Plant Lessons

The big lesson so far this season has been to think ahead when planning the annual beds and match the trellis to the plant. So in the first group of pictures, it all looks kind of sweet and under control. The beans and peas have been staked and the carrots have lots of room to spread out in the rest of the bed. (click the pics for larger images; mouse over for caption.)

Then in this group of pictures, you see what happened later: a garden gone wild.

But they’re producing and that’s what counts. Earlier harvest of fruit (haskap), veggies (garlic), and herbs (oregano) below.

And where the garlic was will be new lettuce and other various greens.

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Lettuce starts about to be planted in the already harvested garlic bed.

Meanwhile, around the front of the house, the daylilies have a thing or two to tell us.

The thing I love about daylilies is they always look like they’re shouting.

Sometimes with joy, sometimes good morning, sometimes HEY, I’M HERE!

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Daylilies and hostas. Everyone plays nice together.


This is a new daylily, the ‘Niki Jabbour’, named after local gardener, Niki Jabbour. It was grown by Harbour Breezes in Jeddore, Nova Scotia. Shown here are 8 different blooms from 8 different days from July 28-August 12. There appears to still be 2-3 buds to go.

Then there’s the ubiquitous Echinacea purpurea, also known as Purple Coneflower. The bees go crazy for these, sometimes just sleeping in them (or so it seems to me). Butterflies and hummingbirds also love them and they’re a good herb for humans as well.

And speaking of hummingbirds, their favourite actually seems to be the scarlet Bee Balm. At this point, they’re nearly finished but both the bees and the hummers are still visiting.

A bit of a wilder view below… that tall white flower in the back (L) is Yucca and the tall pink flower in the back (R) is filipendula. Monarda, aka bee balm, and some kind of daisy in front.

I’m all about the food growing but what I love about the flowers is not only their beauty but the fact that they’re food for the pollinators. Whatever feeds the pollinators ultimately feeds us.

Top left to right: Iris, ‘Oscar Peterson’ Rose, pink tubular flower (?), a bee hugs a bean, lupins, dahlia, hops.

September Still My Favourite Month

September is my favourite month for a lot of reasons … the weather is gorgeous, tourists have gone home (nothing against tourists, it’s just quiet again, enough to hear the crickets day and night alike), the garden continues to do its own thing while us gardeners continue to help it along and happily harvest the food it offers up.


First step of garlic harvest. One bed dug up and laid out for initial drying before move into our basement/barn to hang and dry.


One bunch of garlic dried and stored. We grew 88 heads this year which should be enough to plant next year’s crop with plenty left to last us through next harvest.


We planted a bed of corn this year…popcorn! That’s a row of Limnanthes douglasii (poached eggplant) in the middle.


A barrel of Tom Thumb Popcorn grown from Heritage Harvest Seed out of Manitoba. 2’ plants produce multiple small cobs that average 2-3″ long.


We’ve had a bumper year of acorn squash, also from fabulous Heritage Harvest Seed. Lost track of how many are growing out there.


I found it fascinating that every single time the bees entered the squash flowers, they seemed to just lie down and wrap themselves around the pistil.


This beautiful little guy seemed to like the leaves of the Black Turtle Dry Beans.


I have no idea what happened here. Part of the life and death cycle all around us.


More life and death.


I decided to cut and move all the strawberry plants so they would have their own bed instead of scattered throughout the flower garden as I’ve had them. This way I can cover them, protect the fruit from the birds so we actually have something to harvest.


Blue Solaise Leek, squash behind them, black-eyed susans to the right.


And last but not least, COMFREY! A couple of seedlings were given to us by an herbalist friend early this summer and they have grown like crazy. In fact, I’m going out right now to cut some leaves to make a tincture.

Picture Perfect

In the middle of the worst winter in a bazillion years, my partner and I decided we had to partake in an introductory insanely cheap flight to Scotland. Problem is we could only get tickets for July, prime gardening time. But winter will do crazy things to you and we bought the tickets. Now having just returned, the garden overflows and I have done nothing but weed for the past week. Oh, and harvest.


Broccoli, lettuce, kale, and garlic scapes harvested the first afternoon we were home from our trip.


Lettuce, beans, and kale, oh my!


Carrots, parsnips, beets in the front bed; lettuce and beans in the next. There’s a bed of broccoli down there, corn, garlic, sunchokes; onions, leeks, and more garlic over in the top right corner. Click the pic to see better.


One of the heads of broccoli.


One of 2 beds of garlic. Scapes have all been harvested, garlic soon to be.


Never having grown currants before, I’m not sure when I should pick them. At least one robin has been checking them out but hasn’t touched them yet.


The oregano has gone crazy. Lots of different pollinators appear to love crazy when it comes to the herbs but I think I’ll be cutting it back severely come fall.

And speaking of pollinators, what would a garden be without flowers…


Rudbeckia. This is always swarming with bees.


Beebalm. Beloved by both hummingbirds and bees.

IMG_3068 'Jackmanii Superba'

I just planted this Clematis maybe 6 weeks ago, nothing more than a few little twigs. I wasn’t even sure it would bloom this year.

IMG_3116 Filipendula rubra ‘Venusta’

The majestic Filipendula.


Astilbe, given to me by my friend, Ed. I have another one out front under which wasps built a nest last year. Here’s to them staying away this year.


Teasel. I’m not crazy about it because it’s so hard to deal with but the bees love it and I’m all about keeping the bees happy.


And speaking of bees, I’ll let this one, sucking on the comfrey, have the last word.

Covering New Ground

Someone asked me about the process I went through to replace the front lawn with different kinds of ground cover. How did I choose the plants? The truth is the plants really chose me. All I knew was that I wanted something that I wouldn’t have to mow all the time. Suddenly other gardeners started gifting me with plants. I took everything with great excitement and gratitude. Then I started frequenting fundraisers and yard sales and bought plants there. I would come home with plants, hide them in a shady corner somewhere with lots of water while I did some basic research to find out what each plant liked. The most difficult part was digging the holes and preparing the soil since the “soil” was pretty much big rocks, roots from the street-side maple, and dirt. Initially I went for plants that literally hugged the ground or had a reputation for spreading quickly. Bonus if they had flowers.


Veronica filiformis


I think this is a variety of fleeceflower.


Cranesbill geraniums have the most fantastically delightful smell. Touch the leaves for a sensory surprise.


Dianthus, aka ‘pinks’.

But then I realized there were lots of different kinds of plants that would add height and texture… That’s where the hostas and lilies came in, not to mention irises, teasel, and violas closer to the ground again.


Day lilies, hostas, burning bush


Mostly lilies and some irises to shake things up a bit.


I think this is the blue flag iris. Tends to do well in shade and wet.



These violas were just planted which is why they look so scraggly. It’s a temporary thing. We planted them up front near the street to honour Viola Desmond.


I love the delicacy of Columbine.


Astilbe, prior to flowering, spreading its beautiful leaves. Actually, last year wasps built a nest under this plant which I didn’t realize until one of them stung me, punishment for weeding too close to their home.

IMG_2516 OK, enough for now. I have so much more but I’ll be back later…

Catching up with myself

When the posts slow down here (or stop altogether), that usually means one of two things: I’m either busy planting or it’s winter and I’m hibernating. In this case, it’s the former. I’ve been too busy planting to document what the heck I’m doing. This is my attempt to try and catch up.

Click to enlarge.

The last time I was here I wrote about the pulmonaria, how I was digging it out from under winter’s mulchy mess and the first few blossoms were slowly showing their shy little selves. If you don’t remember, here’s a quick refresher:

And now to show how Mother Nature ignores the follies of humans and continues creating her magic, here is that same plant today:


Pulmonaria (lungwort) does best in cool weather and partial shade.

The daffodils have pretty much come and gone, same with the tulips. Still, there are a few hangers-on…

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And now it’s the irises turn…


Our neighbours gave us these bulbs a couple of years ago telling us, conspiratorially, that they were a rare black variety that they had never seen before.


The same iris, now open. Obviously not black though there is that wonderful line from the Christopher Smart poem Jubilate Agno, “For black blooms and it is purple”.

And speaking of neighbours, be very careful about what it is you’re accepting to plant in your garden. Last spring a friend gave me a Himalayan Balsam seedling which I eagerly and gratefully planted since I was told bees liked it. And while they do, indeed, seem to like it (though not as much as the bee balm), it is an invasive little bugger. I had one plant last spring and this year there were seedlings everywhere. It is said that the seed head of this plant can eject seeds up to 7 metres away!!


This is one patch of the balsam where the single seedling stood last year but there is more of this all over the property that we are slowly eliminating.

Back in a bit with the veggies.

Hello Fall


Most of the beds have been mulched, garlic planted.


Bamboo to the left, mustard greens to the right.


A variety of mustard.


Last of the brown-eyed susans.


Newly sprouting mustard and onions.


The calendula love the cool weather.


Calendula, spirea, and various herbs.


The dahlias finally call it a season. Once we have the first frost, I’ll dig up the tubers and bring them in for the winter.


One last shout-out from the saxifragia.


Yucca gets mulched from the overlooking maple.


More veggie beds.


Last leaves of a blueberry bush.


Juvenile peach tree which just a few months ago was a peach pit in a compost pile.