Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tree profile: Hawthorns on Lake Shore Boulevard East

An eye-catching swathe of red haws (hawthorn fruit) on Lake Shore just east of Leslie (taken Dec. 6, 2013)
This stretch of hawthorns I often walk past keeps the ruby-red fruits well into winter. Have you noticed them? They're well placed for show against the dark brown SolarWall on the City garage next to Loblaws. The leafless trees were photographed last year around this date. And look at all the fruit!

I'm guessing, thanks to an evening of obsessive web browsing, that these are Washington hawthorn (also called Washington thorn – both with the species name Crataegus phaenopyrum). Some good info from the Missouri Botanical Garden here, good pictures from Online Plant Guide, and from a Canadian source I just discovered, Michael Pascoe's Canada Plants. Can you confirm my guess?

My guess is based partly on the pendant, persistent and abundant clusters of red haws. While these are beginning to dry, you can tell they were once quite glossy.
This shot gives you a good look at the thorns. Haws plus thorns equal hawthorns. These ones are long. Having elbowed my way into the tree's crown to get this photo, I can also attest to their sharpness.
Looking east lets you appreciate their massed beauty.
A few weeks earlier, the same view would have looked something like this.
In close-up, the leaf shape is somewhat variable – not consistently three-lobed. Great colour, though.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Glass underfoot in the garden

A close-up of the bottle paving in Portland-area Bella Madrone garden
There's something magical about glass, isn't there? Even when we can't see through it or when light can't penetrate from behind (like a stained glass window), it still manages to capture the light. As we approach the time of dull days, I like to contemplate bright things. Must have a bit of magpie in me.

Going through my photos from the Portland Fling in July 2014, the phrase "glass underfoot" was running through my head. Here are a few reasons why, for your inspiration and… enbrightenment.

The creators of Bella Madrone make a virtue of repurposing
As I trod this arched pathway at Bella Madrone, I'm sure I heard angel choirs sing. But I also looked down…
…where each glass-studded step beneath the arches had a turquoise glow all its own. Even in the shade of the trees.
An antique glass doorknob and glass scarabs marked the centre (or center, for you American spellers) of the spiral patio in the Fuller garden. See the full effect of the spiral in our post about chairs.
Living next door to a glass artist gave the Fullers both inspiration and materials to add glass touches all around.
As a collector of beach glass, I spotted the glass gravel right away.
Glass can add a subtle touch, too. Here's an idea you might not spot at first glance.
Glass chunks – beautifully colour-matched to the foliage of the "peanut butter plant" (Melianthus major) – are interspersed with small pots of succulent rosettes the base of the large planter above.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Not all Ipomoeas look alike

The one with the red star and the feathery foliage is Ipomoea quamoclit
Oh, botanical names. How you confuse us! These two climbing cousins have a network of colliding names. One (with star-shaped flowers) can be called cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit but also Quamoclit pennata). The other one (with multiple tubular florets) can be called Spanish flag (Ipomoea lobata but also Mina lobata or Ipomoea versicolor or Quamoclit lobata). Got that?

It's as if they put all the names in a paper sack, shook them up and tossed them on the table like Scrabble tiles to see where they landed. To top it off, they're cousins! And they don't look at all alike.

The one with the arrowy foliage and the two-toned flowers is Ipomoea lobata
Or you can just call them cool

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A 'Red Army' of garden art at Kentuck Knob

Hooray, it's November 30th!
Doing a little dance over my last post for #NaBloPoMo 2014 (National Blog Posting Month), and this amazing garden installation is dancing along with me. It's called 'Red Army' and it's by British artist Ray Smith, on display in the sculpture meadow at Kentuck Knob. That's the lesser-known brother of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater in Pennsylvania. It's something to experience from all angles.

Let's dance!
Even from way over here, we're dancin'!
Get a load of us from this angle. Yup. Dancin'
Whoopee!
Did I mention it's the 30th of November? Celebrate!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Your garden needs more frogs

You're lucky if you have frogs in your garden. They help keep down the bugs. Even metal ones.
Frogs and toads, like ferns, usually prefer moist spaces. (You can help by offering them a toad house for shelter from hot, baking sunshine. Make one easily using a broken plant pot, set on its side like a pup tent.)
Frogs and toads beget more frogs and toads, if you offer them a pond to spawn in. This makes your neighbouring gardeners happy, too. Usually.