The art of Canadian wild flowers

Irises and Lady slipper orchids

“Canadian Wild Flowers” (1868) was one of the first serious botanical works about nature and plant species in Canada 🇨🇦

Offering many beautiful lithographs of the wildflowers found in this country, this pictorial work written by Catharine Parr Traill & illustrated by Agnes Chamberlin, was a notable accomplishment for women at a time when we were largely unwelcome in a male-dominated scientific world.  –  The entire book is in the Public Domain and free to view online through the BHL digital library portal, with thanks to the Canadian Museum of Nature: HERE

A dose of art and the beauty of nature might help take our minds off the chaos currently taking hold of our world, if only for a little while.  Stay safe, everyone.

Flower Language – the art of communication in a time of social distancing

Lily-of-the-valley

Within the context of the current chaos we face around the world, social distancing will likely be the way we communicate, at least for now, until this virus abates and is eradicated.

There are many ways we communicate. Along with speaking directly to one another, we have email, texting, social media, and even photography. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Hellebore

With respect to the thought of being isolated for the next while, I’d like to point out how nature and gardens have been a refuge for many in anxious times. Certainly they have been for me.

Further to the point of communicating, I’d like to touch on the language of flowers. 

This form of connecting with one another was popular during the Victorian era, but actually goes back much further in time.

People have been using flowers as a way to convey an idea or a message  for thousands of years.

Through a gift of single blossom, the person on the receiving end of that floral gift would know exactly what the sender was trying convey. Flowers have a vocabulary all their own.

Tulip – Friendship & Gratitude

Every flower has its own distinct meaning, so any requirement of a verbal or written message would not be required.

So, I’m sharing some of my favourite flowers and their meanings here that relate to the times we currently find ourselves in.

Daffodil – Rebirth & New beginnings

It’s my hope to offer a little optimism, and encourage some positive thinking, and perhaps even a little less anxiety for the near future.

We’ll get through it together, only separately! 😉

 

Stay well everyone and keep in touch.

Rosemary for remembrance – Illustration by Walter Crane, Public domain

 

Baptisia – A blue flowered beauty for any garden!

Baptisia, also known as false indigo, is a genus in the legume family, Fabaceae.

This herbaceous flowering perennial offers pea-like flowers that once pollinated, produce pea-like seed pods.

The bees love these flowers, which means food for them, and in turn, allows me to collect the seeds and sow them all around the garden.

Native to woodlands in eastern North America, the species most commonly cultivated is called Baptisia australis, which is the one shown in my photo.

Baptisia species are food plants for the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including the lovely Jaguar Flower moth, Schinia jaguarina.

Baptisia grows to 3 feet tall and form wide clumps that might need some support when they’re heavily laden with seed heads.

They’ll really thrive in full sun, but do well with some shade, too. Once established, they’re quite drought tolerant, and, it’s best to leave them alone. The deep roots of this plant do not appreciate being moved.

I love Baptisia, not just because its flowers are a bee magnet, but because deer won’t eat them, and because they offer a real true blue flower in the garden.

In the garden, they look great combined with any other colour nature offers, but I love them paired with purple coneflower, clumps of lavender, tall white phlox, purple liatris, and big Rudbeckias.

Along with blue, Baptisia also offers gardeners white or yellow flowers. I’ll be on the lookout for those this coming year!

Just a note on toxicity, apparently the leaves are somewhat toxic, (hence the deer not eating them), and I think the seeds are too, so though they’re related to the Pea family, they’re definitely not edible. Don’t eat them!

Thanks for visiting, and Happy Gardening!

When the amaryllis, Hippeastrum striatum, flowers are blooming it’s time to be a bee. #FridayFlower

Being a bee today! Happily, it’s amaryllis season again, so I’ve been pollinating the flowers of this bulb by hand.

I look forward to this favourite horticultural activity every year! 🙂

Also looking forward to harvesting the seeds they’ll produce in a few weeks time, and then sowing those offspring in order to grow more amaryllis babies.

The cycle continues!

More on this amaryllis: Its botanical name is Hippeastrum striatum.  It’s believed to be one of the first hybrid amaryllis, with a modern botanical history dating back to the late 1700’s.

Sometimes called a ‘Barbados lily’, this flowering herbaceous perennial bulb plant hails from the Amaryllidaceae family, and it’s native to the southern and eastern regions of Brazil.

It was originally brought to the UK upon its discovery back in 1759, and first listed in the Library at Kew in 1789.

Discovering more history on this amaryllis is very exciting!

I only wish I could share this information with my late great Uncle Allan from whom I inherited the plant. He always wanted to know more about the amaryllis because it originated from his grandmother, who incidentally was my Great-great Grandmother.

But, that’s not going to happen now, so I’m just grateful to be its current caretaker, and happy to continue, (in some small way), to propagate and promote the heritage and lineage of this lovely plant.

For tips on how to propagate your amaryllis, or if you’re seeking some information on how to keep an Amaryllis healthy and happy from year to year, I’ve written a more in-depth blog post here.

Happy Flowering Friday, everyone!

The joys of container gardening – DIY tips and tricks of the trade

Many gardening enthusiasts may not have big yards, but they’re still keen to play in the dirt! Happily, flexing one’s green thumb is not out of reach for anyone!

Small spaces like balconies, decks, and windowsills are itching for a pretty pot of flowers.

Great gardening pleasures can be had by any gardener, even in the smallest spaces. As a former apartment dweller, I can say for the record that anyone who is keen to grow something, can have their own little piece of paradise, too.

Choice of container and design is limited only by the imagination, and of course the amount one is willing to shell out for it!

Containers range in size, shape, and substance. Clay pots, wooden barrels, wire wall/hanging baskets, and plastic urns, are just some examples. However, with limited space, one might want to keep in mind that some containers need to be stored in a sheltered site over the winter, especially clay pots which may crack in really cold climates like mine.

Not unlike a ‘conventional’ garden plot, container plantings require suitable preparation.

Space, light, soil, water access, plant food, and of course weather, should all be taken into account. By seeking suitable plant material for these conditions, one can ensure a bountiful show, so all that effort and investment going into those planters doesn’t go to waste.

Restricted root space may add constraints to plant preferences, too. Over the course of a growing season some varieties (like asparagus fern) are more prolific with their root multiplication than others.

Good drainage is key for successful container gardening. Nobody wants soggy plant roots that inevitably drown. Nothing kills a plant like kindness! (Take it from me, I know, lol.) This is easily avoided by making sure the container has holes in the bottom. With the addition of broken clay pot shards, pebbles, or even Styrofoam chips lining the bottom of the pot, excess water has somewhere else to go.

Along with begonias, geraniums, herbs, or flowing foliage plant bulbs, seeds, and yes, even veggies will thrive in a container!

Just think of the fabulous fresh basil, (plus other herbs), and even cherry tomatoes, all of which can be grown in a very small space. In fact, one year I grew a container full of ornamental corn!

Succulents are perfect for patios, and for on the wall, too! Most of all they’re drought tolerant and as a vertical garden, take up no floor or table space at all.

I like to use unusual containers, for example a bunt pan, which can go on the patio table with the big umbrella right through the hole in the middle. It’s a great way to save space! These can be picked up cheap at most second hand stores! Violets in spring would look nice in them, too.

Tropical plants love the heat and humidity. All of my houseplants go outside for the summer, with the added benefit of making my house seem a lot more spacious during the growing season! Some don’t like too much sun, and there is a downside… when I bring them back in, once again I have to determine who gets the best sunny spots for the winter, (as there’s only so much window space), make sure there are no pests clinging about, (yuck), and our house seems once again, a little less spacious! But that’s okay!

In the past, I’ve layered the two big whiskey barrel containers, (since replaced with cement pots) from our porch with flowering bulbs. Simply plant them beneath the roots of any other plants that are dug in for the rest of the growing season. Tulips, daffodils, or crocus will shoot up and offer a lovely, early spring display! I let bulb foliage die back naturally. Other plants growing around them cover that up, and the bulbs can be planted in the ground, if you have a space, for the next year. It’s a great way to offer seasonal interest!

It’s also fun to experiment with different plant combinations, colours, textures, and foliage every year. Or not, because if you find a planting package that works for you, by all means, go for it!

Do keep in mind that many tender plants may not over-winter in containers, which are exposed to really cold temperatures that gets at their roots, unlike perennials that are insulated from frost by growing directly in the ground.

Unfortunately, most annuals aren’t hardy enough to get through a Haliburton Highlands winter. (However, I’ve had good luck overwintering parsley and kale in our raised beds). But, most annual plants grown in containers are cultivated for one season only and composted.

Geraniums might be the exception to this for me. I do over-winter a few of my favourites by bringing them in the house. Out they go again in late spring once any chance of frost damage is long gone.

In any case, there’s something to be said about gardening in containers!

Imagine a beautiful show without the aggravation of maintaining a big lawn or weeding flowerbeds!

Personally, I’m quite happy to mow a bit of lawn, and weed the garden too, which I find relaxing, though the size of our lawn shrinks every year because my garden keeps expanding, lol, (funny how that happens!) but in this, I may be an exception to the rule.

Happy Gardening!