A group of bright pink Cosmos flowers

Cosmos adds to a sunny garden in surprising ways

The first time I saw cosmos in a blindingly sunny garden, orderliness was not the word that came to mind. No, barely contained chaos was more like it. The impenetrable thatch of tall stems thrust up cartoon-like flowers, in brilliant shades of pink, nodding in every direction. But the story goes that Spanish priests loved the…

Smoketree 1

Cotinus coggyria: Smoking in the garden

Slow growing. Too big for a shrub and too small for a tree. Straggly. Did I say really slow growing? Smoketrees can get a lot of heat from picky gardeners. But when the setting sun lights up their panicles in a shimmering nimbus how can you think otherwise than your garden is all the more miraculous…

Double blooms

Wedding Gown hydrangeas: Double the flower power

I thought ‘Limelight’ hydrangeas–with all those minty fresh flower heads the size of my head (see directly below)–were the bee’s knees. Then I discovered ‘Wedding Gown’. The blooms of the aptly named Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Double Delights Wedding Gown’ (also known as ‘Dancing Snow’) really do make you think of ruffles and lace. ‘Limelights’ will always find a…

Salvia in September

This salvia is a true blue winner

I don’t normally plant annuals in my flower beds. I’d rather invest in perennials that are going to come back year after year. And I splurge on ephemeral annuals for my pots where I can spotlight them in all their delicate and exotic glory. If a plant can’t survive our Southern Ontario winters then it’s…

Iris Extraterrestrial

Plant an iris. Get a goddess. Really.

I’ve always thought irises were otherworldly. So it didn’t come as a surprise when I learned that, in Greek mythology, Iris is the goddess of the rainbow. With this in mind, planting some of these flowers in your garden might be a good idea on several levels. What was more surprising to me was that…

Shrub and sky

Sand Cherry: A country beauty for city gardens

Set against a garden busting out all over in buds and leaves, our Sand Cherry shrubs (Prunus x cistena) stand out with particular elegance. For a nice show of wine-coloured leaves all season long, these shrubs are reliable and, quite frankly, a lovely relief from all that enthusiastic green-ness a shrubby garden can have. And then…

Hydrangea 1

Romancing the Limelights

There aren’t many “Top Performing Flowering Shrubs” lists these days that don’t include Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’. And for good reason. They’re easy to care for, widely available and offer a lot of shrub for the money–growing up to 8′ high and wide. But when it comes to ‘Limelight’ hydrangeas, there’s so much more to love. Let me…

Sutera hybrid

Bubbling up and over in blooms

Last spring, I was asked to trial a new Bacopa called Blue Bubbles, from the popular Snowstorm® collection. Given the plant had both “bubbles” and “snowstorm” in its name, I wasn’t surprised when it predictably over-delivered on the bloom front. But that’s not the reason this Sutera hybrid, now being introduced by Proven Winners to Southern Ontario garden centres for Spring…

Pink hellebores

Have s’more hellebores

Some people never have enough shoes. I believe you can never have enough hellebores. What’s not to love? They’re one of the first plants to bloom in early spring with elegant, long-lasting flowers, they have richly textured leaves and, once they’re established, are virtually care free. And did I mention you can grow them in…