SPRING INTO AC­TION

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - COLLEEN ZACHARIAS

WHAT starts in the flower bed doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily al­ways stay in the flower bed. The very na­ture of shar­ing space means plants must be com­pat­i­ble to a large de­gree and show some re­spect for bound­aries as well. There are ex­pec­ta­tions as to their per­for­mance and some­times even that is not enough to en­sure their con­tin­ued pres­ence in your gar­den. No longer sat­is­fied with a plant you once loved? Dig it up and plant a dif­fer­ent one. Here’s the sim­ple truth: If you are look­ing for the per­fect plant part­ner to com­ple­ment your gar­den on ev­ery level, it may not ex­ist. Some­times it’s a sim­ple case of love-you, love-you-not. For one thing, plants change in ap­pear­ance as they grow and spread, some­times bear­ing lit­tle re­sem­blance to the well-be­haved plant you ini­tially pur­chased. Some plants are need­ier than oth­ers or have all kinds of is­sues. Oth­ers may be too pas­sive or too ag­gres­sive. Plants have a fairly pre­dictable life­span, too. But don’t de­spair when a wellloved plant or even one you thought you loved has left an empty space in your gar­den. For gar­den­ers, the best sea­son to fall in love again is spring, a time to cor­rect past mis­takes and in­dulge in new ex­pe­ri­ences.

What are the qual­i­ties you are look­ing for in a plant? Need some ad­vice? In your ex­u­ber­ance to not set­tle for the or­di­nary, the ex­pe­ri­ence of other gar­den­ers can ig­nite your in­ter­est in try­ing some­thing new or serve as a tale of cau­tion. Start out by know­ing what you are bring­ing home with you and be­ware of smooth talk­ers. Jane Kes­sel­man, a nor­mally dis­crim­i­nat­ing gar­dener, re­calls stop­ping into a gar­den cen­tre that was pre­par­ing to close its doors. The owner made a gift to her of a plant he called an­gel­ica, sug­gest­ing ever so briefly she plant it in a space where it would have a bit of room to spread. That first year in Kes­sel­man’s River Heights gar­den, the beau­ti­fully named plant was del­i­cate and lovely, sur­pris­ing her with its amaz­ing growth of al­most one me­tre. The sec­ond year, it grew to two me­tres and was ex­tremely at­trac­tive to hordes of aphids. Her chil­dren called it Jack in the beanstalk. The stalk grew to five cm in di­am­e­ter, and Kes­sel­man had to take an axe to it to re­move it from her gar­den. A self­seed­ing bi­en­nial, it con­tin­ued to make its pres­ence known for years af­ter­ward. Of course, all plants have their good points. An­gel­ica archangel­ica’s stems and roots are some­times used to flavour gin and ver­mouth. Kes­sel­man rec­om­mends ver­bas­cum sil­ver mullein. The tall spires of lemony yel­low blooms with vel­vety, sil­very-grey leaves have a bold, ar­chi­tec­tural beauty. Seedlings are eas­ily re­moved. I’ve had many sea­sons of dis­con­tent with a plant called lamium mac­u­la­tum. At­tracted to a va­ri­ety called bea­con sil­ver with its whorls of two-lipped flow­ers in pretty pink and sil­very leaves with green mar­gins, but best of all its abil­ity to grow in shade, I fool­ishly pur­chased sev­eral. A pro­lific species thanks to its abil­ity

HGTV CRAIG GILLE­SPIE

At top, Sugar Puff hardy hy­drangea prom­ises to be a de­li­cious new ad­di­tion to the peren­nial gar­den. A new in­tro­duc­tion by HGTV, Sugar Puff fea­tures a com­pact size, sturdy stems and large white blooms. A pan­ic­u­lata va­ri­ety, it re­quires lit­tle main­te­nance. Above, the in­tro­duc­tion of Sonic Bloom Pearl re­bloom­ing weigela sig­nals a new gen­er­a­tion of weigela va­ri­eties that prom­ise

blooms over a longer pe­riod of time. The yel­low-throated blooms of this va­ri­ety open white, then

turn to a blush pink. Arch­ing stems. Plant in full or part sun.

HGTV

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