Archive for August, 2014

Platinum Blonde™ Lavender and Joyce Fleming

August 15, 2014


 Platinum blonde


At the end of July a group of us went to Grimsby Ontario to the funeral service of a wonderful Canadian rose breeder, Joyce Fleming.   This lovely lady not only shared her knowledge freely but started breeding disease resistant roses long before it was a popular goal.  She was not financed by a business or government, but worked on her own in her garden and produced some beautiful roses.  The Montreal Botanical Garden has a collection of her roses and if you want to see a list of them, visit the site of Hortico Nurseries in Waterdown Ontario.  On their site, you can search roses by breeder.  Joyce’s favorite of her roses is a yellow climbing rose called after our lady astronaut, Roberta Bondar.


Following the service we decided to head further along the QEW to Vineland Nurseries.  Owner Jim Lounsbery was a friend of Joyce’s and has a nursery with a wide variety of plants for sale.  I usually bypass the perennials and head for the Japanese Maples and evergreens at the back.  I didn’t need anything, so was curious to see what my friends were looking at and they were looking at perennials.  A green and cream variegated leaf caught my attention and was I ever surprised to see it belonged to a new lavender called Platinum Blonde™. 

This pretty Lavender was bred in Spain by renowned grower Juan Ismael Momparler Albors.   Described as a compact variety, it grows 16 to 24 inches tall, with an 18 inch spread.   The purple blooms begin in midsummer and continue for weeks.  The scent of the foliage is clearly lavender, but not as sweet a scent as many other L. angustifolias.

Like all lavenders, it needs excellent drainage, and water during the first season to help its root system establish. After that, you will find it quite self-sufficient, attracting bees and butterflies by the dozen season after season.

This 2013 introduction is still undergoing hardiness testing. So far it has survived to at least -10 degrees F. It is expected to be hardy in at least zones 6 to 9.  It will probably not survive my Toronto area, zone 5b and I will bring the plants indoors this winter but it is so beautiful I’ll enjoy it.



Lavender Makes The Top Ten

August 3, 2014


Lavender makes quite a few ‘Top Ten’ lists – drought tolerant, deer resistant and in a recent issue of “Birds & Blooms” it was number 2 in their ‘Top Ten Purple Plants’ list.  Of course, I would have made it number 1, but I’m a bit biased. 


Here is their list:

  1. Verbena.  In my zone 5 it is grown as an annual, often in hanging baskets.  It comes in a variety of colors.
  2. Lavender
  3. Clematis
  4. Bellflower (Campanula)
  5. Balloon Flower (Platycodon)
  6. Dwarf Iris
  7. Catmint (Nepeta – but not the ‘catnip’ one.)  This Catmint has a lovely purple flower on 2’ spikes, not unlike lavender.  It blooms all summer and the foliage is scented.  Popular with bees and butterflies.
  8. Salvia
  9. Allium
  10. Pasque flower  ( Pulsatilla)


I love watching birds and get some good tips from this magazine.  Yesterday morning there was a ‘peep peep peep peep peep’ sound that carried on for about a minute.  It was the call of a young Cardinal who was sitting on the ground while its’ mother fed it!  Dad was on a nearby trellis but I have also seen the fathers feeding young in the garden. 


The second year we were in this house we did not put seed out during the summer.  I was in the garden and a male Cardinal sat on the fence and chattered away to me.  I wondered what was wrong and had some seed, so filled the feeder and put it up.  These birds are usually very timid of my presence but he quickly returned with a young bird that sat on the fence while being fed.  How brave and clever that father was to ask for food!  Our gardens are certainly magical places.  Enjoy yours.