Friday, August 31, 2012


Since moving to Winnipeg I have happily noticed that a fair number of people have taken over the boulevards and spilled their gardens into the public realm.  
I am going to create a page here for gardens in Winnipeg that I like and I am sure a fair number will include these adventurous souls.

Although spilling over onto the boulevard just outside of one's property doesn't have the political connotation one might assign Guerrilla Gardening, Wikipedia defines it as "gardening on land that the gardeners do not have legal right to use" so I will include what I have done as 'guerrilla', even though it is not at all contentious.

They were not getting enough sun to bloom here.

Last weekend I took surplus daylilies from my parents back yard and moved them to the cottage, some on their property, but also many along the boulevard.
They were incredibly dense and I am sure had not been divided for donkey's years.

To overnight them uprooted I put them in a garbage bag, water them and keep the bag tied until ready to plant to avoid drying them out.  

As a rule you will feel that you have way more daylilies once they are up, especially when they have not been divided for a long time.  My past success with these plants in The Lakefront Garden tells me that they can be separated into quite small bunches; I pretty much break them down as far as I can rather that leaving groups made up of even a few stalks together.  

They did great, but then again they had great conditions.
These are in part sun rather than full sun and have a very sandy soil so it will be interesting to see how they do.  Certainly others cottagers seem to have some success.  These ones, on their property, are happily within range of the hose. 
You can see here where I also planted further away, out of hose range, at the base of a clump of birch three cottages over, where they will get plenty of sun.  
I gave them a good soak the first two days and my mother thankfully made the trek a few times.  It has been 30+ degrees with no rain all week however, so let's hope they are surviving.

Look for a report next spring on how these are doing and another post soon on where the heck I am going to put there rest.  
2/3's still to go!

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

BULB SEASON - Bulbs to Blooms

I know that I should wait a year before planting my new gardens, and I sometimes blog about how gardeners need to have patience, but come on, really, a whole year?

The other day I got my Vessey's and Breck's catalogs and yesterday I went shopping at Costco for the first time and ended up buying some bulbs.  While I don't have a definitive plan yet, I have been thinking about the opportunity to plan colours that starting a new garden presents:
  • Spring - generally cool purples, blues and whites.  Some other colours are bound to creep in and I can't go with only white daffs when there are so many amazing yellow and orange combos, but this will be the focus.
  • Summer: hot oranges, reds and yellows and all kinds of mixes thereof.
  • Fall: uncertain at this point since there are lots of really great purple Asters and awesome orange Mums; I may have to make fall a combo of the two previous seasons.
  • Winter: White (ha ha)

So here is what I bought:
240 Giant Crocus; 3 bags of 80 at $14/bag  works out to only $.18/bulb!  Compare to Vessey's Giant Crocus Collection: $14 for 30 bulbs, or $.45/bulb.
  • 40 Remembrance + 40 Pickwick mix X 2
  • Assorted X 1 (unclear if there are any yellows or just purples and whites)

Since I have been primarily a shade gardener I do not have a lot of experience with Allium, but I love their shape and how they maintain interest even when done blooming.
I am really excited to have them in my new garden.
I bought 4 different packs for $14 each:

Quality is clearly in question since the prices are so amazing (don't forget you would have to add shipping charges to any of the online stores I linked to above as well!)
There was a friendly woman at the bulb rack the same time as me and she said she has bought from Costco before and been happy with the results.  I am not 100% sure that means she bought "Bulbs to Blooms", if any of you are familiar with this brand, please let me know what your experience has been.  They have a good web site including cute videos like his one on Allium.
Wish me luck, and look for a follow up report next June.

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I recently digitized some slides I had taken in the 90s.  Even back then I was clearly into nature.

I just love this shot of a birch tree.  

I played with the colour and exposure, which do you prefer the original or this one that has a little more yellow tone to it?

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Monday, August 27, 2012


Recently I had some slides converted to digital from my days of canoe tripping in the wilderness of North Western Ontario between 1990-94.

Thanks Beth at Beyond the Garden Gate for helping me to identify Fireweed, the provincial (territorial?) flower of the Yukon.  It makes sense since we canoed in remote northern Ontario.

I thought of Asters as blooming on meadows, butt this article on eHow says they can grow in bogs and swamps too. 

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Friday, August 24, 2012


Not quite a glamour shot, eh?

When I looked at this space I thought that the line of grass starting between the South Fern Garden and Lily Garden drew the eye up toward the Septic Garden a little bit, but not too much.  
Not enough to serve a purpose.

The "grassy knoll" at the side of the Septic Garden wasn't grassy enough and once I got it in my head, I just had to pick up and move half the grass right away.  Better it be grouped more densely and make some impact with its colour (and prevent erosion on the slope) than connect the two gardens.

 There, isn't that better?

If you are like my husband, the difference escapes you (bless his heart), but I will always be glad I moved it.
The natural leaf mulch covered forest floor between the two gardens will do just fine until I figure out the best way to merge them, but it definitely wasn't with grass.

It only took 15 minutes...hardly a distraction from the planned gardening of the day.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

WILT - People Can't Read Your Minds

I am defeated, and know it, if I meet any human being from whom I find myself unable to learn anything. 
~George Herbert Palmer


Last fall I planted Purple and White Gayfeather (Blazing Star) at the top of the road on the north side, at the slice where our driveway and road meet. Since there is a already a garden of orange daylilies the other side I wanted to balance it (asymmetrically, of course)
Gayfeathers on the North side of the drive balance the weight of these daylilies on the South side.

The problem was, I did not tell my brother in-law and guess what he did?  He was helpful.  He cut down the grasses and weeds up near the driveway.  It is a mystery to me how (since our weed-whacker is electric and the cords do not reach that far), but that is exactly what brothers-in-law are for.
Of course tiny Blazing Stars growing at the side of the driveway rather than in a garden bed look like weeds and down they came.

I know I am not the first gardener to plant something and assume that it will be obvious to everyone else.  I have to admit to a slight annoyance when I saw that they had been clipped, but it quickly passed as I realized where responsibility lay.

In the end, with everything else blooming so early this year, it may end up for the better if it simply delays their blooming period.

Next time I'll remember that people can't read my mind, I swear.


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What I Learned Today (WILT) is a recurring series of posts about those thing I tend to learn over and over, and seem destined to keep repeating.  They tend to be the basics.  The simple things that are not so simple.
Making a record of the error of my ways is designed to help me to kick the habit.
Time will tell.


MACRO MONDAY - Deer Trough

Close up photos tend to be of beautiful blooms, buzzing bees, or both.  In fact next week I will share some just like that.  But this week for Macro Monday let us focus on something different. 
Something that while gorgeous, is facing some challenges. I am a firm believer that as bloggers and gardeners we should celebrate both the challenges as well as the success stories, so let us revisit the planter in my parents font yard.

It is very large and lovely and the scent of the petunias is very welcoming at the front door.

 But someone has been munching on both the Sweet Potato Vine and the Petunias.

 It is either a rabbit or a dear. There are plenty of rabbits.  Really, they are everywhere and I love them.  They may annoy me when I get my hands into my own garden again next year, but for now I still look at them and exclaim excitedly, "hey, another rabbit!" after all, I just moved from downtown Toronto where I did not see a rabbit in over a decade.  This is exciting stuff.
But take closer look.  Does it seem likely that a rabbit jumped up on this concrete planter and munched away?  It seems a little exposed to me and the rabbit would have to be very brave.  
My parents seemed certain that a deer had already trimmed back the sweet potato vine on the lawn side of the wall.  I was skeptical at first, after all there is a busy street not that far away.  While they did not see the deer eat it, they have watched deer munch on their neighbour's garden out their kitchen window for years

Check out the car in the background.  The road is 150 feet away and can be quite busy.  I guess this is what it means to have deer in the city.  We are certainly going to have them in our new garden, I can tell by the chicken wire around a few people's gardens and the abundance of dear in the nearby Assiniboine Park.

A new challenge certainly (even at the Ontario cottage I only had to worry about deer in the off-season), but one I am going to enjoy.
Mark my words.

Friday, August 17, 2012


Along the south side of the cottage, beside the pea gravel path, is a space I am turning into a fern garden.  There is a place on the side deck here that gets later afternoon sun after the rest of the property is in shade, and when you sit there, you look out onto - you guessed it, my fern garden.

The green chairs in the background above is the place to capture late afternoon sun.

And this shot that I took at dusk, towards the end of May, is what you look out on.
The ferns in the foreground are ones that I planted in previous years to form a border and so have had time to adjust and are fuller and more robust.  Ferns in the back have been added more recently and will need time to fill out.

I added about 8 new ferns this summer to flesh out my plans - collected from roadside ditches as usual.  Digging holes in the forest floor is serious business, whew!

I am aiming generally for a triangular shape to draw the eye up to some large rocks in the background.
Why look out on dry brown leaves when the space could be green instead?

I was pretty good at watering the ferns every day after I planted them, but we had 30+ temperatures so it was tough on the transplants.  I will be anxious to see how they come back next year.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012


While in Toronto I spent some time trying to figure out how to increase the number of bulbs in Cabbagetown, particularly on public property, other than my own small bits of Guerrilla Gardening.  I just can't scale on my own to the vision I have in my head of loads and loads of bulbs everywhere.

A fundraiser for schools?  
Good idea but requiring a bulb donor if the school is to make money from it.  As a marketer I know that sponsorship is not impossible, but it takes a lot of time to pull together.  I tossed around some ideas but never got anything off the ground before we moved.

Recently I found this inspiring story on the Wescott neighbourhood in Syracuse NY that has been building up its bulb collection since 2003 -  with excellent community participation I should add.  They raise funds and buy bulbs, then give them away with planting instructions to anyone in the 'hood' who promises to plant them in front yards or public spaces so they can be seen and enjoyed by all.  

This is exactly the kind of thing I had in mind and I hope to get off my butt and make it happen in my new neighbourhood of Tuxedo.

Tuxedo has large properties with expansive lawns and we know that people won't plant the bulbs in their lawns because they need to cut those lawns before the bulb foliage will have matured (to ensure the bulbs have energy to bloom in the following year).

This means I'll have to spend some time figuring out where best to plant 'public' bulbs, but I have lots of time since I am giving myself until next fall to distribute any bulbs.  

A quick Google search turned up a few other interesting projects that I will have to dig into:

Suffice it to say I am inspired. 
I will need to investigate what community organizations are already operating in Winnipeg, such as the Friends of Gardens Manitoba, to see what role I can play.  Maybe I'll need to get the ball rolling, but likely there is already great infrastructure I can plug into.

An exciting part about moving to a new city is discovering what it has to offer.

LAST FLOWERS - German Iris

In a previous post I celebrated the 'first flowers' to make their appearance.  Brave souls eager to have their day.  But I also appreciate 'last flowers', those that wait until you think they are done blooming and then surprise us with a last blast of colour.

This Iris (Versicolor or Virginica?) is one such flower.
This picture was taken on June 29 and about a week after I thought I had seen the last of the Iris.  Remember, everything was blooming early this year.
Whether it will bloom again next year at the same time as the Blanket Flower in the background remains to be seen.

Typically a single Iris among all of the other plants on the Lakefront Garden wouldn't be enough to really catch one's eye, especially when its blooms are so outnumbered by the Sundrops and Daisies.  But when said plant is unexpectedly blooming a single flower can really pop. 

"Good for you!" I say to the plant that goes out with a bang.

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