Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What's blooming in High Park, late August

[Photo: Helianthus divaricatus.] Summer is at its climax, and there's lots to see in High Park! The current stars in the flowering native plant world are
  • Desmodium canadense (showy tick trefoil, desmodie du Canada)
  • Helianthus divaricatus (woodland sunflower, hélianthe à feuilles étalées, shown above)
  • Silphium perfoliatum (cup plant, plante bain d'oiseaux)

    Other natives in bloom include

    The various Solidago spp. (goldenrods, verges d'or) are just getting started, but no sign of the Symphyotrichum spp. (asters) yet.

    Of course there are also various non-native wildflowers kicking around, such as

    • Cichoricum intybus (chicory, chicorée sauvage)
    • Daucus carota (Queen Anne's Lace, carotte sauvage)
    • Melilotus albus (sweet clover, mélilot blanc)
    • Trifolium repens (white clover, trèfle blanc)

    I spent part of Sunday morning weeding the Boulevard Beds, which are a showcase for native plants near High Park's Grenadier Restaurant. Most of my efforts were focused on Lunaria annua (aka money plant, annual honesty, silver dollars, lunaire annuelle, or monnaie-du-pape). [Photo: garbage bag with various junk from Boulevard Beds, mostly seed pods from #&*!% Lunaria annua.] I used to think this plant was pretty. Those papery seedpods are a lot less pretty when you're trying to pick a million of them out from leaf litter. If you are thinking of growing this non-native in your garden, be warned! Harvest the ornamental seed pods promptly, before they fall on the ground and make life miserable.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Can this Phalaenopsis be saved?

Phalaenopsis is a genus of orchids native to southeast Asia and northern Australia, with gorgeous flowers that supposedly resemble moths in the obsolete genus Phalaena (I don't see it myself), hence the English common name "moth orchid" (in French, orchidée papillon). I've been tempted to get one of these for years because they are gorgeous, there are many easy-care hybrids available, and they are considered safe for cats. However, my old apartment, being in a basement, had almost no natural light so I didn't think it was worth the investment.

Now that I've moved, I have loads of natural light, but can't really justify buying an expensive plant this month on top of the expenses of moving. However, look what I found in the "as is" section at IKEA! [Photo: sadly neglected dried out Phalaenopsis.]

Take a look at the price tag! [Photo: label of Phalaenopsis from IKEA. Price marked down from $14.99 to $1.40.]

At 90% off, I couldn't resist the temptation to resuscitate this poor plant. [Photo: Phalaenopsis with dead leaves, dead flowers, and spent scape removed.]

Since the plant is in poor shape (the growing medium was completely dry and the leaves were shriveling), I decided to completely remove the flowering scape and let it have a good long recovery period before blooming again. I'm not sure what that grey thing sticking out is—a root? Since it didn't want to come off, I'm leaving it on for now. Perhaps a reader who actually knows something about Phals could advise?

Plants that survive neglect

It has been a very busy summer, and not in the ways I had planned.

In early June, my wonderful landlords of the last 12 years told me they were moving to Scarborough or Markham for work-related reasons. They had to sell the house my apartment was in, and of course it turned out that the new owners did not want a tenant. Yikes!

Of course the Toronto housing market is difficult for anyone, let alone a single mom with a very low income. So my summer so far has been spent looking for a place to live, packing, and now unpacking.

Unfortunately the plants at the garden at my old place suffered a lot of neglect, and the crazy heat wave of July took its toll on many plants. Here are a few of the survivors (photos taken July 19): [Photo: Cuphea 'Lavender Lace']

Cuphea hyssopifolia 'Lavender Lace' (Mexican heather, étoile du Mexique) [Photo: Dianthus.]

Some kind of annual Dianthus. [Photo: Echinacea purpurea.]

Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower, echinacée pourpre) [Photo: Glandularia hybrid.] Glandularia hybrid (verbena, verveine) [Photo: Rudbeckia hirta]

Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed Susan, rudbeckie dressée) and some kind of Mentha (mint, menthe) [Photo: Zinnia 'Thumbelina'.]

Zinnia 'Thumbelina'

Unsurprisingly, I was not lucky enough to find another home with access to a garden. At least, not an outdoor garden. But my new apartment has huge windows facing southeast, so I now have the opportunity to try my hand at indoor gardening. In particular, I want to see what kind of food plants are willing to tolerate growing indoors.

And of course, I will continue to get my native plant fix through my volunteer work at High Park.

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin