Another Kind of Visitor

Nature is of course varied and infinite. Even in the winter garden…hawks, fox, squirrels, and the odd possum (yuk.)  But yesterday I had visitors I actually would prefer to keep to the woods across the highway and the creek down by the lake.  Continue reading

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WELL! Imagine that….it has been three years since I have posted here.  THREE YEARS!?!?!?! What have I been doing….lots of great reading for one thing and lots of lunches with pals and lots of gardening. Continue reading

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Typical of moody April, today there has been snow, rain, sun and a brutal wind. The temp is -5C. It’s April in the GTA so nobody is surprised.  Today was going to be the big rake and prune day, now that the forsythia are in bloom.  BUT – it is bloody cold and the wind defeats my raking.  garden going on without us

One of the great trademarks of gardeners is patience – so be patient knowing that there are warm, still days ahead – around the corner – very soon.  Your garden will always wait for you. In the meantime, get to the library and take a look at Lorna Crozier’s book The Garden Going On Without Us. It is one of my favorites.

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April Yearnings and New Plantings

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This time of year it is very, very tempting to engage in new planting.  That digging and setting into the ground is a wonderful feeling Continue reading

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Rake in Waiting and Tetanus

One of the first blooms of spring. Plant drifts everywhere

One of the first blooms of spring Blue Scilla. Plant drifts everywhere

At last, a new blog entry! Remember I am a great gardener but a lousy blogger. Regardless, thank you for your patience and here I am again.

I am hanging tough letting winter leaves rest over the garden. I thought today was the big day to clear those leaves, let the new shoots bask in the spring sun, let the bulbs rise up undeterred…let my garden bloom!

Alas, I have stalled as there is a snow fall predicted tonight. Probably, really, it would not do any harm to those tough pilot leaves of tulips and daffs, but why expose them needlessly. It only delays them.

However, the forsythia is in bloom and that means pruning may begin in earnest. Look for dead wood, with no shoots, no green present. Always cut on an angle so water doesn’t rest on the cut, possibly causing mould or fungal growth (yuk) Roses, clematis, hydrangea can all be pruned now. BUT – do not touch lilac – you only prune them in June after they have bloomed. If you prune them now, you will cut blooms and stress the plant.

This is also the perfect time to get a head start on edging. There is nothing that gives definition and a professional ‘edge’ to your garden than edging. The ground is free of frost now (well, in the GTA for sure) so you can get those crips clean lines started around your beds. Invest in a good edger or just do it by hand.

By hand maybecouldbeperhaps is a little tedious, however, whenever you do anything by hand you get a close up view of your garden. You get to smell the soil, you get to see who is crawling around, and what tiny weeds and new growth is starting. There is also something wonderful about doing the work yourself, directly.

For me, there is a power that emanates from the earth, the soil. It is so rich in things that matter. It is such a source of comfort and calm. I could wax rhapsodic for some time on soil, but you probably get my drift.

Oh, just another thing. WEAR GLOVES AND SOX AND SHOES ALWAYS. Tetanus (lock jaw, poisioning from a rusty nail) is most often contracted from soil. A tiny invisible cut on your finger or hands or feet could prove to be the portal for the bacteria that causes tetanus. Please, use gloves all the time. Dollar store gloves made of vinyl or neoprene or latex (if you can tolerate it,) are terrific and if you lose them or wear them out, no worries. They are cheap and effective. WEAR GLOVES. A case of tetanus can really compromise your gardening season. I keep several pairs posted around the house – on the patio, at the back garden, at the front garden, in the garage. Everywhere so they are easily at hand.

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Late Summer Gardening

Yes Yes I am a lousy blogger….but not a bad gardener.  I just don’t have the energy for both so the living take precedent (not a bad rule to live by.)

The most important thing to remember about August gardening is DO NOT PRUNE.   I am terribly sad to say that it is too late.  If you prune now: roses, shrubs, hydrangea, lilacs – you name it, leave it.  Keep it well fed and watered and that’s it.  In many parts of the country August can mean draught so do not let up on watering.    Although you may not see anymore blooms, much much much is happening in your garden…roots are spreading, roots are strengthening and the soil is continuing to build its little cities and all the creatures  who live in those soil cities (see previous blog) 

The problem with pruning from now through the fall, is that you will force new growth that will not have the chance to age enough to ward off the effects of frost.  I am sorry to mention the word ‘frost’  but there it is….you just have to think about this now. 

What else is happening: my old hydrangea tree’s blooms are turning a beautiful burnished bronze.  My new hydrangea are blooming blue.  Blue Angel Hydrangea

My Rudbeckia are blooming and bright in the sun and best of all, my Japanese Anemone have finally bloomed.  Their pale pale pink blooms with the glowing yellow centres are dancing in the afternoon sun along the driveway.  Bees buzz round and round, lighting busily gathering the golden pollen.  Watching this is nearly as grand as watching a bird bath.

Finally,who is in your garden now? The Monarch Butterflies, the Yellow Finches, warblers and really all bird-kind are gathering seeds.  Wether they are flying south (oh dear another autumnal reference….sorry)  or readying for winter, watch for yellow finches on your purple cone flowers and butterflies at your butterfly bushes or on milk weed.  Hummingbirds too will be whipping around your garden readying for their trip. 

Late summer is incredibly busy time in the garden, underground and overhead.

Next up: what to plan come September….really the very best time to plant perennials.

Don’t forget to stare at your garden now, as time is changing the light and the shadows  are  long and beautiful earlier.  See, it’s not all sad.


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Feeding Your New Roses

I beg of you, I am pleading with  you: I am on my knees keying this:  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES USE ROSE FOOD – liquid, granular, powder. If it says “Rose Food” put it back, don’t touch it, run away, sneer and scoff loudly so the store owners hear you.  Save

your money for a bird bath.  USE COMPOST, ORGANIC STUFF, COFFEE GRINDS.

If you have followed the previous post Planting Roses, you have provided your rose with a Gorgeouslong lasting buffet of nutrients it requires from the compost and good earth and ambient watering.  Your rose (and all other plantings in any garden vegetable or flower) will select what it needs when it needs it from soil that is rich in natural organic matter – rich in the nutrients the plant needs.  A plant’s  uptake system is fail proof, wise, savvy, smart and really perfectly suited to its blooming and living a long long long time.  HONESTLY….TRULY… DO NOT USE ROSE FOOD.  All it does is mess with the plant’s chemistry, flooding it with chemicals which induce all kinds of problems. It is equivalent to force feeding which is like gorging on empty calories – satisfying for a short time but costly. (A moment on my lips forever on my hips.)  It is just like you when you are hungry, eating chips – no nutrition, no substance, all bad.  And rose food will cause George Vancouver from Canadian Explorer Serieslots of problems short term and long term:  It will drive the rose to produce way too much sugar and end up attracting aphids (ugly little white and green thingys that stick to new buds and lay eggs like crazy and suffocate your rose. ) You may get a flush of HUGE blooms but at a HUGE cost – you are short-circuiting the plant in every way and without a doubt shortening its life.

If you feel the deep and abiding need to ‘feed your rose” pour your old coffee dregs on it DO NOT USE ROSE FOOD.  Ultimately it will shorten the life of your roseonce a week or dump coffee grounds around that gully you made and water them in. You can get bags of coffee grinds from most coffee shops for free. They just toss them out.  You can use them.  Do not do this every day as it will make the soil way to acidic.  Just once a week is great.

You want that rose to be with you and your friends and family a long time.  Give it a rich soil and it will look after itself.  It knows how to feed itself and what to feed itself.  Let it do its miraculous work and it will give you deep and abiding pleasure for years to come.  Truly.  You wouldn’t stand in the way of a miracle would you?

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