"When spring ends and summer begins is anyone's guess"

We have chosen a few categories of 'Summer Plants', click on the links to view details of the group.

seedling peony aka' Pink Swan'
Early yellow daylily/ Right click /'view image ' will improve some images
Bleeding heart & salmon poppy
Southern Catalpa, C. bignonioides
Lilium 'Mona Lisa'
Rose 'Harrison's Yellow'
double Fern-leaf peony Daylily 'Frans Hall'
Lamium 'White Nancy'
Catalpa speciosa, Northern Catalpa bloom Lilium 'Berlin' Rose 'Red Grotendoosrt'

Early summer at "The Willow Garden" is blessed by the blooms of many Peony cultivars. Most are reasonably established plantings with plants obtained from many sources. We have, in recent years, been growing peonies from seed. Seeds collected from many plants are sown and within three-four years some result is usually visible. Surprises are certainly the order of the day! A simple explanation for growing peonies  from seed is included .
Bill with peony seedlings...early JulyThis photo from 2001 shows one nursery bed of peony seedlings which are about four years old.
The majority of the plants have now bloomed and show quite a variety of color and form.
One of the most beautiful to date is one we have named (unofficially!) 'pink swan' .
The next step is to label and move them to a more spacious home in other areas of the garden.

Many more peonies from seed have been grown. They have given us a great variety of interesting forms. Many were sold at our annual Plant Sales, othere were moved to various garden locations. We have found there are now places in the garden which are too shady for peonies to thrive. This has meant some moving of plants to sunnier locations.

Among the many peonies grown, two of the most interesting, are the 'fern-leafed' peonies...Paeonia tenufolia. 
We have two forms, the first has more coarsely divided foliage with single blooms; the second, very fine foliage and double blooms.
They seem steadfastly disinterested in reproduction since no visible pollen production has been seen.
There may have been only one occasion when the single form set seed.
Fernleaf peony

They are one of the earliest of all the peonies to bloom.
Other species peonies also have an early bloom period.
Over the years these species have made quite good clumps and have seeded off to some extent
 P. obovata, P. officinalis, P. veitchii are three additional species.
All bloom very early relative to the P. lactiflora types.
species peonies
We received seeds from Sweden of Paeonia suffructicosa several years ago.
They were planted outside in a row in the fall.
There were many that sprouted and grew well .
It has taken 3-5 years for these Tree Peonies to bloom.
Tree Peony

Sometimes we want to move or divide Peony plants, for a visual story of that procedure check the link

For peony images from spring/summer 2005 click here
& here for 2006 Peony pics


We grow quite a variety of Daylilies here at The Willow Garden. For further sampling check the albums below. 
Check the links for Daylily Images
  2013 Daylily
2010 Daylily      2004 Daylily

lily examples

Growing lilies here at The Willow Garden has become quite challenging in the last few years. The Scarlet Lily Beetle (Lilioceris lilii) has found its way to our area and is a scourge for all the true lilies. Fortunately it does not attack the Hemerocallis (Daylilies) species. It is known to attack Fritillaria and Solomon's Seal, but we haven't seen any sign of that happening.
Gardeners across Canada are faced with the problem, and no one has any real solution. Chemicals seem ineffective for the most part. It seems extreme vigilance and hand-picking may give some relief.
The adults emerge very early in the spring. They seem to appear just as the first noses of the lilies are emerging. They do become quite active as the days warm up, and are rarely noticed on cold, overcast spring days. They are just lurking, we guess.
Lily Beetle
Search and destroy has become almost a daily task during the gardening season. We haven't had wholesale destruction, but the integrity and vigor of some lily plantings is obvious. There are one or two types which seem ot be somewhat impervious; one being the species lily L. superbum. Having our lilies in many parts of the garden may be a help or a hindrance, we haven't quite decided. One might hope the pests will have to search harder to find their preferred meals.
Increasing shade in many of our garden areas is also proving to be deleterious to lily growing. Lilies which would happily co-exist with small to medium rhododendrons aren't very happy after the plants get larger. The shorter Asiatics  are particularly impeded. Lily selection in recent time has been leaning toward many of the tall Oriental and Orienpet Hybrids.

tall lilies

click here for 2005 LILY  images
here for Lilies 2008


Rose season follows closely and actually overlaps peony season. We do not have formal rose gardens, but a rather informal assortment of climbing and shrub roses. Our soil is rather on the light side for a rose's liking, so a tremendous amount of  soil amendments must be added, both for nutrients and moisture retention...the story of our lives!
Many of our roses are from the Explorer Series of hardy roses developed in Ottawa. Named after many early Canadian explorers they toss in a history lesson.

J. Cabot

This early season shot is of the climber 'John Cabot' It is very dependable, rarely suffering any amount of winter damage. Another old image. The bed has had a ground cover planting of Nepeta faessinii added,
plus a clematis or two.

Sharon with roses John Cabot and Henry KelseyH. Kelsey
The climber 'Henry Kelsey' is likely the closest we have to a red rose. It is a great struggle to have it stay in good shape the whole season.
This is a very old image. This rose doesn't look quite this good after many years. The area needs to have a serious renovation.

clematis with H. Kelsey
'Duchess of Edinburgh' clematis


Our back rose arbor was built in the fall of 2000. It was planted in spring 2001 with two 'Dorothy Perkins' climbing roses we had grown from cuttings the year before. This hardy climber is very vigorous and is covered with pink flowers quite late in July. We also planted several plants of 'John Davis' in the surrounding bed.
rose arbor , fall2001

The two climbers had grown up and over the arbor by the time fall arrived.

rose 'John Davis'

'John Davis ' is a beautiful pink shrub rose that may reach 4-5 feet. A bit of judicious pruning can keep the plants more compact. 'He' is prone to mid-summer black-spot, but usually recovers for a good late bloom.

buds of the rose 'John Davis'

The rose 'Dorothy Perkins' beautifully covered our arbor in its second year. 'Dorothy' is a one-time bloomer, but blooms late in July so puts on her show when most other roses are a bit past.
climbing rose 'Dorothy Perkins'

pink 'Flower Carpet'
The 'Flower Carpet' series of roses are low and spreading. We have the pink, a white and one called 'Appleblossom'. They typically bloom in mid-summer and again very late in the season, lasting until hard frost. They have some die-back each winter, but rebound nicely with spring pruning.

We discovered a rather charming "peachy-colored" rose one summer. It's identity was long forgotten, but we came up with the name 'Goldbusch'  while rooting through old garden records .  It is an arching shrub with very fragrant foliage, quite dark peach buds open to a pale yellow bloom, with a blush of pink. It reblooms modestly late in the year if dead-headed.

'peachy' rose budPart of plant with bloom and bud.Open bloom of this rose.


'Koningen von Danemark'...a fragrant Old variety, single blooming
Another beautiful and fragrant rose is
Koningen von Danemark
rose 'Morden Sunrise'
Our specimen of 'Morden Sunrise' is sadly among the deceased!.

Rose season 2003 started off with a cut back of Dorothy Perkins. Severe cold during the winter resulted in most of the aerial branches being dead.
Shown are the results of cold, of cut-back in April and regrowth in August.
the 'fall' & 'rise' of Dorothy Perkins....2003

We constructed a new rose arbor this spring. Planted on either side are Dorothy Perkins roses, the light version on the down-side, 
the dark version on the upper side.

The surrounding beds have plantings of azaleas, butterfly bushes, nepeta and 'Wave petunias' for some summer color.
new arbor shown May 30th and Aug10th

  Below is a view through this arbor in late August, 2004
Rose 'Linda Campbell' is in the foreground, this rose has been very sturdy, but is very challenging to photograph. 
The intense red turns quite glaringly out of focus. This whole arbor area has been transformed over the years with quite a number 
of azaleas and rhododendrons predominating.
A magnolia Bill grew from seed has become a sizable tree just below.

arbor path

Years go by and some of our roses have become a thing of the past  and were replaced by others. Some of the previous information has become seriously out of date.
In the years since the construction of the rose arbors, we have had some years when Dororthy Perkins has had good winters and a few where there was a lot of winter damage.
We adopted two very vigorous and hardy pink ramblers in 2006. One has becom quite huge on the back arbor.
The other is growing in the Beech bed on a support which is quite inadequate.
rose arbors
The back arbor (left) the front arbor (right)
The pink rambler (L) blooms almost two weeks before Dorothy Perkins (R)

The Beech bed also has one of the newer Explorer roses called 'Quadra',  a lovely red color, but it seems to have a very bad habit. It can't seem to decide whether it wants to be a climber or a "flopper". The pedicels of the florets are very lax.
We have manged to get a few seasons out of two hybrid roses, 'Romance' and 'Aachener Dom'. The Beech bed is getting a bit too shaded for them to do very well.

rose Aachener dom
rose 'Aachener Dom'

We acquired the hybrid perpetual 'Jacques Cartier' a few years back. It has not exactly thrived, but it hasn't died either. It has a very delicate quality about it.
Jacques Cartier

A few Rose Sources for Nova Scotia:
Old Heirloom Roses, Bedford ,NS
Cornhill Nursery,Peticodiac, NB
Click on the links for other images
Roses 2004
Roses 2005 - Roses 2006


updated Jan. 22, 2023