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Archive for August 23rd, 2011

ligu4

When I was entering our local Canadian Tire store last weekend, a tray with two potted plants was sitting at the door. It was marked ‘Perennials: Free!’ As garden centres wind down, many places are closing for the season and selling off the last of their plants at a discounted price. There are some bargains to be had, but free! That’s the best price of all! You can bet that I snapped up those two babies and brought them home with me.

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The new plants are two ligularia dentata. These plants produce orange or yellow flowers in late summer, but they are primarily grown for their mound of large handsome leaves. They are a moisture lover, although they will tolerate dry conditions as long as they are protected from the heat of the afternoon sun. I currently have three cultivars in my garden. Pictured above is a mature clump of ligularia dentata ‘Othello’.

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Ligularia dentata ‘Desdemona’ is new this year. This plant is quite similar to ‘Othello’ but blooms a bit later. ‘Desdemona’ has suffered a bit of damage to her leaves, probably from slugs, but is doing well and should be quite showy next year.

Below is Ligularia dentata ‘Orange Queen’. I transplanted her from my former garden. Unfortunately, she was in an unsuitable location and I just moved and split the plant about a month ago. After some initial struggling, she is doing well too.

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Ligularia dentata is quite different from ligularia stenocephala, also commonly available at nurseries. Stenocephala has upright stems with bottle-brush spikes of yellow flowers in midsummer.

The new plants are ligularia dentata ‘Osaris Café Noir’. You can see that their dark leaves are quite different from the rounded leaves of the other dentatas. Here they are, shortly after being planted in their new home, tucked in beyond some Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum).

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‘Osiris Café Noir’ was hybridized in Quebec by Les Jardins Osiris. I just discovered their website, which you can link to here. The nursery is located about half an hour east of Montreal and was open from April to August 20th this year. I’ll have to plan a visit next spring.

Below is the shade garden with the new plants. The bright green hosta in the foreground is ‘August Moon’. The white flower stalks at the rear belong to Hosta ‘Royal Standard’. In between are the ligularias and Japanese Painted Ferns.

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pers

Hard on the heels of ‘Black Sea Man’ is ‘Persimmon’, a medium to large orange tomato. This is a very pretty tomato, a glowing golden orange. The vines are indeterminate, meaning that they keep on growing and producing flowers as long as weather allows.

‘Persimmon’ is reputed to be a very sweet tomato, and RailGuy and I agreed that it is the sweetest of the three we’ve sampled this year, with a very pleasing taste. It is a meaty tomato without a lot of gel or seeds. As the citric and malic acids that give tomatoes their tang is stored in the gel, you would expect a tomato with less gel to be less acidic as is the case here. (That said, taste is derived from a complex combination of compounds.)

Last year, I grew ‘Nebraska Wedding’, another orange variety, which I liked very much. I think ‘Persimmon’ may be a bit sweeter but ‘Nebraska Wedding’ is a determinate tomato, so if space is an issue, it might be a better choice. Either makes an attractive addition to a salad or serving plate.

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black

‘Black Sea Man’ is the second variety of tomato in my garden to ripen this year. It is a Russian entry, classed as a black determinate. I was a little disappointed with the colour. I was expecting it to be a little darker. It is advertised as deep red-black with dark olive shoulders, but mine look more like red tomatoes with a bit of a dark blush to them. When sliced, they display a greenish outside ring with a red centre and do add a bit of variety to a mixed plate of tomatoes.

As a determinate, ‘Black Sea Man’ is a compact plant, and doesn’t have the long, sprawling vines that can be difficult to stake or otherwise control. It is recommended for patio plantings or small gardens. The fruits are a nice size, on the large side of medium. The flesh is firm and meaty, and it slices nicely, making it a good choice for sandwiches.

As to the all-important matter of taste, ‘Black Sea Man’ has a pleasing, mild flavour. I prefer a bit more tartness, but that’s a personal preference, and RailGuy pronounced his sampling delicious. All in all, ‘Black Sea Man’ is a satisfactory tomato, but I think I will try a different black variety next year.

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