Some plants that are flowering in our garden right now
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 6, 2018

Above, redflower currant (Ribes sanguineum) growing near our waterside deck; an older shot of our Grevillea ‘Cranberry Gem’; followed by a close-up view of some of the flowers just starting to open for this year; and the flower of the mauve Helleborus niger. Below, two shots of barren wort (Epipmedium franchetti) note the foliage colour beginning to change in the second photo; two shots of Daphne odoro beside our waterside deck; and finally a shot of winter heathers along our main garden path.
Author photos.




I have not written about our own garden here in Parksville for what seems a long time. One of the reasons for that is our extremely long and cold early spring season. The plants are anxious to grow (and most are) but the cold nights are holding most back.

As I write this smack dab in the middle of April, our daffodils are out in full bloom and the heathers are starting to look good, and our redflower currant (Ribes sanguineum) has been in bloom for a couple of weeks now. That by the way is good for the Rufus hummingbirds many if which stay around here all winter.

The redflower currant is a close relative of alpine currant which is commonly used as a medium-sized hedge plant in Ontario. Obviously it is hardy there, but the redflower one (hardy here in BC) does not grow in Ontario.

Last year our huge Grevillea ‘Cranberry Gem’ did not flower well at all due to a bad winter period which killed back much of the newer growth from whence come the flowers. Yves said he would cut off all the dead pieces once summer came, which he did. Now this year I note we have an abundance of new growth and plenty of flower buds. This early there are even a number of flowers already open.

A couple of years ago we also planted a broader-leafed cultivar known as ‘Victoria’ but it did not survive last winter at all. If I can find one I’ll likely try it again.

While I was out taking photos this past week I noted that one of our new Hellebores (mauve in colour) was in full bloom. Since their flowers look downwards and they are not very tall I had quite a job capturing it, but I did! In the last decade or so these have become very popular and are offered for sale in almost all grocery stores. They have various common names including Christmas Rose, but I suspect this one should be one of the Lenten Roses due to the time it is bloom!

Hellebores are tolerant of virtually all soil types, in sun or shade and always produce flowers ear-ly in the spring. Unfortunately they are subject to a number of diseases (including grey mold, black spot or leaf spot, and an aphid that attacks them, but generally these can be controlled. The worst disease is definitely Hellebore black death, the control for which is generally yanking the affected plant(s) out and burning them. But remember, none of these is generally seen in home gardens.

One other rare herbaceous perennial that we grow well here is Barren wort or Bishop’s hat (Epimedium franchetii). It too is now in full bloom, but it also has interesting coloured foliage. It starts out in early spring slightly pinkish and then turns a dark green, and for fall it takes on a copper colour. We grow ours adjacent to our large pond in full sun and generally these plants do not like full sun. However, the only thing that happens is the foliage turns to its fall colour slightly earlier. Obviously it tolerates shady sites and is not liked by deer and other garden vermin!

Finally, there is one more shrub in bloom with us that has both a beautiful bunch of flowers, and also a very strong and lovely fragrance. It is winter Daphne (Daphne odora) and it close relative the variegated form (Daphne odora aureo-marginata). This one also grows in our waterside garden as this Daphne is not bothered by chomping deer! Most parts of the plant are in fact poisonous.

It is an evergreen shrub that is hardy here but not in Ontario. We have it in several locations around our large deck that faces the sea.


  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row