Sunday, June 30, 2013

WEEKEND FLOWERS - gaillardia

I have eleven Blanket Flowers beginning to bloom in my Sun Garden; this one is aptly named "Arizona Sun".

This one is called "Red Sun", equally appropriate for the Sun Garden. 

Sharing with Today's Flowers, Floral Friday FotosWeekend Flowers & I Heart Macro & Macro Monday 2

Thursday, June 27, 2013

BEAUTIFUL GARDEN - wildflower wednesday

Yesterday was the first day I actually stopped in my tracks as I approached my Sun Garden and thought to myself  'hey, this is really starting to look beautiful'.
On the right hand side we see plants that were here before me and on the left a new garden bed that I put in last year.

Given it is my first year here I am just learning what is on the right and it does not include a lot of wildflowers. With that said in the upper right you can see a whole lot of Heliopsis Helianthoides which I am quite happy to have and should do well in our clay soil.

On the left I have planted all kinds of wildflowers such as Correopsis, Blanket Flower, Coneflower, Flax, Lupine and Columbine; so far Blanket Flower "Arizona Sun" is the only wildflower blooming so next month the pics should be much more colourful.

Even though there is still much work to be done and much more to fill in and bloom, I hope you will agree with me that we have reached a tipping point and the garden has moved into "beautiful" territory.

Sharing with WildFlower Wednesday & Outdoor Wednesday & Fertilizer Friday

Monday, June 24, 2013

MACRO MONDAY - peony revisited

As you may know, I am not a fan of pink in the garden, so I have been carefully monitoring the four Peonies the previous owners left in my garden to see how they will turn out.
Last week they were still looking red but as they get closer to blooming they are looking more and more pink. But a deep pink, not a light and frilly pastel pink.  The kind of pink I will be able to live with. Considering there are four peonies all the same, that not many other plants that came with these gardens, and how long these plants can live for, it would be a shame to give them 'the old heave ho'.


Last week I wrote about dividing lilies in the side garden and the other day I did it again in the back garden.
I did not make plans for the back gardens. All the hours I spent this winter imagining, researching and planning were dedicated to the front gardens. Funny that, considering we will spend more time in the backyard than front.

Once I had the font more or less planted I could not help but shift my attention to the rest of the yard and walking past those four clumps of lilies and that massive clump of daylilies was beyond me. I can see that they have not been divided in...well perhaps ever, and with a little help they could actually fill the whole side garden.

Both the daylilies and asiatic lilies are from the previous owners and while perhaps I should have waited to see what colour they are so that their move would be to their permanent home, I just could not wait.  They needed to spread their wings.  Now.

Step 1 - get the tarp. Trying to get all of the soil out of the lawn is a lost cause, best to avoid it from the outset.
Step 2 - survey your riches.  Breaking everything apart gives a good idea how much you have to plant, but I have found that the roots can dry out quite quickly once the soil is removed so I try and eyeball the volume while they are still in clumps to get an idea of density and spread.
Step 3 - knock of some dirt and jostle the root systems between your hands. With slow and gentle teasing it is possible to break them apart and leave them in good health.
Step 4 - plant and water

Now look at how the whole garden is filled to the brim with these lilies. Picture it again in three years - overflowing with blooms I predict.

 While I love daylilies, they are common and I have loads of them so the other lilies are the priority here; most of the daylilies were moved around the corner.

I just hope these lilies are not pink.

Sharing with Tips 'n Tricks Tuesday
Blooming Tuesday & Garden Tuesday

Saturday, June 22, 2013

TRANSITION - purple to white

Blue and purple garden on the right, white Moon Garden on the left.
Currently the purple Iris mixed with pansies work well, but it could be better

I will replace those purple Iris with these ones from the Sun Garden.

  Purple and white. Perfect transition.

Then I will move these rich purple Iris into the sun garden where they will provide a nice contrast to the the bright sunny colours.

In the middle around the entrance we have purple & white pansies,  purple pansies and purple violas in the planters. Then before jumping completely into white, purple has a last hurrah with the Allium which are set off against the hedge.  Under the Allium I have planted seeds for a low-growing white ground cover and then it really is off to the races, all-white all-the-time.

What do you think? A subtle and effective transition? 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


The other day I wrote about being shocked at seeing some daffodils coming up amongst plants that would normally follow after they are done blooming, but are now competing directly for sunlight due to the season's late start.  Well, today I am a little less shocked. Aside from the fact that I found some others in the front yard, I have turned up 7 instead of just the two I initially spied. 
Of course I grabbed my secateurs and trimmed back all the taller Goutweed surrounding each bloom to show them off to full effect. It looks quite nice. The only problem is that I planted 50 bulbs under that tree and I wish I knew why more have not turned up, because it looks so good that I am tempted to try a second time unless someone can explain why they might now work there:
- too acidic under a Spruce?
- I had 6 yards of soil dropped there last fall, are they buried too deep, but if so, would the Goutweed come up? 
- Is the Goutweed too aggressive for it and the bulbs to survive together?
Did I plant too late? I did plant quite late...

Any thoughts on what might have gone wrong with this idea are welcome.
If we cannot come up with anything together I am willing to spend another $30 to try and achieve the look I am going for again next fall.

Sharing with Blooming Tuesday 

Monday, June 17, 2013

MACRO MONDAY - allium 3

This is the third week in a row I have featured the same Allium.
This week we focus in on just one of the many individual flowers that make up an Allium sphere.

 Last week they were out but not yet open.
Two weeks ago they were just announcing their intent to bloom.

Sharing with Macro Monday 2 & Today's Flowers

MACRO MONDAY - pansy face

It is amazing how closely the inside of a Pansy resembles a face.

A clown wearing pancake make-up, but still a face.

Sharing with Macro Monday 2

Saturday, June 15, 2013

DAILY DISCOVERY - garden bloggers bloom day

It is incredibly energizing and exciting to have plants that came with our new home last fall reveal their true selves. Every day there are new blooms in the garden and considering that I have colour themed garden beds I am very eager to see where these plants are going to fit. 

With the peonies for example, red is a colour I can work with and in fact some are already growing in the perfect spot!

With the Iris I again lucked out with colours that will work well in my new gardens.
Once they are done blooming I will switch these two colours because the white/purple will be absolutely perfect to transition between the white and purple gardens!

The Dianthus has pink blooms so it will be moved out of my garden to my parent' garden, but what can you expect from a flower nicknamed "pinks"?

So all in all, not too bad in terms of finding spots for most plants that were here already.


Is "corporate guerrilla gardening" an oxymoron? I do not believe so.  In fact I got my whole company involved in taking over an unsightly and unloved slice or dirt between the sidewalk and parking lot beside our building.  
Walking past this every day did nothing for anyone's morale.
I pitched the concept to my boss who approved our $350 budget - hence the "corporate" in corporate  guerrilla gardening - and then purchased the bulk of the plants in support of the not-for-profit I have started up, The Winnipeg Bulb Project.  

We typically have had summer BBQs at work and this year I injected a little gardening love into it. There were already some serious gardeners at work whom I recruited as team captains to help with garden design, shopping and leading groups on planting day: one for garden bed/soil prep, one for the stone stairs and three others for planting.
With such a dramatic slope we removed some of the old soil before amending it with manure and topsoil so that it would not be too high and run down into the sidewalk in the rain.  Once we were ready we brought out the bulbs and plants first and then followed with the annuals to pretty it up and give everyone a sense of immediate gratification.
 It was amazing how many people had never gardened and were nervous, and yes in fact some people did place their plants upside down at first, but one of the great things we accomplished was getting people's hands dirty and showing them how easy it all can be. We also accomplished this as a team which feels great.
I had some old fencing to contribute to keep people from walking through it and we even built the steps at one end to facilitate people cutting through to the parking lot. Our office is not in the best neighbourhood or prettiest street but I hope we send a message that anywhere can be improved with a little love and effort. 

I know we have got people talking in the building next door and we have had lots of positive comments - and surprised looks - from folks in the neighbourhood.  And while people already think it looks great they have not seen anything yet!

With time Stella D'Oro daylilies, Blazing Star, Mixed Coneflower, Allium 'Molly' and Hardy Geranium will make their appearance, joining those Ninebark shrubs and petunias.

I'll be sure to chart our progress as summer marches on.

Sharing with Fertilizer Friday.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


It may be too early to tell for certain but I am getting confident that the four peonies that were here before us are all the same, and that they are red. 

I will wait to be sure but then move them after blooming to the South Lasagna Garden where they will be perfect.  Another example of grouping - why on earth are the four peonies each in a different garden? By simply grouping them (in the best location) I will dramatically increase their overall presence.
 It could turn out still that they are pink, the one colour I do not want them to be.

As each day passes and the red does not fade I get more excited and more hopeful. 

I planted the Red Charm peonies I bought at last fall's local perennial sale right across the path from these existing peony without even knowing it, so even their placement will be perfect if they remain this dark.
Wish me luck.

GREAT NEWS - they are not pink

Great news. The Iris that came with our property appears to be purple. This shot is just of the tip, visible only yesterday. I have been on pins and needles hoping that they are not pink, which was the case with my last home.  
Once they are done blooming they can all be transferred to the front purple and blue garden to join the 1/3rd  I already moved there in April.

Sharing with Outdoor Wednesday

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I do not know any other way to describe how I felt when I saw two little Jetfire Daffodils poking up amongst the Goutweed today.  I had stopped expecting that the 50 daffs I had planted beneath the back spruce were going to make an appearance. 
Jetfire are relatively short daffodils and some may bloom entirely below the Goutweed this year, but those that show themselves are set off quite nicely against their companion's white and green foliage.
Upon closer inspection I could see a few other Jetfire a few days from blooming but none of the taller Pimpernel towards the back were apparent.  But if two can come up, and the other hundred have come up, then there is still hope for more.

Next year, assuming we do not have another delayed spring, the daffodils should bloom in advance of the Goutweed which will then cover their dying leaves. At least that was my plan...

Sharing with Nature Notes & Garden Tuesday

Monday, June 10, 2013

MACRO MONDAY - alluim 2

I treated myself to a new Olloclip camera lens for iPhone that includes a macro.  Today you can see the difference between what I was able to capture this week vs. last week with the same Allium bloom.
I love it.

You can check out some macros of daffodils I posted yesterday as well.

Sharing with Macro Monday 2 

Sunday, June 09, 2013


Playing with my new macro lens this weekend. Only because I blogged about it last year do I have any idea what these are called - thank goodness I started keeping track!  How else does one stock up on the things they like otherwise?  
These are in my order of preference. 

Not only does spring arrive later in Winnipeg than Toronto, but Winnipeg is at least three weeks behind where it normally is.  That I have daffodils that still have not bloomed yet is amazing to me.

Red Devon


Friday, June 07, 2013


photo: David Driscoll
 Three years ago I dug up the Iris due to an infestation of Iris borers, cut off the dead parts, washed them and transplanted them with much more space compared how crowded they were when I started. The pinks were already there and I brought in the purples to tone them down given how I feel about pink flowers.  They did not bloom that much the next year and after a little research I learned that it takes them a while to get back to their full glory after being moved.

I rely on my old Toronto neighbours to keep me up to date on how my old garden is progressing and thankfully they have shared this photo with me that clearly demonstrates that I just needed to be patient.  The Iris are back and better than ever before. 
Much better in fact.


Wednesday, June 05, 2013

SPREAD THE LOVE - dividing lillies

With a new property I am spending about 1/2 of my time on my large new garden beds and 1/2 of my time weeding, pruning and otherwise getting a handle on the existing flora.
My idea was to spend all of my time on my new beds, and aside from maintenance, leave the existing beds until next year.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Not likely as it turns out.
I just cannot walk past something every day when I see how it could look better.

Let us take the above portion of the south garden as an example.

The Thyme I moved into the Alpine garden where it will fit in better with the overall dry look.  
The Dianthus I have left for now until I can see what colour it is
Ditto for the Peony, it will all depend on the colour, so I must leave it until it blooms.
The random plants are likely weeds, but I am best to wait and confirm and the Iris need to show me their colours before I decide where they will live on.

The Lilies on the other hand, they clearly needed to be divided - and the sooner the better.  
 Just look at that big clump!  It was quite easy to gently tease them apart.  The plants that were having to grow out to the side and then up will be particularly happy with the change.
From one clump taking up only one square foot I separated out about 10 good sized plants (and a couple of very small ones) which will fill in to take up much more space.
 There now, that is much better.  

Bigger at the back, smaller at the front.
Maybe I should have waited until I understood what colour they are, but if I need to move them again I can.  Lilies are easy that way.

Now they have room to breathe.

Sharing with Outdoor Wednesday

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

NATURE NOTES - mallard duck

I just had to take a snap of the Mallard ducks hanging out in my neighbour's driveway yesterday.  We are close to the river but it was still quite a surprise.

Sharing with Nature Notes


I wish I had a slow motion camera set up to track this bloom opening over time. Today is the first I have seen any hint of purple on the Allium; it is fascinating to see how they develop.

I am going to buy an external camera lens for my iPhone because these macros are not quite the quality I want.  Stay tuned next week!

Sharing with Macro Monday 2

Sunday, June 02, 2013

WEEKEND FLOWERS - flowering trees

Regular readers know this is our first spring in our new home.  Each day there are new surprises like daylilies in the Moon Garden  and a sprinkling of peonies in odd places around the property.
One of the nicest surprises is not in our yard at all but in our neighbours. 
When it comes to your view though, what does it matter whose yard a plant is in as long as you can see it?
 And in this case, also smell it. 
 Perhaps these are crabapples? In any case they are right behind us across the back lane and they are divine. 

Thanks neighbours!


PRUNING THE VINE - advice taken!

Taking crowd sourced advice from my readers here and on Facebook I liberally pruned our grape vine last night.  What a thrill!
(Summer 2012)
No, literally, I mean it. I love pruning.

  While I had already started to remove some of the thicker vines this is as pretty decent "before" photo.  
Getting rid of the dead parts that could bring disease is important and afterwards it looks lighter and cleaner.

It should move it from being somewhat heavy and oppressing to looking like a floating garden in the sky.
Do not worry, the biggest healthiest vine is actually in the foreground, it has just not leaved out yet; this will get greener than it looks. I promise.

Last summer it looked like there were lots of healthy vines but this spring it became apparent that the biggest thickest ones were dead. It also turns out I was literally able to "push" the remaining vines over the top and bring them further out above the seating area and have them less sitting on top of the wall.
The walls do not need to be vine covered as long as the vines create a roof of sorts over the seating area.  Next: dig up all of that nasty Creeping Bellflower and plant some Morning Glory seeds. 

Summer 2012
Spring 2013

Most of what was there was dead and is gone but a fair number of healthy vines remain.  It will be absolutely fascinating to watch things progress. 

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