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

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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

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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

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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.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sitting in the Garden

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My last post was on pots.  In this one I thought I would move on to benches. Here is a collection of bench pictures taken in various gardens in the last few years.  These give some ideas of where to place benches to ensure they are comfortable and look attractive.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Large pots

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Inspired by the pot collections in one of Sophie's last posts, I thought I would also do a number on pots. However, looking at the pictures I put together, it appears that my post will be mostly about empty pots!
Pots, especially large ones, do not have to be filled with plants to be effective in the garden. They create a sense of scale. They provide interesting contrasts in shapes, and they especially act as focal points. The black pot in the flower bed in the picture below does all of these things.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Record Keeping in the Garden

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Reading one of Angie's previous posts on record keeping in the garden and her mention of Beth's Lesson Learned, I thought I would describe my own record keeping system for the garden. Describing that system might offer an opportunity to improve it, in other words to learn some lessons of my own.

Crocuses ( crop from last year)

Thursday, March 5, 2015


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Although it plays an important role in how a garden looks, edging is not often given much attention. Simultaneously, edging holds the garden together and delineates its various sections: the lawn, the garden beds, the paths. I had a look at my garden pictures to find examples of various styles of edging in order to assess them from a practical and an aesthetic point of view. Here is what I found.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Nature's Calendar

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We all have some idea of what the last frost date is in our area. Over time a lot of data has been accumulated, because gardeners have paid a great deal of attention to the last frost date. Numerous lists will tell you what that date is for your area. However, these dates are based on averages and only give you an general idea of what to expect. The last frost date  not only varies from year to year, but with global warming it is estimated to have advanced from 5 to 10 days over the last 50 years.  So how are we to decide when to move our tomato or  begonia plants outside? I think it is best to follow nature's calendar.

When can you move tender plants out in the Spring?