Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mayapples, Primroses, Mauve Rhododendrons, Magnolias, Snowdrops : Waiting for Spring in Mississauga Ontario

Flowers and shrubs in bloom, tamaracks in autumn, a rose garden ready for winter: Selected photos courtesy D. J. Culham, BRGSC Chair and Volunteers Co-ordinator.

While waiting for this interminable winter to end in Southern Ontario, let's look at pictures of blooms past to brighten these ersatz Spring days.

Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) in Brueckner Garden

Mayapples are native to eastern North America,and can be found in the Garden wooded areas. Look for the flower in May, and the 'apple' later in the summer. You may also know it by the name 'Mandrake' or 'hog apple'.

Tamaracks (Larch) in the Fall BRG Lake Ontario
The tamaracks at Brueckner Rhododendron Garden (BRG) can be seen on the south edge close to the Lake Ontario shoreline, south of the Waterfront Trail and east of the bridge.  Already this spring, they are flushed with new growth green, and seem so happy in this location, plans are afoot to add more tamaracks (also known as Larch) this year.

Rose Garden Beds Ready for Winter
Here's a photo from the archives: The Rose Garden all prepped for Winter 2009. Last year - 2010 - volunteers and garden staff transplanted Iceberg and added new roses as well.

Yellow Primroses at Tecumseh Creek BRG
Early each spring, we look for these gorgeous yellow primroses that grow along the banks of Tecumseh Creek, the waterway that bisects the BRG. We looked hopefully last week, but in vain. And this week's snow and cold will only delay all spring blooming plants for a while.

Magnolia in 'Marta's Bed' at BRG Late April 2010
This gorgeous magnolia, a tall one, blooms faithfully each year, half hidden in the back of what we call 'Marta's bed', for Marta Brueckner, who along with her late husband, Dr. Joe Brueckner, donated many of the heritage and hybrid rhododendrons from their private gardens.

Magnolias in Bloom along BRG Garden Path
Several new magnolia trees were transplanted from Hancock Nursery to BRG last spring, close to the larger, more robust white magnolia closest to the path that runs south from the parking lot. The original magnolia at this location can be identified by the memorial plaque placed below it, honoring Dr. Brueckner.

Close up of Mauve Rhododendron Flower
And on to the raison d'etre for the BRG: The rhododendrons, like this gorgeous bloom photographed at peak bloom last year.

Mauve Rhododendron Shrub in Full Bloom
The name of this beauty escapes me, and as soon as I get the name, I will post it here.

Snowdrops at BRG First Blooms in 2011
And while we were disappointed that it was too early in the season for blooming primroses, we were quite chuffed to spot this very healthy clump of snowdrops in the Heritage Garden area, and I took its picture.

 Other early bloomers, though not nearly as robust as these snowdrops, were the valiant few crocuses flashing pale mauve near Godfreys Lane and Lakeshore Road West.

Thanks again to David Culham for brightening these early spring days with memories of the Garden past.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Rhodos, Azaleas Promise Great Springtime Blooms

Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Magnolias, Japanese Cherry, Forsythia, Tulips, Red Bud On Track for Great Spring Blooming Season April to June

A walk around Brueckner Rhododendron Garden today showed most of the rhodos, azaleas and magnolias sporting fat buds that promise a fantastic spring blooming season, thanks to a good winter -- not too cold, a bit of snow cover -- and a garden well-winterized with snow fencing, mulch and compost and good moisture level. Here are a few pictures of how the Garden looks in early March.

Brueckner Memorial Magnolia in Full Bud
Near the Lakeshore Road West parking lot, the buds on this memorial Magnolia promise another great blooming show this Spring. See pictures of this tree from last April.

Magnolia Tree in Bud ~ Port Credit Ontario
Several more magnolias were planted near the Brueckner memorial magnolia last summer, and this spring will be their first blooming in the BRG. These new trees, too, seem to have weathered the winter in fine style. Sadly, one beautiful magnolia in the east garden did not fare well, and was removed last fall.

Rhododendron in Bud ~ Brueckner Rhododendron Garden
This wonderfully shaped rhododendron is the centerpiece of a shrub bed just south west of the parking lot and the Kennedy Memorial Plaque. Virtually every twig and branch ends in a fine healthy looking bud. And as we walked the Garden, almost every rhododendron and azalea, be they large or small varieties, showed the same healthy looking buds.

BRG East Garden Bed 1 Rhododendrons Azaleas
Para Kanp, head gardener, BRG City of Mississauga, surveys the newly-labeled Bed 1 in the East Garden. All the new beds in the East Garden are now identified with a number marker. This picture shows mulch that was added around these new rhododendron and azalea bed to conserve moisture, acidify and protect them, especially in winter.

Broken Branches Rhododendron Shrub Damage ~ Port Credit Ontario
One rhododendron in Bed 2 appeared to be victim to random vandalism, as all branches had been snapped off and lay on the ground. Another rhododendron in this same area had been uprooted. With frost still in the ground, a proper replanting was not possible, but by loosening the soil, it was possible to set the plant upright, and replace the soil around the base. With above zero temperatures and heavy rains forecast for the next two days, this 'replanting' should be enough to protect it before the next freeze.

Brueckner Rhododendron Garden East Garden Shrubs
This spring will be the first blooming season at Brueckner for hundreds of new rhododendrons and azaleas, most of them planted in the new beds in the East Garden, and Para expects them to be spectacular! Last summer and fall, irrigation was extended into the East Garden; This spring, installing drip irrigation to these new beds will be a major project.

Mallard Ducks at BRG ~ Lake Ontario Shore
Mallards and winter ice with bits of driftwood and branches along the BRG Lake Ontario Waterfront make a pretty picture. It's too early in the season to see what debris winter waves and winds may have washed ashore. The beach at the Garden is usually treated to a clean up once or twice a year, often by volunteers.
Clump of Elm Trees Removed BRG Port Credit
A clump of Dutch Elm diseased elm trees was cut down in late Fall; you can see the stumps in the picture (click on it to enlarge, then click back button to return to this page). These elm trees were near the clump of tamarack and beech trees on the east side of the South bridge on the Waterfront Trail near Godfreys Lane. This area is to be improved with the addition of shrub beds, and hopefully, some Japanese Cherry trees. These new plantings will also protect nearby shrubs from winter winds coming in from the Lake.

Rhododendron 'Hot Dawn' in Full Bud at BRG
'Hot Dawn' is a recent rhododendron addition to Brueckner, in the West garden, overlooking Lake Ontario. Its fat buds are irresistible to squirrels; One can only hope that they find an alternate treat, as we look forward to seeing this variety bloom this spring.

Holly Bushes  Red Berries Add Winter Interest
The red berries of holly add winter interest to the BRG Heritage Bed, site of the Brueckner Memorial Plaque. The rhododendrons and azaleas in this well established bed appear to have come through the winter with flying colours.

As much as this morning's walk indicated a great blooming season, it also served as a To-Do list of tasks to be done this spring and into summer.
  • The Peony Garden could use a good early season weeding as soon as it's possible, and before the peonies get serious about growing. Once they've bloomed, it will be time to start thinking about weed control measures such as landscape fabric and mulch. 
  • Garlic mustard, greatly reduced thanks in large part to the years-long efforts of volunteer David Culham, still needs to be uprooted wherever it surfaces.
  • Wildflowers need to be planted and transplanted, as do perennials like hostas, coneflowers and black-eyed Susans.
  • Winter winds have dropped branches around the Garden that need to be piled up for chipping.
  • There's mulch to be spread, weeds to be pulled, but these tasks are always with us.
It's still too early to be gardening and cultivating, but while we wait for this winter to end, it's a breath of fresh air, literally, to be out in the Garden, planning and dreaming of Spring.