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  • Claire

Garden Superstars

Right now it’s the end of May and the garden is beautifully and valiantly toughing out cooler than normal temperatures. Marchlight is go-go-non-stop right now, but it really slows down in January when gardening days are replaced by dark, lengthy nights. So , I’m gently looking at online gardening courses to take this winter (luckily some months away!) for some brain-cheer after the holiday rush.

There are so many different gardening courses offered by vastly different (and AMAZING) gardeners nowadays, that I hope an early May investigation will help narrow things down.

While looking at all the different courses available, one question really stood out: "What are the hardest working plants in your garden?"

After much thought, I've settled on my top 5:

Columbine (Aquilegia).

Boy, this plant hits all the bases: Beautiful leaves, exuberant self seeder, graceful flowers, friendly with bees, and virtually no maintenance. I pretty much let this beauty do its own thing and it seems quite content.

Bigroot Geranium has got to be the most forgiving of the extremes of our sub Mediterranean climate.

Four seasons of gorgeous, their scented leaves really shine in early spring, followed by delicate pink or purple flowers. It’s easy to divide, smells fantastic and they take up a good amount of real estate without choking out their neighbours. It also can withstand cool and extreme damp, then surprises everyone with its resilience during a heat dome (our garden went up to 49 degrees celsius during last year’s heat dome).

I have one Mallow (Lavetera) in our garden and we’re besties.

Every February it gets a thorough haircut, chopped right down to the height of my shins, and it responds with rapid, joyful growth; flowering from June until the end of September. Even the seeds are beautiful.

Lupins are one of our favourites.

They are hard working volunteers that really love our veggie beds and reproduce freely. Their leaves come out early spring and are magical in the cold dewey frost. By May they are already blooming (an indication to start checking for aphids). By the time the blooms are done, the plants are huge and tropical looking and yes, they are still stunning!

Western Sword Fern definitely has to be on the workaholic list.

Last spring I made a fernery stumpery with divided Western Swords from elsewhere in our garden and Oak Leaf ferns from under our workshop and WOW! Four seasons of stunning! Even in winter, these prehistoric beasts are shining stars. My dream for this little garden is to commingle the ferns with salal and Vanilla Leaf; oooohhhh that would be fantastic! Vanilla Leaf is available here at the Nanaimo Area Land Trust as starters and as seeds, so I definitely see a trip across the moat in our future.

What are the heavy hitters in your garden?

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