Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Living willow fence

How cool is this??

Maybe this is what I will do with the cuttings I plan to prune off the dappled willow. Apparently if you put willow whips straight up and down in the ground, they will grow at the top, but if you put them in diagonally, they will grow lots of bushy little side-shoots.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sweet merciful crap. After a week of hard frosts and even a couple centimeters of snow, this is what the Fairy rose looks like:


Saturday, October 30, 2010

I have been googling around for roses for the front yard. Originally I had planned on just planting one, but I don't know how I could possibly narrow down my list that far. My criteria: hardy, unfinicky, and as long a blooming season as possible, because I cannot tell you how charmed I am by the blooms on the Fairy rose that are STILL GOING at the end of October. And fragrant is a plus, too.

The finalists:

JOHN DAVIS - Explorer rose

A large shrub or small climber that tops out at 8-10'. Galetta Nurseries tells me that it has a "light fragrance" and that it "blooms profusely from June until frost". Eeeeexcellent.

ALCHYMIST - hardy rose

Also largeish at 5-6' tall and wide. Only blooms the once, but it's apparently deliciously smelly. I've also read about this brilliant idea of sending a clematis to grow up the canes of a climbing rose, so that as the rose is finishing the clematis is just starting up.

SEAFOAM - groundcover rose

As posted about before - similar to the Fairy, I gather, only white instead; Canadian Gardening had all kinds of good things to say about it.

MORDEN BLUSH - Canadian Parkland rose

More compact than most of the others, 2-3' tall and wide; but Galetta says it's another profuse and continuous bloomer, and that it tolerates heat and drought very well, which would definitely be a plus in the spots I have in mind for it.

CHAMPLAIN - Explorer rose

Also in the 3' range and a continuous bloomer. I am a sucker for a really red rose.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The other day while chasing the Zoodle around Carlingwood mall I actually spied a piece of garden statuary I really like. It was similar to this, about 8" or 10" high and a couple feet long:

I'm thinking this would be really nice in the wall bed between the oregano and the Fairy rose (although it might have to sit on some bricks so as not to be completely obscured/overrun by said oregano).

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Progress!! Bwahahahahaaa!



This is about 1/4 of the path, I think, and it took me about 2h to naptimes over this weekend and next ought to be enough to have it done and ready to fill. Although tomorrow it's supposed to rain - dammit. Hopefully it will keep to a drizzle in the early afternoon.

Also, while browsing, I came across an ad for a pile of Fine Gardening magazines. When I responded, it turns out they also had a stack of Canadian Gardening issues for sale. 90 new garden magazines - RAWK. If I restrain myself to one magazine a day, this will almost keep me in garden daydreaming material through the whole winter. I don't know if I have such ninja-like willpower in me.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The digging - it starts!!! For future reference - so as to start the pavers level with the driveway:

4" gravel
+ 2" sand
+ 2 5/8" pavers
- 3/8" final compacting
dig down 8 1/4"

I'm thinking, though, that they should mostly stick up at least 1" above the grade, since I will be heaping dirt and mulch on top of the existing grade to create garden beds. SO, while I will dig to the depth above for the first row, for the rest:

4" gravel
+ 2" sand
+ 2 5/8" pavers
- 3/8" final compacting
- 1" above grade
dig down 7 1/4"

Monday, October 18, 2010

Thanks to one awesome neighbour, I have a new spirea (smallish and pink-flowering), some gooseneck loosestrife (which is apparently apt to be thuggish, so I'll have to plant it in a pot, I think), an astilbe, and some silver deadnettle.

Another awesome neighbour is redoing her driveway and has offered to share the cost of delivery for crushed stone and sand, making the aggregates for the spiral walkway a lot more affordable.

The bricks, meanwhile, have been found and delivered! Cobblestone interlock pavers, actually. They were more expensive than what I'd originally been hoping to spend, but they are so gorgeous that I'm thrilled to pieces anyway. I did a dry run this weekend and totally should have taken pictures...for my absent-mindedness I will just have to wait for a few weeks until we can get it done for realz.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

And because I am just this dorky: season retrospective!

Picture post for October!

Front yard:

Dun dun DUNNNNNNN - foundation bed expansion begun! This will be the leaf dumping ground for the season, and in the spring I will pile on some more mulch and/or topsoil. Now I just have to finish my bulb-planting extravaganza by chopping some holes in the cardboard and putting in the last several alliums and tulips.

The view from above, with the future spiral laid out in orange mason's line. MY GOD it will be awesome. Of course, the cheapest bricks I've been able to locate ($0.50 apiece on kijiji) would STILL run me $400 plus the cost of aggregates. Siiiiiigh. Must brainstorm other hardscaping materials. Large stepping stones in a bed of river rocks/gravel over landscape fabric, maybe? That's probably not much cheaper, although it might be somewhat less labour.

Back yard:

Overall. Not as colourful as I would have liked, although that Japanese Blood Grass sure rocks the fall foliage.

Shade bed, with beans gone and rheum palmatum lurking at the back.

Sun bed. I'm thinking I may prune the willow now-ish and try to root the cuttings over the winter. This is supposed to be ridiculously easy to do. Then I could plant a few of these in the front yard to round out the shrub selection in the foundation bed expansion. Also, I suspect the Blaze rose has developed the dreaded black spot. Not really a big deal this late in the season, since the leaves would be dropping soon anyway, but I'd better muster out there and pick off all the affected foliage so this problem doesn't come back in the spring.

Wall bed. The Fairy rose is still going!! And the toad lilies did in fact emerge from the oregano with a couple of little buds. Must rein in the oregano, though.

Corner bed, particularly messy-looking. Next year I will stake the Joe Pye weed so it stays more upright.

East bed, devoid of ferns for the season.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Poking around for local garden blogs, I happened across this post, and thought that a spiral garden was about the coolest idea for a garden design I'd ever seen. So I started thinking and doodling about the front yard...aaaaaaaand...


Ph33r my mad paint skillz! I even managed to copy and paste the dirt all over the yard to illustrate the elimination of grass. But yes! A spiral path - possibly made out of reclaimed brick - would bring the existing beds together beautifully, I think!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Note to self: need more lime-green, silver, white-flowering, or otherwise bright plants in the east bed, especially things that are in good form at this time of year. It's quite dark and dreary over there as it stands. Possibilities:

* heucheras
* bright-coloured hostas
* ghost ferns
* annuals, i.e. begonias
* more silvery brunnera, e.g. looking glass
* hakonechloa

For more colour, since the turtlehead is the only thing blooming on that side at the moment, and the chocolate boneset will bloom white:

* monkshood (3', blue flowers)
* hardy cyclamen
* more anemones (or possibly moving the one I have, it's not looking so good this year and isn't flowering - too much shade??)
* kirengeshoma palmata, aka yellow waxbells

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stupid fall. Why does it have to get dark out so early? I want to be in the garden!!

I am doing some editing to accommodate my recent purchases. I tore out the beans, which makes a pretty dramatic difference to the architecture of the whole bed. With the digitalis, ginger, and sweet woodruff moved elsewhere, this will give me space to put the gigantor rheum palmatum in the back of the bed instead, where it will fill up the space nicely and be much more visible than the current occupants. The digitalis will go between the RP and the peonies, with room for more of the less gigantic and more colourful kind come spring; the ginger, which has gotten pretty massive since last summer, will be in the front of the corner bed where there's both room and visibility for it. The sweet woodruff can go in front of the lady's mantle and chocolate boneset in the side bed, since there's a big blank there that could use some groundcover.

Found an awesome spot for the phlox in front of the rose and the irises, since it will fill the gap nicely when those are finished blooming. Not totally sure what I'm going to do with the clematis yet; with the prairie joy rose and the rose campion where they are I don't think I'd be able to see it in the middle of the sun bed, which is the most obvious spot for it.

Ooh, and now it's pouring rain, so the transplants are getting a good watering in. Eeeeeeexcellent.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

So the Rideau Woodland Ramble previously mentioned? Gorgeous, inspiring, and all-around delightful. I agree with the garden magazines, it is definitely worth the drive. Must go back in the spring - they have rhododendrons taller than me! I hope mine manage to achieve that stature eventually.

Aaaaaand, to make this trip EVEN MORE AWESOME, they had a sale on! So, the spoils:

* two gigantor phlox ("Natascha" - pinky-purple striped and mildew-resistant)
* a rheum palmatum "atrosanguineum" - not totally sure where I'll put it yet, maybe it will replace the beans? I couldn't resist!
* a pink new england aster, which claims to stay shorter than my sprawling purple one, but has weirdly bare leggy stems, so have to find something low-lying yet bushy to plant it behind
* a bush clematis - who knew clematis comes in bush form?? - called china purple. It doesn't climb, but has lovely lime-green leaves and purple late-summer flowers and funky seedpods. AND it's apparently highly fragrant when in bloom. It gets to be about 3' x 3' so again not totally sure where I'll put it, but it was too cool to pass up.

I was sorely tempted by a beautiful rose with bronzy foliage and orange-fading-to-yellow blossoms, too, but it was a floribunda, which means my lazy-ass approach to winter protection would probably spell its doom.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Purchased today at the Ottawa Horticultural Society's plant sale:

* veronica - red and pink, since I have some blue already
* white globeflower - the yellow one was so lovely and long-lasting that I figured this was probably a good bet
* a massive pink astilbe, since the price was right
* centaurea, which I had passed over in the spring and then regretted not buying because it was so pretty in other people's gardens

Overheard at said plant sale:

"I can't wait for spring!"

OMG ME TOO. And I don't feel quite so dorky about it knowing I'm not the only one.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Arrrrgh, curse you, american garden magazines!! Paging through Fine Gardening's delicious Autumn Garden publication, I spied the most gorgeous hardy mums:

Emperor of China - 3 to 4 feet tall

Pacific chrysanthemum - cute groundcover

J. C. Weigelan and Mei-kyo are also lovely. WE WANTS SOME, PRECIOUSSSS. But I can't find them anywhere! Checked all my catalogues, checked the online catalogues of a couple of local garden centres, phoned another one. I'm not 100% sure these are even actually hardy here...the pacific ones would be OK, since the flowers are sort of secondary to the cool foliage anyway, but Emperor of China apparently doesn't bloom until late October, and then dies with the first heavy frost...which would be pushing it here, I think. Sniff!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Garden destination to check out some weekend: Rideau Woodland Ramble

Plant to keep an eye out for, probably for the front yard somewhere, since I don't think I have room for anything so massive in the back anymore: Rheum palmatum 'Atrosanguineum'.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Here's an overall pic for September, just for the record:


And some documentation of the rosesplosion:


Stoopid flash lighting - you can really see the buds in this one, though.

Prairie joy rose, finally somewhat resembling a shrub.

Also, because I am sick to death of the weedy, crappy lawn back here, this is what I've been thinking we should replace it with (as close as my mad Paint skillz can render it, anyway).

Basically: a little corner deck enclosed by lattice with stairs leading down to a larger, lower deck that would leave no more than a strip of grass around the edge of the patio. And even that maybe I would convert into a planted border. What say you, internets? Would it mess with my riotous secret-garden aesthetic to have something so structured and rectilineal taking up half the yard? And maybe I'd be wiser to leave the lawn there for kids to play on...but then by the time we can afford to do this our kids will probably be old enough not to need the lawn anymore anyway :P Considering that we'd need to cut a door opening into the exterior wall and I'd want to do the whole thing in cedar, this is kind of a big-ticket renovation...$7500 at least, I'd guess, and probably more. And it would be strictly mad money, because there's no way we'd get that kind of $$ back from resale.

One way to make it a little breezier/more romantic would be to have...not a roof, precisely, but an arbour-type structure around the top section, which could have virginia creeper and clematis growing up it and from which one could hang billowy canopy/curtains and a candle-chandelier. Although again with the $$. Not as bad as roofing it over entirely, though.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

To Do This Year
* weeding: remaining 1/3 of backyard, front yard
* mow the damn lawn, such as it is
* prep front yard expansion
* plant bulbs, including lots of alliums (especially in shade bed, next to hazel, and front yard)
* clean up the throughway - why, why, why does this always end up such a mess??

To Do Next Year
* prune yew, willow, grapevines, roses if necessary
* front yard expansion, including replacing the black lace elder if necessary, since it isn't doing so well...note to self: mid-summer is NOT the time to plant shrubs
* make use of Fine Gardening's sneaky edging technique throughout front and back
* mulch again, since it is working so beautifully this year - although 1.5 cu yd ought to be plenty this time!!
* prepare for vacation time such that mulching can start right at the beginning of it, since it's a big frigging job
* line paths between beds and possibly also a strip around the patio with river rocks or gravel - soil and mulch washed down over the stones I put down and they have completely disappeared
* spray the front side bed with soap and water at regular intervals early in the spring, since everything in there is looking very munched-upon
* 6' stakes for delphiniums...also stakes and/or hoops for crocosmia, lilies, joe pye weed, goldenrod
* plant more phlox everywhere, because damn, come midsummer that stuff really rocks
* plant more digitalis
* plant some asclepias (yay butterflies!!)
* plant some eryngeum
* get an early start on continuing Operation Sudden Lily Beetle Death
* plant some annuals, since the ongoing colour is nice

To NOT Do Next Year
* don't plant beans in the backyard, since they are beetle bait. May see how they do out front, though
* don't bother starting seeds ahead, or at least not so many, since the only place where there's adequate light and protection from the cats is also somewhere I'm liable to forget about them completely
* don't plant cleome in the front yard - too dry and/or exposed for it there, evidently
I ventured out into the garden this afternoon after a long stretch of disgust and discouragement with it. Lo and behold, it weathered my neglect pretty well, so I did a bunch of weeding and came in much more optimistic than I went out.

Japanese beetles have come and gone. At least they have a short season. Apparently the weather conditions have made this a doozy of a year for them all over Ontario. I was not as vigilant about picking them off the beans as maybe I should have been; hopefully this will not mean I am stuck with a horrible grub problem in the "lawn" next year. They also got at the corkscrew hazel - not a big deal, since that plant is all about winter appeal anyway. Otherwise, though, the damage was encouragingly minimal. Even the beans are recovering, having put out piles of new leaves and blooms.

In other encouraging news: I have rose-explody! The blaze rose re-bloomed with a spray of about 10 flowers that lasted for weeks. Now that it's out of the shadow of the bee balm, the prairie joy rose has at least doubled in size...guess that answers the question of how I make it bush out. And the fairy rose, whose straggliness was worrying me, has put out half again its previous size in new shoots, and is covered in buds. Pictures to follow!

Between the asters, the fairy rose, the assorted sedums, the rudbeckia, and the turtlehead - and possibly also the lemon lights azalea; wtf is it doing putting out flowers now?? - it should be a nicely colourful month out there.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Drive-by picture post!



Newly edited sun bed:



Added purple emperor and autumn joy sedums, as well as heaven's gate coreopsis. Bee balm has been chopped up and relocated all over, as previously mentioned - it didn't even wilt; rose campion is now propping up the joe pye weed, although it left seedlings behind - but those are back behind the rose and juniper, though, where I think they'll be quite nice.


Shade bed as it stands: beginning to fill in. Some sedums from Canadian Tire, as well as a funky ruffly purple heuchera.


Crocosmia. Need a hoop for these next year.


Awesomely filling in patio thyme.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Another pest inundation has begun: the dreaded Japanese Beetle has made the leap from the grapevines on the fence to my scarlet runner beans. AUGH. Tomorrow I will go pick off the ones that are roosting there and spray the bean plants down with a solution of garlic puree, which was the recommendation from Richmond Nursery - but I am not optimistic, considering that the grapevines are so thoroughly infested; even if I tackled the impossible-looking task of de-bugging the vines on my side of the fence, they're planted in the neighbour's yard (and invading the yard of another neighbour to boot). Maybe if I make the beans unappetizing enough they'll stick with the grapes.

Interestingly, however, I am growing some of their reputed favourite foods - roses, japanese maple - and so far they haven't touched them. (This had better not just be a matter of time!!) Also interestingly, the beans are located in the shade bed, the only piece of the back garden that is not planted throughout with alliums (garlic relative). Hmmm! As if I needed another reason to stock up on those. Hopefully my inference is correct; the internets seem to suggest it may be so. C'mon universe, work with me here!

In more positive news, while at Richmond Nurseries, I happened across a stand of butterfly bush (buddleja). And OMG internets, I MUST HAVE THIS PLANT. It smells heavenly, and true to the name, in the couple of minutes I spent staring at the stand of plants at Richmond, they had attracted several butterflies of at least three different kinds.

The trick, of course, is that it needs full sun, and while you're supposed to chop it back to the ground every year, it grows back to about 4 or 5 feet high and wide. It's also only borderline hardy here. Basically, were I to plant one, it should be in the backyard for preference, since it's nice and sheltered there; that would also allow me to sit and enjoy the fragrance and butterflies. But I really don't have anywhere left for a 4'-5' shrub. I toyed with the idea of putting it where the beans are now - the digitalis and azalea would probably be done blooming by the time it got big enough to block them from view - but I don't know if that spot gets enough light, and I wouldn't want to hide the phlox and sweet rocket, nor cast the mockorange into total shade. A more promising spot is probably in front of the yew and peonies out front; I could crank the windows open to catch the fragrance, and we could watch the butterflies from the window, at least. Have to check how much light that spot would get before the shadow of the house falls over it - will keep an eye out for this tomorrow over the course of the day.

Meanwhile, I have dug up and divided the bee balm - dun dun DUNNNNNN - and am pleased as punch with the results so far. It already looks more balanced. And the relocated chunks of bee balm will be a nice repetitive element to tie the whole garden together, as my garden magazines always say. Photos to follow when I have the replacements in the ground.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Happy houseiversary to us! I believe I will keep up last year's tradition of a compare and contrast picture post. Feast your eyes!




Lawn: similarly fried, but somewhat less weedy. Magnolia is a few inches taller. Foundation bed: more civilized in some ways, wilder and woollier in others. Need to take some shears to that yew.





Now THAT I think I can call half-decent progress. Awesome.

Sun bed





Damn, that bee balm really needs to move.

Wall bed




Holy crap, look how far the golden oregano has gotten! Too bad about the delphinium and the toad lily, though. Need some more stuff to go next to the wall that flowers around this time of year - the cotoneaster has nice red berries, but those will be another month or two yet.

Corner bed




This is filling in nicely, although again it could use more colour to bridge the gap between lilies and Joe Pye weed. And speaking of Joe Pye, so much for the "dwarf" variety; it's as tall as the delphiniums were (~6').

Side bed




Hmmm...improving, esp with the nice height of the delphiniums, but need to beat back the bastard ferns again; they're sprouting in the lawn, now.

And for future reference, here's the shade bed in 2010: