Friday, April 14, 2017


Oh, my poor garden blog, how I have neglected thee!

2014 was the year of the Deck of the Apocalypse, and 2015 and 2016 both pretty much got devoured by much so in 2016, in fact, that I barely touched the garden at all, for which I kind of kicked myself later in the year. So many missed opportunities for gorgeousness. SO this year I am determined to soldier out there and reimpose civilization, especially in the backyard, and I've missed having the documentation of my efforts. SO.

The deck went shockingly smoothly, all things considered - more on this in another post to follow momentarily - and the results are utterly magnificent. It's the best room in the house. And it adds a dimension to the garden, too, because I could never sit outside at night past the point in May where the mosquitos come out, and there is now a delightful spot from which to observe bats, stars and fireflies.

This project created a new planting area that's going to need filling up, namely along the front of the deck, mostly the shady back corner under the apple trees. I could *maybe* add some indestructo shade plants around the a/c unit, too, but I don't want to obstruct it (or any handymen who need to service it) so that area will probably just get some decorative rocks. Another attendant project will be mostly redoing the stone circle, which - alas - was just not up to having a bobcat driven back and forth over it in the course of digging the piers. (The interlock path through the side yard, on the other hand, did not so much as wrinkle, except in the one spot where the base had been disturbed by fence-related digging.) I have a pile of stone dust languishing beside the a/c unit, so maybe I'll add that to the base. Not totally sure how that's going to work...I may have to pull up the whole thing and relevel it all from scratch. Bleh. Hoping I can get away with just doing the half that's been churned up.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

It liiiiiiiiiiiives

Wow, blogging fail for me this year, even more so than last. Almost houseiversary time without a single post. I blame the excruciatingly neverending winter - I think I'd actually started to believe spring was never going to come, so it was a bit of a shock (albeit a delicious one) when it finally arrived - combined with project-related insanity.

SO to recap (and remind myself of what I need to document in photos):

* No seeds. Alas. I didn't even get an order in.

* Plant sale yielded a number of gorgeous dwarf conifers (precioussssss) - pictures to come!

* Brilliant idea from a garden magazine: plant lettuce in hanging baskets, which will keep the slugs off it. Bought pots of lettuce but never got them planted :P but filing this away for future use! Lettuce is, after all, actually very decorative.

* Tree out front got chopped down due to emerald ash borers. This initially left a big stump in the middle of the driveway, prompting me to actually plant a couple of large containers - one for on top of the stump (containing purple fountain grass, bright green sweet potato vines, parsley, cilantro, and basil) and one for the corner next to the shed out back (containing dwarf papyrus, rex begonias, dusty miller and some reddish-purple thing whose name I forget). Am pleasantly surprised by the gorgeousness of the results and their failure to keel over and die from lack of watering. And then the city came along and ground out the stump, so the one container is just sitting in the driveway at the moment, but once I haul the driveway out of its current junkyard state it will be pretty there anyway.

* Fence got redone - not just the back panel, which was actively falling apart, but the whole perimeter, which had also acquired a distinct slant over the winter. $$$, but I am kind of shocked at how good it looks. Aaaaand it involved very few casualties in the garden: the purple clematis and blue corydalis are, I think, the entire list, and the clematis may well have come back if it hadn't been for getting dug up in the subsequent construction project. Also gone...FOR NOW...are the wild and woolly bittersweet vine on the shed and the rampant grapevines. From the upstairs window, though, I can see tendrils of bittersweet vine poking up over the shed's roofline again. It won't be long.

* Revealed by the fence demolition and related cleanup of the carport: there is a sizeable patch of poison ivy growing in a crack between the neighbour's driveway and ours. I REALLY REALLY need to get rid of it - having run afoul of it once, I do NOT want the kids to touch it - and I have no idea how. It laughed in the face of boiling salt water; it was barely intimidated by my mom pouring pool chlorine on it. Will have to march out there with rubber gloves and try yanking it up.

* THE DECK IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION and I am so excited I can hardly think about anything else. IT WILL BE SO GORGEOUS. Also gigantic.

* $20 japanese maple not only survived transplant but seems to be thriving in its new location. SWEET.

* The eremuruses (eremuri?) all bloomed this year. SWEET. Although the orange ones are not quite as tall as they were last year and have 5 blooms, collectively, instead of 6. Hope this is due to brutal winter and not to any deficiency in the soil, which god knows contains near-zero nutrients.

* Periwinkle and grass are on the determined march into the front garden from the neighbour's lawn. Must do something about this before they have invaded irretrievably. REALLY need to get that border I've been planning in, but am already seriously overextended for yard budget this year. May have to put in some plastic edging or something as a stopgap.

* Managed to wield soap and water early against the annual sawfly incursion on the roses, and as a result John Davis is blooming spectacularly at the moment. Prairie Joy is likewise stunning, and Marie Victorin is getting there; think I need some sort of structure to contain it, and/or to do some pruning and make it bush out a bit. Emily Carr's vegetation is looking good, but not many blooms; Morden Blush suffered from some sort of invisible insect plague and is not doing so well. Am astonished that Morden Sunrise even came back this year, given how dead it looked. I should probably dig that one up and give it away, it is just not doing well in my yard. Or maybe I could give it a try out back.

* New additions: more poppies and maltese cross; a double-flowering almond; a couple of fancy sedums. Surprising winter casualty: poofy feather-tailed grass next to the eremuri. That leaves a sizeable space to fill. Am thinking a pyramidal dwarf evergreen (preciousss) may be the way to go there, but am leery of digging around said eremuri for fear of upsetting them.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


I am hereby resolved that I will NOT forget about my seeds this year. There will be seed success come hell or high water!!

The list:

Anchusa azurea 'Dropmore' alkanet
Arabis (Rock cress)
Salmon Maltese Cross
Jerusalem Sage
Kale (purple and dinosaur)
Sunset Flower
Hungarian Blue Breadseed Poppy
Hens and Chicks Poppy
Heirloom sunflower mix

I keep trying annual poppies and I keep failing abysmally at them, despite their being supposedly easy to grow. Still, the somniferum poppies I saw in that garden by the bike path were so enchanting I can't seem to give up on them.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Garden quotes

I'm collecting these for glass purposes, but since they're a propos, I may as well stash them here!

"Gardening is not a rational act." Margaret Atwood

"Garden as though you will live forever." William Kent

"The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway." Michael Pollan

"A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust." Gertrude Jekyll

"The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies." Gertrude Jekyll

"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." Cicero

"There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments." Janet Kilburn Phillips

"May you always find three welcomes: In a garden during summer, at a fireside during winter, and whatever the day or season, in the kind eyes of a friend." Gaelic blessing

"Gardeners, I think, dream bigger than emperors." Mary Cantwell

"I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden." Ruth Stout

"Green fingers are the extensions of a verdant heart." Russell Page

"With life as short as a half taken breath, don't plant anything but love." Rumi

"And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair." Kahlil Gibran

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Picture post from early September, and some planned editing

So with the season drawing to a close, I am pleasantly surprised at how well the garden has weathered my neglect this year. Mostly I think I am reaping the benefits of previous years of planting - as a whole pile of things are getting mature enough to be pretty spectacular - and grunt work (i.e. I suspect things would look VERY DIFFERENT without the last three years' worth of mulch).

I find that things are in some places forming neatly contrasting clumps that are very pleasing to the eye, and in other places they are sort of blending into a big muddle that doesn't show anything to advantage. Next year will have to try to rein things in and prop things up so as to address this.

Really need to pull up those rocks at the front and get rid of all the weeds. Have filled in the east side of the yard with a pile of tall yellow "autumn minaret" daylilies, but they were mostly done by the time I took these pictures.

This sunflower is taller than me!

Lack of cohesion abounds. Siiiiigh. Too many airy plants, possibly? The sedum, weigela and rose campion make for nice blocks of colour, but otherwise, bleh. Should try rearranging this section next year, possibly with the addition of some more dwarf conifers (precioussss) as anchors...

Lespedeza. Eeeeeeeeexcellent. Will have to use a peony hoop or something to prop it up a bit next year.

And in the back, encouraging degrees of colour!

Dragon statue relocated to keep his namesake company. Am thinking the blank spot (with all the periwinkle in this picture) might be a good place for a tsuga canadensis (moon frost or gentsch white) - couldn't quite bring myself to fork out $80 for a big one, though. Will keep my eye out for an itty bitty one!

Not bad! Loving the phlox at the back in particular at the moment...

Tall purple phlox is AWESOME but needs support because it has flopped eeeeverywhere. Willow needs cutting back, and so do the grapevines, which are trying to climb onto it. Need to try pinching the purple sedum back next year in hope of reducing its sprawliness. New additions: yellow barberry, Pusch dwarf spruce, and stokesia (now blooming in an eye-watering purple; must remember to take pix!)

Other schemes involving this bed: way in the back corner, completely hidden from view, is my $20 japanese maple. These things are supposed to be relatively easy to transplant, so late this fall, once it drops its leaves, I am going to soldier back there, dig it up, and move it somewhere I will actually be able to see it. And if it up and dies on me as a result, well, it was $20, and has been invisible for years now, so I won't have sacrificed much.

Beat back the golden oregano and added a Hedgehog white spruce, a purple veronica, and an anemone (have not had much luck with these so far, but stunning specimens in the market suggest that they might need more sun - so we'll see what happens with this location!) Still looks kind of a mess, but we'll see if it might improve with establishment.

Bee balm, joe pye weed and chelone all sort of disappear into an undifferentiated mass of stems about halfway down the bed. Must fix; not sure how. Introduce contrast, maybe?

Since the delphiniums have vanished and the hydrangeas and bee balm threaten to take over, my evil scheme is to pull out said hydrangeas and bee balm and replace them with the previously mentioned $20 japanese maple, which will be a nice colour contrast in this bed and open up some room for understorey plants - such as the dwarf golden japanese yew I purchased today, which would be a nice bright (yet shade tolerant) contrast. Am thinking another clematis would be good on the fence too, since it is otherwise a long bland white expanse.

Detail of the sun bed, with newly purchased plants and thriving rue. Am pretty pleased with this combination.

Grass in the wall bed! Stragglier than it ought to be, really; we'll see if it fills in. Maybe not getting enough sun.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Houseiversary Post - Five Years!!

OK, am cheating a little bit, because most of these pictures are actually from the very end of June, but almost every time I've escaped into the yard with enough forethought to take pictures, it's been just dark enough that my pictures are all hopelessly blurry. I think I need a tripod.

ANYWAY. Five years!
Pretty happy with this, all told! Colour! Texture! Variety! Desperately needs filling in on the east side, though, where I have heretofore only planted sunflowers. Possibilities include grasses, Degroot's Spire arborvitae, transplanted asparagus (tired of it flopping all over everything else at the very front) and more crocosmia (because I needs it, precious!) Also need to dig up all the weeds determinedly sprouting at the edge of the swale and transplant all the little rue seedlings that decided to spring up among the rocks. Have successfully relocated a handful so far. Compare: 2011, 2010

Featuring eremurus. Holy crap. People were stopping in the street to look at these. Am SO planting more. 

How's this for magical?!

Another view of the top third of the yard, since I was frustrated with its bland lack of cohesion in previous years. It's becoming encouragingly colourful...

...although not perfect. More anchor-like evergreens, maybe? Something to balance out the rose campion explosion? Still, at least it's getting somewhere - compare: 2012 (albeit earlier in the year). Or maybe half the trick of this is photographing it at the right angle.

Sea holly of gorgeousness.
Overall. This view really makes the bare strip at the east edge jump out. Compare: 2011, 2010

Hmm, repetition really does help to make things come together. Rose campion FTW. Compare: 2011, 2010.

Have I mentioned how much I am coming to love that Caramel heuchera?

I thought this thing was a goner, based on its late appearance and spindliness, but lo and behold...!

Going around the beds: west shade bed. In need of some tidying up and some relocation of crazy daisies, which have determinedly reseeded themselves all over the front of the bed, where they are too tall. Must remember to take a picture of the spot behind the peonies, invisible from this angle but encouraging in its loveliness. Have really been enjoying the mulleins in this bed, but note to self for next year: they need staking. Compare: 2011, 2010.

Sun bed, with a big hole in the front left by the gypsophila, which mysteriously up and died this winter. Compare: 2011, 2010.

Wall bed. Argh. Grass is slowly getting itself established; we'll see if it succeeds in adding some height and variety back there. Need something for the rose to ramble on; need to tame the golden oregano; need to replace the cotoneaster with something more inspiring. Also need to get the damn fence fixed. Compare: 2011, 2010.

Rather happier with the corner bed, although a variety of things need to be beaten back and separated. Attempting to cage the Joe Pye weed this year, but there's so much of it I'm not sure it will work. Compare: 2011, 2010.

East bed looking deceptively civilized, thanks to the splashy hosta and caramel heuchera. Hydrangeas and bee balm both need taming; that should clear things up a bit. Delphiniums seem to have petered out, tragically. Maybe I'll see if I can get the purple clematis to climb over this way as a replacement. Compare: 2011, 2010.

Combo view of the west side of the garden. Grape vines are getting decimated this fall to put a stop to their mad takeover bid.

Aaaaaand a couple weeks later in the front.  Half the rue has mysteriously died, although it's reseeded itself copiously, to my delight.

Otherwise noteworthy is the red bee balm, which has finally gotten a chance to bloom in the absence of whatever insect plague was destroying it before. Need to spread some of this around the garden, I think. Would be a nice spot of colour on the east side, for example. At the bottom is the knautia I planted from seed, gloriously long-blooming.

Evidence that the front yard needs more crocosmia: encouraging colourfulness becoming ever more glorious.

And bee balm in the back, too. Lime-green hosta makes me happy, as do the heucheras by the shed. Compare: early 2012, 2011.

Vines filling in beautifully (and helpfully disguising the orange power cord for the fountain) along with assorted companions to the maple. Spikenard managed to return, against all expectations, although it's only a few leaves bigger than it was last year.
Longer view - ignoring the small heap of rubble that needs to be removed, I am pretty damn thrilled with the colourfulness of this, esp given dry shade conditions. Compare: early 2012, earlier 2012 (pre-bricks). VICTORY.

And backyard overall, with a smidge more colour thanks to bee balm and daylilies.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mid-June, ZOMG

I may faint dead away with delight.

Peonies! Kaboooom!!

And Eremurus, beginning to be truly heart-stopping - must take more pictures in the next couple days!

Must take more pictures of these in the next couple of days.
Icing on the cake:

Gas plant (aka dittany) blooming! Squeeee finally!! Thought I had pink as well as white, but this does not dampen my glee.

Rose Glow barberry, exploding most colourfully, proving yet again that maxim about how first year they sleep, second year creep, and third year leap.

Red feathers, evidently quite happy in this spot, and gloriously long-lasting, too.  

Tomorrow I muster out to do battle with heinous shit-bugs, since they are on their pre-July march again. While I'm at it hopefully I will remember to take pictures of the backyard.