25 Jul

Liatris spicata: Lovely Summer Bloomer for Garden Borders

Liatris is a small genus of flowering plants from the North America where they grow natively in ravines and grasslands where they can sufficiently moist soil. Gardeners and horticulturists grow Liatris for its beautiful flowers.

Most species of Liatris are characterised by narrow, grass-like foliage and long spikes of flowers that appear in later summer. The fuzzy pink or purple flowers of Liatris grow along erect spike that reminds of bottlebrush. These flowers usually bloom from top to bottom and stay fresh for quite a long time.

From a number of popular species, Liatris spicata is the one that is grown widely in gardens and landscapes. It is commonly known as Blazing Star or Button Snakewort. Liatris spicata has linear growth as it can grow up to 1 meter in height. The plant prefers full to partial sun and moist but well-drained soil. Overwatering, especially in winter, can kill these plants therefore good drainage is essential for growing these lovely perennials. Therefore, a sandy loam is the best media to grow Liatris spicata.

Liatris spicata

Liatris spicata / Image by Drew Avery

Most species of Liatris can be grown in containers too. So if you are looking for a low-maintenance summer-blooming perennial for your balcony or small garden Liatris spicata should be on your list.

14 Jul

Garden Dispatch # 1

The Garden Dispatch is a weekly compilation of useful and interesting resources for gardeners and landscape designers.

How to turn empty spaces into a beautiful meadow

With a little planning and selection of the right species, it is not difficult to transform woodland into a beautiful meadow. Read more on making a beautiful meadow out of an empty landscape.

Meadow Design

Geranium palmatum

Looking for something new to try in your perennial garden? Try Geranium palmatum; it is not fussy about growing conditions and produces lovely flowers in later spring or early summer. Read: How to grow Geranium palmatum.
Geranium palmatum

A Garden Makeover

Follow this link to see how a nondescript front yard can be transformed into a remarkable garden.

Frontyard Design

How to grow Safrron

Corcus sativus, is a beautiful autumn-flowering perennial known primarily for the production of precious Saffron. Saffron is widely used in Indian, Persian, European, Arab, and Turkish cuisines and is sold for $4.00 and $17.00 per gram. Besides its commercial and culinary usage, Corcus sativus has its horticultural value too. The plant produces brilliantly hued flowers of pastel shade that range from lilac to mauve. These lovely flowers have a sweet aroma that is reminiscent of honey and grassy or hay-like notes. Read more about growing Saffron in your own garden. Read more on growing Saffron in your garden.


How to prune groundcovers and grasses

Read these useful tips on pruning groundcovers and grasses to keep your garden neat and attractive.

Prunning tips

DIY: Grow a small herb garden in your apartment

Living in apartments and high-rise buildings should not subdue your passion for gardening. There is a lot that you can grow under limited light, humidity and temperature conditions. Here is an interesting article on growing a small herb garden in your apartment by Erin Boyle

Herbs garden

10 Jul

15 Beautiful Landscape Designs using Succulent Plants

I am a big fan of succulent plants – they are versatile, offer a great variety of shapes, sizes and colors, and are easy to group with their cousins. Traditionally, succulents have been grown in pots as display or accent plants. In recent years, they have become popular landscape plants. Modern landscape designers are now appreciating succulent plants for their architectural forms and using them in traditional as well as experimental landscape designs.

Most succulent plants grow solitary or form small groups. They rarely outgrow their environment and thus make good plants for grouping with their cousins. You can find succulent plants in all sizes – we ranging from mat-forming ground covers to low-growing foliage plants and from large globe-forming succulents to tall and cylindrical plants. Most succulent plants have similar requirements which makes it easier to group succulents plant from different genera in a landscape design. They require well-drained soil, less frequent watering, and occasional cutting or division.

Some common succulent plants that do very well in landscapes include several varieties of cacti and a large selection of plants from the genus of Aeonium, Agave, Aloe, Crassula, Echeveria, Euphorbia, Sedum, and Sempervivum.

The following gallery provides 15 good examples of landscape designs that use succulent plants.

[Do not forget to see 15 tips to help you create a beautiful succulent garden by Debra Lee Baldwin]















07 Jun

Toronto Cactus & Succulent Plant Show & Sale, 2014

The Toronto Cactus & Succulent Club’s Annual Plant Show & Sale was held at Allan Gardens Conservatory on June 1, 2014. There were more than 90 classes for cacti and other succulents including Euphorbias, Agaves, Haworthias, and some caudiciforms on display. The plants were not great in number but they were all healthy and well-kept plants that represented major species of cacti and other succulents.

The sale counters attracted both novice and seasoned collectors. For those who missed the show, here are a few pictures from the event.

There were a few nice specimens of Mammillaria, Gymnocalycium and Notocactus.





I also spotted a nice specimen of Uebelmannia pectinifera.


A Leuchtenbergia principis and a really nice Lophophora williamsii.



A small but comprehensive collection of Stenocactus.

A nice collection of Euphoria and other succulents.

Other notables included Ariocarpus, Aztekium and Copiapoa


and some nice plants on sale.

03 Jun

A Visit to Allan Gardens Conservatory, Toronto

Allan Gardens Conservatory is my favorite retreat from the hum drum of corporate life. It is a serene oasis jewelled right in the middle of the busy Carlton, Jarvis and Gerrard streets of Toronto. The garden that hosts conservatory has long stretches of green grass and more than 300 old trees. Some noticeable species are sugar maple, American beech and red oak.

The conservatory consists of six greenhouses that cover 1, 6000 square feet and house a huge variety of tropical, sub-tropical and exotic plants that are rare to find under one roof.
While crossing through the greenhouses you actually move from one climate to another and experience a whole new world of lovely plants in each climate. Neat pathways edge along plant beds that are nicely maintained.

The tropical houses maintain warm and humid environment for exotic Orchids, bromeliads, begonias and other plants that bloom year-round. You can find many hard-to-find plants like Jade vine, Platycerium, cycads, and some exotic foliage plants. The water features inside the tropical houses not only decorate the conservatory but also help maintain the climate.

The ‘cool’ house has selection of Mediterranean plants. The Palm House grows a nice variety of palms, tropical vines and some seasonal plants. The arid house showcases cacti and other succulents that include varieties of haworthia, aloe, agave, and sedum.

Besides permanent collection, you can see a nice collection of seasonal bloomers in Allan Gardens Conservatory. Depending on the season, you can find really nice variety of hydrangeas, lilies, coleus, caladiums, cannas, chrysanthemum, and poinsettia. Seasonal plants at Allan Gardens are grown in pots that are sunk in soil – making it easy to remove them at the end of the season.

On my recent visit to Allen Gardens, I was able to see Jade vine and angel’s trumpet in full bloom. Other noticeable bloomers were daffodils, gerberas, plenty of hydrangeas, some hoyas, bird of paradise, and foxgloves.

Allan Gardens Conservatory has a nice collection of ferns and air plants too. No matter what part of year you visit Allan Gardens, you will always find something interesting, colorful and aromatic.

Enjoy some of the pictures that I shot at Allan Gardens Conservatory. For high-resolution images, you can visit my Allan Gardens album on Flickr here. For more information on Allan Gardens, see this.