Monday, February 24, 2014


While the influence of the sun in gardening may be obvious to most, I had clearly underestimated it in a number of places last summer, especially how it effects the direction in which a plant will grow. 
Here are 3 examples.

I prefer to hide the functional aspects of a garden and I planted these daylilies to do just that by covering where the fence and the ground meet. In my mind they were going to mound, as daylilies tend to do, but instead they were clearly reaching for the sun, growing out towards the lake.
If I wanted them to cover up the base of the fence I would have had to plant them slightly behind it to anticipate their forward motion. 

At the base of this chain link fence I planted peas and Morning Glories. I knew I would need to help guide and wind them through the fence but I had not really appreciated how much I would be fighting the vines' natural tendency to grow away from the fence and towards the light.  
Next time I will plant them on the north side of the fence and use their pull to the south to my advantage.

Once I took note of the lessons above I started looking for other examples around the yard and noticed this shrub whose branches only grow in one direction - towards the lake and the light.

In the retelling it seems obvious, but thinking ahead to how your plants will grow takes practice. Wish me luck, I hope I now have this one licked but sometimes I need to learn things in the garden more than once!

Sharing with Garden Tuesday

Monday, February 17, 2014


I had heard Hyacinths were easy to force (bloom indoors in mid winter) and I happen to have had some on hand this fall for the first time, so on November 20th I started forcing bulbs for the first time.  

I rested 2 of them above the water line in a small rectangular vase and kept them in the garage (cool dark place) for as long as I could.

Then on December 8th I moved them to the basement when the water began to freeze in the garage.

On February 18th I realized that for something supposed to be easy I had already made a few mistakes. According to Martha Stewart:
- I should have been changing the water twice weekly; I only topped it up occasionally 
- I placed the bulbs in front of a window, so I got the 'cool' part right, but should have had them in darkness
Today they basically have no roots but nonetheless are showing signs of growth; check out the shoot appearing on the left.  
Given the importance of roots though, back to the basement they go, this time to a dark, cool spot.

Cross your fingers for me and hope that I end up with something ever after this mix up.  If so, then Hyacinths really will be easy to force!

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Recently I posted about the Downy Woodpeckers that frequent our suet feeder but we also have another feeder filled with sunflower seeds - and only sunflower seeds, because last year beneath my feeder was a sea of unwanted grasses and plants clearly spilled from the feeder. 

Birds like sunflowers and I like sunflowers, so next spring when some 'volunteers' appear under the feeder I just may leave them.

 This pair of rabbits are daily visitors outside of my dining room window. Whatever is spilled is not wasted; with -30 degree temperatures I feel obligated to keep the feeders full.
I find it incredible they can manage at all in this weather and am happy to help. 

The scene from inside is entirely different. 

Suzie is the latest addition to our family and she stands guard over the bird feeder plotting her escape for hours on end, thinking about how best to chase the rabbits, for hours on end.  
She does not mind at all that there is only one channel on her 'doggy 'TV'.


Thursday, February 06, 2014


No question about it, gardening can be expensive, but if we apply ourselves we can sometimes think of ways to brighten up our landscapes without spending a dime. This is my story of how I achieved a different look with no money down.

It can be very dry under a massive tree like this Spruce, so under it I chose to plant an Alpine Garden with lots of Sedum & Sempervivum (and rocks of course), but with all of the clover also under that Spruce it was not standing out as much as I would have liked. 
I turned one of the long narrow rocks on its end. Look closely and see it just in front of the Hostas at the base of the tree, still dark and covered with mud. 
(If you look closely you can also spot my Strawberry Daiquiri too - I was celebrating Canada day with a red cocktail.)

It turned out the 'stones' are actually the broken up original concrete front sidewalk to my home so they are all flat; on the spur of the moment I went with my gut and upended most of the stones, leaving a few as stepping stones to allow for weeding.  
Now it draws one in for a closer look.

It is not quite Easter Island or Stonehenge but it IS different enough to give one pause, and half hidden yard waste has been turned into a garden feature.
We should all take a moment to see if there are any simple changes we could be making to our gardens; no money spent, refreshed look achieved.


Saturday, February 01, 2014


For the first time in as long as I can remember I am not composting this winter.  It feels irresponsible and deliciously lazy, and considering it has been -30 (Celsius) many days so far this winter I am  feeling slightly smug about the decision I made in late fall.  

In Toronto we had weekly municipal compost pick up and bi-weekly garbage pick up so there was no excuse not to compost your kitchen scraps and every reason to.  Not only is there no municipal program for kitchen scraps in Winnipeg it now would mean trekking to the back lane in frigid temperatures and keeping the top of the composters free of snow. 
Is just SO much easier to pile the snow on top of them... 

Both composters are filled to the brim ready to start their magic come spring thaw. Brown leaves and green perennial cuttings in a layered pattern perfect for composting: layer of brown, layer of green, sprinkle some soil, layer of green, layer of brown and so on.  They will turn into lovely compost but they are not diverting yard waste out of the system because if I did not compost my yard waste the city would have anyway.
Not so with kitchen scraps, and therein lies the rub.

A better man than me would keep his composting going in the winter to divert kitchen waste from the city's garbage all year long but I have moved to a six-month commitment and my composting has changed from something I did for the environment to something I am doing for myself.

Am I conflicted about it?
Perhaps, but did I mention it is -30 outside?

Sharing with Fertilizer Friday & Our World Tuesday & Garden Tuesday