Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Russian Hackers Have Compromised My Computer!

I was typing this long-overdue blogpost when suddenly, a dialogue box dropped down offering the possibility of adding accents to my letters.  My keyboard froze and I was completed confounded in my ability to perform any sort of action.

Hmmmmm.  Frozen keyboard.  Hmmmmm.  After a tantrum, worthy of a healthy, yet tired two-year-old, I left what I was doing and took Bart for his walk.  Nothing better than a dog-walk, change of scenery and a good quiet think.  What else besides the very dramatic and exciting possibility of Russian Hackers could possibly have caused this problem.  Broken computer?  Operator incompetence?  What else, what else, what else?  Yes, as you my clever reader has guessed - Mr. Duracell's batteries last longer, not forever.  Two new batteries later, I'm back in action.  I apologized to the dog for the delay in the walk, to the cat for my language, and to my husband for removing him from his morning paper so he could watch my apoplexy first hand.  What on earth is the point of a meltdown if you don't have an audience.  So all is well, and I begin again.

Happy Summer everyone! It has been a gorgeous summer for gardens, but the late and wet-times-ten-to the-power-of-four seems to have me in a state of perpetual scramble.  If I had the time to weed, the weather conspired against me.  And, with all the water, I had deluded myself into thinking it didn't look too bad:  The plants were enormous and my lack of attention to detail wasn't all that evident...after all there was enough diversionary flowering material to delight the eye.

Fortunately I was shaken from my stupor by a visitor who was kind enough to point the extreme weed-volume after I mentioned I was going out later that day to weed.  (something like...."Well there sure are a lot of them out there.")  The folly of not having gardening gloves in multiple sizes to hand out to helpful folks.  More weeding scheduled until the leaves fall I fear.

But, things do look good as I'll show you.  Kevin has decided to add more pea gravel to the pathways and reset the large patio stones.  A fierce task for someone as tall as he is, but yesterday he managed to somewhat coral the pea gravel from escaping onto our neighbour's mutual drive, lift the large pavers, pull the birdbath apart (poor little creatures looking for water yesterday), re-stack Bart's Jenga pile of fireplace wood (he throws his body and soul into the effort of pulling out pieces of logs in order to secure a chipmunk without having the woodpile come down on him), move all the planters into the planted area of the garden and pull out some offending weeds!  He's moving not so quickly today.

So here's what the garden looks like at the moment.  I took these snaps in the early evening after dinner:

You can see some of my usual suspects:  The Aralia cordata getting bigger on the left, H. "Pineapple Upside-Down Cake" in yellow, my wonderful some-sort-of Hydrangea in a pot (centre)- year 4 - lives in the garage over the winter, and fading blooms of the Aruncus dioicus to the right.  I was delighted to find Fuchsia gartenmeister on one of my nursery trolls and bought myself a mini-flat of it.  It sits in the pot on the right.




If ever it was a year for hydrangea, it's this year (actually my last declaration of a Hydrangea year was 2008).  A pink Easter hydrangea (Note:  Hydrangea purchased to celebrate spring and Easter and then cruelly thrown out into the garden to deal with the elements) is poking through on the other side and just to the right corner is the carnival in a plant Hydrangea 'Lemon Wave'.


My pot in honour of Canada's 150 is tucked in at the bottom right.  And, look at how good the ferns are this year!


Yes, I did have a glass of wine with dinner.  Just tilt head slightly to the left.



I really like the little bits of almost-blue in the campanula and geranium.


Kevin pointed to the offending plant in the centre:  "Now that's a weed!"  Does he do that just so he's not involved in the weeding process?  It's Acanthus sibericus.  


Lemon Wave is producing both blue and pink flowers.



Even though our slugs are the size of baseball bats this year, they're not eating the Hosta.


And another Easter Hydrangea - a lovely pink lace cap - perfect in every way.  When I tucked it in, I really didn't expect to see anything but sticks.


This is a replanted area where I'm trying to establish those plants I want and discourage those I don't care for.  Alas, it will be a long tussle.


Here is Hydrangea quercifolia 'Alice' who now dwarfs me.  This named variety oak leaf hydrangea has had a checkered past in my garden.  After this year where her leaves are the size of my forearm, her height well above my stretched arm and her flowers in abundance, I forgive her for everything.  


All you need to do is give a plant what it wants - an easy winter and an abundance of rain.  Or in my case, install a couple of new batteries.  Isn't life grand?


Friday, June 2, 2017

Rain Gear, Puddles and Some of Toronto's Finest Gardens!

Got to go to the media preview for the Toronto Botanical Gardens 30th anniversary tour:  "Through the Garden Gate" coming up June 10th and 11th. There will be 30 lovely North Rosedale and Moore Park gardens for you to enjoy.  And, if the 10 or so that I've seen are any indication, this tour is not to be missed.

Here's a little of what I saw that day and a few sunny day snaps that I took back in September. As you can see, these gardens are marvellous, no matter when you get to visit.


The architect of this fine home was Eden Smith, renown for his Arts & Crafts designs and many public buildings in Toronto including the Lawren Harris studio.  He believed that a home should provide its best views into the garden.  Look at the wall of windows and just imagine how gorgeous the views must be. 




Everyone on the tour works so hard to make their gardens look spectacular.  Coats of paint have been added since late last year.



There are lots of white and soft coloured flowers no matter the season.







This was our second stop.  Its has a great no-grass front garden and splendid roof-top garden.  There are several gardens with some really good ground covers on the tour this year.  The secret is pick your plants well and plant them in abundance -- don't wait for the magic, MAKE it happen.






Sean James came up to the top of the porch to get a better view.  Not only are there the usual suspects in the roof-top garden, they've planted iris as well!


I know there are those who aren't all that fond of chartreuse in the garden, but situated well it almost makes you think the sun is shining.


Such sweet little pansies.


If ever there was a spring to show off your formal boxwood garden -- it's this one:  Not too much snow and cold over the winter; lots of rain, and no scorching sun as the new growth appeared.  Here's my buddy Margaret Bennet-Alder, author of "The Toronto Gardener's Journal", who is turning 90 on the 19th of June.


The dear owner left her cushions out in the deluge so we could get the full effect -- and served us little treats and bubbles to wash it down with.  You can get an idea just how much rain we got that day:




Even big kids like to play in the rain -- a little soft shoe splish splash with Sara Katz.




And a few sunny shots from last fall:  A driveway that's more pattern than concrete.  And, who wouldn't want to spend time in the back corner with friends?



A cozy surprise in a sheltered corner garden:


A plant collector, who sources his plants from around North America, starts many from seed and has established a boxwood hedge from cuttings!



A garden with a cobbled walkway circling the garden.  


How's this for respecting what came first?!   Lots of limbed old bushes, but as you climb the stairs, look at the stonework around the tree.....



With 30 gardens on the tour, you're going to have to put on your runners and scoot.   While the tour is adding an extra hour, on both Saturday and Sunday, starting at 10:00 rather than 11:00, you'll be hard pressed to see it all.  But no matter where you start, or end, you'll have a great day.  Leave that electronic device at home and let the sights and sounds wash over you as you step "Through the Garden Gate".



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Oh Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy!

Finally spring.  Finally spring-like weather.  And finally, I've done enough work in the garden so that I'm not running through my mind how I might enter into some sort of witness protection program rather than 'fess up to the mess of my garden.  Between work and the weather, clean-up has been a challenge.  I often leave a lot of leaves in the beds over the winter to help preserve the tender perennials -- snow cover can be spotty.  However, this year, I'm thinking I've got to be a little more industrious in the fall -- and perhaps say goodbye to a few of those sissy perennials.  My schedule and the garden just aren't playing in the same key in spring.  Having less to do would make things that much easier.

You may know that this area has been hit with substantial amounts of rain.  Lake Ontario is up three feet at the moment.  It's also been cold.  This nice part of a cold wet spring is that the bushes are beautiful, tulips are lasting, grass is green, and we're getting good use of all our sweaters and light jackets.

Tomorrow I'm headed out to a preview of the Toronto Botanical Garden's annual Through the Garden Gate tour in North Rosedale & Moore Park.  There will be 30 gardens to see June 10&11th.  Tickets are on sale now.  I'll get to see a sample of these lovely gardens in the pouring rain (if the weather forecast is right - and when it comes to rain, it usually is!).  Boots, trench coat and wipes for my camera lens - should be a great catch-up with my garden buddies.

Mum and I got out to the Royal Botanical Gardens Rock Garden for Mother's Day.  Such a pretty venue.  It gets better each time I see it.  Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary - so there are lots of red and white tulips about.




Chartreuse anyone?  When you don't have a lot of flowers, this is a very bright way to bring some sunshine to the garden:





There has been a bit of a grumble that the Canada 150 tulips (a red and white broken coloured tulip) have not come true to colour.  In fact many of them are yellow, purple, or as my Aunt Carolyn said, "They're an odd beige colour at the base."  So much for hardware store bargains.  Anyway these look quite pretty combined with red and white tulips - wondered if they are the same type or a fancier variety.



Back at home I pulled a few bits of spring from the garden to enjoy.


The garden at it's 50% presentable stage.


Discovery time.  This Epimedium was not cleaned up (the leaves stay green during the winter - then turn brown and ugly just as the new leaves and flowers come up), i.e.  I did not get out there and take off the dead.  Well, guess what, it's never looked so good.  The dead folds back quite nicely on its own and the new leaves cover it all up.  Lesson learned.  Epimedium plants do not need to be "cleaned up".



Mertensia virginica.


Cercis canadensis volunteer from a very clever bird.


Many of our little pathways down by the Lake have been closed because of the height of the water.


The rhodos have been wonderful this year.


When I look at this I want to go out and get a can of paint, and start painting random rooms.



My lovely Exocorda 'Snow Day'.  Planted in 2010, run over by a car a few years later, and doing beautifully this year.



Here are some lovely pink plants from the same garden on our morning walk - really nice combinations:




Another garden by the corner.....This was the year to have blooming bushes and tulips:


Only an Italian designer would match car upholstery and brake doodads.  Zowie.


Back to reality.  Some pretty pink tulips in my own garden:


The Akebia vine.


And for the first time ever - black spot on the Akebia vine.  There's also a black fungal wilt in the Cornus alternafolia that I've never seen before too.  Nothing like cold and wet to bring these fungal diseases out.


My work for this afternoon:





 And a very pretty Proven Winners rose called Rosa at Last.  No note with it -- just arrived on Mother's Day - so lucky me and thank you to Proven Winners!




So it's time to get out there and plant.  Look forward to sharing my TBG photos with you very soon!