Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Spring Walk in Riverwood

The Chappell house
I went on a bird walk with a garden club member, Sophie - who is a much better and more sophisticated photographer than I - but I publish! I must admit that I failed to truly identify the birds the guide pointed out.  Many were a silhouette only, when I located them with my binoculars! I don't know if it's my vision or my binoculars. I did manage to see a creeper for the first time.  I am amazed that I can live this long and only see some things for the first time now!  Life is exciting!
While we didn't see all the birds our knowledgeable guides pointed out, the wild flowers were a delight!
The formal gardens with Spring bulbs.

A toad resting on the grass for all to see. 

Bloodroot, a very Canadian wildflower, when you break the root it bleeds red. 
Our bird guide told us the name. Colt's foot making a blanket of colour in a drab corner. I had never seen it before.
You can just make out the yellow adder's tongue, (dog tooth violet) . It has many names.
Dogwood with its brilliant winter colour.  
Scuptures dot the park. 
A mallard in it's own little stream.

April Showers bring May Flowers

The first emerging stalks of the Goldheart Bleeding heart.. Spring is on the way!
I just have to show you my goldheart bleeding heart.  I was amazed to see the bright lime leaves poking up through the soil already.  The red stalks are a hidden delight that I hadn't anticipated when I bought it last year. .  I have been so pleased with this varietial. It continued to keep its leaves all last summer and now is emerging way ahead of its temperamental cousin. You can see the blue silia blooms which carpet most properties in this area right now all aroung the plant.
Goldheart in bloom 2010, much later in the Spring.
 I've always had trouble getting bleeding heart to establish in my garden and I've liked it since I was a little girl.  I used to pass a bush on my way to school and I remember how amazed I was the first time I saw the little hearts hanging on the vine.
So welcome, Goldheart! You are my new favourite Spring flower!  You've managed to knock Virginia bluebells with the their pink dusted blue cups off my number one spot.   

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter was Urned!

My Easter urn: willow, dogwood, black mondo grass, primroses, pansies and sedums that survived the winter in the urn.

Urns always make your property feel loved and welcoming to visitors. I wanted my Easter guests to know that I was delighted to have them visit.  Sunny yellow is always a good choice for Spring, I think. But I have been amazed by people who just don't like the colour. I painted my first baby's room yellow and I never grew tired of it.
Start with an interesting container and go for fullness and height in your urn. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rhubard - the quintessential Canadian fruit, er, vegetable

I've got to admit that eating Rhubard pie is one of the highlights of Spring for me.  Even as a child I used to wait with delight for the first crop to be ready for harvest.  We made pies and cottage pudding - a type of upside down dish that was a family favourite.  Now I love it stewed, especially on jello!

The yummy delight of a tart,  fresh rhubarb pie!
I have it planted by the doors of my garden shed and it looks so pretty with its deeply ruffled leaves and bright red stalks.  My rhizomes came from my mother- in-law and it's the best rhubarb I have ever tasted.  It's an ever bearing variety.  The first flush of stalks in the spring are the best, but it continues to bear almost all summer if you keep removing the flower stalks.

Many of my garden customers want to keep a spot in their flower gardens for 'grandmother's rhubarb'. It seems to be one of those plants that have a strong sentimental value, - the other is peonies.  Maybe because those plants live so long.

 To divide rhubarb, dig the root mass and divide the crown between buds or eyes, into pieces about 2" long, with roots attached. You can divide in spring or fall, but it’s easier in spring, when the plant is coming out of dormancy and growing new roots.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spring Urns - A welcome sight

A modern take - monochronomatic
Pussywillows always signal Spring!

Time to get outside and tear out the sad brown remanents what was your wonderful Christmas urn! We have had weather that is only fit to spit upon, so create an urn to gladden your heart every time you go outside. Here are some samples of the ones made at Sheridan Nurseries.
If you want me to come and do one for you, let me know!

Modern colour scheme

Wouldn't you like me outside your door?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Seeds - the sign of hope

Sweet anticipation! Today I bought Morning Glory and Snapdragon seeds.  They are the only ones I try to raise from seed and that I find respond reliably to my haphazard planting methods.  But I must wait until 'all danger of frost is past'.
I don't start them indoors because I forget to water them, or water them so much they get 'damp'.
My trick is to put them in the freezer until I am ready to plant, usually just 2 weeks before May 24 weekend. Then I take them out, soak them overnight and put them between two pieces of paper towel.  When they sprout, I plant them , still sandwiched between the two pieces of paper towel. This is my little secret that you now can all share - go forth and multiply!
The paper towel protects the little root and gives me something to put the soil on to anchor them in place where I want them to bloom. Come July, I will show you a photo of my Morning glories.  I love the blue ones!
I have perennial sweet peas, that bloom , but I want the annual ones for cutting. I've also planted the small dark purple morning glories with the barely perceptible fushia stripe on them and have some success with them coming back every year. I've been in gardens where they are happily situated and just bloom all summer, alas mine is not one of them. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bird Walks at Riverwood

The promise is fine weather on Thursday, so go for a walk.  It's an excellent time to see the birds as the trees have not leafed out and you can locate them more readily.  
Sculpture outside Chappell house garden, taken in the Fall.

Bird Watching Hikes
Join expert birders Luc Fazio and Dan Salisbury for a series of bird watching hikes at Riverwood. Bring your binoculars and discover our magnificent spring migratory birds. Great for families, new birders and experienced ones alike! Meet at the main (first) parking lot by the sign board at Riverwood.
·        April  27 (2:30 to 4:00 pm)

Since the West Nile virus I haven't seen many Blue Jays lately
Health Walks: The Upper Terrace of Riverwood
TRC and the City of Mississauga Parks and Recreation are working together to provide a series of informative and healthy walks at Riverwood and Erindale. The first half of the walk with be led by TRC volunteer where participants learn about the park and its features. Then Mike Erison leads a brisk heart-healthy walk through Riverwood’s beautiful forest. Be sure to dress for a brisk walk.
·         Saturday, April 23, 9:00 - 10:30 am

Earth: A Celebration
Mark your calendar on Friday, April 29, 2011, the date for our 10th annual Earth: A Celebration. This evening of philanthropy, camaraderie and networking will again be held at the Oasis Convention Centre in Mississauga. Proceeds from the event will help support a new Special Needs Garden and grow our community programs in education, stewardship, gardening and volunteerism at Riverwood park. We hope you can join us! For more information and to purchase tickets and tables, please see our website or call905-279-5878 or email:    

Special Announcements

Get a change to see all these at Riverwood Conservancy
·         THE RIVERWOOD CONSERVANCY is now on Facebook.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Do you Belong to a Garden Club?

There are many advantages to joining a club.  I belong to one in my area of Mississauga, Ontario.  Here is the info on our guest speaker for this month. 

Cloverleaf Garden Club next meeting

Frank Kershaw will be presenting "Historic Gardens of Ontario".
Frank Kershaw is a well-known horticulturalist. He has published articles in Canadian Gardening, Family Circle, TLC for Plants, Wildflower and Trellis magazines, and he has also appeared many times on various TV shows.  Frank has led numerous garden tours throughout North America, Bermuda, Caribbean and elsewhere where he has visited several thousand gardens.

Also at the meeting we will be taking orders for Alliums for the fund raiser of the year for the OHA. Each package of bulbs is $5 (elsewhere they usually cost $10), and the bulbs will be delivered at the September meeting in time for fall planting.

Frank Kershaw presentation is followed by a judged flower show and refreshments.  For information on how to enter the flower show, please check your copy of the 2010 members yearbook and/or contact Celia Roberts (905-844-1110), Marie Decker (905-844-1837) or Daphne Van Ginkel (905 823-1099).

Date & Time:  Wednesday April 20th, 7:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Location:        Mississauga Seniors' Centre (1389 Cawthra Rd., south of QEW)
Non-members are welcome ($5)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Watching Bald Eagles

Riverwood Conservancy, view of The Credit River
The CBC has a link to a nest of bald eagles.  Two fledglings have hatched and one more is expected to hatch in the next two days.  There is  live web streaming, which will probably continue into July when the fledglings will be able to hop to different branches and are almost ready to leave the nest. You can see the birds being fed and the parents sitting on the nest.  It is an excellent view of nature up close.

Last year at Riverwood Conservancy we were watching a Cooper hawk's nest.  I am sure they are back this year. Bird watching hikes start April 6, 8 am  and Apr. 13, 2:30.  Visit  the web site for more info.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Really, stay out!

New Heuchera heaved out of the soil.  Luckily I saved some earth this year so I could  blanket the little roots.
It isn't quite time to get out in the garden yet.  Tromping around in the wet earth will only compact the soil and cause all kinds of problems for your plants.  But we just can't wait for winter to be gone!  I was out picking up sticks in the garden, which had fallen from my big old trees and I had a good look for signs of life.  They are everywhere!  Crocus poking up, tulip bulbs up about an inch, and the fat green tips of hyacinths are ready to shoot up with the slightest bit of warm weather.
Hyacinths poking out, but the sedum has heaved and needs to be pushed back down.
Early crocus turn their purple faces to the sun in the morning, only to close on cloudy days!

Here's a list of things you may do in the garden in April:

 Remember: No walking on the grass or flowerbeds while the ground is wet and soggy. Soil compaction occurs, wait till the ground dries out

 Clean and sharpen hand tools such as pruners and shovels ready for the season

 Apply dormant oil sprays to fruit trees and woody plants to control hibernating insects. Apply it while the buds are swelling, but before the leaves open out. Good time indicator is when the frost is out of the ground.

 Once the ground has thawed, look for plants that have heaved out of the soil and resettle them. This is very important, as heaved plant roots are very susceptible to freezing when those blasts of 'below zero' occur.

 Start cutting back the ornamental grasses and dead stalks

April chores can include looking after your Lawn

Lawn Care:
  • April brings in warmer temperatures and spring rains, so now is a good time to seed, overseed, or sod the lawn. Be aware that newly seeded lawns may take two or more weeks to germinate in the cooler spring weather. Watch for temperatures above 10 degrees C for about 4 - 5 days as a gauge to start sowing.
  • When weather conditions permit, remove excess thatch from your lawn and aerate it, if necessary. This should not be done too often, and is actually better done in the fall for our area's cool-season grasses.
  • Get your mower blade sharpened. Mowing with a dull blade tears the ends of grass blades, leaving ragged ends which later turn brown, and also encourages the spread of fungus disease. You want to be ready for May and June growth!

Ready for Garden Clean up?

Snowdrops, the perfect early bulb in our climate starting to spread a carpet over the back yard.  There now isn't that better than bare earth?
If you are looking for someone to help with Spring Clean up in your Mississauga, Ontario  Garden email: