Monday, November 13, 2017

An Urban Condo Garden, Rooftop-Style, in November. . . .

 Shall we take a quick tour of my Fall Garden? The photos were taken over the past three or four weeks, as the days got shorter and colder -- that Japanese maple above was golden around the 20th of October, but almost bare-leaved now.

Similarly, the Physocarpus (opulifolius, Amber Jubilee), below, is now completely bare. It's one of the shrubs we added to the container plants left by the former owners. We chose the new shrubs with an eye to year-round interest. Besides its fall colour, Physocarpus' common name, Nine-bark, indicates its winter attraction, a textured, peeling bark that I like very much. We had a variety in our previous garden, so for me the continuity is another part of the appeal.
 Aren't the leaves pretty? Just a memory now, but they'll be back in the spring. . . .
 The other Japanese maple we were gifted by the previous owners has troubled us through late spring and summer. Gorgeous to watch leafing-out, and brilliant against the fall gloom, it was, however, spindly and bare in too many spots, and we wondered if it had been chosen very well given the lack of shade, the direct path of the sun across the terrace in the height of summer.  And those of you who are offended by the notion of "shovel-pruning" should look away now, but we did contemplate getting rid of this. Not so easy given that we're several storeys up, and the tree is ten feet high. . .

Instead, I've done some research, and I think the answer might be found in root-pruning. . . A rather daunting undertaking, to be honest. The pot is huge and heavy and getting soil out and back in is going to be a messy business. But Pater is willing to take this one on as a learning experience. We were all set to go for a fall attempt, just waiting for the leaves to fall, thinking that would make the process more manageable.

The knowledgeable fellow Pater spoke to at a local nursery the other day, though, says we've waited too long for a fall attempt -- it's true that we've already had frosty nights -- and would be better now to do the surgery in the spring. I'll admit that we're glad of the reprieve. . . .

Have any of you root-pruned a relatively large container shrub or tree? I'll admit that this is completely new territory for me, although we did have a few large-ish ornamental maples in containers in the last garden. The difference, I think was that we had much more room to find them a spot that closely suited their needs; the container-to-shrub ratio was much more generous, proportionally, so much more room before getting rootbound; and perhaps we just moved in time ;-)
 Meanwhile, the maple, quite glorious in October, is also nearly bare, its leaves writing splendid messages in scarlet calligraphy on the wooden bench nearby. . .


 We've enjoyed floral colour over the spring and summer in the garden, but I'm always drawn to leaf shape, texture, and colour as well.  I love everything about Corylopsis leaves -- love to sketch their charming patterns, those lines. . . .This one is Corylopsis Spicata 'Aurea' -- And doesn't this colour live up to the golden promise of its name? Another one that I photographed around October 20th, which is now completely bare. Very early in the spring, though, it will delight us with dainty yellow flowers. A true gem, one we've happily added to the garden we were left.
 We also added this Dogwood, Cornus sanguinea,  after admiring the stunning plantings at Van Dusen Gardens last February. Somewhere, I have the label that will remind me whether this is 'Midwinter Fire' or 'Winter Flame,' but whichever, we're looking forward to being warmed by its fiery stems. At the moment, it's still hanging on to most of its leaves, as is the snowberry across the way, while the apple tree (which gave us four little apples this first year!) just nearby still has a mix of green and yellow leaves.
 See those stems, already hinting at the heat their colour will build to as we move into winter. . .
 We bought several fuchsia plants late in the summer, wanting to extend the season's colour. Then we didn't get 'round to potting them on from the heavy plastic containers they were sold in, so had to water. And water. And water. . . .Finally, last week, Pater bought some new pots (we really like these somewhat pricier fiberglass ones, which are light enough to accommodate the challenges of rooftop gardening, but also look attractive).
 I like the way the fuchsia's growth pattern adds interest lower to the ground. Next year's garden plans include doing more with trailing plants, as much as with climbers. . . .
 A number of plants suffered with this year's abnormal weather patterns, especially when compounded by our travel absences as well, perhaps, as our learning curve with container gardening. One of the maples, particularly, suffered windburn and shrivelled on some of the hotter days (we turned it 'round, were more consistent and attentive in the watering, and it's recovered quite nicely).

This little wallflower was one I thought we might have lost. I was so grateful to have found it in the mix of plants left behind, because wallflowers were always a favourite of my dad's. But it was originally on the smaller balcony, much more exposed to sun and sheltered from any rainfall by the balcony above. By the time we came back from our spring travels, despite our daughter's best efforts, it looked better suited to the compost bin, to be honest. A few dried leaves left on some dessicated grey twigs. . .

But I moved it, and I cut it back, and I watered, and I watched. It's not a plant that likes to be over-watered, so I was attentive as well, trying to read what it was telling me. And I might have thought of Dad a bit and coaxed the plant to green up for him.

And look what it's up to now. . . In November!

Sweetest fragrance ever, and not just because I have to lean in so close to smell it that I can imagine Dad whispering in my ear. . .
Memories of summer. . . .

Whereas this is a more representative reflection (ha!) of today's weather, more in keeping with the season. . . . the fountain's been turned off, its basin catching the season's rainfall. . .


 I've been meaning to do this garden survey for weeks now, probably months tbh, and I still haven't told you how the grasses fared or showed you what's still very green (the laurel, of course, but also the clematis in its sheltered spot near the door). There are a few wistful blooms still climbing the hollyhock, the magnolia's fuzzy buds all sweetly revealed when its leaves fell almost simultaneously last week. We've been told we probably don't need to wrap the fig for winter; the hydrangea is moving seriously into its homely winter mode; and the herbaceous perennials have mostly been cut back and mulched. Next up, sarcococca's dainty fragrance and the heady aromatic blooms of the Daphne we're crossing our fingers for. . . .

Thank you so much for indulging me this Monday morning. I'm so buoyed by your presence out there, on the days when Blogging becomes a challenge. It's hard to understand why some folks skew toward nastiness, but I'm going to borrow these wise words from my friend Sue (Une Femme):

On A Personal Note

As a blogger, I’ve been lucky to not have received very many nasty comments over the years. I work hard to create and maintain a positive, upbeat space here, and I think that tends to discourage outright rudeness. I truly appreciate that you take the time to share your comments and welcome open discussion. That includes dissenting opinions and constructive feedback. And I try to give people the benefit of the doubt when assessing the intent behind negative remarks. But snotty, disparaging, uncivil, and antagonistic comments will be deleted. Full stop. Don’t have time for that.

Most of you are wonderful, supportive, interesting, generous readers, and I am enriched by the community we've built here. I'm not at all averse to constructive criticism (and see no reason why offering such couldn't be done with kindness), but bullying and meanness aren't my cup of tea.

Enough of that. Now to sit back and enjoy your chat about Mondays, gardens, November . . . all the good stuff. Bring it on!

37 comments:

  1. Your rooftop garden is wonderful! I have walked around areas where people cultivate plants and grow trees on rooftops and have always been curious...I hope you continue to share your garden throughout the seasons.
    Love that puddle photo with the building reflection and the leaf.
    Sorry to hear that you are receiving some nasty comments. Hope you don’t take them to heart.

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    1. Thanks L. My calling it a rooftop garden is a bit deceptive, because our terrace has the benefit of being on the roof of the lower building between two taller adjoining buildings, so that it's much more sheltered than "rooftop" implies.

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  2. The plants are very interesting right now. Getting materials to a balcony is always a challenge. I am trying for some winter colour in the parking lots. Some of our neighbours get a bit "housebound" in the winter, so it's nice for them to be able to look out on some bright patches. I'm sorry to hear that you are getting rude comments. I feel that you provide a friendly forum to exchange ideas and that uncivil behaviour is unacceptable.

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    1. I really admire what you've done in those parking lots, and I hope you'll continue to post photos occasionally on your blog. So great!

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  3. What a wealth of plant life you have up in the sky! With this lush balcony you'll be able to enjoy an up-close chair-side view of the seasons turning. At first I thought the lovely "Aurea" was a bit of ballerina ribbon, and scanned the text for its significance in the garden. Left by a small human perhaps?

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    1. You describe it exactly -- we can stay inside, sheltered from the wind and rain, or the frost and snow, and enjoy the vegetation just out the window. Ah, the maple leaf does look like a ribbon. I think it's just fallen there -- the small human who spends most time on the deck would have been more likely to drop the leaf into the water. He's drawn to the basin like iron filings to a magnet!

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  4. Frances, thank you so much for the fall tour! I so enjoyed seeing your rooftop garden in early summer, and think you've created such a delightful and restorative space. You put such time, energy and love into your garden, and it shows. That feeling of bringing a favorite plant back from the brink...so rewarding. And thanks for the support too!

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    1. Sue & Frances - I recently discovered both your blogs - can I say how very much I admire bloggers who write and welcome others from near and far into their lives. I'm not sure I'd be able to do the same but both your efforts are much appreciated and much enjoyed.

      Lesley from the UK

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    2. Lovely of you to say, Lesley. I'm pleased to have my blog linked with Sue's. We've been lucky enough to meet several times over our blogging years, and she's every bit as wonderful as you intuit from her posts.

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  5. It's really interesting to learn about gardening in a rooftop garden & you have a great mixture of leaf colours & shapes there . I have a friend , a keen gardener , who has a soil depth of only eighteen inches . Something to do with her house being built on a slope with supports underneath . She found it difficult at first , quite restricting , but she built raised beds , used containers & chose plants that could cope . It's lovely now . Those light pots are a good idea & look natural . Sorry you are having some unpleasant comments - I'd just swear at them if I were you :)
    Wendy from York

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    1. Eighteen inches sounds not bad to me, actually, as the island our previous garden was on was sandstone and the layer of soil that had accumulated on it over the millennia was not particularly generous. Your friend's dedication and ingenuity is impressive, and I would imagine the extra time and energy taken in the placement of each plant will contribute enormously to the overall success of the garden.

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    2. oh, and btw, swearing may have happened. . . ;-)

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  6. There is no excuse for nastiness. Or comments intended to wound, with no intention to further the civil conversation. Not sure why some people never get over that stage of life ... junior high "mean girl" stuff. I echo Sue's words... the rest of us "don't have time for that."

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  7. Love seeing the garden pics and how you referenced scarlet calligraphy on a wooden bench - very poetic. This will open all our eyes to messages that nature leaves us on a bench or ground. Right now I'm enjoying looking out the kitchen window and seeing the wind blow the leaves off a tree (cherry blossom one which we purchased a few years ago from the City for $25) and the hummingbirds dart about from the feeders to perch on the tree. It's a splendid time of year.

    Oh dear re nastiness - that I DO NOT LIKE. To me it's a pleasure that people blog and that I can access their site. Let the wind blow/carry away nasty comments.

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    1. That City tree program is great! (I'm assuming you're speaking of City of Vanc'r, but of course I might be wrong). If I'm more on the ball next year and they offer smaller trees, we'll try to pick one up. . .

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    2. Yes thru the Vancouver city tree program. The Cherry Blossom trees tho were sold separately in celebration of Vancouver's birthday. One paid a bit more than thru the regular program.

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    3. Thanks for coming back to confirm. The cherry blossom tree must be beautiful!

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  8. Also wanted to say, I LOVE those containers you chose for the fuchsias!

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    1. They're good, aren't they? But I can't really take credit. Pater picked out the style-- we've got a number of them now in various sizes.

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  9. Three things: thank you for showing me what a wallflower is (lovely); the pots made of fiberglass are a perfect blend of modern and ancient to my eye; and, I am with " high heel"Sue- that is just mean girl, Jr. High
    crap and I *ain't* never had time for that!
    Like very much Michele Obama's quote regarding such things: "When they go low, we go high". Ignore them and block them, I would say.
    ♡A.in London

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  10. I love your Japanese Maple. This is top of my list for next year's adventures in gardening. And a silver birch. Gardening in containers is very much a case of giving things a go and seeing what happens, I find. This year has flummoxed my plants and the narcissi are about to bloom, the snowdrops are showing green, cosmos still in full flower. Re rudeness. There is just no fathoming those types who must lurk in the darkness, waiting for a chance to burst the bubbles of happy people. They need outing and then blocking. Vile.

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    1. A silver birch -- so pretty and would contrast beautifully with the colourful foliage of a red Japanese Maple. Yes, this is what I'm finding with the container gardening -- just try it and see, although I also like to do a fair bit of research first. Somewhat more complicated when everything has to be carried up elevators and hefted down long carpeted hallways. Luckily, our years of bringing garden supplies home by boat and then wheelbarrowing along a kilometre of dirt road just makes the hassles of a rooftop condo garden seem much simpler. . . .;-)

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  11. You have done so well for your first year gardening in containers. Maples are perfect aren’t they and the fuchsias work well too. So much of interest, I look forward to seeing those dog woods in the winter. I gather the colder it gets the stronger their colour. Sometimes ours are very wish washy colourwise because it doesn’t get cold enough. Glad the wallflowers survived to give you that all important memory
    Sad that you have unpleasant comments, hopefully they will stop. Have a good week. B x

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    1. Thanks B! I really do feel it's been a decent first year -- we bought this condo because I was smitten by the oasis of that outdoor space, and I'm happy to find that I enjoy it as much as I anticipated. I'm really keen to seeing the dogwoods in winter as well. When we spotted that stand in the botanic garden last year it was a relatively cold period for the area, so while I'm not wanting to rely too much on the woolies again this year, I do hope we'll get enough chill for the stems to flare up.

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  12. The colours in your fall garden are so beautiful. Here it has been a rather colourless autumn, the leaves were ripped off the trees before they could unfold their palette.
    It is time to put my flower pots inside (the orange trees, the clivia etc.), but for more than a week I have been waiting for a dry momrent to do so. No chance.
    Could you tell us the botanical name of what you call "wallflower"? Is it erysimum? Because in Germany the name "wallflower" seems to be used for a completely different plant.

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    1. You have an orange tree! Lovely!
      We'd be hard-pressed to find space for bringing tender plants in for the winter, but I can see it might be worth it. . . .
      The wallflower is Erysimum, yes. Erysimum cheiri, I believe, and I think it used to be known botanically as Cheirianthus cheiri (Hort. experts, feel free to jump in and correct/help out)

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  13. Your rooftop garden is lovely. I had never heard of wallflowers before so now I've learned something new! Thank you for sharing this with us. Just keep ignoring (and blocking) the negative comments. The rest of us (grown ups) appreciate the community you have built here.

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    1. Thanks for the support, slf. It's a great community, isn't it?

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  14. ". . . but bullying and meanness aren't my cup of tea." How I do love this gentle statement (and, at risk of stereotyping, may I say, how beautifully Canadian?).

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    1. If we're going to be stereotyped, being seen as gentle doesn't seem too bad.
      ;-)

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  15. What a lovely and varied garden; your plant palette is so different than here - nine bark, for example, doesn't seem to be grown in the SE US; I discovered it for the first time this summer in Michigan and was so impressed by the variety. Also tiny willows....with candy colored bark. That might be something to explore as you look for things with winter interest. I can never figure out the negative comments phenomenon....unfocused anger? Sleep deprivation? The high road is so much less crowded!

    ceci

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    1. Hmmm, do you know the name of those tiny willows with the bright bark? They sound interesting -- are they weeping?

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  16. Lovely garden tour - getting to know individual plants with their personalities. Japanese maples are tricky in a container - my Edinburgh-based son, who has been responsible for looking after mine while I've been working up north, has been sending me increasingly distressed photos of withering leaves. We conclude not enough sun/too much sun, and too much wind. Yours seem very healthy tho - a robust Canadian strain?
    Are your wallflowers perennial or biennial? I love love love the latter with a display of massed tulips - ideally the Vulcan or Fire King wallflowers. The essence of a British kitchen garden, spring sun warming red brick walls, bees flying drunkenly from flower to flower...Perennials are good too for all summer flowering, and the bees seem to love them. I hope you do get the winter fragrance from your sweet box and Daphne.

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    1. Our maples have both suffered some distress this difficult summer, but they do seem to be rebounding, and we have high hopes for the root-pruning.
      This wallflower plant looks like the classic biennial, but 'twas blooming when we first saw the garden in June '16, and is again now. I've been peeking around, hoping to see some self-seeding happenings. . . .I've had the perennial Erisymum 'Bowles Mauve' several times in the past -- it does wonderfully for about four years, fills a spot magnificently, and then just crashes. And it's sterile, so no hope of self-seeding. . .
      Pretty confident the sweet box will perfume the air this winter, but the Daphne is notoriously prone to weakening. They don't tend to live a long life. . . as I say, crossing my fingers. . .

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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