Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Got to get ourselves back to the garden...

 With the coming of cooler temperatures, especially at night, and some actual precipitation, we can safely get back to gardening. There are plenty of interesting things to plant now to extend your colour season, including Helenium 'Ruby Tuesday', which is a real great pollinator plant.
 Several of us have been discussing the newer cultivars of coneflowers, and comparing notes on how well they are performing after several years of being available. This is Green Envy planted out and holding its green/purple bicolour petals quite well. Some of the containerized ones seem to have lost much of their green colour, and we're wondering if this is a response to the dry conditions we've been having.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Monarchs and Viceroys and Ladies, Oh My!

High summer, and the nursery is awash in colour, both from flora and fauna. The rock wall display gardens are still ablaze with colour from coneflowers, rudbeckia, bee balm, sea holly, and more. 
 We found this monarch butterfly chrysalis a few days ago in the nursery. Normally, these are attached to the underside of leaves of various types of plants, but something must have dislodged it. The butterfly inside was still a ways from metamorphosing, as the chrysalis will turn clear before the butterfly bursts out of it.
 Butterfly bush is a great plant for gardeners who want to attract more types of pollinators to their gardens. Here's 'Black Knight' with the unusual and beautiful hummingbird moth sipping nectar from its flowers.
 This is Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium), which grows natively around here but which is also an excellent plant in the garden. It's a tall plant, and likes moisture, so you will want to situate it in a damp to wet area, and give it space to spread.

There's a butterfly in the top of the flowers that looks like a Monarch, but which isn't. Can you spot the differences?
 Here's a monarch butterfly on buddleia. Monarchs need milkweeds on which to lay their eggs, and the caterpillars eat only milkweeds, but the adults will sip nectar from any number of plants.
This is a newly-hatched monarch adult emerged from its chrysalis, and still inflating its wings. 
 And this is the Viceroy, which is a bit smaller than the Monarch, and which has a solid black bar running across its lower wings, which the monarch doesn't have. Viceroys practice biomimicry: they have evolved to look like the toxic Monarch, which birds know to avoid, even though the Viceroy is not toxic. Monarchs ingest toxins from milkweeds, and birds tend to leave them alone in the caterpillar and the adult stage.
 This is quite the year for butterflies. The hot, dry, sunny weather is ideal for them to be actively sipping nectar, laying eggs, hatching out caterpillars, and continuing the circle of life. These are painted ladies enjoying the purple coneflowers planted along the rock wall.
 The best way to attract lots of butterflies to your gardens? Plant flowering perennials, shrubs and trees that they like, and plant them in drifts (lots of one colour at a time) rather than in jumbles of multicolours. You may not want quite this many rudbeckia 'Goldsturm', but these are our containerized rudbeckias, and we group them both for ease of organizing, and to entice the pollinators to visit the 'snack bar' of the flowers.

Other great butterfly plants, aside from those shown in these photos, include Summersweet shrub (Clethra Ruby Spice), Sea holly, Helenium, outhouse flower (Rudbeckia 'Hortensia'), and some of the hydrangeas.

We're closed on Mondays at this time of year, but open the rest of the week 9-5, so do stop by and let us help you design your butterfly garden.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Of Pollinators and Bee Schools

 It's high summer at Baldwin's Nurseries, and everything is bursting out all over. Also, things are quite dry, so we could really use some rain, rain gods. The succulents in these old Crocs don't mind the heat or dry weather...
 And neither does Sedum 'Angelina', shown here preparing to flower. We like the flowers (as do the pollinators, but some gardeners feel they take from the beauty of the plant. What do you think?
 Speaking of dry weather, here's a terrific plant that does well in hot, dry weather, (once it's established, of course. This is Globe Thistle, (Echinops ritro), a steely-blue flower that attracts all kinds of pollinators, from bees to hummingbirds.
 Are you growing ferns in your gardens? Whyever not? They aren't just for shade or for wet areas--some of them are quite tolerant of sunny and even somewhat dry conditions, like this lady fern. They're also deer resistant, which is a plus in our wildlife laden world.
 The lavenders are great bee-magnets too. We have had a number of hummingbird moths around this summer, and we're hearing the same from other gardeners, too. We don't know why the apparent rise in population other than more gardens are being planted to be pollinator friendly.

 Grasses tend to be drought tolerant once they are established, and this particular one is unique in that it's one of the few pennesetums that is hardy in our region. 'Karley Rose' has dainty flower heads of a rosy pink, and they look striking planted out with something with similar colouring...
 ...Such as Rudbeckia 'Cherry Brandy.' This variety of Rudbeckia is sometimes short-lived as a perennial, but we do know a number of gardeners who have gotten it through the winters just fine. It's such a striking colour, we can't resist it!
The Echinaceas are coming on strong, and they are brilliant shots of colour from now til frost--providing you remember to deadhead them as the flowers fade. They're great bee and butterfly plants, too. 

We put a couple of beehives in here at the nursery this spring, and they've been fascinating to watch. We're learning more about the bees all the time, and we get questions from others who are interested in learning more as well. As a result, we're having a 'bee school' on Saturday, August 11 (rain date Aug 12) for a maximum of 20 people, here at the nursery. The cost is 25.00 and includes lunch, and the workshop runs from 10-2. Bring along a small jar to collect your own honey, and come find out all the 'buzz' about beekeeping. Contact us at the nursery for details or to reserve your spot. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Why we love azaleas

Every spring we here at Baldwin's Nurseries are awash in a blaze of colour when the deciduous azaleas come into bloom. 

For a number of years, we've been developing our own plants, open-pollinated seedlings developed from two locally-bred varieties, 'Minas Gold' and 'Minas Flame'. These were developed at the Kentville Research Station by the late Dr. Donald Craig, who operated a rhodo and azalea breeding program for 30 years, until the early 1980s. 
All azaleas are rhododendrons, but not all rhododendrons are azaleas. Confused yet? Hopefully not. Azaleas are now classified in the botanical genus Rhododendron, which has a vast collection of subgenera (genera is the plural of genus). Azaleas hold their flowers in a different arrangement than do rhododendrons, and have only one stamen per flower petal, for a total of 5 stamens; rhododendrons hold their flowers in a more cone like arrangement, and have 2 stamens per petal, or at least 10 stamens per flower. 

 Most of the azaleas that do well in Atlantic Canada are deciduous, which drop their leaves in autumn. There are a few evergreen azaleas as well, although they aren't as tolerant of cold temperatures and are more inclined to damage from winter winds.
 Azaleas are acid-loving plants, well suited to the soils of much of Atlantic Canada. They will grow happily in well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. Remember to dig the planting hole twice as wide as it is deep, and plant your new azalea so that its rootball and soil come just to or slightly below the depth of the hole. Remember to water regularly, at least once a week or more often depending on whether we have any rainfall or not. This spring, it's been unnaturally dry in Nova Scotia, so we recommend watering twice a week, thoroughly, to help the plant establish its root system. You can also mulch around the plant to help keep soil moisture, but don't leave the plant in a wet area.
Most of the photos in this post are of our open pollinated seedlings, and as you can see there is a lot of variation in colour. 
 Some of the plants have red-tinged foliage as well as brilliant flowers.
 And excitingly, the foliage tends to turn rich reds to burgundy when autumn comes on. We think these are really special plants, and our customers think so too. We are keeping the prices low on these plants, so you can easily afford several, or half a dozen, or more!
We do also offer a number of named cultivars of deciduous azaleas, including several from the Arneson collection. This huge-flowered beauty is 'Arneson's Gem', seen here with an SLR camera lens cap beside it to show just how large the blooms are.

This has been a very busy and exciting spring so far at Baldwin's Nurseries, and we thank all our new and returning customers for your patronage. Please remember to check our main website, as well as our Facebook page, for updates and specials.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spring is Springing at Baldwin Nurseries

Spring has caught most of us by surprise in the past few weeks, being deliciously warm one day and distractingly cool the next. We had snow on Easter Sunday, and double digit warm weather two days later. It's confusing for the gardener and nursery operator, but the plants seem to be thriving anyway.
We are featuring a wide selection of hellebores this year, including the exquisite and almost black 'Black Diamond'. Its early foliage is almost as dark as the flowers and sepals are!
We will be offering potted herb gardens for sale again this year. Here, some basils are basking in the warmth of the big greenhouse.
We've become smitten with the fantastic, fragrant pinks, and have them in a rainbow series of delectable colours. The photo of Black Cherry doesn't do it true justice, as it's darker than this. We also have 'Apple Slice', 'Candy Floss', 'Frosty Star', 'Eastern Star', 'Neon Star', 'Fire Star and more varieties to choose from.
Hamamelis 'Diane' is a long-blooming favourite--it's been blooming for six weeks in a friend's garden, and is holding its flowers in containers here. We also have 'Arnold Promise' and 'Primavera', both of which are fragrant yellow varieties.
The magnolias are blooming ahead of schedule because of all this extra warmth we've been enjoying. This is 'Leonard Messil', an excellent choice for most gardens.
Trilliums are wonderful choices for planting under deciduous trees and shrubs, where the shade will encourage them to grow (providing you mulch well if it's a dry season.) This unusual form is Trillium cuneatum, known as whippoorwill flower, Toadshade, or Sweet Betsy. It's not native to our region but is hardy so do try it--the mottled foliage makes it wonderful whether in bloom or not.
This is Trillium grandiflorum, the white trillium that is floral emblem for Ontario. It's illegal to pick or dig up this plant in Ontario for that reason. Here, we don't recommend wildcrafting any wildflowers because some are growing more scarce. Ours are brought in from a small nursery that specializes in growing these plants.
We love the fragrant viburnums, including the Judd viburnum. It's starting to open its buds in containers, but in your garden is probably just starting to swell, so don't panic--plants flower earlier in containers than they do in the ground.

Should we mention that we have Meconopsis x sheldonii, one of the hybrid Himalayan blue poppies? Sure we should. They won't last long, so do come visit. We're open 7 days a week now, 9-5. Here's hoping we all have a great spring!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

We're getting ready!

 Welcome to spring...or summer...or winter...which IS it? On any given day the past couple of weeks, it could be any of the above.

We have the greenhouses opened up and are moving the over-winrtering nursery stock out into the bright sunlight. Here's Rob holding one of the hellebores that we have on offer this year.
Some of the earliest-blooming plant material we have flowers so early that customers don't always see its best attributes. This is Salix gracilistyla 'Melanostachys', the black pussy willow, which blooms early and is such a handsome plant for a wet area. 

 Many people refer to Daphne mezereum as winter daphne. We tend to call it Acadian daphne because the Acadian people brought it here when they settled in Nova Scotia 400 years ago. Whatever you call it, this early-blooming shrub is very fragrant, and produces brilliant red, (but very toxic) berries that hold on the plant throughout much of winter.
This is Gaultheria procumbens, commonly called wintergreen or teaberry. It's related to rhododendrons, blueberries and cranberries, and is a gorgeous ground covering shrublet. In summer, its foliage is a glossy deep green, but the winter colour is a rainbow of reds and burgundies. The brilliant red berries are edible and taste pleasantly of wintergreen. They often last into spring, if birds and other wildlife don't eat them. 

This hellebore is a beauty called 'Cinnamon Gold'--well named, as its creamy gold petals are dusted with cinnamon mottling. 
 During the big heat wave last week, the frogs in our pond emerged to bask in the warmth. By now they're back down in the bottom of the pond, being frogsicles again until the weather climbs back above freezing.
We have a lot of new perennials and other stock coming in almost daily, including many of the 'Winter Jewel' series of double-flowered hellebores from Terra Nova Nurseries, plant breeders extraordinaire. Check our our catalogue, located in the sidebar on the right of the blog! We'll be officially open 7 days a week, 9-5 starting April 1, but if you're out and about, drop in before that. Bring either your sunscreen or your heavy winter coat, because with this March, who knows what the weather will be like on any given day.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A new year, a new garden season

 Happy New Year to all our customers and friends from Baldwin's Nurseries! It's a brand new year, and while it's certainly being an odd, odd winter, we thought we'd cheer you up with some pictures of some of the mouthwatering plants we have coming in this year.

We grow a number of our own rhododendrons and azaleas, but we also bring in some plants from Canadian growers. Among the cultivars coming in this season is Azalea 'Cannon's Double', which looks splendid with its full trusses of pink-yellow flowers.
 We've heard great things about Dianthus 'Coconut Punch', which is proving to be a sturdy and long-blooming variety of mini-carnation.
 We are well known for our varieties of echinaceas, which do well for many gardeners in our region. This is a new one to us this year, a compact double-flowered variety called 'Southern Belle'.

 But we'll also have some of our favourites from other years, including the unique and wonderful 'Green Envy', which has proved to be a sturdy, long lived coneflower since it was first introduced about 6 years ago.
We love the multitudes of small, bristly blooms on the sea hollies, especially on Eryngium 'Jade Frost'. Not only do its flowers start out greenish-silver before flushing to blue, the foliage is remarkable. It begins as green and pink, changing to green and white as the season progresses. So even before it's in bloom, it makes a statement. You'll find pollinators flocking to your sea hollies. 
The foliage of this sea holly reminds us of one of our favourite shrubs, the dappled or 'Nishiki' willow. We'll talk more about that great plant next time. 
 For those with moist areas in their garden, you might consider planting Queen of the Prairie, Filipendula rubra 'Venusta'. Think of this plant as an astilbe on steroids. It can easily reach 7 feet tall, and pollinators love its plumes of soft pink flowers.
 We have a great selection of magnolias, and this year we'll be carrying 'Sunsation.' This pink-tinted yellow variety is sure to turn heads in your garden.
 For a great colour echo to accompany 'Sunsation' magnolia, you might want to try Kinkaku tree peony. We carry about a dozen colours of these elegant, show-stopping peonies, with their massive flowers and handsome foliage.

We have plenty more plants to tell you about, so we'll be posting again very soon. In the meantime, gardeners might want to check out the new gardening community, bloominganswers.com. It's a private website designed for gardeners, by gardeners, with plenty of resources being developed for gardeners of all skill levels. The site is free to join but membership is required. Come and visit--it'll help get you in the mood for the opening of the garden season. And we'll see you soon here at the nursery.