Wednesday, May 28, 2008

S is for...Scree Garden

A scree garden is a bed built to resemble the soil and rock found at the bottom of rock faces or cliffs: sandy, rocky, well-drained soil. My husband and I built this one last year on the south side of our sunroom. It had been a weedy, overgrown herb garden that looked awful most of the time.

I was surprised when I suggested that we convert it into a scree garden! Before I knew it, we had dug out all the herbs and soil, placed rocks at the bottom of the hole, then poured in gravel, then a mixture of soil and sand. I planted some drought tolerant alpine plants, then surrounded them with pea gravel. Most of the [lants survived a severe drought that summer and a cold, miserable winter. These photos show what the garden looks like 12 months later.
I can't believe how easy it has been to take care of this bed! So far so goo, anyway. And it's a wonderful place to showcse plants that ould likely get lost in a bed of larger plants.
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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

R is for...

R is for...reddish blossoms and foliage in my gardens right now -- all plants in my gardens so far this year are perennials because last night we had a frost and we may have another one tonight, a full moon.

Apparently local wisdom and The Farmer's Almanac say we won't have a frost after the May full moon. Here's hoping they are correct!

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Pink-flowering Strawberries

Fragaria 'Pink Panda' is a lovely ornamental strawberry, a groundcover with rich green, toothy edged leaves.

Each plant expands its territory by sending out long shoots so is gently invasive. But 'Pink Panda' blooms early and is so pretty that I'm willing to keep an eye on it and pull out any plants I don't want.
Although 'Pink Panda' plants have been known to produce strawberries, mine never have, perhaps because they are growing in a lightly shaded site. They bloom all summer, although not as profusely as they are now.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Crabapple Blossoms

The fruit trees are blooming in town and in the countryside right now. What a cheerful sight!

These blossoms are on a crabapple tree in one of my gardens. Would you believe my husband planted this tree from a seed? Ten or twelve years ago he plucked a crabapple off a tree he admired in Downtown Toronto on his way home from work. Ha! Now it's a beautiful specimen.
The tree bloomed for the first time two years ago. Just a few blossoms the first year, but last year we had zillions of blooms. And in the fall we had enough crabapples to make jelly. Looks like we'll have another bumper crop in 2008!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Q is for...

Q is for….Quince. And just in time for Q, this bush is blooming.
This poor bush was once in another garden being taken over by an aggressive but lovely shrub rose. So my dear husband helped me dig it out a few autumns ago. Actually, truth be told, we butchered it as we tried to separate the quince roots from the rose roots. I guess the quince has forgiven us!
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Monday, May 12, 2008

A blade-swallowing tree?

Does this tree have a mouth? Is it trying to eat this saw blade?
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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Foliage in My Garden

At the moment, the foliage is more outstanding than the flowers in my gardens, so here's a taste of what it looks like.

Friday, May 9, 2008


Lewisia Cotyleon is a treasure blooming prolifically in my scree garden now. Lewisia is a native of western North American from California to Alaska and eastward to the Prairies. It usually grows at high elevations in gravelly soil with a little humus content.

Lewisia looks like a succulent (but it's not), its leaves growing in a rosette. The flowers on this variety (‘Little Plum’) bloom low to the ground in a circle around the leaves.

Sadly, I’ve killed a few of these plants in the past, planting them in regular soil where they lasted the season but died the following winter. But THIS ONE not only survived last summer's drought but also the winter of 2007-08! Obviously, Lewisia is one plant that resents being pampered. Ha! Give it nothing and it’s happy.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Saskatoon Flowers

Saskatoon, seviceberry and juneberry are common names for the shrub Amelanchier alnifolia, a North American native of most of Canada from Yukon and British Columbia eastward to western Quebec. Indigenous to the Prairies, it’s a great shrub to plant in sandy soil, which is just what my yard has at its southeastern most corner.
We grow a couple of shrubs s ornamentals and for the birds, but we are told the berries, which ripen in July, are delicious. Actually getting to taste the saskatoons isn’t easy, though. The local birds are crazy about them. How crazy? They screech and complain if you even approach the bushes just before the berries ripen.
But wait! It’s OK, remember? We planted the shrubs for the birds in the first place. As a bonus, we get to enjoy the flowers, which are blooming now.