Thursday, December 15, 2011

Indoor Christmas arrangements

Arranging a floral centrepiece for yourself is not hard.  Pick a pretty container, anchor some floral foam in the container and then fill the vase with greenery until the foam is completely covered.  I used cedar boughs and euonymus leaves for contrast as the main filler.  Carnations were chosen for their long lasting life.  Pine cones were used to echo the season.  Then you just meed some bling to jazz it up.  Try to pick colours that reflect or complement your table setting. Don't forget to top up the water in the vase daily.

Red carnations and gold accents

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas urns 2011

Cedar boughs, birch logs, pine cones and red ornaments,
 with a few dogwood sticks to pick up the colour
This year's Christmas urn styles are lower than last year. Ornaments figure prominently in arrangements this year. I went for colours that complement the house. Of course, a big bow makes it festive.
 The urn at the front is one that stays out all year.  It was originally a grape vine ball that has deteriorated to a shell.  Two or three birch logs anchor the ball and then they are filled with boughs.  The red stars echo the woven star in the arrangement.

Look around the garden some branches really lend themselves to arrangements.  For instance Cotoneaster, euonymus, dogwood, willow, especially curly willow, and burning bush branches all can make a statement in an arrangement.
The berries of the mature burning bush would look lovely in an arrangement. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The perils of inviting them in

Once inside, that gorgeous plant that you rescued from your balcony or garden before Jack Frost could 'nip it in the bud' reveals that it really was a bug incubation station for some minute flying or web making thingy.  However  insecticidal soap or just plain dish soap diluted in water makes an effective spray for leaves and spines of plants.  The problem is, where to conduct the sanitation procedure.  The bathtub makes the perfect lab. A spray bottle makes it easy to get the undersides and nodes of branches where bugs hang out. Once the plant is dripping with foamy water leave it to 'stew in its own juices' to be sure the soap has penetrated the brittle carapaces of the bugs then, the shower is there to hose it off once the soap has done its magic.  You must be vigilant for the birth of the next generation of plaguing insects, though.  Be prepared to follow up with a fresh application if new bugs are seen.
For the time being my hibiscus is bug free. 

I was moved to bring in a hibiscus that had unusual peachy blossoms with a darker hued trim along the outside edge of the petals. But hibiscus are notorious for getting bugs and I thought I would do a preventative spraying. Here's hoping I am rewarded with blossoms this winter and the plant survives to go back outdoors.

I'm almost ashamed to show you a picture of my mis-shapen Jade.  But I live in  hope it will blossom from an ugly duckling amomg Jades into swan like graceful proportions. 
I also have a Jade plant that I must confess has never had a pleasing shape in spite of all the pinching and proping it has received. Spider mites were detected on it.  So in a way I have the outdoor plants to thank for me discovering it.  If I hadn't brought them in I wouldn't have been examining my plants for signs that the bugs had spread. It too received a dish soap application and hopefully  it is on the road to good health and better structure soon. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bring it indoors

I don't bring many plants indoors - lack of space, lack of time, and potential bug problems to name a few of the reasons that discourage this practice. But there is always one or two plants that I hate to see perish outside as the weather worsens. This year it is the papyrus plant that I wanted to salvage from my pond to put back out next year.  The roots must be kept submerged all winter, but I have a beautiful chinese pot to put it in and I will house it in my solarium and hope for the best. My ulterior motives are that, like all gardeners, I picture the plant in my mind's eye as lush, abundant and tropical luxuriating in my pond next year, and one season of growth will not achieve that effect.  So I have to winter over this plant or it will not ever live up to my expectations.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Deer At Riverwood

We almost missed seeing this deer, as incredible as it may sound, but they appeared behind us and if we hadn't turned around....

I had some visitors from Korea and I wanted to take them to a relatively 'wild area' so that they could see the Canadian forest.  This lovely walk in Riverwood Conservancy is just the ticket. They were very impressed with the site and kept telling me that in Korea there would be many people on the paths, not the occasional couple we encountered. It looks grey in the photo, but some of the trees still had their colour and it was a mild day.  The deer were coming to the stump to eat the seeds people had left for birds.  Photographers put seeds on the stumps and wait for birds to appear to eat the seeds.  I guess the deer have figured this out.  This is a mother and two fauns.
Once they had moved into the bush and were sitting under a tree one would not have seen them if you were walking and talking on the path. I often walk about this time and miss them.  I guess I need to keep my mouth closed!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Last Plant Standing

Monkshood - aconitum. Fall flowering perennial 3 ft. approx. Very poisonous!

The distinctive hood of the monks hood gives it its common name. This variety blooms last in the garden.  There are many varieties and some bloom in August.

Aconitum  - Monkshood
This fall flowering perennial is almost the last thing to bloom in your garden.  It is welcome to see the blue spires when all else is bronze and yellow. Be sure to plant them where you will see them from a window or you might miss their bloom if you retreat indoors when the weather changes. The only drawback is that it is virulently poisonous.  But most of us don’t munch on our plants so we are safe. When dividing wear gloves to protect yourself.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fall Flowers

Autumn Joy Sedum, yes it is a joy in autumn!
The leaves are beginning to change and we just need some sparkling sunshiny days like today, to have as oohing and aahing with delight at the colours.
I went to Ottawa on the weekend and it was cold!  The weekend was wet so the colours were muted and have not changed fully yet. Predominately yellow was seen. I did get some wonderful home grown cabbage,  squash, carrots, onions, beets and potatoes from my sister's garden.  The Thanksgiving meal will be delicious.

The garden changes so much this time of year, but still has its charms. A new one for me is the dahlia. I've always liked them but could never be botherd to plant the bulbs.  This time I purchased one from the garden club already planted. I didn't know what colour it was or indeed how big it would grow, but it sure is splendid!
cactus bloom dahlia
bonica rose' last blush

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Autumn's Special Moments

Eye catching seed pods
Bright red berries of the Jack-in-the-Pulpit

The Canadian iconic wild flower, the Jack-in-the-Pulpit, has a brilliant head of seed pods that most people haven't seen. The seed pod grows gradually over the summer until the head is a large bright green.  Then as August winds down the pod turns a brilliant red.
 I am lucky enough to have several wildflowers in my garden, because some of my property is the original forest floor.  I have 100 year old trees and ferns that have been growing for centuries. I treasure these heritage plants and am glad that I can look at then every day.
You can just make out the red seed head of the Jack in the Pulpit in the lower right of the picture.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ah Anemones!

Fall flowering anemones
The best flowers come from friends and I have Sophie to thank for these pretty pink anemones.  They are finally plumping up in my garden.  I don't know which cultivar they are, but I eagerly await the flowers in the Fall.  This plant is just starting to bloom, while the rudbeckia in background have been going strong for a month.  Watching the succession of flowers in the garden gives me great pleasure.
Stonecrop Autumn Joy

 What would Autumn be with out stonecrop!  There are so many varieties available for purchases now.  I love the new purple Emperor, but I just don't have enough sun for it.  This little performer is so reliable that I would recommend it to anyone. In the Spring its bunched circular round growth is a delight and its structure adds to the garden all summer long while you are waiting for it to bloom. Then in the Fall, when you need new blossoms this hardworking plant puts on its show.  What more could you ask for in a plant?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September means teaching

In my other life I was a teacher.  I launched a teaching blog on Jan 24, 2011. It is designed for teachers, and is called Teaching by the Book. It is located at The site contains a recommended read aloud book and lesson plans for teachers from grades K to 8.  Associated books are also listed on the site. We publish 4 recommended books and two lesson plans per month using a theme and based on a reading or writing strategy. The first blog was for Family Literacy Day and September's theme uses alphabet books to introduce the writing process to your students .
Pass it on our link to all your teaching friends!

Worth the Wait

Autumn clematis
This plant is a graduate of the plant sale from the Cloverleaf Garden Club.  It is just 2 years old and has shown itself proud!  Not only is it covered in blooms, but it smells divine also. Thank you to the gardener who divided and brought this to the plant sale!  It has found a happy home in my garden.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Japanese Beetles didn't get this one!

Bonica Rose
You can count on roses for a second life in the garden.  They bloom again in late August to bring colour back to the to their expansive green bushes. For a while I thought the Japanese beetles would decimate all the roses, but they seem to had died off considerably and I can once again enjoy the blossoms. They ate the leaves of all sorts of plants including birch, climbing hydrangea, calla lilies,  and the blossoms of the sweet pea and Rose of Sharon. What pests!  I can see why people yank out their roses.  But I guess they would still eat all the other things I listed - so drowning in soapy water is the only solution.

What happened?  This beautiful full urn was turned into a scraggly  mess after just 3 days of neglect. 
What happened to the impatients this year? I still have some beautiful urns, but a few have gone from lush to leggy and embarrassingly barren in just a few days.  They are not worth resurrecting since the end of the season is so near. I heard that Oakville cancelled its garden tour for Sept 25, due to the drought this summer.  People's gardens suffered.  For the most part my perennials did well, and I will share more pictures in the following days. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

More pictures of the Garden Tour

St. Francis presides over the peaceful back yard.
 What makes a garden 'special'? It's the unexpected hits of colour; the unusual plants that make you stop and wonder; the contented fat specimens that you know are situated just right.  Some people have a knack for placing plants.  When you walk in their gardens a feeling of calm descends and you don't want to leave.
This garden was manicured.  Each bus was clipped and constrained to match its setting, but so artfully done the overall effect was very pleasing.This was another peoples' favourite on the Cloverleaf Garden Tour.  The owners had loved there over 50 years and lovingly put time and energy into the garden.  
The pond sported some contented goldfish.  Apparently they lost 3 to a grey heron this Spring, that stopped for a meal on its was to a nesting site.
This spot at the side of the house is used to create a cactus garden in the summer months.

Fat and happy this honeysuckle has a contented spot.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

2011 Cloverleaf Garden Tour

The garden shed seems like a secret hideaway in the garden.
The colour and layout invite  you to stay and unwind. Note the variations in colour without the use of flowers.
What a wonderful tour!  This year's Cloverleaf Garden Tour was well planned to provide two areas of concentration.  The Munden Park area was walkable, many people like to park once and walk to visit the gardens.
My favourite garden was #2 belonging to Al and Judy Hirsh in Gordon Woods. .  It is obviously a labour of love they  have spent may hours enjoying and creating. It's a shade garden and makes extensive use of hostas. But Judy has an eye for colour and paints with the plants they way an artist uses colour to create a picture.  Next to the blue leaves of a Big Daddy hosta  the chartreuse sedge, Japanese Forest grass waves and flows providing an eye catching hit of colour that draws your eye to the corner where it is nestled.
Hakonechloa macra - All gold Japanese Forest grass, provides  an  eyecatching focus. 

Judy artfully places large planters of annuals to relieve the green and to thrill you with a new colour in unexpected places.  Containers were grouped on the deck and in groups throughout the garden.
Plants carefully chosed to complement the container colour.

Interesting arrangement on the deck make you stop and appreciate the beauty. 

Her skill in filling containers is apparent and brightens green corners. 


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It's Yellow Time in the garden

King's buttercup - lysimachia

Yellow evening primose with king's buttercup in the background
This time of year the primrose bloom and take over the colour scheme in my garden.  Hardly anyone has King's buttercup in their garden anymore, but I like the old fashioned bloom. Yellow can really brighten a dark corner and I have many in my shady garden.
But yellow isn't the only colour and I planted gold flame spirea bushes and roses to fill the colour gap in June.
Frobel's spirea adds pink to the seaon
Sweet william in the front garden, the only trouble with buying items at a club garden sale is you seldom know the colour. 

A Canadian Explorer Rose  - the first year.
Carefree rose with sage spires
Bonica rose

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Drat those red beetles!

I thought I had almost picked off and squashed every red lily beetle in my front garden - but no! I went out the other day and the stem of the lily was one black slimy tree of blobs on my tiger lily.  In spite of my huge distaste, I picked off every egg case, ugh!  Then I put some coffee grounds around the bottom of the plant. It seems to have stayed the invasion for the time being. Most people just end up pulling their lilies out in frustration. I read about a person who picked off 600 slugs in his garden in an effort to rid his property of them, and he didn't end up diminishing the population in any real way!  So I guess I will not eradicate the red lily beetle from my intervention.  They are obviously flying in from all those gardens where people pulled out their lilies.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Clematis - Ramona. I think this is the 5th year for this plant.
Wow! are the clematis ever beautiful this year.  We were cursing all the rain, but this is the best display my clematis has ever shown. So finally I didn't break the vine or pull it out when I was weeding.  I had another one growing beside it which was pink with magenta stripes, but I broke it or 'weeded' it.  It did have 3 blooms for a week.
 I have a white clematis, which hasn't open yet and it is covered in blooms too. The roses in everyone's garden are covered in buds.  I think this very English like weather is responsible!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rhodo recovery

At least it bloomed!
 I thought I was going to lose this rhodo last year, but it did come back.  I followed advice from a couple of people, one who told me to take the rocks away form around the base of the plant. the roots are delicate and don't like pressure.  Another member of the Garden Club gave me some aluminium sulfate to put around the base of the plant and it made a huge difference. I'm amazed it bloomed.  The buds held on all winter and I did doubt they would open, but actually it was quite lovely.  The blooms have almost dropped now, but I'm happy.

Size when I bought it. And it was covered in buds!
A year later - smaller, has lost almost all its leaves, but is starting  to look healthy.

I was relieved to see that the Rhododendrons at the Brueckner Garden had the same mysterious brown leaves as my plant suffered from.  They encouraged me to wait out whatever it was/  I clipped out the branches as the leaves withered and turned brown and new shoots come in nicely green. I hope it stays healthy this summer and blooms next year. 

Perennial Geraniums

I found out today the reason why the hardy geranium is called the cranesbill. Apparently the when the seed head ripens and explodes it resembles the open beak of the crane's bill. 

I hope this isn't Johnson's Blue geranium.  I do like the colour and the size right now is perfect, so I hope it stays small and doesn't sprawl like Johnson's Blue, or it will have to be moved.
My favourite geranium - sanguenium

My favourite geranium is sanguineum. It is low bushy, and the leaves turn bronze in autumn. But best of all it blooms almost all summer with magenta flowers. It benefits from a good clipping after the first flush of bloom to make it compact again and to reset bloom.  I received it from my Mother-in-law, who got it from Victoria, B.C.'s Butchart Gardens!  Now that's history!
One grows this geranium for the colour of the leaves.  The flowers are pale lavendar and don't bloom for long.
I have Hocus Pocus. It has dark purple leaves and pale lavender flowers. But you grow it for the foliage. It is not easy to grow well and once it likes a spot, I don't suggest you move it.  I had to move one out of necessity and happily it likes the new location better. It's in more shade, but the plant isn't as straggly any more.

What is it? I hope someone out there knows.

What is this plant?  It is a self seeding annul and is low growing .  I don't know how it arrived in my garden.  I like it, but ...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Rhodos in Bloom

This weekend has to be a peak for the Brueckner Rhododendron Garden in Port Credit, Ontario. I was down last weekend, but this weekend they just seem to have exploded into every colour imaginable!  Here are a few choice pics!
Each part of the garden has a different aspect and focal point.

What a lovely grouping, one in bloom and one waiting to open.

How I wish this was my garden!

What a colour!