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.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Unexpected Invader

We are all familiar with foreign plants that do too well when they are brought to a new continent. It is the case of our native fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) in the UK, and of the numerous European plants (often medicinal in origin) such as plantain (Plantago major) and coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) which are completely entrenched in North America.
Sometimes though, a foreign plant will grow or only manage to survive, but it then becomes invasive in some circumstances. It seems to be the case with the cowslip.

Cowslip (Primula veris)

Friday, May 8, 2015


The acronym NARGS stands for the North American Rock Garden Society. This year the General Annual Meeting of the Society is in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The meetings include among other things visits to some of the best local gardens. Here are three beautiful gardens I visited today with the group.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Vocal Spring

Version française

Ten days ago we were under snow.   Now many of the flowering plants that bloggers from warmer climates have been describing in the last month have rushed into bloom here too. However,  if blooms are important markers of the changing seasons, here and at this time of the year, they are not the most obvious.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Pruning currant and gooseberry bushes

Version française

We had a very sunny, warm day, yesterday, and I took this opportunity to prune currant and gooseberry bushes. 

Pink currant Champagne

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Wintering Roses - The Canadian Way

Cliquez ici pour la version française

Because the earth bulges at the Equator and is flattened at the Poles, the halfway point between the Equator and the North Pole is actually 16.2 kilometres north of the 45th parallel. This means that the garden here is just about at that halfway point. It also means that we are roughly at the same latitude as Grenoble, Turin, Simferopol in Crimea, Xinjiang in China, Hokkaidō in Japan, Michigan and Wisconsin in the United States. However, our climate here in Ontario and that of the two northern states is, to say the least, very different from that of Grenoble or Turin. Only now is the last snow  melting as you can see below.