Monday, October 17, 2011

Oho! The people who sold me the bricks for the front yard? They have another 150 sq ft of the same stuff available. Which would be pretty sweet, considering the price, and also that it's very easy to compose curves etc without having to cut stones. I would need ~75 to 100 sq ft, I'm guessing, given I still have scraps left over from the last batch.

Trying not to interpret this as the universe telling me to jump into action on my side yard plans, because those are so newly hatched and unformed as to constitute a whim, and besides, as stated below, (another) major project just now? DO NOT NEED.

Still, I am powerfully tempted to snap the stuff up and let it sit until spring.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Made an excursion to the Rideau Woodland Ramble today in search of a dwarf evergreen to replace the spruce I killed. I love garden shopping at this time of year - 35 to 50% off everything: sweet!!

Snapped up some red oriental poppies and some red cinquefoil, whose foliage caught my eye. Hemmed and hawed over the conifers. I was thinking about a variegated hemlock, but they're apparently understory trees that prefer part shade and moist soil. In the end I bought an itty bitty one, since I have no qualms about gambling with a $12 plant; apparently these grow at a downright glacial rate, so we'll see how well this works out. Or I might lose my nerve and find a spot for it in the backyard somewhere. Also got a couple of itty bitty blue star junipers for the same price and a dwarf common juniper.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

As if I don't have enough to do

A couple of recent garden magazine articles about side yards have got me to thinking about the throughway.


Ugh. Embarrassing. I'm kind of glad the camera ran out of batteries before I could snap a photo of the view from the a/c unit looking back towards the carport - junk city. Some previous owner of this place did a pretty craptacular job of laying down a path - the fieldstones they used to pave it are nice enough, but then they apparently tried to trowel cement into the cracks?? It's starting to get weedy and the cement is breaking and loosening in places, adding a certain treacherousness to the fugliness. Underneath one piece that I almost tripped over I found no base to speak of, just plain old dirt.

So SOMETHING must be done, and soonish, and the magazine articles got me to thinking about what that might be.

Fine Gardening recommends a gently winding (but not too wiggly) path through a side yard to generate a sense of surprise and discovery, an idea that I like. I'm thinking my path would bow out from the side of the house and go around the lilac. Although once again I wonder if I shouldn't replace the lilac to avoid stupid suckers messing with my paving.


I could send virginia creeper or bittersweet vine up the side of the house, with other tall shade-tolerant plants in front (such as what?? hemlock, delphinium, digitalis?) In the near left-hand corner I'd put a Japanese maple, it's a nice sheltered spot for one. Otherwise...most of the the left-hand side is apt to be bone dry given those cedars. Maybe no more so than the east side of the backyard, though, and plenty of stuff seems to deal well enough there. Including rhododendrons, even. Those would be pretty gorgeous with the afore-mentioned maple.
Last year:

This year:



Progress on the front border, too:


Just need to snap up some Lee Valley "garden staples" (since the plastic pegs from the nursery were not, to use my mother's phrase, worth the powder to blow them to hell) to secure the landscape fabric and then get riverwash stone to spread around.

Additional details that make me happy:


Miscanthus 'Gracillimus'. Beautiful reddish plumes that bob and flutter in every breath of wind. One clump is twice the size of the other, weirdly; as far as I can tell the growing conditions in those 15-20 feet should be identical. Hopefully they'll even out over time.


Cleome - surprise! And yay for self-seeding annuals! I'm reminded/struck by (a) how gorgeous these are and (b) how much I like the foliage and what a nice contrast it is to everything around it.


Pretty purple-and-silvery sage from my mom's garden. I wasn't sure how well it would take the transplant, since it was basically a stem hacked off the main plant and stuck in some dirt, but when I finally got around to putting it in the garden it had already grown roots right around the bottom of the margarine container it was transported in, so I think its survival is pretty much assured.


Pretty pink fall-blooming Ozawa chives. One more reason to ♥ the allium family.

Have only the backyard tulips left to plant bulb-wise. Of course after I got just about everything in the ground the weather snapped back to mid-20s for several days. Hopefully I don't lose anything due to too-early planting.

Also spied curb material for sale at Ritchie's, which has landscaping gears turning in my head. I was going to pay someone to install the stuff, but it's not like it's difficult, just time-consuming. And I have heaps of stone dust etc. to use up in the throughway anyway, right? Although if I want to tackle the basement that's likely to use up all my available pre-snow project time, so this may have to wait for spring.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fall progress

Peony has been relocated to the front yard, as well as some stray rose campion seedlings, which are nice and silver-coloured and should like the conditions out there. I ended up chucking the TG rose, since it was mostly dead except for one lonely, straggly cane. Planted a purple clematis in its place, as well as the sweet autumn clematis out front. Still to plant is a chunk of lovely silvery-and-purple sage from my mom's garden, somewhere it can sprawl a bit, since mom's patch got pretty big in just one summer.

And since the weather seems to have turned, I took a crack at my bulbs the other day. Planted: 90 tulips scattered all around; 60 crocus around the bottom of the magnolia; 40 squills around the top of the yard; 8 hyacinths that will probably be hidden by taller things but whose delicious smelliness will hopefully still be able to waft in the front windows; 20 alliums of various descriptions, mostly around the roses, which will hopefully deter the japanese beetles and anonymous caterpillars next year; and 10 kooky-looking "feather muscari". Remaining: 30 or 40 smaller alliums; 50 tulips for the backyard; 3 eremurus. Next spring is so going to rock.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fall Chore List

* Plant this year's frahillion bulbs (Thxgiving weekend, probably)
* Move peony and teasing georgia rose from backyard side bed to front yard
* Fall landscaping project: finish edging front yard with riverwash stone this end, need to
- do some weeding and final grading
- procure landscape fabric and pins
- obtain rocks, with the help of mom's trailer
Should also finish edging the patio in the back and deploy landscape fabric and stone there too.
* Get in touch with landscaping lady re installing curb edging for the front yard
* Clean up the damn throughway and the shed, since I have shelves that should help tame the chaos

Monday, September 12, 2011

My mom and I went to Ritchie's to check out their bulbs before making a catalogue order. Holy crap. Rows upon rows upon shelves upon shelves stocked with every tulip imagineable and loads of other goodies besides. Prices were much better than the catalogues to boot, and no shipping charges to pay. We both went a little crazy.

The spoils:

* a sack of 50 assorted single tulips for the backyard
* for the front yard, assorted black (well, dark purple really) white and pink single and double tulips, including the Black Hero tulips of awesomeness from last year
* 60 crocuses to scatter around everywhere, since flowers at the beginning of April will make me smile even if they're in dirt instead of grass
* assorted alliums - more drumstick, more blue, more purple sensation, an interesting new white one called "graceful", and atropurpureum, since it has a different shape
* eremurus himalaicus and robustus, which are the real monsters of their kind (can get to be 6' tall) - a third of the catalogue price, but probably not the same quality, so we'll see how they do
* a pot of lamb's ears for the front yard
* a couple 4" pots of dark red sweet william, because it was half price

Now all I have to order in are the clematises (clemati?) I've had my eye on, since nobody else seems to carry them, to the tune of an additional $40. Sweeeeeeeet.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A couple more shrubs to covet, possibly for the dividing line between me and the neighbour, since they grow ~6-8' tall but only a couple feet wide:

"Fine Line" buckthorn

"Helmond Pillar" barberry - ooooo, purple!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

After a rough night of little sleep I decided to treat myself to a plant binge yesterday in compensation. The spoils:

* Three pots of Munstead lavender (as per previous shopping list ruminations)

* Penstemon "Dark Towers", which is drought tolerant and likes full sun - therefore a good candidate for the front yard, I think! Plus it has the nice purple foliage I am so charmed by, in addition to pink flowers.

* Creeping speedwell, which has nice silvery foliage and promises to be quite striking when in bloom.

* Gas plants (aka Dittany), one pink and one white, which I've been reading about forever in garden magazines as this beautiful classic cottage garden plant but was never able to find.

* "Jade Frost" sea holly, since I'm not sure if the bareroot ones I planted managed to survive, and since it has funky variegated foliage to boot.

* "Ozawa" chives (to plant with some of the roses) which bloom nowish, for a bonus.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Plants to covet

For the front yard, mostly:

Texas Scarlet Quince - Brilliant orange-red flowers in May bloom before the leaves appear. Shiny green foliage and a mounded shape make this a great accent plant for smaller areas or in front of taller shrubs. It's apparently only 2' tall, so could go well in front of the roses, maybe.

I thought some columnar juniper - in a nice silver blue, of course - would be a good addition, but these all seem to get 10-20' tall and reach that height relatively quickly. Nonetheless, tempted to try a Blue Arrow in place of the scraggly old mockorange beside the window out front.

The only one that's a little smaller (3') seems to be Juniperus communis 'Miniature'. At that height I could use it for an accent just about anywhere.

The hunt for the columnar juniper took me to the Rideau Woodland Ramble catalogue, where I found a bunch of intriguing items:

* I'm not usually keen on spreading/groundcover evergreens, but Picea Mariana Ericoides is pretty cool:

* As an alternative to a Blue Globe Spruce, Picea pungens 'St. Mary's Broom' is pretty gorgeous.

'Sester Dwarf' is also cute, although I'm not usually too keen on that super-pyramidal shape.

* Loving the texture on Pinus leucodermis 'Smidtii' and Pinus strobus 'Blue Shag'.

Would need to check if these are vulnerable to those goddamn sawflies, though...and yep, the intarwebs indicate that those little bastards like all kinds of pine, and given that these are dwarf white pines especially, either of them would probably be heartache waiting to happen. Sigh.

Summersweet (clethra) - especially Sixteen Candles and Ruby Spice - is also very pretty, although largeish; not sure if I could squeeze it in.

...and a little more googling reveals that summersweet needs consistently moist soil - so much for that idea!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

You'd think I would learn...


Note to self, AGAIN: midsummer is NOT the time to plant shrubs. Or dwarf trees for that matter. Sigh. Cooler weather seems to be on its way, so maybe I'll try again in the next month or two. At least the smokebush is still looking good.

Got the trellis up for the John Davis rose to climb on. It looks kind of more imposing than I expected, but as things start to fill up and out it should start to look more balanced.




My other problem is that I don't think it's anchored very well, despite the 4" or 5" spikes on the bottom of the feet. In clay it might work better, but in the sand I've got, you can pull the whole thing over way too easily. Not sure how to fix this. The feet are too small to weigh down with bricks or rocks, and sinking the feet in concrete would be an awfully permanent setup. Maybe I could use the flat feet instead of the spikes, screw them to a board, and then bury the board a few inches deep?

Another noteworthy thing in these pictures is the canna lilies, which are pretty astonishing in their gorgeousness. The flowers are OK - a little ratty because I'm not sure whether/how to deadhead the things - but the purple foliage is awesome, and it's tall to boot. I'll try to remember to lift these in the fall, but if not, Lindenberg's prices on them are reasonable enough that I could treat them as annuals.

The butterfly bush is verrrry slowly getting around to blooming, and is still pretty shrimpy - maybe 1' tall with a few stalks on it. I remain skeptical about this thing; if it's going to die back to the ground every year, how is it going to manage to get any bigger than this? Maybe it will grow faster as its root system expands?

Not much new in the backyard. Phlox needs hoops next year, it flopped all over the place. I could pinch it, but don't know that I'd want it flowering much later. A couple of the sedums are floppy too, weirdly far as I knew, floppy sedums meant too-rich soil, and since when is that a problem in my yard? The internets should know whether I should pinch them back next year...ah, yes, as quoted on GardenWeb: Plants can be cut back to 4 in. when they are about 8 in. tall, normally in early June. They could also be pinched at this time. Many gardeners prefer the results obtained from pinching as compared to cutting back, claiming that cutting back causes the plant to callus and break off in winter weather, whereas pinching does not. Awesome. If that doesn't work I'll try moving them, apparently part shade can have this effect.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Between the midsummer maintenance plateau and the new baby bombshell going off, I haven't been out there much just lately and it's looking a little scraggly. For posterity, however, here's the front yard:


I planted some purple fountain grass, but otherwise have mostly just been trying to keep the weeds and bugs from taking over. Results in the backyard keep me hopeful that this will start to fill in over the next few years. I must plant (a) more lavender, maybe along the border between me and the neighbour and (b) more crocosmia, because ZOMG check it out in the back sun bed:


Said bed is, unexpectedly, rocking the midsummer colour - between the globe thistle, liatris, crocosmia and rudbeckia, this is pretty classic, no??


Although a little stringy and green in the middle.


I will have to find something else to fill in the space in front of the rosebush this time of year. More lavender, maybe? It's about the right height, and nice and silvery. Could stand a few more liatris, too; they're a little taller but very vertical. Time for a shopping/brainstorming nursery trip, I think!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Houseiversary Picture Post!

Getting there!!

Front yard, 2011


My schemey schemes, they ripen apace! Will have to keep repeating the purple and silver notes I'm acquiring, because I ♥ them so much - case in point: newly acquired smoke bush and Thume spruce.


Latest purchase in this direction is some purple fountain grass, which I'm not 100% sure is hardy here, but Canadian Tire seems to think so, so we'll see. A "Fine Wine" weigela (compact and purple-green) would be a nice addition somewhere, I'm thinking, in addition to one of the splashy colourful "My Monet" kind. Our newly-dug bylaw-compliant trench at the very front will eventually be lined with some pea gravel and river-washed stone, which should make a nice grass-free front border for the yard.

Also need to keep an eye out for more splashy colourful drought-resistant midsummer-blooming perennials, like this maltese cross, which is working out pretty amazingly for a 2010 impulse buy:


The combination of coreopsis, lavender, and blue alliums in the very front is pretty awesome, too; will have to find things to keep building on that. More lavender in general, actually, since it's doing so well there. More alliums in general as well - maybe some chives? - since my roses have been suffering from the depredations of various insect plagues. GRRR. At least soap and water seems to be working, mostly, and they're almost all putting out new growth.

Back yard, 2011


A little more civilized, a little better balanced, a little more filled in. Still not as colourful as I'd like on the shadier side - although I gather this is an ongoing shade challenge anyway...more colours of astilbe maybe? - and need to beat the hydrangeas back a bit around the birdbath. And the patio badly needs some sort of border to define it against the "lawn".

Going around the beds:

Shade bed, 2011


Tsk. Needs work. That anonymous tall red thing definitely needs to move further back. Otherwise need some definition and variation of texture in here somehow. Grasses? Astilbe near the back? More ground cover in the front?

Sun bed, 2011


A little on the chaotic side, still - will have to be more ruthless with the stray rose campion - but the bee balm is definitely better off in its new home(s), and the Quadra rose will hopefully provide some nice height and colour at the back eventually, although I'm told it takes a while to get going. Maybe I should try some delphiniums back there, too, although I think it may be too ruthlessly hot and dry for them just there...although I suppose I've seen them growing in not-exactly-moist conditions around the neighbourhood.

In any case, there are some nice combinations emerging here as things start to form clumps - rose campion + bee balm + globe thistle, for example:


Wall bed, 2011


Another tsk. Disappointing lack of change here. Replaced the Fairy rose with Seafoam, but it needs some sort of other colour or texture between it and the hydrangeas or it just sort of fades into them. Will have to browse over my garden magazines and see if they have any combinations to suggest for hydrangeas.

Corner bed, 2011


Very pleased with the improvement here. Not only has it filled in, but: colour! texture! variety of height! If I could manage more of the same that would be awesome. Maybe I should try some begonias or impatiens here and there...

Also, check out the results of Operation Sudden Lily Beetle Death. Bliss. Ed Lawrence seems to think that the key is getting the drop on them early in the season, combined with ongoing vigilance. Will have to try to duplicate these results next year.

Side bed, 2011


Well, I struck a blow against the ferns of insanity, anyway. And the bee balm makes a nice combination with the delphiniums (which I think were a little early last year due to freakish weather):

The hydrangeas, as previously mentioned, need to be beaten back, as does the stupid grass, and there's a peony and a rose that compLETEly do not belong here - I will move them in the fall and replace them with another clematis, I think. One that blooms nowish, if I can finangle such a thing.