Saturday, June 30, 2012


There is something to be said about appreciating the first flower from each grouping.  Acknowledging the brave soul who pushes ahead first, reaches for the sun, shines brightly and then is gone before most have started.

This is an orange daylily from the top of the driveway where I have planted them on the steep sandy embankment to help deal with potential erosion problems and because it gets just a little bit more sun than most places in my decidedly shady gardens.

They have become a significant patch over the last 3 years.

First of the Asiatic Lilies with plenty of Sundrops in the background in the  Lily Garden.

Sharing with:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

THRIFTY THURSDAY - forget-me-nots

Since I am moving to zone 3 and have to change the name of my blog accordingly I should change it to something that conveys I take my gardening passion with me where ever I go vs. being tied to a specific location. 
Suggestions welcome.

To that point is a photo below from my visit to the family cottage on Lake Winnipeg in May.  There were forget-me-nots galore spread out in back alleys and along the roadside everywhere.  Everywhere but my parents' cottage that is, so I quickly set about to fix that.

Sorry I don't have a shot of the finished product (can you believe it?), but I want to share with you not just the beautiful blue of the forget-me-nots, but also another example of how harvesting wild plants can work.  And what a great way to be thrifty it is.   I must have collected about three times this many and of course each bag is filled with loads of individual plants so they are spread out quite nicely in their new home and I'm sure that next year enough will have self-seeded to come back again.

 If you are in the city it's presumably tough, but out in the country I find plenty of material.  I never take many plants from any one location and I look for places that others won't necesarily see, (like behind sheds in the back lane instead of at the end of someone's driveway).  Of course I don't take from anyone's property without permission, I plant the plants quickly and keep them well watered after transplant, etc.

By filling my garden with common roadside wildflowers (i.e. 'weeds' depending on your perspective) I have saved thousands of dollars over the years.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Ox-eye daisy.

Sundrops, daisies and hardy geranium in bloom.

Yellow of a volunteer clover in the centre fits right in.

Yellow Loosestrife that did not get enough light to bloom while in the woods are flourishing in the sun at the water's edge.

Long-blooming, they hold their own against the daylilies.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I've been dying to share this plant combination.

  I feel very proud of it, though who is to say that it hasn't been shared before, certainly it must have been done before...nevertheless I take pride in discovering it for myself.

The Tall Buttercup seems to be floating amongst the ferns, or better yet, it appears as if my Ostrich Ferns have grown delicate yellow flowers. 
Wouldn't that be amazing?

As you walk the path more reveal themselves than show in a single photo. 
All plants above gathered from country roadside ditches I might add.

Last year I placed the buttercups everywhere amongst the ferns not knowing if they would come back or not, ignoring my normal practice of testing just a few in the first year because I think they look so amazing. And this year, instead of waiting to see how they will come back on their own before adding more I have just plowed ahead with them again.  

With us moving to Winnipeg I don't know when the next time I'll be here at this time of year is.

When you think about it, they can basically grow like this in the wild. 
Nature knows what it is doing, eh?

{Feb 2014 - While technically you could see this pairing in nature the Buttercups generally need more sun than the Ostrich Ferns.  With damp feet the ferns can survive in the sun but don't expect the Buttercups to survive in the shade.}

Sharing with

Monday, June 25, 2012


As I stood in pseudo-mediation for 20 minutes watching the duck that had made the tall jump to our floating raft this evening I was feeling very contented to be sharing my space, after all the fauna we get here is a big part of having a woodland garden on a lake for me.

Just as I was thinking how nice it was that this particular duck didn't mind sharing the space either, especially with me puttering around on shore, 2 other ducks landed and regrouped with #1.  I say 'regrouped' because even though I don't speak duck there was no missing that these ducks were previous acquaintances.  Absolutely happy to see one another.

After that, a swim at dusk in utter silence with the dogs waiting patiently at the end of the dock.   Ever had the pleasure of having an entire lake to yourself? 

Here is a view 'from the Lakefront Garden' instead 'of the Lakefront Garden'.
To honour the ducks that were my pals today I thought I would share some recent pics of other visitors I've had recently at the cottage.

I found this link to Ontario's Salamanders only after searching for Ontario's Skinks and Ontario's Lizards: apparently only one type of each in Ontario, and these are not them.

Quite a few wild turkeys around in the spring when it was less busy here.  This one in particular liked to treat itself to the bird seed spilled under the feeder.  It's a wonder there was never a dog-turkey incident.  

And I suppose this is how the birdseed spilled to the ground.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

ROAD KILL - not what you are thinking

I think fondly of the trees I have taken from the side of the road as "road kill", as in 'if I don't take them they will one day be killed for growing too close to the road'.  The same goes for under hydro wires, where they are all just buying time, blissfully unaware.

The other day I grabbed four pine and a spruce.  One of the pine was already damaged, having its leader somehow removed.  I've planted it in the background although a little research shows its prospects are not strong.  Look closely and you can see the damage in the "before" photo below.
I've committed to this tree, and I'm going to try something different and see with a little help if I can't get it to grow another leader by splinting a branch up and cutting off the others at that level. (thanks eHow
It will be a fascinating experiment.

Here is one of the places between us and our neighbours where I've added 4 evergreens and will be adding in about 4 more today.  I'm going to over-plant since I'll be happy if they grow relatively slowly, after all, we don't want them to reach maturity with bare branches towards the bottom, we want them to provide dense cover so we see less of our neighbour's cottage.

P.S.  I know in my last post I said I had other priorities now that we are moving and time at the cottage is limited, but I have revised my list to include adding in more trees between us and our neighbours on both sides - now that is a long term project!

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Two years ago in 2010 we noticed what the woman at the garden centre humorously dubbed a 'cowpath' between the bottom of our staircase and the steps down into the water.  Bare patches of mud in the grass from heavy foot traffic were making their mark so we added the darker stone  - just a suggestion of a path.  I quite liked it.
Very minimalist.


Last year we added in the rest of the stones when we realized we still had a pile of flagstone from the backyard left over in the city.  The stones are all on the ground but not all securely dug in quite yet, though it is top of my list to finish this up now that I have added the ground covers between the stones.

April 2012

I have added three varieties of Creeping Thyme near the front in full sun and toward the back some Scotch Moss  and its darker cousin Irish Moss

Since I don't know for sure which will survive best from this mix I only planted about half of the space between the stones and plan on waiting until next year before I fill in in the rest, after the results from this test are in. 

With our move now scheduled for this summer I may have to fill in everywhere before I go.  I can already see which ground covers I prefer since the spring's planting.
In order to give the perennials a better chance I am carving out the grass between them.  I'd rather have some dirt showing in the short term than have the plants struggle against the grass. 
Tedious work, but someone has got to do it - and that someone is me. 

In retrospect, leaving grass between the stones would have been fine, but I wanted to play with ground covers, so be it, there is no going back now! 
I hope it looks amazing one day...

Friday, June 22, 2012

FIRE PIT - high and dry

When we first bought the cottage we didn't truly appreciate a number of things about it until we had lived here for a while, like for example the fact that we are in a bay and boat traffic tends to be on the other side of the lake. 
Another one of these unappreciated things was the fire pit.

This is what it looks like now:
And this is what it looked like at first, in 2008:

At first it was just a concrete slab in the ground at the edge of the water (well, edge of the water for most of the summer anyway!).   A great base for a fire pit no doubt, but quite overgrown since the previous owners weren't big on using it.  For the first 2 years we cut back the bush around it and I planted daylilies along the water's edge, the ones in the photo above were the original lilies that inspired me to replicate them throughout the Lakefront Garden.

 Then in year 3 we added a circle of rocks around it.  Technically not required to control the fire, but boy did it make a big difference in the appearance. 
It just looked more like a fire pit.
In spring 2011 the water was really high and the grass around the fire pit was sodden.
Too wet to use the fire pit! 
We love having a fire so much that we had them in the middle of the lawn that spring, we just couldn't go without.

So later that summer we had a lot of small stones delivered, and I mean a lot.  As evidenced from the truck leaving a massive mound of them in our driveway. 

Enough for the fire pit and the path to the driveway.

And the space under the deck between the North Deck Garden and South Deck Garden.

Everyone pitched in, from the youngest to the oldest.

And now that it is done, we no longer climb into bed with black feet at the end of the night, we can fit in more chairs (since we moved the big rock back), the kids can sit at our feet and roast marshmallows and those stones definitely won't catch on fire.
We love it.

Sharing with:

Thursday, June 21, 2012


We have decided to move to Winnipeg, a Zone 3, so I'll have to investigate this list of recommended zone 3 plants, at first glance I see a lot of familiar friends since I'm already in Zone 4 at the cottage.  We are keeping the cottage though, just love it too much to abandon, so the journey here is not over.

It also means I'll need to figure out how to change the name of my blog to something less attached to the location of my gardens, after all gardening is a passion I'll take with me wherever I go.

This means I'll need to prioritize some of the projects I've got half completed.  Focus and prioritization in the garden has always been a struggle.  I know from both a time management and a design perspective it can be a good idea to focus on one project and complete it before staring another, but I tend to get distracted by ideas.

For now I will prioritize the larger structural things I want to do, and focus less on the maintenance.  You know, ensure the 'bones' are in place.
  • flagstone path to the lake - tedious to dig out all the grass between the ground covers, but I better hop to it!

  • Getting in a moss border to defend against the grass on the Lakefront Garden.  This is a doozy in terms of workload; I guess I better hop to it. 

Any thoughts on if this is a losing battle before I begin in earnest? Will I need to add in a plastic barrier to really keep the grass out? I don't like the look of them in this natural setting, but perhaps if I grow the moss over top of the edge...

  • Extending the  lakefront garden to incorporate the space up to the old tree.  Better to do it now before the lilies are in bloom.
Yes, it is just some tall grass now, but soon it will be more daylilies (and possibly some daises, and...)

Odds are that I will not be able to just focus on these big projects, but if I can at least prioritize them for the next while...

{March 2014 update: Success!  I extended the Lakefront Garden to the old tree, and replaced the grass with ground cover in the flagstone path. I am a bit iffy on how far I got with the moss border though...}

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


For my first ever blog party I have chosen a set of four similar images, close-ups of daylilies from my lakefront garden, taken with my camera phone one hot sunny day last year.  I can picture them as coasters as well as note paper and actually used some in a calendar last year!

Nothing common about the vibrant colour of this "common" orange daylily...

I like something about the muted colour of this image...

 A little dew always improves a flower shot, n'est pas?

Shows more pink here than it appears in the garden, where it is purple. I swear.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


With a little research I have figured out that what I called "Spring Asters" are actually Fleabane.

I'll have to check the leaves to figure out if they are Daisy (toothed leaves) or Common, but at least I know generally speaking why this "Asters" were blooming in the spring!

It is just great they way they come up through the large ferns in places, almost as if they were blooming.

Monday, June 18, 2012


While most of my gardening happens in the shade, the "Lakefront Garden" is the exception.  It is 100 feet of shorefront above the retaining wall.   As you can see, it was originally home to driftwood, some ferns and lots of opportunity when we bought.

Summer 2008


Spring 2010 

Here you start to see the daylilies, which form the backbone of the garden, filling in.

In this garden you'll also find:
  • Sundrops that I transplanted from the Lily Garden last year where they add a great splash of colour before the daylilies are ready
  • Yellow Loosestrife (not invasive according to the website) which are a great height for mixing in with the daylilies and I love love their bright yellow flowers.  They bloom slightly after the Sundrops, so together they combine to have a dash of yellow for quite some time here
  • Oxeye daisies, which I gather from the roadside and which the Ontario government considers a weed

  • Pink Hardy Geranium
  • Blue German Iris
  • Blue Siberian Iris

March 2011

As you can see, in the spring it can flood, submerging the plants in icy water, but they don't seem to mind, thank goodness.

August 2011

Mostly common orange, but also some other colours I got from a Vessey's assorted grab bag.  I think we are really lucky to have such a gorgeous wildflower, but I've read that it can be aggressive compared to hybrids, so we will have to see if it takes over and snuffs the others out.  I certainly hope not because I love the mix - mostly orange, with an occasional surprise:

Posts from the Past