Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Foliar Fireworks as a Fall Finale

Sorry it's taken us a while to get back to posting. Like most gardeners, there aren't enough hours in the summer to do everything, and it's been a busy, busy summer and autumn here at Baldwin's Nurseries. Things are quieting down now as we put away the stock for the winter and start thinking about next spring. We're still open in case you are looking for inspiration, gift ideas for family or friends, advice or one more plant to tuck in this autumn.
We've noticed some truly spectacular autumn colour this year, in many of the deciduous shrubs and trees. While Japanese maples are known for the dramatic colour display they put on each fall, they seem to be particularly fantastic this year, as well as late in dropping their leaves.
This red tipped gold leafed maple is one of ours grown from seed.
While this is an upright, green-leafed form that turns incredible shades of red, gold, pink and copper.
This beauty is the tricolour maple 'Butterfly', which is gorgeous from the the time its first leaf opens until the last leaf drops. 
It's not just the maples that have been putting on a show. The dawn redwoods, both the golden 'Ogon' and the regular green variety, turn wonder shades of copper, peach, gold before dropping their needles for another fall.
While the oak leaf hydrangea is marginally hardy for some parts of the province, if you can grow it, it's well worth nurturing a little just for the remarkable fall colour display. Even while pushing new, green leaves, the giant large leaves are richly tinged with burgundy, ruby, pink and bronze.
We are well known as being fond of ornamental grasses, many of which come into their own in autumn. The flower heads are wonderfully showy, but the foliage provides a great display as well--more subtle, perhaps, than the maples and sumacs and other brilliantly coloured showoffs, but lovely just the same.
Some of the magnolias are shimmering with buttery gold foliage. They don't all turn this rich shade, and sometimes the fall winds strip the leaves before they get a chance to change colour. Despite the winds we've all had this autumn, a clump of them have managed to dazzle visitors.
Visitors who have seen the foliage of the Cornus kousa in its luminescent fall finery are tempted to try a tree in their gardens next year. The flowers that come on in May and last for many weeks are showstoppers, but we think this end of season blaze of glory is pretty fantastic too, don't you?

Friday, July 29, 2011

What's Hot at the Nursery

Summer has certainly found us this July, as the temperatures were sweltering for a couple of weeks! The plants in the nursery and in our display beds have been thriving, however, and we'll show off a few of the popular choices in this post.

We keep a vase of cut echinacea flowers on hand every day, to showcase the unusual, wonderful colours that we have available, including some of the 'Big Sky' series (Sunrise, Sunset, Harvest Moon) and doubles Hot Papaya, Marmalade, and Coconut Lime.
For those who love hummingbirds--and who doesn't?--we have the irresistable beebalm in several different shades. We especially like 'Raspberry Wine', which is well named.
Hands down, our favourite echinacea other than the native is 'Hot Papaya'. Photos don't do it absolute justice, as the flowers go through so many colour changes as they mature. Truly a gem among all the new varieties that have emerged in recent years.
Want to cool things down a little in your plantings? How about Russian sage, with its blue-lavender flowers and deer-resistant foliage. This is a plant that likes good drainage over winter, and is drought resistant once established.
We have many different perennial grasses, some for the front of the border, others better suited for back of beds. Grasses are excellent choices for any garden, being easy care and offering fall and winter interest, too.
We carry a few different types of succulents, including sempervivums, also known as houseleeks and hen-and-chicks.
Our roses are grown on their own roots, and are all hardy for our tricky Nova Scotian climate. We are carrying some newer choices this year, including 'Rambling Red', and 'Emily Carr', from the Agriculture Canada Artists series.
In between tending the plants in our nursery, we are establishing more display gardens so that you can visualize what a particular new plant will look like in your garden. It's well worth walking around the nursery, as these beds are located here-and-there...
Pause by the fish pond to admire the waterlilies, and count fish and frogs--there's usually at least one frog basking on those huge leaves.
If you're looking for a dramatic plant, look no further than the Yucca, with its spiky foliage and tall stems of white flowers. Another heat and drought tolerant plant, it's sure to get noticed in your garden.

This is looking to be a fantastic year for hydrangeas, and ours are blooming in their containers at the nursery. Because of our soil mixture, even the blue-flowered ones are pink, but they'll come back around quickly in your garden. This is 'Blue Billows' in a pot...
And here it is, happy in a garden situation. The lacecaps are more reliably hardy for most Nova Scotians as compared to the mopheads, and they're gracefully beautiful.
We hope to see you soon, as high summer continues to shimmer on our gardens!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rich Purple Foliage

This time around, we're going to look at what is pretty much the opposite of gold foliage: burgundy, wine, or red leafed plants. Where the golden gems shout "look at us!" the burgundy plants are more subdued, and need the foliage of lighter coloured plants to really show off their true colours.
One of the favourites for flowering shrubs is Sambucus or elder, 'Black Lace'. This cultivar has highly cut foliage and flat clusters of dainty pink flowers.
We love barberries, and encourage other gardeners to enjoy these deer-resistant, 4-season interest, tolerant shrubs. Baldwin's carries a number of cultivars, from the golden 'Nana Aureum' to the purple-leafed 'Rose Glow', 'Concorde', and others.
Everyone needs at least one tree that has purple foliage, whether it be this handsome birch...
Or this red maple, (a bit past Canada Day, but every day is a good one for a maple tree!)
Or perhaps you'd prefer the more delicate foliage of one of the Japanese maples, like this dainty cutleaf variety.
There are other interesting deciduous shrubs with purple or wine foliage, including several varieties of smoke bush, including 'Grace' and 'Royal Purple.' This is a shrub for the more sheltered site, and isn't hardy everywhere in Nova Scotia.
On the other hand, the elegant and four-season ninebark is a terrific shrub anywhere in our province. Tolerant of most growing conditions, it has deep wine foliage and clusters of white flowers that are beloved of pollinators.
Perhaps the showiest of purple-foliaged trees is the beautiful copper beech, which can have colour varying from bright copper to deep purple. These are European beeches and don't get the disease which affects North American varieties.

We don't carry a lot of purple-foliaged perennials, but we do have Euphorbia 'Chameleon', which boasts a variety of colours as the season unfolds, as well as great fall colour. There are no purple-leafed purple coneflowers yet, but with plant breeders, you never know...

Which reminds us--the coneflowers in our containers are blooming sporadically, so if you're looking for a particular colour, come out and see what we have. We'll tell our favourite next time around!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mining for gold...foliage!

One of the things we like to remind clients about when they visit is to look at plants with colourful foliage. Of course, green is a colour, and we love green, but we are also fond of other foliage tints in shrubs, trees, and perennials. This time, we're looking at the beauty of gold foliage.
Of course, for the vegetable or indoor plant grower, yellow foliage has always signified something amiss with a plant. But ornamental plant breeders have been working on variegated and all-gold foliage for many years, and so those of us who see gold don't think sickly--we think rich in colour and contrast. Gold or chartreuse foliage really lights up a shady site, and works especially brilliantly when contrasted with a dark foliage, lie with the rows of barberries in the top photo.
We especially are impressed by the huge variety of gold chamaecyparis, or falsecypress, that breeders come out with. Perhaps one of the most common is the golden threadleaf (Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Filifera Aurea'. But one of our favourites, though it requires a little winter protection, is  C. Tetragona Aurea, the golden fernleaf cypress. It's hard to do this shrub justice in a photo, but it's a dandy.
We also really like the sculpted look of C. 'Crippsii' (Cripps Golden Hinoki cypress).  Another lacy cypress with an open look, this plant will eventually reach 25 feet if it's happy. Give it a little protection from harsh winter winds, and it should light up your winterscape as well as delight you all summer.
'Cream Ball' false cypress is one of the dwarf varieties, and needs a good place to showcase its dainty beauty. It can take a decade to reach a foot in height and width, and thrives in full sun and well drained but compost-rich soil. We know of some alpine fanciers who put their dwarf conifers in amongst their alpines to great effect.
The spireas are sometimes looked down as being common plants, but we are very fond of those with colourful foliage. This is 'Gold Mound', a popular choice for mass plantings such as hedges.
And this is 'Gold Flame'. With these brilliant leaf colours, one doesn't even really need a plant to flower!
The golden privet is an interesting shrub, partially evergreen: we find that ours hold their leaves pretty much all winter, developing a purplish tint to the leaf edges. White flowers will sometimes develop into blue-black berries. There is also a gold-and-green leafed variety, but we haven't grown it here.
Taxus, the yew, is a curious plant, which some love and others hate. It should be noted that while the fleshy part of a yew berry is edible, the seeds, branches and needles are not, and are especially toxic to horses and their relatives. We like the variegated and golden yews, perfect for a shady site such as a foundation planting where the house will throw shadows much of the time.
One of the best year-round shrubs for all season interest is the ninebark, Physocarpus. The shrub has arching branches that are covered in clusters of white blossoms in mid-late June. Pollinators love ninebarks, while birds will eat the berries--which aren't palatable for humans. In winter, the bark peels in strips of cinnamon coloured texture. What's not to love about a four-season plant that is also highly adaptable to most growing conditions?
Although thujas, also called cedars, can be a challege because the deer think they're delectable, we do carry a few cultivars. Our favourite would have to be 'Sunkist' (here showing its autumn colour) because songbirds find this plant a great choice for nesting or seeking food (the seed-filled cones). Summer colour is more yellow than this, and very attractive indeed.
Of course, not only shrubs and trees can boast golden foliage. One of our favourite grasses, Japanese Forest Grass, sporting its 'All Gold' form.
We kept a small specimen of the Gold Rush dawn redwood (Metasequioia) to plant in our display garden. This is one of the more choice trees or shrubs we carry; not only is the golden foliage delightful, the needles will turn colour and drop off in autumn, just like the Tamarack or larch (Larix species).

That's all for this time, but we hope we've tempted your appetite to go searching for gold for your garden. The friendly staff at Baldwin's can show you many other options for brightening your garden with golden foliage.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Plantings for Pollinators

We've been very busy during the month of June, for which we thank all our loyal customers, new and returning. Add that to the fact that Robert is having a new house built, and there hasn't been a whole lot of time for blog writing, although he's keeping up his Facebook pages pretty well.

One of the things we like to specialize in here at Baldwin's is plants that attract pollinators, especially bees, hummingbirds and butterflies.
Buddleia, or butterfly bush, isn't hardy for everyone in Nova Scotia, but many people can get it to overwinter. It grows so quickly from a small plant that there are some who simply treat it as an annual, although we're hearing reports of many buddleias overwintering this past winter. Here's a nice 'Black Knight' blossom being adored by hummingbird moths.
One of the most important plants you can have if you want to attract Monarch butterflies is milkweed, Asclepias species. This isn't a Monarch on the flower of rosy milkweed but a Spangled Fritillary, which also quite enjoys the plant as a source of nectar.
Among the things that you need in establishing a butterfly garden is a sheltered spot where the butterflies can land, feed, lay eggs, and then, later on, create their chrysalis where they will turn from caterpillars into butterflies.
This post is a little shorter than we had intended because Blogger decided to be cranky about uploading photos, so we will probably edit and add more information when it regains its senses. But we'd like to put in a plug for Preston Lilacs as fantastic plants for butterflies and other pollinators. The Prestons were bred by Isabella Preston, the first woman to work as a horticulturist at a Canadian agriculture research station. These lilacs are later blooming than the French hybrids, and have smaller individual florets but a long bloom period and fantastic fragrance. Check out these and other great plants for pollinators at Baldwin's nursery, and perhaps get a free rosy milkweed plant to take home with you!