Saturday, November 28, 2015


Last summer I began to use the needles from our large Spruce trees as mulch.  

Aesthetically I like the natural look (once the plants fill out one cannot see the the garden floor in any case) and functionally this reliable source says not to worry about acidity levels.  So I don't.

There is something rewarding about making use of the bounty from my yard, even the parts that others may think of as waste. Why pay with my taxes to have this taken away only to go out and buy a different type of mulch?

For the same reason I compost yard waste and burn the wood I prune in our outdoor chimney.  It just makes sense.

Are there any other 'urban homesteaders' out there?

Wednesday, November 04, 2015


  This year we are having a relatively mild transition to winter here in zone 3 and there are still some blooms in the garden although it may not appear so at first glance.

Last year I removed all the strictly yellow Rudbeckia and left only the bi-coloured varieties.

The last of the Mums.

This pansy was one of the first things I planted in spring. 

The Lamium-maculatum may not be screaming for attention but they bloom all season.

The Heliopsis helianthoides are also long lasting bloomers.

This is the real treat - a new Monkshood for me, appropriately called Autumn Monkshood which did not start blooming until most other plants were well past their best.  
I will be sure to add more next year!


Thursday, October 15, 2015


Even the back lanes in my neighbourhood look inviting at this time of year.

 Not a bad view from my front lawn, eh?

 Despite the time of year there are still some pockets of colour  up here in zone 3 with Rudbeckia and Salvia.

The Echinops seed heads retain interest right through until the snow flies.

 And speaking of the snow flying, this was a blizzard of another kind...


Monday, October 12, 2015


What is one to do when the only flowers available are a multi-coloured mix from the check-out aisle at the grocery store?

It can be a conundrum.

I like to make the best of it by separating out the whites into their own bouquet.

 In this case I joined them with 3 roses that if left in the colourful vase would have not had nearly as much impact.

To further differentiate the final results I cut down the second group dramatically and put them in a much shorter vase.

Now who would guess that each bouquet came from a standard, brash check-out arrangement, would you?

Sharing with In A Vase Mondays

Sunday, July 26, 2015


A tour of the yard and its many gardens, from back to front.

Clematis, Daylily, Asiatic lily, husband.

Daylily, Clematis, Lamium.

Clematis, Salvia, Morning Glory, Daylily, Peas, Squash, Rosemary & Calla Lily that amazingly survived our zone 3 winter.

Suzie checking out the "Cantina".

Path into the Sun Garden; more of a late summer garden...

Milkweed, Rudbeckia, Heliopsis, Sunflowers.

On the path through the Sun Garden; tall Sunflowers are 'volunteers' from my bird feeders.

'Cheyenne Spirit' Coneflower is amazing, alongside the taller bi-coloured Rudbeckia.

Path off to the driveway.

Path to the front yard.

Not pretty yet, but Heliopsis are beginning to fill in under the spruce.

The Globe Thistle (right) are reaching great heights and the Sedum (left) in the rock garden has been blooming for weeks.

 This Lamium blooms all summer long. Quite aggressive in this rich soil and semi-shade it is hemmed in by sidewalk and equally aggressive daylilies.

Forget-me-nots have beautified the front garden for weeks while the Calla Lilies and Monarda have just begun to bloom.

The scent of these giant Lilies is incredible, both they and the ferns will get substantially larger over the next few years and I have high hopes for how great they will look together.

Monkshood over 6 feet tall! Half I cut back in spring to lengthen the clump's bloom time.

I believe there are three colours of Monarda but so far only one is in bloom.

Drumstick Allium, Campanula, Verbascum, Monkshood, Forget-me-not, volunteer sunflowers.

I like to combine plant material from the yard with annuals in my yard urns,.

Lamium in front of the hedge transitions nicely from the Monet to the Moon Garden.

Each year I will need fewer Impatiens to fill in between the Astilbe and Hosta in front the Bleeding Heart.

Obedient Plant and Liatris: though still a ways away from blooming I love the foliage of the latter.

Daisy, Peony, Nasturtium, Coneflower, Bleeding Heart, Impatiens. Who knew compact, white Nasturtium existed? Let us hope they begin to bloom soon.

Bishop's Goutweed with Peony and Lamb's ear.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

YEAR 3 - what a difference!

I am entering the third full summer at my new home in Winnipeg and what a difference it makes as a perennial gardener.

While I have been busy in the gardens (as always), I have been making minor adjustments compared to the work required in the previous two years establishing beds and experimenting with light and soil conditions.

In year one I added 3 Iris here as a test, then 10 more in year two and finally in year three I have the effect of the Herons wading through these purple German Iris. 

Suzie enjoying the sun and the scent of blooming Jacob's Ladder which was initially struggling in the front yard but is happier this year after being transplanted to the sunnier back yard.

The Sedum in the rock garden is thicker and fuller and blooming like never before.

Mulch in the Sun Garden is clearly helping keep the weeds at bay; in the first two years I was growing too much from seed to use it but established plants allow for it.
Thank goodness!

 There are 15 Peonies altogether, with only 5 of them blooming this year. Can you picture it 2-3 years from now? That is how I view it...

I have planted Daisies for the past two years but this is the first that there has been any blooming en masse. I am thrilled with the results and will likely end up adding more. Can one have too many daisies, is it even possible?


Tuesday, May 19, 2015


When I first planted the Monet Garden I thought there would be more sun than there is. Last year I moved out many of the sun lovers and this year I am finally and fully embracing its shady nature with the introduction of dozens of stately Ostrich Ferns.
There is however an interesting exception.

As apparent as the streak of sunlight cutting across the garden may appear in this photo, it has taken me two seasons to recognize what has been there all along.

Now that I have 'seen the light' (ha ha) and understand where more sun-loving plants can sit in my otherwise shady garden I have a fantastic opportunity to expand my plant selection and introduce something one would not expect to see thriving surrounded by shade plants.

Something like Echinops, which explains how mine have done so well, even though I have resigned myself to the fact that the Monet Garden is generally quite shady.  Five or so have come back from last year and I am direct sowing others, using this 'slice of sunlight' as my map and my inspiration.

This is a wonderful example of the interplay between gardener and environment and how experience with a specific property reveals its idiosyncrasies and opportunities to optimize on a micro-level.

For example, last fall I moved Monarda into two different parts of the Monet Garden in order to see which would do better and I could quickly see that the Monarda in the 'slice of sunlight' was 2-3 times the size of the Monarda in the other part of the garden (which has since been moved into the slice).

I had been  prepared to be satisfied with just the interesting foliage of these Iris but was pleasantly surprised to see them bloom last year. Now it all makes sense since they are in the 'slice of sunlight' and I will definitely add more now that I understand the reason behind their success.

Sharing with Garden Tuesday, Tuesday Garden Party, Nature Notes, Catching Light, Maple Hill Hop

Monday, May 18, 2015


Despite a mild winter our spring blooming bulbs are still coming up relatively late. These tulips are the first splash of colour in the Sun Garden and it will certainly be into June before we will see blooms from our daffodils.  

Apeldoorn Tulip

Apeldoorn Tulip

Marsh Marigold is the earliest perennial to bloom.

The cherry tree is bursting with white blooms which bodes well for pie making.