My gardening style is a reflection of who I am. It's natural. It’s imperfect. You will find as much of an appreciation for greens and mosses as for more showy colours and plants. You won't find checkerboard patterns and right angles but rather plants spilling into one another, but don't be fooled into thinking there is no design.
I patiently take a test-and-optimize approach since I am bound to create as many failures as successes.
I will forever be a student in the garden.
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.
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!
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 daysafter 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.