I apologize for not posting in the past two weeks. I have been, and still am, on vacation. However, today I thought I would post a few pictures from the perennial trial garden at the Calgary Zoo just before I left at the end of July. 

East entrance to the perennial trial garden at the Calgary Zoo.


West end of the perennial trial garden at the Calgary Zoo.


The big news in the garden is that we have added mulch for the first time! Until now the protocol for the project has dictated that mulch would not be used. It was thought that most gardeners did not use mulch, and we try to replicate usual home gardening techniques. But attitudes have changed over the 12 years since the project began; most gardeners now use mulch of some kind. We should be promoting the use of mulch for many reasons, including weed deterrence and moisture retention. 

The mulch we used is called ‘montane mulch’, it is a very fine-textured bark mulch suitable for a perennial garden. It was spread about 3 cm (1.5 inches) thick. Because it is so fine-textured, it tends to shed water if it is spread much thicker.  As you can see in the picture below, it looks very much like soil. 

Veronica 'Royal Candles' and Knautia 'Mars Midget'

The garden should be in the peak of its glory right now. Here’s a small selection of what was in bloom before I left: 

Clematis 'Multi Blue'

Clematis ‘Multi Blue’ is a new clematis planted in 2009. It is a Zone 4 plant and belongs to pruning group B1, meaning it blooms mostly on old wood, with a second flush later in summer. I wasn’t overly optimistic about its performance in Alberta, but it has performed better than I expected. It died to the ground over the winter, but started blooming in mid-July on new wood. The flowers are large and quite an attractive blue-purple colour. 

Ligularia 'Little Rocket'

 Ligularia ‘Little Rocket’, despite its name, is only slightly smaller than L. ‘The Rocket’. 

Leucanthemum 'Broadway Lights'

The flowers of Leucanthemum ‘Broadway Lights’  open in a soft yellow which fades to cream and finally to white. You can see the yellow colour of the just-opening flowers in this picture. The mature flower is almost pure white. Only about half of these plants survived their first winter, however they make a beautiful and unusual annual or short-lived perennial. 

Helenium 'Mardi Gras'

 I love this helenium!  The plants are very compact and sturdy and it has a very long bloom-time, from July until fall. Plus, the colours are gorgeous. All nine plants survived the first winter in the garden. They appear to be quite drought-resistant as well as hardy. 

Filipendula ulmaria 'Variegata'

 Filipendula ulmaria ‘Variegata’  is a variegated meadowsweet grown mostly for the dark green and yellow foliage. However the flowers are quite pretty as well. 

Delphinium 'Green Twist'

 Delphinium ‘Green Twist’ is a real favourite with visitors to the garden. 

I will be back on August 23rd and will send out an update on what’s in bloom shortly after that. I can’t wait to see what has happened in the garden while I’ve been away!