Tuesday, August 13, 2019

It's starting to look like a garden

Colourful phlox, red, white and purple with some red holly hocks on the left. This bed is going to be enlarged for next year, and there will be lots of tulips planted in here come fall.

What I now call the ginko bed. The tree was planted in May and last weekend, I dug out some space for 2 daylilies and a gaillardia. Annual cosmos are in front of the ginko, some of them grown from seed. I plan to dig this bed larger and have it ready for next spring. This is the sunniest spot in the garden, so I should take advantage of that.

View of the back fence with two hydrangea and the echinacea and daisies in the foreground.

Long view of the vegetable beds.

Long view of the west side of the garden, the part with most perennials now.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Monarch butterflies

Last night, one of the grandchildren found a monarch pupa hanging off the picnic table.  He was tapping it and it came off. His older sister rigged up a way to hang it from our deck railing, using dental floss and a skewer.  Hopefully, no damage was done to it and it will carry on with its metamorphosis. 

The day before, I had found a caterpillar on a milkweed leaf in the yard and brought it up to the deck as well, hoping for a repeat of last year's cocoon and exodus of a monarch. The caterpillar ate most of the leaf, then disappeared.  However we noticed it on the underside of the deck railing last evening and it is still there this morning. So it may be preparing to spin itself into its cocoon. I certainly hope so. 

To watch the caterpillar shed its skin and spin into its cocoon, watch this video. Amazing!



Friday, August 2, 2019

The back garden August 2, 2019

A hot, dry summer in Ontario. This certainly makes the garden grow, but oh the watering that is required. Like so many others, I don't have an automated watering system, so I have to water the garden manually. One day, I water the front and the next day, I water the back. Each takes an hour to complete. I tend to skip one day per week just to have a break. And this week, we actually got a thunderstorm that gave us 22 mm of rain, which is close to what you need per week. But this was the total rainfall for 3 weeks. 

This is a planter on the back deck. The lobelia has taken over, behind it is some fuchsia but you can't see it from this side. You can just see the lobelia  and the double impatiens.

This is the first bloom on a dahlia that I started from a bulb purchased at the hardware store. It too needs lots of water; the leaves look so sad when it gets dry.

On the clothesline pole, I stapled chicken wire to support two clematis vines. The one with the small pink flowers has come back for a second year; it succumbed to clematis wilt the first year it was planted, which goes to how you shouldn't give up on a plant! On the other side of the pole is a large-flowered clematis called Rebecca. How could I pass that up when my oldest daughter is called Rebecca?

The hydrangea above is just chock full with blossoms;  I said to my sister "it must be in the perfect spot". I think this one is called Strawberry Sundae, the blossoms turn a deep pink after a few weeks.

Phlox!  I am so pleased to have phlox, I could never grow it in Halifax, too wet and too shady.  Even though these plants have powdery mildew, I am leaving them until the flowers finish.  Then  I will move the plants somewhere to get greater air circulation. I think the fence and the wild plants beyond are keeping these too damp.

A bed with Shasta daisies, black-eyed susans and echinacea. Today, I added two more echinacea to the bed. That is all that will go into this bed. I love the combination of these daisy-type plants  and, in particular, I love the gold of the black-eyed susans against the purple of the cone-flowers.

The black-eyed susans are ready to pop out in the photo above, just another day or two.

Another shot of the daisy, susans and echinacea bed.

Now, over to the veggie beds. If you look closely, you can see three small green peppers on these plants.

And in this photo, you can see the cherry tomatoes forming.

Larger tomatoes, BonnyBest I think, in the same raised bed. Just the other day, I watched a video on pruning tomato plants, I had no idea they should be pruned.  Well, I enjoy pruning and I took a lot of branches off, opening up the plants to more sunlight. This is supposed to direct the energy  of the plant into making fruits, rather than making new branches. 

This is a raised bed with potato plants. I have no idea how they are doing, and am hesitant to dig one up to see. Some of the plants had flowers, but not all of them, but apparently  that isn't necessary.

A view of the bed by the ramp up to the back deck. This only gets a few hours of filtered morning light, the rest of the day, it is shaded by a large maple tree. In the far corner is my most favourite plant, a climbing hydrangea. These grew so well in Halifax. There was one on a nearby house that scaled up three storeys and was covered in blossoms in August. A beautiful sight.

A far shot of one corner of the backyard. There is a bed with about 15 perennials in it, you can see the Annabelle hydrangea at one corner of it. There is also a cherry tree and a gingko tree, a raised bed with beefsteak tomato plants, another hydrangea (Strawberry Sundae above), a dahlia, a rosa rugosa. I am thinking that this entire corner should be one big bed, with a path to walk through it. This is the area that gets the most sunlight of any spot in the yard, so I can pretty much have my pick of perennials and shrubs to put here.

Most of the nurseries around here have scaled back for the season. And it is not really a good time to be planting. So I will wait to see what shrubs come in September. Meanwhile, I can be enlarging existing beds to take more plants next year.  When I look at gardens online, it is amazing to see that some gardens have taken 20 years to reach where they are at now. My aim is to accomplish that much in about 5 years. After all, I turned 70 in April;  I can't see doing hard work much past the age of 75, hence the 5 year agenda.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Purple drift

I never thought I was a purple flower lover, but it turns out I am. So I dug a little section of earth out today to create the beginning of a purple drift.

Yesterday I moved a Johnson's blue geranium from a shady bed to a sunnier location; it looked a little shocked today so I gave it lots of water to recover.

And then dug out a strip behind the garage; this is the sunniest location in the entire yard. Full sun all day long. On the left is Veronica Speedwell, a variety called Eveline.  On the right are two Salvia, Mystic Spire Blue variety. There had been a Stella d'oro daylily in this spot; it is temporarily sitting in a vegetable bed, as I'm not sure where to put it. It could go in front of these purple perennials but I am thinking I need more purple in here before adding some dashes of yellow. I have a second Stella d'Oro daylily that could also be moved here. Or I could just keep adding more purple plants.

Decisions, decisions. To the right is a long strip that gets all day sun; this would be a great spot for dahlias next year. Right now I have some pumpkins planted there to provide pumpkins for the grandkids for Halloween.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Trimming edges

What a difference trimming the edge makes to a flower bed.  Before you couldn't see the white alyssum along the edge and now the beebalm in the centre is more visible. Also two orange poppies came out today. These were on some plants I bought at the garden centre in May and I didn't think they would bloom this year.  Amazing flowers they are.

On the left is Annabelle hydrangea in its 3rd year. I counted 20 blossoms on it. And this year, the leaves don't droop after 2 days without water, which tells me it has rooted well and is getting established.

It has been three weeks without much rain. There was one brief downpour about 10 days ago, but it only measured 8 mm on the rain gauge. A good week should measure 27 mm. You can see how dry everything is by the brown grass above. I am watering everything every second day. But I think I will go to every third day except for the veggie beds.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

July 9, 2019

Picture heavy post:

my favourite annual vine:  black-eye susan vine

pot with dahlia and petunias grown from seed 
from last year's petunias

2 clematis growing together, one pink,
one purple, with alyssum keeping their roots cool

pink clematis with blooms about to burst open

lovely pale pink peony from one year old plant

Bobo hydrangea with a zillion blossoms ready to pop
leaf damage from rose chafer beetles

clematis returnng on the clothes pole
with small pink bell-like flowers

Rebecca shasta daisies ready to open in a day or two

Strawberry Sundae hydrangea with lots of blossoms

perennial geranium and forget-me-nots

pink yarrow and bee balm

Bristol red weigela doing great second year

Japanese bottle brush

rosa rugosa opens yellow with pink edges

tomatoes doing well, setting flowers

raised bed with potato plants

tomato plants along with 4 pepper plants

tomatoes setting flowers

bed with beefsteak tomatoes

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Garden Tour

Today was the annual garden tour for the Madawaska Valley Horticultural Society in Barry's Bay. Five gardens were featured, one in Wilno, three in the Killaloe area, and one in Eganville in central Ontario.

The first garden I and my granddaughter Hannah visited belonged to an older couple who have been gardening for about 20 years in this location. The property was on a slope with a wonderful view of the neighbouring hills. What struck me most about this were the areas left to just grow, this was done to reduce the amount of grass-cutting required, but it had made the place look so natural and un-manicured. It was very tastefully done. I asked the owner how she watered her gardens and she told me she did it by hand with watering cans as their well cannot provide enough water to pump and sprinkle the beds generously. Given how dry Ontario summers are, this was of great importance to me. I am determined to tackle this problem of watering in an area that borders on summer droughts. Water here is extremely expensive because we are on town water and putting in irrigation is just beyond our budget. I am all ears when it comes to people's various solutions for their watering problems.

This property also made use of some wonderful trees. Above is a Russian olive tree, the leaves are lovely and lacy, providing light shade. 

The garlic bed appears dry, but the garlic seem to be doing fine.

A type of campanula, I think it might be campanula salastro.

The second garden had some lovely features to highlight certain flowers. Above were three containers in an old wooden wheel barrow.

This garden in Killaloe actually had a watering system set up. The owner told me that she used to water for 3 hours every evening just to keep up.  So her husband got a system of hoses put in that make use of the water in a pond on the property.  Each bed has a sprinkler attached to a buried hose and, with the use of a timer, she can water each bed without having to go around with a hose to all the beds.

She had some lovely rocks on the property and had plants growing over and around them,  very charming. There was a lot of yellow in this garden.

The next garden was a piece of  property reclaimed from the previous owners who ran a grow-op in the house. The house was full of mould from the humidity and a ton of garbage. The land was completely overrun with weeds and it is amazing  how much this couple has done in just three years. The  property faces the old mill in old Killaloe and it is absolutely charming. This is owned by the president of our garden club and this is a tiny woman with a bundle of energy. She and her husband are going to have a hedge of roses on the slope facing the stream. And his mother also moved in with them, a woman of 92, who brought her collection of hostas with her when she moved from southern Ontario.

This is a hedge of dappled willow that Ritsuko and her husband planted three years ago. She told me that I can just take a branch from a willow and shove it into moist ground and it will root. Since I have only one dappled willow, I may just take her advice and get more of these pretty shrubs.

The last garden we visited was one we almost missed. Getting short on time, and since Hannah and I are both directionally-challenged, we were going to skip this garden. Thank goodness, we didn't.

The owners are in their mid-seventies, they have lived here for 45 years, but only began the garden 20 years ago. Again, I asked them how they water all their plants, and Alice told me that they don't. Well, her husband will selectively water some plants from a 45 gallon barrel that he has filled from the pond with a pump, but the other plants have to survive on what water nature provides. So they have quit planting any annuals, as they just take too much time. And all the perennials are chosen by their ability to grow and flourish in these conditions. Their soil is heavy clay which does hold onto moisture (whereas I live in predominantly sandy soil I am told).

While there is still a lot of work to be done planting and cutting down plants in the fall (Alice uses a breadknife to cut them all down, she goes through 3 knives), they have found that weeding and watering are greatly reduced. This leaves them with time to just enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

The front of the house is in complete shadow provided by a giant basswood tree that Jim planted some 45 years ago. He dug it up out of the woods and put it about 20 feet away from the house. This was planted to replace a giant elm on the other side of the house that was diseased. When the elm was cut down, it measured 18 feet in circumference.

                                         a tree surrounded with Solomon's Seal

Sweet clematis vine that blossoms in June. Alice had several of these around her garden and they clamber over trellises, railings, arbors and are just lovely to look at. Delicate white flowers abound. I am hoping that the autumn clematis that I planted will look like this one day

Roses galore climb up all sorts of wooden arbors dotted around the gardens. Alice told me that she only plants roses of the Explorer variety as they are the hardiest ones for this harsh climate.

an arbor covered with some climber I can't identify

delphiniums in several areas of pure sunshine

electric blue delphiniums

Hannah sitting on a swing suspended beneath grapevines

Another wooden bench tucked in under a tree and surrounded by a wide variety of perennials.

peonies and perennial geraniums

lots of split rail fencing to enclose the gardens

We had a marvellous three hours visiting these four gardens. It was even more wonderful to find out that the last owners were the parents of Hannah's godfather. Such a vibrant couple. Their place is called Tanglewood Honey because they actually are beekeepers and sell honey. Highway  41 north off Highway 60 a few miles west of Eganville. 

I will be visiting them again to view the gardens and just to enjoy this wonderful vibrant couple.