Sunday, July 26, 2015


A tour of the yard and its many gardens, from back to front.

Clematis, Daylily, Asiatic lily, husband.

Daylily, Clematis, Lamium.

Clematis, Salvia, Morning Glory, Daylily, Peas, Squash, Rosemary & Calla Lily that amazingly survived our zone 3 winter.

Suzie checking out the "Cantina".

Path into the Sun Garden; more of a late summer garden...

Milkweed, Rudbeckia, Heliopsis, Sunflowers.

On the path through the Sun Garden; tall Sunflowers are 'volunteers' from my bird feeders.

'Cheyenne Spirit' Coneflower is amazing, alongside the taller bi-coloured Rudbeckia.

Path off to the driveway.

Path to the front yard.

Not pretty yet, but Heliopsis are beginning to fill in under the spruce.

The Globe Thistle (right) are reaching great heights and the Sedum (left) in the rock garden has been blooming for weeks.

 This Lamium blooms all summer long. Quite aggressive in this rich soil and semi-shade it is hemmed in by sidewalk and equally aggressive daylilies.

Forget-me-nots have beautified the front garden for weeks while the Calla Lilies and Monarda have just begun to bloom.

The scent of these giant Lilies is incredible, both they and the ferns will get substantially larger over the next few years and I have high hopes for how great they will look together.

Monkshood over 6 feet tall! Half I cut back in spring to lengthen the clump's bloom time.

I believe there are three colours of Monarda but so far only one is in bloom.

Drumstick Allium, Campanula, Verbascum, Monkshood, Forget-me-not, volunteer sunflowers.

I like to combine plant material from the yard with annuals in my yard urns,.

Lamium in front of the hedge transitions nicely from the Monet to the Moon Garden.

Each year I will need fewer Impatiens to fill in between the Astilbe and Hosta in front the Bleeding Heart.

Obedient Plant and Liatris: though still a ways away from blooming I love the foliage of the latter.

Daisy, Peony, Nasturtium, Coneflower, Bleeding Heart, Impatiens. Who knew compact, white Nasturtium existed? Let us hope they begin to bloom soon.

Bishop's Goutweed with Peony and Lamb's ear.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

YEAR 3 - what a difference!

I am entering the third full summer at my new home in Winnipeg and what a difference it makes as a perennial gardener.

While I have been busy in the gardens (as always), I have been making minor adjustments compared to the work required in the previous two years establishing beds and experimenting with light and soil conditions.

In year one I added 3 Iris here as a test, then 10 more in year two and finally in year three I have the effect of the Herons wading through these purple German Iris. 

Suzie enjoying the sun and the scent of blooming Jacob's Ladder which was initially struggling in the front yard but is happier this year after being transplanted to the sunnier back yard.

The Sedum in the rock garden is thicker and fuller and blooming like never before.

Mulch in the Sun Garden is clearly helping keep the weeds at bay; in the first two years I was growing too much from seed to use it but established plants allow for it.
Thank goodness!

 There are 15 Peonies altogether, with only 5 of them blooming this year. Can you picture it 2-3 years from now? That is how I view it...

I have planted Daisies for the past two years but this is the first that there has been any blooming en masse. I am thrilled with the results and will likely end up adding more. Can one have too many daisies, is it even possible?


Tuesday, May 19, 2015


When I first planted the Monet Garden I thought there would be more sun than there is. Last year I moved out many of the sun lovers and this year I am finally and fully embracing its shady nature with the introduction of dozens of stately Ostrich Ferns.
There is however an interesting exception.

As apparent as the streak of sunlight cutting across the garden may appear in this photo, it has taken me two seasons to recognize what has been there all along.

Now that I have 'seen the light' (ha ha) and understand where more sun-loving plants can sit in my otherwise shady garden I have a fantastic opportunity to expand my plant selection and introduce something one would not expect to see thriving surrounded by shade plants.

Something like Echinops, which explains how mine have done so well, even though I have resigned myself to the fact that the Monet Garden is generally quite shady.  Five or so have come back from last year and I am direct sowing others, using this 'slice of sunlight' as my map and my inspiration.

This is a wonderful example of the interplay between gardener and environment and how experience with a specific property reveals its idiosyncrasies and opportunities to optimize on a micro-level.

For example, last fall I moved Monarda into two different parts of the Monet Garden in order to see which would do better and I could quickly see that the Monarda in the 'slice of sunlight' was 2-3 times the size of the Monarda in the other part of the garden (which has since been moved into the slice).

I had been  prepared to be satisfied with just the interesting foliage of these Iris but was pleasantly surprised to see them bloom last year. Now it all makes sense since they are in the 'slice of sunlight' and I will definitely add more now that I understand the reason behind their success.

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Monday, May 18, 2015


Despite a mild winter our spring blooming bulbs are still coming up relatively late. These tulips are the first splash of colour in the Sun Garden and it will certainly be into June before we will see blooms from our daffodils.  

Apeldoorn Tulip

Apeldoorn Tulip

Marsh Marigold is the earliest perennial to bloom.

The cherry tree is bursting with white blooms which bodes well for pie making.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Although I have transplanted many ferns onto my cottage property I have focused alongside the path it became apparent to me just last year how much of a need for them there was closer to the lawn, where guests spend most of their time.  

The evergreen shrubs had not taken off like I had planned, so it was time to accept it and move on and infill with native ferns.

 How many of the 10-12 new plants can you spot in this photo?

A different perspective helps to shed light on the gaps.

It certainly demonstrates how easy it is for a landscape to gobble up plants by the dozen and still have room for more.


Friday, May 01, 2015

PROGRESS REPORT - driveway woodland garden

In August of  2013 I first posted that "my ultimate goal is to make it feel as though the driveway cuts right through my garden" which meant converting a significant piece of forest hillside covered in dead leaves and fallen tree branches into a lush green expanse of Lily-of-the-Valley, Periwinkle and natives including Ferns & Columbine. 

I love our staircase and the thick carpet of green on either side.  Last year for the first time from this perspective the green seamlessly jumped from below to above the driveway (directly in front of the car).

While upon close inspection there are still patches that need to be filled in, the fact that it can make the hillside appear comfortably 'green-from-a-distance' is a major milestone.

 Thousands of individually transplanted plants are transforming the space.  
Quite a dry hillside initially, my hope is that the dense root mat being formed will help to retain more moisture in the soil.

 Nature may not always plop a gorgeous Ostrich fern in the middle of a decaying stump, but I do.

 More ferns will be added at the base of trees with lights to take full advantage of their nightly display.

 I have learned from Piet Oudolf to move away from the practice of random individual plantings and instead I place the plants in groups to increase their impact, as with these wood ferns in the foreground.

Even if I were never to lift another finger (other than annual raking!), I feel that I have nudged it to a tipping point and it will continue to fill in with little help from me, which is great since most of the summer we have renters at our cottage and I am only there twice a year to maintain the gardens.

Are there any other lovers of woodland landscapes out there?

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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 Forget-me-nots & native Columbine blooming in this photo will be followed by hardy Geranium & Oriental Lilies in  summer.

By September it was clear that the transplanted native Asters from last year's test were doing well  and so I harvested and transplanted two dozen more from the side of the road.
My vision: late summer 'purple haze'.

 Admittedly it feels a bit odd raking the rocks sometimes, but it is well worth it to uncover the dry creek bed each spring. Every spring I am committed to adding a few more ferns, thickening the 'fern hedge' running along the far side of the creek bed.

Would you guess that I have planted every one of those ferns, or does it just feel natural? My goal is the latter in case that is not clear.

Ideally guests do not even notice that the ferns happen to cluster around focal points like the creek bed and that they naturally trend to grow alongside the path.

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!