Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A work in progress

Like all good gardeners, my garden is constantly undergoing renovations.  No sooner did we finish redoing our deck, making it a little bigger and slightly different in shape (which necessitated moving all the plants around the deck) than my son decided we needed a bigger pond.  Before the pond was a very small manageable size with a few waterlilies and yellow flag iris in the middle with some goldfish to call it home.
Presently, my son had excavated something 3 times the size with a place for bog plants and two pools for fish.  If my plants live to refurbish the pond, I am sure it will be lovely. Meanwhile the garden club is supposed to come on July 14.  Well, they may see the construction site, but isn't that all part of gardening?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hero retrieves lost “Art”

Last year we had a problem with vandals taking our garden art from the front garden. They never destroyed the garden itself, but once dumped a whole yard waste bag full of pine needles in the bubbling rock. To clean it out we had to remove the grate and hand scoop the debris which we could reach out of the basin.  I was afraid that the pump would stop working and it did later on in the year.
Once they overturned the baskets of flowers placed in the garden, dumped the plants upside down and took away the wire baskets.   We took to using construction cement to glue whatever we put out to the rockery.  One day I lost an astrolabe I particularly liked.  I awoke in the morning and found a street sign on a 12 ft pressure treated lumber pole abandoned in my front garden, and my astrolabe missing.  I walked up and down the street assuming that my property had been abandoned further up the street.  It is not a light piece.  I had glued the metal astrolabe to a concrete plinth to create a structure and had placed this ‘one of a kind’ piece in my garden.  So is it definitely something I would recognize if I saw it again.
Worried about this ‘rash’ of thefts, I took to leaping out of bed in the middle of the night and looking out the window if I heard loud voices in the street. The family discussed at dinner, what we could do to prevent further loss.  One of my sons suggested wiring structures with an electric shock.  While we appreciated the suggestion, we reminded him we didn’t want to kill anyone, just discourage vandals.  It seemed to me that whoever was doing it was ‘wasted’ on drugs or liquor. The Sons guffawed at this, accusing me of stereotyped fears of ‘teenagers high on drugs’. We also discussed putting a video security camera, which my Computer Engineer said I could link to my computer, to store pictures taken every two minutes to identify the culprit. However, we weren’t losing gold bricks and no suggestion seemed elegantly simple enough.  I just put out cheaper stuff I would not mind losing.
This year I was walking down the street and I saw a sign on someone’s front lawn which said “Someone took our garden art” It showed a picture of a frolicking lamb and said that two plastic lambs were taken from the front garden and would the person please return them. It made me feel better to think our home wasn’t the only targeted one in the neighbourhood.  I t reminded me of a rash of thefts in rural Ontario 20 years ago,  where people kept taking garden art from people’s lawns such as Snow White and the 7 dwarfs and pink flamingos. Then the thieves sent ransom notes to the owners with pictures of the flamingos with their heads in the toilet. I remember laughing heartily at the time.  ( I must admit I found some vintage pink flamingos last year and put them by my pond in the back. I quite like them.  They always make me smile.) With my own thefts, I never stopped scanning lawns in my neighbourhood in case my garden art turned up.
Imagine my surprise when I saw my astrolabe in my neighbour’s garden this year!  Twice I knocked on her door to enquire about them, but no one was home.  Finally the Handyman went over one day and came back with the astrolabes.  My hero! He said that the neighbours said that the astrolabe just turned up in their garden a few days ago. The husband didn’t like it, but didn’t say anything because he thought that his wife had bought it.  The wife didn’t like it, but didn’t say anything because she thought her husband had made it in his garage workshop. Needless to say, they were happy to return it to us!
You decide if it is ‘likeable’ or not. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It's sunshine yellow time in the garden

It's time for the evening primrose to bloom.  I love this time in the garden. The eye catching yellow of the primroses call you from across the way to come and rest in the garden. I find this a very peaceful time and I always associate yellow with cheeriness!
I particularly like primroses planted next to purple spiderwort, which are at their best right now.  In southern Ontario, spiderwort die back after flowering and the foliage needs to be cut back and removed or they look like spent tulips splayed on the ground.  I always support spiderwort, but one tip I read suggested that they be planted tightly between other tall plants that will hold them in check.
My primroses are inter-planted with rudbeckia, so I have a new burst of yellow and brown when these are finished.  I cut the tops off the primrose to remove the flower heads and then leave the stems and leaves to turn red-bronze in the Fall. Primroses wander around the garden anyway and when planted with something else, it keeps the spot filled.
An interesting garden relies on good combinations of colours and textures. Another good combination with yellow is red.  You can rely on roses to spread their rosy hue throughout the garden.  In June, the roses and their bushes look so lovely. It's another combination to consider. Another month and a new flush of colour will take over. Pink is next in my garden, I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


These lupines are from plants my mother-in-law brought back from one of her many trips to her childhood home in PEI.  So here they are in my garden now.  These plants are LARGE! They are four feet tall, larger than the cultivars I see in other people's gardens.  They are happily settled in and bloom every year.  They were dug up originally from one of the many ditches in which they grow wild in PEI. They have started to self seed in my garden and I found little seedlings for the first time this year.  For many years I tried to grow the cultivars from the nursery, but they always died out.  But it looks like these are here to stay. So welcome to these immigrants from a rural route in Ellerslie in PEI. I think they wanted to feel special. They were in the ditch in front of The Handyman's family home and are now here forming a link from that home to ours.
You can see the little white hoods of the monkshood above the apple tree stump. This is a monkshood which blooms in the early summer.  Traditionally one thinks of Fall for monkshood to bloom, but this shorter variety likes to ramble in the garden among the bush roses and the lady's mantle which are planted nearby.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Peonies are one of those plants to which many people have an attachment.  Often you will hear people say that they have a plant that was in their mother's or grandmother's garden.  I have one such plant.  The red and  semi-double peonies I have are both from my mother-in-law. Every time I look at them I have such fond memories of her and her garden. When I walk around the RBG Laking garden the peonies have the dates the hybrids were developed and I notice that my peonies and my iris were developed in the 1930's which puts it in the right time frame for my mother-in-law to be a young homeowner, planting them in her garden.  I like to think about this timeless link to a family member.  Apparently peonies can live over 100 years.


originally uploaded by acadia62.
I found one on line like mine since the bush has finished blooming.

Peonies and delphiniums

red peonies sure make a statement!

Laking Gardens, Royal Botanical Gardens, Burlington

A few of us from the garden club went to the Laking Iris and Peony gardens at the RBG.  I had read that on Tues evening that there was classical music in the gardens. However it was in Hendrie Garden that night and we were music -less.  Nevertheless, and in spite of all the rain we have had,  the garden was still beautiful. The peonies were still in bloom and many beautiful irises were open. They have a beautiful perennial garden on the entry to the iris and peony bed.  These photos are courtesy of Sophie Matta.
 The veronicas were just gorgeous colours of blues and purples and really brightened the garden.  The geraniums (or cranesbills) were working their magic as well. The pink blossoms of the pink penny were dispersed throughout the garden.  The goatsbeard was in full bloom and shooting up 7 feet next to the fence.  It really is a wonderful plant for a large open space.  I saw rue planted here one year and went back and planted it in my garden.  I have two kinds planted next to each other the smaller one tucked under the larger. You can make out the thin stalks of the unopened rue blossoms towering over the fence. The smaller one has finished blooming and the panticles have gone to seed. I am allergic to this plant and wear gloves up to my elbows whenever I need to trim or touch it.  But it certainly makes a statement in the garden!


I don't think roses live up to their reputation of being difficult in the garden.  Okay, we are shortly about to enter the period when you have to hand pick the Japanese beetles off the roses, but I have just spent a month picking the red beetles off lilies and squishing the egg sacs -yuk!
 This David Austin rose, named Abraham Darby, is just so beautiful. It is listed as an apricot yellow rose.  It is a colour I love.  I had it in the front garden for years and it never amounted to anything, so I moved it to the back last year and it just loves the new spot.  This is the bouquet I picked this morning.  The yellow edges and stamens in the pink petals are just lovely. This is what I think of as an English garden rose, even the name evokes England.  Surely everyone has room for at least one rose?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Garden Club Gardens

We visited Jennifer's garden today and it certainly was lovely.  It lived up to the billing, it was beautiful and tranquil.  She had many different areas in her garden, the hosta walk, the rose garden, the spilling urn and the front garden with her beautiful boxwood hedge and her Japanese maple.  Here is a picture of her urn which Kathleen requested.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Beauties of Nature

This buttePublish Postrfly was posing on the flower when I was in the Brueckner Gardens.  I just thought I'd share.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens

The Rhodo gardens in Port Credit have started to mature and they really are beautiful now. The setting by the lake is really special too.  I wanted to get down and see them before the rain washed the blossoms away.  There are some wonderful colours in the blossoms.  The small leafed rhodos, like PJM, have already bloomed, but there were some beauties still in bloom.  There are some bushes with extremely large leaves. I was at a pruning workshop where the expert advised that the smaller the leaves the easier rhodos are to grow.  I'm successful with PJM's, but not as much with Nova Zembla with its striking red flowers. I purchased a very large Catawbiense Boursault this year, Its beautiful violet flowers brightened my front garden all May.  I hope it survives!  All around me neighbours have beautiful rhodos, I can't believe that I can't grow them.  I do have a large and healthy PJM which blooms faithfully every year, so keep trying other plants, but I think my soil is more limey than I think.
The Rhodo garden is nestled in the shade under large trees and the path into the garden is a wall of colour.
There are many interesting shade plants along the path such as solomon's seal and large leafed hostas. Most of the azaleas have finished blooming, don't miss this opportunity to see the garden while it is in bloom.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A plant you have to love

Look at how the sun magnifies the drops of dew on the finely serrated leaves of the Lady's mantle.  It is just like a necklace of jewels in the sun.  This is one plant you grow for the leaves.  The flowers are large yellowy plumes that appear in late June, but many people don't like them and cut them off.  This plant plums up quickly in the garden and is a reliable grower.  I recommend it to all gardeners. It can be divided easily and will grow in sun or shade.  This one is a foundation plant in the shady garden.

The star of Jerusalem is a plant you don't often see in the garden.  Here it is paired with a small leafed hosta.  The bright green grass-like leaves of the star of Jerusalem appear well before the hosta emerges from its winter sleep.  Then when its leaves are starting to turn yellow and die back, the flower emerges. Paired with a hosta the flowers poke up through the leaves and show off to great effect.  The yellow leaves of the star of Jerusalem which are lying exhausted on the soil, are hidden by by the newly emerged hosta and the plant continues to put on a show.