Friday, July 31, 2015

Plant Portrait - Strawberry Spinach

I am growing this vegetable for the first time this year.  It is supposed to be an heirloom vegetable that has been grown for centuries . Although it is called spinach, it is, in fact, a chard (Chenopodium capitatum).

Strawberry Spinach

Friday, July 24, 2015

Echo of Miss Havisham

You, no doubt, remember Miss Havisham in Dickens' Great Expectations. The day she was to be married Miss Havisham learned she had been jilted by the man she loved, so she decided to spend the rest of her life in her wedding gown, never changing a thing in the house, including the wedding breakfast table holding the decaying wedding cake. There is a garden in our area that makes me think of Miss Havisham. That garden was built on a grand scale and is very attractive in its faded  grandeur.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Blue and Yellow

Continuing my review of plants by the colour of what is in bloom, I have decided to cover yellow and blue together, in the way I recently did for red and white. I begin with what I consider the best plant I became acquainted with last year,  the half-hardy annual: Calceolaria mexicana. You simply collect seeds in the fall and plant them the next spring, a few weeks before the last frost.

Calceolaria mexicana

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Red & White

I continue with my series on blooming by colors. In my last post I did the pinks. I decided this week to lump the reds and the whites together.  Here are some of the plants blooming red or white just now.

Rose Dortmund

Saturday, July 4, 2015


I thought I would do a few posts on what is in bloom just now, selecting plants by colour. I am starting with pink. Because so far we have had a relatively cool (as well as very wet) summer, many of the things that normally would have finished blooming some time ago (for instance, peonies) are still looking good. Here are a few examples of what is in bloom in pink at Roche Fleurie. Of course, roses make up the majority of the pink blooms.

John Davis rose

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The In & Out Game

This post is not about cats wanting in, then wanting out, then wanting in again, but about plants that leap the garden wall. Because we are in the middle of a wild area where numerous animals might be interested in the garden and especially its plants (deer, hares, skunks - their specialty is digging up looking for grubs - groundhogs, etc...) the garden is all fenced in. There is a strong contrast between the inside, where plants face little competition, and the outside where it is the jungle. Not only are there plants that sneak in from the outside - as is to be expected, weeds will  seed themselves in, but, more surprising, are garden plants that move outside the fence to settle, sometimes very successfully among the weeds. I suppose, like William Kent, they "leaped the fence, and saw that all nature was a garden".

A billion buttercups eager to leap the fence and get into the garden

Friday, June 19, 2015

Green Shapes

We tend to give more importance to colours than to shape and texture. However, if you reduce colours to a single one - green - shapes and textures become a lot more noticeable as well as more significant and easy to appreciate.
The contrast of shape and texture is more obvious in the early part of the gardening season, before the "actual" colours take center stage, and we start ignoring the backdrop for the garden. In these pictures taken in late spring, the various greens are more distinct and fresh. I try to illustrate the play of shape and texture, without the diversion created by various colours.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Between a cold frame and a green house

For the last few years, my friend Tony Barton has tried to come up with a design for something like a greenhouse or cold frame, in order to extend the gardening season. He wanted it to be inexpensive and simple to build as well as portable. After experimenting for a while, he eventually came up with this hoop house which answers all his requirements.

Hoop house

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Chokecherry blooms as cut flowers

Beth of Plant Posting began her last post with a beautiful photo of chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), one of our very common native shrubs in North America. As Wikipedia says, the natural range of  chokecherry is "most of the continent, except for the far north and far south" so it is not difficult to find chokecherry outside urban areas. The "cherries" it produces are edible but, unless quite ripe, are very astringent. They make your mouth pucker the moment you bite into one. They do make a nice wine though. I have known this shrub for most of my life, but only this year I have realized how nice the bloom is in flower arrangements.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Unwlecome in the Cold Frame

In our climate, cold frames are useful, but not as much as they are in places with milder climates. If they are in the sun, you cannot leave plants in them in winter, because temperatures in the frames can fluctuate enormously. They stay buried in ice and snow for most of the winter. However they are especially handy in spring.