A Floral Bouquet

Never underestimate the value of a lovely bouquet of flowers.

I received the bouquet below and although the picture doesn’t do it justice, I was thrilled to receive it.

The chrysanthemum is not naturally that colour but adds drama

Does that sound strange from someone who grows flowers for others to enjoy and who still has perennials blooming in her garden?

The joy of a bouquet such as the one I received is that someone not only thought of me but took the time to show me that I popped into their thoughts.  To have someone go into a florist (in the Beach, in Toronto near Woodbine), tell the owner what my favourite colour is and to have an arrangement made just for me is so wonderful!

I once worked with a man who bought his wife a dozen roses every Friday night.  I could never figure out if I thought that was very romantic or not.

But we all want to feel that someone cares about us, even for just a few minutes out of a day or week.

Additionally, the arrangement contains one of my favourite flowers – lisianthus.

A favourite flower, in a favour colour – small details mean so much

So if you haven’t made someone feel special in a while, and that could be you to you, then stop and buy a bouquet of flowers and try to remember what they like – it will make the gift that much more meaningful.


Well, it’s been another whacky summer season.  So much rain in the spring that most of my new plantings rotted.

Then a moderately nice August and then an amazing September.  Last weekend we had record-breaking heat and lots of sun which has caused some of the plants in the garden to re-bloom.

New blooms are opening
Geranium Cranesbill adds a touch of pink to the fall garden

Even my vegetable garden has started to re-bloom.  These new flowers will never mature into tomatoes – the days are too short and the temperatures are dropping. One cold night and these plants will wilt but it’s interesting to see what a spell of heat and sunshine will do.

tomato plants are putting out flowers

Fortunately, all of the flowering plants that are re-blooming are perennials so there is no harm being done. Actually, they are absorbing more energy and food for the winter which means they should be superstars next year!  All we need is some rain.

I have been watering but a good rain is best and the trees and shrubs need to be well watered if they are going to do well during the winter.  They are calling for rain today but at the moment, the sky is clear with nary a cloud in sight.

The upside to this unusual weather is that my garden is still in bloom with both summer flowers like the coneflower and the autumn ones like the Sedum Autumn Joy providing lots of colour as the leaves fall.

Enjoy! For soon it will all be white.

Neither Rain nor Drought

I have written previously that some garden experts have nothing kind to say about the Sedum – Autumn Joy but for me, I think it is both a problem-free (generally) and very reliable addition to any garden.

Sedum Autumn Joy

One of the biggest challenges that most sedums face is that they start to droop and separate which annoys some people.  And that’s fine.  Not all plants appeal to all gardeners.

Splaying sedum are not everyone’s “cup of tea” but they can be staked

This sedum has a dead centre but that was because I didn’t clean it up this spring in all the rain we had.  I have about a dozen sedum plants and this is the only one that has really flopped out.

Sedum are some of the first plants to show up in the spring and they are some of the last to leave.  And they are relatively hardy, once established.

I purchased a number of new varieties this spring and they failed to prosper.  I will leave them in the ground in the hopes that next spring will be drier and more conducive to helping the plants get established.

But if Autumn Joy is not for you – there are other options.  All of these plants are at least three years old.

In general, this sedum has both a lighter coloured leaf and a finer leaf

Sedum also offered a variety of leaf options and colours

I love the variegated leaves an slightly lighter pink flower

And the blooms also come in a variety of shapes and colours – this one is very delicate looking –

Every garden needs some “tried and true” plants and for my money – sedum is a “go to” plant.  Once established they can be divided so they also offer good value. Always look for healthy plants and check out your local nurseries for new varieties.  At this time of the year, big box stores may start putting them on sale.

And as a last positive – they make a good cut flower and … the bees love them too!

Reclaimed Trees

Reclaimed wood is in vogue. Pick up any magazine on home décor or woodworking and you will find articles and pictures of reclaimed wood creations. https://www.bobvila.com/articles/repurposed-wood/#.WZrHwP5K0dU

reclaimed wooden benches and tables are all the rage

Our local community had a “Pallets on the Town”.  A local pallet maker offered up pallets and participants were encouraged to repurpose them.  It was quite a hit.

As a gardener and designer, I truly appreciate this current trend.  Waste not, want not and some of these trees are so old, it would be a waste to simply let them rot.

But I am repurposing a different kind of wood.  I live in a forest that had once been logged.  As well, there are many trees that have been damaged over the years.  So I am “reclaiming” tree parts.

A gnarly, most covered stump creates an interesting focal point

I have had to take down some trees, in the area where my garden is, because they are damaged, dead or struggling to reach the sun.  By replacing them with interesting stumps, I bring a little of the forest back into the garden.

an interesting backdrop

And as posted previously, many of the stumps have rotted centres, so planting in the stump is also an option.

And even a rotted log is a good addition to any garden. If you don’t have a bug house, a rotted log will do.

A healthy garden needs good bugs!

So whether you are salvaging pristine pieces of wood for furniture, repurposing old wood or giving dead trees new meaning, it’s all good.  And to really do it up in style – why not add repurposed wooden furniture to your garden.

Taking It Easy

If  you have read any of my previous posts or checked out my Facebook page, you will know that I live on rock.  There is a veneer of dirt on the rock and not much more so creating gardens is a challenge.

One option, of course, is to bring in loads of earth, which I have done for my larger gardens but that can be costly and labour intensive.  The other option, which I know “purest” would not approve of, is to simply “plant” the plants on top of the dirt.

Yesterday I went down to True North Lilies http://truenorthdaylilies.com/ and purchased some colour for my side garden. There are plants growing there – iris that the previous owner put in and some fall phlox that I moved when I first arrived with little else, except rocks.  But the soil/land is so dry and scarce, I could barely get a shovel into the ground.

Naturally growing plants

Disturbing the soils is not something that is currently recommended as it disturbs the little ecosystem that is happening. And that is fine with me! http://www.backyardecosystem.com/organic-gardening/stop-killing-your-soil-debunking-double-digging/

Also, as previously mentioned, the milkweed is doing exceptionally well this year but it is popping up all over the place. So I decided that I wanted to keep the milkweed, reduce the amount of lawn I cut (even if marginally) and add some colour to a rather dreary looking space – one that I look out onto daily as I sit having breakfast.

Barely grass and milkweed  

I was able to scrape away enough soil to at least have a bit of a hole to put the roots of the lilies in.  Then a cover the roots with that soil, watered the plant and moved onto the rest of the plants.

Once they were all in placed, I covered the entire area with mulch.  The mulch has some “dirt” in it and it is a wonderful cedar mulch. It will decompose over time and with the addition of some leaves this fall, the ground will start to improve.

Colour and interest and no heavy lifting!


The best thing – little back breaking work went into it and not only do I have an instant garden, but for a little while, instant colour.  I have decided this will be my “natural” garden area as well.  So the milkweed will stay, as will some of the other plants that have set up roots in the area.

Gardening should be a peaceful, positive experience – and this absolutely was!

Elevate Your Garden

It’s natural that our gardens are grounded or located on the earth but when you look at your garden, from what vantage point do you get the best view?

I have gardens in several locations and I find that I am almost always looking “down” on them.  I sit on my porch and look out and down on them which creates a completely different view than looking at them straight on.

Most of us will look down on our gardens even if we have put them in raised beds.  But if we want to truly enjoy our gardens we should elevate a few of our favourite things so that they stand out from the crowd!

A true rock garden!

The presence of this huge rock on the front lawn, naturally elevates the garden but it also requires plantings that are not overwhelmed by the mass of the rock. The tall grasses (Karl Foerster ornamental grass) soften the edges of the rock and draws the eye upward.

Boxed willow

If you live in the country, you will have a well cover to deal with in addition to a septic bed. At this house, the septic has a very defined lid which I have “covered” with this boxed perennial.

Don’t be stumped by immoveable objects

This tree stump was actually brought and placed here and the cone flowers are awaiting planting.  But the centre of the stump is rotted so why not plant something in there to elevate your garden?

A garden should cause the viewer to stop, look and enjoy the beauty that is present.  Creating different levels, either with plants or little additions, is just one way to do that.


Vignettes in the Garden

Everyone has their idea of what a garden should be.  For some it is a flawlessly manicured and maintained lawn with a border of flowers along the front of the house

Trimmed lawn, contained gardens

while for others it’s a wildflower garden

Different gardens for different locations and preferences.

and everything in between.

Sometimes creating a vignette, or a small garden arrangement unto itself encourages people to stop and take a closer look at both the vignette and the garden, if there is one, as a whole.

I created this vignette with an old tree stump, two “Double Scoop Lemon Cream” Coneflowers, and a Florida Magic Rainbow Weigela.  The Gnome just happened to drop by.

What made you stop and look?
Great colour and lots of options for companion planting
Something different? or a lovely colour?

It doesn’t take much to create interest in the garden. Just let your imagination guide you.

Natural Gardening

In this month’s issue of Garden Making there are several articles on “natural gardening”.

As someone who lives in a forest and has limited open space, I am torn between leaving things alone/”natural” and creating a cultivated garden that has plants that I have come to enjoy and expect to see in my garden.

A natural garden is far more economical than a cultivated one and depending on where you live, a natural garden can provide a wide range of plants to enjoy.  And a natural garden is far easier on your back and knees!

The key to any garden is ensuring that the plants “chosen” to be in it are appropriate for the geographical area or zone, provide some benefit to the space it will occupy, such as pollinators and that the plants provide joy to the gardener.

My favourite flower is a daisy or any daisy-like flower.  I love the openness of the flower and they always look so welcoming and honest. And in the fields of my home, I love to see them growing wild. But in my garden, not so much.

Cultivated daisies

In part, because they are unruly and they do expand to fill up they space they have. Their unruliness means that they sometimes block plants that I would like to see or enjoy and because the wild daisies grow tall and spread, when I look out, it’s the first and sometimes the only thing that I see.

A field of daisies in my garden

I put hours into creating cultivated gardens because I had to eliminate all the driveway/parking area that the previous owners created. I needed to break up all the gravel and I wanted colour and texture.

I have a field that is not currently being looked after, other than to be mowed and perhaps next year, I will see what happens if I let it go wild.  I will dig up some of the daisies and toss them into that area as well as some of the other plants that encroaching on my gardens.

In the end though, as long as your garden isn’t dangerous, provides food and shelter for the birds and small creatures and brings you joy, even if that is that fact that you don’t have to weed, it’s all good!

Colour, texture, variety makes a garden joyful

Not all of us love straight lines or precision and as a garden consultant it is important for me to try a variety of plants out to make sure that if I carry them in my nursery, or recommend them to a client, I will know exactly how they grow and what they require.

Your garden is yours to define.



Starting Your Garden

We are well into the short growing season in Canada and like last year, we are off to a rocky start.  Last year we had no rain, lots of heat and sunshine while this year, here in Ontario, it has been raining, cool and short on sunshine.

So how do you design a garden to accommodate such extremes?  Well, as I mentioned in my Facebook posting, one of the easiest ways to start a flower garden, is by picking a colour.  My favourite colour is purple and I have a wide assortment of plants that offer up some variation of that colour.

It starts in the spring with my tulips

and carries on through the summer with Allium, Iris, Osteospermum (daisy), Cranebill Geranium and Creeping Thyme.


But in order for your garden to be successful, you should also consider the following:

  • How much time do you have to spend in your garden?
  • How much sun does it get and when?
  • Are there mid-sized trees that will impact your garden as these trees grow and  cast longer shadows?

Although there are other considerations, these are some of the first things to think about.  If you work full time, have a busy life and many demands, it might be best for you to focus on some flowering shrubs to add colour and texture to your outdoor space and top these up with flowering hanging baskets or containers.

Full sun is defined as at least six hours and many flowers, such as roses need that much sun in order to do well.  So it is important that you note where the sun impacts your garden and how long that area gets sun.

Finally, if you or your neighbours have trees anywhere near your garden, take note of them. Understand not only how tall they will grow but what they will look like as the mature. Columnar Oaks will grow tall but remain relatively narrow in appearance.

Tall and slender, creating very little shade

Maple trees, on the other hand, create lovely large canopies and lots of shade.

Maple trees provide beautiful fall colour and shade

These are just a few things to consider as you plan your garden but gardens are ever evolving and that is part of the beauty they provide.

What is important is that you pick the right plants for your environment and that you enjoy spending time in your garden!

Messy Gardens Continue

In the previous blog I wrote that it is hard to have a tidy garden when milkweed decides to grow wherever it wants to and although it can be transplanted, my thoughts are that I will just leave it.

I live in the country and having a pristine garden, with lovely clipped boxwood hedges are not required.  Actually, a hedge of any kind would be easy to maintain, it’s the wide open spaces that present the challenge.

So my garden continues to be messy and will remain that way for about another week or two.  What is the culprit this time? The first is the remnants of my tulips.

A garden full of spent tulips

Off to the right, in the picture above, is a peony and the shrub at the far left is a hydrangea but all that green in between, are daffodil and tulip leaves.

Tulip leaves

Many of my clients complain that their daffodils and tulips don’t come back and part of the reason is that they cut the leaves down before they are finished.  Part of this plant is almost spent but the leaves on the right are still healthy and collecting the benefits of the sun which feed the bulbs for next year.  So they stay until they are a faded yellow colour.

The other “invader” is my favourite flower – the wild daisy.

Bright, clean and cheerful wild daisies

I love how fresh and clean they look – always open and welcoming.  But when they start growing, there is no stopping them!

A field of daisies in my garden

These daisies are growing on the edge of one of my gardens.  There really is very little I can or will do about them.  They are also growing in the ditch at the front of the house, along the garage – anywhere there is sun and soil.

So for another couple of weeks I will “endure” their presence.  I will move them to other areas once the flowers have faded in the hopes that next year they will brighten more natural areas instead of my somewhat cultivated gardens.