Friday, October 30, 2009

Spider, Tiny Toad Halloween in the Gardens, Kentucky Coffee Tree Leaves Pods, Hostas, Roses and other Late Bloomers

The BRG is still a busy spot as the gardens are getting set for winter. This week, just in time for Halloween, a large-ish spider, a tiny toad (and lady bugs!) joined the volunteers and staff working in the rose and peony beds.

The Kentucky Coffee tree dropped its leaves and seed pods in very short order, and the hostas are going out in a blaze of color!

Edging Peony Bed ~ Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens

Volunteer Dave hard at work edging the peony bed already dressed with its snow fence and burlap to protect it from winter maintenance on the Waterfront Trail. Click on image to enlarge, then click Back button to return to this page.

Fat Brown Spider

This fat brown spider dropped in from the apple tree near the Gardens office, and stayed still long enough to have its picture taken.

Tiny Brown Toad

This little toad was the smallest of about 4 spotted by volunteers when they were weeding the rose bed. This tiny toad was hopping along the Waterfront Trail. These  toads are so well camouflaged, they are usually only noticeable when they hop. 

Kentucky Coffee Tree @ BRG

This Kentucky Coffee tree at the south end of the Peony bed lost all its fall colored leaves in just a few days. See how it looked before it dropped its foliage.

Kentucky Coffee Tree ~ Fallen Leaves

The Kentucky Coffee tree drops small branches along with its leaves, scattering them all over the peonies.

Kentucky Coffee Tree Seed Pods

Under the Kentucky Coffee tree, amidst the fallen leaves and branches, I found several pods in varying states of dryness. Within a day or so, both of these pods in the photo were dark black. The seeds inside the pods are very small -- about the size of a raspberry seed.

For a few days, we volunteers contemplated planting these seeds and growing a few new Kentucky Coffee trees of our own, but Voice-of-Reason (head gardener Para) made us rethink. But luckily, we didn't have to, since this tree seeded itself. See the Kentucky coffeetree saplings here.

Kentucky Coffee Tree Leaves on Branch, Seed Pod
 Here is a close up picture of the leaves and seed pod of the Kentucky Coffee Tree. A lower branch needed to be removed so I took the opportunity to take a closer look of the leaves on a branch lying on the pavement. It's hard to show leave structure, shape etc. when you are looking up from below.

Hosta Bed - Brueckner Rhodo Gardens

This large bed of hostas near the gardens office is dying off gracefully and colorfully, with the different varieties of hostas showing their unique shade of green and or gold.

Volunteers With Brother Cadfael Pink Rose

Though just a few days before Halloween, several varieties of roses are still blooming in the Gardens, like this Brother Cadfael rose with volunteers David and Don. As David remarked, "It's a rose between two thorns."

Evelyn Rose  ~ Lady Bug

Evelyn, too, is still blooming this week in the Gardens. Lady Bugs like the one shown here on Evelyn were flying about on these warmer than usual late fall days.

Fernleaf Bleeding Heart - Day Before Halloween

Nicotiana - Day Before Halloween

Both this nictotiana and fern leaf bleeding heart were blooming valiantly in the memorial rhododedron bed on the west side of the Gardens. These bleeding hearts are also a good companion plant for rhodos and azaleas, but are often overlooked when their showier friends are in bloom.

Late Fall, the gardens is still a lively spot, as the spider and tiny toad attest. The Kentucky Coffee tree, though, is done for this year, and the hostas will likely join it any day now. But I for one am optimistic that late fall will be kind to the rose garden and the hydrangeas!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Great Walks Mississauga Port Credit in Fall: Lake Ontario, Godfrey's Lane, Waterfront

The Gardens, the Waterfront Trail and Godfrey's Lane along Lake Ontario are great places to go for walks in the Port Credit area of Mississauga this Fall. Take advantage of the sunny days, and enjoy this lovely spot of our city.

Walker on the Waterfront Trail at BRG

From Godfrey's Lane, the Waterfront Trail winds its way through the Gardens, following Tecumseh Creek to Lakeshore Road.

Godfrey's Lane Entrance to BRG

Fall colours are emerging at the Gardens, as seen here along Godfrey's Lane and the Waterfront Trail.

Kentucky Coffee Tree BRG

This area of Mississauga Port Credit is near the northern boundary of the Carolinian Forest, and the gardens are lucky to have wonderful examples of Carolinian trees, like this Kentucky Coffee Tree (yellow leaves, center). Also see an update on this tree Feb 2012.

Mystery Rock Stack at BRG - Inukshuk or Art Form?

From time to time, park staff and visitors will catch sight of one of these balanced rock stacks near Lake Ontario, and sometimes along Tecumseh Creek. To the artist: Thanks! You brighten the park!

Grey Squirrel in Residence Oak Tree at Lake Ontario

Regular visitors and staff know this grey squirrel; he's been the unofficial BRG Squirrel in Residence for several years now, holding court from near his oak tree at the corner of Waterfront Trail and Lake Ontario.

BRG Visitors on Bench - Lake Ontario Port Credit

The BRG's wonderful location on the shores of Lake Ontario makes it a favourite viewing spot for visitors. There are three benches near this viewpoint, and lovely rhodo and azalea beds close by.

Snow Fencing Rhododendrons at BRG
BRG staff erected the snow fencing around rhododendron beds and the peony garden this week, to give them some winter protection. See earlier post about winterizing the gardens.

Wire Mesh Tulip Bulbs

To keep squirrels from munching on tulip bulbs (apparently their favourite snack), garden staff placed wire mesh over the areas where the tulip bulbs were planted. The mesh will be removed once the ground freezes.

See earlier post for planting bulbs and shrubs. And if you'd like to come help get the gardens ready for winter, or sign up for next spring and summer, see Volunteering at BRG for information.

But volunteer or visitor, make time for a walk through the gardens, along Lake Ontario, and Godfrey's Lane, a very special part of Mississauga Port Credit!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More Fall Winter Garden Prep - Planting, Watering, Weeding, Mulching, Snow Fencing

Planting, watering, weeding, and mulching at Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens are well underway as park staff and volunteers take advantage of warm Autumn days to prepare the gardens for fall and winter.

All the tulips have been planted and covered with wire mesh, and the snow fencing will be placed over the next week or so.(Click on photo to enlarge, then click Back button to return to this page.)

 Rhododendrons Pruned Late Spring 

Several of the leggier, spindly rhododendrons were hard pruned last Spring, and over the summer, grew back bushier and healthier, and are now full of new buds that will bloom next Spring.

Volunteers Planting Shrubs at BRG

Many hands make fast work of planting shrubs near the Waterfront Trail. Volunteer gardeners are a great help in keeping the flower and shrub beds tidy and weed-free.

Head gardener Para reminds us that October is a really good time to plant shrubs and trees. Dig the planting hole almost twice as large as the pot/ root ball, and fill with good compost, then settle the shrub into position.

New Shrub Pieris Japonica  - Japanese Andromeda

Several new Japanese Andromeda (Karenoma, Mountainfire) and viburnum Burkwoodi shrubs have been planted in various Gardens beds; Both varities are good companion plants for rhododendrons and peonies.

Watering Newly Planted Azaleas

Newly planted shrubs, like the azalea in the above photo, should be given a good drink of water to settle the soil around the root ball. Don't count on fall rains to do the job.

Weed, Edge Rose Garden - Flower Beds

The rose garden beds are also getting a good late fall, pre winter weeding and edging. The volunteers made fast work of tidying up this large bed of Iceberg roses. Over the next few days, all the rose beds will be weeded and edged, and topped up with compost.

Bring on the Snow Fence

Rolls of snow fencing are trucked into the Garden along the Waterfront Trail (info at The snow fences will be placed along the trails and at the edges of garden beds and plantings to help protect the plants, especially the rhododendrons and roses, from damage by trail maintenance machines and ice melters, dogs, and snow sledders.

Snow fencing also helps show flower beds locations when they are covered with snow, and prone to accidental trompings.

Take advantage of good fall weather to get your own garden ready for winter. Plant those spring flowering bulbs, shrubs and do a little maintenance. And if you're in the Port Credit, Lorne Park area in Mississauga and want to help keep the BRG beautiful, then come be a volunteer.

Friday, October 9, 2009

BRG Fall Garden Winter Preparations - Weeding, Mulch, Compost, Planting Spring Bulbs, Dividing, Transplanting Perennials

Fall Garden Winter Preparations are in full swing at Brueckner Rhodo Gardens in Port Credit Ontario Canada: Fall is the time to prepare gardens for winter, to do some weeeding, add mulch and compost, to plant bulbs that will flower next Spring, and for digging up, dividing, and transplanting perennials that have become overcrowded. Fall is a busy time for garden staff and volunteers alike.

Compost Top Dressing - Rhododendrons Azaleas

The hillside overlooking the Rose Garden has been top dressed in compost, which not only improves the soil but also delineates the beds and shows off their lovely shapes. More beds are slated to be similarly prepared for winter garden protection and improvement. Clearly defined beds also serve to alert Gardens visitors that something precious lies there!

Weeding and Edging the Rose Garden at Brueckner

Volunteer weeder and edger, and all-round great mulch and compost spreader David tackles the Rose Garden to prepare it for winter. And since the snow in winter may hold off for several months yet, his hard work beautifies the rose beds, showcasing the many rose bushes still in bud and bloom. Volunteer Clare is tackling the rose bush pruning.

Solomon's Seal Transplanted at BRG

Solomon's seal, part of the lily family, has been transplanted this fall along the Waterfront Trail beside the creek, near the middle bridge. Mature plants were being overshadowed by the now grown rhododendrons and azaleas, and should have room to grow and flourish safe from the lawn care weed whackers.

Black Eyed Susans Digging, Dividing For Transplanting

In a perennial garden near the BRG parking lot at Lakeshore Road West, the Black-Eyed Susans were beginning to take over the entire bed. City staff and volunteers took advantage of a warm sunny fall day to dig them up, divide them into new plants, and move them to a new garden.

Black-Eyed Susans New Flower Garden

Black-Eyed Susans have been transplanted in their new perennial garden home where the Waterfront Trail meets Lakeshore Road West at Shawnmarr. Tall, hardy, sun and drought tolerant, these perennials will not only add color and interest to this part of the BRG, but they will also hide the unlovely guard rail while alerting passing traffic: "Hey! Look at me! Here I am!" The other side of the guard rail has been planted with day lilies that perform much the same as the Black-Eyed Susans.

New Azaleas Facing Lake Ontario

Up the trail from the Brueckner memorial plaque and over the hill, the gardens slope towards Lake Ontario. It is on the 'far side' that has seen much new planting of rhododendrons and azaleas. These new plantings add many more plants to the springtime rhodos glory, and offer more locations for wedding photos.

Planting Spring Bulbs Fall Winter Garden Task

Head gardener, Para Kanp, works with volunteer Don to plant spring bulbs in a new garden bed. Here, they are planting fat tulip bulbs that are a favourite snack of the many squirrels. To thwart the squirrels that call BRG 'home', Para has placed wire mesh over the newly-planted bulbs. Also visible in this picture are the transplanted Black-Eyed Susans.

Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens Lake Ontario Frontage

Most often I take pictures of the BRG frontage on Lake Ontario from the Gardens proper (see my other blog for photos). Today I walked the Waterfront Trail through the Gardens, up Godfrey's Lane to the park on the hill, then followed a path down the banks to take this picture showing the full frontage of Brueckner Rhodo Garden. The fall colors are just starting to emerge.

For how to get to BRG check the googlemap link in the right menu.

Come join us as we get the garden winter ready for a good show next spring and summer!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend Fall Foliage Colors Squirrels Wildflowers Hydrangeas Apples Berries ~ Things To See Port Credit

Some of the things to see on Canada Thanksgiving weekend at Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens are the changing colors of the fall foliage, dozens of brown, grey and black squirrels scurrying about getting ready for winter, the late blooming wildflowers and hydrangeas, and red ripe apples and berries. Note: Click on a picture to enlarge, then click Back button to return to this page.

Fall Colors ~ Foliage at BRG in Port Credit

The Garden's location in Port Credit on the shore of Lake Ontario is a micro climate, much more temperate than much of Mississauga. This means that fall colors come later to this area, and many trees are just now starting to show signs of red, gold, yellow and orange.

Hints of Orange and Yellow - Fall Foliage Colors

Much of the foliage on the BRG trees is still vibrant green, though today, some trees closer to Godfrey's Lane are starting to show their fall colors with the first flushes of orange, yellow, gold and red.

Grey Squirrel Getting Ready for Winter at BRG

Walk along the Waterfront Trail or the trails through Brueckner Garden and you'll hear the underbrush rustling with dozens of squirrels -- grey, black and red -- as they step up the pace to get ready for winter. Most of them are fairly tame, and accustomed to many visitors watching their antics.

Hydrangeas in Bloom at BRG

Most of the hydrangeas are still in bloom at BRG, including these ones in the picture above, that are inter-planted with the rhododendrons near the Brueckner memorial plaque. Hydrangeas are also planted at the Garden entrance at Lakeshore and Shawnmarr Road (see googlemap in right menu) and in the north east garden near Lakeshore and Godfrey's Lane.

Hawthorn Tree With Red Berries in Fall

The flush of red in the midst of green foliage and lawns are from the red berries on the Hawthorn tree. See photo below for close up of the red fruit.

Hawthorn Tree Fruit ~ Tiny Red Apples

I don't know the type of Hawthorn growing at the Gardens, as its planting precedes the founding of Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens. Each fruit (looks like a tiny red apple) has one singe large seed inside.

Crabapple Tree - Fall Colors in Garden

Near the BRG garden office / washroom building, across the Waterfront Trail from the peony bed, look up, and you'll see this Crabapple tree loaded with tiny ripe fruit.

Crab Apples in Fall- Ripe Red Fruit

Here's a closer look at tiny crabapples. Crabapples make a tasty, tart jelly, or can be pickled. These ones are so tiny, it's hardly worth preserving the fruit. I should also point out that picking any flowers, fruits or plants is not permitted in City of Mississauga parks and gardens.

Wild Asters and Goldenrod - Fall Colors Wildflowers at BRG

Mauve wild asters and bright yellow goldenrod are at their peak colors at the gardens. Herbalists make a tea from the goldenrod flowers when they are just beginning to bloom.

With a mostly sunny Thanksgiving weekend forecast in Mississauga, Canada, make a walking tour of the Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens on of the things to see in Port Credit. Over the next few days or so, the fall foliage should be making more of an impact on the large hardwood trees, turning them brilliant red, orange and yellow.

For anyone planning to travel to New Zealand this month (October 18-26 2009), check out the Dunedin Rhododendron Festival.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mississauga Port Credit Pathfinders Volunteers Plant Shrubs at BRG

Last night, the 221st Mississauga and Port Credit Pathfinders, part of Girl Guides of Canada, came to Brueckner Rhodo Gardens as volunteers to plant shrubs along the Waterfront Trail near Lake Ontario.

Pathfinders Planting along Waterfront Trail at BRG

The girls, ages 12-14, worked under supervision of City of Mississauga staff to dig holes, tease roots, plant and tidy two beds along the Waterfront Trail near the bridge closest to Lake Ontario.

Digging Holes Hard Work ~ Planting Shrubs at BRG

The picture above shows holes being dug on the slope that runs down to the beach at the bridge, a slope which is now planted with some of the 14 Rosa Carolina native rose bushes allocated for this area. Some of the Pathfinders parents came along, but the girls did most of the planting.

Pathfinders, Leader and BRG Chair

Some of the Pathfinders volunteers chat with BRG stewardship committee chair, David Culham, who was on hand to explain to the girls the difference between a garden and a park, and how the gardens change with the seasons.

Volunteer Pathfinders Plant Native Species

Culham told the Pathfinders the importance of native species plantings, and how rhododendrons are part of a Carolinian forest such as the BRG. He also thanked the girls for giving back to their community and taking ownership of how Mississauga develops and evolves.

At the Bridge Near the BRG Nursery

After planting, the Pathfinders had time to take in a short tour of part of Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens to learn more about the types of plants and trees. All told, the girls planted 44 shrubs in just over an hour: 14 Rosa Carolina, 10 Witch Hazel, 10 Alternated leaf dogwood, and 10 Chokecherry bushes.

Pathfinders in the BRG Rose Garden

Here, the girls are learning about the Rose Garden, where roses still bloom despite the mid Autumn chill. The Pathfinders asked if they could come back in the spring and do more plantings, and their troop leader said they would also ask the Girl Guides if they'd like to join them.

Rhododendrons in Full Bloom

Of course, we'd welcome such eager volunteers, said Culham, offering an invitation to the Pathfinders and their families to return in the spring when the rhodos are in bloom and they could see how the shrubs they planted in the fall looked in springtime.

Above is a photo taken by Culham in June, and I post it here to give the Pathfinders and Girl Guides a glimpse of how lovely the Gardens are, especially in late Spring.

To find out how you and / or your group can become a volunteer at BRG, see this post.