Clematis recta ‘Purpurea’


Clematis recta ‘Purpurea’      Family: Ranunculaeae
(KLEM-uh-tis  RECK-tah)

Common name: purple ground clematis
Zone: 4 – 9
Height: 3 – 5 ft (1–1.5 m)  Spread: 4 – 5 ft (1.2–1.5 m)
Aspect: full sun; partial shade
Soil: humus-rich; moist; well-drained
Water: regular

Description: An herbaceous, clump-forming, non-climbing clematis with purple foliage on purple stems and panicles of small (¾-inch/1.9 cm), star-shaped, vanilla-scented white flowers from summer to fall, followed by attractive silvery seedheads.


Clematis recta - early springSpecial Notes: Native to central and southern Europe, this unique ground-sprawling clematis can be trained to climb or left to crawl along the ground. Grow in a sunny or part sun location in fertile, alkaline, well-drained soil and water regularly. Be sure to keep roots shaded and cool, as you should with all clematis.

Treat this clematis as a Group C or 3; cut back old growth to 6 – 8 inches (15 – 20 cm) in late winter, preferably to a pair of strong buds. Young foliage is coppery purple, turning to purple with tinges of green as the season progresses. Flowers appear in early summer.

No serious insect or disease problems. Propagation by division. Can be grown from ripe seed that has had a period of vernalization.


In our Zone 7a garden: We have this plant in John’s back garden. It is mostly in shade from a large Magnolia shrub which provides some relief from the hottest of the summer days. Employing several wrought iron peony rings holds the mass of stems upright to display the ground-cover plants growing at their feet…keeping the clematis roots cool.

It garners much admiration from our garden visitors, especially when it is in full bloom.


Posted on February 28, 2024

Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’

Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’   Family: Apiaceae
syn. Anthriscus ‘Ravenswing’
(an-THRIS-kus  sil-VES-tris)
Common name: cow parsley, wild parsley, gypsy lace, Queen Anne’s lace, lady’s needlework
Zone: 5
Height: 3-4 ft (90-120 cm)   Spread: 1-2 ft (30-45 cm)
Aspect: full sun to partial shade
Soil: average; well-draining
Water: regular, moderate

Description: An herbaceous, upright, delicate-looking perennial. Attractive, deeply incised, rosy-purple leaves make a frothy appearance in late winter or early spring atop thin purple stems. Airy cymes of white flowers add to the delicacy of this plant in late spring through mid-summer.

Special Notes: Native across Europe, northwest Africa, western Russia and Asia Preference is for sunny to dappled shade locations; tolerant of poor soil conditions with moderate water. Drought tolerant once established. Cymes of white flowers attract pollinators and look good as cut flowers. Resistant to rabbits; not sure about deer. Slugs and snails may be a problem for young plants. Powdery mildew may be a problem in summer if in a crowded area with inadequate breeze.

Self-seeds so best to deadhead spent flowers before seeds drops. However, young seedlings are easily pulled in the spring before their tap root has developed. Removing older plants means digging down to get all of the root.

If you collect seed from this plant, it will need some vernalization (a cold period) in order to kick start germination. I find it much easier to let some seeds overwinter in place in the garden to sprout in the spring.


In our Zone 7a gardenThis is one of my favourite plants for ease of care and bullet-tough constitution. Fresh foliage appears in late January, early February and handles surprise frosts well. An Australian nursery claims ‘Ravenswing’ is frost hardy to -10 °C (14 °F) and I believe it. There is never any frost damage on the early new growth after a late frost.

All of our ‘Ravenswing’ have come from a single plant on which I occasionally left a few flowers to go to seed. I have not experienced any problems with slugs or snails or rabbits. We are fenced for deer but one got in recently but either did not find my newly emerging ‘Ravenswing’ plants or chose not to taste them.


Posted on February 8, 2024

Chasmanthium latifolium

Chasmanthium latifolium        Family: Poaceae
(kaz-MAN-thi-um  lat-ih-FOE-lee-um)
Common name: Northern sea oats, river oats
Zone: 3 – 8
Height: 3 – 4 ft (90 – 120 cm)     Spread: 2 – 3 ft (60 – 90 cm)
Aspect: Full sun; part shade; full shade
Soil: moist, fertile, well-drained
Water: average

Description: Clump-forming grass with light green lanceolate, bamboo-like foliage. Blades are 10 – 12 inches (25 – 30 cm) long and one-inch (2.5 cm) wide.  The above ground stems (called culms) support showy, spike-like panicles above the leaves. Each panicle consists of 7 – 20 flat, green-tinged spikelets. Each individual spikelet is one-inch (2.5 cm) long, flat in appearance and scaly. 


Special Notes: Native from the midwestern to eastern parts of the United States, this ornamental grass is one of the most drought and shade tolerant. While it prefers fertile soil conditions, it will thrive in all soils types and moisture conditions. Wonderful understory plant with an added benefit that it is tolerant of the toxic chemical juglone produced by black walnut (Juglan nigra) trees. Good coppery-brown fall colour in both foliage and seedheads.



Plant host to some caterpillars, particularly of the Northern Pearly Eye butterfly, and skipper species. Provides cover for birds and seeds for small mammals. Good plant for containers, in mass plantings and for erosion control. Excellent in dried flower arrangements and good winter interest. Deer resistant.








Posted on November 8, 2023

Filipendula rubra ‘Venusta’

Filipendula rubra 'Venusta'

Fiipendula rubra ‘Venusta’    Family: Rosaceae
(fil-ih-PEND-yew-lah  ROO-brah  veh-NEW-stah)
Common name: meadowsweet; Queen of the Prairie
Zone: 3 – 9
Height: 5 – 6 ft (1.5-1.8 m)   Spread: 3 – 4 ft (0.9 – 1.2 m)
Aspect: full sun; partial shade
Soil: fertile; moist; well-draining
Water: regular  

Filipendula rubrum 'Venusta' - leavesDescription: An herbaceous perennial with an upright, spreading habit. Deeply cut, medium-green, compound-pinnate leaves are fragrant. Cloud-like, deep pink, fragrant flowers appear on masses of corymbs up to 6 inches (15 cm) across in mid-June through July. Flowers fade to light pink with age.


Special Notes: Native to North America. Has commanding presence in the garden. Long bloom period that attracts bees and butterflies. Good cut flower. Dried flowers useful in potpourri. Used as a medicinal plant in homeopathy. Few pests or diseases. Deer and rabbit resistant. Propagate by fresh seed; division in spring or autumn.

Filipendula rubra 'Venusta' - flowerRHS Award of Garden Merit 1993


Posted on January 31, 2013


Fothergilla gardenii

Fothergilla gardenii    Family: Hamamelidaceae
(foth-er-GIL-lah  gar-DEE-knee-eye)
Common name: dwarf fothergilla, coastal fothergilla
Zone: 5 – 8
Height: 3 – 4 ft (0.9 – 1.2 m)   Spread: 2 – 4 ft (0.6 – 1.2 m)
Aspect: full sun; part shade; full shade
Soil: humus-rich; moist; well-drained 
Water: regular     

Description: A compact, upright, deciduous, multi-stemmed shrub which slowly grows into a 4 ft mounded form. Showy, white-green, apetalous (petal-less), aromatic flowers on dense bottlebrush-like spikes appear in April before the leaves form. Thick, oblong to ovate, green leaves have a serrated edge from mid point to leaf apex and are covered in fine hairs. No serious disease or insect problems.

Special Notes: Native to the moist coastal plain bogs and savannahs of southeastern United States from North Carolina to Alabama. Preference is for a sunny location in acidic, moist, humus-rich soil and regular watering but will also tolerate drier, more alkaline soil in a shadier location, possibly at the expense of fewer flowers. Leaves emerge light green and progress through grey-green to dark green to blue-green in colour. Fall leaf colour is a vibrant chorus of green, yellow, orange, red, burgundy, violet and pink. The sunnier the location, the more colourful the autumn colours.

In our Zone 7a garden:
We find this lovely shrub to be relatively easy care and extremely colourful in the autumn. It is next to a path so every few years the expanding suckers must be removed to keep the shrub from overpowering the path. There have been no insect or disease problems in our garden.


Posted on April 6, 2023


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