Thursday, June 25, 2015

Spring has Sprung

Well at least I think Spring has come.  Where there was one bunny

Now there are two more, one of which is a baby.

The guy at the shop did warn us they multiplied.  I guess cold weather doesn't deter them.

It hasn't been a warm spring, that's for sure.  Just last week we had a frost warning.  Frost, in mid-June!!!  I have struggled getting the vegetable garden in because I was afraid to plant out the warm weather plants like basil, peppers and pumpkins.

It was a good year for tulips though.  They like it cold.

Last summer I moved all of my spring flowering bulbs and plants to one side of my flower bed and grouped them together.  I was looking for impact and the results were beautiful.

Just as I had hoped, cushion spurge mixed well with pink and white tulips, the hostas opened up and complemented the daffodils.

The anemone has finally spread into a considerable mound and provided a fantastic backdrop to pink and purple tulips.

Of course, there's always a few hiccups along the way.  The late frosts killed off the majority of our apple blossoms.  and the daffodils appear to be dwindling.  Usually daffodils multiply and expand but this variety seems to be dying off.  So I will need to try a different variety next year.  Something a little more robust.  Any suggestions for a favourite daffodil and where to buy them?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Big Hug and Many Thanks

It was a cold and rainy morning but despite the weather it was a great day to shop for plants.

A little rain was no matter for these shoppers.
Just put on your wellies and pick your plants!
I want to say a heartfelt thank you to all the many many people who, once again, pulled off an amazing Community Plant Sale.

To my fellow committee members, Beatrice and Donna, thank you for the time you commit each year to making this event happen.

A warm hug to Melda and Anne for handing out coffee and muffins, keeping us fed and caffeinated throughout the day.

Many thanks for all the hands that shovelled manure including Bill, Cliff, Ben, and Tapani.

Our manure loading area
No one would find our sale if it weren't for JoDee's amazing posters and signs guiding them to the site.

Thank you to Rhoda for selling raffle tickets and providing her beautiful rhubarb and dahlias.

Huge thanks to Gordon, Penny, Ginny, JoDee, Calleen, and Mari for a superb sales job.

For Ira who helped move picnic tables, once, twice, three times over and was our all round 'go to' guy.

Many thanks to Hayden for picking up a load of compost and to Jamie for providing the manure.

They might be wet but they're having a great time
A massive hug to the many many many people who donated plants.  I don't know all your names but we are truly grateful for your support.

We had a fantastic raffle once again this year and the prizes were stunning as always.

Thanks goes out to Melda for her hanging planter and the gift basket,  to JoDee and Floyd for the eye catching birdhouse and to Bill Van Kempen of Van Kampens Nursery for the lovely iris.

A special shout out to Gail Kern and husband Joe of The Summer Garden in Argyle Shore.  They made an astounding donation of several hundred tomato plants.  There was Honey bunch, Juliet, Mountain Merit, Marbonne, Rose de Berne, Plum Regal and soooo many more.  I think there was around 30 varieties in total.  We all know how much I love my tomatoes so you know I brought a couple home with me to try out.

And finally, thank you to everyone who came and shopped.  Your dollars keep our old one room Schoolhouse a vibrant part of the community.

Which reminds me....  the Rhubarb Social is on Tuesday, June 16 at 6pm.  Location, the Canoe Cove Schoolhouse .... see you there?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Canoe Cove Plant Sale

It's a sure sign of Spring.

The Plant Sale is coming..... and that means a raffle featuring a locally made birdhouse, canteen with fresh baked goodies, aged manure and compost, used garden books, a playground for the children.....

and PLANTS.  lots and lots and lots of PLANTS

This Anemone sylvestris will be available for sale
Sale begins at 9am on Saturday June 6, 2015 and ends at noon.  Rain or shine.  In the case of rain we hold the sale in the Park buildings.

This sale is held by the Canoe Cove Community Association in support of the old Canoe Cove Schoolhouse.

The schoolhouse lit up at Christmas
If you would like to donate plants or used garden books please feel free to drop them off at Canoe Cove Park on Friday, June 5, 2015 between 6 and 8 pm

To find the sale follow the map, there will be signs directing you once you get to Canoe Cove

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Long Cold Spring

I was beginning to think Spring would never come.  The cold weather clung to us with an icy grip and refused to let go.  In mid-April we thought it was starting to retreat and the snow began to melt creating icy rivers of gushing water.

A river of melting snow behind our house
That wasn't the last of it though.  It snowed all day on April 28.  April 28.  All. day.  Thick fluffy flakes.  I wanted to cry  ...  and move South.

But the cold has now finally passed.  The snow has (mostly) melted and plants are beginning to show signs of growth.  I have begun the work of winter clean up and spring preparations.

The first task was to survey the winter damage.  The sheer weight of all the snow we had this year took its toll on the trees.  Broken limbs littered the ground and I spent hours pruning away ripped and torn branches.

Some trees were snapped right in half but the majority will survive.  Perhaps a little thinner than they were before.  Others received emergency repairs.

A large branch on this birch is partly split from the trunk and is being held together temporarily.  My hope is the bark will eventually grow over and heal the wound.  It's not a surefire solution but I'm hoping it might work.

Around the garage I cleaned out the flower beds, removing some old plants and making space for new.

Dead plants littered the beds around the garage

Post clean up things are looking a lot neater
Although the vegetable garden still needs a lot of work I have managed to plant some spinach and lettuce.  I'll need to work hard though to get beds ready for the big plant in the next couple weeks.  These tomatoes will need to move from their hut on the porch to larger quarters.

The same goes for the flower garden.  Tulips and daffodils are starting to sprout but they are having to work through a layer of dead leaves to get to the sun.

Lots of clean up is needed to get the garden looking good for summer again.

And it wouldn't be spring without a few household chores as well.  We finally got round to fixing up the front door.  After we painted the exterior of the house the door looked pretty ratty.  The old wooden screen door kept blowing off the hinges in the winter storms so we found a tight fitting storm door to replace it.  Then we decided that ugly old metal door had to go.

The screen door was replaced first with a proper storm
door but that metal door just looked wrong
We found a perfect vintage door to replace it but it needed some work.  Cracked glass was replaced, a new coat of paint was added as well as a brand new lockset.  This is the result.

It looks better than new and suits the house much better too.

How is spring coming where you live?

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Always Unfinished Flower Garden

Some of you may remember that I promised myself I was going to finish my flower garden last year. After working away for the past 4 years I swore up and down that 2014 was the year I would finally complete it.

Siberian Iris 'Caesar's Brother' and perennial Bachelor's Button in June
I'm here to report.  That didn't happen.

This garden is taking off at the speed of a turtle stuck in a pool of honey.  It started out 5 years ago as a small circle around a forlorn apple tree and I thought, well that's just too small.  It looks out of scale against this large house.  So I enlarged it.  A lot.  It's now 50 feet long and 25 feet wide.

It's not that the size was a bad idea.  I love how big it is.  Passerbys can see it from the street.  I can see it from inside the house through my bay windows.  But I didn't take into account how much work it would be to plant all that space.

Oh I tried.  I dug and dug, put in yards of compost and plants.  I have had some good results.  One end of the bed is fully planted and even starting to mature a bit.

The original starting point around the apple tree is now filled in with flowers
I'm quite pleased with some of the plant pairings.  Siberian Iris 'Caesar's Brother' and 'Snow Queen' look wonderful together.

 Late in the season Autumn Joy sedum and blue fescue combine for a cool autumn look.

 This unplanned collaboration of Jupiter's Beard and Evening Primrose was a lovely surprise.

The problem was I didn't plant enough plants, nor did I mulch.  And so the weeds took over. For the last couple seasons I have been battling weeds in an attempt to gain my garden back.

those aren't flowers, those are WEEDS
I came close.  There is just a small corner of the garden left to dig over.  I'm ready for that corner this year.  I have bags of mulch on hand ready to fight the good fight, and I have pre-purchased plants so once the ground is dug the space will be promptly filled.

 the left side looks good but the right needs some work
Part of what is slowing me down is that in addition to digging out the weed filled areas I'm constantly assessing and reviewing what I've already done.  It's hard to finish the whole garden when I keep going back and changing things.

That's a garden though isn't it?  As it matures we realize what works and what doesn't.  There's one thing I found that I really don't like.  What do you think of these?

Rudbeckia hirta
It's not that I don't like Rudbeckia.  In fact they're great flowers.  The bees love them and they grow easily from seed.  But they are SOOO ORANGE.  At least they look really orange when they're planted next to a bright pink flower.

Filipendula and Rudbeckia clashing in the August garden
These seeds were originally tossed in as filler and I think it's high time I removed them.  Jody likes them but every time I look at those flowers I cringe.  I have yellow in the garden but the Rudbeckia is not the right shade of yellow in my eyes.  What's your opinion, would you pull them or keep them?

Another issue that was giving me trouble was the spring flowers.  Originally I planted spring blooms all over the bed thinking I should spread them out.  It didn't work.  Cushion spurge sat alone in an island of not quite living perennials.  Tulips sprang out of a sea of dead foliage and looked quite lonely.  So I moved them all.  Grouping them together in one section I planted anemone and columbine, spurge, February daphne, tulips and daffodils.

Anemone are early bloomers in my garden
I'm hoping for a spring explosion this year.  I don't want to hunt and peck all over my garden looking for flowers.  With any luck this will give more impact in one area and later in the season the other areas will take over.

Columbine are the first blooms to follow the bulbs
And so you see why this is taking so long.  I make a choice and then I take it back.  And then I change my mind again.  By the time I get settled the weeds are back and we start all over again.  Wish me luck trying to 'finish' my flower garden this year. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Long Gone Bouquets

I'm still digging through my old photos.  I took a lot of pictures last summer but failed to post any.  I think I lost my blogging mojo somewhere.

June blooms - Spirea, Filipendula and Scabiosa
I usually try and pick at least one bouquet of flowers every month out of my garden.  I love flowers indoors and putting together bouquets gives me another perspective on my garden.

A simple bouquet of peonies and lady's mantle in early July
My theory is if my flowers look good together in the garden they should look good in a vase.  But that's not always the case.  Sometimes they don't go together at all or I'm missing some critical element and I find myself rethinking my planting schemes.

Siberian iris and lady's mantle
Sometimes it's a simple issue of some plants don't make good cut flowers.  I don't design my gardens for cut flowers so that's not necessarily a bad flaw.

Late July brings Filipendula blooms, Veronica, Pearl and Ligularia
A mistake I do see though is a lack of green filler.  I always struggle to find some green to set the flowers against.  The reason is obvious, my garden lacks shrubs and other woody plants.

August bouquet - Asparagus leaves, Rudbeckia hirta and Rudbeckia 'Golden Glow'
I get caught up in the blooms sometimes and forget that you need a backdrop.  The green framework is what the flowers hang on and is very important.  Something to consider for this upcoming garden season.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Halifax Public Gardens

Van Dusen wasn't the only garden I visited last year.  Later in the summer we made a short trip to Halifax.  Oddly enough I always seem to end up in Halifax during the winter.  This was my first time there in summer and I knew exactly what I wanted to see.  I've walked past this garden many times but it's closed in winter.

This time I was able to walk right in and see all the sights at the Halifax Public Gardens.  This garden is a national historic site created in 1874 when two older gardens were combined.  It's a Victorian style garden and very different from the gardens I am used to seeing.

Victorian gardens tend to be quite formal.  They were used to displayed exotic plant collections and often had brightly coloured symmetrical flower beds.  Ornamentation was prized and Victorians did it big displaying large gazebos and sculptures.

The Halifax garden demonstrated many of these typical Victorian characteristics.  There were numerous statues and grand water features.

This very ornate bandstand is surrounded by brightly planted perennial beds.

 Many plantings were impossibly intricate, like this snake that wove through the grass.

There were several of these snakes winding around, perfectly edged and planted in annuals.

Even the more natural looking plantings still featured statues and large masses of plants.

I really enjoyed some of the wonderful plant displays like this one of locally grown dahlias.

This was a great way to search out new plants for my own garden.

I did find though that the Victorian gardening technique was a bit stuffy for me.  I'm not a huge fan of annuals and I like a bit of a wild look to my gardens.  Regardless, I loved being able to wander through this large park in the middle of the city.  It's a welcome refuge from the bustle and noise.

Have you seen any Victorian gardens?  What's your favourite garden style?