Right now the Pieris are spectacular, especially the one called Mountain Fire, whose new leaves are a coppery red.
This is a wonderful shrub. It keeps its leaves all winter, doesn’t get too huge, had smallish leaves which start with the above mentioned colouring and gradually changes to a dark green. Its flowering trusses are a soft white, no perfume, but it seems you can’t have everything. (Maybe smell the roses instead!)
Pieris are related to the rhododendron family so require the same treatment: an acid soil and ample fertilizer in the spring. There is a lovely one in a bed next to the sidewalk where I walk and it never fails to delight me as it puts on its new spring outfit!
I’d like to mention the trees I can see from my bedroom window. They, too are donning their spring attire, looking so fresh, the loveliest pale yellowish-green. A colour I believe is called chartreuse. Sounds elegant, doesn’t it? And, yes, I did check the spelling. Spring is so full of wonderful fresh colours, mostly variations on the theme of green of course.
My middle daughter, Leslie, has just gone back to Vancouver after giving me the best possible Mother’s Day gift. She took a scrub brush and washed the balcony linoleum and the white stucco half-wall that fronts the street. It passed the strata council inspection without a problem, thank goodness! I know my plants on the balcony are disturbing to the strata council, but I can’t give them up even if I have to scrub the floor and that wall daily.
Almost time to put the dwarf orange tree outside for the summer, and the hibiscus as well. The latter is once again flowering. It just never seems to quit and the blooms are both large, golden yellow and absolutely gorgeous. I think it has produced at least one blossom every week for the past year. This worries me. It should have a rest to regain some of its stamina, but does it listen to me? No way, Jose! It’s just one more thing to worry about, I suppose.
A longtime telephone friend has called to say that she has more plants than she can cope with and would like to give some of them away to people who will be pleased to have them and give them a good home. Her name is Alice, she lives in Central Saanich and her telephone number is 250-652-1611. These plants will be in marvelous shape as she treats them like beloved children. It must be a wrench to part with them but there are just too many for her to deal with.
In the past few weeks I have been given two fine books. I can’t believe my great good luck. One of them is full of pictures of Butchart Gardens taken by the author, who is an amazng photographer. His name is Mike Lane and his book is called, Benvenuto.
The second book is about gardening for those who may have special needs, this one by a compassionate man called Lynn Dennis. Both these volumes are interesting and informative.
I was also loaned a delightful book by Alan Titchmarsh. It’s called Trowel and Error so you can guess that there is a lot of good information presented in an amusing way. All of these are fun for someone who loves her miniscule balcony garden, but also for those who may have acres under cultivation! Or even a city lot!
Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.