Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Japanese Tree Lilac Syringa reticulata, often sold under the name Ivory Silk Tree is technically a lilac but has little in common with the more common French Lilacs. These trees really are from China, Japan and South East Russia so they are very hardy for our region. In Calgary they grow to around 20 feet and bloom in mid to late June. The flowers are white and have sweet fragrance that reminds me of something from childhood that I can't quite put my finger on. Above, a street near my house is lined in Japanese Lilacs, a pleasant and unusual choice for a boulevard tree here.
The flowers of Japanese Lilac are reminiscent of Astilbe and last only a couple of weeks. The large leaves are interesting throughout the rest of the season however, sometimes turning pale yellow in the fall.
Two Japanese Lilacs have been growing in this inner city park for many decades. These trees are usually sold as a standard but I often see them with a few branching trunks that make a pleasant oval tree form. If you don't like French Lilacs because of the suckering then this lilac is for you, it grows only as a tree, not a shrub like the common purple ones you may associate with the name lilac.
The bark of these lilacs is interesting in the winter being mostly smooth and dark with a shininess that is a nice contrast to the stark white of snow.
I saw a lot of these trees on a recent trip to Quebec and Ontario where they also seem to thrive. So even though they are moderately common here for some reason I don't mind them! They are undemanding and rewarding, not growing too large or dropping berries or litter and very disease resistant, truly one of the best ornamental trees for northern gardens!
Saturday, June 25, 2016
I haven't been blogging because I was in Montreal and Ottawa last week, the first time for me travelling that far East! Montreal is a beautiful city with a long and rich history which is also reflected in their gardening too. Montreal is gardening zone 5b, a couple higher than Calgary and one can tell with the broader selection of plant material. The city is amazing in so many ways from the 500 year old buildings to the way so many little nooks and crannies are planted with complex patterns of perennials or annuals reminiscent of the French knot gardens.
This urban garden is part of The Governors Mansion and is free to the public, the house is a museum and the garden is a learning place to illustrate how people in the 1700's grew things. So, imagine this place four times larger and growing all the food for the residents ranging from vegetables and herbs to grapes and espaliered fruit trees. The trimmed box wood and evergreens really set off that formal European look which I think influences gardens all over the city.
The rose garden was very impressive, I feel like I've seen many rose gardens from Portland Oregon to Vancouver BC to the Calgary Zoo and must say this one was very impressive. Once we started rounding the corner from the Japanese Garden we could smell the thousands of roses!
The Montreal Botanical Gardens are one of the major horticulture collections in North America and a must see if you're in the area. I wish I had a slightly cooler day, more time and a more patient companion, after 3 hours of walking in 30 degrees we had enough of the heat and had to move on. One thing I really liked was every plant has a little tag that says when it was collected or how old it is known to be no matter if it is a 40 year old elephant palm or an ash tree planted in 1992.