Tuesday, May 28, 2013

PRUNING THE VINE - advice required!

This time I need help with one of the key features of the yard: the Cantina
In particular the glorious grape vine. How do I prune it? 
Instructions on pruning a grapevine all seem to be designed to maximize production for wineries, which is not necessarily what I want to achieve here. 
In fact, I want bushy, even at the expense of grapes.
Even still, a serious pruning is in order.

Like the rest here it has not been touched in years and my natural inclination is to first cut off all of the dead stuff, and therein lies the problem - there is a LOT of dead stuff. So much so that I worry it plays the role of lattice for the overhanging vines. 
If I cut too much back will it drape down? 

I do not care that it will be more more open to the sky, it is private here and it will fill in eventually and we will learn how we prefer it.
So the question is, how much of the dead stuff can I cut back? Are there any limits? Shall I proceed cautiously and take off as much as I can and still leave a skeleton framework of support?

That is my plan for now but any and all advice is welcome.


While lots of articles about guerrilla gardening talk about taking over neglected urban spaces, I often find myself straying from my gardens to the nearby boulevard.
This dead tree was really preventing much of anything from growing up to fill the void it left.

Step 1: Remove all of the dead stuff. Well, almost all. The trunk can stay since it was really the branches that made up most of the volume as you can see.
Steps 2: Plant something in the newly created open space.  I chose Lupins because they will self seed and choosing something low maintenance is part of a successful guerrilla gardening strategy.

If your hose does not reach your location look for plants that can withstand some dryer conditions; Lupins fit the bill nicely. Short term we have rain forecast all week; only the gardeners are happy.

Sharing with Nature Notes.

Monday, May 27, 2013



  Digging into the lasagna garden last week for the first time was a welcome experience. The soil was amazing, better than I have ever gardened with before; my plants are going to be very happy.

A blend of compost, soil, clay, composting debris, peat; a bit stinky in fact.

Whomever described the garden as composting over the winter did not live with 5 months of frozen Winnipeg winter!

Above is a shot of what the south lasagna garden looks like after I removed the cedars, at least the taller cedars that is. I am going to leave the globe cedars there for the time being and see how they look. They may need to be moved if the soil is too high around them, but that is low on my priority list at the moment.  For now I just hope they appreciate the amazing soil.


At the cottage this weekend I stumbled on small crocus in the back garden bed by the bunk house that I had completely forgotten I had planted in the fall.  
So this little cutie was a welcome surprise.

Sharing with Macro Monday

Sunday, May 26, 2013

WEEKEND FLOWERS - moon garden

Today we pay special attention to what is coming up in the Moon Garden.

This Giant Crocus is different than most with its 5 pointed star shape.

These rounded petals are what most of my Crocus look like.

This is the first of  200 daffodils to bloom that I planted in the fall, 100 of them in the Moon Garden.


Saturday, May 25, 2013


Properly hardening off plants seemed like so much work before I started growing plants from seed this year that I almost did not try it. Keeping track of 'one hour today and two hours tomorrow', 'shade then sun' is simple to understand but hard to execute on a busy schedule.

To really understand when a plant is ready to make the move outside I experimented.  I am growing MoonFlower at the base of the Japanese Lilac I have been following through the seasons (below).
Two nights ago I planted the first of my precious seedlings. A Moon Flower. It went down to 5 degrees but the little fella survived fine, so last night I added another two around the base and tonight I planted the remaining three along the nearby hedge and fence along the border of the Moon Garden.

Oh, and I left out my seedlings all day in the sun and all night (down to 3 degrees) and they appear to be fine -  so I guess they are officially hardened off enough. It was not as much work as I had thought and I am thrilled with how many plants I have for the money.

Now to plant them and see how they adapt to the garden...clear my schedule!

Sharing with Fertilizer Friday

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Forecasted rain continuing for the next few days is a great time to get some things in the ground to lessen the burden of watering after transplanting. Granted that means gardening in the rain, but no matter how sweet we may appear, we are not made of sugar so we will be fine.
Will neighbour's think we are crazy? We have already established what they think.

Yesterday we started our current 'really big project' - making our cedar hedge.  

We are transplanting the small cedars spread across the sidelines of our property for a number reasons:
1) the currently are in the middle of the Moon Garden (above) rather than at the back where their height dictates, so we need to move them in any case in order to reclaim that whole garden
2) to enclose the backyard and separate it from the driveway (below) 
2) the cedars get lost strung out across great distance and my favourite design theory to apply when taking on a new garden is Proximity - they will have much greater impact grouped together 
 It is wet, messy, rewarding work but with my husband willing to help it goes much faster.
Wish us luck!

Sharing with Nature Notes & Outdoor Wednesday

Monday, May 20, 2013


In the past couple of weeks I have been to two plants sales. Nothing against large suppliers (they can have great prices on common plants and one-year guarantees from Lowe's and Home Hardware are great), but there is something I like about supporting local horticultural groups.

The Friend's of Garden's Manitoba annual Mother's Day sale was last weekend. I had such success at the fall sale that I was very eager for this one but it was not nearly the same success for me.

My best deals were the three large white Bleeding Hearts for $10 each that my brother and sister in-law got us to commemorate the passing of one of our dogs the other week.  A great idea. 
I will not dwell on Gus' passing here but  if you would like to read an obit my husband wrote for him you can do so here. Be warned you may want tissues near.
Other purchases at the Friends' sale include:
- 1 sedum for the Alpine Garden ($6)
- White Monkshood for the Moon Garden ($6)
- 3 delightful Orange Iris for the South Lasagna Garden (SLG) ($6/each)
- 2 Honeyberry bushes to add some structure to the SLG ($14/each)
- 2 Maltese Cross ($3/each) which I believe are red for the SLG
- Sea Holly ($3) adding to the blues in the Front Lasagna garden (FLG)
I found their fall sale to be better last year because there were many more divisions from members and racks and racks of plants started from seed for the sale, both leading to rock bottom prices when I was looking to buy a lot of plants. 

The City of Winnipeg Living Prairie Museum native plant sale was held this weekend and I was there straightaway after work on Friday to get my hands on some native flowers. Prices were good at $3/plant compared to the $6 price tag for most perennials at the Friends' Mother's Day sale.

Their plants were grown in a greenhouse, so like the seeds I have started indoors they will require a period of hardening off before planting.
Native Wildflowers I bought in support of this important living museum include:
- 3 wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), red and yellow for the south lasagna garden
- 3 blue columbine, (likely Colorado Columbine but we will have to wait and see), for the FLG
- 5 New England Asters (Aster novae-angliae) for the FLG
- 3 Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) also for the FLG
- 1 packet of Ground Plum seeds for the Alpine Garden 
- 1 packet Blue Eyed Grass (actually an Iris) for the FLG, to be sown in the fall 

And the winner is...

Both sales were well run and the people very friendly. Friends of Garden's Manitoba was much larger with much more variety including annuals, shrubs and even some veggies, but with my goal of creating a certified butterfly wayside the native plants and their prices make the Living Prairie Museum sale the winner. 
At least for this year. 

And the great news is that the sale continues on Sundays through June, so what  are you waiting for? get off your tush and buy some native plants!

Sharing with Wildflower Wednesday

Sunday, May 19, 2013

FLORAL FRIDAY - iris in bloom

This gorgeous orange Iris is one of three I bought at the Friends of Gardens Manitoba annual Mother's Day Sale last weekend and put into the south lasagna garden. 
This little fella is one of the first of 50 early blooming miniature Iris I planted in the fall and I am thrilled to see him, a harbinger of blooms to come.

Sharing with 
Floral Friday Flowers & Orange You Glad Fridays & Today's Flowers

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Two weeks ago while on a business trip to Toronto I could not help but drive by my old place to see how it is doing.  While I do not feel nostalgic about the house I cannot help but still feel as if the garden is mine.
I am glad to see it alive and well. 
Crocus already done, daffodils in their glory along with the Periwinkle and Grecian Windflowers, and everything else coming along nicely. 

It is hard to imagine how busy I kept with such a small space. 
Will I need ten of me to keep all the gardens at my new property in order?

Sharing with Weekend Flowers

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Today was moving day.
About two thirds of the plants I had stored in my parent's garden over the winter came home with me tonight. I focussed just on plants for the south lasagna garden, where all of the oranges, reds and yellows will go.

I always place all of the plants first to give myself a chance to change my mind after I see them all out together. The big change I did at this phase was to move the Honeyberry bushes into the centre because I did not realize how much a 125 cm spread really was until I got out the tape measure - I don't want them hanging into the driveway.

Finally all ready to go, for today at least.  
Believe it or not I managed, with the help of my nephew, to get them all planted and watered before dark.  
Watch for a map in the coming week before I forget where everything has gone!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

GARDEN BLOGGERS BLOOM DAY - first bloom of the year

Last year I planted about 500 blubs at my new home. I planted them relatively late since we did not even move in until October 15th.  

A friend this winter advised that I might not see too many of them with such a late planting date.  On the other hand we had a wonderfully insulating blanket of snow from Nov 11 to well past April 11.  

In other words, it is anyone's guess.
Here is the very first bloom. 
A Crocus with an Allium (well on its way) as backdrop.

Sharing with Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY - signs of spring II

 May 12th

May 9th


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

THE ALPINE GARDEN IS IN - cast your vote

Despite the fact that the Farmer's Almanac states that our last risk of frost date is May 25th, and despite a Winnipeg tradition of not putting in plants until the May long weekend (i.e. this coming weekend), but with a forecast low of only 9 degrees over the next week I have rolled the dice and begun to plant.

It has been a long winter and I am impatient. I cross my fingers that is not a 'lethal combination'.

 These "Hens 'n Chicks" were overwintered in my parent's garden. You can see they are still in their pots so the roots would not be disturbed in their temporary home.  It amazes me that succulents can survive -35 degree temperatures.

 Under the large Spruce in the front of the house is where I am putting the Alpine garden. Despite being under a large tree it appears it will get a fair amount of light in the afternoon.  Granted I have not been here yet for a summer, but as I said earlier, I am willing to roll the dice.

After reading up a bit for my post on my parent's amazing front porch planter and discovering some of the trends in trough gardening I decided to mound some soil between a few of the bigger rocks to create small hills for added interest.  in the pic above I have mounded the one on the right and am about to make another on the left.
 I have mixed Goldmoss Stonecrop and Sempervivum on each mound and behind the one on the right I planted 5 pots of mixed succulents from last year's "Friends of Gardens Manitoba" Fall Perennial Sale.

I written before about the importance of "dressing" your garden after planting. Can you see how there are pine needles, pine cones and such sprinkled between the plants?  I do not like the look of a newly planted garden. I want my neighbours to wonder if I did not in fact plant these in the fall.

To be honest I am not sure that I should have planted them mixed like this or reserved one mound each for each type of plant. I am tempted to move them, after all I am a perennial gardener and that is part of what we do, is it not?

Before I do anything hasty I would love some crowd-sourced feedback - what would you do?
 Leave it or change it? 
Cast your votes.

Sharing with Nature Notes

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Where driveway meets laneway I planted some Foxglove last year. Part of my 40 year plan to create  blooms all over the property and not just in garden beds. Over the years my hope is that they naturalize well beyond the initial five. 
I am thrilled to see that they are looking very healthy. 
 I have no idea if they bloomed last year because we had left the cottage by then, but I have my fingers crossed that with the later start this season that they might still be in bloom when we return in mid July.  
On the other side of the road I planted three Lupin last year and found two of them looking strong and healthy. Unfortunately we will definitely miss these blooms, but as long as someone sees them I will be happy. Here again the hope is that these will naturalize over time all along the roadside.

I have planted daffodils on the other side of the road, away from the water, to give us a reason to get up and into the woods in the spring before the bugs or the leaves are out.
The continuation of the dry creek bed up into the forest looked great and it did not even need raking! Next week there will be more daffs blooming on other side to highlight it, but even without them I still find it a nice subtle touch.

And the original lasagna garden that I cut corners on and have been curious about?
Despite the fact that it is completely under water at the moment there are signs of life.
I just cannot tell which of the Daisies, Viper's Bugloss or Chicory is coming back, so the suspense continues. 

At the base of the old broken tree I added a few Crocus and Siberian Squill and that clump on the right is a Chinese Wisteria. I hope it does not mind the cold bath. 

Amazingly these are actually growing under the frigid water and by the time the water dropped a few inches over the course of the weekend the Crocus were actually in bloom.

Nature finds a way.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

RAKE IT BABY, RAKE IT - a visit to the ontario cottage

Last weekend my husband and I, both on business trips to different cities, were able to meet at our cottage in Ontario for an unexpected weekend with friends.  

Big property and only a few days - where to start?
With a rake.

Part of the magic of Periwinkle Hill is that for most people it does not look like a garden, it just "is".  But of course us gardeners know that if I did not rake the Periwinkle it would eventually suffocate. Horrors!
Next week the Periwinkle will bloom and then of course the Kedron daffodils will follow the Trumpets, the ferns will unfurl and on the season will progress.

Tip: keep a bud vase with you when raking through daffodils. Some always snap, even under my tender touch with the rake, and into the vase they go, ready to spread their spring cheer inside.

And the dry creek bed?
Right where we left it.  
Raking the moss border of the creek is even more delicate work than raking Periwinkle.  

And while we are on the topic of raking stones, this shot makes it clear that it is worth it although at first it may seem excessive.
Do you not agree the raked stones really add something?

I put a fair amount of work into lining the sides of the gravel path with moss, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Red Trillium by the hundred and ferns by the dozen.
Without a good raking all but the pushiest Trillium are hidden.

Raking Trillium is the most delicate work of all because breaking off even a single leaf can cut the life of the early blooming spring beauties short.  
After a few hours the connection between the path, creek bed and Periwinkle is once more clear.

Sharing with Fertilizer Friday

Thursday, May 02, 2013


In a previous post I shared this pic of how overgrown the backyard to our Cabbagetown place was when we first moved in.
Initially I thought our neighbour's garage was too big and overshadowed the gardens. Friends quickly pointed out that if gave us a great degree of privacy, and they were right. I grew an overnight appreciation for it but I never thought it looked quite right. I wanted to plant something growing up it but I was timid about asking the neighbours who we otherwise had never had any contact with.

Then a "For Sale" sign went up! The house quickly sold and sat empty for a very short while. I probably should not admit it, but I struck while the house was empty. I figured new neighbours would not know how long a vine had been there, if they ever noticed at all.
In more recent years I have been good about getting my neighbours permission when required and it has worked out well but since on this occasion I was chickening out I was especially careful to not cause any damage. I used a simple threadlike landscaping netting and simple thumb tacks to secure it.  
Who could have a problem with thumbs tacks?

In the three years since, the Silver Lace vine has grown rapidly and pretty well covered up the garage. It does not bloom much because of the shade from the massive Norway Maple but that is fine, it was meant to cover up the garage and it is doing its job splendidly.

I wonder if you all engage with your neighbours about your gardening every time you should, or if am I alone in my naughtiness?

Sharing with Outdoor Wednesday

Posts from the Past