Saturday, May 29, 2010

So I spent a few free hours today chipping away at the gigantic pile of mulch that Maurice Yelle Ltd. so helpfully delivered this morning. So far I have managed to mulch the new bed out front, the shade bed and the back of the sun bed. Loving the sudden tidiness this creates. My only question is how do I go about reconciling my desire to strangle weed seeds with my desire for some of my plants (poppies, foxglove, lupines) to generously reseed themselves??

Meanwhile I am poking around in catalogues to see what I want to plant in the fall. I think I will definitely have to invest in some Eremurus, aka foxtail lily, which look impressive and tall and are described as needing about exactly the conditions I have in the new bed out front.

I would also very much like some white alliums. I may actually just get more alliums period, because they are so awesome in any colour. The front yard could do with some, too.

Some googling tells me that my beautiful double tulips will probably not return next year. Poo. Well, Breck's is sending me more French Lace mix already; I will have to snap up more Scarlet Majesty. I am also intrigued by Peach Melba and Angelique, which I think I would put in the front bed but might keep in the back instead. Decisions, decisions!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Aha! Look at this, I have discovered how to make a cut to contain all my mad progress pictures!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Long Weekend & Vacation Day 1 Accomplishments

* added to east bed:

Cardinal flower

Golden loosestrife (no relation to the evil purple loosestrife, don't worry)

German catchfly

Lady's mantle

* found a nice and affordable obelisk chez Ritchie's Feed & Seed - damn that place is awesome - and set the prairie joy rose climbing up it. Noticed in the process that the rose has several buds. FTW!

* emptied my "wasteland of pots", as a friend so aptly described it, and schlepped them all to Loblaws for recycling

* snapped up two gigantic, gorgeous peonies while at Loblaws, since they were on special for $10, and added them to the sunny part of the shade bed

* beat the ferns back as far as the rhubarb, at least. Discovered that the ferns were thoroughly underplanted with not only creeping jenny but evil creeping campanulas (the proper name for the long purples I battled at Jamieson). Not sure what to do about this; they're all mixed up in the fringes of the lawn, too, which dense mat of roots makes them a real bitch to pull out. I suppose I could try digging up all the soil around there, sifting out what I can, and then mulching the hell out of the whole area.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Stuff To Do During My Glorious Week Off

* weeding of doom
* civilize the east bed (more on this in a second) and the foundation bed out front
* order mulch and spread it all around the backyard
* find some scarlet runner bean seeds (home despot possibly?)
* move tripod thingy to somewhere seeds will actually grow
* plant scarlet runner beans or possibly morning glories at base of tripod thingy, as well as planting other miscellaneous after-last-frost seeds
* shop for affordable but classy-looking support for prairie joy rose (obelisk?) preferably not from big box type place

So the east bed remains kind of a mess, mostly due to an over-abundance of ferns. Apparently I wasn't ruthless enough in digging them up last year. Will have to rectify this and find some way of filling the space - some begonias, maybe, for a temporary solution. The bee balm I put out front might end up moving back here too, since it has been very droopy and unhappy looking in the full sun.

The intarwebs seem to suggest that the goddamn creeping jenny might not be such a bad thing, provided the plants it grows around are tall enough that they don't get overwhelmed. I dunno. I may attempt to yank it back hard as well. I have no illusions about actually eradicating it, but I suspect any measure of control will only be achieved by regular yanking campaigns. WHAT FOOL ACTUALLY PLANTS THIS STUFF. I ask you.

Other possible companions for the delphiniums:
* astilbe
* digitalis
* coreopsis
* black-eyed susans (these didn't transplant so well last year, but worth trying again I guess)
* lady's mantle
* sweet william
* another clematis

Sigh. Stupid shade.

In there already is globeflower, masterwort, canterbury bells, purple geraniums, sarah bernhardt peony, rose campion, and the david austin rose (called teasing georgia). To complicate things further, several of the above have been munched on by the resident groundhog, whom I have been trying to discourage by dumping kitty litter down his bolt-hole (Ed Lawrence advises that this is a surefire way to get them to move elsewhere...because, after all, "wouldn't you?") They seem to be recovering fairly well, to my great surprise. Knock on wood.
GREAT LEAPS of progress out there the last couple weeks, my friends. BOUNDS of progress. GREAT STRIDES.

Shade bed, now featuring a Blizzard mockorange, some phlox, All Gold japanese forest grass, and pulmonaria.


Sun bed, continuing to fill in with awesomeness.


Wall bed, featuring madly blooming spirea and newly planted The Fairy rose.


Corner bed, looking surprisingly civilized, albeit empty in the middle.


Some items with which I am particularly delighted:

The rhododendron. SQUEE.

The lilies, showing evidence of my scrupulous attention to Operation Sudden Lily Beetle Death.

Alliums of fabulousness. I'm a little peeved that the "mixed" giant alliums I ordered turned out to be all purple, but they're fabulous enough regardless that I don't care all that much. Also, they multiply, because where I originally planted two there are now four coming up. w00t!

And from a couple weeks ago: apple trees in bloom.

Must also take a picture of the delphiniums, because holy crap, they are astonishing me with their will to survive. I hadn't really expected them to come back, but they in fact put up about three times as many stalks this year. Having learned my lesson from last year, I am tying every single one to a five-foot stake.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

So yesterday when we were on our way to the grocery store, Corey gallantly pointed out some hand-lettered signs indicating a plant sale off in a nearby suburb. It turned out to be a fundraising event for an African women's charity. I snapped up an impressively large red-flowering peony for $10 (sahWEET), some phlox, and some brown-eyed susans, as well as a substantial pile of ten-year-old gardening magazines.

Inspired by a couple of said magazines I have added the following to my shopping list:

* Seafoam rose. Apparently a super-floriferous "ground cover" rose that gets to be a couple feet high and sprawls several feet wide; canes will actually root where they touch the ground. How cool! I'm thinking this might be nice in the wall bed, which is sadly empty at the moment and I'm at a loss as to what to fill it with, although in the pie-in-the-sky department I'd still like to put one of those fountains there. The ever-helpful Galetta Nurseries apparently has these in stock, so maybe I'll make a road trip during my week off.
* Oooh, looking at the Galetta website, "The Fairy" is actually pretty gorgeous too. This would have the advantage of adding some colour to that bed, which is set against the white-flowering spirea and hydrangeas. Hmmmm! Although I already have a pink rose in the sun bed...
* Zephirine Drouhin rose. I've heard this name a few times and it sounds pretty spectacular - climbing, fragrant, shade-tolerant. But Galetta doesn't have them, nor does Vesey's. Hmmm. Some phone calls are in order, I guess.

So in my puttering around over the course of the weekend, I managed to fix the irrigation system in the back, install an irrigation system out front, do a bit of weeding, and plant 3/4 of my recent purchases. Now that the irrigation system is back in business I am optimistic that I may actually get blooms out of at least one of the rhododendrons. I was baffled as to its failure to open any of its promising-looking buds, but apparently this April was the second driest on record or something, and the intarwebs tell me that drought can delay flowering or abort it entirely, but watering can help if you catch it in time. And now that I've given everything back there a thorough soaking, there is a bit of pink starting to show on the buds. FTW!

Also the "shade" bed is rather sunnier than I thought, except at the very back. It's at least as sunny as the other side of the yard. So that gives me a few more options as to what I do with it, at least!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Additional progress in the front yard:

* snapped up a few cheapie plants in the market (lupins, lavender, cilantro, and a funky pink-flowering ornamental grass) and added to the new bed.
* planted seeds in the new bed as well: hollyhocks at the back, poppies of various heights and colours and longevities all around, bright lights swiss chard in the middle, some gigantor marigolds (just in case they might actually sprout when direct seeded outside) nearish the back. I have never yet succeeded in growing poppies from seed, but the packages insist they're easy to grow and that bed is the best approximation I have of their ideal conditions, so here's hoping.
* the peonies are (knock on wood!!!) looking like they might actually manage to bloom this year??!? Again, here's hoping!

Progress in the back yard:
* Operation Lily Beetle Sudden Death continues apace. I could only find two of the little bastards to squish the other night; this morning I couldn't find any. Trying not to get my hopes up, as they will no doubt be back in force soon enough. Sneaky tricks I have discovered:
* it's hard to tell whether you've squished them enough to actually kill them dead, and it's gross besides, but picking them off and chucking them in a bucket of water will make sure and is not as squickifying.
* my cousin had the excellent idea of wielding needle-nose pliers at them, since they like to hide in the folds of leaves and fall right off the plant and hide in the ground if you are too clumsy to nab them right away.
* use a short bucket of water; that way you can lean the plants over it and just brush/shake the beetles off into the bucket. Much less gross than squishing them.
* check the undersides of the leaves - eggs, like adults, are bright orange and easy to spot.

* plant today's spoils. SQUEE.
* buy some of those tall hardwood stakes and fix up the delphiniums - also the japanese maple, which has grown a few inches since last year, astonishingly enough.
* ongoing weeding of doom. Bleh.
* On that note: MULCH. How I am going to manage this exactly I'm not sure, because it will involve a crapload of the stuff. But nonetheless.
* Clean up the throughway, it's getting embarrassing.
* de-dandelion the backyard lawn and add some more clover in its place.
* mow the lawn front and back. What a concept.
* hunt for a shade-tolerant mockorange and possibly a bicolour buddleia, if there is still a sunny bare spot that's big enough.
Ohhhhhh Experimental Farm plant sale, how I ♥ you.

* variegated yucca

* baptisia

* coreopsis zagreb

* coreopsis red shift

* pulmonaria raspberry splash (this is the $20 pulmonaria I was looking at in my Veseys catalogue...except I got it for $4! Ha!)

* japanese forest grass

* red hot pokers (kniphofia)

* houttuynia cordata chameleon - funky technicolour foliage plant, which I am warned to be patient with because it is very slow to reappear in the spring ... oh crap, also everything I am reading about it on the intarwebs says it's mad invasive. Dammit. Well, maybe I can put it in a planter or something.

* verbascum

* two little bitty things that I snapped up for $3 and $4 because the pictures associated with them showed lovely flowers, but whose names I cannot remember!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Also: pictures!


Overall, for the record:

Stoopid lawn. It's as patchy and lame as ever. Although some clover has come up here and there, so I guess that's something. My next-door neighbour, with whom I share said stoopid lawn, has shared the depressing news that he has also tried to overseed it in years past and never had much luck.

Oh, purpleleaf sandcherry, how I ♥ you.

Money plant! This should be fun come the fall. It's surprisingly tall, too.

OMG. Scarlet Majesty tulips FTW. I am SO buying more of these next year.



I have finally figured out what patio furniture would work back here: a couple of nice adirondack chairs, especially in cedar so they could weather to a nice silvery colour, with a little side table and footstool(s). They're surprisingly comfortable, those things.

New shade bed, strictly for future reference. Weeds are already invading. Must make with the mulch!

Sun bed.

The yellow tulips were supposed to be part of a "french lace" blend of pink, white and purple. Somebody wasn't paying attention when they picked my order. Fortunately Breck's has an insanely generous return/replace policy, so they're sending me another batch, and I will just move the yellow ones somewhere else, because they are pretty stunning.

Wall bed.

Corner bed, featuring weeds, weeds, weeds. Ugh.

HowEVer, the very corner of said corner bed is looking quite nice.

Also, I was stoked to see that the trillium sent up two stalks this year! Maybe next year I might actually get two flowers out of it.

East bed.

How appropriate that "Dans un jardin" is a perfume shop

As I type I am lounging on the couch with the windows wide open, basking in the smell of flowers. I think it's the purple-leaf sandcherry that is so deliciously perfumey at the moment, but there are a number of other similarly fragrant things lining the street, so I think it's just that time of year. LOVE IT.

For instance, there are some white-flowering shrubby trees edging the park near our house that smell heavenly. A neighbour identified them as chokecherries. Alas, I don't think I really have room for one of those, although it's probably worth checking with the native plant nurseries around town to see if they can't be pruned to keep a certain size.

I would really like to get something large and flowery to go at the back of the new shade bed, but most of the flowering trees or large shrubs that I love (flowering almond or quince for example) need lots of sun. Mockorange may be a go, though, if I can find the right variety, and it is reputed to be deliciously smelly, too. I hear that "Blizzard" has good shade tolerance, but can't find it on any nursery websites, possibly because its main claim to fame is cold tolerance past zone 3.

I am toying with the idea of adding a pile of daffodils to the front garden next year as well - Breck's has a mix of specially fragrant ones.