Janie Tangerine', Tagets patula 'Janie Primrose'. The green leaves in the centre are Mirabilis jalapa, which is just starting to form flower buds.]
  • Scaevola aemula (fairy fanflower, scaevola émule)
  • Tagetes patula 'Janie Primrose' and 'Janie Tangerine' (French marigold, œillet d'Inde) [Photo: Rudbeckia hirta and Tagetes tenuifolia 'Lulu'.]
  • Tagetes tenuifolia 'Lulu' (signet marigold, tagète tachée)
  • Thunbergia alata 'Blushing Susie' (black-eyed susan vine, suzanne aux yeux noirs) [Photo: Tropaeolum majus 'Whirlybird Cherry Rose'.]
  • Tropaeolum majus 'Whirlybird Cherry Rose' (nasturtium, capucine)
  • Viola 'Penny Purple Picotee' [Photo: Zinnia elegans 'Magellan Persian Carpet Mix'.]
  • Zinnia elegans 'Persian Carpet Mix' and 'Thumbelina Mix'

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Be sure to check out what's blooming around the world this August!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What pollinators like

I did a quick tour around the backyard to see which of the flowers are attracting the interest of local pollinators. [Photo: Eupatorium 'Phantom'.]Eupatorium 'Phantom' (dwarf Joe Pye weed, eupatoire naine) is evidently close enough to our native Eupatoriadelphus maculatus (formerly Eupatorium maculatum) to attract our native bees. (I got this recently at Valumart at 50% off!) [Photo: Helianthus annuus.] Helianthus annuus (sunflower, tournesol) is a reliable bee attractor (unless you get one of the newfangled pollenless varieties, which may be lovely cutflowers but are useless for pollinators and seed-eaters). Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower, echinacée pourpre), although not quite native here (we're a bit too far north and east), is a favourite of humans as well as pollinators. (Another 50% off deal!) Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed Susan, rudbeckie dressée) is always abuzz. [Photo: Mentha sp. flower spike.]Finally, mint (Mentha sp., menthe), which grows as a weed in the backyard, is a hive of activity when in bloom.

What flowers are attracting pollinators in your garden?

Monday, July 26, 2010

What's blooming in High Park, late July

[Photo: Desmodium canadense.]

I had a great time with the High Park Volunteer Stewardship Program pulling weeds in the Sculpture Garden restoration site yesterday. There are tons of flowers in bloom now:


  • Achillea millefolium (yarrow, achillée millefeuille)
  • Asclepias syriaca (milkweed, bébé lala de lait) (only a few are still blooming, most are setting seed)
  • Campanula rotundifolia (harebell, campanule à feuilles rondes)
  • Conyza canadensis (horseweed, vergerette du Canada)
  • Desmodium canadense (showy tick trefoil, desmodie du Canada) (shown above)
  • Erigeron annuus (daisy fleabane, vergerette annuelle)
  • Helianthus divaricatus (woodland sunflower, hélianthe à feuilles étalées)
  • Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower, lobélie cardinale)
  • Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot, monarde fistuleuse)
  • some kind of Potentilla, maybe Potentilla fruticosa (shrubby cinquefoil, potentille arbustive)
  • Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed Susan, rudbeckie dressée)
  • Silphium perfoliatum (cup plant, plante bain d'oiseaux)
  • Verbena stricta (hoary vervain, verveine veloutée)


  • Cichorium intybus (chicory, chicorée sauvage)
  • Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace, nid d'oiseau)
  • Melilotus alba (white sweet clover, mélilot blanc)
  • Pastinaca sativa (wild parsnip, panais sauvage)
  • Polygonum sp. (smartweed, renouée)
  • Trifolium pratense (red clover, trèfle violet)

We also saw a big wasp dragging a caterpillar to a hole she had previously dug, presumably to lay eggs on it. Although I felt sorry for the caterpillar, it was fascinating to watch. In Growing Green (White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2006), an intriguing book about veganic food production, Jenny Hall and Iain Tolhurst recommend growing native plants near fields of crops to attract beneficial insects such as parasitic wasps.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Where are the bees?

It seems to me that there are far fewer bees than usual this year. Has anyone else in Toronto noticed this?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Beautiful Eumorpha pandorus: another reason to grow native plants!

[Photo: Eumorpha pandorus.]On the wall of the Danforth/Coxwell Library, my son and I were thrilled to spot this big (8-9 cm) beautiful moth, who was kind enough to stay put while we ran home to get a camera and bug book.

This beauty is intriguingly named Pandora sphinx moth (sphinx Pandore). Its larval hosts include Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia, vigne vierge de Virginie), and sure enough there is a Virginia creeper climbing on the wall of the library, which I photographed last year. (The larvae also feed on Vitis spp. (grapes, raisins).

I have been meaning to get some Virginia creeper growing in the backyard, and seeing this beautiful moth makes me all the more determined.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Big beautiful beetle, Pelidnota punctata

[Photo: Pelidnota punctata.] When cutting back the neighbour's encroaching grapevines, I discovered this beautiful insect, a whopping 2 cm long, and was actually able to get a decent photo! (The bug was so still when I caught it that I thought it was dead, but after a few minutes it rubbed its face and started nibbling the leaf.)

This beauty is a grapevine beetle (scarabée ponctué de la vigne), an eastern North American relative of the sacred scarab beetle of ancient Egypt. The adults eat grape leaves and fruit, and other plants as well such as Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia, vigne vierge de Virginie), but are not considered a major pest of vineyards. The eggs are laid in rotting wood or soil, and the larvae (grubs) feed on roots. Both larvae and adults are nocturnal, which I guess is why this little(ish) one was inactive when I found it—it was drowsy!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, July 2010

Lots of blooms for July, mostly annuals. I started a lot of plants from seeds this year, and it is gratifying to see some of them flowering already!


    [Photo: Adiantum pedatum.]
  • Adiantum pedatum (maidenhair fern, adiante pédalé). I bought this beauty at the North American Native Plant Society Plant Sale this spring. It will never bloom, of course, but it's too pretty to leave out.
  • Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed, asclépiade tubéreuse). I saw a monarch butterfly in the garden yesterday; maybe it will lay some eggs? Fingers crossed! [Photo: Myosotis laxa.]
  • Myosotis laxa (bay forget-me-not, myosotis laxiflore). Another treasure from NANPS, it has already quadrupled in size! I'm going to relocate the encroaching sedum soon to give the forget-me-not room to really go crazy.
  • Oxalis stricta (wood sorrel, oxalide) [Photo: Rudbeckia hirta.]
  • Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed Susan, rudbeckie dressée); as always, the star of the summer garden.
  • Solanum ptycanthum (eastern black nightshade, morelle noire de l'est)

Alas, the Monarda didyma 'Jacob Klein' (beebalm, monarde) which put on such a show last year is very unhappy this year; it had a few small sad blooms which are already past. I tried moving the Liatris spicata (dense blazing star, liatride à épis) to what should be a better location for it in terms of sun, and it seems stressed out too, though it is working on a flower spike.

Happily, some of my native seedlings are doing well, in particular, Tradescantia ohiensis, Agastache foeniculum, and Asclepias tuberosa; maybe they'll make an appearance for a Bloom Day next summer!


  • Antirrhinum majus NOID (snapdragons, mufliers)
  • Calibrachoa NOID
  • Campanula rapunculoides (creepy bellflower, campanule fausse raiponce). This pretty plant is horribly invasive here in southern Ontario; I've started trying to get rid of it though it seems futile. [Photo: Cerinthe major 'Purple Honeybells'.]
  • Cerinthe major 'Purple Bells' (honeywort, grand cérinthe). Compare these cream and pink flowers to their depiction at the McKenzie Seeds website. This isn't the first time that McKenzie seeds have come out very unlike the depiction on the package. They're okay, but not especially striking, especially from a distance.
  • Chlorophytum comosum (spider plant, plante araignée)
  • Cuphea hyssopifolia 'Lavender Lace' (false heather, étoile de Mexique)
  • Glandularia NOID (verbena, verveine; apparently they've moved these common annuals which everyone calls verbena into a new genus)
  • Heliotropium arborescens 'Marine' (heliotrope, héliotrope)
  • Hibiscus syriacus (rose of Sharon, althéa) [Photo: Hosta 'Orange Marmalade'.]
  • Hosta 'Orange Marmalade' and NOIDs [Photo: Petunia 'Carmine Madness'® and Iberis umbellata 'Fairy Mixed'.]
  • Iberis umbellata 'Fairy Mixed' (candytuft, ibéris en ombelle). Grown from seed for the first time this year, started outdoors, very easy. I think I'll be growing these again!
  • Impatiens walleriana 'Xtreme Pink'™ [Photo: Impatiens walleriana 'Xtreme Pink' and Lobelia erinus 'Cascade Sapphire'.]
  • Lobelia erinus 'Cascade Sapphire' (I think)
  • Lysimachia
  • Matricaria recutita (German chamomile, camomille vraie) [Photo: Pelargonium NOID and Scaevola aemula.]
  • Pelargonium NOID (geranium, pélargonium)
  • Petunia 'Carmine Madness', 'Ultra White', and NOID
  • Rosa NOID (rose, rosier)
  • Sanvitalia
  • Scaevola aemula (fairy fan flower, scaevola émule)
  • Sedum spurium (rock cress, orpin bâtard)
  • Tagetes patula 'Janie Primrose', 'Janie Tangerine' [Photo: Adiantum pedatum, Viola 'Purple Penny Picotee', and Solenostemon scutellaroides 'Golden Wizard'.]
  • Viola 'Penny Purple Picotee' [Photo: Zinnia elegans 'Magellan Persian Carpet Mixed.]
  • Zinnia elegans 'Magellan Persian Carpet Mixed'. I'm pretty pleased with these, though I do feel that Park Seed misrepresented the colour, what do you think?

    Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Be sure to check out what's blooming around the world this July!

  • Monday, June 14, 2010

    Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, June 2010

    This month lots of things are starting to bloom:


    [Photo: Anemone canadensis.]
  • Anemone canadensis (Canada anemone, anémone du Canada). I was thrilled when this pretty native volunteered last year. Unfortunately I've never managed to get a good picture of it.
  • Myosotis laxa (bay forget-me-not, myosotis laxiflore)
  • Oxalis stricta (wood sorrel, oxalide)
  • [Photo: Phlox divaricata 'Sweet Lilac']
  • Phlox divaricata 'Sweet Lilac' (woodland phlox, phlox bleu) is on its last legs; here's a picture of it in its prime.


    [Photo: Antirrhinum majus.]
  • Antirrhinum majus (snapdragon, muflier). These volunteered last year and managed to survive the winter! (Usually they're treated as annuals in Toronto.) [Photo: Digitalis × mertonensis]
  • Digitalis × mertonensis (strawberry foxglove, digitale hybride) [Photo: Heliotropium arborescens.]
  • Heliotropium arborescens (heliotrope, héliotrope du Pérou)
  • Heuchera 'Bressingham Hybrid' (coral bells, heuchère) [Photo: Impatiens walleriana 'Xtreme™ Pink']
  • Impatiens walleriana 'Xtreme™ Pink'. These are very vigorous and floriferous plants; too bad it turns out they clash violently with the strawberry foxglove. [Photo: Lilium]

    Lilium (lily, lys). Veseys sent some free mixed Carpet Border Lilies with my order last fall. They are lovely, until the lily beetles start nibbling them. (I don't feel comfortable killing animals, even insects, for what are merely cosmetic concerns. I would have squished the eggs but my son thought even that was "mean".) [Photo: Matricaria recutita]

  • Matricaria recutita (German chammomile, camomille vraie). I sowed this annual once a few years ago and it's been volunteering ever since. It has a lovely pineapple smell, like its less showy relative, Matricaria discoidea (pineapple weed, matricaire odorante) [Photo: Petunia 'Carmine Madness®']
  • Petunia 'Carmine Madness®'. My landlords get hot pink petunias every year.
  • Petunia 'Ultra White'. These are actually fragrant! [Photo: Rosa.]
  • Rosa. This is a fragrant variety, and the bees love it. I'm not sure what the green bug in this photo is. [Photo: Scaevola aemula.]
  • Scaevola aemula (fairy fanflower, scaevola émule), an Australian native (like my late father). [Photo: Tagetes 'Janie Primrose.]
  • Tagetes patula 'Janie Primrose' (French marigold, œillet d'Inde)
  • Tagetes patula 'Janie Tangerine' [Photo: Viola cornuta 'Penny Purple Picotee'
  • Viola cornuta 'Penny Purple Picotee' (viola, viola). This is my first year raising violas from seed—it was easy and fun. I got my seeds from Stokes, which has a great selection of viola seeds.
      My landlord just got this lovely planter, which includes Callibrachoa, Chlorophytum comosum (spider plant, plante araignée), Sanvitalia, Scaevola aemula, and a plant I can't identify.

    Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Be sure to check out what's blooming around the world for the June 2010 Bloom Day !

  • Saturday, May 29, 2010

    Penstemon hirsutus in bloom!

    [Photo: Penstemon hirsutus.]The hairy penstemon (aka "hairy beardtongue", "eastern penstemon", penstémon hirsute) that I purchased a few weeks ago at the North American Native Plant Society plant sale a few weeks ago is already blooming, despite the stress of moving to a new home and this crazy heat wave we've been having. I knew very little about this plant when I got it, except that it was a purple penstemon. I'm quite happy with it.

    [Photo: close-up of Penstemon hirsutus blooms.]In this close-up, you can see that the dainty flowers are actually bicoloured, mauve and white. Walter Muma's Ontario Wildflowers site has much better close-ups; in the fourth photo down you can see why one of the common names is "beardtongue".

    Hairy penstemon is a larval host plant for the beautiful Baltimore checkerspot butterfly. According to Michigan State University, hairy penstemon attracts beneficial insects, including parasitic wasps and pirate bugs, which prey on nuisance insects. This lovely plant also provides nectar for hummingbirds, according to the Ontario Hummingbird Project.

    Friday, May 28, 2010

    Campanula rapunculoides: my new most hated plant?

    [Photo: Roots of Campanula rapunculoides.]I have posted before about the evils of garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata, herbe à l'ail), which is devastating forests in the Toronto area, but in our own garden the biggest invader is Campanula rapunculoides (creeping bellflower, or as I call it, creepy bellflower, campanule fausse raiponce).

    Although I knew creepy bellflower is invasive in southern Ontario, I hadn't been trying to remove it from our garden because the landlords' son is very fond of it, and it is very pretty (see photo at bottom of post). I thought I would just stop it from spreading by deadheading it. Ha.

    Creepy bellflower spreads mainly by roots. It forms a thick mat of roots which make it impossible for anything else to grow. Realizing that creepy bellflower was part of the reason good plants I put in weren't making it, I decided I would try to at least thin it out.

    The pile of roots above represents about an hour of hard work. Unlike garlic mustard, which pulls up quickly and easily, creepy bellflower roots break off and stay in the ground when you try to pull them up. Sites recommend digging up at least the top 15 cm of soil and removing all roots. Any bits of root remaining in the ground will regrow.

    [Photo: The pathetically small area I cleared of creepy bellflower (mostly, but note leaves of plants growing through the fence.)]And here is the depressingly small area I removed those roots from. You can see the heart-shaped leaves of more creepy bellflower poking through the fence. I could just pull off the leaves, but that seems pretty pointless when the massive root system under and beyond the fence is inaccessible to me. I think that my landlords' son doesn't need to worry about not having his creepy bellflowers any time soon.

    [Photo: Campanula rapunculoides in bloom.]And here's a picture of creepy bellflower from last July. Yes, it is pretty, but it isn't prettier than the other campanulas. The USDA PLANTS Database lists three campanulas and kin native to Ontario:

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