Monday, June 24, 2013

June Morning In the Downtown

        I'd like to invite you for a morning walk in the downtown of St. Petersburg. It is a warm early summer morning. Crossing the Trinity Bridge, we get to the 'Champ de Mars' (Field of Mars). We did not visit the 'Champ de Mars' in our other walks in the autumn, in a foggy winter day or in early spring. And now we find ourselves in the field of roses and peonies. Since childhood, I remember the huge blossoming lilac bushes, but there wasn’t such a number of peonies and roses.

The Church of the Savior-on-blood is situated over the the 'Champs de Mars', behind the Mikhail’s Garden, familiar by the previous posts. It's gorgeous in every season and now, the Church shines its gilded domes and mosaics in the June morning.

The Summer Garden is located opposite the 'Champs de Mars', across the Swan Canal. Now in the early morning, the sculptures and vases of flowers are waiting for their visitors.

In the distance, the Mikhail’s Castle is visible over the Small Swan bridge. In XVIII century the Mikhail’s Castle was surrounded by a moat, which used to be filled with water, and now flowers grow on the edges of the moat. 

Behind the castle, there are carpet flower beds made of plants with decorative leaves. The last one adjoins to the building of the Manege. There is a beautiful fountain in the Manege square.


By the Italian street we turn to the pedestrian Malaya Sadovaya (Small Garden) Street. This small street is well decorated: flowerpots with thujas and petunias. A beautiful composition of conifers and colorful annuals. There are many coffee shops those will be filled by midday. At the end of the Malaya Sadovaya street you can see the building of Drama Theater and the monument to Empress Catherine II in front of the theater

The interesting fountain is set on the corner of Malaya Sadovaya: a granite ball is rotated by water jets flowing down from the top. The sculptures of Eliseev’s store quietly look at walking people.

Our walking ends at the Nevsky avenue near the Kazan Cathedral. Now the fountain is running its water jets near the Cathedral, vases of flowers and peonies are blooming in the garden. 

Summer morning ends,it's time to go back to my garden!
By the way! Now is the summer solstice and the time of the shortest night. This time we call “the white nights" because the Sunrise is at 4.45 and the sunset is at 22.19. And while the sun is over the horizon the night is light all this time.
I took a few pictures at 11 pm, lighting wasn't enough, but here are the photos:

Monday, June 17, 2013


     First summer days were very hot. The temperature rose up to 28 C, and it was not raining 3 weeks. Water tanks quickly emptied. Everyone was waiting for the rain and finally waited.
Dark blue cloud was fast approaching, the wind increased. Suddenly darkened, and the strong streams of water poured on the lawn, plants, the roof and began to fill water tanks. But the joy quickly melted away, because hail dropped together with the water flows.
At first there were a bit of hail, but soon the large hailstones has fallen and begun to knock in the window glasses, jump on the roof and fill the lawn. 

 It was strange to see winter coming in midsummer.  Everything was white!
There was a strong wind, the water was coming, white hail carpet was lying on the roof, on verandah steps, under the currant bushes, along the paths, some flowers were drooping their heads and falling in a white hail.

    When half an hour later this disaster was over, I went out to see my garden. The sun was shining, it was about 18 C but hail did not melt.
What were the plants most affected by hail? Some plants with large leaves: hosts (my collection!), heuhera, dogwood. The holes of the hail were on begonias, on blackcurrant leaves. 

What were plants without damage and have become to bloom, as if nothing had happened? The plants with small leaves and closed buds. Peony did not have time to open its bud and is fine flowering now, the red floribunda rose "Anadia" and Canadian pink rose "Therese" are also still in buds. Petunias in container a bit lied down, but then raised their heads with the rays of the warm sun. They pleased me in GBBD.

But the camomiles could not get over hail and left lying on the ground.

Monday, June 10, 2013

My Trip To Arboretum Mustila

     I would like to tell you about my trip to the arboretum where many varieties of hardy evergreen rhododendrons were bred. It is located in southern Finland, called "Arboretum Mustila" and can be compared to the forest park.  
High-speed train "Allegro" St. Petersburg - Helsinki brought me early in the morning and an hour later I was at the entrance to Mustila.

   By purchasing a ticket I found on the map a route for those who want to see the blooming rhododendrons. Its length was about 3 km, marked by the arrows along the trail.  

The arboretum is full of interesting plants, such as several species of fir trees, heathers, ornamental apple trees and berry bushes, lilies of the valley and forget-me-. And of course there are many kinds of rhododendrons, getting to know them was the purpose of my trip to Mustila.

1st picture: 'Cunningan's White' rhododendron, ornamental apple tree, yellow weigela.
2nd picture: yellow and pink azaleas, Petasites Japanese, Abies Balsamea,  Pseudotsuga.
As soon as I was surrounded by flowering rhododendrons I began to take pictures, look for the best shot, composition. Immediately I noticed lilies of the valley which grew in huge numbers among the rhododendrons.
   The first one 'Cunningan's White' variety was one of the "parents" of hybrid "Pohjola's Daughter" growing in my garden. Many evergreen shrubs have already faded blooming and now have started flowering deciduous rhododendrons.
They all grow "in nature" among heather, lily of the valley, forget-me-nots and granite boulders rise above it all.

    I've read it has been the great work since the arboretum foundation in 1902 and in its further development. Taking a walk among the plants, I constantly was seeing foresters and workers who care for the plantings. Numerous groups of children, pensioners, students and fans of plants passed along the paths accompanied by experienced guides.
   It should be noted that it is necessary to walk along the trail and you can sit, relax and eat in special places in the arboretum.There are glades with benches, umbrellas and tables; places for lectures, exchange of views and experiences.

 paths and glades

    Interestingly, the nature is not exposed any "processing": the grass is not mowed, "weeds" grow as the most beautiful flowers, plants are not pruned, above it all the butterflies, dragonflies, flies, mosquitoes, bees, wasps, bumblebees and many singing birds flit and fly.

   Small shop was near the exit, there were the seedlings of trees, ornamental shrubs, roses, rhododendrons, azaleas and other plants which have been grown in the arboretum for sale. Many visitors came out, carrying bags with purchased favorite plants.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Deciduous Rhododendrons In Bloom

     My evergreen rhododendrons have faded and the deciduous are in bloom now.
I have two varieties of deciduous rhododendrons: 'Mandarin Lights' and 'Northern Lights'. Both of these plants I bought at the garden center in St. Petersburg, where plants grown in the Finnish nursery were sold.
Originally the hardiest deciduous rhododendron hybrids were bred in the United States, in the Arboretum of the University of Minnesota. Since the 1970s, the rhododendron breeding program was developed there.

The first series of hybrids have been named 'Northern Lights'. The scientists used the rhododendrons 'Atlantic' and 'Ghent azaleas' for hybrid breeding. Thus the hardy deciduous rhododendron (azalea) hybrids 'Mandarin Lights' and' Northern Lights' appeared. They both steadily tolerate frosts up to -34C.

In my garden, these bushes are growing recently. The variety 'Mandarin Lights' "decided” to stick out its sprig from the snowdrift last winter. So this spring its buds and blooms are weak on that branch. Flowers of variety 'Mandarin Lights' look like bright Chinese lanterns, and open one by one from the dense, large reddish buds.

The variety "Northern Lights" has an amazing color of its flowers: they are two-colored, the upper petal is yellow, the other petals are pale lemon. The flowers have pleasant scent!

I prune deciduous rhododendrons, sometimes their branches intersect, tinder, or break after the winter. But I'm not doing this with evergreen. My bushes quickly grow back after flowering, growth bud yield 5..8 increments.
Deciduous rhododendrons do not require special feeding, I try the soil would be moist, and sprinkle against the chewing insects.

        I know that the natural deciduous rhododendrons widely grow in many parts of the world, have you seen them near your place or in the woods there? 
Thank you!

To read about  my trip to the Arboretum Mustila here