Wednesday, March 30, 2016

TRAVELLING GNOME - and our first ever contest winners

I painted this cute little garden gnome as a fundraiser for the upcoming Winnipeg Home & Garden Show, where it will be auctioned off along with 9 others to raise money for the very worthwhile Winnipeg Harvest food bank.

Given how much we all know gnomes like to travel I thought I'd better show mine around town while we still had some time together but before I set him in his butterfly field.

Here he is buying tickets to the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra

Then off to the Manitoba Museum 

Followed by a stop at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre
Getting his caffeine buzz on at Parlour Coffee

Checking out the Artspace building to wrap up his cultural whirlwind tour of Winnipeg.

 A well deserved rest with his pal Suzie

I also asked readers of my Facebook page to share what they loved about spring, and I got some really great answers that I want to share with you below to get you excited (as if you are not already!) about the change of season:

 It's a fresh start....

...a time to learn and change last season's trials.

...feeling that sense of community again...

...the smell of rain.

Spring is a blank canvas and a full pallet of colors just waiting to create a new "one of a kind" work of art.

I love to watch all the beautiful flowers wrenching their way out of the ground, grasping towards the warm sun.

Such promise for the season ahead in the spring.

I love the way colour creeps back into the landscape - from the first soft green blades of grass to the hint of green in trees as leaves begin to unfurl and then a symphony of all kinds of shades of pinks as shrubs and trees blossom punctuated with the bright cheery splashes of reds and yellows from tulips and daffodils...ah, spring is fresh colour!

I look forward to the wonders of spring.

I can't wait to get in the garden, with soil under my nails and the sun beating down on me.

...seeds starting to sprout...

I love opening all of the windows in my house while I'm spring cleaning!

 I love the thought of renewal, and a new beginning.


Thanks to everyone who entered, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your eloquent and inspiring responses.  Congratulations to Heather Lewis Neill & Janice E Cournoyer, who have each won a pair of tickets to the Home & Garden show in Winnipeg.

Monday, March 28, 2016

'NATURESCAPING' - good for the environment, good for me

Fort Whyte Alive is an extraordinary space in Winnipeg; originally quarry and clay mine for the Canada Cement Company, the land has been reclaimed and since the 1950s and in the 80s
the Fort Whyte Foundation with a focus on environmental education was established.  There are wetlands, forest and grassland with a network of trails and programming and I was fortunate enough to be the summer camp director in 1995.
Now I am proud to have be a part of their innovative "Naturescape" program. To grossly paraphrase their brochure, the program encourages people to increase biodiversity in their own backyard. They actually pay me to do it, by giving me a $20 coupon for their gift shop, as well as discounts from major garden shops across the city.  Below are the conditions I had to meet, which I hope makes it clear that the program is fairly accessible with a little planning.

Section 1: Clean Water, at least 2 sources

(Birdbath; backyard pond; drippers, spitters, or decorative pots and barrel containing water; damp spot for butterflies)

Small recirculating water feature on cantina wall

Decorative fountain

Bird bath

Section 2: Food For All Seasons, at least 5

(Nectar feeder; 3 types of nectar plants; Flowering trees, shrubs or perennials ; Rotting fruit feeder for birds or butterflies; Organic garden, a food source for your family!)

Nectar feeder

3 types of nectar plants (Rudbeckia, Coneflower, Milkweed)

Perennials for pollinators (Blanket Flower & Helenium)

Organic garden (I prefer perennial fruits over vegetables)

(Birdfeeder; Nut or suet feeder; Seed or nut bearing trees and shrubs; Seed bearing perennials left through the winter; Tree, shrub or vine that retains its fruit/berries into the winter months; Vines such as Virginia creeper and riverbank grape)


Suet feeder


Seed bearing Japanese Lilac tree

Seed bearing perennial left through the winter

 Grape vine that retains fruit through winter

(Compost bin [food source for decomposers]; An area of undisturbed leaf litter under trees or shrubs)

Compost bins 

3: Shelter

1 of: Plant a native tree or two; Layered planting (Tree layer, shrub layer, ground layer); Thicket (tangled cluster of tall and medium height shrubs)
Layered planting

+ 2 ofEvergreen tree; Hedge; Nesting cavity in a tree; Wood or brush pile; Rock pile or open stone wall; Nest box or nesting platform; Old log or snag (standing dead tree); Winter roosting box for birds; Bat roosting box

Nest box

Snag (standing dead tree)



 When my all-weather placard arrives I will proudly place it in front of my home for curious passerby, in order to help promote this worthwhile program.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Each year I am surprised by how green some plants are when they are uncovered by the retreating snow. 
I expect them to have withered away and disappeared altogether, but here they are, Campanula and Forget-Me-Nots aplenty, looking somewhat bedraggled but ready to rock and roll if the warm weather were to continue.

Instead of more shots of soggy half-buried gardens I will share some photos of a garden from the hotel I recently stayed at in Mexico. 

While the plants between the bungalows were lush with bright bird-of-paradise blooms, the garden was more arid than tropical and I felt like I could have been in Arizona with all the cacti.

 To me it looks almost like a museum and I expect to see cards indicating the type of plant and a bit about the history of the area.

The restaurant under the eaves was well positioned to take advantage of the garden and courtyard.

With no change in the seasons as we know it in zone 3, there is always something blooming in this tropical paradise.