A link to Lori’s Blog.
* Denotes a medicinal plant for bees
BOLD denotes special interest for bumblebee plants (buzz pollinated, longer corollas or special relationships, ie trip pollination)
Native and Near Native Shrubs: Willow (Salix spp.) maybe the most important plant for honeybees and significant for bumblebee queens, Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea) is another good one for weavers, Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) also an essential bee plant because it blooms over a period of months, Black Twinberry (Lonicera involucrata) Loads of nectar, berries used for dye, Hairy Manzanita (Arctostaphylos columbiana)
June Gap: Ninebark (Physocarpus spp.) native species is Pacific Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus), Spirea spp., native is Spirea douglassi, Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii), Native Roses
Edible/Drinkable Shrubs: Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis), Oregon Grape (Berberis spp.), Kinnikinnik (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), Evergreen Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum), Wood’s Rose (Rosa Woodsii), Prickly Rose (R. acicularis), Blueberry Vaccinium spp., Potentilla spp.
Sumac (Rhus spp.), Blue Elderberry (Sambucus cerulea), Currants (Ribes spp.) clove currant and red-flowering don’t plant European black currants, Raspberry (Rubus spp.) Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus), High Bush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum), Labrador tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum),
Native and Near-Native Trees: Arbutus (Arbutus menziesii), Chokecherry, Crabapple the native is Pacific Crabapple (Malus fusca), Pincherry, Saskatoon, Western Mountain Ash (Sorbus scopulina)
Native Vines: Virgin’s Bower Clematis (Clematis ligustifolium) beware of invasive look-alikes, Trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa)
Exotic Trees: Redbuds (Cercis spp.), Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), Linden (Tilia spp.) avoid silver linden (Tilia tomentosa); Stone Fruit Trees: apple, cherry, peach, apricot, pear, quince, and plum
Exotic Shrubs: Spirea spp., Climbing roses, Potentilla spp. important late-blooming shrub
Edible Native Perennials: Native violets, Nodding onion (Allium cernuum) and other native alliums
Early Shade-tolerant Perennials: Bleeding heart (Dicentra spp.) toxic, Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum spp.), Canadian Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) and other Aquilegia spp. toxic,
Native and Near Native Perennials: Spring-gold (Lomatium utriculatum) an early-blooming umbel esp. important for short-tongued bees like the Western Bumblebee
Deltoid Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidea), Large-leafed Avens (Geum macrifolium) and other Geum spp.
Broad-leafed Shooting Star (Dodecatheon hendersonii), Milk Vetch (Astragalus spp.), Native Silvery Lupin (Lupinus argenteus) and other Lupinus spp., Blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia spp.), Broomrape (Orobanche spp.) Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor), Native Larkspurs (Delphium menziesii ) HIGH toxicity warning
Penstemon spp., Canadian Milk Vetch (Astragalus Canadensis and other native spp.), Blue Gentian (Gentiana spp.), Monkey Flower (Mimulus sp.)
Camassia spp., Woodland Strawberry (Fragraria vesca), Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium), Potentilla spp. native species and cultivars are great, Common Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia and other native and exotic spp.),
Plains Prickly Pear (Opuntia polyacantha), Gumweed (Grindelia spp.), Rocky Mountain Bee Plant (Cleome serrulata), Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), Erigeron spp., Native Lilies (Erythronium spp.), Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium spp.), Cranesbill Geranium (Geranium spp.)
Near Native Annual: Bienenfreunde aka Lacy Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia) very important bee pasture plant for nectar and pollen—stagger-plant this throughout the growing season. Good for honeybees and bumblebees.
Late-Blooming Native and Near-Native Asteraceae: Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium spp.) Blanket Flower (Gaillardia spp.), Tickseed (Coreopsis spp.), Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritaceae), Asters (Symphyotrichum spp.), Goldenrod (Solidago spp.), Coneflowers (Echinacea spp.), Coneflowers (Ratibida spp.), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.), Gold Star (Crocidium multicaule)
Medicinal Exotic Perennials: *Turtlehead: (Chelone glabra), *Sage (Salvia spp.) *Meadow Sage (Salvia pratensis), *Oregano, *Thyme, *Dragonhead (Dracocephalum spp.), *Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
Exotic Perennials: Catmint (Nepeta cultivars) N. cataria can be invasive. Very important long-blooming plant for honeybees and bumblebees
California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) can be weedy, Liatris spp., Comfrey (Symphytum spp.), Red Clover (Trifolium pratense), Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) comes with an invasive warning, Hollyhocks (and other Malva spp.), Wine Cup (Callirhoe involucrata), Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), Sea Holly (Eryngeum spp.), Globe Thistle (Echinops ritro), Caterpillar Flower (Phacelia bolerandi) works in dappled shade, Masterwort (Astrantia major), Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), Verbena spp.,
Exotic Annuals: Borage (Borago officinalis) NB for nectar, Hairy Vetch (Vicia villosa) can be weedy, Moroccan Toadflax (Linaria maroccana) plant instead of invasive toadflax spp., Blue Shrimp Plant (Cerinthe major), Globe Gilia (Gilia capitata), Zinnias (choose the large ones) Calendula (Calendula officinalis) long-blooming and open access,
Edible Exotic Annuals: Scarlet Runner Beans, squash (Cucurbitae)
Medicinal Exotic Annuals: *Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum), *Tobacco (Nicotiana rustica),
*Nightshades (Tomato, Pepper, Eggplant, Potato),
Exotic Tubers: Dahlias (Avoid doubles)
Extra Edibles: Let some of your veggies bloom for bees: radishes, kale, leeks, carrots, parsnips
Extra bee-friendly herbage: cilantro, fennel and dill
Onions are alliums, chives are alliums and leeks are alliums. Alliums are among the oldest cultivated plants in the world, adding much to nearly every global cuisine.
Ornamental alliums however, are relatively new to the landscape, being developed in Holland around the middle of the 19th century. Many new varieties have been introduced in the last decade, and oh, what a wonder they are!
Ranging in size from ping pong ball to larger than a basketball, globe-shaped, allium flowers add sophistication, architectural interest and colour for months, rising elegantly on leafless stems above strappy foliage. They bridge the gap between the spring blooming stars of the early garden and summer flowers, and after their bloom is spent, alliums offer even more with their outstanding seed heads. Writing this article in October, I still have stunning orbs of Schubertii seed heads in my front garden that literally stop passers by in their tracks.
While popular with butterflies and other pollinators, they are avoided by deer and rabbits presumably to avoid onion breath! I have had the pre-bloom foliage sampled occasionally but the flowers are never touched. They thrive in full sun in average, very well drained soil; like other bulbs they resent soggy ground. With these minimal requirements met, alliums will bloom reliably for years.
Alliums play well with others, in fact they are best planted with leafy perennials in front to cover their foliage, which does tend to look less than stellar by the time the blooms emerge. The tall, stately orbs show well in the mid to back of the border.
The famed landscape designer Piet Oudolf favours alliums in his meadow-like landscapes, pairing them with undisciplined perennials and grasses, but they are equally at home in a formal design with more architectural plantings. While alliums in general have similarities, several unique characteristics are described below.
Allium azureum, one of the true blue flowers in horticulture, stands out from its peers by the clear blue orbs atop the 80 cm stems. Delightful sprinkled through a rose garden, with penstemon, hardy geraniums, or yellow daisies.
Bulgaricum has a slightly different flower style, with creamy bell-shaped pendant buds that dangle from stem top as it approaches the 30-60 cm height. This is a very elegant plant alongside wider leaved plants such as sun-tolerant blue hostas, Calla lilies, Alchemilla mollis.
Aptly named, Allium ‘Chameleon’ does change colour as the flower matures. Starting off dark rose to pink, then white with stripes, it is loved by bees as are all alliums. Only 35cm tall, this is one to grow in a drift near the front of border, perhaps with small conifers or broad leafed perennials.
Christophii, or Star of Persia, grows to only 50cm tall, but the umbels are a massive 20cm, followed by attractive seed heads. Each umbel consists of up to 100 star-shaped pinkish flowers with a metallic sheen. Due to the size of the full umbel, plant only 1 bulb per square foot, and allow it to stand out by planting with fine grasses. This variety has received the coveted Award of Garden Merit from the RHS.
Try Drumstick allium with Stipa tennuissima, Perovskia ‘Little Spire’, and Lilies. Diminutive egg-shaped flowers start off green, then pink then turn a dark reddish hue, and planted densely (16 per square foot) will age gracefully, fading through summer. Grow where you want a more ‘casual’ look.
‘Fireworks’ really does look like an explosion of colour. Only 20cm tall, full of spring freshness which will blend well with late season tulips in similar hues, or use as a vibrant splash among Heucheras and other foliage plants.
‘Graceful Beauty’ with 3” starry white flowers looks beautiful planted in drifts through the garden. Peonies, Lambs’ Ears, and grasses are lovely companions. This is an American native, cultivated since 1857.
Hair allium does look like it’s having a bad hair day, in a delightfully charming way, of course. Big on attitude, this little beauty is a whimsical conversation piece to be sure, and stands out with poppies, irises, penstemon and lilies.
‘Purple Sensation’ being slightly larger, looks full at 9 bulbs per square foot, planted in drifts. It is the earliest allium to flower. Outstanding combined with silver foliage, pale variegated leaves, Lupins, Euphorbia, and Alchemilla mollis. Favoured by flower arrangers for its long-lasting blooms.
Allium ‘Schubertii’ is a massive umbel (30cm) that looks like a botanical explosion. It dies back gracefully to leave behind a long-lasting seed head that may be more impressive than the bloom itself. Stunning in late spring with shrubs such as Berberis, conifers, and columnar flowers such as Salvia and Foxglove. Another RHS Award of Garden Merit plant, this one’s exceptional.
Alliums bring colour, style, and architectural artistry to the garden. They enhance other plants and bridge the gap between late spring and early summer bloom. They are reliable, deer resistant, and easy to grow, so what’s not to love? Do try them, you won’t be disappointed.
It’s hard to resist the siren call of hellebores. Winter blooming, in a wide variety of colour and form, they are long lived and don’t even need dividing. All that and they are both drought tolerant and deer resistant! No wonder we love them. They are the most collectible of plants.
Helleborus niger aka Christmas Rose and H. orientalis aka Lenten Rose are the species we are most familiar with. Hellebores seed themselves freely and are notoriously variable. That variability has long fascinated plant breeders, who had to grow their different coloured plants miles apart from each other in order to have some control over pollination. Growing hellebores was always a bit like hosting a pot luck dinner, they never knew what they were going to get.
The real challenge though, comes in duplicating hellebores. It’s only relatively recently, thanks to new techniques like tissue culture, that hellebores have been readily available commercially. Hellebore varieties are still often sold as ‘seed strains’, meaning that one will be similar to others in the group, but rarely the same. They have become complex hybrids, known botanically as Helleborus x hybridus.
Hellebores have come a long way from their original murky shades of pink and white, thanks to breeders like Marietta O’Byrne from Oregon’s NorthWest Garden Nursery. Her ‘Winter Jewels Collection’ features doubles and singles, rich colours and intricate patterns which result from hand pollination and careful selection. Even their names are irresistible – ‘Berry Swirl’, ‘Onyx Odyssey’, ‘Golden Lotus’, ‘Apricot Blush’ to name a few; they even sound enticing. The colour and form of each plant will be similar to others in the strain, but again, rarely identical.
Through successive generations the colours become more stable, and the strains improve. Hellebores can be expensive, but considering the amount of work that goes into producing them and the fact that they will live for years, they can be considered an excellent investment!
How to Grow Hellebores
We think of hellebores as woodland plants, but in their native Eastern Europe they are found growing in open sunny meadows in alkaline soil. They are very adaptable though, and will thrive in a lightly shaded acidic woodland. Although they are drought tolerant, hellebores are at their best in moist, rich, well-drained soils. At planting time, dig in plenty of leaf mould, garden compost or mushroom manure. Additional feeding is not usually needed, but an occasional application of a balanced slow release fertilizer won’t hurt. Mulch occasionally in spring with compost.
It’s a good idea to cut off all the old foliage just as the flowers are starting to emerge. For one thing, the flowers will show better when the foliage is cut away, but the main reason is to keep the plants healthy. By spring the old foliage is ratty looking and buggy. Removing it will allow the new foliage to stay clean. Put the old foliage in the garbage, not the compost.
Warning: Buying hellebores can be habit forming and can lead to obsession!
If you are interesting in exploring the world of hellebores the Plant Delights website is a great place to start
To keep your local bee population well fed and happy, think ahead to have early blooming flowers in your garden. Bumble bees emerge from their winter nests while the weather is still cold, and need sustenance right away. The Masons are a little later, when the temperature is reliably above 14 degrees C. If there are no nectar flowers to welcome them, they will not survive.
Prefer pink and purple.
They hatch in mid February, so what is available?
- early Rhodos
- winter flowering Heathers
- Winter Jasmine
Males hatch about 2 weeks before females, and wait around until females emerge. If there is no food, they either die or fly away and seek food elsewhere. Mid March is usually when the males emerge.
Best plants to have for these early bees are:
- Pieris (main food source for Masons)
- Ribes sanguineum
- Erythronium, Camas, Trillium, other native bulbs
- all flowering natives
- Oemleria cerasiformis (Indian plum)
Ideally, we should arrange to have other flowering plants around to feed the bees BEFORE the fruit trees are ready for pollination. Once the fruit trees are in bloom, probably April, we hope the bees will head to the trees instead of other earlier plants.
NATIVE BEES IN GENERAL
There are thousands of species of native bees, probably many hundreds in Victoria alone. Some are specialists (eg only attracted to squash, Aconitum, etc etc), and some are generalists, happy with any flower that passes by.
Generally the younger bees prefer the flat and easily accessible flowers, eg daisies, while some wiser and older ones know how to access even the most convoluted petal arrangement. The bees that like Aconitum for example, tend to be older bees and since only they can figure out the access to this flower, they will go from one Aconitum to the next, achieving cross pollination among all the flowers in the patch. Preferably, plant blocks of the same species of plant, not just an isolated specimen.
It’s extremely important to have a variety of flowering plants, especially natives if possible, throughout the growing season (early flowering to late flowering) to appeal to the widest variety of native bees. While some hybrids have been so carefully selected for colour, size, fragrance etc, many are practically sterile in the pollen-producing department. Native bees find native plants 4 times more attractive than the exotics.
Some good sources of pollen and/or nectar for native bees throughout the seasons: (Pollen supplies the protein and fats, while nectar provides sugars for energy. Those bees work hard!)
- Queen Anne’s Lace
- Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’
- Rubus Spectabilis (Salmon berry)
- Smilacina Stellata (Star Flowered Solomon’s Seal)
- Pussy Willow
- Digitalis – this one is very interesting – male flowers are higher up, less mature (!) than the females which are lower down. Bees always start at the bottom of the flower, work their way up. So they get they get the male pollen on their bodies at the top of one plant, then go to the next one and deposit it on the female flowers of the next plant, thereby fertilizing to set seed. Another good reason to plant flowers in blocks, the bees prefer it.
(Plant lists at bottom of page)
Hedges, in one form or another, have existed since our ancestors gave up their foraging life style and settled down in permanent residences. Over the centuries loosely piled brush, stacked rocks, iron railings and rows of shrubs have been used to keep livestock safe and to clearly mark the boundaries of personal property. Most modern hedges consist of dense rows of uniform shrubs, shaped and sheared into a smooth, uninterrupted form. High maintenance, susceptible to disease and damage and sometimes dark and foreboding, they don’t contribute much more to the garden than would a green painted fence.
If visions of butterflies drifting, bees humming, and songbirds bursting forth with notes of joy are guiding your garden plans, a mixed hedgerow will deliver all this and more, all the while freeing you from the rigid pruning schedules required to keep those conifer soldiers in perfect formation.
A mixed hedgerow is simply an assortment of shrubs or small trees planted relatively close together to form a row, which may be straight or curved, and, like an evergreen hedge, may provide privacy, wind protection, delineation of the property boundary, or even separation of one’s garden into “rooms”.
Ideally, a hedgerow is a mix of deciduous and evergreen natives and non-natives of various sizes that, combined, will contribute texture, shape, contrast and colour to the overall garden scheme. It will provide food, protection from predators, nesting sites and shelter from the elements for birds, bees, frogs and other creatures, which will in turn feast on damaging insects, slugs and weed seeds.
Native shrubs are especially welcoming to wildlife and are, by definition, well suited to our local conditions, being exceptionally insect and disease resistant. As well, native varieties require minimal pruning, fertilizer and water. Deciduous members will share their decaying leaves with the earth, and allow sunlight and breezes to pass through, while moderating the cold blasts of winter. If diseases or pests do attack one plant, the likelihood is that its neighbour, belonging to another species, will not be affected. Hedgerows need minimal pruning – the occasional thinning cut, the removal of wayward or dead branches and maybe a little cutting back and you’re done.
For a hedgerow to be successful, “right plant, right place” must apply to all plants chosen, and the plants must be able to live in peace and harmony with each other, enjoying the same soil, light and water conditions. As many or as few different plants as desired may be included. Choose a mixture of native and non-native, deciduous and evergreen shrubs that naturally grow to the desired height. Plants that have berries, fruits or seeds are particularly desirable. Even a vine or two, such as honeysuckle and clematis, may be included to amble along the row. Don’t put all evergreen shrubs together, but space them randomly as anchors and repeat each variety of shrub throughout the row in a non-predictable manner.
The plants should be placed 3 or 4 feet apart. The idea is to have them grow into each other, branches intermingling. If you have the space, a width of six feet or more is ideal for wildlife habitat. A row of smaller plants can supplement the principal row. The beauty of hedgerows is that they merge with additional plantings in garden beds, with no clear line between what is the hedge and what is the border.
Traditionally, hedgerows include such things as hawthorn, wild roses, mock orange, raspberries, hazelnuts and many more. Non-traditional shrubs like berberis, buddleia, camellias, Mexican orange, flowering currant, blueberries, laurels, lilacs – really almost any multistem shrubs, can combine to create a dynamic, living fence that changes with the seasons and adds immeasurably to the overall garden.
Below are two lists, non-native and native plant suggestions for hedgerows.
NON-NATIVE PLANTS SUITABLE FOR A MIXED HEDGEROW
Deer = generally considered to be deer resistant
Evergreen = generally evergreen in our climate
Not categorized by size as many have smaller or larger varieties
Arbutus Unedo Compacta, Evergreen – sun, drought tolerant 6-8’, white flowers and 1/2”-1” orange/red fruit.
Barberry (Berberis) Deer – oval red berries in winter. Most are under 5’. Sun to light shade, graceful habit.
Beauty Bush (Kolkwitzia) Deer – sun to part shade. 10-12’ tall and wide, attractive bark in winter
Beautyberry (Callicarpa) Deer – violet to purple berries that persist into winter. Sun to part shade.
Box Honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida) Deer, Evergreen – tolerates salt spray. Baggeson’s Gold has golden leaves in sun.
Butterfly bush (Buddleia) Deer – candy for butterflies and hummingbirds, cut back yearly. Sun to light shade.
California Lilac (Ceanothus) Deer, Evergreen – drought tolerant, sun. Blue flowers loved by bees, nesting birds.
Camellia Deer, Evergreen – part sun to shade. Protect from bright sun and drying winds.
English Holly (Ilex aquifolium) Deer, Evergreen – sun to part sun, need M and F for berries. Attractive to wildlife.
Escallonia Deer, Evergreen – wind tolerant, drought ok but looks best if watered. Attractive to hummingbirds and bees.
Firethorn (Pyracantha) Deer, Evergreen – fast growing, vigorous, thorny. Berries loved by birds. Sun to part shade.
Flowering Currant (Ribes) Deer – both native and non-native. Loved by hummingbirds and native bees.
Forsythia Deer – Fast growing, yellow flowers in spring
Himalayan Honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa) semi evergreen, sun to part shade. Berries for birds.
Honeysuckle Vine (Lonicera sp.) – Some evergreen, or semi-evergreen, fragrant flowers, sun or part shade
Japanese Pepper Bush (Zanthoxylum) Deer – handsome plant, sharp thorns and fragrant foliage. Sun.
Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata ‘Convexa’) Deer, Evergreen – small shiny rounded leaves like boxwood. Very hardy.
Lily of the Valley Shrub (Pieris japonica) Deer, Evergreen – part sun to shade. Good, 4-season stalwart of the garden.
Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ and ‘Winter Sun’ Deer, Evergreen – fragrant yellow flowers in winter. Sun or shade.
Mexican Orange (Choisya ternata) Deer, Evergreen – fast growing, sun or shade, drought ok. Loved by bees.
Mock Orange (Philadelphus) – sun to part shade, good drainage. Lovely fragrant flowers.
Ninebark (Physocarpus) both native and non-native varieties, sun or shade. Curling bark in winter.
Osmanthus burkwoodii Deer, Evergreen slow growing 6-10’, tolerates clay and some drought, sun to part shade.
Portuguese Laurel (Prunus lusitanica) Deer, Evergreen – sun. Provides cover for wildlife. Very tough.
Privet (Ligustrum) Evergreen – dense, compact shiny dark green leaves. Flowers attract bees. Sun to part shade.
Silk Tassel (Garrya elliptica) Deer, Evergreen – sun to part shade. Dry shade and coastal sites ok.
Tree Mallow (Lavatera) Deer, sun. Cut back in spring. Pink flowers all summer.
NATIVE PLANTS SUITABLE FORE A HEDGEROW
Smaller Growing Plants: 2-6 feet high
Tall Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium) – Dry conditions, sun, evergreen, yellow flowers, berries
Dull Oregon Grape (Mahonia nervosa) – Dry conditions, part shade to shade, evergreen, yellow flowers, berries,
Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) – Dry conditions, sun to part shade, will take periods of winter wet, tiny pink flowers, white berries. THUG
Red Huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium) – Dry to moist soil, sun or shade, red berries
Evergreen Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum) – Average to moist soils, evergreen, berries, seaside
Salal (Gaultheria shallon) – Dry to moist soil, sun or shade, evergreen, small pink flowers, purple berries, seaside
Bald Hip Rose (Rosa gymnocarpa) – Dry to moist soil, sun to part shade or part shade to shade, small pink flowers, red hips
Medium Height Plants: 5- 10 feet
Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii) – Dry to moist soil, sun to part shade, fragrant white flowers
Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) – Dry to moist soil, sun or part shade, berries, seaside THUG
Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) – Moist to wet soil, sun or part shade, white flowers, berries THUG
Nootka Rose (Rosa nutkana) – Dry to moist soil, sun or part shade, fragrant pink flowers, hips, seaside THUG
Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea) – Dry or wet soils, sun or part shade, attractive fall colour, red bark
Red Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum) – Dry conditions, sun or part shade, bright pink flowers, berries
Western Spiraea (aka Hardhack) (Spiraea douglasii) – Moist to wet soils, sun or part shade, dark pink flowers in summer
Larger Growing Plants: 10 feet or higher
Vine Maple (Acer circinatum)
Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) – Moist to wet conditions, sun or part shade, big leaves, red berries
Indian Plum (Oemleria cerasiformis) – Dry to moist soil, sun or part shade, delicate white flowers, berries
Oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor) – Dry to moist soil, sun to part shade, creamy flower spikes in summer, seaside
Saskatoonberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) – Dry to moist soil, sun or part shade, small white flowers, berries, seaside
Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) – Dry to moist soil, sun or part shade, white flowers, berries, fall colour
Black Hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii) – Dry to moist soil, sun or part shade, black berries, fall colour, seaside
Pacific Crabapple (Malus fusca) – Moist to wet soils, sun or part shade, flowers, fruit
Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus) – Soils from wet to dry, sun to part shade, creamy white flowers, attractive peeling bark
Beaked Hazel (Corylus cornuta) – Moist well drained soil, sun or part shade, catkins, nuts
California Wax Myrtle (Myrica californica) – Average to moist soils, sun to part shade, evergreen, seaside
National Tree Day was September 21st, and it seems fitting to acknowledge this by paying tribute to the elders of our plant world, the lofty and noble tree. We as a species simply could not exist on Earth without trees.
Most people know that trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. But it’s way more interesting than that!
DID YOU KNOW….
*One acre of trees consumes annually the amount of carbon dioxide produced bv driving an average car 26,000 miles, approximately the circumference of the earth. The carbon is stored bv the trees as wood fibre.
*This same acre of trees also produces enough oxygen for 18 people to breathe, every day.
*Trees actually improve air quality by capturing airborne pollutants, filtering them through their leaves, stems and twigs. When trees are present, there is up to 60% less particulate matter in the air. Gaseous pollutants are absorbed by the stomata on the leaves’ surface. Ever notice how good the air feels in a forest?
*Trees cool the air and ground by their gift of shade, and recycle the water they take in through their roots. Evaporation of the water held in leaves causes humidity to rise, eventually to fall again as rain.
*Trees provide shelter and food to all manner of wildlife, from birds and insects to giant carnivores such as bears.
*Tree roots stabilize soil, preventing erosion. Their falling leaves renew the soil every year.
Now it gets even more interesting….
*Research has shown that people in hospitals and sickrooms who can see trees from their windows rather than blank walls actually heal faster! They have fewer complications, and require less pain medication.
*The Japanese practice of ‘forest bathing’, or Shinrinyoku, is claimed to reduce stress and boost the immune response to cancer and other illness. Breathing in the essential oils emitted by the trees has been given scientific scrutiny, but it doesn’t take a scientist to see how good we feel after spending time with trees. For more info on Shinrinyoku, see http://www.hphpcentral.com/article/forest-bathing
It is said “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, but the next best time is today”. When you sit under a tree today it’s because someone planted a tree a long time ago. Habitat for wildlife, air and water for humans, and care for the Earth; trees are pretty wonderful, don’t you think?
Autumn in Japan may not have the caché of a springtime visit in cherry blossom time, but to a gardener it evokes every bit as much awe and delight. And we have our own cherry blossom time right here in Victoria, don’t we?
Visiting family in Tokyo, I’ve had the pleasure of living the Japanese experience; the daily routine of walking everywhere, with the occasional train ride, subway crowds, or the ever-timely local bus. These walks have allowed me to see close up, the small details of green spaces.
Wherever we go we find vignettes of beauty. The Japanese people seem to take any opportunity they can to create loveliness, whether with a small planting, or simply an artful arrangement of stones.
The little corners where sidewalk meets sidewalk speak to passersby “walk by this space, and enjoy”.
We are right across the street from Arisagawa Park, a green oasis of many acres that comprises bike trails, a small lake stocked with fish, the best playgrounds I’ve seen anywhere, and natural forests for exploration. As a gardener, my fascination lies in the flora, seeing details that never cease to please. One of the delights of visiting the park is the array of sweet gestures of concern for all who walk here!
The first thing to strike me was the respect for the aged here. Not only aged people, but aged trees! The careful support given to gnarly trunks is an art in itself.
Not just a stake with a length of rubber hose to tie it to the tree, but a padded buffer between trunk and twine, to soften the contact. Respect, appreciation, and love for these elders of the land.
A grass-like plant that I saw everywhere is Liriope, either muscari or spicata, in all its forms: dark green, the golden variegated and the silver variegated.
Liriope is frequently used in Japan not only as a superb ground cover, but as a buffer between shrubs and hard surface; a clipped hedge, then the liriope, then the sidewalk, the liriope being the softening touch between. Needing moisture and part shade, it’s a spreading grass-like perennial that does as well in our climate as it does in Japan. Liriope ‘National Arboretum’ is used everywhere here as part of the small vignettes, a ground cover yet much more. We sell this short, slowly spreading, curved, dark green grass in 4” pots, but I’ve never seen its beauty as I have here, and will be ordering more of it for the nursery in the spring.
During the recent inspiring talk by Louise Boutin at the nursery, she mentioned lifting and opening the limbs of trees and shrubs by selective pruning. Well, the Japanese have this down to a fine art; even large trees have been thinned this way, opening up the intriguing branches to light and view.
The use of bamboo is more than an art form here, it is an inspiration. Whether a bamboo grove, a bamboo forest, or a bamboo fence, bamboo is everywhere and it is a marvel.
Bamboo still growing is beautiful, but it continues its magic after being harvested and used as supports.
Whether it is thinned-out Nandina domestica planted and tied against an open bamboo fence, or wispy cedar hedging plants sparsely interwoven with the canes, bamboo provides the bones to support the green, providing a screen in even the narrowest of spaces.
Fences and trellises of bamboo are ubiquitous, and for some reason have captured my heart.
The fascination with diverse styles and methods of tying these fences, trellises and supports led me on a search for traditional lashing, the heavy rough twine that is used for holding the bamboo canes together. This also led me to a book on the subject, and an obsession has taken root. Walking for miles, wrong turns, (even Google maps can be wrong!) finally we found the sought-after Japanese garden center. Traditional lashing was only part of my search; the garden center experience beckoned this gardener with promises of Japanese seeds, tools, and curiosity sated.
Keeping in mind the fact that most Tokyoites don’t have cars, nor yards, nor much space of their own, the garden center was not surprising in its tiny efficiency. It was just a part of a large hardware store, on the second floor even, and very different from Russell Nursery!
I’m sure all of you have seen the traditional serene Japanese garden, so I’ll close with just a glimpse of the view outside my window in Tokyo, but I hope the small details described will give you the confidence to just try a few simple touches to bring the peace and beauty of the Japanese style to your own place of green.
Brilliant bark, deceptively delicate flowers and the jewel tones of berries and persistent fruits that pop against winter’s muted greys and browns; there is nothing quite like a flash of bright colour on an otherwise dreary day to gladden the heart and to entice us outdoors for a closer look. Just because its winter doesn’t mean the landscape has to be dull and boring. A veritable kaleidoscope of colour is possible with a little planning. Maybe there’s room for some of these beauties…
Best Fruits and Berries: Berberis, skimmia, callicarpa, snowberry, cotoneaster, pyracantha, hawthorn, crabapple, aronia
Best Bark: Shrubby dogwoods, paperbark maple, heritage birch
Best Blooms: Hellebores, witch hazel, skimmia, mahonia, viburnum tinus, cyclamen coum, winter aconite