Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sneak Preview

We have had a busy couple of weeks visiting lots of local gardens. I think I have taken approximately 1000 pictures. While I work my way up this mountain of photography and confirm some of the planting details with the homeowners, I thought I would show you a quick preview of some of my favourite shots.

I love the back gate in this Brampton Garden.

One goose would have been lost. Three is perfect. The Gower Garden, Brampton

We saw so many beautiful roses.

Here is a flower you don't see all that often. Canterbury Bells, Spargette Garden in Brampton

What a pleasing arrangement of objects. The Singer Garden, Brampton.

It was hard to believe these homeowners had moved in only 18 months before. Spargette Garden in Brampton

Amazing color. The Spargette Garden

An original water feature. Ruttle Garden, Brampton.

A great mix of colors and textures. The Spargette Garden

What a pretty fern! Brillance Autumn Fern

If you are going to paint your Adirondack chairs, you might as well make them 
an interesting color. The Singer Garden, Brampton.

Interesting couple. Fallopia Variegato and  Hosta 'Sun Power'

When designing your garden, it pays to think in terms of creating little vignettes.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fleeting Beauty: The garden in the 3rd week of June

My peonies have been open for about a week now. I expected a bumper crop of blooms, but the back row of peonies which you can see along the front of the porch was a not only a bit scrawny and short, it failed to produce any flower buds. I suspect there is an issue with drainage off the porch roof that I will have to address before next winter.

I find peonies easy going and undemanding. Their only character flaw is their short-lived, unrepeated blooms. (Case in point: I have some new deep, red peonies in the back garden that I hoped to photograph and show you, but the flowers withered before I got out to the back garden with the camera.)

These big pompom pink ones are my favourites.

I usually pick most of the blooms and bring them inside to savour. This summer I have been so busy however, that the majority of the flowers have been left for the neighbours and passersby to enjoy.

Opposite the peonies, there is a sea of tiny purple geraniums and yellow Evening Primrose. 

The Evening Primrose was here when we moved into the house. The plant spreads freely, but is easy to rip out when it wanders too far. I have it in both sun and shade. In fall, the leaves turn a beautiful burgundy color.

Snatches of white Fever Few mellow the odd combination of pink, yellow and purple flowers.

I love the dark purple stems of Meadow Sage Salvia nemerosa 'Caradonna'.

A common pink spirea makes the perfect companion for the deep blue flowers of the Meadow Sage.

Another common, but indispensable small shrub is my white Potentilla. I love its tiny leaves and small white flowers.

This is Geranium pratense 'Midnight Reiter' a pretty little geranium with burgundy leaves and purple flowers.

Next week there will be roses to show you. 

I am going to link to Fabulous Friday, Macro Friday and Fertilizer Friday at Tootsie Time. To see other beautiful flowers in bloom, please click the links.

I hope you have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What makes a garden Great?

It's garden tour season again!

A few weeks ago we went on a tour that took us in to the backyards of some million dollar homes. Here were gardeners who had extensive funds, professional designers, and a team of landscape prefessionals for regular maintenance all available to them. I was prepared to be amazed. Instead, I headed home profoundly disappointed.

Frankly, the design of these gardens seemed slick and a bit self-concscious. If I can make an analogy, it rather like a homeowner who sent their interior designer to a single store and directed them to buy all the best furniture that store had on offer. Sure the decorated rooms would contain only the best, but there would be be nothing collected over the years, nothing personal, or for that matter unique.

This past weekend, I dragged my poor husband along on yet another tour. A few of the gardens on this second tour were terrific.

So, here is the question I have been mulling over in my mind ever since: What makes a garden great?

I think number one on my list of assets would have to be creativity. I don't know about you, but I really appreciate when a garden is original and imaginative.

Next on my list of attributes would be a great design/layout. This is where I think so many gardens fall a bit short.

What is my number one design pet peeve? It is what I will coin "fringe thinking". In a typical garden of this kind, the garden is a thin ribbon around the perimeter of the yard and the lawn is the black hole in the middle.  If I can make another analogy, it is the equivalent of taking a room and pushing all the furniture up against the wall.

The boundry between garden and lawn is usually a precise line of edging. My own garden is like this at the moment. In the future, I would like to blur the edge of the "garden" and create a more unified, seamless space.

The third characteristic on my list of what makes a great garden would be creative use of plant materials. It is wonderful when a gardener mixes leaf textures and colors to create a rich and varied tapestry.

Does a great garden need lots of flowers?

Not necessarily. 

Flowers can actually hog the stage and overshadow the supporting players. Still, nothing can take your breath away like a beautiful bloom!

I just love when a garden speaks to the personality of the gardener who created it. 

What inspires you?

What do you think makes a garden great?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What do you like about Gardening?

In a recent post, Laurrie, whose funny and creative blog, My Weeds Are Very Sorry  asked one of her gardening friends, "What do you like best about your garden?" Her friends answer: "The surprises."

In ending her post, Laurrie posed the same question to her readers.

Baptisia and Blue Star in the background

For someone who spends a good deal of time working in, writing about and photographing her garden, I was almost embarrassed to admit I did not have a ready answer for my comment.

I found myself thinking: Just what was it about gardening I liked anyway?

I think I must be one of those cup-half-empty people, because one of my first thoughts was: Well, I could certainly come up with a list of things I don't like about gardening.

The first of the peonies have opened.

Weiglea by the front porch

My first Foxglove ever! I've only been trying to grow them for years.

Blood-sucking bugs should certainly be near the top of my list of negatives. I visit a fair number of gardens and so I feel confident in saying that my garden harbors hordes of mosquitoes like no other.

I don't know if it is our low lying proximity to the river, but the bugs sit waiting to ambush you the moment you step in the garden, like some greasy band of outlaws in a wild western. And add to my list of complaints that winning sound mosquiotes make. It all the charm of a dentist's drill.

There are also black flies in my garden,who like to torture me by pinging into my ears and eyes before the bite my temple of the back of my neck.

Last June, after I had amassed fifteen bites in a matter of a single afternoon, my husband bought me a mesh insect head net.

(Not unlike a ski mask, the mesh bag slips over your head to prevent insects from biting.) Though I was grateful for his thoughtfulness, I felt completely ridiculous when I slipped the net bag over my head.

"Oh this is attractive don't you think?" I asked him. "I look like I should be robbing a convenience store, not gardening!"

"I can just imagine" I continued, "our neighbors calling the police to report a suspicious character lurking in our backyard."

Surely all the work should figure on my list of negatives. The planting, dividing, weeding, watering....

Wait a minute! Come to think of it, I actually like all that work. I like getting out in the fresh air and mucking about in the garden. There an intimacy with nature when you are out there in the thick of things.

Heck, I even like duking it out with mother nature for the control of my garden, even if I know it is a battle I am never going to win.

Iris with Dame's Rocket in the background.


This pretty bush overhangs our front driveway. It is actually belongs to our neighbour.

A Japanese Iris from the back garden (below).

Beauty Bush

When I head out to work in the garden, I always start off with a slow walk around the flowers beds. This is my favorite time in the garden. I look and listen to the bees and the birds. I note my successes, lament my failures and make mental notes on things that need to be done. Despite myself, I yank out the odd weed.

I agree with Laurrie's friend. The garden surprises and it delights on these walks.

Just last weekend, I was taking a strolling around my Circle Garden. One of the first things I planted in this garden was a purple rhododendron. It failed to prosper and got down right straggly looking. I banished it to the back of the yard, where it has been limping along despite my almost cruel neglect. It hasn't bloomed in years.

And as I rounded the bed, there it was all frilly and purple. Blooming despite me. Now wasn't that just the nicest surprise.

I am linking this post to Lisa Gordon's Creative Exchange. To see Lisa's beautiful photography and that of other photographers from all around the world, just click the link.

I am also linking this post to Garden Blogger's Bloom Day hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. This is a great chance to see some wonderful gardens worldwide. Many thanks to Carol for hosting this great event each month.