Friday, August 30, 2013

Heirloom Tomato Review

Late August is a time of the year when you can enjoy tomatoes fresh from the garden. This year, I have tried different varieties, all of them open-pollinated, some determinate, some indeterminate. Here is an evaluation of these new-for-me varieties.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Feast or famine

Growing your own vegetables usually means having none or too many. Our pole beans are now in full production. We had visitors last week, and we were not able to pick beans when they should have been picked.  Now some of them are too big, which means sorting.

Pole beans

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Rill

We just had two consecutive weeks of blazing sun and not a drop of rain. However, this afternoon, a storm broke, and it poured for about half an hour, enough to make a difference, especially for established plants that never get watered by us. This rain gave me the idea of doing a post on our rainwater collection system.

Rill and clapper bridge

Friday, August 23, 2013

Blackcurrant Liqueur

Having had a bumper crop of blackcurrants this year, once we had used some, given some away and made all the jam we might want, I decided to make some crème de cassis liqueur. It is quite simple to make, and the result is surprisingly good.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Predators in the garden

 We have some interesting parasitic wasps that live around here, and August is a good month to see them. They are black wasps that attack other insects. They even attack spiders!

Saturday, August 17, 2013


This post is called Lemon, but it is actually about a cucumber. A heritage or heirloom cucumber that is called Lemon. It is not difficult to guess how it got this name, since it looks much more like a lemon than a cucumber.  But it is slightly bigger than a lemon.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Spuds & Companion Planting

Potatoes are ripe. We grow various varieties. Some do better than others. In our garden you have to make sure to pick them when the soil is rather dry, since our clayish soil is very sticky and tends to stick to the potatoes when wet. You can always wash them, but washed potatoes do not keep as well as those that are left unwashed. The ones I like best are the fingerlings.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013


In 2011 I bought a package of seeds for dark red hollyhocks, a variety called "Cassis". I planted these in a flat and, in the fall, transplanted them where they were to grow. I had quite a few plants from this single package, so I decided to put them in two different spots. Last year they produced a few blooms, and this year they are well-established.

Looking at them more carefully just now, I realized that the ones on the east side of the garden are not quite the same colour as the ones on the west side. I am at a loss to account for the difference.

Monday, August 12, 2013

In Bloom

Here are pictures of some of the plants that are in bloom at Roche Fleurie at this time of the year.  One of my favorite is Dianthus amurensis. While the vast majority of dianthus bloom in early summer, this large flower species wait till later in the season to put out a show. It has now been  in bloom for about three weeks.

Dianthus amurensis

Thursday, August 8, 2013


On our way home from eastern Québec, we stopped at the Montreal Botanical Garden where there is a special exhibition of monumental sculptures made with plants. It is a bit like three dimensional carpet bedding. It is, in fact, an international competition with works by teams from North America, Europe and Asia. Some of the sculptures are huge. The frog below is one of the smallest ones.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Lower St-Lawrence

As you saw from my post on the village of Millbrook, in which I included pictures of some old Ontario houses, I am interested in old buildings, especially old houses.

Driving back home from our visit to eastern Québec, we followed the St Lawrence, and I thought I would now give you an idea of what old Québec houses look like in the lower St Lawrence region.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Métis Gardens

We have been visiting my parents in eastern Quebec. They happen to live close to one of Canada's most famous gardens, les jardins de Métis, which were created by Elsie Reford in the early 20th century on a small peninsula that juts out into the St. Lawrence river. The gardens are best known for their meconopsis, the blue poppy, for which the cool local micro-climate is ideally suited as well as for the gardens's gentians and rhododendrons. Unfortunately, the blue poppies and rhodos had finished blooming by the time we visited, but many other plants were at their best. The gardens have been public since the 1960's. (Click to enlarge)

Allée royale, Métis Gardens

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Unusual plants in Millbrook

We are on the road again and have just visited Nate, his garden and his humans, in the village of Millbrook, near Peterborough, east of Toronto in Ontario. Millbrook has numerous attractive Victorian  houses and public buildings all around a mill pond. The garden we visited, boasts of interesting, unusual plants.

Nate patrolling his garden