Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Princess Diana’

Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Princess Diana’ 
(am-uh-LAN-kee-er x gran-dih-FLOR-ah)
Syn. Amelanchier laevis ‘Princess Diana’; Amelanchier ‘Princess Diana’
Family: Rosaceae

Common name: apple serviceberry; hybrid serviceberry; seviceberry
Zone: 4 – 9
Height: 15 ft (4.5 m)   Spread: 12-15 ft (3.6-4.5 m)
Aspect: full sun; partial shade
Soil: moist; acidic; well-draining
Water: regular     

Description: Reasonably small, deciduous, understory tree with finely-toothed, 3 inch (7.6 cm) long, oval-lanceolate leaves, emerging with bronze tints in spring, gradually changing to dark green though summer before changing a brilliant red to orange-red in fall. Showy white flowers appear in April followed by edible 3/8-inch (9.5 mm) diameter edible berries which are a deep red-purple when fully ripe in late June through early July.


Special Notes: Amelanchier spp. are native to North America. Amelanchier x grandiflora is a hybrid cross between A. arborea (downy serviceberry) and A. laevis (Allegheny serviceberry), two species of North American serviceberries.

‘Princess Diana’, one of several named cultivars in this Amelanchier species, is known for its abundant floral display of white flowers, wide canopy and its vibrant fall colour. It was discovered in the mid-1980s in a garden in Elm Grove, Wisconsin. A U.S. Plant Patent PP6,041 was issued on October 20, 1987.


Pests and Diseases: There are no serious insect or disease problems, although amelanchiers can occasionally have problems with powdery mildew, leaf spot, rust, fire blight and canker. So far, our tree has not experienced any problems whatsoever. (Touch wood.)


In our Zone 7a garden: We absolutely adore this small tree in the back garden! It resides in the shadow of the ancient transparent apple tree and is further shaded by the 12 ft (3.6 m) tall cedar hedge. Still, the flowers appear in April and there always seems to be enough bees around at that time to perform their pollinating duties.

I keep a close watch on the berries when they start to come as I like to pick them for my Serviceberry Cobbler. (Click here for the recipe.) I have to be quick because the birds love these berries too, especially the cedar waxwings who make a point of arriving in our garden to feast on the serviceberries. Often, I am picking berries from the lower branches while several cedar waxwings are enjoying them above my head.

While I have yet to make jam or jelly from serviceberries, it is reported to be quite good. Perhaps I will attempt these preserves next season as we do love our Aronia Berry Jelly and Oregon Grape Jelly.

One good piece of information to note: serviceberries can be picked before they are fully ripe as they will finish ripening if laid out in newspaper-lined beer flats.

Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit 2012


Posted on October 20, 2021



Garden Tip: Rescue drowning plants

by Leslie Cox; Monday; October 18, 2021

Saxifraga fortunei 'Magenta'Be sure to check your potted plants after a heavy rainfall. Plants…any species that are not marginal (ie. those that prefer a spot by a pond or stream)…can develop crown rot if they are wallowing in a puddle of water in their pot.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, crown rot is one of the main causes of plant deaths through the fall and winter seasons. (Sadly, we lost this beautiful saxifraga to crown rot two years ago.)

Take away the trays under the pots to allow for free drainage. Or, if there are no trays underneath but the plant is still water-logged, place a couple of wood blocks or flat rocks underneath the pot to raise it up off the ground. If the plant is still swimming in water, knock it out of the pot, check the drainage hole is not plugged and re-pot the plant with up to one-third sand or small grit added to the new soil mix to increase the drainage.

Tomato ‘Red Robin’

Photo coming soon

Lycopersicon esculentum var. cerasiforme
(ly-koh-PER-see-kum  ESS-kew-len-tum  var.  see-ras-if-FORM-ee)

Family: Solanaceae

Common name: ‘Red Robin’
Zone: 9 – 11
Height:  12-14 in (30-35 cm)  Spread: 10 in (25 cm)
Aspect: sun; partial shade
Soil: humus-rich; moist
Water: regular    

Days to maturity: 55 days from transplant
Seed life: 4 years

Description: An open-pollinated, dwarf bush (determinate), high-yielding variety with deep green potato-like leaves. Clusters of globe-shaped, red fruits measuring 1 to 1¼ inch (2.5 – 3 cm) in diameter, weighing ½ oz (14 gr) in mid- to late summer.

Special Notes: This variety is perfect for containers for growing outdoors on a balcony or small patio. It is also suitable for growing indoors although the yield will likely not be as high as if it were grown outdoors. Benefits from being staked to support the stalk.

Fruits are full of flavour and very juicy so be sure to pop the whole fruit in your mouth before you bite down.

How to use: Snacks; salads

In our Zone 7a garden: The first year I grew this variety, I transplanted the seedlings into 6-inch (15 cm) pots and placed them on my porch railing. I had to move them down to the porch step when a high wind knocked a couple of the pots off the railing.


It was interesting to find all descriptions I have come across about ‘Red Robin’ have noted its size as anywhere from 7 – 12 inches (18 – 30 cm) tall. My plants were 20 – 22 inches (50 – 56 cm) tall. I do not have an answer to this discrepancy other than perhaps it was the soil mix I make up for all of my potted plants because I certainly did not give them any other fertilizer than what I initially put in the pot.


Posted on September 8, 2021



Garden Tip: Learn from your mistakes

by Leslie Cox; Monday; September 6, 2021

You might make mistakes in the garden, but learn from them.

We sometimes will lose a plant…even when we have done our due diligence and researched the needs of the plant. Unfortunately, things happen. Perhaps you gave the plant too much full sun, or you planted it in a “cool pocket” in your garden, or you did not test the soil pH.

Say a prayer for your plant and try to figure out how your plant died so you do not make the same mistake again. Then try again.

There is a saying: “Class is always in session in a garden.” Decades later, I am still learning new things about gardening.


Hepatica nobilis

Hepatica nobilis           Family: Ranunculaceae
(hi-PAT-ih-kuh  no-BILL-iss)

Common name: liverwort; liverleaf
Zone: 4 – 8
Height: 4-6 in (10-15cm)   Spread: 6-12 in (15-30cm)
Aspect: full sun; partial shade; full shade
Soil: moderate; well-draining

Description: An evergreen, clump-forming perennial with kidney-shaped, 3-lobed leaves that are glossy green on top and a purple hue underneath. Showy violet-blue flowers with 6 – 7 sepals and conspicuous white stamens appear in March through April.


Special Notes: Native to Asia, central and northern Europe and eastern North America. Once established, this plant forms a lovely clump of green leaves which look great as an understory plant or as a wonderful specimen in your landscape design, holding interest for the viewer as surrounding perennials shine and fade through the season.

Recommend cutting back old leaves in late winter in order to enjoy the early spring flowers and give exposure to newly emerging, fresh leaves.

Propagate by fresh seed sown in place in spring. Needs stratification in order to germinate. Dig up and divide larger clumps after flowering or in autumn.

Reliably disease- and pest-resistant, as well as deer and rabbit resistant.

Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit 1993


In our Zone 7a garden: This plant is a favourite in our landscape design for its year-round interest and bright floral display that appears early in spring when it is sorely needed. Very easy care needing only to be cut back in late winter and divided every 8 – 10 years to keep it happy amongst its neighbouring plants. There have been absolutely no disease or pest problems with hepaticas and the odd rabbit who gets into the garden leaves this plant alone.


Posted on July 31, 2021


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