Growing Ornamentals

I know that I mainly post about food and practical things around here, (I am extremely practical) but I do have some very large ornamental gardens, as well, and tend to hang out there more than anywhere else. That is where I putter. At the moment I am enlarging them, more for the purpose of ridding myself of grass to mow than for the acquiring of more gardens, per se.

I am currently enlaring the ornamental garden space. I don't say perennial bed because I also grow annuals, as well, and some shrubs. I hope to be adding small trees too. I collect all perennials, sometimes to the point of obsession, if left unchecked.

I have an iron bench the will go on the large cleared area. I am waiting for hubby to help me strong-arm it down the stairs from the deck. That thing is heavy!! It will make a nice seating area for me, when I want to pray, contemplate life, try to figure out myself and why I do some of the absolutely stupid things I do. You know...meditate. It's a good place to read, maybe. I hope that it will be so attractive a place that I will actually sit still there for a short time. I will have to spray myself all over with deet to sit there for very long in the evenings, but that comes with the territory, or the country, I should say.

I am also adding more roses and have a few pink rugosa roses in pots, waiting for it. I am trying to root cuttings from my good rose too. I have some softwood cuttings in sand with plastic bags over them. I have one family heirloom rugosa rose. It is a mauvy dark pink sort of colour and smells wonderful (see photo)! It belonged to my MIL most of her adult life and to her mother before her. She gave it to me last year. They are getting on in years and don't have the ability to care for their once large garden. This is a special rose and has been doing well.

Last year it had rose chafers all over it and I was just too busy to take care of them. This year, I swear I am going to hand pick every single bug I see off of it! Maybe I will spray it with rhubarb leaf/organic tobacco water. I don't want to harm the bees, so that will be a "last straw". I am also considering drenching the soil around it with a watered down doggie flea shampoo that I have with pyrethrin in it. Will this harm the rose? Anyone know?
I cannot lose this rose bush. I have to pass it on to the future generations. Anyway, I hope the cuttings take. I used rooting hormone and did everything I read to do. I have some hardwood cuttings too, in pots at the moment. I plan to stick them in the sandy ground and cover with a jar.

I want more roses, especially rugosas, for wine, cooking and tea.). (See "Cooking With Roses".) They produce an abundance of hips and I already know that the petals make good wine :-)

I have picked up a lot of perennials in the past few years at the season end, mid to late July. Our Canadian Tire Hardware Store has a large greenhouse. They mark them all down to .25 at the season end and sometimes even .10 each! Two years ago I bought 30 of them at .25 each! Some didn't make it, but at that price, it's not much of a gamble. Many are doing well and blooming this year!

I have also acquired many through trading, plants and seeds. I am hoping to host a Barrie, ON area plant swap later this summer! I think it will be a lot of fun! I want to finish these new areas first and get the grass under control :-( and some other areas tilled (so the place at least looks "lived in". lol!).

I have listed the ornamentals that I have below. There are a lot of them!  Some have not bloomed yet and I still have not seen a few of them yet this year, but most are doing well and blooming. It's an immense list! (I won't have seeds for all of them this year). I am finding it hard to believe that I actually have all of these myself. It's mind boggling to see it in writing! This list is also for my own benefit. I need a record of what I have growing out there.

amaranth 'intense purple'
aruncus, goat's beard
aster New England intense pink
artemesia "silver mound"
baby's breath, pink/white mix
beauty bush (kolkwitzia amabilis)
bleeding heart, pink
bugle weed
campanula "sarastro" purple
campanula "glomerata" purple
campanula 'carpatica" purple
campion, rose and white
canna lilies, red flowers, red leaf and green leaf,
candy lilies
candytuft, white perennial
candytuft, purple annual
celandine, greater
centauria montana, mountain bluet
centaura dealbata, pink
cerastium tomentosum, "snow on the mountain"
cobaea, cup & saucer vine
columbine garden mix
columbine native, red
columbine, winky red/white
cone flower echinecea, pink and white
cosmos mix
dahlia "keri blue"
dame's rocket, "hesperis"
day lilies, red
day lilies, Stella D'oro
daylilies, orange single
delphinium, small pink
dog tooth violet
euphorbia, "donkey tail spruge"
evening primrose
feverfew double flowers
filipendula rubra, pink meadowsweet
filipendula ulmaria, white meadowsweet
flax, red annual
four o'clocks, mixed
geranium, cranesbill bright fuscia pink
gladiola mix
globe thistle
hardy hibiscus mix
hens and chicks
heuchera, "marvelous marble"
honeysuckle bush, pink
hosta "big mama"
hosta "blue angel"
hosta "Francis Williams"
hyacinth bean, purple and white
impatiens gladulifera
impatiens, red annual
iris, Japanese, blue and purple
iris, Siberian, many shades and mixes
Jacob's ladder, purple and white
joe pye weed
lamb's ear
lamium, "spotted dead nettle"
lilacs purple
lilies, oriantal/asiatic mix
lilies, Easter
lily of the valley, pink
lily of the valley, white
loosestrife, white garden
lupins, purple and pink
malva moschata, pink and white
morning glory mixed
monarda didima red (bee balm)
monarda fistulosa lavender
morning glory mix
obedient plant pink (definitely a misnomer!)
penstemon "husker red"
peony poppy mix
phlox paniculata, pink & "davidii" white (tall)
phlox sublata (creeping)
poppy, oriental "fancy feathers"
primula mix
rock cress, white
roses, rugosa
rose climbing "blaze"
roses, mini red and orange
rudbeckia "black eyed Susan"
rudeckia maxima (8' tall)
rose of Sharon
sage, Russian
sage, lyre leaved
scarlet runner beans
sea holly, eryngium
Sedum Stonecrop Red
Sedum Reflexum
shasta daisy
snowball bush
Solomon's seal, varigated
spirea "bridal veil"
sweet pea perennial mixed
sweet william mix
veronica, blue and intense pink
violas, "Johnny-Junp-ups" tiny purple/yellow combo
violets, yellow and purple
yarrow, red

Edible Lappa \burdock

Burdock has been the bane of my existance for the past three years! I have spent a few entire afternoons going about with the clippers, cutting off any and all flower stalks that grow on the rosette of leaves that has spread all over my property.

Burdock is a biennial. It germinates and produces the leaf rosette the first year. It blooms and goes to seed, producing the burrs the second year, then dies.

These burrs can often be found in huge balls, wrapped up in my dog's fur, especially his tail and rear. It's uncomfortable for him, poor fellow! For this reason I have tried very hard to iradicate it, to no avail! I had more first year burdock this year than ever before!

Next year there will be a difference! I have done some research on the burdock plant this year and learned a few helpful things. Not helpful in getting rid of it, but information to help me appreciate it more.

Did you know that "Greater Burdock", which is what I have growing all over, is edible? It is also called "edible burdock or Lappa burdock". The roots are highly prized and sought after by other cultures and used to prepare many dishes in Asia and the Mediterranean.

What I found most interesting is that the burdock plant is closely related to the artichoke. The young, tender flower stalks, apparently, taste like artichokes. U-n-b-e-l-i-e-v-a-b-l-e!!
So, next year, I'll be hunting those flower stalks again, but with a different purpose in mind. Image that, we'll be eating burdock and it will probably be delicious! I don't think I will tell hubby what it is until after we have eaten it. He trusts me. He knows I am not going to feed him something that he cannot eat.

Do any of you eat burdock? Do the young flower stalks taste like artichoke?

I have even put some seeds on my farm store! I am amazed at the idea that someone would deliberately plant it, but after some thought I guess it's not so far fetched. If it's really is that good, why not plant it? Just make sure you eat all the flower stalks before they make burrs and bury themselves in your dog's fur!

I can tell you right now that it can't possibly be more prolific and invasive than some other things I have growing here on purpose. I will have to post a picture of my now-chickenless chicken pen, covered like a jungle with curly dock and it's not really that invasive. At least it doesn't stick to my dog's fur! (I fed those to the chickens last year.) There is also a giant pumpkin growing in there and in the old chicken manure, it's HUGE!

Burdock could be pretty and interesting in a perennial bed, I suppose, if one can release one's temptation to yell and demolish the THING on site!

So, a new discovery and a surprising one too! Another step in becoming a little more self sufficient!


I have a pink meadowsweet (filipendula rubra, ulmaria) plant in my flowerbed. (It also comes in white.) I have had it for years and only recently became aware of how valuable a plant it is.

It is large and beautiful, as always, but it also has a lot of other properties. The flowers can be used to add a soft almond flavour to wines, beers, jams and jellies. I LOVE almond flavour in anything. Before I developed this severe allergy to sulphite, I used to buy almond sherry and amaretto. They were always my favourite drinks. Now I can add this flavour to my wine too, naturally and without using almonds. There is nothing wrong with using almonds and I had planned to make some almond wine, at some future point. I can now grow my own 
almond flavour!

In addition to this important property, meadowsweet is also the plant originally used to develop aspirin. In 1897, a chemist called Felix Hoffman discovered salicylic acid could be produced from a waste product of the plant. He was looking for something to help his father's rheumatism and, while the benefits of this compound as a pain-relieving drug had been known for thousands of years, this was the first palatable and acceptable form to be found.

At the time, meadowsweet's official name was Spiraea and the drug that was made from it became known as aspirin. The invented word combined the ''a'' from acetylic acid and the ''spir'' from Spiraea. It contains several powerful salicylates, salts derived from salicylic acid that are chemically similar to aspirin but do not cause stomach bleeding. And, unlike aspirin, it has a positive effect on the digestive system, it protects and soothes the mucous membranes of the digestive tract, reducing excess acidity and alleviating nausea.

It can be used in the treatment of heartburn, hyperacidity, gastritis

and peptic ulceration. It is also effective against the organisms causing diphtheria, dysentery and pneumonia. The anti-inflammatory action of Filipendula (meadowsweet) makes it effective against rheumatic pain without the adverse effects which can cause gastric bleeding, and it also acts to reduce fever.

All the benefits of aspirin without the gastric bleeding!

Meadowsweet likes damp roots and will do well in a bog, but it also does just fine in a normal garden. Mine is in half shade in the flowerbed and we have had a lot of hot dry weather this year. It hasn't even wilted and bloomed beautifully this year! The ideal place to grow it is in a low laying meadow area that tends to retain a bit of moisture. I am planning on making a large area for it in my ditch next to the garden and beside the driveway. I don't use salt so there's no danger of runoff.

I am growing my own natural anti-inflammatory pain killer (and almond flavouring for wine)!