Thursday, September 30, 2010


Poking around for local garden blogs, I happened across this post, and thought that a spiral garden was about the coolest idea for a garden design I'd ever seen. So I started thinking and doodling about the front yard...aaaaaaaand...


Ph33r my mad paint skillz! I even managed to copy and paste the dirt all over the yard to illustrate the elimination of grass. But yes! A spiral path - possibly made out of reclaimed brick - would bring the existing beds together beautifully, I think!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Note to self: need more lime-green, silver, white-flowering, or otherwise bright plants in the east bed, especially things that are in good form at this time of year. It's quite dark and dreary over there as it stands. Possibilities:

* heucheras
* bright-coloured hostas
* ghost ferns
* annuals, i.e. begonias
* more silvery brunnera, e.g. looking glass
* hakonechloa

For more colour, since the turtlehead is the only thing blooming on that side at the moment, and the chocolate boneset will bloom white:

* monkshood (3', blue flowers)
* hardy cyclamen
* more anemones (or possibly moving the one I have, it's not looking so good this year and isn't flowering - too much shade??)
* kirengeshoma palmata, aka yellow waxbells

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stupid fall. Why does it have to get dark out so early? I want to be in the garden!!

I am doing some editing to accommodate my recent purchases. I tore out the beans, which makes a pretty dramatic difference to the architecture of the whole bed. With the digitalis, ginger, and sweet woodruff moved elsewhere, this will give me space to put the gigantor rheum palmatum in the back of the bed instead, where it will fill up the space nicely and be much more visible than the current occupants. The digitalis will go between the RP and the peonies, with room for more of the less gigantic and more colourful kind come spring; the ginger, which has gotten pretty massive since last summer, will be in the front of the corner bed where there's both room and visibility for it. The sweet woodruff can go in front of the lady's mantle and chocolate boneset in the side bed, since there's a big blank there that could use some groundcover.

Found an awesome spot for the phlox in front of the rose and the irises, since it will fill the gap nicely when those are finished blooming. Not totally sure what I'm going to do with the clematis yet; with the prairie joy rose and the rose campion where they are I don't think I'd be able to see it in the middle of the sun bed, which is the most obvious spot for it.

Ooh, and now it's pouring rain, so the transplants are getting a good watering in. Eeeeeeexcellent.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

So the Rideau Woodland Ramble previously mentioned? Gorgeous, inspiring, and all-around delightful. I agree with the garden magazines, it is definitely worth the drive. Must go back in the spring - they have rhododendrons taller than me! I hope mine manage to achieve that stature eventually.

Aaaaaand, to make this trip EVEN MORE AWESOME, they had a sale on! So, the spoils:

* two gigantor phlox ("Natascha" - pinky-purple striped and mildew-resistant)
* a rheum palmatum "atrosanguineum" - not totally sure where I'll put it yet, maybe it will replace the beans? I couldn't resist!
* a pink new england aster, which claims to stay shorter than my sprawling purple one, but has weirdly bare leggy stems, so have to find something low-lying yet bushy to plant it behind
* a bush clematis - who knew clematis comes in bush form?? - called china purple. It doesn't climb, but has lovely lime-green leaves and purple late-summer flowers and funky seedpods. AND it's apparently highly fragrant when in bloom. It gets to be about 3' x 3' so again not totally sure where I'll put it, but it was too cool to pass up.

I was sorely tempted by a beautiful rose with bronzy foliage and orange-fading-to-yellow blossoms, too, but it was a floribunda, which means my lazy-ass approach to winter protection would probably spell its doom.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Purchased today at the Ottawa Horticultural Society's plant sale:

* veronica - red and pink, since I have some blue already
* white globeflower - the yellow one was so lovely and long-lasting that I figured this was probably a good bet
* a massive pink astilbe, since the price was right
* centaurea, which I had passed over in the spring and then regretted not buying because it was so pretty in other people's gardens

Overheard at said plant sale:

"I can't wait for spring!"

OMG ME TOO. And I don't feel quite so dorky about it knowing I'm not the only one.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Arrrrgh, curse you, american garden magazines!! Paging through Fine Gardening's delicious Autumn Garden publication, I spied the most gorgeous hardy mums:

Emperor of China - 3 to 4 feet tall

Pacific chrysanthemum - cute groundcover

J. C. Weigelan and Mei-kyo are also lovely. WE WANTS SOME, PRECIOUSSSS. But I can't find them anywhere! Checked all my catalogues, checked the online catalogues of a couple of local garden centres, phoned another one. I'm not 100% sure these are even actually hardy here...the pacific ones would be OK, since the flowers are sort of secondary to the cool foliage anyway, but Emperor of China apparently doesn't bloom until late October, and then dies with the first heavy frost...which would be pushing it here, I think. Sniff!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Garden destination to check out some weekend: Rideau Woodland Ramble

Plant to keep an eye out for, probably for the front yard somewhere, since I don't think I have room for anything so massive in the back anymore: Rheum palmatum 'Atrosanguineum'.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Here's an overall pic for September, just for the record:


And some documentation of the rosesplosion:


Stoopid flash lighting - you can really see the buds in this one, though.

Prairie joy rose, finally somewhat resembling a shrub.

Also, because I am sick to death of the weedy, crappy lawn back here, this is what I've been thinking we should replace it with (as close as my mad Paint skillz can render it, anyway).

Basically: a little corner deck enclosed by lattice with stairs leading down to a larger, lower deck that would leave no more than a strip of grass around the edge of the patio. And even that maybe I would convert into a planted border. What say you, internets? Would it mess with my riotous secret-garden aesthetic to have something so structured and rectilineal taking up half the yard? And maybe I'd be wiser to leave the lawn there for kids to play on...but then by the time we can afford to do this our kids will probably be old enough not to need the lawn anymore anyway :P Considering that we'd need to cut a door opening into the exterior wall and I'd want to do the whole thing in cedar, this is kind of a big-ticket renovation...$7500 at least, I'd guess, and probably more. And it would be strictly mad money, because there's no way we'd get that kind of $$ back from resale.

One way to make it a little breezier/more romantic would be to have...not a roof, precisely, but an arbour-type structure around the top section, which could have virginia creeper and clematis growing up it and from which one could hang billowy canopy/curtains and a candle-chandelier. Although again with the $$. Not as bad as roofing it over entirely, though.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

To Do This Year
* weeding: remaining 1/3 of backyard, front yard
* mow the damn lawn, such as it is
* prep front yard expansion
* plant bulbs, including lots of alliums (especially in shade bed, next to hazel, and front yard)
* clean up the throughway - why, why, why does this always end up such a mess??

To Do Next Year
* prune yew, willow, grapevines, roses if necessary
* front yard expansion, including replacing the black lace elder if necessary, since it isn't doing so well...note to self: mid-summer is NOT the time to plant shrubs
* make use of Fine Gardening's sneaky edging technique throughout front and back
* mulch again, since it is working so beautifully this year - although 1.5 cu yd ought to be plenty this time!!
* prepare for vacation time such that mulching can start right at the beginning of it, since it's a big frigging job
* line paths between beds and possibly also a strip around the patio with river rocks or gravel - soil and mulch washed down over the stones I put down and they have completely disappeared
* spray the front side bed with soap and water at regular intervals early in the spring, since everything in there is looking very munched-upon
* 6' stakes for delphiniums...also stakes and/or hoops for crocosmia, lilies, joe pye weed, goldenrod
* plant more phlox everywhere, because damn, come midsummer that stuff really rocks
* plant more digitalis
* plant some asclepias (yay butterflies!!)
* plant some eryngeum
* get an early start on continuing Operation Sudden Lily Beetle Death
* plant some annuals, since the ongoing colour is nice

To NOT Do Next Year
* don't plant beans in the backyard, since they are beetle bait. May see how they do out front, though
* don't bother starting seeds ahead, or at least not so many, since the only place where there's adequate light and protection from the cats is also somewhere I'm liable to forget about them completely
* don't plant cleome in the front yard - too dry and/or exposed for it there, evidently
I ventured out into the garden this afternoon after a long stretch of disgust and discouragement with it. Lo and behold, it weathered my neglect pretty well, so I did a bunch of weeding and came in much more optimistic than I went out.

Japanese beetles have come and gone. At least they have a short season. Apparently the weather conditions have made this a doozy of a year for them all over Ontario. I was not as vigilant about picking them off the beans as maybe I should have been; hopefully this will not mean I am stuck with a horrible grub problem in the "lawn" next year. They also got at the corkscrew hazel - not a big deal, since that plant is all about winter appeal anyway. Otherwise, though, the damage was encouragingly minimal. Even the beans are recovering, having put out piles of new leaves and blooms.

In other encouraging news: I have rose-explody! The blaze rose re-bloomed with a spray of about 10 flowers that lasted for weeks. Now that it's out of the shadow of the bee balm, the prairie joy rose has at least doubled in size...guess that answers the question of how I make it bush out. And the fairy rose, whose straggliness was worrying me, has put out half again its previous size in new shoots, and is covered in buds. Pictures to follow!

Between the asters, the fairy rose, the assorted sedums, the rudbeckia, and the turtlehead - and possibly also the lemon lights azalea; wtf is it doing putting out flowers now?? - it should be a nicely colourful month out there.