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Photo Tour: June Views at Rock Garden

June 4, 2020

By Jon Peter, Curator & Plant Records Manager, Royal Botanical Gardens

I had the privilege to visit Rock Garden on a beautiful day to start off the month of June. So much has changed since I last visited two weeks ago. The daffodils have mostly faded away, the trees are in nearly full leaf and there are flowers to experience around every corner. There never is a dull moment at any time of year in the historic and rejuvenated Rock Garden. Here I will share some images, views, and short captions of some of the many highlights.

Amsonia tabernaemontana & Clematis 'Multi Blue'
Amsonia tabernaemontana – RBG accession 20150609*A and Clematis ‘Multi Blue’ – RBG accession 20150576*A are welcoming to see upon entry to the garden. Located along the wall outside the Dalglish Family Courtyard, this beautiful combination thrives in this difficult site surrounded by hardscape.
Syneilesis aconitifolia
Syneilesis aconitifolia – RBG Accession 20150547*B – This outstanding little nook in the lower Rock Garden features the dazzling Shredded Umbrella Plant (Syneilesis aconitifolia) in the foreground with fading flowers and emerging leaves of Cercis canadensis ‘Ace of Hearts’ – RBG Accession 20100241*A in the top right and the chartreuse foliage of Hosta ‘Fire Island’ – RBG Accession 20140665*B growing below that. In the top left of the image we see the similar dissected foliage, this time in purple, of Acer palmatum ‘Tamukeyama’ – RBG Accession 20140536*A. This corner of the garden is always impressive.
Asimina triloba
Asimina triloba – RBG Accession 20140714*A – Always a difficult flower to capture in photographs is Pawpaw. A small tree or large colonizing shrub, this tree currently has multiple stages of flowering happening all at once, plus those beautiful emerging leaves. These flowers are cross-pollinated by flies and beetles and will eventually produce one of the largest edible fruits native to North America.
Garden House view at Rock Garden
A beautiful view can be enjoyed from the balcony patio of the Stipe Garden House looking up to the Rock Garden Visitor Centre.
Doronicum 'Little Leo' mass
Doronicum orientale ‘Little Leo’ – RBG Accession 20170086*A – Although it appears that this species should be basking in the sun in a prairie or meadow, it thrives in deep shade locations where it produces an abundance of bright yellow flowers and attracts numerous pollinators. This is definitely one of my favourite shade loving perennials and the pollinating bees seem to like it too.
Antennaria dioica 'Rubra'
Antennaria dioica ‘Rubra’ – RBG Accession 20170172*A – From deep shade to full scorching sun, this species forms a stoloniferous mat of grey leaves with small clusters of pinkish red flowers held high above. Look closely and you will see another pollinator at work.
Cornus controversa 'June Snow'
Cornus controversa ‘June Snow’ – RBG Accession 20150302*A – The colourful emerging leaves and cymes of flower buds are layered throughout this spectacular ornamental tree. The ground layer below is complemented by the beautiful foliage of Hosta ‘First Frost’ – RBG Accession 20150464*A which was awarded the Hosta of the Year in 2010.
Silene viscaria 'Splendens Plena'
Silene viscaria ‘Splendens Plena’ – RBG Accession 20180198*A – This old-fashioned cottage garden perennial is a double-flowered form of the German Catchfly and was looking great at the top of the waterfall.
Lookout view at Rock Garden in June
Magnolia ×soulangeana – RBG Accession XX502*A – A view from the south lookout with the iconic Saucer Magnolia (on left) past flowering and giving way to surrounding colours and textures.
Allium 'Rosy Dream'
Allium carolinianum ‘Rosy Dream’ – RBG Accession 20190466*A – Some of the ornamental onions have already started flowering with many more still to come in this garden. I am very excited about this ‘Rosy Dream’ cultivar which was interplanted with Stachys byzantina ‘Silver Carpet’ – RBG Accession 20140699*A. With the onion flower buds dancing above, it appears that this interplanting may flower in sync and should be quite a sight to see.
Allium 'Ostara'
Allium ‘Ostara’ – RBG Accession 20190441*A – Another of our fall 2019 planted additions, this will be an exciting one to watch for. This hybrid ornamental onion (Allium atropurpureum × A. karataviense) is putting on a show planted around Pinus mugo ‘Sherwood Compact’ – RBG Accession 2015056, which are showing their emerging silver-green “candles” of new needles.
Allium karataviense with Allium senescens
Allium karataviense with Allium senescens ‘Blue Eddy’ – RBG Accession 20190391*A in the background. This unintentional combination of Allium was looking great in front of the Stipe Garden House. Both types feature waxy blue leaves but with entirely different shapes. The ‘Blue Eddy’ cultivar is a new introduction of ‘ornamental chives’.
Paeonia 'Kintajio'
Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Kintajio’ – RBG Accession 831089*B – Wow. All that I can say is wow. I should have a basketball in the picture for size comparison because that is how big this flower is. And the unopened buds are the size of baseballs. This glorious tree peony, a remnant of the old Rock Garden is growing in a secluded location. Can you find it before it fades away?
Paeonia (pink)
Paeonia suffruticosa (Pink) – RBG Accession 20140682*A – Unfortunately, this accession was received during the 2013-2016 renovation as a ‘pink’ tree peony. I still need to verify what cultivar it might actually be. With over 1400 different taxa (types) of plants represented in the Rock Garden, honestly, I just have not got to it yet. Depending on the annual weather of spring, the flowers usually do not last that long. Even without its true name, this tree peony exudes beauty, even if only for a short time.
Staircase view at Rock Garden
A shaded staircase looks out to the wandering water feature below. I think this image highlights just how many layers of plants this garden has. Around every corner you will find some hidden gems.

I hope this brief virtual tour will energize you to visit us in the coming weeks for the opening of Rock Garden and all RBG’s amazing properties. This is just a drop in the bucket of what you will see and experience on a single visit and these gardens are evolving every day, so come back often. Seek out the emerging foliage of Hosta, the early cones and expanding needles of conifers, the late spring flush of flowers, and all the beautiful views, sounds, and smells. Exploring Rock Garden at this time of year, you will find columbine, numerous cultivars of Geranium, sunrose, meadow-rues, peonies, ornamental onions, flowering shrubs and flowering sedges, dogwoods and dawn-redwoods, rock crevices filled with Yucca and succulents, a lush border full of native species, Viburnum and bluestars and much more, all looking amazing throughout this historic garden. I enjoyed my brief experience back at work in Rock Garden and I hope you too will take some time to appreciate the amazing plants, while being safe and respectful to the gardens and the people around you.