Sunday, October 27, 2013


We are very lucky with all of our neighbours and my northern neighbours are no exception. Not only are they interested in gardening but lucky for me they are also kind, having given me the stones I used to edge the Sun Garden.

These two round beds are on their property and I have now "gardened" them both:
A) I needed to remove Daylilies that were towering over and spilling into my Blue Garden, the ring on the left was empty and it seemed serendipitous. Even if they do not bloom (due to all the towering elms and blue spruce), the height of their foliage will be a nice change and add some structure.

B) Last fall when we moved in there was a scrubby shrub at the base of the tree on the right that I cut back (with permission).  Today at its base I added a whole whack of Lily-of-the-Valley I removed from the original Sun Garden.

A & B) To each ring I also added 50 daffodil bulbs I found in my garage a few days ago that I had completely forgotten about. I mixed the two types together in one large box, both white and 16" tall, "Ice Follies" is an early bloomer and "Pink Pride" is mid season. I hope mixing the salmon in with the yellows will bring out its orange tones over its pinks. 

The white daffs were originally destined for my own Moon Garden, but with a hundred to plant and the season rapidly changing I did not have time to dig individual holes amongst the perennials; I needed to find somewhere I could dig pits with my spade rather than my trowel.

Today's work was done without permission. A new step in the development of my relationship with my neighbours but one I am confident they will be okay with.  I do not know if they saw or not, part of me hopes it will be a nice surprise come spring.

[November update with good news.  Here is a response from my neighbour: "What a nice surprise! You're more than welcome to intrude so creatively into our space."]

Have any of you ever taken on gardening with or for your neighbours?


Sunday, October 20, 2013

MACRO ASTER - shifting light

Despite being macros it is not the detail in the shots of this tall purple Aster from my Monet Garden that I want to draw your attention to.

It is the colour.
They were taken immediately one after the other but from a slightly different angle that changed the lighting and changed the colour. 

I love this reminder that we are dependent on our senses, our senses in turn dependent on their inputs.  
The flower did not change between photos. 
I changed.

A simple metaphor for much of life.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013


For this GBBD I am not showing photos of my garden, but rather the English Garden at Assiniboine Park, which is a glorious park running alongside the river a stone's throw from where I live.

Bigger than even New York's storied Central Park, Assiniboine Park has many different gardens a zoo and a butterfly conservancy.  Come spring there will be an amazing display that I will share but for now let us marvel over how many beautiful flowers are still in bloom this later in the season.

 A very English Garden indeed.

 Foxglove still in bloom was an unexpected treat.

 While not generally a fan of pink I found this variegated Stonecrop to be awesome.

 I have two Monarda in my garden, how many dozen do you think are here?

 Big paths and big garden beds, this is a garden on a grand scale.

 The Nicotiana in my garden are about 12" tall vs. these large 3' specimens.

 You would not guess ;October' by looking at these plants.

Fall brings its own special colours to the gardens even after many of the summer's blooms have faded.

Sharing with Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Monday, October 14, 2013


 These shots taken at the family cottage on Lake Winnipeg serve to remind me that while gardens can be beautiful, man-made creations certainly do not have a lock on beauty.

We only need look to nature where we can often see a different kind of beauty.
A less manicured and less 'designed' beauty.

One that nonetheless has something to teach us about design - after all, who put those tall grasses in back and that shorter, bright red accent plant in front?

Sharing with Tuesday Garden Party, Garden Tuesday, Nature Notes & Foliage Follow Up

Friday, October 11, 2013

MACRO - flax

In my front lasagna garden I have planted many blue and purple flowers and I had dreams of blue perennial Flax filling in all of the space between them with its delicate blue flowers that float on the wind.

And they would have too, had the garden gotten as much sun as I had bet on.

Instead I have hundreds of small, frail strands of 'baby flax' that are not even close to blooming. The exception is at the north end of the garden where they receive more light.  Here I found a few that were larger and actually had blooms on them.  Funny thing about the blooms though is that I never saw them open, they always looked like they do in the shot above.
Day or night.

Has anyone else had experience with blooms that do not actually seem to bloom?

Sharing with Floral Friday FotosWeekend FlowersVery CloseMacro Monday 2, Today's Flowers

Sunday, October 06, 2013

MACRO - bachelor's button

When I talk about wanting more blue flowers in my front Monet Garden this is what I am talking about.

This Centauree "Jubilee Gem" is one I sowed directly into my front lasagna garden this past spring. The plants are much taller than the 6" the packet predicts. I daresay they are 'leggy'; my entire front garden gets less sun than predicted. 

Today for the first time I smelled one and was pleasantly surprised.  I have been feeling the pressure of much to do before the cold weather sets in and this gentle reminder of the value of literally stopping to smell the flowers was most welcome.

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Saturday, October 05, 2013

WINNIPEG BULB PROJECT - the big day is here

Today is the big day for the first-annual bulb giveaway for the Winnipeg Bulb Project, my new 'pet' project, though of course I hope that the WBP turns into much more than that.  I hope that it is many things, up to and including the start of a whole movement, but I need to walk before I run.

In my first post on the subject last August I knew I wanted to do something, but not quite what, and was still thinking I would focus my efforts on my own neighbourhood.

By March when I make my public commitment by starting the Winnipeg Bulb Project Facebook page and blogging about it here, I had realized that I practically live in a park, my neighbourhood is just that lovely. So I decided my energies would be better directed to parts of the city that are 'less park-like'.

So I am thrilled today to be meeting my goal of distributing 2,300 daffodil bulbs to people in the "Point Douglas" neighbourhood of Winnipeg where, according to Wikipedia, there is 25% unemployment and an average household income just shy of $25K.  We are collaborating with the city who is sponsoring a Fall Festival at a local community centre and allowing us to set up shop.

This morning I was up early and on the radio for a 7:10 discussion with Terry MacLeod on CBC's Weekend Morning Show but I still gave myself enough time to read our coverage in the Winnipeg Free Press.

If you have made it this far and are intrigued by the Winnipeg Bulb Project, you can read more about us and most importantly you can directly contribute through a donation: a pledge of only $5 allows us to buy 20 plump daffodil bulbs.

Thank you in advance for your support; every Tweet, Share, Facebook or Google + 'like' makes a difference too.

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Tuesday, October 01, 2013

TUXEDO PLANS - white garden

This article from ICanGarden has been extremely helpful during the planning of my Moon Garden with its all-white blooms. I have essentially just culled down their suggestions to my tastes and zone.

At this stage I am not committing to a layout but just gathering the potential plants together, please speak up if you think there are any others I should consider:

Snowdrop anemone, or windflower (Anemone sylvestris), produces a myriad of nodding flowers on 30 to 38 cm (12-15 in.) stems in early spring, with a few more flowers in fall. The plants self-seed and spread by rhizomes, so they will need some control in formal settings but are excellent when allowed to naturalize in a less formal setting. They perform equally well in sun or shade.

Babysbreath (Gypsophila paniculata) has been declared a noxious weed in Manitoba and has become quite invasive of pasture land in parts of Saskatchewan. Dwarf babysbreath (Gypsophila repens) presents no threat as it is non-invasive. It has a spreading, prostrate form and dainty white flowers above 45 cm (18 in.), mound-like foliage. It blooms in mid-summer and does best when planted in full sun in well drained soil.

Balloonflower (Playtcodon gradiflorum), which is related to the bellflowers, has a white form called ‘Album’ which grows to 60 cm and produces bell-shaped flower in July. Plants do well in full sun or partial shade.

Bellflowers (Campanula spp.) form a large group which includes many white forms. ‘White Clips’ is a white-flowering bellflower (C. carpatica) which grows to 30 cm (12 in.). It flowers through most of June and July and will surprise you with seedlings. A white form of the creeping bellflower (C. cochleariifolia) is only 10 cm (4 in.) high and spreads slowly to form a mat. The peachleaf bellflower (C. persicifolia) has a white form of 75 cm (2.5 ft) which blooms in June and July.

Bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis) - I planted some at the Ontario cottage, I much prefer them to the usual pink, has a white form called ‘Alba’ which is 60 to 90 cm (2-3 ft) high with finely divided foliage. They thrive where provided partial shade, an organic soil, and even moisture.

Chrysanthemum ‘Morden Cameo’ (Chrysanthemum morifolium) is a white-flowered mum of 60 cm (2 ft) that flowers from August until hard frost. Mums prefer full sun and even moisture, and may not be fully hardy in all areas of the prairies.

Ground clematis (Clematis recta) is a herbaceous clematis with slightly fragrant white flowers borne in late summer. It is a sprawler rather than a true climber and is most attractive when provided with a low support over which it can drape.

Columbine (Aquilegia spp.) is available in white-flowering forms, blooming through May and June on 30 to 60 cm (1-2 ft) stems. Plants grow in both sun or shade, but prefer even moisture and soil rich in organic matter. (Columbines are highly favoured by small green caterpillars known as columbine worms or delphinium worms. In some places, the feeding of these larvae make it nearly impossible to grow these plants without a nearly constant powdering of rotenone. I suppose you could look on the bright side and consider a rotenone-dusted plant yet another addition to the white garden!)

Cranesbill, or perennial geranium (Geranium spp.), has a number of white forms, varying from 30 to 60 cm (1 to 2 ft) and blooming in mid-summer above attractive foliage. They do well in full sun or partial shade in most soils.
Perennial candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) has evergreen leaves which benefit from snow cover over winter. Masses of white flowers are produced in early June on 30 cm (1 ft) stems. Plant in full sun or partial shade.

Shasta daisy (Chrysanthemum x superbum) is often relegated to the back lane because of its tendency to self-seed excessively. ‘Alaska’ has large, single flowers on 60 to 90 cm (2-3 ft) stems, while ‘Silver Princess’ is a dwarf cultivar of only 30 cm (12 in.). Plant in full sun or partial shade.

Delphiniums (Delphinium elatum) are stately, old-fashioned plants of 120 to 150 cm (4-5 ft) which do well in full sun in rich, evenly moist soil. ‘Galahad’ is a white cultivar. It will need staking!

White perennial flax (Linum perenne ‘Alba’) produces a myriad of small white flowers over a long period in mid-summer. It reaches 60 to 75 cm (24-30 in.) in height. Plant in full sun on well-drained soil. Flowers close at night and in shady or cloudy conditions.

Gasplant (Dictamnus albus) is very similar to the peony in foliage and form. It is extremely hardy and long-lived. A white form, called ‘Alba,’ produces white flowers on 90 cm (3 ft) stems in July. All parts of the plant are poisonous. Plant in loamy soil in full sun.

Goats’ beard (Aruncus dioicus) is a tall perennial of 1.3 m (4 ft) that is native to the lower reaches of the Swiss Alps. It produce panicles of creamy white flowers in July above feathery, dark green leaves. It does best in partial shade with even moisture.

Hostas are shade- and moisture-loving perennials varying in height from 10 cm (4 in.) to 1 m (3 ft). They are grown for their foliage, with many colors and textures, including green and white veriagation.

Bearded iris (Iris germanica) has many white forms: ‘Avenelle,’ ‘White Canary,’ ‘Bride’s Halo,’ ‘Country Manor,’ ‘Wedding Vow,’ ‘White Gem,’ and ‘Winter Olympics’ are just a few. All bearded iris prefer full sun and well-drained soil.

Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) produces small, fragrant white flowers in May and June. It performs best in partial to full shade in evenly moist organic soil. It should be divided every four years to keep it flowering at its best.

Lungwort (Pulmonaria spp.) is a useful plant for the white garden primarily because of its foliage, which displays white and silver splotches on a green background. ‘Sissinghurst White’ has the added advantage of white flowers. All grow to about 30 cm (12 in.) and bloom in June. Lungworts require a shady location with organic, evenly moist soil. 

Peony (Paeonia spp.) - I definitely want some of these, quite a few varieties to choose from.

Dwarf phlox (Phlox subulata) has a number of white cultivars. All are low, evergreen, mat-forming plants which bloom in early spring. They prefer full sun or partial shade and do best with snow cover and well-drained soil.

Carolina phlox (Phlox carolina) has a white cultivar called ‘White Pyramid’ that grows to 90 cm (3 ft) in height and blooms in July and August. It should be planted in organic, loamy soil in full sun.

Grass pinks (Dianthus plumarius), despite their name, have several white forms. They are about 30 cm (12 in.) in height, with grassy foliage and fragrant flowers that look like small carnations produced in mid-summer.

Oriental poppy (Papaver orientale) includes a white cultivar called ‘White King.’ It is about 60 cm (2 ft) in height and blooms in June. Plant in full sun with good drainage. Individual plants tend to be short-lived, but they self-seed readily to maintain themselves in the garden.

Pussy toes (Antennaria spp.) is a ground-hugging prairie native with tiny grey-green foliage. Plants reach a height of only 5 to 7 cm (2-3 in.), with tiny, nodding white or pink flower clusters in June or July. This rugged, drought-tolerant survivor will thrive and form a dense mat in full sun and good drainage. Plant it in sunny spots amid paving stones in the garden.

Rockcress (Arabis spp.) makes an excellent ground cover or plant for the front of the border, with grey leaves and masses of white flowers on 20 cm (8 in.) stems in May. Plant in full sun with good drainage.
Sea campion (Silene vulgaris var. maritima) tends to self-seed and may be best suited to an area where it can naturalize freely. It is 15 cm (6 in.) in height, blooms from June to October, and does well in full sun and well-drained soil.

Sneezewort (Achillea ptarmica) is a yarrow that produces tiny, button-like flowers in July and August on 45 to 60 cm (18-24 in.) stems. It is useful in fresh and dried arrangements. It has ferny foliage and spreads by stolons. It is best suited to a site with full sun and good drainage.

Snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum) is well suited to the white garden both because of its flowers and its silver foliage. It produces masses of tiny white flowers in early summer and is absolutely drought-tolerant. It requires full sun and good drainage.

Small soapwort (Yucca glauca) is another perennial that does double duty, valued for both its flowers and foliage. The foliage has a rather unique, grey-green, spiked form with creamy, pendulous bells produced on a 90 cm (3 ft) stalk in July. It is a desert plant which requires full sun and well-drained soil to thrive.

Eurasian Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum multiflorum) is a woodland plant which does best in moist, shady locations. It produces graceful, arching stems of 75 cm (2.5 ft), under which pairs of white, bell-like flowers can be found in June.

Spike speedwell (Veronica spicata) has many white forms, generally about 90 cm (3 ft) in height, with spikes of white flowers in July and August. Plant in full sun in well-drained but evenly moist soil.

Wormwoods or sages (Artemisia spp.) add a grey touch to the night or white garden. Artemisia are ruggedly drought-tolerant, preferring full sun and well-drained soil. ‘Silver Mound’ is a well behaved mound-forming plant about 30 cm (12 in.) high with a slightly larger spread. ‘Silver King’ reaches 60 to 100 cm (2-3 ft) and spreads aggressively if not contained. Artemisia stellerama has an upright form, growing to 45 cm (18 in.), with finely cut leaves. ‘Silver Brocade’ has lacy leaves on prostrate stems. The plants are not aggressive, but will re-seed around the garden. If seedlings are not desired, simply remove the flower heads in early August.

grape hyacinth (Muscari spp.)lily (Lilium spp.)ornamental onion (Allium spp.)squill (Scilla sibirica)striped squill (Puschkinia spp.) tulip (Tulipa spp.)

clematis (Clematis spp.)
cup and saucer vine (Cobaea scandens)
moon flower (Ipomea alba)
morning glory (Ipomea tricolor)
sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus)

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