Monday, April 25, 2016


Magical moments of spring in the garden for me is watching the plants push themselves up through the soil, still furled, like a mohair throw wrapped tightly around the body on a cold day. This tension helps to propel their shoots upwards - I wonder if they feel themselves relax as they unwind. 

Variegated Solomon's Seal shoots are red as they push through last years debris and trout lilies

Bloodroot stand like ladies with their capes pulled around them to keep warm

As a day passes another group have started to unfurl


Perhaps a red trillium under there ?

Labrador Tea is a small shrub with small rough leaves that hide a woolly indumentum on the undersurface. The flower buds are small and tight waiting for the warmth of the sun before opening.

A large leaved rhododendron with its pink flower hiding under the tight wrapping

Leaf buds of the alternate leaf dogwood 
Wild ginger leaves open in odd forms similar to opening a folded tissue

Ginger more fully open with small round buds showing below that I believe are the flowers, a brownish flower that remains hidden below the foliage until you lift it to see

Vernation (from vernal meaning spring, since that is when leaves spring forth in temperate regions) is the formation of new leaves or fronds. In plant anatomy, it is the arrangement of leaves in a bud.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hairy Beardtongue has Germinated ! (and other bloom'in things)

My trials of germinating seed in salad containers is entering a new phase. We have some germination - yay. The containers are open to dry out the potting mix which is still quite wet. I figure since some germination has begun it couldn't hurt too much. Plus the days are warm...

Exciting, I know

In the house I am trying an Asiatic lily which you can see, some deep salmon zinnia seeds, and white scabiosa. I do not have a large selection of trays to grow in so I have decided to try alternate methods.

Elsewhere in the garden things are growing slowly. The snowdrops are finishing up while the scilla has started a few days ago. I believe the snowdrops are the double form. The scilla is probably scilla siberica.

Below is a pot of Thalia narcissus (L) and some agapanthus (R). Experimentation has been key for me this winter season. I have never really been interested in propagation before and in many ways have been overly cautious playing with plants. I think it is the fear of failure. Frankly I should not fear failure as I have failed over and over again. Eventually the lesson is learned and we move forward.
I could not find an appropriate place to plant the Thalia bulbs  last fall and so I potted them up, placed the pot within a pot protected with burlap and left it in the shed over the winter. End of March I could see the tips.
The agapanthus was planted last year. I got some foliage but it never flowered. I read later that they take a while to flower. Perhaps they like a tighter feeling in the pot too?

tete a tete

arabis or rock cress. swarmed with bees and ever so sweet smelling

narcissus and trout lily poking through

a bed you rarely see filled with sedge, ferns, grass and more
As you can see spring has just begun in Burlington Ontario despite the date. The air is warm and the sun is strong. Chickadees, cardinals and nuthatches sing throughout the day making the work of spring cleaning the garden beds much more pleasurable. Today is a good day.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

My Garden Holiday in England - Salutation Gardens, Sandwich, Kent

Another lovely garden we visited last September was that belonging to The Salutation. The Salutation is a lovely Queen Anne style house, now hotel, designed and built by Edwin Lutyens in 1911-12. The house and its three and a half acre gardens lie very near to the Stour River in the very old town of Sandwich.

Photo by Pam Fray

 We almost did not get to see this garden as we were twenty minute drive away in Botany Bay admiring the chalk hills when a storm hastened our walk back to the car. It was near the end of the day, now raining, and I complained we might never make it to Salutation Gardens. You know you have a wonderful husband when he says, dripping from rain, "Let's go try. It is only a fifteen minute drive away". So off we went. We arrived in Sandwich a half hour before closing, and in fact, the lady in charge of the entrance was packing up as we arrived. But the sun had come out and she saw our earnest faces and let us in. Thank you dear lady.

Like all the gardens we visited dahlias were certainly the highlights at this time of year.

Salutation also had art intermingled through its gardens. It was a pleasant surprise and in the case of these fighting deer a treat for the eyes.

There was a veg garden, with swiss chard close to four feet high. I kid you not.

The Main border, top three photos, is a stunning border in fall. Not far from it is this yellow bed tucked in behind a 'room'.

Our half hour viewing was naturally not enough time however we both came away with a wonderful feeling about the home and gardens. Despite it's 3.5 acres size the gardens felt intimate in scale with many areas to discover.

What has impressed me most was learning last week while watching Monty Don (love that man) that the gardens were flooded in December 2013, less than 2 years earlier. High tides forced water from nearby Christchurch harbour up the swollen River Stour. Homes were all flooded and the lovely Salutation Gardens were suddenly under four feet of water. While thousands of plants were lost this was not apparent during our visit, a true testament to the fabulous gardeners at Salutation.