What's in bloom at the Toronto Botanical Garden


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Hakonechloa macra (Japanese forest grass) in the Entry Garden; Touched by a light frost this ornamental grass looks better than ever reflecting the morning light and maintaining the strong green colour it’s known for – I never have favourites but among the Hakonechloas this is mine!  

Hakonechloa macra with light frost on the grass blades, changing to water droplets as the sun melts it. 

 Origanum laevigatum ‘Herrenhausen’ (Ornamental oregano); True to form in the Entry Garden, each plant shines under a covering of light frost only highlighting that there are far more attributes here, not strictly flower colour. 

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Krinkled White’ (Peony) in the Entry Garden; The flowers of peonies are fleeting but well worth the day they are in bloom, however it is the foliage that lasts & lasts.  The previous night’s frost only compliments the now brown foliage. 

Thalictrum ‘Elin’ (Meadow rue) in the Entry Garden in early November; Fresh light-green foliage is complimented by the tall flowering stalks this cultivar is grown for.  They hold up well under rain and have changed to a vibrant yellowish-orange colour. 

Geranium wlassovianum (Hardy geranium) as ground cover in the Entry Garden, this geranium is truly a four-season plant.  The foliage holds up well all year, including when stressed by drought.  The night frost outlines each leaf providing contrast to the variety of colours: green, orange, red, and yellow can all be found here. 

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Primavera’ (Witch hazel) in the Arrival Courtyard; This native large deciduous shrub has excellent fall colour and winter interest.  Look closely to see the flower buds pressed to the stems which will open in late winter. 

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Primavera’ (Witch hazel) leaf detail outlined by frost in early November.  

Late Summer 2011

Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Splash Pinot Grigio’ (Rose mallow, Dwarf Vintage hibiscus); This hardy hibiscus from Blooms of Bressingham has white flower petals edged with pink and a pink centre ring.  The Vintage series are known for their compact growth 3-4′ with all the punch of the dinner-plate sized blooms we look forward to at this time of year. 

Phlox paniculata ‘Robert Poore’ (Summer Phlox) Perennial Border; This show stopper has fragrant violet-pink flowers above 3-4′ stems which seldom require staking.  Robert Poore is a particularly long-flowering cultivar from August through September.  It’s not drought tolerant and prefers a cool root zone so we’ve planted densely around it. 



Hibiscus ‘Kopper King’ (Hardy hibiscus, Swamp rose mallow) Perennial Border; Although flowers only last a day, these herbaceous somewhat shrubby perennials are a must-have in the late summer border.  Kopper King has copper-red foliage and huge pinkish-white flowers with red veining & a red eye.  All perennial hibiscus prefer organically rich soil for optimim flower size and stand-up stems. 

Molinia caerulea ssp. caerulea ‘Variegata’ (Variegated moor grass) Westview Terrace; This selection has green foliage striped with creamy white-yellow.  Arching stems bear yellow flowers which last well into winter complimented by golden-yellow fall colour.  Although drought tolerant, molinias prefer a moist position.  Divisions are best done in spring. 

Platycodon grandiflorus blue (Balloon flower) Garden Hall Courtyard; Ballon flower takes it’s name for the inflated flower buds which then open into star-shaped flowers.  An excellent addition to the cutting garden, these long-lived perennials are very late to break in spring and resist relocating once established.   

Origanum laevigatum ‘Herrenhausen’ (Ornamental oregano) Entry Garden; A woody-based subshrub with excellent heat & drought tolerance, this cultivar dies to the ground in cold winters but has proven to be reliably hardy in the Toronto area.  The green foliage deepens in colour as the summer progresses and is best in cooler climates turning purple.   

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Cassian’ (Fountain grass) Entry Garden; This hardy selection is a true clumper with arching green leaves and bottlebrush-type flowers great for flower arranging.  It turns golden in fall with touches of red.  It should be cut back in spring and divided then as necessary – the above pictured plant is surely due!

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Cassian’ with Bee


Flowers in July

Acanthus hungaricus (Bear’s Breeches) Knot Garden; This species is the least known of the Bear’s Breeches and makes a terrific speciman in the garden with upright spikes of hooded light pink flowers.  It adapts to a wider climate range and here at the TBG blooms reliably year after year. 

Eryngium giganteum (Miss Wilmott’s Ghost) Water Channel; This plant produces large spiny flower heads of silver-grey with a greenish centre cone.  It gets its name from the English plantswoman, Ellen Wilmott, who supposedly spread the seed when visiting other gardens. 

Stachys officinalis ‘Hummelo’ (Alpine Betony) Entry Garden; Species of Stachys are generally known for their woolly grey leaves, however this cultivar is known for its basal rosettes of ovate glossy leaves and long-lasting rose-lavender flowers.  In my humble opinion, if you have a position in full-sun available this plant is a must -have — it’s also great in containers and overwinters well!  

Liatris spicata (Dense Blazing Star or Prairie Gayfeather) Water Channel & Entry Garden; Native throughout most of Eastern North America, this herbacious perennial has dramatic tall spikes of magenta-purple flowers which open from top to bottom.  A prairie wildflower, it has naturalized extremely well in the TBG Entry Garden meadow.    


Allium sphaerocephalon (Round-headed Leek) Water Channel, Perennial Border; Also known as Drumstick Allium, the egg-shaped flowers begin green opening to a pink and finally maturing to a reddish purple.  They last for 3-4weeks and are excellent amoungst other plants in the herbaceous border, naturalizing freely.

Paeonia ‘Buckeye Belle’ (Semi-Double Peony) Entry Garden; This peony is definitely a show stopper!  The footprints into the bed to get that up-close photo are unmistakable – so many more to come but please enjoy from the path.  Cheers!   

 Amsonia tabernaemontana (Blue Star) Entry Garden; This perennial is native to Eastern North America and a perfect addition to the herbaceaous border or meadow garden.

Allium christophii (Stars of Persia) Entry Garden; A very showy allium with as many as 100 star-shaped flowers per flower umbel.  (Can you find the bee in this photo?)

Salvia x sylvestris ‘East Friesland’ (Perennial Sage) Entry Garden; This German selection has a compact habit with deep violet purple flowers.  I prefer to cut back spent flowers stalks to new growth after flowering. 

Lupinus Russell hybrids (Russell Lupine) Demonstration Courtyard; A sure sign of early summer, the tall spires of Lupines grow best in deep rich soil which is slightly acidic.  Our Lupines have returned annually to the same location, setting seed each year.

Paeonia suffruticosa (Tree Peony) Herb Garden; These deciduous shrubs will reach 3′-5′ tall with a 4′ spread; true species have large flowers 6″-8″ across, from pink to white with a purple basal patch.

Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Feng Dan Bai’ (Phoenix White Chinese Tree Peony) Wayfinding Sign; Upward facing fragrant white flowers up to 7″ across, slightly ruffled with yellow stamens

Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Taiyo’ (Tree Peony) Wayfinding Sign; Taiyo has very large red semi-double flowers which tend to curl

Polygonatum biflorum (Solomon’s Seal) Demonstration Courtyard; Come see our Solomon Seal Collection in the Demo Courtyard.  This native wildflower is easily recognized by its upward arching stems of hanging white-tipped-green flowers. 

Polygonatum odoratum ‘Silver Wings’ (Solomon’s Seal) Demo Courtyard; This plant is originally from Beth Chatto’s garden in England and is named for the silver undersides of its leaves. 

Polygonatum x hybridum ‘Striatum’ (Solomon’s Seal) Demo Courtyard; An uncommon, vigorous hybrid selection with bright creamy white margins  

Wisteria floribunda ‘Yae-kokuryu’ (Japanese Wisteria) Arrival Trellis; This highly fragrant vigorous (which one isn’t?) wisteria is known to be the only true double-flowered one.   

Wisteria (Wisteria) Floral Hall Courtyard; Unfortunately I haven’t been able to identify this wisteria – but if anyone familiar with the TBG has any ideas please feel free to forward.  The good news is after umpteen years it is in full bloom after a very hard pruning last year!!






May 12, 2011

Tulipa ‘World Paeace’ (Tulip)) with Narcissus ‘Lemon Beauty’ (Daffodil), and in the background a drift of Narcissus ‘Thalia’ (Daffodil) Entry Garden; this single-flowered Darwin Hybrid has brilliant red flowers edged with gold. 

Narcissus ‘Thalia’ (Daffodil) Entry & Show Gardens; One of a few daffodils which opens pure white, Thalia is a great perennializer and is an heirloom from 1916. 

Narcissus ‘Mount Hood’ (Trumpet Daffodil) Entry Garden; An heirloom daffodil with white petals and a creamy trumpet maturing to brilliant white – another great perennializer!

Narcissus ‘Fortune’ (Large-Cupped Daffodil) Bright golden yellow pedals surround an orange-yellow cup, look for Fortune in our Entry Garden. 

Narcissus ‘Ice Follies’ (Large- Cupped Daffodil) Entry Garden; Large-cupped daffodils are extremely popular featuring a cup (corona) that is generally more than 1/3, but less than the total length of the petals.    

Tulipa greigii ‘Casa Grande’ (Greigii Tulip) Demonstration Courtyard; This short-stemmed tulip has foliage with distinctive purple-brown markings making it interesting even without the vivid red flowers. 


Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’ (Summer Snowflake) Demonstration Courtyard; A selection of ssp. aestivum, Gravetye Giant not only has more robust flowers but more in number as well!  These European wild flowers are extremely frost hardy and have been in cultivation since the 1500s.