Archive for the ‘Shrubs & Trees’ Category
Nice (ahem) hedge
Cedar hedges are so ubiquitous in Vancouver they rarely merit a second glance. But in the tony neighbourhood of Point Grey, there’s one particular hedge that makes me giggle every time I pass it. And I actually go out of my way to check on it; I keep thinking that sooner or later, it’s going to be removed in the interest of good taste or some such nonsense.
See, the hedge in question is made up of a series of three grouped cedars. One columnar cedar flanked by two smaller, round ones. See where this is going?
Holy hedges, Batman!
Together, these phallic sentinals present a vigorous demonstration of masculinity (said with tongue planted firmly in cheek).
Who lives here? Why have they planted thusly? Is it all a big joke? Do they sit behind their curtains and watch people fall off their bicycles? Is this a Do or a Don’t? I don’t know of any garden magazine that would suggest this arrangement, but you have to admit, it sure is a conversation piece!
I love fall, in case you haven’t noticed. I love fall planting, fallen leaves, Hallowe’en, the changing of seasons, the gradual descent into winter. I even love Proven Winner’s Fall Magic line, a clever bit of marketing that I always fall for (groan). But while fall might be a great time for planting shrubs and trees, our local nurseries have a rather pitiful supply of them just now. I went in with visions of hostas and ferns and spirea – things that just don’t sell at this time of year I suppose – and came out with an evergreen shrub party. Not what was planned, but hey, that would take the fun out of it, right?
The photo kind of sucks, but I’m fond of this nice little coral-coloured grouping. I planted it in my neighbour’s raised bed that borders the walk to my front door (yes, with her blessing!). It features Podocarpus alpinus ‘Red Tip,’ a lovely dwarf conifer with dark blue-green foliage with dark purple-red tips; Berberis thunbergii ‘Cherry Bomb‘ (Japanese barberry), with its deep crimson foliage and bright red berries in winter; Nandina domestica ‘Sienna Sunrise’ (Sienna Sunrise Heavenly Bamboo), a stalwart performer with dramatic foliage colour; and Echinacea Big Sky ‘Twilight’ with its gorgeous corally-pink blooms. I threw a few dozen tulip and snowdrop bulbs in there for good measure. The rest I’ll fill in come springtime – or a better selection of perennials – whichever happens first.
This little guy was one of my first perennial purchases. At the time, I didn’t know much about gardening, so I asked the lady at the nursery for suggestions.
My requirements: must do well in a container and in shade, look good most of the year, and not require too much work. She suggested the Viburnum tinus you see above. I’m not sure which cultivar it is – the tag is long gone (and the RHS plant finder lists 32 cultivars) but for years I felt disappointed by it. It was gangly and sad, and never flowered or produced berries. I labeled it a dud, but nonetheless hauled it from house to house when I moved.
Finally, I ended up with a south-facing backyard. I decided to prune it back, eliminating all the gangly bits, and placed the pot at the foot of the steps. “This is your last chance,” I told it.
I guess it wasn’t happy in the shade after all, because sure enough, it performed brilliantly. Pink flowers in early spring all through summer, followed by glossy deep-purple berries in fall through winter. Sure, some may consider it boring, a ubiquitous landscaper’s shrub, but I’m thrilled with it. Especially in winter when it looks most lovely. And mostly, just because it reinforces an eternal principle of the garden: give it what it wants and it will reward you. Or, you might say: right plant, right place.
When I was a kid, snowberries, (Caprifoliaceae Symphoricarpos albus) grew wild all over our heavily-wooded property, along with other BC natives like ferns, Mahonia nervosa (Oregon grape) and Rubus spectabilis (salmonberries). I called snowberries “pop berries” because they made a delicious popping noise when you crushed them underfoot. I think my fascination with them terrified my mother because I remember being repeatedly admonished: “careful, they’re poisonous!”
Today, just seeing the branches heavy with berries, lighting up their corner of the yard, I was thankful. For the dose of pure beauty before my day got underway, and for the memories of a simpler time.
Pyramidal European Hornbeam
The garden in our new townhouse comes “fully landscaped;” I tried to see if they’d just leave it unplanted, but apparently it’s not an option they’ve ever heard of. Anyway, the tree that the landscape designer chose for our yard is a Pyramidal European Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus ‘Fastigiata’). It wouldn’t be my first choice of tree; it looks kind of… bleh. And I’m currently enamoured of the Coral Bark Maple (Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’) in my mom’s yard because it looks so lovely in the winter garden. But I’m willing to give the hornbeam a chance. Has anyone had any experience with this tree?
Photo of the hornbeam borrowed from Charlies Creek Nursery.
New reason to justify a Prius
Toyota has developed a new shrub called Kirsch Pink. A derivative of the Cherry Sage shrub that is optimized for absorbing pollutants from the air, it is reportedly 1.3 times more effective at absorbing NOx, SO2 and other air pollutants than its parent stock.
The new plant, which flowers between May and November, also diminishes the urban heat-island effect 1.3 times more effectively than the Cherry Sage, according to the company. The shrub’s main use is in green roofs.
Why, you ask, is a car company in the business of breeding?
Kirsch Pink is the work of Toyota Roof Garden, (one of the businesses in Toyota’s Biotechnology and Afforestation portfolio), originally launched as a way to mitigate the heat-island phenomenon that is worsening with time in Japanese cities.
Toyota sees a linkage between the automotive industry and the biotechnology industries in that both are aiming to achieve a sustainable society.
I can see it now…
Black Lace arrives in select garden centres in spring 2006. Normally polite Canadian gardeners will be knocking over little old ladies in a bid to secure what will quickly become the latest “must-have” perennial. Some will be reminded of the 1983 Cabbage Patch Kid shortage.
Seriously, though. Black Lace elderberry (Sambucus nigra ‘Eva’) from ColorChoice Flowering Shrubs by Proven Winners is going to be hot.
First, it’s black – and black foliage is still very desireable. Second, it has a fine, lacey texture (comparable to that of a Japanese maple). Apparently, it also has beautiful pink blooms in early spring and summer. Then – get this – in the fall it produces dark black berries that can be used for making wine and jam or for attracting wildlife! You really can’t get much better than that.
Use: As a stand alone accent plant, mixed in a perennial and annual border, in a container or even as a hedge.
Hardiness: To Zone 4.
Size: 6-8′ high and wide.
Exposure: Full sun to part shade.
In well-known Vancouver gardener Pam Frost’s garden, chartreuse green Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’ creates focal points in a curved lawn.