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.


Anonymous said...

You stated one rhodo in bed 2 appeared to be victim to random vandalism as all branches have been snapped off and lay on the ground.

In my opinion, it's rabbits doing the damage and this is not good news. It's most likely going to happen again next winter. Rabbits like to bite off low lying tender branches of small young azaleas and drop them at the base of the plant during the winter. Rabbits can completely destroy a small shrub. It becomes more problematic when they chew on the trunks of bigger older rhodos leaving large areas of the cambium layer vulnerable to disease. This happens in my garden too and it's important then to keep all mulch away from these wounds as moisture/heat will only exacerbate any disease process starting. Eventually, a tough callus layer does form over the exposed cambium but I like to place a flexible rose collar around these sites to protect from further damage. It's a common problem in Lorne Park.

Bob Ramik said...

Nice blog, Karen. Hope you keep updating.

Hugh Wesley said...

thanks for your updates with photographs.

Karen said...

Anon, thanks for your information about the bunny rabbit damage.

This should be helpful to gardeners wondering about this type of damage in their gardens.

In the case of BRG, though, this was the only damaged plant, and there were and are no signs of rabbits in the garden. Squirrels, raccoons, and perhaps the odd skunk, but so far, bunnies are few and far between, thankfully.

As well, another plant nearby had been uprooted, so we suspect the human two footed variety :-)

Thanks, Bob and Hugh, for taking the time to comment. We will continue to update as the season progresses, and look forward to the annual Garden tour.