Monthly Archives: May 2015

Roll With It

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My new garden bed, aka, The Rose Bed

Back to early spring temperatures this morning after two very hot days.  This has been a most unusual spring weather-wise, but there’s something to be said for a respite like this before the brutally hot days yet to come (if any, cause who knows?).  It’ll be a good day to get out and tie up all the branches I pruned from the honeysuckles and cedars out front.  I have an enormous pile to sort out, cut up and bundle up.  Doing the actual pruning is kind of fun, but I dislike the clean-up; that would be the most appealing part of paying someone else to do this job.  Oh well, the honeysuckles look much improved, at least.  I’m pretty sure those shrubs have been here since the house was built, they’re so old and woody.  I cut out a ton of dead wood  so with any luck they will actually flower properly next year.

My favourite iris, 'dappled pony'.

My favourite iris, ‘dappled pony’.

The two 20-foot cedars haven’t been properly pruned since we’ve owned the house (15 years!) so they’re ratty and overgrown.  Didn’t do much to them except trim some branches to open a path to the water and power outlets.  The job of properly pruning them might have to go to a professional; the problem is finding one that I trust.  I hired a company (after an internet search) to trim the cedar hedge and Japanese willow in the back garden and they didn’t do a fantastic job.  In fact, my neighbour commented, “You paid for someone to do that??”  It hardly looked like they made a dent.  Somewhat embarrassing given this neighbour is a total do-it-yourselfer.  At least I didn’t have to clean up after them.

Transplanted white rose

Transplanted white rose

I recently found a single stem of a rose that I’d given up for dead poking its head through the crowded bee balm, perennial geranium and coneflower and decided that if it were going to have a chance of survival I would have to find it a better home.  I had just dug an extension to my long windy central garden bed (mentioned in my last post) so I gave it a place of honour there, right next to the bird bath.  I’m excited that it survived the upheaval and may yet give me some of the wonderful white roses I couldn’t resist when I bought it.  My mission to eventually go grass-free in the Tranquil Garden has made steps (about 5) and now I have to lift the mower over a flower bed in order to do the whole yard.  It would be lovely to just have paths running through everywhere instead of the lawn that keeps getting overgrown and ugly because I hate mowing it.

Talking about mowing (we were, weren’t we?), I pulled out my ancient electric mower yesterday after leaving it under the deck (under the winter tires and other junk) for two years.  It looked even rustier than ever but I gave it some oil and it started up no problem.  I can even adjust the height still!  It did a great job on the foot-tall dandelions I call a front lawn.  If you have a GE mower, circa 1980’s, don’t ditch it!  I have no idea how old it is because I got it second-hand from somewhere when we bought our first house in 1993.  No joke!

Music, anyone?  Here’s a gem that my husband, Dave, dug up from somewhere:  “Y’a d’la joie!” sung by Maurice Chevalier.  Assez charmant!

 

 

 

Glorious Gardening

Garden Bed

Garden Bed under the Lilac

Irises

Irises

I’m adoring this spring in the Tranquil Garden. I guess every year is a bit different; sometimes I’m more excited to be out there and sometimes not so much. This year, probably due to the long, hard winter, I’ve been feeling grateful for the beauty of the garden, the warm weather (I try to avoid complaining about any really hot days) and the joy of planting, weeding and beautifying. I feel less weighed down by the chores involved than I have other years. Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading Michel de Montaigne and he’s infected with me with his laissez-faire attitude toward one’s lack of perfection. On the other hand, he says, “What can be done tomorrow can be done now. “, which is helpful when you’re tempted to think, “Mañana, mañana!”

Azaleas!

Azaleas!

Everything is coming up incredibly well this year, which is an inspiration to get out there and nurture it along. I’ve got my tomatoes and basil and other herbs going; I’ve bought two new clematises; transplanted a rose bush that was being crowded out and almost died; created a new flower bed, (with the help of my friend Laura, visiting from BC); divided an overgrown grass plant into four separate plants, which will fill in some areas in the front of the house; filled some planters on the deck and got my water feature going.  That sounds like a lot but I don’t feel as though I’m working all that hard.  I guess it’s been good therapy and invigorating exercise and not so much like ‘work’.

The oxalis I planted in various containers (see my last post) is starting to come up so I’m hopeful that I’ll have something decent pretty soon. Right now they’re looking a little forlorn.

All in all, I’m very happy with the progress in the garden.  Lots of sun and rain will do that!

Here’s some Louis Prima to get you in the mood for dancing! Sing, sing, sing!

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Flowers that Give (Just like Mom!)

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The Early Spring Tranquil Garden

(I wrote the following a few days ago, before the temperature dropped and the rains started. )

I’m enjoying spring (feels more like summer, but who’s quibbling?) very, very much this year.  I’m thrilled about every new shoot that is suddenly four inches tall when it was nowhere in sight the day before.  Nothing like a long, tortuous winter and a late spring to make you appreciate the joy of wearing fewer clothes and puttering in the garden.  My slight complaint is the weather is so warm that the tulips are fading really quickly.  They much prefer a cool spring.

Pink tulips!

Pink tulips!

I am rediscovering the wonders of plants that are easily multiplied, not to be confused with the self-sowers and underground-runners.  Oxalis and geranium are the two I’m thinking of.  Today I took my large, overgrown oxalis triangularis  (triangular purple leaves with delicate pink flowers) out of its container and divided up the bulbs and started three other containers.  I’ve never done this before, but it doesn’t seem like rocket science.  I divided the bulbs, (which resemble ugly little grubs, to be honest) stuck them in potting soil, covered them up and watered them well.  We’ll see how things go and I’ll report back.  I even stuck a few here and there in the garden.  These are not hardy in our zone so I’ll have to dig them up and bring them in if I want them to survive the winter.

The ugly bulbs of the oxalis triangularis

The ugly bulbs of the oxalis triangularis

About two years ago I bought a lovely geranium cultivar with variegated flowers in reddish-pink.  I brought it indoors in the fall and it did well so I put it outside on the deck once again last summer. Then I got the bright idea to cut off a couple of branches and stick them in water.  Sure enough, they rooted,  and now I have three of these wonderful geraniums.  I’m wondering why I never did this before.  Maybe I won’t have to buy any plants for my deck planters this year; I’ll just have an oxalis-geranium theme going.  (Oh, who am I kidding?? I’ll be at Jasmin spending hundreds before the month is out!)

Both of these plant propagation techniques were taught to me by my mother, who passed away three years ago last month. With Mother’s Day (just passed) I’m pleased to be doing something that reminds me of her.  She was a wonderful indoor gardener all her life (as well as outdoor, while her health allowed) and oxalis and geraniums were almost always in her collection.

In her honour, I’m posting a delightful cartoon based on the song, “The Frozen Logger”, which was my mother’s party tune.