The Gnarden Gnome

The first N is silent. The second G is silent.

Red Admiral

with one comment

Red Admiral

This lovely Red Admiral butterfly has been hanging around my Echinacea plants for the past couple of days.  However, every time I grab the camera it seems to see me coming and fly away.  Just a moment ago, it flew onto the window frame right beside me and posed for a moment.

The episode reminds me of the only time I saw a Monarch butterfly in Edmonton.  It was on my Russian Olive tree.  I flew out the door with my camera and chased it around the yard.  The photos were terrible and none of them looked as if they had a butterfly in them — but I swear it was a Monarch!  I know my butterflies!

I need to take a bunch of photos of my yard.  I have such pretty things blooming right now.  The constant hail and rainstorms have had their way with my garden this summer, but it’s still quite beautiful.  Now if I can only get out and clean up without getting a thousand mosquito bites.  If it’s not one thing . . .


Written by The Gnarden Gnome

August 13, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Stachys ???

leave a comment »

Here’s a photo of mystery Stachys that’s in my garden.  I ran out and snapped it quickly.  I would have got a better shot if there weren’t forty mosquitos on me the moment I walked out the door.

Anyway, I’ve got a couple of these plants because it’s self-seeded a few times.  It sort of reminds me of my favorite forbidden plant, Lythrum salicaria.  It’s not Stachys superba which has a fatter flower and an earlier bloom-time, unless there’s some variation within that species.  It’s about 3′ tall and in bloom right now.  Does anyone know what it is?

The reason I’m asking is that it’s a hummingbird magnet!  I keep seeing the same little guy visiting this plant over and over again.  It buzzes by everything else and goes straight for these blossoms.

I have one of these that I transplanted into an area of the garden where it’s not doing well.  I’m going to move it somewhere more prominent and hopefully I’ll have another patch.  It’s really a beautiful thing and the fact that it’s not that common makes me love it even more.

Written by The Gnarden Gnome

August 6, 2012 at 10:57 am

The Results Aren’t In!

leave a comment »

I saw a lot of great things this week while I was out on the road for the 2012 EHS Garden Competition.  This frog with antlers was a definite highlight.

I’m still waiting for two sets of judges to drop off their scoresheets.  Once that happens and I check their math (why can’t people do math?) I’ll announce the winners on the EHS site and forward the list to “The Edmonton Journal.”  In the meantime, I’m going to try to get out into my own soggy yard to do some work.  I’ve got about two dozen things I need to move around, but it still might be a little too wet for that.  Other places may have got the hail, but we got the rain in the west end.  Just a few blocks from my house, the drainage pond in Parkland on Guardian Road was up to the fenceline of the surrounding yards.  I saw a lot of drainage ponds while traveling the city on Monday and Tuesday, but I didn’t see anything like that.  By the time we got up to the northeast side of the city, it was quite lovely.  The lawns didn’t even feel squishy.  It’s Wednesday and I still can’t even mow mine!

Oh well . . . at least I missed the hail!

Written by The Gnarden Gnome

July 18, 2012 at 8:49 am

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

leave a comment »

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

I’m starting to get some typical summertime visitors to my garden.  I just saw this hummingbird clearwing moth buzzing around my back yard.  I chased it around trying to get a photo, but it wouldn’t stop in one place for very long.  These are the most interesting moths we get around here because they’re so huge and they look like hummingbirds when they beat their clear wings so quickly.  I set the camera to the fastest shutter speed and the wings still look like a blur in the photo.

The cedar waxwings are back, too.  I might have a nesting pair hanging out in my yard.  Even when I can’t see them, I can hear them whistling in the trees.  They usually strip my Schubert cherry of its berries once they begin to ripen.  I end up with a lot of purple bird poop on my deck, but I suppose worse things could happen in my garden.  Cedar waxwings are one of the prettiest birds I’ve ever seen.  They’re just a little more elegant-looking than their winter-visiting cousins, the Bohemian waxwings.

I’m also getting a lot of other visitors: people dropping off their last-minute entries for the EHS Garden Competition.  Better late than never, I suppose . . .

Written by The Gnarden Gnome

July 11, 2012 at 10:56 am

Summer Blooms

with one comment

Aphrodite Lilies

Wow!  It’s hot outside!

We really don’t get heatwaves here in Edmonton.  I can’t remember the last time we had a week of 30°+ weather.  While it’s killing a hot-blooded guy like me, everyone else seems to be enjoying it.  In the meantime, I’m looking forward to a lovely day indoors at my air-conditioned part-time job.

My plants seem to be enjoying the heat, though.  The Asiatic lilies have started to open along with many other summer-blooming perennials.  I’ve got a couple of clusters of these “Aphrodite” lilies.  They’re the double type that has a second row of petals rather than stamens.  They’re popular with florists because they don’t stain everything with their pollen.  This clump is the biggest and it puts on a real show.

This is an orange Asiatic.  I can’t remember what it was called.  It’s planted right between a pink peony and a yellow peony.  The peonies are just about finished.  I like this colour in my garden!  I’d plant a ton of orange African marigolds in this area if they didn’t get eaten by the slugs.  This is the part of my garden where the slugs hang out because the sump pump is nearby.  The lawn between my yard and my neighbour’s yard is the drainage channel for both of our yards.  Because it never really dries out, the slugs seem to proliferate there.  Not far away from this part of the border I’ve planted several gem marigolds.  I couldn’t find my favorite, “Tangerine Gem,” in any garden centres this year, so I bought “Lemon Gem” instead.  It’s nice, but I miss this colour.

Stella D’Oro

I’ve got a few daylilies blooming, too.  These Stella D’Oro plants are covered in flowers.  I could probably split the clumps soon, but I don’t know where I’d put the new plants.  I’ve also got a couple of species daylilies in bloom, as well.  My Hemerocallis fulva and H. flava are both going stong.  “Flava” has a lemon-yellow coloured flower with pointy petals.  “Fulva” is the orange daylily that grows like a weed.  I’ve got the plants lining my deck.  They’re almost tropical in appearance.  The best thing about daylilies is that nothing seems to bug them.  They’re probably the easiest of all perennials to grow.

Blue Boy Clematis

Something that is a little tougher to grow is the majestic Clematis.  I have two alpine types that do well.  This is my only summer-blooming Clematis.  It’s an old-fashioned variety called “Blue Boy.”  It’s very pretty and quite durable.  It’s actually on the chain-link fence where it meets the corner of my house.  On either side I’ve got trellises mounted on the walls.  I’ve got morning glories and canary bird vines growing there.  They should kick into gear in this heat.  Morning glories really don’t do much until we get a hot spell.  Maybe this year I’ll have some luck with them.  Once this Clematis is finished, something is going to have to take it’s place.

That’s enough for now!  I’m going to go enjoy some air-conditioning.

Written by The Gnarden Gnome

July 9, 2012 at 11:31 am

Sweet William

leave a comment »

Sweet William

I’ve got lots of Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) in my garden.  A few years ago I seeded a big patch at the base of my maple tree.  Maples are quite shallow-rooted so planting around the base of a mature tree can be a losing proposition.  Sometimes people try to solve that problem by increasing the soil depth but that can be a grave mistake.  Maples can easily be smothered.  I figured that seeding something in the dappled shade of the tree would work well.  I was right.

The patch is big and self-perpetuating.  I let the plants go to seed because most Dianthus — even many of the perennial types — don’t live long.  Sweet William is technically a biennial, although many of the plants live to see another season after they’ve flowered once.  The nicest thing about it is the fragrance.  When it’s all blooming at once, it smells so nice!

Outside of that patch, I’ve got several “Sooty” Sweet William plants threaded through my borders.  People are fascinated by these dark flowers.  They photograph quite red.  In the garden, however, they almost appear to be black.

I’ve dug up several seedlings in the past and moved them to my front yard.  I should have done that last year because I’ve only got one blooming by the driveway.  There are tons of seedlings, though, so maybe next year I’ll have a bunch blooming this time of year.  Oh well!  When you’ve gardened for a long time you learn to roll with the punches.  There’s an awful lot of blue, purple and yellow in my driveway bed this year when there used to be a lot of pink.  I’m not complaining, though.  It keeps the neighbours interested, anyway.

Written by The Gnarden Gnome

July 7, 2012 at 11:38 am


leave a comment »

I don’t really know what kind of iris this is.  It might be an Iris ensata.  When I worked at my friend’s greenhouse, we would sometimes collect the plants that lost their tags and clear them out at bargain basement prices.  I bought a few Siberian irises and a couple of daylilies.  This one is definitely not a Siberian iris.  It’s bloomed three times in about six years.  Still, it comes back every spring.  The daylilies I got from the same bargain bin haven’t bloomed because I crammed them into less-than-ideal places.  One was relocated to a more favourable location this spring and the other one is going to get moved any day now.  I hope that flowers are worth the wait.

J. P. Connell Rose

I know that this is a J. P. Connell rose.  I bought it because it was supposed to be yellow.  Sure, the flowers may be yellow when they open, but by noon they’ve turned this creamy white colour.  It’s pretty, though, so I guess it’s not going anywhere for the moment.  My Hansa rose is still blooming like crazy and my Blanc de Coubert is looking good, too.  I’ve got another rugosa in the back that I believe is a David Thompson.  Along the side of the house I have a red-leaf rose that has seeded itself.  I might dig it up and give it away.  They can be pretty, but they’re so rangy in habit.  I also have a mystery rose that someone gave me and a Crimson Meidland rose that just started to bloom.  Roses are like hostas — once you get one you need to have ten.  I know a few rose addicts . . .

Odessa Bellflower

This is a cute Campanula glomerata called “Odessa.”  It’s a well-behaved dwarf that self-seeds occasionally.  It’s also easy to split.  I like a lot of different bellflowers, yet this is my favorite.  I know that those downward-facing types have been fashionable for the last few years, but I think that they look like carcasses hanging in a meat locker.  There’s something sort of disturbing about their colour.  I am a vegetarian, though, so maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, it’s supposed to get super hot in the upcoming week.  Every day in the fourteen-day forecast I read this morning was above-average.  I know that can change a thousand times, but I’m feeling optimistic.  Now that my spring and early-summer perennials are finishing up, it’s time for my annuals to take over.  I was just outside, coaxing them with some Miracle Gro Liquafeed.  Between the rain we’ve had, the heat we’re about to get and the lack of mosquitos, this is turning out to be a pretty good year for gardening in Edmonton.

Written by The Gnarden Gnome

July 5, 2012 at 4:29 pm