Sunday, March 23, 2014


The Sun Garden is broken into two distinct parts. The new garden on the left, which I created by putting in a lasagna garden on top of the lawn within a month of taking possession of our home, and the bed that existed when we moved in, on the right-hand side of this photo and what I am now calling the Old Sun Garden. 

Early spring I noted what was coming up, late spring I transplanted the Iris out, summer I removed the composter and added a tree and in late summer I divided the Hardy Geranium, but I did it all without an overall plan, after all I was mostly just monitoring in my first year.

It turns out that there was lots in there, but as with any garden that has not been kept up it required some maintenance. The blackberry bush needed to be kept in check to give the lilies on this side enough light  -

and this substantial Phlox Paniculata which was hidden on the other side.  

In September I removed both and transplanted them to my Corporate Guerrilla Garden, because they were pink

While some people recommend a hand's off approach to learning about existing garden beds in a new home for the first year, I say "why wait?" if you identify key changes. Getting these plants in to their new bed with enough time to settle in and put down roots was the first step in figuring out what I wanted this bed to look like next season.

Obviously it had to work with the new Sun Garden to make one harmonious experience, though to be honest I had not really thought of that when I put the new bed in.

My preference is for lines of colour rather than clumps in a long and narrow bed such as this. In the photo above you can see how I dug up both the Peony and Heliopsis which were large, healthy and perfect candidates for dividing, and spread them about along the side of the house.  The Peony in front of both window wells and the Heliopsis all along the wall under the windows where it will serve as a vibrant, long-blooming backdrop.  

(The blackberry bush came out and went into a box in my garage where it sits to this day.)

In the newly-created, empty 'front' of the bed I planted 80 purple Liatris that I had to move from the Monet Garden, where they clearly had not been getting enough sun.  Among them I added three Phlox Orange Perfection.  I have been striving to find more orange plants, and purple is the contrast colour in this otherwise sunny-coloured bed; hopefully the bloom time of these two will overlap in a gorgeous purple/orange display.  
Also under the windows are 50 Darwin Hybrid Tulips (a bulb I tried once without luck but not in as sunny a spot), and a dozen or so orange Hyacinths under the Cherry Tree.

There are no low growing plants at the front of this border, it is filled with big, tall plants because I want those walking along the path to feel immersed in it.


Thursday, March 20, 2014


My friend's massive and ever-blooming gardens have lots of beautifully contrasting colours.

 Low growing annual petunias and perennial ground covers are found at the front, with mid to large sized  plants next and larger plants to the rear.  The slope of the garden and size of the plants allow one to see even  those at the very back.

Plenty of blooms and wonderful colour combinations abounded even in August.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014


My friend's gardens are so large that I am going to share them with you over three weekends. Done single-handedly by one very determined fellow not only are they expansive he has some plants bigger than any I have ever seen before.

The beds are nicely raised at the back to allow for maximum visibility from the home's back porch.

Wide, mulch-covered paths guide you through gigantic annual Canna Lilies and posts covered in glorious Clematis.

Late August and no shortage of beautiful flowers.

Despite their size and vigour the beds are relatively new, only a few years old. This means my friend has been workign like a maniac to get it all done. 
A man after my own heart.

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Friday, March 14, 2014


This week I am spending my evenings in nature, building a quinzee in my front yard before the 
weather turns completely warm and the opportunity is lost.

To support my end-of-season efforts I am accepting $5 donations 

Outside in.
I am spending the week getting my exercise outside in nature each evening to raise money for the Winnipeg Bulb Project and it is giving me achy muscles in places I was not expecting, but it does feel invigorating to be outside each night!

Inside out.
If you think it is a great idea to spend time outside in nature then please consider a donation of $5 at to help connect people living in downtown Winnipeg with nature and build community.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014


After many, many hours perusing catalogs I have narrowed down my choices to $500 worth of plants. Trouble is I have given myself a budget of $300.

I buy online because I can get exactly what I want; leaving my choices on colour and plant up to this whims of my local Rona garden centre manager is just something I cannot do. Not with Sun, Moon and Monet colour-themed gardens.
Vesey's Wish List
I have $270 on my Vesey's list and $212 on my Breck's list. I like Breck's lifetime plant guarantee, so I would favour them but Vesey's has the better selection.

Breck's Wish List

Now is time to make the tough choices:

  • Vesey's, you say your "Sunglow Crocosmia" is good to zone 3, but I dare not believe since every other Crocosmia says zone 5. 
  • Saved $50.

  • Ordering online is best for bulbs and plants I am unlikely to find locally: goodbye Leonora Tradescantia & Grecian Rose.
  • Saved $15 & $30 respectively.

  • Little Blue Wonder Sea Holly: I cannot be sure if you will get enough sun. Reduced from 3 to 1.
  •  Saved $16.

  • "Garden Emotion" and "Hot Summer": last year my coneflowers were all nibbled by rabbits and never bloomed. I will not throw good money after bad no matter how stunning you look in the cataolgue.
  • Saved $26.

  • I should not over-invest in a plant that is untested in my garden; so long Mauve Younique Phlox. Reduced white Hardy Geranium from 9 to 3!
  • Saved $9 & $13 respectively.
<I submitted my Breck's order while writing this: the rest of the savings must come from Vesey's>
  • Virginia Blue Bells: true you are blue and you bloom in the shade, but I have always found you expensive for 'oversized bluebells'. Reduced from 6 to 4.
  • Saved $6

  • Pam's Choice: surely I can find white Foxglove locally? Hedge my bets, reduced 6 to 3.
  • Saved $15

  • Discovered separate shipping charge for seeds with Veseys' ($6). Cancel Nasturtium seed order.
  • Saved: $9.
  • Dalmatian Peach Foxglove: Perfect colour but I do not have room for 6 of you. Reduced to 3.
  • Saved $15.

There you have it, I have cut $204 from my initial bill.  Do you recognize this struggle as something you also face each year when ordering your plants online: dreams bigger than budget?

<15 minutes later>
I went to purchase my Vesey's order when I realized my coupon was for saving $100 with a $200 order.  I had to backtrack and add items back again until I hit $200!

Sunday, March 09, 2014


Last spring when this gorgeous green sphere appeared I was thrilled; so vibrant and not even in bloom yet.

It gets very large and it transitions beautifully to some lightly coloured "Blue Angel" clematis growing up the trellis.

It also gets scraggly later in the season. I had read that it could benefit from a pruning but I had never tackled a plant this bushy before that wasn't woody. 

I cut it back and was surprised to find that there was effectively a mini plant - the basal growth. I read up on it and found out it was the natural place to cut it back to. Phew!  I also learned that next year I will do it mid summer (as opposed to late) to give it time for a second blooming.

I cut it in half and spread it out. I removed the small strip of grass that had separated the garden from where the composter had been and where the cherry tree now sits.

  The geranium will cover the uneven edge of the lawn until I get around to shaping it.

This is what it looked like a few days later. No worries, I expected that since I was cutting right through its root system with a spade.

With the dead foliage removed they looked much better, though admittedly still bedraggled. Fear not, it is what is beneath the soil that counts and I am confident they will recover next year and cover the base of both trellis and tree.


Thursday, March 06, 2014


Last May I described day one of our major project of bringing all of our cedars together into one place and never got around to finishing the story until now.

Small ceders lined each side of the front yard but felt lost under the towering elms.

May 22nd

I used them to create a barrier between driveway and back yard, staggering them and for some overlap since many were quite skinny and others misshapen. If they really respond well to our loving care in their new home I may have trouble with them being too close together, but that can be the price one pays when looking for immediate impact.

The snow is now at least twice as high and has buried the smallest one completely. We need to add a fence next year to accommodate Suzie our bird watching dog and whatever we get is going to have to be quite high because as the snow piles up from the driveway plowing it effectively shortens the height of the fence. It will have to allow for snow to pass through it since there is nowhere else to put it.

I have some ideas.
Come back in June to find out.

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