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

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


Francoa sonchifolia

Francoa sonchifolia          Family: Francoaceae
(fran-KO-ah  son-chi-FOL-lee-ah)

Common name: bridal wreath; Chilean bridal wreath; wedding flower
Zone: 7 – 9
Height: 20 – 40 in (50 – 100 cm)   Spread: 12 – 18 in (30 – 45 cm)
Aspect: full sun; partial shade
Soil: average; humus-rich; well-draining
Water: regular   

Description: An evergreen perennial with fuzzy, lance-shaped, sinuate*, lobed, dark green basal leaves that form a low rosette. Racemes of 4-petalled, soft-pink, orchid-like flowers each marked with a rose blotch, are borne on erect, 2 – 3 ft (60 – 90 cm) tall, dark green stems. Flowers appear from late June through summer. 


Special Notes: Native to Chile, this plant performs best in a sunny or partially shady bed with humus-rich soil and good drainage. Boggy conditions can cause crown rot which will effectively kill the plant. Flowers are valued for use in floral arrangements and wedding bouquets. Drought tolerant once established. Good deer and rabbit resistance. Pest- and disease-resistant.


In our Zone 7a garden: This plant has spent many years in a tree-root choked bed in heavy shade in my front garden. There is not much nutrient in that bed other than what is supplied through an annual top-dressing. The floral display has been less than prolific, largely due to few sun hours, but I have been very impressed with its resilience, low care needs and its pest and disease resistance over the 15 or more years this plant has been competing with tree roots. Have had no issues with any pests or diseases on this plant.


Posted on February 22, 2023


Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Woodside Gold’

Aquilegia vulgaris 'Woodside Gold' flower

Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Woodside Gold’    Family: Ranunculaceae
(a-kwi-LEE-jah  vul-GAR-is)
syn. Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Woodside Golden’; Aquilegia vulgaris Woodside Strain
Common name: columbine; granny’s bonnet; European crowfoot
Zone: 3 – 8 
Height: 2 – 3 ft (60 – 90 cm)   Spread: 1 – 1.5 ft (30 – 45 cm)
Aspect: sun; partial shade
Soil: average; humus-rich
Water: moderate  

Description: An herbaceous, small clump-forming perennial with thin, branching stems adorned with golden scalloped leaves. Somewhat upward-facing, short-spurred, soft pink flowers appear in early April through into late May or early June. Attracts bees and hummingbirds.

Special Notes: 
Native to Europe, Aquilegia vulgaris has been grown in gardens for centuries. Over the years, the plant has escaped its garden boundaries and become naturalized, both in its native region and in North America.

Given optimum growing conditions and regular water, the plant will develop a lovely clump. It readily self-seeds which ensures this purported short-lived perennial will enjoy many years in the garden. Easy care.

Drought tolerant once established. Attracts bees and hummingbirds. Deer and rabbit resistant, however slugs and aphids may be a problem. Leaves are susceptible to leaf miner.

In our Zone 7a garden:
I have a clump of ‘Woodside Gold’ in my island bed where it is mostly in shade and competes with big tree roots. The leaves hold their gold colour quite well, only slightly darkening to a green-gold colour as the season progresses. Being in the shade, the flowers on mine are a lovely soft pink colour.

John has a clump in his back garden where it gets a fair amount of sun throughout the day. The leaves on this clump turn a green-gold colour quicker than those in my garden and the flowers are more of a dusky-rose colour. We both cut the leaves down to the ground as they get ratty-looking later in the season.


Posted on February 13, 2023

Allium ‘Purple Sensation’

Allium ‘Purple Sensation’              Family: Amaryllidaceae
syn. Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’; Allium aflatunense ‘Purple Sensation’
Common name: ornamental onion
Zone: 4 – 10 
Height: 28 – 32 in (70 – 80 cm)   Spread: 4 – 8 in (10 – 20 cm)
Aspect: sun; partial shade
Soil: average; humus-rich; well-draining
Water: moderate

Description: A bulbous perennial with short basal leaves that die down by flowering time. Flower head consists of over 100 small, star-shaped purple-red blooms that form a globular starburst atop a sturdy green stem.

Special Notes: This allium looks great in a grouping of 7 – 9, or more. Recommend planting a low-lying perennial in front of the alliums to hide the less-than-stellar allium leaves. Flowers attract bees in good numbers. Deer and rabbit resistant. Can fall prey to the same diseases that afflict onions and garlic.

Caution: All parts are poisonous to humans in some degree.


Posted on February 12, 2023


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