Another Walking Tour Around Our Garden Here At Parksville
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale


Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at

May 24, 2015

Above, ‘Lee’s Best Purple’ Rhododendron is just starting to come out now—it will be very good this year, and in the distance behind it is Grevillea ‘Cranberrry Gem’ which is still in full bloom; this is how the old Clematis montana ‘Rubens’ looked a little later than this last year; and likewise, this is a shot of our Laburnum as it appeared at this time in 2013; and our Fremontodendron californica is looking gorgeous this year—that’s a lovely Siberian (yellow) Iris in front of the arbor post at the right side behind the Fremontodendron. Below, Enkianthus campanulatus is not well known at all—here it is in full bloom right now; Epimedium franchetii has grown in this garden for well over a decade and I did not know what it was—note the tiny interesting flowers; Cytisus scoparius ‘Lena’ growing near the Strait of Georgia with one of the many cruise ships heading to Alaska going by; and a general shot of the lovely (and controversial) plant. Author photos.



Following up on our tour of the garden in Victoria last week, I thought it was about time I took you on another walkabout of our own garden here in Parksville. First though, if you read last week’s article on either Sunday or Monday, you may wish to take another look at it as I made a slight change in that I was able to identify the one plant about which I was unsure on Saturday when I wrote the item.

Most of our Rhododendron plants have flowered now, and it is time to cut off the old blooms. We still have our lovely ‘Lee’s Best Purple’ just beginning to flower and our strong pink/red large plant which we moved soon after we bought the house too is just starting to show a little colour. Our yellow-flowered Rhodo was moved into a large pot last year, and it has done fairly well and is just past its best now.

It is almost Clematis time here. Our lovely Montana (C. montana Rubens) looks as if it will be as nice as last year. It`s been in the same slightly shaded spot on the east side of the house since before we bought the house, but it hardly performed at all, until last spring when it got a lot more sun the previous summer due to our having the three Douglas fir trees that shade that whole side of the house pruned about one-third thus allowing a lot more sun to get through.

Several other Clematis are either just beginning to open, or are forming buds right now. I`ll likely use a shot or two the double blue one that grows right near our front door once it is at its best.

The Laburnum tree right at the front of the property, almost on the street side of the fence, is now past its best and I did not get a shot of it this year. I`ve included a photo from May 2013 to give you an idea of the tree`s size.

Right across the lawn from the Laburnum is our Grevillea ‘Cranberry Red’ and as I have mentioned in an earlier column here this spring, it has been in full bloom for some time now. Right now I would say it is at its peak. So that you could see how large it is now, I’ve put it in a shot with our ‘Lee’s Best Purple’ Rhododendron, which as I said above, is just now coming into flower.

Also nearby here, adjacent to our main pathway is our Fremontodendron californica (known commonly as California flannelbush—the botanical name is better I think!). It is in full bloom now, but is not yet very large as we moved it to this position only a couple of years ago. It seems to like it where it is now. It does produce flowers over a period of about a month so it is attractive in the garden over a reasonably long period.

Also near the Fremontodendron is an even lesser-known perennial but one which I like. Enkianthus (campanulatus ?) is in full bloom. That is about average both here and in England where one estate (Caerhays Estate) that specializes in them, usually has two or three species in bloom at the time of the Chelsea flower show—which is on now as I write this.

Enkianthus were first discovered by a Portuguese Jesuit missionary with an unpronounceable name who lived in what we would today call Vietnam in 1790. Taking cues from the flowers he created the genus name Enkianthus from the Greek words enkyos (pregnant) and anthos (flowers).

All Enkianthus species—and there are between 10 and 17 species depending on your botanical point of view—have clusters or racemes of campanulate flowers similar to those of related genera such as Gaultheria and Vaccinium. All are deciduous shrubs or small trees.

I just have to include another plant that was here 12 years ago when we bought the place—but I had no clue as to what it was. Then, just last week as I toured around Dinter’s Nursery near Duncan on our way down to Victoria, I noted a couple growing in small pots, and they were labelled. It is Epimedium franchetii, considered by the folks at Dinter Nurseries as a “rare perennial”. The interesting flowers are on the plants for many weeks in the spring, and the foliage is attractive all season.

Finally this week, the various ‘broom’ plants are in bloom in our area, and those “do-gooders” who work hard at removing the ever-so-common yellow one because it is very invasive, are busy cutting it down along highways. That is a whole separate topic for another day!

Our red-flowered one (Cytisus scoparius ‘Lena’) was still in bloom earlier this week, but is just finishing. As you will see it is planted adjacent to our sea wall and the first photo of it shows one of the many cruise ships which go by here beginning at this time of year. The second photo of it shows the largeness of the plant.


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