5.2.16

"Arnold Promise" witch hazel blooms in my Toronto garden

This Toronto witch hazel just keeps on blooming and blooming and....


Hamamelis x intermedia "Old Faithful". How does that sound for a new witch hazel cultivar? Maybe too sexy for horticultural marketing purposes (I mean, we're not selling a version of that blue pill)  but it does describe the blooming regularity of my "Arnold Promise" witch hazel in our backyard since we first planted it around 15 odd years ago.

The 2015-2016 winter in Toronto, so far, has been extremely mild with very little snowfall. I guess this makes up for the bone-crushing cold and wind chills we experienced the past two previous winters. The "spidery" yellow blooms shown here emerged last December and although we've had some very cold days in the minus 15 Celsius or 5 Fahrenheit range, the cold did not persist. Witch hazel flowers are tough anyway, curling up to protect themselves when temperatures drop.


Hamamelis x intermedia Arnold Promise witch hazel blooms by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Hamamelis x intermedia "Arnold Promise"
 witch hazel blooms 



"Arnold Promise" is a hybrid cultivar of witch hazels H. japonica and H. mollis. Other cultivars you might see at your local garden center include "Jelena", "Pallida" and "Diane". Do yourself a favour: instead buying yet another hydrangea, lilac, or rhodo, consider plunking this sad looking shrub in your cart. It won't be flowering in May (and nothing sells faster than a plant that's flowering) but rise above the mundane, common and ubiquitous and buy a witch hazel. 

You can do it!

If you prefer a native, the common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) blooms reliably in late fall instead.


Arnold Promise witchhazel buds and blooms by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Arnold Promise"
 witchhazel buds and blooms 


Arnold Promise witch hazel blooms by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Arnold Promise" witch hazel blooms


Arnold Promise witch hazel in my Toronto garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Arnold Promise" witch hazel
 in my Toronto garden 


Not a great picture above given the time of year and low-rise apartment to the east of us but hopefully you can make out the witch hazel's outline and small yellow flowers. The size is around 10 feet high and 10 feet wide so it does require a bit of space. There are tree forms if you don't like the vase shape but expect to pay "a bit more" 

Last season's leaves stay on all winter, which is a little unusual. In case you're wondering, the bottom row of dormant grasses is made up of Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra). I like staring at this combination in the summer. In winter, not so much.



Arnold Promise witchhazel blooms by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Arnold Promise witchhazel blooms 
  
Of all the shrubs I've planted since inheriting the backyard, this witch hazel has outperformed them all. It gets morning and noon time full sun, average soil and regular watering. Hardy to zone 5, it has zero pests, excellent autumn foliage and reliable late winter blooms.

Oh, by the way, there's a Fothergilla I want to show you...


28.1.16

Pigface wishes you a Happy Chinese New Year!

Or "The Trouble with common names for plants"



Chinese New Year 2016 edition is just around the corner beginning on February 8 so, firstly, let me wish you all a very lucky and healthy Year of the Monkey! I'm a Snake and apparently we (me and other Snakes) will have a good 2016 with lots of money, romance, and good health. Snakes (under the Chinese zodiac), however, are naturally suspicious and rightly so since it's the same forecast every year!

My wife, Linda, asked me to identify this plant below, whose stalks make up the the "good luck" floral arrangement she received for Chinese New Year and I was completely stumped/stalked.

I've never seen fruits like these before and I first thought they were fake balloons! I then was informed by Mr. Google that they were nipplefruits or Solanum mammosum. 



Solanum mammosum Nipple fruit by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Solanum mammosum (Nipple fruit)
in a floral arrangement

Leading up to Chinese New Year eve, which varies every year since it's based on the lunar calendar, there's a frenzy of red, gold and orange if you visit your local Chinatown.I find it's a wonderful time, a riot of colour leading up to one of the most important days for many East Asians. I'll never forget the sights, sounds and scents Linda and I experienced in Hong Kong when we made an improbable visit in  January 2000 right before our first daughter was born in August.

You'll see kumquats, Chinese mandarins and pomelos on sale as separate fruits or potted plants in many Chinese grocery stores right about now. We have a few mandarins (always with the green leaves and stalks attached to "ensure" evergreen longevity and over good mojo) ready when we pay respects to our ancestors and whatever gods we're specifically trying to appease/curry favour over the next 12 months. Whether or not we actually have good fortune over the next year isn't too important for me (one still has to work hard) but having the mandarins makes my mom happy. And if she's happy, it's more likely my kids and her other grandsons and grand-daughters will get a bigger lucky money envelope! Seriously, though, it's a time for families to come together and getting lucky money is a small but fun part of the night.

Getting pure gold-coloured fruit plants and arrangements is hard enough so orange is an acceptable replacement; hence, the presence of nipplefruit arrangements at this time of the year. There's further significance with nipplefruit in Chinese households and businesses as the plant's name is written as "Five Generations in Harmony" according to Linda (whose Cantonese is a hell of lot better than mine!) Basically, you're wishing the recipient of your floral arrangement lots and lots of sons, wealth and longevity which is still a big deal, I guess, in China and many other places. Symbolism with plants, especially flowers, crosses cultures, which I always find interesting.

The plant itself is a shrub native to South America, has hairy leaves with spines and purple "nightshade-like" flowers. The fruits are poisonous (no surprise as Solanum mammosum is in the Solanacae family which includes lethal beauties like Brugmansia, Datura and Nicotiana.)




Nipple fruit Solanum mammosum by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Nipple fruit (Solanum mammosum)


Here's a closeup of said fruits with said nipples. They feel smooth (clean thoughts now) and reminded me of persimmons. Other common names for this plant, besides nipplefruit,  include cow's udder, pigface, zombie apple, titty fruit and, my favourite,  "Apple of Sodom". You can really impress your friends by reciting these facts but please don't come across too much of a plant nerd.

In Japan, it's called "fox face" and "fox eggplant" after being translated into English. I thought being called an eggplant could be problematic if they are ingested in error.

Ah, the perils by using common names!



26.1.16

Riverdale, Toronto back yard garden cleanup

A backyard garden cleanup in the Riverdale area of Toronto


Here are some more "before"and "after" pictures of a garden cleanup completed last summer. There are two rectangular beds involved, both running north-south along the property lines. The clients are another couple with young children and this property in Riverdale includes their first garden. 



Toronto Riverdale back yard garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Riverdale back yard garden cleanup before 


This picture shows one of the beds completely choked with creeping bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides), a terrible weed that I regularly deal with. It spreads aggressively by underground stems (rhizomes) that need to be dug out. There is also an ancient climbing rose that hasn't been pruned in many years and is a hazard for the clients as they walk to and from the house to the back driveway on the path you see. A large mature crabapple provides shade and is located in the upper left corner.



Toronto Riverdale back yard garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Riverdale back yard garden cleanup after


After extensive weeding, the bed actually contained some nice clumps of summer phlox. I applied a 2-3" layer of mulch to suppress weeds that will surely try to re-establish.



Toronto Riverdale back yard garden clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Riverdale back yard garden clean up before 


The other garden bed opposite to the one described above was not any less weedy. This bed faces east and gets full sun for most of the day. There was also another climbing rose (or two?) that the clients did not want to keep so out it went.




Toronto Riverdale back yard garden clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Toronto Riverdale back yard garden clean up after 


Again, some existing summer phlox were kept. The plant you see in the lower left corner is a Summersweet shrub ( Clethra alnifolia ) that I asked the clients to buy to replace the roses. I asked for three, they bought one. Oh well!



Riverdale Toronto backyard garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Riverdale Toronto backyard garden cleanup before



Riverdale Toronto backyard garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Riverdale Toronto backyard garden cleanup after 


Riverdale Toronto back yard garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Riverdale Toronto back yard garden cleanup before


Looking south showing the west bed, you'll notice that big clump of ribbon grass in the foreground. While it does brighten up a shady area, it is quite aggressive and the clients preferred to use the space instead to grow vegetables with their children.




Riverdale Toronto back yard garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Riverdale Toronto back yard garden cleanup after 


Riverdale Toronto back yard garden clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Riverdale Toronto back yard garden clean up before 


Looking south down the east bed, you'll notice the maple saplings and large climbing rose that needed to be removed. The rose actually grew up and into the large crabapple tree that's shading this area. It's a bit of a challenge yanking out 12 foot long rose canes out of trees!



Riverdale Toronto back yard garden clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Riverdale Toronto back yard garden clean up after 

15.1.16

The Junction, Toronto back yard garden clean up

A back yard garden cleanup in the Junction neighbourhood



This garden cleanup was from a few years ago. The Junction is a funky neighbourhood in the western part of Toronto and "funky" would describe this backyard before I cleaned it up. The owners are a couple with a young child who have little time to maintain the garden.

Weeds like goldenrod, lamb's quarters, and more than a few thistles took over the back area; moreover, Virginia Creeper was on its way in covering the lawn completely. Shrubs like purple leaf sandcherry, lilac and a variegated willow required much-needed pruning and shaping.

These next two pictures were taken from the raised deck, looking east. (The fenced in area next to the garage is a dog run area installed by the previous owner.) Yes, many of the weeds were at least 3 feet tall!




The Junction backyard garden cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
The Junction backyard garden cleanup before 




The Junction backyard garden clean up after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
The Junction backyard garden clean up after 



These next two before and after shots are looking west, on the ground level towards the back of the house. I suggested to either overseed the lawn or to replace it with new sod. The area does receive full sun for most of the day so growing turf can certainly occur.



The Junction backyard garden clean up before by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
The Junction backyard garden clean up before 




The Junction backyard garden cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services Toronto
The Junction backyard garden cleanup after

3.1.16

Barbados's Orchid World and Tropical Flower Garden


A Tropical Garden in Barbados


We're firmly entrenched in another long Toronto winter so any flower pictures I post in the near future have to originate from a local Conservatory or more balmier locations. I think Barbados would be classified as "balmy" when Linda and I visited the island during our Southern Caribbean cruise last October: sunny, hot and humid. After waking up in Bridgetown (the ship travels between islands while you're asleep, so civilized!), we took part in an excursion which included a short visit to "Orchid World."

According to this link, "Orchid World is located on six acres surrounded by sugarcane in the heart of the Barbados countryside. With an elevation of 810 ft a number of vantage points allow you to take in the view. The location is ideal for growing and displaying the more than 20,000 Orchids."

For the record, I didn't see 20,000 orchids blooming but to be reasonable it just depends on the timing of your visit. It was still very interesting to see orchids growing and blooming bareroot as I'll show you below.

(I'm not obsessed with orchids although I can easily see how and why many are entranced with all things Vanda, Phalaenopsis, Cattleya, Dendrobium, et al. I wrote a book review a while ago about Eric Hansen's "Orchid Fever: A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust and Lunacy" It's a great read and you don't have to have the "fever" to understand the lengths some people will go to collect, grow and display these plants. Lord, you can replace "orchid" with "hosta" in the title and it would still make perfect sense!)

It was a self-guided tour, more or less, and while I wished more orchids were blooming (so that I could take more photos!), it was still very nice to see splashes of colour and work off the large breakfast we had on the cruise ship. Here are some highlights from our visit to this "bajan" tropical garden which will especially help northern gardeners get through yet another long winter.

Enjoy!


Dendrobium bigibbum Cooktown orchid at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Dendrobium bigibbum (Cooktown orchid) 
at Orchid World, Barbados 


Heliconia psittacorum at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Heliconia psittacorum 
at Orchid World, Barbados 




Hibiscus rosa-sinensis white tropical hibiscus at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (white tropical hibiscus) 
at Orchid World, Barbados




Linda at the waterfall Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Linda at the waterfall 
in Orchid World,  Barbados

My better half, enduring yet another "photo op" request!






Moses-in-a-Basket Rhoeo discolor at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Moses-in-a-Basket (Rhoeo discolor)
 at Orchid World,  Barbados 

Moses-in-a blanket aka boat lily has many different common and botanical names. I absolutely love the variegation and it seems to be a highly effective groundcover. Too bad we're stuck with Pachysandra, Lamium, etc. up here.



Moses-in-a-Basket Tradescantia spathacea at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Moses-in-a-Basket (Tradescantia spathacea)
 at Orchid World, Barbados




Moth orchid Phalaenopsis at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Moth orchid (Phalaenopsis)
 at Orchid World, Barbados

Ubiquitous due to the ease of propagating via tissue culture, Phalaenopsis come to mind for most people when they think of orchids.




Narrow leaf croton Codiaeum at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Narrow leaf croton (Codiaeum
at Orchid World, Barbados 



Narrow leaf croton Codiaeum Aureum-macalatum at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Narrow leaf croton (Codiaeum aureum-macalatum
at Orchid World, Barbados 




Ornamental pineapple ananas bracteatus at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Ornamental pineapple (Ananas bracteatus)
 at Orchid World Barbados 


I love the form and texture of this banana. I'd put it in large blue container with Canna "Tropicanna" to make a strong statement!





Orthosiphon stamineus Cat's whiskers at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Orthosiphon stamineus (Cat's whiskers) 
at Orchid World,  Barbados. 

The common name for this plant is appropriate!



Palms at Orchid World in Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Palms at Orchid World in Barbados 


Papilionanthe teres at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Papilionanthe teres 
at Orchid World,  Barbados


Red vanda at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Red Vanda at Orchid World, Barbados




Strobilanthes dyerianus Persian Shield at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Strobilanthes dyerianus (Persian Shield) 
at Orchid World,  Barbados 

I've seen Persian Shield sold here in Toronto as an annual and is much nicer than run-of-the mill begonias or geraniums.








Vanda coerulea at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Vanda coerulea at Orchid World, Barbados

Vanda coerulea Blue Vanda at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Vanda coerulea (Blue Vanda) 
at Orchid World, Barbados

Aren't the blue and spotted pattern wonderful? Well, I think they are!


Waterfall at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Waterfall at Orchid World, Barbados




Waterfall fish pond at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Waterfall and fish pond 
at Orchid World, Barbados 


The "Fish Whisperer" in action! The goldfish were not impressed.




Yellow and purple Cattleya at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Yellow and purple Cattleya 
at Orchid World,  Barbados



Dwarf Poinciana Caesalpinia pulcherrima at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Dwarf Poinciana (Caesalpinia pulcherrima
at Orchid World,  Barbados




 Acalypha wilkesiana Jacob's coat at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
 Acalypha wilkesiana (Jacob's Coat) 
at Orchid World, Barbados





 Agaves succulents cacti at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
 Agaves, succulents and cacti 
at Orchid World, Barbados




 Screened display area at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
 Screened display area 
at Orchid World, Barbados

Here's one of the screened rooms which provide shade and protection from birds.





Aechmea bromeliad flowers at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Aechmea bromeliad flowers 
at Orchid World, Barbados 





Alternanthera ficoidea 'Party Time' Joseph's Coat at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Alternanthera ficoidea 'Party Time' (Joseph's Coat) 
at Orchid World, Barbados 




Aranthera at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Aranthera at Orchid World, Barbados 




Bareroot orchids on display at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Bareroot orchids on display
 at Orchid World, Barbados 


Don't try this at home unless you can provide the humidity! Proof that orchids are epiphytes or plants that grow harmlessly upon another plant (such as a tree) and receive their moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, and sometimes from debris accumulating around it. Some specimens were blooming although I didn't get a good shot, They were simply hung from wire hooks and seemed happy as can be.



Birdhouses at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Birdhouses at Orchid World, Barbados 


Birdhouses at Orchid World in Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Birdhouses at Orchid World in Barbados 




Boat Lily Tradescantia spathacea at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea
at Orchid World, Barbados


Cattleya labiata var. semi-alba at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Cattleya labiata var. semi-alba 
at Orchid World,  Barbados


Clerodendrum thomsoniae Bleeding heart vine at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Clerodendrum thomsoniae (Bleeding heart vine)
 at Orchid World,  Barbados




Container of canna lilies at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Container of canna lilies 
at Orchid World, Barbados


One group of cannas that doesn't have to be overwintered or trashed, as in the case for us who grow cannas over the summer and have to deal with them in November.



Cooktown orchid Dendrobium at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Cooktown orchid (Dendrobium
at Orchid World, Barbados

I find the markings and colour combination on this "purple and vanilla" Dendrobium very appealing! 




Cooktown orchid Dendrobium bigibbum  at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Cooktown orchid (Dendrobium bigibbum
 at Orchid World, Barbados 




Dendrobium bigibbum Cooktown orchid  at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Dendrobium bigibbum (Cooktown orchid)  
at Orchid World, Barbados 




Elephant Ear Alocasia at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Elephant Ear (Alocasia) at Orchid World, Barbados


Crested Euphorbia at Orchid World Barbados by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Crested Euphorbia at Orchid World, Barbados 
This Euphorbia reminded me of coral, so bizarre.

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