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A negative report on our garden this year
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

September 3, 2017

Above, Escallonia ‘Newport Dwarf’ in our waterfront garden; Grevillea ‘Cranberry Gem’ in a good year here; Grevillea Victoriae in our garden a year ago; and three colours of Schizostylis several years ago surrounding our large pond. Below, some of our colourful lupins in previous years; our yellow bush lupins at the water’s edge as they appear every year; foliage of Taxodium distichum; and a fun shot of the tree’s “knees’ that appear from the root zone if they are grown in damp areas. Author photos.




A shorter than usual article this week because it is mostly bad news!

I was originally going to write this particular item back in late July, just after a major rainfall which we were all expecting around that time. Now it is the beginning of September and we have actually gone over two months without much more than a single drop of rain—here on the mid-east coast of Vancouver Island.

To make our own situation even worse, two out of our three irrigation systems are not working so we have (I really mean my partner Yves has) been watering with a wave sprinkler! Despite all of that our garden does look pretty good!

While I would normally have repaired the two irrigation systems myself I seemed unable to do so this spring. I could also have called an irrigation repair company but I did not really want to do that because I knew some of the problems involved with going that route.

So, Yves too over the watering responsibility!

Though e complained long and hard about the winter e ere having, it as (for us) not as cold as we experienced about five years ago. Plants that suffered fairly badly that year (particularly including Escallonia—both the dwarf and standard-size ones) did not appear to suffer at all this past winter. And yet, plants such as my absolute favourite flowering shrub in the garden Grevillea ‘Cranberry Gem’ has a lot of die-bac on it It did have a few flowers on it this spring, but not many. I expect after a heavy pruning this summer it will likely come back well for next year!

There were several other failures but I won’t go into all of them all here!

One though, worth mentioning, is the bulb Schizostyllis, of which I had three different colours. They all disappeared over this past winter. I had them for years and that had never happened previously. I originally obtained them from a gardening couple I knew in Victoria but ho I have not been in touch with for many years. I guess I’ll have to try and contact them and see how their plants did!

None of our perennial Lupine plants re-appeared although our many shrub Lupines (near the water) faired relatively well regardless of the fairly heavy salt water washing they received.

In the last to years e have lost two fairly large Rhododendron shrubs, but I think that was primarily due to disease problems—unfortunately!

We also thought we had lost our bald or swamp cypress (Taxodium distichum)—an unusual tree to be sure It is classified as deciduous, but also often referred to as a deciduous evergreen—because it loses it needles in the fall and regains them come spring But this spring, it is nowhere to be seen It as almost a metre tall and had a nice shape. But, Yves pointed out to me that it may be coming back up from its roots. I guess we’ll see soon!

By the way the tree grows well and is hardy in Niagara Falls and Guelph, Ontario.


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