TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2014

Category: Gardening

Common Baby’s Breath

Common baby’s breath (Gypsophila paniculata), also known as maiden’s breath, is still frequently asked for at local garden centre. Yes, this is the plant used extensively by the floral industry in bouquets and dried arrangements. Unfortunately it is now another ornamental perennial favourite on the noxious weed list, and thus no longer available for purchase.

The perennial is highly branched (bushy), producing numerous tiny white, scented flowers with 5 petals. It can grow up to a meter tall. It spreads easily by seed (each plant producing thousands of seeds) and has a long, drought-tolerant tap root, making it hard to remove once established.baby's breath with credit

This plant should no longer be grown in Alberta and every effort should be made to control it where it cannot be removed. Please check wildflower mixes for this and other invasives before planting.

Note that other Gypsophila, such as G. repens or creeping baby’s breath are not on the noxious list.  Alternative plants include pearl yarrow (Achillea ptarmica ‘The Pearl’), which produces clusters of fluffy, double white flowers from June to September and is great in dried arrangements.

More from the Alberta Native Species Council

Other weeds to watch for:

Centaurea macrocephala, on the prohibited noxious list.
Himalayan balsam, on the prohibited noxious list.
Creeping bellflower, on the noxious list

Creeping Bellflower

creeping_bellflower_2Creeping Bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides), also known as creeping bluebell, is on the noxious list of Alberta weeds. It is invasive and, pretty though the bells are, NOT a plant you want in your garden.

Noxious weeds are considered too widespread to eradicate but must be controlled wherever they appear. We have spotted this plant in many local residential areas, in yards as well as lanes and boulevards. If you have this plant on or near your property, please work to remove as much as you can and keep it under control.

This highly invasive perennial spreads by very tough creeping roots and seed. Leaves are heart-shaped with serrated edges and alternately arranged on non-branching stems 20-60cm tall. Flowers grow on a spike and are blue or purple and bell-shaped. The root is resistant to most chemicals. Hand pulling, preventing seeding and digging out roots are the recommended controls.

While this plant is sometimes confused with native harebells, the native plants can be distinguished by much shorter stems, smaller flowers and leaf size & shape

Alternatives: There are lots of other bells (Campanula) readily available in garden centres that grow obediently and can beautify our gardens.

More from the Alberta Native Species Council
creeping_bellflower_1creeping_bellflower_2

creeping_bellflower_3

 

 

(All photos: Jon D. Brehaut, 2014)

Other weeds to watch for:

Centaurea macrocephala, on the prohibited noxious list.
Himalayan balsam, on the prohibited noxious list.

Himalayan balsam

Himalayan Balsam, (c) Keith Williamson, licensed for reuse

Himalayan Balsam, (c) Keith Williamson, licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence

Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera), also known as poor man’s orchid, policeman’s helmet, touch-me-not is now on the prohibited noxious weed list in Alberta and must be destroyed by anyone growing it. If you have this plant in your garden, please do not share it or let it go to seed, please remove it now while it is easy to identify.

This fast-growing annual plant has showy, irregular, pink-purple-white flowers with five petals. It grows from 1-3 metres tall and has large oblong leaves with serrated edges oppositely arranged on smooth, hollow, 4-sided stems. Roots are shallow and fibrous. Seed pods are explosive when ripe and can shoot seeds up to 10m. More from the Alberta Invasive Species Council…

Alternatives you could grow include: Husker’s Red Beard-Tongue (Penstemon barbatus ‘Husker’s Red’), Pink Sensation Monkshood (Aconitum carmichaelli ‘Pink), Gas Plant (Dictamus albus var. purpureu), and flowering raspberry.
Read more..

Others:
Centaurea macrocephala, also on the prohibited list.

Centaurea macrocephala

knapweed_3Also known as Lemon Fluff, Golden Thistle, Bighead Knapweed, and Armenian Basket Flower is now on the prohibited list and must be destroyed by anyone growing it. If you have this plant in your garden, please do not share it or let it go to seed, please remove it now.

This perennial has large showy, single yellow flowers and large, broad, rough, hairy, lance-shaped leaves with pointed tips. Its roots are woody. Centaurea macrocephala grows to 1.5 metres tall and is a prolific invader spread by seed. Easy to spot and identify when blooming.

Alternatives include the Centaurea dealbata, a pink/purple blooming knapweed also called Persian Thistle or Persian Cornflower, and any one of several varieties of yellow blooming Heliopsis or false sunflower.

More from the Alberta Invasive Species Council…

From bud to seed:

 

(All photos: Marie Wenger, 2011)

Tulip-mania

Lucy ChangLucy Chang

The Traveling Trowel

Photos by Richard Knapton

There is surely no sight more evocative of spring than a show of tulips, so here is a quick visual tour of tulips in the landscape – in the ground, in containers and raised beds. I hope you will be inspired by the creative ways (block planting in squares, circular patterns, drifts, linear grouping, informal clumps, monochromatic scheme, etc.) that tulips are displayed. The colourful offerings of these bulbs seem all the more enchanting as we zone 3 gardeners break out of our long cold icy-white hibernation!

Keukenhof Gardens – Holland

[Note: in the following galleries, hover over the photo for informative captions and click for a larger image.]

In – ground mass displays

Container Displays

Watch for more photos from Lucy’s tulip-mania collection coming in the fall of 2014. And see also her Tulip Tips.

Lucy Chang is a past EHS President and avid gardener. She and husband Richard Knapton own Eagle-Eye Tours and offer birding and garden tours in various parts of the world.