At Last

Well, it’s been a pretty long time since I’ve added anything here. Sorry about that.


We have been raising money for The New Animal Shelter since 2014. We started with our annual giveaway. On the Civic holiday long weekend, we’ve always made what was left of the annuals free. In 2014, we asked for a donation for the animal shelter with the free annuals. People have been very generous over the years and we’ve raised approximately $2500.

This year, I was given the opportunity to kick it up a notch. We have 85 new roses called At Last. It’s a new introduction from Proven Winners and isn’t available commercially in Canada this year. It will be available next year. We currently have 25 of these roses that we are raffling. For every $5.00 someone donates to the New Animal Shelter, we give them a ballot and we’ll draw for the winners on the Tuesday after Labour Day; September 5, 2017.  Once we’ve raised $500, we’ll add a rose for every additional $20 raised. This will keep the odds of winning a rose at 1 in 4.  We have up to 70 roses in total, so until we’ve raised $1400, the odds will remain at 25%.  If we raise more than $1400, the odds will go down, but not substantially.



We received 10 roses initially, and they were kept in our back area. Plants in the back area don’t receive a lot of attention. These initial 10 roses have been sitting back there for just over 3 months, with the rest being added about a month ago, roughly (it’s hard to keep track of time during the spring and early summer as we’re so busy).  They have had to deal with tons of rain this year, cooler than normal temperatures, a few hot spells where they should have been watered more frequently than they have been, and have never been deadheaded.  THEY LOOK AMAZING!  Tons of blooms and the foliage is so clean!  I have never been so impressed with a rose before.


This beautiful apricot blend floribunda rose was bred in 2010, and introduced in 2015. It has a wonderful strong fragrance. I went down to where we are keeping them to take pictures and I could smell them from 25 feet away. They are disease resistant.  I saw no sign of black spot, even though this is a banner year for fungus problems on plants because of the weather.  I also didn’t see any sign of bug problems.  No chewed foliage, and the flowers were being allowed to complete their cycle.  Wow!  It’s a continuous bloomer and will do so without deadheading.  It’s also not an overly big rose, making it easier to work into a landscape or mixed garden. It’s listed as between two and half and three feet tall, with a similar spread.  Here’s a link to the Proven Winners page about the rose:


In 2011, a group of volunteers started raising money to build a new animal shelter for Uxbridge and Scugog townships. The current shelter is getting old, it’s condition is deteriorating, and was only built to house 16 cats and 7 dogs. The population in the area has increased substantially since it was built and it routinely has twice the number of animals that it was built for. Structural concerns prevent a renovation and the site doesn’t allow for an expansion. The new location will fix these problems, and allow ample outdoor space for the animals. The existing shelter is a no-kill shelter and the new one will be as well. The townships had set aside funds to replace the shelter in the long-term, but the need is more urgent for an updated shelter before then. Both townships have committed $240,000 each to the project.



The New Animal Shelter for Uxbridge-Scugog has, to date, raised $1,080,000 towards their goal of $1,700,000. They have more than 100 volunteers helping with this and have put together a number of fundraisers. The bulk of this money has been raised by citizens and businesses through these fundraisers and by private donation, which is amazing. Building is expected to begin in 2018 with the shelter to open late next year. Their website is:


Come by, make a donation for this great cause, get a ballot for this amazing rose, and get some free annuals. I’m adding to the selection of freebies on a regular basis. I just added most of the hanging baskets yesterday and will add the rest as room becomes available on the benches.



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Attracting Birds & Butterflies to your garden

I did a talk last night at a garden club about attracting birds and butterflies to the garden and mentioned that I have a summary of the talk. Some people were interested in getting a copy so I figured I’d share it here as well (especially since I haven’t put anything up in a very long time)



  • Provide birdhouses
  • Provide shelter from wind
  • Layer the garden
  • Evergreens, dense shrubs, and trees (esp River Birch) provide a home for nesters
  • Ornamental grasses give many birds a hiding spot, as well as providing
  • Shallow water features (esp the sound of running water) attract many birds
  • Cedar Waxwings love our native juniper (Juniperus virginiana)


  • The more different perennials and shrubs in your garden, the more birds will be attracted
  • Augment your natural food with feeders (remember to clean them occasionally with bleach)
  • Resist the urge to rake everything in the fall –this also provides nesting materials next spring
  • Cut back perennials in Spring instead of fall (except self-seeders you want to keep contained)
  • Look for fruits that persist to help feed the birds in the winter
  • Chicadees look for high protein seeds in the winter (like milkweed pods)
  • Avoid pesticides and herbicides – more insects equals more birds
  • If we eat it, so will they


  • Feeders will help attract them to your garden (remember to clean them once a month)
  • Stagger the flowering time so that there is always “food” in bloom
  • Hummingbirds see in the yellow-orange-red spectrum
  • Once they learn that they can rely on food in your garden, they will return every year


  • Absolutely no pesticides
  • Provide food for them – most caterpillars prefer certain plants
  • If possible, leave weeds alone – they also provide food
  • Don’t sweat it when they start to eat your plants


  • Provide shelter from the wind
  • Stagger the flowering time so that there is always “food” in bloom
  • Butterflies also see in the yellow-orange-red spectrum
  • They prefer tubular flowers that they can get their proboscis inside – this means less competition from other insects
  • Diversity will increase the number and types of butterflies in your garden
  • Butterflies are very attracted to mass planting
  • Puddling stations help keep them in your garden

A couple of great references:


Blueberry (favourite among song birds) Sunflowers (annual)
Grapes Millet (annual)
Plums Bottlebrush Grass
Raspberry Big Blue Stem
Strawberry Little Blue Stem
Wild Cherry Wood Millet
Barberry Asters
Bayberry Black Eyed Susans
Bittersweet Vine Butterfly Weed (Asclepias)
Choke Cherry Coreopsis
Cotoneaster Cup Plant
Crab Apples (some persistant) Echinacea
Dogwoods (esp Pagoda, Cornelian Cherry) Evening Primrose
Elderberry False Sunflowers (Heliopsis)
Firethorn Vine (persistant) Goldenrod
Hackberry Helenium
Hawthorn Hibiscus
Honeysuckle Shrub Hyssop
Hop Tree (Ptelea trifoliata) Ironweed
Junipers Joe Pye Weed
Mountain Ash Liatris
Oaks Maples
Pines Sedum
Russian Olive
Snowberry (persistant)
Winterberry (persistant)
Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon)
Gro-Lo Sumac


Ajuga Beebalm
Cardinal Flower Catmint
Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) Coral Bells (esp red flowering forms)
Crocosmia Daylily
Foxglove Hostas
Hyssop Liatris
Lupins Obedient Plant
Penstemon Salvia
Speedwell Virginia Bluebells
Butterfly Bush Honeysuckle Shrub
Honeysuckle Vine Lilacs
Summersweet Trumpet Vine
Fuschia (annual) Salvia (annual)
Cigar plant (annual) Lantana (annual)



Butterfly Weed (Asclepias)


Snapdragons, Verbena

Pearl Crescent


Spicebush Swallowtail

Spicebush (Lindera)

Black Swallowtail

Carrots, Fennel, Parsley, Dill

Anise Swallowtail

Carrots, Fennel, Parsley, Dill

Great Spangled Fritillary

Violas, Passion Flowers

Mourning Cloak

Poplars, Elm, Willows

Old World Swallowtail


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Wild Cherry, Poplars

Cabbage White

Nasturtium, Cabbage

Grey Hairstreak

Peas (most legumes), Mallow (Malva), Clover

Baltimore Checkerspot

Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)

Harris Checkerspot


Compton Tortoiseshell


Red Spotted Purple

Birch, Willow, Poplar

White Admiral

Birch, Hawthorn, Apple, Plum

American Lady

Sunflowers, Pearly Everlasting, Ironweed

Zebra Swallowtail

Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)

Giant Swallowtail

Hoptree (Ptelea trifoliata)


Ajuga Globe Thistle
Asters Globeflower
Astilbe Goldenrod
Bachelor Buttons Helenium
Baptisia Hibiscus
Beebalm Hollyhock
Black Eyed Susan Hyssop
Blanketflower Ironweed
Bugbane Joe Pye Weed
Butterfly Weed (Milkweed) Liatris
Cardinal Flower Lupins
Catmint Meadowsweet
Coral Bells Mint
Coreopsis Mums
Culver’s Root Obedient Plant
Cup Plant Pincushion Flower
Daisies Red Valerian
Daylilies Salvia
Echinacea Sea Holly
Evening Primrose Sedum
False Sunflower (Heliopsis) Soapwort
Fleece Flower (Persicaria) Speedwell
Foxglove Sunflowers
Geraniums Turtlehead
Geum Yarrow
Butterfly Bush Choke Cherry
Dogwood Elderberry
Lilac Mock Orange
Ninebark Potentilla
Roses Summersweet
Cosmos (annual) Heliotrope (annual)
Marigolds (annual) Pentas (annual)
Sunflowers (annual) Verbena (annual)
Vervain (self-seeding annual – moist spot) Zinnias (annual)

table of butterflies & their caterpillars

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2014 10 12 – Winter Interest

I was looking at the pile of plants that I have left to find a home for, trying to plan where everything is going to get planted. While doing this, I’ll often cast a critical eye at some of my gardens, figuring out what works, and what just isn’t pulling its weight. These will often get dug up and moved to the edge of the woods. I’m not very good at killing plants outright, but prefer to give them a fighting chance somewhere less conspicuous. Luckily I have the room to do so.
In planning everything, I find myself more and more taking into account fall colours and winter interest. Planning for fall colours is usually pretty easy and something many gardeners do. Viburnum plicata tom Mariesii EOS - Acer japonicum AconitifoliumEOS2 - Acer palmatum WinterflamePlanning for winter interest, however, is often more of a happy accident rather than planned.
There are many ways of bringing winter interest into a garden or property. Sometimes it can be as easy as the shape of a shrub, which becomes more evident in the winter when they’ve lost their leaves. The gnarly twisted shape of curly willow, Twisty Baby black locust or, one of my personal favourites, corkscrew hazel.
Another way to get winter interest is in the colour of the stems and branches. Many dogwoods have bright red stems in the winter, and some have yellow or peachy-orange. There are a number of Japanese maples that have red, pink, coral or orange stems in the winter, like Sango Kaku, Winter Flame, or Oridono Nishiki. Blueberries and curly willows also have nicely coloured stems in the winter. Dogwoods, curly willow and blueberry branches are often used to decorate winter arrangements because of the colour of their stems. Paperbark maples and Stewartia also give winter interest because of their bark, especially as they mature. While in Boston in 2012, I found myself constantly photographing the trunk and branches of Stewartia, and then promptly planted one for myself when I got home. They don’t show their interest until they’re a little more mature than mine is. I can hardly wait.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Another form of winter interest that I’m finding myself more and more attracted to are evergreens that change colour in the winter. Many cultivars have shown up, specifically because of their winter colour. The Scott’s pine Aurea was an absolutely brilliant yellow this past winter, then changed back to green in the spring. I planted a Hillside Gold douglas fir last year for it’s beautifully rich golden colour in the winter. Jantar (Polish for amber) is a new cedar that came out this year with beautiful yellow needles all summer, but it’s named for it’s amber colour in the winter. Wintergold is a large concolor fir that also turns yellow in the winter and makes an amazing statement. Carsten’s Wintergold is a very small mugo pine that also turns yellow in the winter.
Despite the fact that I have 39 trees, shrubs and perennials left to plant over the next three weeks before I become too busy with Christmas arrangements, I keep eying the small Carsten’s Wintergold standards that have just started turning yellow this past week, thinking I can find the perfect home for one. Just because we live in Canada, it doesn’t mean we can’t have beautiful gardens in the winter too.Pinus mugo Carstens Wintergold

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2014 07 15 – Digiplexis

Over the course of last winter, I started getting emails and messages on facebook, asking if I was going to have this new plant called Digiplexis. I hadn’t heard of it so I did a quick check online, saw that it wasn’t hardy and kind of dismissed it. I figured that nobody would want an annual that was going to cost more than some perennials. But the requests kept coming in so I decided to give it a shot when I noticed it on the availability from one of the growers I deal with. I ordered 24 pots of Illumination Flame (the first of a handful of varieties) and when they came in, decided to keep one for myself, to see what all the fuss was about. The remaining plants were sold out within two days, prompting me to get more. While checking into it, I found that it even has it’s own facebook page, Times have definitely changed.

Digiplexis is an intergeneric cross (where they’ve managed to fertilize one plant with the pollen from a completely different plant) between common foxgloves and Isolepsis canariensis, Canary Island foxglove, with orange flowers. The result is absolutely stunning and it’s obvious why it was the hit of the Chelsea Flower Show in 2012, receiving the award for the best new plant. In 2013, it was awarded the Greenhouse Grower’s Award of Excellence.

Digiplexis 02At first glance, it looks more or less like a foxglove. That is, until it starts to bloom. The flowers are carried well above the foliage, on spikes of up to three feet tall. The outside of the tubular flowers are a bright medium to dark pink. The inside has pink at the outer edges, changing to apricot and orange. A veritable hummingbird and butterfly magnet. It is gorgeous.

Then, it starts to do something truly amazing for a foxglove. New flower shoots appear, all over the place. I was completely surprised at how many new shoots started to develop. Each spike will continue to grow and flower and may eventually start to bow over, but can be pinched back to allow the new shoots to really shine. And there’s apparently no end to the new shoots. It’s supposed to keep flowering until we get a hard frost.

The hardiness is listed as Zone 8, which pretty much means that we have no chance of it coming through the winter in our garden. However, I’ve got mine planted in a large pot and will be bringing it into my garage for the winter. I’m also planning on keeping a second one as a houseplant this winter, I’m so impressed with it. Check with me next year and I’ll let you know if I was successful. And if I’m not able to keep it for next year, I’ll just get another one next year. Maybe I’ll fill one of my large wooden boxes on the deck with six of them. Ooh, I really like that idea. So much for thinking that nobody would want to spend the money on an annual.Digiplexis 03

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2014 06 19 – Camera Happy

I ran around taking pictures of the plants that will be included in this weekend’s sale. I just couldn’t resist taking a few other shots of flowers that caught my eye, so that’s what I have for you today. And just in case you think I’m getting predictable in showing pictures here of what’s going to be on sale this weekend, I have purposely left them out of this post. You’ll have to check for my facebook post later.

I didn’t take notes as I went around, so I don’t necessarily have variety names listed here. If there’s a pic that you just have to know what variety it is, send me a message and I’ll get it for you.

First off, are a couple from my own gardens, starting with Abelia mosanensis, which has the most amazing fragrance. You’d swear you were somewhere in the tropics. When the breeze is just right, it wafts into the back yard as well as through the open bedroom window and into the main floor of the house. The next two are Pinus parviflora Goldilocks, which looks it’s best with the bright yellow new needles coming out. The fourth shot is Kolkwitzia Pink Cloud, which has been amazing every spring since I pruned off the oldest stems five years ago. Last, but not least, is Calycanthus Hartlage Wine (Carolina allspice), a wonderful shrub with gorgeous flowers. It grows larger in the shade than it does in the sun.

Abelia mosanensis Pinus parviflora Goldilocks 02 Pinus parviflora Goldilocks 01 Kalmia Little Linda - buddingCalycanthus Hartlage Wine

There are a lot of plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds, and a lot of them are coming into bloom now in the garden centre.

Tanacetum Robinson's Red Rudbeckia Indian Summer - opening Knautia Thunder and Lightning Helenium 01 Gaillardia Oranges and Lemons Gaillardia 03 Gaillardia 02 Gaillardia 01 Echinacea Pow Wow Wildberry - opening Echinacea Milkshake Buddleia 02 Buddleia 01 Agastache Kudos 01 Kniphofia First Sunrise

A couple of annuals caught my eye while I was wandering around. Torenias are great annuals for shade and with the demise of Impatiens, they’re ready to pick up the slack. Not to mention that they come in both upright and trailing varieties.

Torenia trailing 05 Torenia trailing 03 Torenia trailing 02 Torenia trailing 01 Torenia 02 Torenia 01

There’s lots of annuals in bloom, but the Angelonia and Calendula really stood out.

Angelonia 01 Calendula Bonbon Yellow Calendula Bon Bon Mix 02 Calendula Bon bon mix 01

I noticed that the perennial cacti were just starting to bloom, then threw in some pics of the various Delosperma for all of the succulent lovers.

Opuntia 01 Delosperma 05 Delosperma 04 Delosperma 03 Delosperma 02 Delosperma 01

Kalmia (mountain laurel) is a great broadleafed evergreen shrub for shade that I’ve avoided for years because of hardiness issues. Last year, I brought in two dwarf varieties that are supposed to be hardier, Little Linda and Elf, and then planted one to see how it held up to the winter. It looks great in my garden; no marks on the leaves, covered in flower buds – and after a very hard winter, I’m impressed. Here’s a close up of the individual flowers on Elf.Kalmia Elf 02

Penstemons have really improved the last couple of years and there’s getting to be more and more varieties that are reliable in our harsh climate.Penstemon Purple Riding Hood Penstemon Pina Colada Violet Penstemon Delft Blue Riding Hood Penstemon Delft Blue Riding Hood - buds

Osteospermum, for me at least, have always been great annuals so imagine my surprise when I came across three varieties that are supposed to be hardy. I’m guessing drainage will be key in getting them through the winter and have already set one of each aside to try.Osteospermum 03 Osteospermum 02 Osteospermum 01

And finally, a few shots that don’t really fit in above, but I just had to include them.Thalictrum Black Stockings 01 Salvia Madeleine Paeonia Itoh Berry Garcia Paeonia Coral Sunset Dictamnus rosea 02 Dictamnus rosea 01 Mellitis Royal Velvet Distinction

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2014 06 10 – New Hostas

Two posts in one week! Can you believe it?

We’ve received a bunch of new Hostas from Q&Z Nurseries in Illinois this afternoon, as well as the new Field Guide to Hostas, signed by Mark Zilis. Knowing Hosta collectors as I do, I thought that, rather than just list the new ones, I give you some pictures. The pictures aren’t high res or anything like that, but they give you an idea. You can also get more information about each one from their site, Just go to the availability page and find the one you want to know more about.

They’ve arrived in liners, 2.25″ pots and 4″ pots. As we’ve done in the past, they will be available in their arrival sizes until we get them potted up. There are two varieties that I don’t have pictures for; Pitch Black (medium), and Itty Bitty (miniature – didn’t even see that one on their site)

Baby Booties - miniature

Baby Booties – miniature


Blackjack – Large

blue legend

Blue Legend – large NEW

blue pointer

Blue Pointer – medium-large NEW


Brutus – giant

blue tooth

Blue Tooth – medium NEW

carin's wedding

Carin’s Wedding – small


Bubbatini – small

cotton candy

Cotton Candy – medium


Corkscrew – small

denim jacket

Denim Jacket – small

deep space nine

Deep Space Nine – medium-large

dorset clown

Dorset Clown – small

dinner mint

Dinner Mint – small NEW

farewell party

Farewell Party – medium-large NEW

dream boat

Dream Boat – medium-large NEW


Geronimo – large NEW

frosted mini hearts

Frosted Mini Hearts – miniature

giantland sunny mouse ears

Giantland Sunny Mouse Ears – miniature

giantland mouse cheese

Giantland Mouse Cheese – miniature


Justine – small


Hypnosis – medium NEW

lion heart

Lionheart – medium


Kaleidochrome – small


Mingo – medium-large NEW


Mariachi – large NEW

paradise restored

Paradise Restored – medium


Oze – miniature

smokey mountains

Smokey Mountains – small NEW

powder keg

Powder Keg – medium-large

woodland elf

Woodland Elf – miniature

strawberry yogurt

Strawberry Yogurt – miniature


Zeppelin – medium-large

zebra stripes

Zebra Stripes – small NEW

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2014 06 04 – Veggies, Rhodos, and Clematis

I obviously haven’t been great about my weekly posts as I had intended this year, but after a few grueling 90-100 hour weeks and some amazing helpers, we’re starting to get caught up after the very late start to the year. I promise to make the lack of posts up to you with what everybody wants – eye candy! (pictures, and plenty of them)

A few years ago, grafted tomatoes started showing up, in limited numbers, from one of the big growers in Ontario. Then, I noticed a second grower carrying them. This year all of the growers of veggies seem to have them, and with good reason.

Grafting tomatoes, and other vegetables, has been done in Asia and Europe for years for greenhouse production. Grafting results in increased vigor for improved quality and quantity of tomatoes. They have better tolerance of environmental problems, like flooding, poor soils, salt tolerance, and temperature extremes (like going from Winter to mid-Summer over a couple of days, not that that ever happens here). They have a more abundant harvest over a longer period of time. In reading up on them I ran across some statistics from a place that did trials and found a 30-50 percent boost in yield without any change in flavour. It also increases resistance to soil-borne diseases and nematodes. This is why grafting came about in the first place and is important on a couple of levels. Many heirloom tomatoes are prone to soil-borne diseases, like verticillium wilt, and pests, like nematodes. They also, traditional, produced less tomatoes than the newer hybrids. By grafting them onto hardy, resistant root-stock, these problems are substantially less likely to happen. Add to that the fact that many pesticides are no longer available, and it’s a win-win situation. They also require less water and less fertilizer.

Tomato 01 Tomato 04

Another trend in vegetable gardening is to plant the veggies in your mixed beds, among the perennials and annuals. And why not? There are a number of ornamental peppers out there that just happen to be great tasting hot peppers, like Black Olive pictured below. The vegetable or fruit themselves can be very ornamental and, even though they don’t last long, the flowers can be pretty too, only most people don’t seem to notice them. The pretty dusky pink flower below is from one of the grafted Eggplants.

Pepper Black Olive 01 Eggplant 01

One veggie that often gets overlooked is the tomatillo. I’ve grown them for years. One of my customers used to bring me in a bunch of seedlings. They produce these green tomato-like fruit in a husk and I’ve eaten them fresh, but mostly use them while cooking. They are an essential part of salsa verde and I always put them in guacamole. I’ve seen them occasionally at the grocery store, but not too often, so growing them myself is even more important. You need two plants for fruit, but you get a lot. I’ve had to raise them up high, though, because Latte, my yellow lab also seems to love them.

Tomatilllo 02

Raymond Evison is a world-renowned Clematis breeder and has been responsible for some absolutely stunning varieties over the years. His varieties are known for their exceptionally long bloom time and we’ve been focusing more and more on his varieties the last couple of years. I happen to be out in the garden centre today with my camera and snagged a bunch of shots of some of his varieties in bloom. The picture title contains the names of the varieties.

Clematis Zara 02 Clematis Shimmer 02Clematis Picardy 01 Clematis Parisienne 01 Clematis Fleuri 02 Clematis Filigree 01 Clematis Chevalier 01 Clematis Cherokee 02 Clematis Chelsea 04 Clematis Cezanne Clematis Anna Louise 02 Clematis Angelique 01

A couple of note (and it’s not easy to only gush about a couple) are Reflections which changes as the flower ages, Petit Faucon which starts as a diminutive nodding dark purple bell, then the four petals open and twist.

Clematis Reflections 03 Clematis Reflections 04Clematis Petit Faucon 11 Clematis Petit Faucon 02

I think, however, that I might have a new favourite. The Countess of Wessex made me put down my camera so I could see it with only my eyes. It was breathtaking.

Clematis The COuntess of Wessex 04


While I was out with my camera, I couldn’t help but notice the Rhododendrons nearby, screaming to have their pictures taken, so with no further ado…

Rhodo Roseum Eegans 05Rhodo Tapestry 02 Rhodo Pearces American Beauty 03 Rhodo Nova Zembla 02 Rhodo Ingrid Mehlquist 03 Rhodo Helsink University 03 Rhodo Florence Parks 01

‘Double Besse’ was the one begging for attention as I photographed the Clematis, and is definitely deserving of the coveted last position in the post.Rhodo Double Besse 03

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