|A creative spirit spot in Edmonton, Alberta|
I enjoy the challenge of testing a lot of perennials to see how hardy they are in our cold and fairly dry Edmonton area [Hardiness Zone of 3A].
I am a fan of the hardy Bugnet (pronounced 'boon-yay') family of roses. I also recommend the Parkland, Morden, and Explorer series of roses developed by Agriculture Canada; they need minimal care, are environmentally friendly (requiring minimal sprays), are hardy down to -35 C with only snow as protection, are disease resistant, flower repeatedly throughout the summer, require only minimal pruning and come in a variety of colours and sizes.
Georges Bugnet was one of the major French writers of Western Canada. He homesteaded at Rich Valley, west of Legal in 1905. For eighteen years he struggled with his farm without much success. During the same time he published three novels (one being La Forêt in 1935). He was also an avid botanist and he experimented with plants that would thrive in the northern Alberta climate. Using seeds from the Lagoda Lake region of Russia, he developed the Lagoda pine. He developed the 'George Bugnet' and 'Julia Bugnet' sweetberry honeysuckles.
Bugnet took a double wild Kamchitka rose from Russia and crossed it with the Alberta single variety to produce the famous Thérèse Bugnet rose, named after his sister. It is a very hardy product of a very unusual cross combining Rosa rugosa, Rosa acicularis and Rosa amblyotis. Its double flowers are fragrant, deep pink, softening with age. It makes for an interesting plant in winter as well, because of its deep red branches. It is even shade tolerant, not that we need to worry much about that in sunny Alberta.
Marie Bugnet is another hardy Rugosa with very fragrant, double white flowers of tousled form in small clusters amid an abundance of light green, crinkled foliage, on a bushy, healthy plant. This was named for his daughter. There are other roses (such as Rita Bugnet and Louise Bugnet) that he developed, but they are not available in the nursery/greenhouse trade and I would welcome leads on how to get some.
Bugnet became a knowledgeable horticulturalist and contributed to the development of plant species in Alberta. In his honour the Alberta government named a forest reserve the Bugnet Plantation Historical Site. It is the Bugnet Homestead at Rich Valley (Legal Sub Divisions 9&10) in the County of Lac Ste. Anne, near Lac Majeau.
For more on Bugnet see the Devonian Gardens' Alberta Pioneers in Horticulture site.
Bits of My Garden
A sculpture student's rejected work graces the west garden and I call her "Lillith among the lillies". A fence can be a fine backdrop as well as offer surfaces on which to hang baskets and other "treasures that amuse". The wooden deck structure offers a place to hang a net for climbing plants and thus brings blossoms closer to those who dine on the deck. These dramatic dark red lillies add a base note throughout the sunny gardens. Delpiniums beside the deck in company with that pesky creeping bellflower (campanula rapunculoides) which spreads everywhere and has such an efficient root system. Baxter enjoys the sunlight on the deck among plants in pots. His favourite plant is the catnip near his large and deep white water bowl.