Friday, August 30, 2013


Never again will I have as much to do in my yard as I have had in my first year here. Getting caught up on years of neglected pruning, adding in new garden beds, moving hedges, reseeding the lawn, the list goes on (and on and on…).

Like many fervent gardeners I know I am lucky enough to have a partner-in-crime in my gardening adventures. My husband Stewart also enjoys being outside in summer and he truly appreciates the fruits of our labours.

While I tackle the garden & landscaping design, plant selection, weeding and pruning, Stewart is a great help with hardscaping and maintenance. To celebrate his birthday today here is a list of just some of the areas he has helped out in our new digs this past season.

Where water pooled at the entrance to our lane he has lifted the stones, added sand and voila, no more wet feet for us or the dogs.

He dug the long narrow garden strip along the back fence being used for sunflowers and corn.

He cuts and waters the lawn regularly which takes a significant amount of time.

He has learned to patch stucco to ensure our ‘cantina’ is looking its best.

He helped to transplant the cedars from our front yard to our back yard, heavy work!

He helped to spread soil in the darkness last fall when I was racing against the first snow of the year.

He regularly picks up the random piles of plant material I leave in my wake while pruning and weeding.

He has packed up dozens and dozens of bags of yard waste for city pick up, including all of the old grape vines and even small trees that have come out of the Moon Garden.

He tackled the unruly hedge in the front yard.

He put in the path to our bench in the Moon Garden.

Lest you think he is just muscle…
He had the idea that painting just a portion of our home could give it a fresh new look .
And then painted the bench to match!

He not only put in all of the lighting (both landscape and Christmas) but he planned out the what and how of it all, just as he did at the cottage.

He had the idea to put ‘weeding stones’ into the garden which give me a way of reaching into the garden without stepping on my plants.

Which I ended up expanding into a path between the back and front halves of the front garden.  
What would I have done without these in a garden bed 20 feet deep?

There is more, but I think you get the gist.

Now you know the secret to how I have been able to accomplish so much in my first year in my new home. 
I am part of team.

Thanks and happy birthday husband, I could not have done it without you!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

NATURE NOTES - frogs again

"Why", you ask?
Aside form an intrinsic love of all of the flora and fauna around our home, frogs are particularly interesting because they are a 'bioindicator'. Their permeable skin makes them susceptible to environmental stresses and a healthy frog population is a good sign of general environmental health.

Once again I found them in our 4 foot deep window well and once again I came to the rescue with a bucket and some string.  Two frogs this time, both of which I released into our Daylilies since at the very lest it they will keep them shaded while we are experiencing some very hot days.
He (she?) may not exactly have been smiling but I feel pretty certain it was much happier in this shot as it started to make its way into the dark, cool, insect-filled world of the daylilies.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

INSPIRATION - sunflower

I like to take my cues in garden design from how the garden naturally evolves when possible, and these Sunflowers which have "volunteered" in the back yard underneath the bird feeder are a great example.

They are inspiring a great new look for next year -- I love their height along with the Bishop's Goutweed.  Next year I will plant 30 sunflower here very early to ensure they get high enough before the Goutweed gets too large, after which they should be fine to get enough sun, just as these have.

I would have though it too shady under this big spruce tree for them, but one cannot argue with nature.

Stay tuned tomorrow for macro close-ups of my sunflowers.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

REPORT CARD - guerrilla gardening

I have been more active with Guerrilla Gardening this year than ever before, and the most important thing I have learned should not actually be a surprise to gardeners: successful gardens require an ongoing commitment.

Below are photos of places I have GG'd with a brief report card on how they are doing.

Last fall I committed to trying to beautify these public tennis courts near my home - and try I did.  I planted Morning Glory seedlings and African Corn Flowers, but none of them seem to have taken root. I suspect what was missing from the equation was regular watering since we had such a hot spring.
Grade: F

Last fall I planted Daylilies on the boulevard outside of our Manitoba cottage and joy of joys, daylilies being as hardy as they are, they have come back very well.  Not too many blooms in their first year but that is to be expected since I divided them into very small individual roots.  
Grade: A 

 This garden outside my workplace is the shining star. It was designed and planted as a team and we have split regular watering duties so it is surviving well in a very harsh urban environment.
Grade: A+ 

At the base of this lone tree in front of a nearby shopping mall I planted Allium Molly, but it may have been too late in the season and perhaps they are staying dormant until next year.  In any case, there is nothing coming up at present.
Grade: F

The soil in these abandoned tree pits was extremely heavy clay. Maybe that was why there were no trees? 

Portage Avenue is one of the busiest streets in town and I got more than a few curious looks while planting Blazing Star, Coneflower and Asiatic Lily bulbs.  
You can see in the "drive by shooting" where two weeks after planting city crews dug up one of them to get at something underneath.  The other two are not doing much better. Clearly regular watering was needed and while I tried to amend the heavy clay soil with some purchased bags of soil, in retrospect more drastic action was probably required including the introduction of some sand.   
Grade: D

At the Manitoba cottage I planted dozens of Lupine along the roadside. As of last weekend they were mostly still alive and growing, but growing very slowly.  The plants are still only 4 inches tall, however they are still alive, and that counts for something!
Grade: B

Last April I posted about my plans to plant Allium at the end of my street, but it never ended up happening. Too much to plant, too little time.
Grade: F

To make  up for my missed Allium commitment I am going to explore adding Crocus inside this stump in the fall. They would be a lovely surprise for people on this public walking path along the river. (I used Allium instead of Crocus)

So my scorecard this year is not that great and I know what I need to do next year to improve it:
recruit more helpers.  
Who knows what could have happened if there had been others to help with the watering?

Lesson learned.

Sharing with Fertilizer Friday


At our Ontario cottage we have a great path that gently winds from the driveway down to the cottage.
When we first moved in it was two feet wide until I discovered it was actually four feet wide and that  Periwinkle had done what Periwinkle is want to do, and migrated over half of the path.

No problem. I dug it all up and transplanted it above the driveway where I am striving to create that same lush look by entirely covering the forest floor with green. 
While the Lily-of-the-valley and Periwinkle are making steady progress, it is slow going given my ultimate goal is to make it feel as though the driveway cuts right through my garden.

Periwinkle being Periwinkle however it was not a one-time job.
It tumbles its way back over the rock border and roots itself once again into the path.

I moved it back up to the top of the hill again where there is plenty of room to keep adding it as the years go by.

I have 'cleaned up' my path and seeded the top of the hill all in one fell swoop.

Which look do you prefer?
The clean path with plants that stop at the border or the more relaxed look, with plants spilling onto and into the path?

Monday, August 19, 2013

REPORT CARD - sun garden

Just over one month ago I shared my detailed plans for the Sun Garden, the garden that is clearly progressing the best with its sunny location.
How is it doing? Let's take a look.

Clearly things are growing well. Lots of rain, lots of sun.

Turns out fertilizing Nasturtium promotes leaf growth not blooming. At least they are hiding the Coneflowers I planted along the edge that the rabbits kept dining on, maybe now they will get an uninterrupted period of growth.
Nonetheless there are some gorgeous Nasturtium blooms making an appearance. 
I cannot believe I have never grown these before. 
I love them.

In the centre of this crowded space (inside yellow oval above) I believe we have orange and chocolate Rudbeckia, but we will have to wait and see blooms to be 100% sure. There are loads of them and I am trying my best to gently jiggle the roots apart and transplant them in any empty spaces in the Sun Garden. 
For example in the above small clump there are seven healthy plants; where they grow extremely close together I pinch the smaller one out so as to not disturb the roots of the other.
The Blanketflower running along the north border are going gangbusters.
The yellow stand-out above is Coreopsis Roulette. A flower I thought was red with yellow stripes but apparently also comes in bright yellow with flecks of red. 
Coreopsis Roulette is seeded mainly throughout the northeast part of the garden and its wispy and airy foliage makes the blooms seem like they are floating. 
Among the volunteer plants I have found are Stonecrop, which I moved to the Alpine Garden, white Dianthus which now lives in the Moon Garden, various Sunflowers, Vinca and these unexpected Pink Petunias.  
Is someone playing a practical joke on me? I am specifically trying to rid my garden of pink.

I planted Crocosmia from corms and from plants - the plants are finishing up their blooming but some of those started 'from scratch' are just about to begin  theirs.

So how do I feel about the Sun Garden? I feel great. It continues to improve with age.  Once the Coreopsis and Rudbeckia start flaunting their flowers it is going to be an absolute riot of joyous colour.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

MACRO MONDAY - asiatic lily

 I love the simplicity of taking all  my shots (macro or otherwise) with my iPhone since I pretty much have it with me at all times, so I went with an Olloclip that pops on and off of my phone with ease.

Here is an Asiatic Lily from my sun garden with my regular lens.

Here is the same flower with my macro lens.

I am thrilled with the results. 

                                              What camera do you use for your macro shots? 


Friday, August 16, 2013


This Maple tree in my neighbour's yard appears to have translucent leaves compared to the Elms towering over it.

It veritably glows.

Sharing with Foliage Follow Up

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

LAKEFRONT GARDEN - what happened?

Upon our arrival at the Ontario cottage a few weeks back we found a portion of the Lakefront Garden - the portion with the greatest variety of plants including Hardy Geranium, Ox-eye Daisies, Iris, Sundrops and of course the garden-defining Daylilies - had been severely cut back on either side of the steps leading down into the water.

An honest mistake by someone trimming the lawn, but still a disappointment.

This is how it looked this year: B-A-R-E
Compared to how it looked at the same time last year.

Most are tough plants and are already coming back but will not be blooming this year.

This is how the rest of the Lakefront Garden currently looks, a mix of (mostly Kwanso) daylilies, Yellow Loosestrife and Sundrops.

I quickly set about remedying the situation by taking the rest of the Sundrops I started to remove from the Lily Garden last year where they were not getting enough sun. They were past blooming but at least they filled in the empty space somewhat. I also added in some Fuscia; though annuals are not normally my cup of tea they are hard to beat when you require immediate colour.

Friends bought me these "Autumn Colours" Rudbeckia which I just love.  I truly hope they take and become a permanent part of the Lakefront Garden where they were a welcome and timely addition. 

Have you ever found an unexpected and drastic change to your own gardens?
What did you do?


Monday, August 12, 2013

MACRO MONDAY - daylily

Today's photos were all taken of this "Strawberry Candy" daylily within seconds of each other. 


I find it very interesting the way the colour varies from pink to purple depending on the angle of the light.

I prefer seeing some of the yellow interior over a shot of just the petals.

Quite different looking if we ignore the petals altogether.

Too bad these two are ever so slightly out of focus.

 And of course one must give the pollen its due.


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