Sunday, April 26, 2015


In less than a month we will be going to our Ontario cottage again and I have not even posted about what we saw there last year, other than a look at how I redid the garden on the lake!

Last year we had trees cut down that will allow more light to this garden.
The native Forget-me-nots & native Columbine blooming in this photo will be followed by hardy Geranium & Oriental Lilies in  summer.

When we were back in September I saw that the transplanted native Asters were doing well from the previous year's test and so I harvested and transplanted a couple of varieties from the side of the road.

 Admittedly it feels a bit odd raking the rocks sometimes, but it is well worth it to uncover the dry creek bed each spring.

The daylily/fern combination has recovered from the last time we saw them, freshly transplanted and looking rather bedraggled. I can be confident they will fill in as planned, a perfect no-maintenance solution, but unless our renters help by snapping some photos I will never know how well the daylilies bloom under there, if at all!


Sunday, April 19, 2015


Recently Gardens Manitoba held "Gardening Saturday" to kick off gardening season here in Winnipeg (and by gardening season I mean starting seeds indoors or trimming tree branches outdoors but certainly not planting anything for at least another month up here in zone 3).

The more interesting of the two speaker's I attended was Getty Stewart who inspired me to buy her cookbook, which I swore I would never do once I got used to getting my recipes from sites like

There is however much more to the book than recipes including tips on harvesting, storing, dehydrating and preserving.

In fact is has given me so much confidence that I will be able to make use of their fruit in delicious and healthy ways that I have gone out and bought two new fruit trees today for the back yard.

 On the left an espaliered apple tree with four different kinds of apples grafted to the stem, and on the right a similarly unusual pear.
(Apple / pear pie - yum!)

The session got me to realize that while I am not a vegetable grower I have in fact invested in quite a bit in fruit production: grapes, cherries, Saskatoon berries, blueberries, and now adding pears and apples plus I will add some rhubarb and more Saskatoons this year.

Luckily I will have time to prepare since it should be a few years before full fruit production for most of them - I may need it to learn all about pectins!



Tuesday, March 31, 2015

SPRING FEVER - shopping edition

It will be a while yet before I plant anything in the ground but I have just placed a large order with Vesey's and a smaller one from Botanus and my husband just came home from CostCo with bags of Calla lilies and Gladiolus.

My Vesey`s coupon said spend $200 and save $100.
So I did:

Plant      #/pack#/packs$/packTotal
Tuberosa Butterfly Flower (orange)31$10.95$10.95
Ostrich Plume Astilbe (red, tall)33$12.95$38.85
Blazing Stars Liatris (purple)301$10.95$10.95
Blazing Stars Liatris (white)301$10.95$10.95
Blazing Stars Liatris (purple)101$4.95$4.95
Crocosmia (red, orange, yellow)451$21.95$21.95
Garden Affair Lily (white w/ red, tall)91$21.95$21.95
Beverly Ann Giant Hybrid Lily (white, tall)31$11.95$11.95
Royal Wedding Poppy (white w/ plum)31$16.95$16.95
Humpback Whale Hosta (blue, large)11$18.95$18.95
Shaker's Prayer Iris (purple)61$21.95$21.95
Harvest Moon Oriental Poppy (orange, ruffled)11$7.95$7.95
Carnival Oriental Poppy (orange w/black)11$7.95$7.95

The Callas we loved getting last year as a gift from friends while the Glads can fill in between perennials in our newly planted "Old Sun Garden".  While I have not had much luck with them in the past I am willing to try them again this year given we need annual filler while our newly planted perennial garden grows out.  

The final order from Botanus has ferns and grasses. Grasses for the "Old Sun Garden" are as planned, but the ferns indicate a change in direction for the front of the house where I have been pretending there is more sun than there is.

I have decided I would rather have gorgeous green and healthy plants that can take some sun than struggling colourful plants that fight the shade.

So why not start with some interesting and uncommon varieties of ferns for the front and watch them thrive?


Monday, March 23, 2015


In hindsight, it is not surprising my first attempt at a Lasagna Garden was not successful, after all, the Chicory and Bugloss were in mid-bloom and their long tap roots do not transplant well. 
Viper's Bugloss

Last summer, with some experience under my belt I redid this new bed in what I hope will be a lovely naturalized perennial if only I can recall what I planted 6 months ago!

 First step this time was to build some edging to keep the soil in place then build up the bed.

To keep the amount of soil I had to bring in to a minimum I added quite a bit of organic material - just look at all that gorgeous free organic soil amendment washed up on shore in spring alongside an old railway tie.  The small bits of twigs, bark and pine needles will breakdown quickly in the soil.

 The soil resembled a forest floor as much as a typical garden bed, and why not? The Lakefront Garden is a very natural, low maintenance design and the appearance of the soil will become a moot point once the plants fill out.

I planted tall Asclepias at the back, alongside the tree, and Purple Liatris immediately behind the daylilies, both purchased at end of season 50% off pricing as they were both past blooming but should come up fine this coming season.

Buttercups and Daisies (and possibly some Rudbeckia) harvested from the side of the road round out the planting. It was not much to look at last summer but I hope that this summer it provides some  relatively maintenance free blooms for our renters.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015


To celebrate the return of Daylight Savings and the imminent arrival of spring-blooming daffodils I used the extra daylight after work to create "Hungry Bunny".

In a few weeks daffodils planted via the Winnipeg Bulb Project (WBP) will be blooming throughout north Winnipeg -- time to start getting ready for spring 2016!

A $5 - $50 donation to the WBP gets spring-blooming bulbs into the hands of people eager to pick up a trowel and proud to make a difference in their neighbourhoods but who otherwise cannot afford to invest in landscaping.

Let's show Hungry Bunny how generous the blogosphere can be in the few short days before he is gone.

Sharing with Our World Tuesday, Outdoor Wednesday & Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Monday, March 02, 2015


It surprises me how many times I have noticed how strong an influencer the sun is on a plant's health and how surprised I can be to realize that each time.  This time the evidence is clear, these two plants were bought at teh same time but the one on the right which has lived in front of a south facing window has all large lovely leaves while its sibling has half big and half small and looks conflicted.

 I have switched their places but before I did I cut back the lanky one as an experiment and will now have the pleasure of watching it fill out. Will it come back as before or like its sibling, now that it has the preferred vantage point?

I took the palm fronds and placed them in a vase in the living room where they look smashing without any need for flowers at all.

Sharing with In A Vase Mondays

Sunday, March 01, 2015

PLANNING SESSION - old sun garden

Today while relaxing in the tub I planned the replanting of the Old Sun Garden, i.e. right-hand side, beneath the windows.

Unfortunately it had to be ripped out last fall due to construction. I committed to preserving its idea and building on it, after all, it was (ironically) the one part of the garden I felt I had right.
Nevertheless this is still an opportunity to purposefully improve on where I had casually ended up. 

Heliopolis grow window-height but no more, are easily pruned (for variable bloom times) and are prolific self seeders (which for now is good but one day I may regret), all solid reasons to retain them, limiting them to the back, immediately below the windows to keep them in check.

In front of the their bright yellow, daisy-like blooms a row of taller, transparent grasses. Height v. transparency? No question. I choose height; the taller the grass the better, certainly some Heliopsis will manage to show through. Along with the grass will be purple Iris from the Sun Garden and of course daffodils for spring interest.

In front of the grasses: a combination of Purple Liatris and Blue Sea Holly.
I first saw these two beauties together in a garden designed by my friend Jess Dixon.  
I think my heart actually skipped a beat
I wanted it. A lot of it.
Now I shall have it.

They are tall plants for the front border but I would like it to be clear to everyone they are not passing between gardens, but rather passing through a single garden, and height is one tool to reinforce that feeling.

Check back with me in the summer to see if I am true to my vision.

Sharing with Today's Flowers

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


I don't know about you, but this is how I personally like to plan my gardens.  
The more relaxed and meditative I am, the more creative and thoughtful I am.
Pen and paper are an absolute must.

Sharing with "Our World Tuesday"

Thursday, February 19, 2015

INA VASE - valentine's day, sorta

My husband and I do not celebrate Valentine's Day.
It is not that we take an anti-commercial stance but rather we feel it is more romantic to celebrate February 12th, the evening we met across a crowded dance floor, 15 years ago last week at a Valentine's Day party.

A single additional flower is all it can take to make a 'bunch of flowers' into an 'arrangement'; in this case I added a single lily.  A different colour would have been nice but sometimes you just have to roll with what you find at your local florist.

One week in and some of the lilies are just opening - what great staying power!

In the dining room I added the remaining yellow lilies into the 'winter vase' left over from our Winter Party.

(I may leave the greenery and baby's breath in place and just update the other flowers for the remainder of the winter!)

Sharing with Today's FlowersFloral Friday Flowers & In a Vase on Monday 

Sunday, February 08, 2015

IN A VASE - party time

Last weekend we hosted the party that I had done 'practice vases' for in my previous post and here is a look at how the final flowers turned out.  The photos were taken a few days after the party, in other words don't be too harsh on some of the wilting blossoms.

To achieve something different with a dozen white roses I cut them back to about 6 inches and placed them in a small bowl with water-absorbing florist's styrofoam.  The only greenery was the roses' leaves and the addition of just two daisy-like flowers provides a simple, off-center focus.

What could be simpler than spruce branches harvested from my own back yard and baby's breath?  
An arrangement with a "wintery" feel for only $4!

From simple to very busy; this one certainly had an impact in the downstairs washroom where people were not expecting to see a grand floral arrangement, which is of course all the more reason to have one there.

Accents like white glittery palm fronds and silver pine cones combined with Asiatic Lilies and asters. The lilies I cut back to 6 inches and 'planted' their long spiky, flowerless stems to add some greenery. 
'Waste-not, want-not' as the saying goes.

Sharing with Sharing with Today's FlowersFloral Friday Flowers & In a Vase on Monday 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

IN A VASE - practice makes perfect

In two weeks we will be hosting our annual winter party, a tradition my husband and I started three years ago when we moved to frigid but beautiful Winnipeg.  Since I am going to try something new with the flower arrangements this year, I thought it would behoove me to practice. This might sound a little over-the-top at first, but who does not want fresh flowers in their home, practice or no practice?

Over the winter I collected some floral knick-knacks and fake flowers and when it came time to see what they looked like on display it occurred to me that they might in fact help turn a regular bunch of flowers into my own floral displays if I combined them with fresh flowers.

Apologies, but I just did not have the energy to move this where there was a less busy background.  This vase will be in the centre of a room for the party which means its shape will have to change so its height is in the centre rather than at the back, but these will remain the materials I will use in this vase. 

I am uncertain about the height of the coils, should they be cut back a few inches so they do not tower so high above the flowers?  Or should they be cut back more severely, hiding their sticks making it appear as if they are sprouting up like flowers from a Dr. Seus book?

Let me know what you think.

The strongly scented Asiatic lilies, (the only real flowers in the vase), will have to be white of course since for our annual winter party there is a strict white dress code.

In order to keep the wooden sticks dry I have placed the real flowers in a beaker of water that sits discreetly in the vase which is thankfully still easily watered from above without having to remove a thing.

This vase is quite slim and therefore more difficult to work with since it wants to push all the blooms out its crowded centre.
Here again the lilies are the only real plant along with some white decorative berries and some silk flowers.

I have realize that I will need to find something for the under story so this 'practice' is definitely paying off.

I am not certain how I feel about mixing in the silk flowers...berries, silver pine cones and the like are definitely okay since they are clearly decorative, but what about the silk flowers that are designed to deceive, do they help to turn this into something special for the party, or do they cheapen it? 

I am undecided so please be free with your advice.


Tuesday, December 09, 2014


This is a follow up on some plants I guerrilla gardened at the Manitoba cottage in 2012

The daylilies are coming back well and continuing to bloom each year.

The Oriental Lilies also planted here get eaten by the deer each year, though they survived long enough for a few photographs in 2013. The daffodils have not done well in this sandy soil over these past two cold winters.

Daylilies planted further down the road, away from the cottage, have not fared as well. 
Being within reach of the hose makes all of the difference.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

SWITCH-A-ROO - hardy geranium, lamium, foxglove

When I saw how beautifully the hardy geranium in my corporate guerrilla garden did this summer I could not help but to want the same thing for the more than dozen I planted in my Monet Garden at home that have not been able to reach such fantastical heights of blooming.

Instead they bloomed just barely enough to justify staying in this semi-shaded location while they wait to be ravaged by the deer. 

So I moved them further into the yard, along the edge of the Sun Garden, where for the last two years I have used Nasturtium to create a low-growing border along the driveway.  Yes, the deer still wander into the yard that far to snack, but at least the geraniums will get more sun and will not be as completely exposed.

One more addition of purple into the Sun Garden as I embrace the shift away from my strictly colour-coded gardens.

In place of the Hardy Geranium I will transplant a portion of the Lamium that has been doing so incredibly well.  It will cover the narrow strip alongside the sidewalk, but stop where the garden widens alongside the driveway since I have already established a carpet of Forget-Me-Nots there.

Major transplants tend to create a domino effect in the garden; filling the hole cleft by the Lamium are the Foxglove from alongside our home, which have had to be transplanted due to our basement construction.  

Here the domino effect ends because the space the Foxglove came from will not be ready to plant again until spring, but when the ground thaws and I am able to start the post-construction recreation of my gardens, this never-ending cycle of transplanting will begin anew.

Sharing with Outdoor Wednesday & Wildflower Wednesday