Tuesday, December 31, 2013

HOLIDAY URN - bring back the apples!

This spring I transformed my front door planter into a woodland scene by transplanting a small spruce, some moss, lily-of-the-valley, and even a large stone from the woods around the Manitoba cottage (then added Violets for colour).  
The intent is for it to be a fairly permanent arrangement.

 When it came time to turn it into a holiday arrangement I waffled about what to do until the soil froze, thus making the decision for me that I would not incorporate the 'apples-on-a-stick' that looked so great last year.

Instead I added some over-sized red ornaments and birch sticks to the existing woodland scene. 
 It certainly looked wintry enough when it was covered with snow.

However with the ornaments in the background rather than the foreground and the container frozen into place and no way to turn it around...let us just agree does not compare to last year.

Meet me back here same time next year to see how I will have incorporated the apples once again into my little woodland scene.

Happy New Year!

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

STOWAWAYS - a story of survival

This past spring digging about in the front lasagna garden I came across live plants buried within on three separate occasions.  According to plan they should have composted over the winter but I have since realized that most articles written about lasagna gardens have not been written by zone 3 gardeners and not much composting happened for 5 frozen months.

The lone plant in the bottom right corner (above) was quite substantial and  healthy in a bed where I had not planted anything yet. Eventually I found a second one as well.

Then some lovely variegated Vinca started popping up as well.

 What I had put into the bed however were the discarded plants I collected from the generous folks at Jensens' Nursery, where they allowed me to cart off loads of plant material they had pulled from their display gardens to use in the construction of my lasagna gardens.

I transplanted to the Moon Garden what turned out to be white Dianthus, where they fit in perfectly with the all-white theme (don't worry, those "Broadway Lights" Shasta Daisies above faded from yellow to white).

These stowaways had clearly not only survived the winter but had somehow 'hibernated', and with some warmth from the composting lasagna garden spent the winter without dying back.

Stowaways - who would have thought?

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Friday, December 20, 2013

GUERRILLA GARDENING - it pays to be selfish

There are two compelling reasons to Guerrilla Garden close to home:

1) The first is pure selfishness and I proudly admit to employing it regularly. 
There can be no denying its motivating potential; while I have aspirations to change the whole city in the long, long run, one of the best places to start is in my own back yard where I will be able to do it at the drop of a hat, see the evidence of my efforts on a regular basis and know that change is possible.  For example, when I planted daffodil bulbs around my Toronto neighbourhood it may have appeared random to the casual onlooker but I planted them along the route my husband and I walked our dogs on a daily basis.

 2) The second is more practical: a garden needs tending, especially watering. 
I learned this past summer what every gardener (including myself) already knows. A plant-and-abandon strategy is not a winning strategy. 

The garden that I had helpers keeping moist flourished; it was as simple as that. 

This close-to-home survival strategy paid off this fall when out of my peripheral vision I spotted some flashes of white driving past the stump at the end of my street where I had earlier planted Allium.  
Sure enough, some squirrel had been excited to find freshly dug earth but disappointed to find a member of the onion family and left the bulbs scattered but uneaten.  I was able to replant them only because I was able to check in on them.

So there you have it, no need to feel guilty if you want to brighten up your own neighbourhood - there is a sound logic behind it. 

And what if you want to make a difference in another, less-fortunate community rather than your own?
Great idea, I highly recommend it and suggest you donate to the Winnipeg Bulb Project and we will get the job done for you.

Sharing with: Garden Tuesday, Inspire me Mondays

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


These herons sure stand out in the snow more than they ever did during the summer - and I love it. 

In the summer they were quite discreet agasint a vibrant and lush backdrop but now that they stand out I will be using them to report on how much snow we have.  Consider this shot the benchmark and each month I will post another photo from the same spot for comparison.

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

THE FORGOTTEN MONARDA - update to the monet garden map

My Monet Garden will be purples and blues and my Sun Garden is already bursting with yellows, reds and oranges.
So where does this Monarda fit in?

In the photo above it looks pink and below it looks more purple. In either case I think it clashed with the Sun Garden. What do you think?

Between wanting the Sun Garden to stay true to its palette and needing both more height and colour in the Monet Garden I made a last minute decision to transplant it just before freeze up.

There are two Monardas in the Sun Garden, both bought at the Friends of Gardens Manitoba annual plant sale and both labelled "red".  The other stayed relatively small and never bloomed so let us hope that it is actually red, while this plant grew so vigorously in one year that I divided it into three.
 By surrounding it with blues and purples I hope to make it seem more purple and less pink.  I added it in the green rectangle otherwise reserved for Delphinium (top left), where they should get as much sun as any plant in this garden.  Nothing to do for now but hibernate and wait.

Do you think this colour of Monarda was better suited for the Monet Garden or the Sun Garden?

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& Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Saturday, December 07, 2013


Today it is -22 Celsius and there is not much going on in my gardens.  
Do not get me wrong, it is very, very pretty out but there is not that much activity, no buzzing bees or butterflies wafting through the air.  

There are however birds, and the best way to get to see them is by providing them with food. After all they are so small they could use our help; did I mention it is -22 Celsius out?

I placed this suet feeder just outside our kitchen window where we can see them every day. Today I had what appears to be a little woodpecker of some type as well as the usual Chickadees.

Quick tip: freeze the suet before you place it in the feeder or be prepared to get very greasy fingers!
Lesson learned.

Sharing with Nature NotesOutdoor WednesdayCamera Critters & Saturday's Critters

Sunday, December 01, 2013


In my first post about the Monet Garden I detailed the plants I initially added this past spring.
Now I am writing about the plants yet to join in and enhance the purple-and-blue theme that defines the Monet Garden.

By-and-large last spring I planted the lasagna gardens I built and left the pre-existing beds alone.  Therefore  next year's additions are primarily in areas that existed before we moved in. I spent time observing and now I am ready to plant.

I learned that this garden does not get as much sun as I had hoped but I still think that these plants will work given the back left corner is the sunniest part.
The green rectangle will be filled with Delphinium, 5 blue in as many shades as possible and 2 purple, also different shades.

The pink triangle was originally Blazing Star and its replacement is still up for debate|:  
More Dutch Iris (I'll know this spring if they work).
Monkshood is high on my list but also highly poisonous and I have a new puppy dog; better safe than sorry. Salvia would be quite nice: long blooming, mid-sized and purple. I just need to find a variety for the shadier side.

In the green oval Ostrich ferns will encircle the bottom of the Lilac run behind it providing a backdrop for Astilbe and a tall compliment to the Heliopolis that will border it in the Sun Garden.

The orange blob will be fluffy purple Astilbe. I have never grown them successfully but I have not yet tried since reading up on their care - and that of course should make all of the difference. 

The yellow splotches will be Primula, hopefully I will come across some drumstick varieties in a mix of purples.

Some suggestions from Facebook I am will one day incorporate include Forget-Me-Nots (which I tried unsuccessfully from seed last year but am not giving up on), Phlox stolonifera (Creeping phlox), Jacob's LadderGiant Lobelia.

When you put it all together this is what it looks like. 
At least for now.

Suggestions for other purple and blue plants for zone 3, part shade are welcome.

Parts 1 of 3 & 2 of 3