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One of my greatest joys is gardening with beautiful flowers. After a long winter I'm always outside seeking the earliest blooms. The fresh pink buds of the viburnum, the brave snow drops and crocuses pushing through the ground all catch my attention. But my favourite by far is the queen of the early spring garden, the Hellebore.
"Perhaps the reason you are drawn to flowers is not only for their outer beauty, but because they remind you beautiful things will bloom after the longest season of waiting" ~ Morgan Harper Nichols
As a garden plant, Hellebores are a joy to grow. With handsome evergreen leaves for most of the year, they flower at a time when not much else is even thinking about it. They are very easy to maintain, needing a trim of the old leaves just as the new flower buds appear in the Spring. They are happy to bloom in shade or part shade. Best of all are the beautiful range of colours and variety of petals; singles, doubles, spotted or clear, pointy or rounded, some even with an outline of different colours around the edges.
As a collector for many years, I am fond of the more unusual colours like slatey blue black that have a sheen and a colour a lot like a plum.
Or the white ones that are heavily spotted with red.
The yellow ones can be the most beautiful shade of butter. Indeed the hellebore is part of the buttercup family but without the bad habits of spreading.
The most easy colours to find are shades of chartreuse and white and all shades of pink to quite a dark plum. There are so many variations in the blooms. But in the past few years I've been seeking larger flowers and those that face outward as opposed to the ones that droop down so that I can better admire them as I pass by.
Plants this lovely deserve to have supporting players to accent their beauty even further. Great companion plants for Hellebores are Black Mondo grass, Pulmonaria, fancy foliage Heucheras, evergreen ferns and sedges like a white varigated Carex. If you have a spot in your garden in part shade, somewhere that you might get to walk past in the winter I would certainly encourage you to plant one or more of these beautiful flowers to enjoy for many years to come.
Photo: Bud Hensley (Bud's Hummingbird Photography)
From the quick vrooom of their flight to their chitter chatter in the trees, one quickly learns to recognize when hummingbirds are near. For many years I've deliberately planted tubular flowers to attract these beautiful winged jewels of the garden. Their daily visits year round are a great source of enjoyment. I want to share this joy and my experiences observing hummingbirds with you.
My top three plant choices I've found to almost guarantee a visit and keep them coming include hot orange-red Crocosmia Lucifer, bright red Monarda 'Jacob Cline', and Salvia guaranitica 'Amistad'. Truly just about any bright tubular flowering plant is a good choice, but the genus Salvia is particularly nectar rich. Vibrant purple 'Amistad' is my top choice of all the Salvias I've ever grown because it's so beautiful, floriferous and long blooming it is a worthy addition to this top 3 list. Last year my 'Amistad' bloomed continuously into December with regular visits from the hummingbirds every day. Over the years I have observed them, these are their consistently favoured food sources over other plant offerings in my garden.
Every year, I add more hummingbird friendly annuals and perennials that suit my small part sun/part shade backyard. I have several long blooming hardy fuchsias which I love. They will visit these until my top three start to bloom. But they clearly prefer flowers they can approach head on as opposed to bottom up (like the fuchsia). They also really like to perch and eat whenever possible to conserve energy, so for this reason I've observed the Crocosmia to be their #1 choice.
With my garden at its peak in July with so many plants they love, I'm seeing not just one at a time, but up to three coming through my garden almost regularly all day. They are very territorial and will often chase other visitors away. This is the most charming high speed dance; zooming, flitting and chittering around each other; their antics are such a joy to watch.
Photo: Bud Hensley (Bud's Hummingbird Photography)
Hummingbirds have their own personalities. Some are very timid and will fly away at any movement, while others get to know you and will tolerate your presence. It is such a treat when they decide you are worthy of a closer visit. Recently, when the sun was shining on my freshly dyed red hair, a hummingbird decided I might be a possible food source. He hovered several feet from my face which gave me the chance to admire his bright ruby throat close up. Another close encounter happened when I was standing perfectly still in the garden beside a 6-foot Monarda, and was treated to an up close feeding about a foot from my face. Another time I was wearing a dress with red flowers and again, I was approached as a food source! The first thing they notice is their favourite colours; bright orange and red. Have an assortment of flowers in these colours, and you will surely attract their attention.
Once they have found your garden, they will remember and return again the following year. The trick is to extend the bloom period as far into late winter and from early spring as possible. Once all my hummingbird plants are finished blooming, I'll put out the feeder for the winter, putting it away once the flowers start to bloom again.
These tiny, exquisitely feathered friends are truly worthy of your effort to make them regular visitors.
P.S. If you love hummingbirds as much as I do consider following Bud's Hummingbird Photography Page on Facebook. He lives in Southwest Ohio, has beautiful photos and lots more advice on what plants to grow.
From earliest childhood, I have memories of the flowers my mother grew in our garden. Snowdrops and crocus in early spring, sweet bi-coloured columbine in May and fountains of pink and red roses all summer long. As long as I've had a garden, I've grown roses. From those uninspiring, thorny canes sprout the promise of heavenly beautiful and often fragrant blooms every year.
~Rock and Roll Rose
Now in a townhouse, I have space for only a few roses. But lucky me, I have only a short walk to one of the prettiest rose gardens in the whole city. I have to give much credit to the man that created the Queens Park Rose Garden as well as those who maintain it with love and attention. This garden contains roses of every shape and colour in the possible palette. From purest white through every shade of pink, apricot, yellow, red, mauve, burgundy; not to mention all the combinations of red or pink and white stripes. My favourites are the roses where the petals melt from soft yellow to pink to salmon....just like the most beautiful sunset.
~Archbishop Desmond Tutu Roses
~Cinco De Mayo Roses
~Living Easy Roses
Organic Growing Tips
If I could share a few bits of wisdom on growing roses, first it would be to pick a trusted variety for health and disease resistance. This can vary by region, so get opinions from knowledgeable gardeners in your area. Roses get all manner of bugs and problems so choosing well and treating them right will go along way in your overall enjoyment of your rose(s). The second most important thing is to meet their needs of good quality soil, something akin to a fluffy chocolate cake by liberally mixing in manure and compost. Also feed the soil, not the rose, which means using organic fertilizers like bonemeal, alfalfa, greensand, kelp and epsom salts. Of course, you can buy a premade mixture, but best to pick one with these kinds of natural ingredients. It's very important to pick an area with at least 6 hours of sun a day and good air circulation.
~Wild Blue Yonder Roses
~Julia Child Roses
Every time I walk through the rose garden, I take a moment to stop and stick my nose deep into a variety that comes in a soft red colour but does not have the most perfect blooms. Just like with people, sometimes we look past the imperfections to the hidden beauty, which in this case is the most delicious 'Fragrant Cloud' of sweet perfume you could possibly imagine. Aside from health and beauty, in my opinion, fragrance is a top consideration when choosing a rose.
~Fragrant Wave Roses
It's Spring and there's no excuse to not get out walking. Thanks to a pedestrian overpass, my route takes me up 5 sets of stairs and into the trails and gardens of Queens Park. In about a month, I'm predicting an explosion of rose blooms to enjoy on this walk. Past the park is the neighbourhood of Queens Park; featuring so many lovely heritage homes and more beautiful, well-tended gardens to pass. Bursting peonies, flags of iris and the delicious scents of mock orange and honeysuckle brightened this journey. Join me on this trip through this beautiful neighbourhood in my city of New Westminster.
Bright orange Geum and Brick Red Hens and chicks echo the vibrant colours of the paint
Bodacious Azaleas in salmon and pink complement or clash? I love it!
A pretty wrought iron gate and punchy red door jazz up this tasteful beige beauty
No shy paint colours here! I love how the graceful Japanese Maple accents the trim
The gorgeous blue flower is called Corydalis 'Blue Panda'. It is native to China and likes shade and quite moist soil. Here with other shade lovers like Astilbe and Variegated Astrantia
Who wouldn't want to sit and enjoy the neighbourhood from this inviting chair?
Campanula Persifolia or "Peach Bells"
I love how the campanula is growing up into the boxwood here!
I hope you enjoyed joining me on this pictorial journey through New Westminster's Queen's Park neighbourhood to enjoy the enchanting blooms of my favourite flowers and these charming gingerbread cottages.......