Catmint, Nepeta racemosa 'Walker's Low' 

Gas Plant with blue Amsonia.

Gas plant, Dictamnus albus forms a bushy, upright clump of bright green leaves and has tall spires of white flowers in late May/early June. The plant gets its common name from the tiny amount of methane gas its flowers produce. A lighted match will flair if held near the flowers.
This plant is very slow to establish. Average soil is fine. Height: 60-90 cm ( 23-35 inches), Spread 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA Zones: 2-9.

Gas Plant with blue Amsonia in the foreground. Manchurian Lilac 'Miss Kim' in the distance.

Updating this page at the moment with new pictures and text.

As front yards go, ours is wide but fairly shallow (50' x 20'). The garden is bordered by a white picket fence which has been featured in more than a few photographs over the years. A flagstone path curves from the driveway to the front door. One narrow offshoot of the main path leads to the side of the house and the other encircles a magnolia tree.

The white magnolia was a sorry looking thing when I bought it on clearance, but it now stretches up at least 15 feet. When weather permits, the white saucer magnolia is a glorious sight for about two weeks each spring. If spring rains are heavy, the white petals quickly litter the ground after brief a week or so.

Under the magnolia, there is fairly dense shade. The house casts the remainder of the garden into the shade in the morning, but by mid-afternoon, the summer sun hits my plants with all its firey intensity. With the onslaught of heat, the hanging baskets on the covered front porch wilt unless they have been braced for the change by a mid-day drink. 

In wide flowerbed directly in front of the porch, there is a wide border of pink and magenta peonies. The peonies were planted by some previous owner. Sometimes when the area looks empty and bare in the winter months I think of replacing a few with something evergreen, but so far, I haven't the heart to move them from a spot where they seem so happy.

The peonies are fairly undemanding. In late fall or early spring, I treat them to some composted manure and top dress the flowerbed with a layer of natural cedar mulch to suppress weeds. If it gets really dry mid-summer, I water them. That's just about all I do until I cut them back to the ground each fall. They repay me with a profusion of flowers every June.

I don't even stake the big floppy blooms. When they droop with the weight of spring raindrops, I ruthlessly cut them instead. I bring the pink and magenta peonies inside, fill my favourite ceramic jugs with them and enjoy their very subtle fragrance.

Canadian Explorer Series Rose 'John Cabot'

"Marjorie Fair" Rose

David Austin's 'Mary Rose'

I have always loved the abundant look and fragrance of old-fashioned roses. My early experience with antique roses taught me that, while old varieties of roses are beautiful, they are not all fully hardy in my garden zone. 

Phlox paniculata 'David's Lavender'

You enter the back garden through a gate at the side of the house. Just inside the gate, there is a small informal courtyard. At one time there was a large tree that shaded the courtyard but it split apart in the ice storm in the winter of 2014 and had to be cut down. An area that was for years full shade suddenly became full sun.

Just inside the back gate, there are the very early beginnings of a white garden. Here the design process is largely a matter of slowly editing out the pink and purples and replacing them with white flowers.

Buddy another one of the three Shelties for which this blog is named. Sadly Buddy passed 
away a few months before his 20th birthday.

The informal courtyard opens into a pathway of pea gravel. An arbour covered with euonymus leads visitors into the main section of the backyard.

Have you ever gone on a garden tour and found yourself standing in awe while looking at one of those immaculately groomed flower beds edged with razor-sharp precision and not a weed in sight? Well, my garden is nothing like that. As you can see in the photo above, it is a bit of an unruly jungle of plants and trees. There is nothing hospital corner's perfect about it.

My garden is just a child with lots of growing up still to do. I am still struggling to defeat unruly patches of goutweed and creeping jenny. And just when I think I have finally defeated that evil menace is known as Japanese Knotweed, new legions of fresh shoots emerge from the soil.

This year I decided to add a vegetable garden.

Growing vegetables for the first time proved to have more than a few small challenges.

The rear garden extends back from the house a generous 150 feet and is framed by mature trees and wide perennial borders. At the end of the yard, an arbour leads to an enclosed circular garden. At the centre of this garden there is half-sun, but all around the perimeter, I have to contend with the deepest, darkest, dry shade.