Thursday, August 17, 2017

No Summer is Complete Without a Visit to Buffalo

Kevin and I have been going to the Buffalo Garden Walk for about five years now.  This year, knowing that we'd be visiting many of the gardens at the Garden Writers Association Conference, we skipped our annual visit.  For those of you who may not know about the Walk, on the last weekend of July there is a free self-guided garden tour of over 400 private gardens.  If you love poking around other folks' gardens and enjoy talking to the gardeners who created these little bits of paradise, this is THE event of the summer season.  Around 60,000 visitors from around the world, scatter around the city to take in as many gardens as they can.  They choose a neighbourhood or two, or three or four, park the car, or their bikes and wander through the open gardens that are marked with bright yellow signs.

For any of you who have been on a garden tour, you know there's a lot of work involved in making your garden look fabulous.  And these kind Buffalonians, who had barely recovered from herds trouping through their gardens the week before, who should have been wearing their bathrobes and drinking gin and tonics, beer, wine, name your poison, on the back porch recovering from the onslaught, were beyond kind to keep up that garden-tour-fine-polish so that we could experience their gardens at their very best.

Thank you so much to our Garden Hosts!  Your gardens looked amazing and I so appreciated how much work you went to in order to have things looking so well for two consecutive weekends!

Now onto the gardens.  Several of these I've visited before, but never in August.  Who knew the first week of August was when the Allium changed colour?

Quiet colour and good shapes abound.

Old favourites and unusual bulbs throughout.

We were so lucky with the weather.  A big dump the night before tossed this bed about, but you can get an idea of its happy colour.

The back patio is perfect for watching the garden grow.

Vegetable library complete with library steps.

Up top there were healthy veggie plants enjoying the hot sunshine.

All along the road there are wonderful surprises like this piece of artwork.

A sideways dahlia.

Mine were planted far too late and all I have are leaves.  Fortunately the folks of Buffalo were kind enough to give me a taste of what I'm missing.

Ferns are fabulous.  The gardener did a great job with the pairings.

Fellow Canadian Rob Howard in the garden.

Seed heads are often more interesting than the flowers.

Not only do the gardeners who are on the tour do a wonderful job, whole communities band together to create boulevard displays.

My Kevin and Kevin Gragg from Oklahoma State University, together representing almost 13 feet of male pulchritude.

What's better than a whole pile of gardens?  Well, a whole pile, plus one more.  Our Bus Captain Sharon Webber is a garden designer.  She grabbed a couple of us -- along with the homeowner -- to show us what can be done in a tiny wee garden -- a tiny wee garden that had hosted 1400 people just the week before on the tour.

Aren't these little guys the best?!

And, no tour to Buffalo gardens would be complete without Jim Charlier's superb garden:

Many of the gardens in this 'hood are quite shady:

and beautifully cared for:

Not on the tour but note-worthy all the same:

I've been to this garden several times.  It is always a delight.  Always something new to see.

This year, the major new project has been Thurman, who was named for a Bill's player.  He is in that naughty teenage stage - and is on his lead where he can be watched carefully and discouraged from eating the rest of the yummy veranda.

There are beautiful perennials at the front and down the side of the garden.  And at the back, a great display of tender plants.

Talk about a candy store for gardeners and those who just like to have their eyeballs colour-tickled.

Count the coleus....savour the solenostemon...imagine all the pinching out of tips to produce this full collection.

This gives you an idea of just how packed with plants (and peeps) it is.

Bits of folly:

It didn't matter where you were, the view was grand:

More, not-on-the-tour planter boxes.  Fabulous shapes, colours and varieties.

A perfectly floral/colour coordinated participant Andrea Whitely from Australia:

Not only are the gardens lovely, but hand-drawn i.d. tags.  I definitely need to up my game.

You just never know where you're going to see something gorgeous.  Rounding the corner I spied this this wonderful old window inside a large stone building:

This new well-done garden shows, you really don't need grass, nor a lot of flowers if that's your style.  

So you can see that the Buffalo Style is found not only in the garden designs or the carefully composed floral selections, but in the neighbourhoods and in the gardeners who so kindly welcomed us. The best part is, if you mark your calendars for the last weekend of next July, and shuffle off to Buffalo, you too can soak up a little of this style and garden magic. And, it's absolutely free.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Summer Progress

Kevin finished his large project of resetting the stones and adding 3 yards of pea gravel to the back garden.  Everything is looking great.  Kudos to him for all his hard work!

 The birds are beyond delighted to have their bath back.

A dog-day cicada (Neotibicen canicularis) getting ready for flight on one of the dining chairs.  Such a prehistoric looking creature.

I thought it might hide when the skies let loose -- but no.  Just sat there and got soaked.

I was fortunate enough to get some samples from Proven Winners(R).  This is one of my favourites.  It is Rockin' (TM) Deep Purple Salvia and will be available next year in nurseries.  It is an absolute hummingbird magnet!  Hopefully, I'll get a shot of one feasting to show you.  Just as a note, I've got two of these plants.  The one in the pot is doing better than the one planted in the ground - faster to bloom and more vigorous.  It's a big plant for a pot, about 80cm wide and over a meter high, so it's living up to its tag height of 30-40".  Very airy in growth with the flowers held above the foliage.  I would definitely grow it again.

A quick zip to the front yard.  Usually have Eupatorium 'Gateway' in the mix with its pretty pink/maroony flowers.  This year it's much smaller.  One of the few perennials to have not done so well coming out of the winter and wet spring.

Every past year this species Hosta, H. montana macrophylla, looks worse for wear with heat and sun damage.  This year, there's a bit of brown, a few bunny nibbles, but otherwise, it looks great.

Another Proven Winners 'Blue Chiffon' (R) Rose of Sharon.  More purple than blue, don't you think? People walking down the street have exclaimed, "What a beautiful purple Rose of Sharon!"  Who am I to set them straight?

Ipomopsis rubra such a lovely wildflower.

Now, speaking of blue, this little plant is called Blue Ginger - it looks a little like ginger, but I'm thinking more like the Tradescantia family it belongs to.  Finally started to grow well.  I got it as a tiny little slip from Hawaii. Its proper name is Dichorisandra thysiflora.  I am so hopeful that the weather remains summer-like for a long enough period so I can see its blue flowers.

Platycodon in the back garden:

A very happy Brunnera.

 Clean-up day upon return from Garden Writers Conference in Buffalo:

My Canada 150 back porch display:

A few of more of the Proven Winners samples.  To the right the lovely Rockin' Salvia.  To the left Golden Butterfly (TM) Argyanthemum frutescens and Campfire (R) Fireburst Improved Bidens.  Both excellent, but if I were to grow them together again, I would use a filler plant between the mum and the bidens - perhaps a begonia of some sort, or even an interesting coleus. Toucan (TM) Coral Canna in the centre is a very vigorous plant.  I need to do some thinking about what colour blossoms I would combine it with to make a better display.

Fuchsia 'Gartenmeister' is just wonderful, although a bit of a water hog.

I'd left a couple old begonias and an elephant ear in the pot.  What a delightful surprise to see them spring to life.

The Aralia cordata (on the left) with its golf ball-style blooms on the verge of opening.  And some fill-in colour from another Fuchsia planted pot.

I'll finish with the cicada-view.  Still more to come:  On the left, solidago (with the ferny tops) and at the lower right in the corner, my bright yellow Hibiscus.  Fingers crossed it will decide: Enough with the leaves.  Let's put on a show!