You are always very helpful answering my gardening questions….so here are another one..or two:

1/When I inquired about the best rose food (new for me) you recommended 6-9-6…it is just not available here in Canada…I even phoned the company…and then I asked you where to get it…you would not supply that sort of information which I understand …..
So given that I cannot source 6-9-6 what is the next best option?

2/ What is “clematis wilt” and why is it happening this year? I thought it was only my problem…apparently not…
And what is the best formula for clematis and other flowering plants…I have planted a variety of bee and butterfly attractors and hope to get the best possible results…

3/ I have had the opportunity recently to visit the Redford Gdns in quebec where the exquisite blue poppy is now in bloom…do they grow anywhere in Ontario?


Let’s deal with each question as you have outlined.

  1. You may want to consider organic feed of roses. In the spring, spread a few inches of compost on the soil around the rose bush, avoiding touching the root stem. Careful watering around the area out to the canopy or bush edge should suffice. Other combinations of a commercial fertilizer may also be acceptable, making sure the middle number (phosphorus) is low if the bush is already established. (In Ontario, phosphorus is plentiful in most areas, so this element may not be needed in large quantities)
  2. Clematis wilt is considered to be a fungus in the UK, Calophoma clematidina, but in North America it is described as leaf and root disease only. Asachchyta clematidina. It is caused by a natural fungus attacking the stem of the vine near the soil level. The problem could also be the result of pests such as slugs and snails eating at the stems at soil level, or strong wind damage. However, as the wilt may be more widespread this season, the progress of the disease seems to be from a spreading fungus. One source suggests the weakening of large-flowered plants may have been occurring imperceptibly over a few years,with the gradual weakening of the root area, and some of the natural influences may be working more strongly now. The best defence is selection of plants that resist infections, and ensuring the habitat is deep, fertile soil in and moist, shaded site but not close to a building foundation. Purchase from growers in the nursery trade. If you wish to attract pollinators, note that environmental gardeners recommend organic feeding. Compost, home produced or commercially acquired, well rotted manure which is odourless,  and even soluble organic based fertilizers will feed the plants and encourage pollinating bees, birds, butterflies to your garden.
  3. Reford Gardens has long been famous for the blue poppy, specifically Meconopsis grandis.  MUN Botanical Garden in St. John’s NL  also grows them. They prefer acid soil, which enhances the colour, and a warmer zone than one would expect, 6-8. Both public gardens mentioned must keep these delights sheltered: for sure MUN does, in a glade away from winds. In Toronto area, we are zone 6A. The only source for you to explore that research provided is the Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plant Society, which has on occasion had some seeds provided by a member for exchange, and has instructions on how to grow the poppy. Other sites did not appear to be Canadian sources.