Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Thank Goodness I Raked

See how good the garden looks - just shows how marvellous things look after you've raked and cut back and filled 21 refuse bags.  Fortunately I've got about another 21 to go, so just as soon as I'm able to shovel off the rest of the garden, I'll pick up where I left off.

It was 22C yesterday - today it is -2C (or 71F & 28F).  Caught the GO train to town and was enchanted by the gorgeous black and white setting between Oakville and Toronto.  At this time of the year, snows like this seem to pull the colour out of even the evergreens.  And, because the ground is still frozen, so few of the early dogwoods seem to have coloured up.  A very odd, yet beautiful sight.

When I came back home, my eye was caught by this wee bit of colour - the Hamamelis:

Or as I like to call it, the Golden Frosted Desiccated Coconut Plant.  Giving spring-starved Canadians like me, hope that the next season is indeed on its way.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Very Different Spring

Taxes done.  Kevin's newsletter in the turning-the-numbers-into-words phase.  Next week hope to have it into production while I pack 900 packages of seeds that we send to his clients - the closest I'll ever get to feeling like a drug dealer.

And the garden.  I've never seen anything like it.  After my desk work, I've been turning my attention to garden clean-up.  This is the first year that I'm not apologizing for stepping on burgeoning tulips, hosta and new perennials during my first leaf rake off the beds.  There are none - the ground is still frozen.  In fact there are patches of snow on the lawn.  The Eastern White branches are still frozen where they fell in December.  It is the oddest thing to go back into a bed with my little wire hand rake and hear the sound of metal scraping off ice under the leaves.

Clean-up is so much easier not having to worry about decapitation.  Although I suspect I may have raked more than a couple of i.d. tags into the compost.  Rob Howard of the Spec said that the ground in Hamilton was frozen to the depth of 5 feet.  I suspect we were pretty close here, as neighbours (many long-standing) had their pipes burst for the first time ever.  So it will be very interesting to see when things appear.

Here are a few (well more than a few) shots of morning walks, ice, and precious few garden shots:

Taken a few weeks ago - you can see just how colourless everything is.  Usually by now the branches of the large trees are in bud:

This is my new favourite recommendation for areas with lots of snow and ice - Fargesia 'Red Panda'. It was completely covered in snow - got so fed-up with winter and the shovelling, we just piled it on top - figured it would never pop back up, but look - it has - and that ice at the base is about 10cm thick.

Bed in front raked - many of those leaf bits are stuck in ice.

About 5-weeks late, but finally in bloom - Hamamelis:

As the snow melts, there are a few bits of snow mould here and there.  Fortunately a good rake and the first hard rain clears it away.

When there's just one plant in bloom, and even though the focus is poor (this is when I want a camera where I can select the focus!), I just have to include it.

Not the best year for broadleaf evergreens.  This is a Mahonia that will have to shed its leaves to look like something.

In a couple weeks with a hard rain this will end up splattered on the road below.

The Town of Oakville has been run off their feet trying to attend to the trees damaged in the December ice storm.

The green bits here are pine needles - the grass is completely brown.

Taken a couple of weeks ago - interesting how some plants manage to create pockets of warmth.

At least the birds think spring is here - notice the ice in Lake Ontario in the upper left of the photo.

There were days that looked like we lived much farther north than we do.

Pretty, cold and bright.

Easter bunnies on the move.

Beyond comprehension how sturdy plants like this one have taken such a hit.

We're close to the hospital (and hospital parking is very expensive), but surely this can't be very good for the car?

And, it's been a while.....Burlap Crimes:

And a few little bits of hope - not from my garden, but heck, these days I'll take it wherever I find it:

Forecast 17C today - with any luck the remaining snow will melt into memory.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Canada Blooms 2014 Wild

Those of you who have followed my last few posts, probably have had your fill of my weather-whinging.  As a brief refresher - this is what my back porch looked like after the snow fall:

And this is what it looked like when the sun came out.  Merry Christmas everyone!

So last night on the eve of Canada Blooms, I have to confess, I hardly slept a wink (and yes, probably that expresso at 4:00 p.m. may have contributed too) knowing that today I was going to see lots of plants at the co-Canada Blooms/National Home Show.  So at 7:30 a.m. I hit the floor to find out what the show was about this year.

Random thoughts & some advice if you want to go:
1.  the level of garden construction is excellent
2.  the layout for the stuff you want to buy/the gardens you want to see/ the talks you want to hear is good
3.  considering the cloudy, cold winter and crop failure during the ice storm  - the flowers look good and smell great
4.  buy your tickets on-line $17.00 vs. $20.00 in person (less than popcorn, soda & a movie) & bring your own food
5.  time your visit to hear some speakers:  Here are some that I would like to hear and see:  Saturday:  Niki Jabbour does year-round gardening on the east coast; Theresa Forte from Niagara Region on Garden Photography; Tuesday:  Helen Battersby on Shade Gardening; and good Oakville friend Cathy Kavasallis on Berrylicious: Growing Fruits for Food, Fun and Wild friends.  And that's just four that I stumbled across.
6.  Pick Ontario has some great plant material - there are some 4" tropicals that would be wonderful additions to your summer pots and keep you company until it's time to plant them outside.

So, the show.....here's some of what I saw:

The little gardens really packed a punch.  #7 James Garfield Thompson Design.  Fun to use pieces of stone as table legs, top and side-board.

Seeing something like this reminds you that you don't need to have an extravagant space to make a lovely statement.

The larger gardens like this one by Creative Garden Designs and Hollander Landscaping called Vibrant Urban Wilderness - seemed quite cold when they were empty.  But came to life when the tours went through.

This is a sedum mix used for roof-top applications:

Living walls have certainly come a long way - an herb garden on the frontside/tropicals on the backside.

Here is the "wild creativity incorporated as a design element via graffiti"

Interlock is a sponsor.  And they have excellent products.  The installation was very well executed.  But they could do so much better.  Please, a bed in a water feature facing a TV and calling it Wilderness Retreat?  (Strictly speaking it is a retreat from the wilderness.)

Look how far they've come from those old cookie-cutter pavers:  Maybe next year.

Nice whimsy in the Landscape Ontario garden.

Pick Ontario has a market on the floor with the display gardens.  This marketing group does an excellent job showcasing their plants.  New this year is Crispy Wave:

If you feel the need to bring something home, there's lots to chose from:

Another little garden with lots of good ideas.  One of the contributors spoke about wanting to show what you could do in a tiny yard.

I thought this was a great idea for pole beans  (they're attached to the wall on an angle):

I don't usually think of stucco for an entry to a garden, but if your house has a stucco finish, perhaps this is something you could consider?

Always have a focal point in any garden:

While it's nice to get in before anyone else does, sometimes you need the crush of people around a display.  No doubt it won't be long before these ladies are mobbed.

Did you know that Ontario had a West Coast?  Well, neither did I.  Apparently it's Goderich.  Now we all know.  A lot of cedar here - what a wonderful scent.  Liked the banked walkway too.  Considering how open this garden was, it had a great feel to it.

And they had lots of tulips:

If you want to be confounded, this is the display garden to visit:

Spoiler Alert - this is what's inside:

And yes, I think it was completed, there's nothing else planned.

Pretty cut flowers to see:

 Yoga man:

Several gardens did take the Wild theme seriously:

stone and moss on old barn boards.

I'm sure this is secure, but boy, I felt odd walking through....

This is Parklane's display - beautiful execution - lots of awards - take your budget and multiply by 10.    The arbour is reclaimed pine from an old building that has been varathaned and sanded.  So old, there were square nails that had to be removed before they could work with it.  Looks like the pathway is Wiarton stone.

Just a section of the artwork/wall.

The yurt - every yard needs a yurt.

Making a tricky shaped garden look good isn't always easy - thought this was pleasant.

Not wild, but well done from Vaughan Landscaping:

And a few more snaps to leave you with:

And then it was time to leave the big city and go home to Oakville - GO service every 30 minutes from Exhibition:

Meeting some friends on Saturday - maybe I'll see you then!