Scintillating Salvias

Just home from England hours ago, I’m up early this morning sorting mail and other detritus and just discovered one of the newspaper columns published while I was away failed to include any of the plant photos submitted with the text.  I’m sure there was reason, but was sad to see the Toronto Botanical Garden (which I visited during the Garden Bloggers Fling, June 4-8) didn’t get its due.  To compensate, I’d like to highlight a few of its spectacular plantings here.

Meadow-Like Garden in Toronto Depends on Salvias (excerpted from the Greenville News)

Toronto Botanical Garden's Entry Garden Walk

Toronto Botanical Garden’s Entry Garden Walk

Recently, I visited the Toronto Botanical Garden, and though the garden is relatively new, there was much to enjoy.  I particularly liked the Entry Garden Walk, an area comprising a double border of herbaceous and woody plants designed by Dutch garden designer and plantsman, Piet Oudolf, which is true to his usual “sophisticated meadow” style.

More of the double border, with Phlomis tuberosa ‘Amazone’ in the upper right.

More of the double border, with Phlomis tuberosa ‘Amazone’ in the upper right.

Typically, Oudolf combines bold drifts of perennials and grasses interspersed with shrubs and small trees.  His plant selection is driven by a strong predilection for architectural form and texture, plus autumn and winter interest.

Though flower color is not Oudolf’s main focus, he has a flair for creating harmonious combinations.  The early-June mix in the Toronto garden was dominated by shades of purple, accented with touches of white, pink, and burgundy.

Baptisia 'Purple Smoke' (B. alba x B. australis)

Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’ (B. alba x B. australis)

There were purple ‘Globemaster’ alliums, as well as ‘Purple Smoke’ baptisias, and a very handsome clump of lavender-hued Phlomis tuberosa ‘Amazone’.  What really caught my eye, though, was a stunning trio of salvias that punctuated the borders with vivid, upright jolts of color.

The first, Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’, a plant I grew in my previous, sunny garden, is a beautiful old world sage with dusky grape-colored flower stems and striking blue-violet flowers.  Its narrow bloom spikes, crowded with flowers, typically stand 24 to 30-inches tall.  Soon after its introduction, it was honored as winner of the 2000 Outstanding New Perennial Award by the International Hardy Plant Union.

Salvia nemerosa ‘Caradonna’

Salvia nemerosa ‘Caradonna’

Similar in form and standing equally tall, Salvia nemorosa ‘Amethyst’ offers neon purple stems and calyces accented with rich, lavender-pink flowers.  Raised by Oudolf himself and honored with the prestigious Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society, it’s considered the best pink-hued variety.

Saliva nemorosa 'Amethyst'

Saliva nemorosa ‘Amethyst’

The final salvia, ‘Madeline’, also introduced by Oudolf, was discovered as an open pollinated seedling in a patch of Salvia hians.  Featuring branching spikes of bicolor flowers with a violet-blue upper calyx with a white lower lip, the eye-catching ‘Madeline’ grows to about 2-feet tall.

Salvia 'Madeline'

Salvia ‘Madeline’

Perennial salvias, such as those mentioned here, are easy to grow in the Upstate, as they are both heat-loving and drought-tolerant once established.  I’ve never seen them suffer from pest or disease and they actually prefer little or no fertilizer.  Maintenance is limited to removal of old stems just as new growth begins to emerge in early spring and pruning after bloom to encourage a second or even third flush of flowers.

Cheers from England!

Since arriving in England, each day has been packed with over-the-top gardens such as Gresgarth Hall, home of designer Arabella Lennox-Boyd.  I’m looking forward to sharing more when I get home, but couldn’t resist this teaser…

Gresgarth Hall

Gresgarth Hall

(F) Ian Graham, our guide, and Chris Crowder, Head Gardener at nearby Levens Hall (who facilitated our visit to Gresgarth), and the best travel group ever--from SC, NC, OK, and CA.

(F) Ian Graham, our guide, and Chris Crowder, Head Gardener at nearby Levens Hall (who facilitated our visit to Gresgarth), and the best travel group ever–from SC, NC, OK, and CA.

 

Wordless Wednesday–Girls on the Go!

Garden Bloggers Fling, Toronto, June 4-8, South Carolina Contingent:  Julie (Garden Delights), Lisa (Natural Gardening), Janet (Queen of Seaford), Marian (Hortitopia), Karin (Southern Meadows), and Julie (Into the Southern Wild)

Garden Bloggers Fling, Toronto, June 4-8, South Carolina Contingent: Julie (Garden Delights), Lisa (Natural Gardening), Janet (Queen of Seaford), Marian (Hortitopia), Karin (Southern Meadows), and Julie (Into the Southern Wild)

Annual Convention of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, Memphis, June 9-16, South Carolina Contingent:  (Front, L to R) Juliet, Tammy; (M) Corky, Sylvia, Lynn, Janet; (B) Caroline, Laurie, Marian, Anne, Kathy, Katie, Jackie

Annual Convention of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, Memphis, June 9-16, South Carolina Contingent: (Front, L to R) Juliet, Tammy; (M) Corky, Sylvia, Lynn, Janet; (B) Caroline, Laurie, Marian, Anne, Kathy, Katie, Jackie

GFWC Executive Committe,  honored and thrilled to become a partner with St. Jude Children's Reasearch Hospital, Memphis, June  10:  (Front, L to R)  President-Elect Sheila, President Babs, St. Jude Coordinator; (B) Second V-P Marian, Secretary Deb, Treasurer Suellen, Director of Junior Clubs Cathy Jo

GFWC Executive Committe, honored and thrilled to become a partner with St. Jude Children’s Reasearch Hospital, Memphis, June 10: (Front, L to R) President-Elect Sheila, President Babs, St. Jude Coordinator; (B) Second V-P Marian, Secretary Deb, Treasurer Suellen, Director of Junior Clubs Cathy Jo

UK Bound, June 18-28, Emmy, Sharon, Marian, Karen, Sandy, plus  19 more!  Visiting Tatton Park, Bodnant, Levens Hall, Gresgarth Hall, Arley Hall, Wollerton Old Hall, Bridgemere Garden World, Chatsworth House, Haddon Hall, Fountains Abbey, Studley Royal, Parcevall Hall Gardens, Scampston Walled Garden, Castle Howard (on first day of flower festival), and Harewood House.

UK Bound, June 18-28, Emmy, Sharon, Marian, Karen, Sandy, plus 19 more! Visiting Tatton Park, Bodnant, Levens Hall, Gresgarth Hall, Arley Hall, Wollerton Old Hall, Bridgemere Garden World, Chatsworth House, Haddon Hall, Fountains Abbey, Studley Royal, Parcevall Hall Gardens, Scampston Walled Garden, Castle Howard (on first day of flower festival), and Harewood House.

Footings poured and covered, brick for columns to be delivered tomorrow.  Porch should be well underway when I return home!

Footings poured and covered, brick for columns to be delivered tomorrow. Porch should be well underway when I return home!

Construction Zone

Yesterday…

DSC_2731

Today!

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Last week, while the deck was still in place, the double window on the top floor was replaced to allow room for a hipped roof over the soon-to-be built porch.

DSC_2664

DSC_2970

Notice, too, the board nailed across the doors that will open onto the new addition.

Unfortunately, I left yesterday morning just as the crew was arriving and didn’t return home until after dark, so I missed the excitement of seeing the deck removed.  The construction time is estimated at 10 weeks, but some of the materials were not ordered until we (finally) had the building permit in hand, so there could be a delay.

But, oh, sweet progress!  Next up…bulldozer removal of the 1952 patio!

 

 

Going Out of My Way

When I have a driving trip ahead of me, I’m usually in a hurry.  My plan is to leave early, stop as little as possible, and get the trip behind me.  There’s only one exception.  If I’m going to Virginia and have the flexibility to add an hour to my trip, I detour from my usual route north on I-85, swing through Raleigh, and then continue east to take I-95 to my destination.

Plant shed at the Raleigh Farmers Market.

Plant shed at the Raleigh Farmers Market.

Why?  Because the best Farmers Market on the Eastern Seaboard is in Raleigh at 1201 Agriculture Street, and one of my favorite plant vendors, Urban Oasis, always makes me glad I went out of my way.

In addition to the volume buyer’s areas, the market offers more than 15,000 square feet of enclosed shops (wine, cheese, soap, etc.), 2 acres of market imports (trellises, fountains, etc.), three restaurants, and, most importantly, more than 30,000 square feet of open sheds for produce and plants.

Heaven on earth...inside the plant shed at the Raleigh Farmers Market.

Heaven on earth…inside the plant shed at the Raleigh Farmers Market.

Last Friday, I was barely able to squeeze in a visit, so I made a beeline to the plant shed.  It took just a few minutes to locate Urban Oasis and proprietor Bill DeMent, who makes the search easy by hanging a stuffed parrot above his booth.

"Plant a piece of paradise" is Bill's motto...note parrot tail feathers!

“Plant a piece of paradise” is Bill’s motto…note parrot tail feathers!

Shopping with Bill is quick and fun, especially for me, as I only take a glance at the sun-loving plants before scouring the shade area for anything I don’t already have.  Here’s my latest haul…

Shade plants from Urban Oasis, Raleigh Farmers Market.

Shade plants from Urban Oasis, Raleigh Farmers Market.

Front row (L to R):  Seemannia x hybrida (Hardy Gloxinia), Ledebouria copperi (Jessop), Asarum ‘Ling Ling’

Middle row (L to R):  Speirantha convallarioides (evergreen Lily of the Valley), Ardisia ‘Hakaukan’ (Marlberry), Disporopsis jinfushaneasis (dwarf evergreen Solomon’s Seal)

Back row (L to R):  Lepisorus bicolor (Ribbon Fern), Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (Leadwort), and Disporum cantoniese (Fariy Bells)

The plants are always high quailty and the price is good too.  Only $88 for this collection!

 

 

Wordy Wednesday

I’m a bit forlorn I’m not in London this week for the Chelsea Flower Show, but after a month of back-to-back trips, I’m relishing a couple of weeks at home.  Recently, I was able to squeeze in a pleasant morning at the Joyful Garden Tour sponsored by Christ Church Episcopal, where I captured the enticing image below.

A Charleston-style garden featured on the Joyful Garden Tour.

A Charleston-style garden featured on the Joyful Garden Tour.

Although not at Chelsea, I’ve found a pretty good substitute—four episodes of a recent British television show, now on YouTube, called The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge.  This link is to the first show, a cottage garden design challenge.  If you watch this one, the other episodes should pop up in a “suggested” box.

I never tire of garden tours, which is a good thing, as I’ll soon be in Toronto for the 2015 Garden Bloggers Fling, quickly followed by this year’s first visit to England (outlined here).  If interested, the September tour to England, which includes a visit to the private gardens of HRH the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at Highgrove, still has a couple of openings, as does the August tour to Boston & the Berkshires.

Wherever your upcoming travels take you, I hope they’re filled with flowers and fun…

Terry Gentry's salmon-colored Louisiana iris.

Terry Gentry’s salmon-colored Louisiana iris.