Northern Shade Gardening

Transplanting Astilbe

Thursday, July 18, 2013 Category: Perennials

I wrote this article last fall, but then never posted it. The Astilbe are starting to get buds now, so I’ll follow up with some photos of how they look this year once they open fully. Here are a few of the moves I made last year with my Astilbe. Back in early autumn I transplanted a number of them to better positions in the garden. Some needed new sites, because they were being overshadowed by neighbouring plants, and others got new flowering partners. I also added some brand new Astilbe to my garden.

Astilbe japonica 'Europa' being moved

Astilbe japonica ‘Europa’ being moved

The Astilbe japonica ‘Europa’ above is part way through the move, and the rootball is sitting up on the ground. They were getting overshadowed by some ferns and other plants that had grown taller, so the ‘Europa’ were getting almost no sun. Astilbe can handle shade, but too much shade and the blooms dwindle. There were fewer flowers on them last year, and the pink plumes disappeared behind the fern fronds, and couldn’t be seen. I transplanted them to a part shade area that gets more light. The new site will get a few hours of direct sun, and then indirect light for most of the day. In the new location, the pretty ‘Europa’ can be seen better, without the tall ferns in front of them. They also get partnered with some shorter Campanula (bellflowers), so the Astilbe flowers will easily be seen over top of the blue flowers.

Astilbe arendsii 'Diamont' ('Diamond') with white flower plumes

Astilbe arendsii ‘Diamont’ (‘Diamond’) with white flower plumes

The slightly taller Astilbe arendsii ‘Diamont‘ (‘Diamond’), shown in summer, used to be with the ‘Europa, so I dug it up and moved it too. Now it’s next to the ‘Europa’ in the new location and the white flower plumes will show up much better next year. It gets some short blue flowering Campanula companions in front of it, too.

Astilbe 'Younique Silvery Pink' with blue Lobelia

Astilbe ‘Younique Silvery Pink’ with blue Lobelia

Astilbe ‘Verssilvery Pink’ ( ‘Younique Silvery Pink’) was new to my garden last year. They have beautiful shell pink flowers. The colour is very similar to Astilbe japonica ‘Europa’. Earlier in the summer, while they were waiting to get planted, I had them on my patio in their containers just below a pot with light blue lobelia.  The two soft colours of pink and blue looked great together . When it came time to get it in the ground this fall, I put it with some Campanula cochlearifolia and Campanula rotundifolia which have light sky blue flowers, similar in colour to the lobelia. I think the combination will look good when they bloom together next year, with the pink above the blue.

Astilbe 'Younique Silvery Pink' fluffy pink flowers

Astilbe ‘Younique Silvery Pink’ fluffy pink flowers

This picture shows the flowers of Astilbe ‘Younique Silvery Pink’ fully open back in summer. You can see the soft, delicate pink colour, and the numerous blooms, but they were still in their pots and flowering based on previous care. It’s supposed to be a very heavy bloomer, but ‘Younique Silvery Pink’ might not get the same number of blooms once it’s in a shady site in my garden.

Astilbe 'Younique White' and Hosta 'Francee'

Astilbe ‘Younique White’ and Hosta ‘Francee’

Here’s another summer picture. Astilbe ‘Verswhite’ (‘Younique White’ ) has been in my garden for two summers now. This cross between A. arendsii and A. japonica blooms with pretty white flowers. It is part of the same series as ‘Younique Silvery pink’. I only had one plant, and it was in an extra shady site, so I’ve transplanted it next to the new ‘Younique Silvery Pink’, so they’ll flower together at the same time.

‘Younique White’ has bright red stems, that show especially well when the shafts of sunlight filter through the branches. This photo shows the companion plants to ‘Younique White’ in its old spot. There was a Hosta ‘Francee’ to one side, some Brunnera in front, some Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern) behind, and some Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern) to the other side. The sensitive fern is long gone, as it retreats with the slightest hint of cold.

Astilbe 'Younique White' by birdbath

Astilbe ‘Younique White’ by birdbath

This summer view in the other direction showed the birdbath on the other side, short Asarum europaeum (European ginger) in front, more Brunnera after that, and some Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich fern) behind the birdbath. There are a few of the Hosta ‘Patriot’ leaves showing behind the birdbath. I actually liked the way it looked with the surrounding perennials, but I think it will be more effective as part of the larger group of ‘Younique Silvery Pink’.

Astilbe ‘Mighty Pip’ is another new Astilbe. They are supposed to be one  of the tallest Astilbe, so I planted them where the shorter Astilbe used to be. They should be able to compete with the taller ferns for light. ‘Mighty Pip’ will get darker pink flowers. There are some Athyrium filix-femina ‘Lady In Red’ (lady ferns)  in front of them, some Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot) to one side, and a Hosta ‘Francee’ to the other side.

Athyrium filix-femina 'Lady in Red' fern with red stalk

Athyrium filix-femina ‘Lady in Red’ fern with red stalk

This photo of Athyrium filix-femina ‘Lady In Red’ shows the way that sunlight highlights the fiery stem colour. Even though the ‘Lady In Red’ ferns are getting taller, I want to keep them at the front of the garden, as they have nice red stems that look good against the green fronds. I don’t want to hide the stems behind other plants, because when the sun shines through in the evening at a low angle, I can see them lit up from my kitchen window. That’s why the Astilbe got transplanted instead.

I gave these Astilbe transplants lots of water after moving, and for a few weeks afterwards to help them adjust. A couple started getting crispy leaves as Astilbe will do if they dry out, but they should be fine next year. The only Astilbe that didn’t get moved were my ‘Hennie Graafland’.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the Astilbe look  in their new locations. With their feathery foliage, they look good next to broad leaved plants like Hosta or Brunnera. Then when the soft Astilbe flower plumes appear, I think they should partner well with the blue Campanula.

 

Double Bloodroot and Glory of the Snow

Sunday, June 2, 2013 Category: Bulbs,Perennials
white double flowering bloodroot and bluish purple glory of the snow

white double flowering bloodroot and bluish purple glory of the snow

The pretty blue Chionodoxa forbesii (glory of the snow) bulbs  and the pure white Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex (double flowering bloodroot) make gorgeous companions for each other. I planted the Chionodoxa around the Sanguinaria last fall, and now this spring the pretty bluish purple flowers help show off the white blooms of the bloodroot.

double flowering Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex flowers

double flowering Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex flowers

This garden area has both the single and double flowering Sanguinaria canadensis I haven’t seen any of the single flowering ones this year, however the double flowering f. multiplex seem to be spreading well and there are many more of them blooming. These perennials are so beautiful that I’m very glad the rhizomes are multiplying. The double bloodroot must enjoy the position under the willow, with all of the bits of tree leaves, twigs, and other organic matter that they get to grow in, since they are a woodland perennial of Eastern Canada. These flowers handle a great deal of shade, as the willow has leafed out now, so there is very little direct sun here. This garden section is on the north side of a fence, so the plants might get a bit of low sun first thing in the morning, but mostly it’s shade.

white bloodroot and purple blue glory of the snow flowers

white bloodroot and purple blue glory of the snow flowers

I hope some single flowering forms have survived, as the pollinators would miss the single flowering Sanguinaria, since the doubles do not have reproductive parts. The doubles have longer lasting flowers, and a more beautiful form than the singles, but I like to share the garden with the insect visitors, too. In the picture above, you can see another bloodroot folded leaf emerging on the lower left. Soon, it will be revealing an exquisite white bloom.

Sangiuinaria canadensis f. multiplex small bud emerging

Sangiuinaria canadensis f. multiplex small bud emerging

When the flower buds first emerge, the closed white petals are wrapped tightly in a leaf. Then both unfold and the leaf grows fairly large after the white petals drop. You can see a new bud rising up in the front of the picture still mostly protected by the wrap around leaf. On the upper  right is the next stage with the flower popping out of the leaf. On the upper left is a more mature flower, fully open and sitting above the leaf. Once the flower opens fully, it remind me of a water lily sitting above the leaf. Eventually the leaf opens completely, close to the ground, and gets fairly large. The plants make an attractive groundcover for the rest of the summer.

white bloodroot flower emerging from leaf

white bloodroot flower emerging from leaf

The bloodroot flowers have been emerging in waves, so the display has lasted a while. The double flowering bloodroot tend to bloom longer than the singles anyway, but with the staggered emergence, there are new flowers to spy everyday.

white Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex flowers in front of Chionodoxa forbesii

white Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex flowers in front of Chionodoxa forbesii

Chionodoxa forbesii (glory of the snow) are one of my favourite bulbs. These were added to surround the Sanguinaria last fall, and the two flowers compliment each other.

white Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex and blue Chionodoxa forbesii bulbs

white Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex and blue Chionodoxa forbesii bulbs

I planted the Chionodoxa all around the Sanguinaria group, so all the bloodroot plants would get partners. So far there have been a couple dozen bloodroot flowers, and most of them have a group of pretty glory of the snow flowers to accompany them, lean on them, and twine around them.

spring flowering Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex and Chionodoxa forbesii

spring flowering Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex and Chionodoxa forbesii

Those Sanguinaria leaves will grow large enough to form an almost solid mat of leaves, and cover the decaying bulb foliage from the Chionodoxa after the bulbs finish blooming. The leaves have a thick texture, with rounded deeply cut lobes. The solid mat of foliage they make for summer means that few weeds will grow here.

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex and Chionodoxa forbesii

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex and Chionodoxa forbesii

If you’re looking for a partner for your Sanguinaria canadensis, I can recommend some Chionodoxa bulbs to highlight the pretty white blooms.

 

 

 

Scilla and Chionodoxa Bulbs in Part Shade

Wednesday, May 29, 2013 Category: Bulbs

Chionodoxa and Scilla siberica collageScilla (squills) and Chionodoxa (glory of the snow) are two of my favourite spring flowering bulbs. Since they bloom right after the crocus, they keep the bulb show going so I don’t have a bare time in the garden before most plants start to flower. Both of them do well in part shade, growing under the trees. These bulbs are very cold hardy, and have no problem with a zone 3 winter. The white Chionodoxa luciliae ‘Alba’ and blue Scilla siberica were in this garden section before, but I added the purplish blue Chionodoxa fobesii last fall.

Chionodoxa forbesii with purple blue flowers

Chionodoxa forbesii with purple blue flowers

I have a number of the Chionodoxa forbesii (glory of the snow) in other parts of the garden, but I added them to this area to combine with the other small spring bulbs. They have beautiful purple blue flowers with five petals that face upwards to make a showy display. The inner base of each flower lightens to almost white, while there is a line of deeply saturated colour down the centre of each petal. The petal tips curl back slightly.

Chionodoxa forbesii and 'Alba'

Chionodoxa forbesii and ‘Alba’

I especially like the way the white Chionodoxa mix with the more colourful Chionodoxa to highlight the pretty colour. They are like twinkling lights against the remains of the fall leaves.

Chionodoxa 'Alba' white flower bulbs

Chionodoxa ‘Alba’ white flower bulbs

Chionodoxa luciliae ‘Alba’ are an all white version of glory of the snow. The light colour shows up extra well in the shadowy areas. This group of ‘Alba’ are growing on the other side of the willow next to some Puschkinia (striped squills) bulbs and pair well with the blue and white striped flowers.

Chionodoxa 'Alba' white flowers

Chionodoxa ‘Alba’ white flowers

These ‘Alba’ are in front of a Dryopteris fern that is mostly evergreen. You can see one of the fronds from last year at the top of the photo. Chionodoxa work well informally under the deciduous trees, mixed with ferns and tree detritus. As the ferns grow, the green strap-like foliage of the Chionodoxa will be covered up, so it won’t be so noticeable as it dies back for the summer.

spring bulbs Chionodoxa and Scilla siberica growing through fall leaves

spring bulbs Chionodoxa and Scilla siberica growing through fall leaves

Chionodoxa mix beautifully with the related Scilla that at the top of the picture. The colourful Chionodoxa used to be my favourite, but now I appreciate having some white ones mixed with them. You can see how the white ones add a little sparkle to brighten up the display. They catch your eye more and set off the pretty colour of the purplish blue Chionodoxa.

blue Scilla siberica with Chionodoxa forbesii and 'Alba' in front

blue Scilla siberica with Chionodoxa forbesii and ‘Alba’ in front

The Scilla siberica ‘Spring Beauty’ (squills) at the top of this picture have a true blue colour. The Scilla flowers have a darker line running down the middle of each petal. The squill flowers face downwards, and because of this they are less noticeable than the Chionodoxa, but they make up for that with their wonderful colour.

Chionodoxa and Scilla siberica flowers

Chionodoxa and Scilla siberica flowers

This photo shows the difference in flower habits, with the Chionodoxa blooms at the front pointing upwards, and the Scilla at the back facing downwards.

Chionodoxa in purple and white

Chionodoxa in purple and white

Here are the glory of the snow bulbs mixing it up in the leaves under the trees. On their own the Chionodoxa seem blue, but planted next to the real blue squills they appear purple.

glory of the snow and squill flowers

glory of the snow and squill flowers

This closeup of the two colours of starry Chionodoxa flowers twinkling together.

spring bulbs in dappled light under tree

spring bulbs in dappled light under tree

These bulbs are planted under a willow tree, so the plants get a medium amount of light in spring before the tree fully leafs out. Even so, you can see that the branches cast dappled light on the bulbs, which handle the part shade just fine.

blue white and purple spring bulbs

blue white and purple spring bulbs

I’m glad I mixed the Chionodoxa colours next to each other to enliven the display. Along with the blue Scilla siberica, they make a nice trio.