July 28, 2015

The Roses of Olbrich Botanical Gardens

hybrid tea rose

I'd been meaning to get over to Madison's Olbrich Botanical Gardens for weeks. I enjoy viewing and photographing roses, even if I don't have many myself.

I finally made time for a visit last week, and while I often think of June as the best month for viewing roses, there were plenty of midsummer and ever-blooming beauties to enjoy.

rugosa with buds & hips

I couldn't find the marker for this Rugosa, but it offered the full spectrum of interest--giant hips, blooms, buds, and gorgeous chartreuse foliage. It might be 'Charles Albenel,' shown later in this post.

'william baffin' kordesii rose

This 'William Baffin' Kordesii rose seemed the epitome of the old-fashioned romantic rose--rich, gentle pink color, with petals gently draped around the stamens and the stigma.

'radrazz' knockout floribunda

This Knockout Floribunda, 'RADrazz,' also had a pretty color, and seemed a prolific bloomer.

'polar joy' shrub rose 1

One of my favorites was this 'Polar Joy' tree rose. It was very tall--perhaps seven feet? I had to photograph up toward some of the blooms.

'polar joy' shrub rose 2

A lower branch with shadier conditions revealed the unique soft, rose-pink color of 'Polar Joy's' buds and flowers. This one is marketed as the "only truly hardy tree rose" by several vendors--hardy to zone 4.

'sea foam' shrub rose

'Sea Foam' shrub rose is certainly true to its name. It looked soft enough to dissolve in the hand.

pink knockout 'radcon' shrub rose

'RADcon,' was a lovely pink Knock Out shrub rose, which apparently tolerates part shade (note to self).

'lady elsie may' shrub rose

The color of 'Lady Elsie May,' also a shrub rose, caught my eye. With varied light and depending on the age of the bloom, it looked coral/pink to warm red.

'jens munk' rugosa

More romance and color eye candy here, with 'Jens Munk,' a Rugosa rose. Swoon.

'grootendorst supreme' rugosa

'Grootendorst Supreme,' another Rugosa, had prolific clusters of small blooms and buds.

'blanc double de coubert' rugosa

The pollinators enjoyed 'Blanc Double de Coubert' Rugosa.

'yankee lady' rugosa

'Yankee Lady' Rugosa was much more stunning than the bright, sunlit image here, but you get the idea.

fire meidiland 'meipsidue' shrub rose

It was the form of 'MEIpsidue,' a Fire Meidiland Shrub Rose, that was alluring to me--resembling dramatic, draping flamenco skirts.

'charles albanel' rugosa

Obviously, the Rugosas were in their glory, including 'Charles Albenel.'

'carefree spirit' shrub rose

One of the most unique roses blooming in mid-July was 'Carefree Spirit,' an All-American Rose Selection.

'captain samuel holland' shrub or climbing

'Captain Samuel Holland' was truly dreamy, with full layers of petals and gorgeous buds draping over fencing. This rose is marketed as both a shrub and and a climbing rose.

'fru dagmar hastrup' rugosa

And of course I was enchanted over this 'Fru Dagmar Hastrup' Rugosa.

There were many more, and quite a few had lovely scents. The bees were particularly enamored of the Rugosas. I captured several of them in a short, minute-long wrap-up video. Enjoy!

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July 15, 2015

Blooms in Shade? In July?

asiatic lilies

For this month's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-Up, I decided to change things up. Instead of focusing on all the bright colors in my tiny "sunny" garden (I'll do that next month), I thought I'd share a few plants blooming and brightening the shade this month.

Starting with the Asiatic Lilies in the first photo above: Believe it or not, they only receive a small bit of direct sun in the afternoon. That may not the best textbook advice, but it seems to work in a little pocket of light on the northwest corner of the house.


sedum and juniper

Sedum kamtschaticum grows in several places here and there, and thrives in dappled shade. Its tiny, bright yellow flowers bloom in early to mid-summer. The flowers and foliage make great groundcover companions with blue Juniper.


Dead Nettle (Lamium maculatum) keeps right on blooming. And when it's not blooming, the foliage is attractive on its own.



I'm pleased with the potted plants--a complementary contrasting combination of Oxalis triangularis 'Charmed Wine,' Double Impatiens 'Fiesta,' Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Wizard Golden,' and Alternanthera ficoidea 'Red Thread.'


In the back, edging the pond, I combined variegated English Ivy (Hedera helix) with various Coleus varieties, a Spike plant (Cordyline indivisa), and more Alternanthera.

bugbane flower

bugbane foliage

Bugbane (Actea racemosa) grows to its maximum height (at least seven feet, when in bloom) in my shady garden. It hangs around the big, old Oak trees and the Ostrich Ferns, which give it support and framework. I like the Maple-shaped foliage, too.

dollar princess


Who can deny the beauty and usefulness of pendulous Fuchsias? Top photo is 'Dollar Princess,' which I'm growing as an annual "shrub," until we decide which native shrubs to plant in its place. Bottom photo is my favorite Fuchsia: 'Marenka.' The hummingbirds love this plant.

hosta collage

And, of course, the Hostas. We have several varieties, and the total count of actual Hosta plants must be more than 100. I take them for granted.

hosta flower

hosta flower 2

I also take for granted their delicate flowers. They seem to be especially popular with hummingbirds, bees, and sphinx moths. Hosta flower spikes are great for cut flower arrangements.

Some plants this year seem delayed in their blooming. I'm thinking various factors weighed into this, including earlier tree foliage in May and cooler-than-normal temperatures in June.

swamp milkweed

Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) was in full bloom by early July last year. This year, in mid-July, it's still budding.

rocket flower

rocket foliage

Ligularia stenocephala ('The Rocket') spikes up through the green with its bright yellow blooms, just beginning to open. Its leaves remind me of a Dr. Seuss-style heart.

golden jubilee

I'm a big fan of chartreuse foliage. Anise Hyssop 'Golden Jubilee' (Agastache foeniculum) shines among its more modest neighbors. The light, lavendar-blue buds and flowers contrast pleasantly with the foliage.

hyacinth bean bud

hyacinth bean foliage

And then there's my favorite climber: Hyacinth Bean vine (Lablab purpureus). The purple flowers are just about to make an appearance. But its foliage captures the eye at any time.

What's blooming and brightening your garden this month? To compare notes with gardeners around the world, check out Carol's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Pam's Foliage Follow-Up.

July 08, 2015

Remembering the Toronto Botanical Garden


When you visit Toronto, Ontario, make sure to set aside at least a few hours to see the Toronto Botanical Garden. Even if you've been there in the past, you'll probably want to go back. I know I do.

When I visited the gardens about a month ago for the Garden Bloggers' Fling, I was impressed with the diversity of plant life in the small, four-acre property. I also noticed the creativity of the horticulturists, volunteers, planners, designers, and others involved with this "magical oasis in the city," as it describes itself.

succulent collage

The first area that caught my eye was Terrace Garden, near the entrance. The planners used construction rubble to form the architecture of this west-facing slope, which resembles a quilt made of succulents and Mediterranean, drought-tolerant perennials. I could have spent hours simply observing this exquisite collection.

illumination flame

Just outside the Center for Horticulture, was a lovely display of seasonal perennials, including 'Illumination Flame' Foxglove (a Digitalis hybrid, syn. Digiplexis), which can survive to USDA zone 8, but has been known to overwinter in much colder zones in warm microclimates. Apparently, this is a popular purchase at the garden's yearly plant sale.

Paul Z

One of the highlights of our visit in June was an animated, humorous presentation by Director of Horticulture Paul Zammit, on creativity and fun with potted arrangements.


Paul mentioned he frequently uses Parsley in his creations, like this mixed planting at the base of an Arborvitae (Thuja spp.).


All the potted arrangements were exquisite.

I also noticed succulents everywhere.

more succulents 2

In bedded plantings,

more succulents

In pots,

powder room

And even combined with orchids and graceful lighting in the restroom.

knot garden

It was great fun to climb to the top of the Spiral Mound, to see the Knot Garden.


And to view the Courtyard, where attendees later gathered for a buffet dinner.


The mixed plantings were impressive--like this one featuring tiers of Alyssum, Heucheras, Acteas, and Peonies.

A few of the other plants I noticed and photographed included:

bowmans root
Bowman's Root (Gillenia trifoliata)

Clematis trained on an obelisk

Knautia macedonica

peony salvia
Peony (Paeonia spp.) framed by purple Salvia

Bearded Iris hybrid

coral bell collage
Various Coralbells (Heuchera spp.)

One thing very evident at the Toronto Botanical Garden was an emphasis on sustainability and environmental responsibility.

bee hotel collage

This display explained how to create a tripod bee hotel, and showed an example.

Thanks to fellow Flinger Janet Davis, a Toronto Botanical Garden supporter and photographer extraordinaire, some of us also had the pleasure of visiting the pollinator garden for an "up close and personal" view of the botanical garden's urban bee hives.


Beekeeper Mylee Nordin, with the Toronto Beekeeping Cooperative, greeted us with a smile and an enthusiastic explanation of the garden's five working honeybee hives.


It was fascinating to watch Mylee at work.


She shared several tidbits of information, including the fact that the hives are home to several types of honeybees--including German and Russian strains, which can better survive cold winters, but tend to be more defensive and aggressive.


We saw firsthand that the honeybees, native bees, and other pollinators have plenty of sources of high-quality nectar and pollen in the pollinator garden.


twilite pb
Baptisias were in full, glorious bloom throughout Toronto. I believe this one is the hybrid
'Twilite Prairieblues.'

And on plants throughout the Toronto Botanical Garden.






We witnessed pollinator heaven and plant "eye candy" in every direction!

The Toronto Botanical Garden is planning a major expansion--from its current four acres to about 30 acres. You can read more about it by visiting this link: Toronto Botanical Garden Eyes Expansion.