Monthly Archives: June 2014

More on Shade and Transformation

This is another shot of my favourite shade bed

Another shot of my favourite shade bed. Maybe that giant hosta needs dividing?

A friend asked me in an email recently to recommend some shade plants to her.  I’m very happy to expound on shade gardening, because I love the mysterious quality of shade, and the relief it provides on a hot day. The previous post I devoted to shade gardening can be found here, so if it seems like I’m leaving things out, it’s because I already mentioned it there.

If your garden doesn’t provide much shade, think about creating some, with a tree or an arbor.  There are some pretty fast-growing trees to choose from;  for instance, I have a Japanese willow in my garden that went from three feet to 20 feet (easily) in less than ten years.  Now I need to cut it back every year to keep it from entangling itself in my clothesline.  With shade often comes moist earth, so you might find moss growing in your shade garden.  You can be transported from the city to the forest when you find yourself under a tree and the ground under your feet is covered in moss.  Another advantage of trees and other shade producers is the privacy it provides, which is often in short supply in the city.

If you feel yourself afflicted with a very deep, shady garden,  there is still a long list of plants to choose from.  I found an article in the Canadian Living magazine here, that talks about the possibilities, and if you scroll down to the bottom there are links to lists of shade plants.  A few of my favourites are hostas (so many to choose from!), ferns, (Japanese and maidenhair ferns are two of my favourites), sweet william (needs some sun, but will add a splash of colour to your semi-shade bed), bleeding hearts and Canadian ginger.

I’m heading to the west coast on Friday for two weeks of relaxation and visiting with relatives and friends.  Looking forward to it, but posting will probably be scanty during that time. I will do my best to post at least once.

Happy shade gardening!


Life: a series of little mysteries

My white ground cover clematis, possibly deceased.

My white ground cover clematis, possibly deceased.

It’s true, isn’t it?  We all wonder all the time.  What are we here for?  For how long? Why do people act the way they do? Why doesn’t my dog stop chewing my shoes?  Why didn’t my Gaillardia come back this year?

The latest mystery for me is that last one. Why didn’t my Gaillardia (blanket flower) come back? The garden is always a source of mystery.  I’m not an expert at this, I’ve learned by the seat of my pants (as I may have mentioned before), so every year when something doesn’t make an appearance, I stand and scratch my head and wonder.  I’m also very disappointed, because that blanket flower was gorgeous last year and showed no signs of being in distress.

After a quick google search, tells me that Gaillardia is a short-lived perennial that sometimes re-seeds itself.  Short-lived as in 2-3 years?  That’s about how long I’ve had it. I’m just hoping that it has re-seeded and will grow up later in the summer ready to be beautiful again next year.  For the moment I’m being careful  to leave little seedlings that I’m not sure I recognize.  I would hate to tear out my lovely blanket flower, thinking it’s a weed.

These are in bloom in my yard right now. Gorgeous!

These irises are in bloom in the Tranquil Garden right now. Gorgeous!

I keep very scanty records of my garden, so I’ve often planted something, forgotten that it’s there, and the following spring I start tearing ‘weeds’ out without thinking about what might be coming up.  I’m sure I’ve lost plenty of plants that way.  However, there are other reasons plants don’t survive; harsh winters, disease, over-crowding, wrong soil, etc.  It’s helpful to try to figure out the reasons if you can, so you can avoid any planting mistakes you may have made, but beyond that you just have to let it go.  Just another of the garden’s mysteries.

Another plant that I’m a little worried about is my ground-cover white clematis that I bought at a garden club flower sale in Ottawa.  It has been doing really well for a few years and this year I’m not sure it’s coming up.  It might be too early to despair, since some plants make a later start than others, so I’m keeping an eye on the spot.

Some mysteries never get solved; you just have to live with them and move on.  There will always be new ones to ponder, but with Google to help us, some of them (mostly the simpler questions of life, I’m afraid) get cleared up.

Here is a clip of Leonard Bernstein conducting Beethoven’s 4th piano concerto with Krystian Zimerman playing the piano.  It seems to be a dialogue between the piano and orchestra, but the two sides of the conversation seem quite far apart in their views.  I love it. Hope you enjoy it.

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