Sunday, March 31, 2013


Thank goodness after I bought a bunch of plants at the Friends of Gardens Manitoba annual fall sale that I wrote about it so that I have a  record of what I bought. What I meant to do as an immediate next step - but has taken me 6 months - is to map out exactly where I overwintered everything in my parents' garden, so I will be able to find it come spring, which is finally (and slowly) introducing itself to us once again.

Below is everything I bought at the sale.
 Now let us see  how my memory has held out.

We will start with an easy one - the Sempervivum and Mixed Sedum along the west fence, away from the rest of the overwintering lot.  They will go under the large Spruce tree in the front yard.

Mother's Choice peony (x2) will be planted in the front Moon Garden.
Grim Chiloense (x4) for the south lasagna garden
 White Swan Echinacea (x5), also for the front Moon Garden.

Leopard's Bane (x6) for the south lasagna garden.
Blue Hosta (x2). No idea where they are for.

Primula (x 5) will move to the front lasagna garden. Not shown above but in overwintering in the same bed I added the 5 new Blanketflower amongst the 6 I bought from Sage Herb gardens earlier in the summer.

Along  the side of the sunroom we have the two "Red Charm" Peonies for the south lasagna garden,

and a single "Bowl of Cream" Peony for the Moon Garden.

Around the corner we have the Iris. 
(German? Siberian? Japanese? Only time will tell)

Clematis Blueboy and Blue Angel. Not sure where I will put them.
"Broadway Lights" daisies. White for the moon garden.
                                       Iceland Poppies x4 will go into the south lasagna garden.
                                   Rudbeckia Goldstein x 5 will also go in the south lasagna garden.
        The mystery plant? I assume it will be red or yellow and will also end up in the south lasagna garden

Glad to see my pale yellow Foxglove x 2
Judging by the foliage I am guessing Asclepias x6

That leaves me with the following plants unaccounted for in my map:
Bee Balm x3
Goatsbeard x 5 
Heliopsis x 1

I have learned my lesson and next time I will map out my planting immediately, before the details fade...thank goodness I was smart enough to take some photos even if I have been lazy about acting on them.

Friday, March 29, 2013


Today I am sharing photos of the flowers that were blooming in Mexico two weeks ago while I was there on vacation. 

This was a full hedge.





Looks like some kind of Nicotine?

Cool starfish-like flower on a cactus.






Good old Poinsettia


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

SEED PLANTING - which seeds 3 of 3

The Shepherds Scabiosa is a mistake. Looks great but is for zone 5, oops. 
I honestly thought I put it back on the rack but now that I have them I will try direct sowing them as annuals in the front lasagna garden.
The sunflowers are going to go along the back fence - where there is no garden currently.
Yes, I have just committed to adding in more beds before I have even started weeding my existing ones but this one will be very long, very thin and very specific.  Should be easy, right?

What is this white fence if not a 75' long canvass?

Now is my chance, I have never had enough sun to grow Sunflowers before.
I have 7 packs of seeds and no idea how many seeds come in a packet nor how many I will need, though I presume I will need more and they will all be in hues of red.  Most are in the 5-6' range but two packs will produce just 2' tall plants which I will intersperse amongst the others to spread out their glorious blooms, taking full advantage of the clean white backdrop.

1 of 3
2 of 3


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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

NATURE NOTES - new wildlife feeder

During the winter I sometimes share my posts about wildlife gardening from the past summer to the Nature Notes blog party and I wonder if I should not feel guilty since the theme of the meme is looking out into your natural world and reporting back...but in the winter here there is not that much different to report on from week to week. 
"I saw some rabbits.", "I saw some rabbits.", "I saw some rabbits."
Well today is different. I saw rabbits AND squirrels thick as thieves beneath my new 'wildlife feeder' along with some Chick-a-dees at the feeder and a chattering red squirrel on the fence. 
Practically like Snow White's enchanted forest. 

Look closely high right and see the old wooden feeder that I have stopped using and left abandoned, hanging in a most gruesome manner. 
It was so cute.

But look more closely.
The squirrels have been eating their way through it to get to the seed and now it does not sit properly. 

I got rid of the green feeder (that should never have been sold in stores because of its poor design but for some reason is everywhere) and am retiring this wooden one. 
Just the hard core, spring-released, squirrel-resistant metal for me from now on.

Wish me luck.


Monday, March 25, 2013

SEED PLANTING - which seeds 2 of 3

The Moonflower is for the Moon Garden of course where I will climb it up the base of the Liliac tree I have been following in posts though its pruning since our first visit.

The Chocolate Morning Glory is to be trained up the shrub outside the south living room window and perhaps wind its way through whatever it turns out to be.

Both kinds of Peas with edible pods will run along the back chain link fence on the north side, i.e. south facing, so they should get lots of sun.

The Bright Lights Swiss Chard are for their colour which is the palette of my new South facing lasagna garden. If I can learn how to cook it between now and harvest, all the better.

Despite their pic on top of a seed tray, these should all be able to be direct sown. 
If I have the space I may try some of the Moonflower indoors but that is about it from this lot.


SEED PLANTING - which seeds 1 of 3

In this batch I have Blue Flax which I will direct sow in the new front garden. It will not bloom in its first year but there is nothing to be done about that. I am thinking of spreading it out across the entire garden and weeding it back to make room for the other perennials as needed. This may not be a bad strategy to cut back on other weeds in a brand spanking new garden when there is so much soil exposed.
Crazy or inspired?

I also have California Poppies for the new side garden where I want to revel in my love of orange as much as possible. An essentially orange garden with blue accents. Of course I already have bought some reds and yellows for that garden but moving forward I will try my best to really build up the oranges.

All the articles say read your seed packages. But not all seed packages say when to sow indoors. Neither the poppies nor flax mention it. Is it because they can both be direct sown easily?  They say how long to germinate but that is not enough information.

I am only going to sow indoors those that I am not confident in their ability to be direct sown or that I really want a lot of and can not see a cheaper way around it, like Lupins.

"Russel Mix" Lupins are for the cottage where I am making life a bit easier for myself with a mixed colour palette. They will have the feel of a natural wildflower as I mix them in around the boarders of the roads around our cottage where I hope to see them naturalize over the years.

White Shasty Daisy, white Lupins and white Alyssum are all for the Moon Garden between us and our southern neighbour.  The Alyssum I will direct sow; I will try all of the Lupins and half of the daisies indoors and direct-sow the rest.  They are daisies after all and I have seen them grow in the craziest inhospitable roadside environments. They are tough.

2 of 3

Sunday, March 24, 2013

SEED PLANTING - what's next?

Now that I have bought some seeds, what next? 

I have recently read about seed planting in general, and I know enough to know there is a lot I do not know. I need to research when my last frost dates is (May long?), and how long the germination period is in order to figure when to plant and that means I could be planting seeds over the next few weeks where I had initially imagined planting them all at once.

I know I need to learn which ones may need to be nicked, left over-night in water or in the fridge for a week in a wet paper towel. I know they need warmth and moisture more than light at first and that they will need to be hardened for a week before their transplant, which seems like an awful lot of work to me at this point, but people do it. 

The instructions that came with my seed trays suggest placing three in each cup and then thinning. Is that really necessary or their way to sell more seeds? It feels wasteful but with seeds we are already talking about a fraction of the cost of plants so I do not want to cheap out if it is needed.  

Decisions, decisions...opinions welcomed!


My switch this year from working strictly with plants to starting from seed is nothing short of revolutionary for me. A lot to learn and I am very excited to tackle it. 
I just could not afford to add the number of plants and have the impact I want in the first year any other way.
So today I picked up three seed starting kits, some mix, a soil testing kit and some seeds which I will walk you though later, outline where I see them all going and decide which I will start indoors and which I will direct sow.

For now this post is just to celebrate the milestone of getting one step closer to my experiment with growing from seed.  

Let the adventure begin!

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Between our Cabbagetown home's sidewalk and our neighbour's sat a small strip of grass, know simply as "the strip".  Once I had my own small garden more-or-less under control my eyes began to wander and I eyed it greedily. 

July 2007
I was pretty sure that my friendly neighbour had mentioned that he did not like having to mow it and so I screwed up my courage and asked if they would mind if I took it over. "No problem, go right ahead."

April 2010
In the first year, aside from removing all of the grass, I added sprigs of transplanted Periwinkle from Periwinkle Hill and  "Snow Crocus", which I believe are more accurately Species Crocus, the earlier, smaller bloomers.  
Aside from the colourful spring show, the rest of the year it struggled and I worried my neighbours regretted trusting the strip into my care.  At the same time, I had confidence that I would change this hard-to-water island in a sea-of-concrete into a to a continuously-blooming, gorgeous specimen of a small-space garden given enough time... 

 April 2011
 The following year I added more Periwinkle and purple Giant Crocus

I was caught unawares by the size difference between species and giant Crocus. I was disappointed with the slight stature of the early-bloomers. You might correctly point out that the giant Crocus are called "giant" crocus and not 'normal' Crocus, thus I should have expected them to be much larger than other Crocus, but to me (and I suspect many other admirers) they had always just been 'normal' Crocus, naming conventions aside.

I added additional Crocus on both sides of the garden to tie them together, as if the bulbs had naturalized right across or underneath that unforgiving freeway.

May 2013
The following year I added  Windflowers which I thought would bloom after the Periwinkle and extend the blooming season but they blessed the neighbourhood with their very beautiful and strikingly similar shade of purple at the same time.  

We had warm weather early last year that threw bloom times off in general; I will have to check in with my ex neighbours to ask if they bloom concurrently or consecutively this year.

July 2013
When the Windflowers were done blooming I added white Impatiens to fill in the gaps and add some elegant colour for the rest of the summer.  I generally do not plant annuals, but this is such a prominent space that until I knew what I wanted there long term I had to take some short term measures.

And now I have moved, so I never had to make the tough choice between something small and well behaved that could easily be stepped across or something taller and bushier that might even spill into the sidewalks dramatically increasing their separation. A beautifully blooming fence of sorts.

 South facing, it is the brightest space in the garden and despite the touch of class the white adds I planned to replace them for the chance to play with more brightly blooming sun-loving perennials.

How tall would you go, to Rudbeckia heights, or taller? 
The taller, the more dramatic, but you would not want them flopping over after a heavy rain, wetting a smart suit on the short walk to the car. In fact I was always digging up Coneflower seedlings that had managed to fly across the walk and make a home in the strip, for fear they would quickly get too big. 

 What would your suggestion be for late summer colour amongst the Periwinkle?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Four shots previously shown on my blog for Vee's Note Card Party.


Hibiscus (Rose of Sharon)

German Iris with lake in background

Lily-of-the-Valley & Periwinkle


Friday, March 08, 2013


Along with the enormous benefits of having someone else having done all the work, there can be some drawbacks when you inherit a garden.  Chances are the previous artist-in-residence did not share exactly the same aesthetic.

I have always been of the mindset to work with what you are given, it is part of the challenge.  Where I have felt the impact of someone else's conflicting tastes has been with colour selection.

A lot of the flowers in my Cabbagetown garden were pink.
Hardy Geranium front right
Hardy Geranium's blooms are discrete but pink nonetheless

  • Pink Spirea (bottom left) I eventually transplanted to the cottage for its stature as much as for its colour; it was simply too big to be at the front of the garden.
  • And let's face it, a good reason to say 'Echinacea' instead of  "Purple Coneflower" is because the latter is somewhat misleading - the blooms fall more into the pink than purple camp if you ask me.
  • And way in the back some beautifully tall Asiatic Lilies that fell pray to hungry red lily beetles a couple of years ago.
And earlier that spring, this amazing Bearded Iris. Very tall and very sturdy, but for a plant named after the Greek goddess of the rainbow you might think the odds against me getting another pink bloom were in my favour.   
In the back yard the Rose of Sharon on the left was pink.

As was the Weigela.

Unlike Beth at  "Beyond the Garden" gate who has sung the praises of pink in a few  posts, it is my least favourite colour in the garden. Over time I replaced pink plants when they died, moved some to the cottage, and simply added many other colours so it became less prominent.

Every garden I have had, I have inherited and now that I have two blank canvasses (one of them in full sun!) with my new lasagna gardens the planning can sometimes feel quite daunting. One thing is for sure though, there will not be a fraction of the pink in the gardens I will plan from scratch as there were in their inherited predecessors.

I better get back to planning!

Thursday, March 07, 2013


All the photos in today's post are from my "Gardens that Inspire" Pinterest board.  When I post photos there I comment on why I find them interesting and often how they will influence my own gardens. If you enjoy this blog or this post you should find it an interesting browse.
This is exactly the pattern I want to plant some shorter orange daffodils in a see of purple grape hyacinth
Given I am not a fan of pink you may be wondering the reason for this shot.

I do not want grass like this, but the swirl is the exact pattern I have been picturing for the river of daffodils I want running through muscari in my new lasagna garden in the front yard.

No matter how stunning this is,
Muscari River. Google it and you will be surprised how many different variations exist.  All gorgeous.
I want to try something different.

I picture having my garden full of muscari and having the daffodil run up the middle as the 'river'.
In a swirl pattern.

Can you see the two ideas coming together?
 This is exactly the pattern I want to plant some shorter orange daffodils in a see of purple grape hyacinth

Picture brown as muscari / green as daffodils

The daffodil will need to be shorter, luckily there are many kinds to choose from.  I would prefer short and orange but the closest I have seen so far is yellow with an orange cup, like Jetfire I have planted in the back yard.  

Only 8 more months until I can plant them!
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