Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Cleanup, Pruning, Early Blooming Plants at Brueckner

Unusually mild and early Spring weather means the garden cleanup and pruning is off to an earlier than usual start at Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens in Port Credit.  Some early bloomers are showing their finery sooner this year as well, including Japanese Andromeda, Viburnum, Silver Maple trees and crocuses.

Early Spring in the Rose Garden at Brueckner 
 Warm weather starts everything growing, including the weeds in the Rose Garden. Last week, David (volunteer coordinator) and I made a start with the Captain Samuel rose bed, shown in the picture above. Once the roses get growing and blooming in May and into June, it's difficult to get into the beds to weed. The pile of debris is from the pruned roses, with assorted weeds. The now weed-free bed is tilled and ready for fertilizing. The beds look so lovely when they are tended to, and give the tenders a feeling of accomplishment, however short-lived over the season.

Iceberg Rose Bed before pruning and weeding: Spring in Mississauga!
 Here is a photo to show the weeds still to be pulled and cultivating still to be done. Iceberg roses are a smaller plant than the robust Canadian Captain Samuels in the top photo. Even so, by pruning them first, it will be easier (and less painful) to get weeding and cultivating now while they are just beginning to show signs of growth. It's hard to tell adjoining lawn from weedy rose bed at this time. Any volunteer weeders will be heartily welcomed!

Chuckles Roses Before Pruning in Spring
 The Chuckles rose bed is nothing to laugh about, and a good weeding effort now will be a great step up on weed control over the summer, when prolific bloomer Chuckles will make it near impossible to get at the weeds. As you can see from the arching, tangled canes, Chuckles needs to be pruned first.

Mixed Rose Bed at Brueckner Gardens
 Here is a top-down view picture of the Mixed Rose Bed showing the weeds that need pulling now. The mild fall last year, coupled with the early warm spring have been very favorable to weed growth, yet cold enough to preclude any removal. Head gardener Para is pruning as weather permits, and ideally, weeding should be done immediately after. But there are so many weeds to pull! It's a daunting but not impossible task.

Peony Garden Early Spring Mississauga 
The Rose beds aren't the only beds in the garden that could benefit from an early-season weeding. The  new grass in the Peony Garden (just east of the Rose Garden), revamped and rebuilt last fall, needs to  removed before the tender peonies start to grow and are therefore susceptible to inadvertent damage when walking within the bed.

Peonies in Spring buds Emerging from Soil
 The bright red peony buds were already sprouting last week, and illustrate the fairly short window for easy weeding and spring cleanup.  The photo above shows the peonies in what's known as 'Daphnes Bed', the large perennial garden near the parking lot on Lakeshore Road West. As well as weeding, the beds need a good cleanup of winter debris (leaves, litter, etc.).

Interim Place Memorial Place and Garden
The Interim Place memorial garden is one of the first gardens visitors see when they enter the BRG from the parking lot. And since this is a very special garden, commemorating as it does the site of the first location of Interim Place women's shelter, it is only fitting it was the first garden bed to be given a good spring cleaning. Ideally, a volunteer group would 'adopt' this garden and maintain this very special place throughout the year.

Silver Maple Tree in Bloom ~ March in Mississauga Ontario
This large old growth Silver Maple tree in full bloom brightened the East Garden at Lakeshore Road West. The maples' buds were a pop of brilliant red against the deep blue sky. Under the spreading maple tree, look for blooming crocuses.

Red Flowers on Silve Maple Sign of Spring
Here's a closer look of these brilliant red flowers on the Silver Maple. These blooms don't last long, and indeed many maples are already dropping their flowers onto the ground below, creating large carpets of red that are gone with the first  spring storms. Gorgeous while they last, though!

Early Blooming Viburnum at Brueckner Gardens 
In the midst of the winter-worn shrub and perennial plantings along the garden side of the Lakeshore Road sidewalk at the parking lot entrance, this early blooming viburnum welcomes visitors. The snow fencing is still up and visible as brown stakes in the background.

Early Blooming Shrub Japanese Andromeda
Japanese Andromeda (Pieris japonica karenoma), an early blooming shrub, is already in full bloom at various locations at the BRG. (Here is the same shrub photographed last year. Note the date - May!)

Crocuses Gone Wild in BRG East Garden
Look for a carpet of crocuses blooming near the BRG sign at Godfreys Lane at Lakeshore Road West, near the base of the large Silver Maple. Each year the crocuses spread their range, with some now sprouting into areas where no crocus was ever planted. Tulips and daffodils around the gardens in beds and in woodland areas are well sprouted and thinking of blooming very soon.

Spring Cleanup Help Wanted (and appreciated!)

Spring and Summer are crunch times for garden cleanup, weeding and cultivating. The season moves so fast, with so much to be done, it seems a daunting task to get all the garden chores done.

Easter (April 6-9, 2012) brings a lot of visitors to Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens, and it would be lovely to put its best foot forward to welcome them. City crews are also busy at this time, doing all the 'heavy lifting' of snow fence removal, pruning and fertilizing, etc. and are stretched pretty thin as well.

If you have any time to spare to help clean up the Garden this spring, get in touch:

  • Call David Culham at 905-608-2886; Email at davidculham AT
  • Call the City of Mississauga:  311 
  • Drop by the BRG weekdays to talk to staff

The Gardens would love to see you!

The early blooming azaleas and rhododendrons will soon be clamouring for attention, too, and need to be readied for the annual Garden Tour May 27, 2012.

Monday, March 5, 2012

BRG Second Lookout Over Lake Ontario

The BRG has a brand new lookout near the south east entrance off Godfreys Lane where visitors can 'stop and sit a spell'. Here are some pictures taken last August and September when the new lookout was under construction, a great reminder of warmer times on this cold March day.

Lookout at BRG near Godfreys Lane
 City staff had earlier laid three new concrete pads for the new benches and seating area overlooking Lake Ontario. As well,  a clump of dead trees (formerly located near the front of the buggy in the picture) were also removed. This lookout is across the Waterfront Trail path from the Gardens nursery, and just east of the southernmost bridge across Tecumseh Creek. Another Lake Ontario lookout completed last year is west from here, across the bridge. (See this post for the 'top' lookout)

Southeast Garden New Lookout Preparations
 Here is another view of this new lookout, facing east towards Godfreys Lane. Several new tamarack trees were planted to complement the lovely, mature tamaracks (larch) already well established in this area. Large copper beeches (burgundy color in background) create a nice contrast in foliage colors.

Fence Posts Added to New BRG Lookout
Work on the new lookout was well under way before I had a chance to get back to the Gardens to take pictures. This split rail fence is consistent with same natural look fencing in other areas of the Gardens, like the other lookout on Lake Ontario and the fence at the Brueckner heritage rhododendron beds.

Split Rail Fence at Lower Lookout BRG
Although this second lookout, which, unlike the first Lake Ontario lookout, is only a few feet above the beach, it still needs a fence so visitors won't inadvertently walk over the edge. And, like the first lookout, the fencing provides a nice backdrop for flowering  plants and shrubs.

BRG Lookout Split Rail Fence Completed, Grass Seed Sown
With the split rail fence posts trimmed, topsoil added and grass seed sown, this new lookout shows a glimpse of the wonderful addition it will make to this part of the Gardens. I would like to note that this project was handled from start to finish by City of Mississauga staff, and I, for one (and there are many others) say they did a wonderful job!

BRG Lake Ontario Lookout : Park Benches in place
With this work being done in late summer andearly fall, the newly sown grass seeds soon grew and filled in the area. This past season was one of the best in recent memory for successfully seeding new lawns. In this picture, you will note that the wrought iron benches have been installed.  Yellow tape alerts visitors to keep back from the new grass.

BRG New  Lower Lookout Construction Complete
And so, yellow tape removed, new grass grown, split rail fence built, and benches in place on their solid concrete bases: The new lookout is complete. Notice the split rail fence posts: Flowers and shrubs were transplanted from other areas of the Gardens to soften the fencing and frame a vignette of Lake Ontario. Memory may not be serving me as well as it could, but I believe the new plants are Rudbeckia (Brown Eyed Susans) and Purple Coneflowers.

Name the Lookout(s)
But there's one thing that needs to be done: These lookouts need a name. Before this second lookout was built, staff, visitors and volunteers alike were able refer to the first, and only lookout as simply 'The Lookout' or the Lake Ontario lookout, and others would understand.

 Now that there are two, a distinction should be made. I propose that the simplest way is to henceforth call the first lookout the Top Lookout as it is located just south of the top of a hill, with a steep drop off to the beach. This second lookout is only about 3 feet above the beach, and located in a lower, flat area of the Gardens; I dub thee Lower Lookout.

(Of course, I am open to suggestions for alternate names, and would not object should one of the lookouts (the top one, preferably) be named after moi!)

Spring is Nearly Sprung!
Despite this cold spell the past few days, Spring is definitely in the air, with long days,  swelling buds on trees, and snowdrops already in bloom last week, earlier than usual. [Note on the previous link there are also photos of this part of the Gardens, with tamaracks in Autumn.]

 Do drop by the Gardens over the next few weeks to watch the fat buds on the magnolias, the rhododendrons and azaleas start to open. And keep watch for spring blooming bulbs throughout the Gardens, particularly the hundreds of tulips planted last Fall along Lakeshore Road West entrance.