Friday, May 30, 2014


 The forget-me-nots are blooming nicely this year and made a lovely skirting for the lilac bush.

 The forget-me-nots at our place came from a few plants that my mother gave me years ago.  So much lovely colour for absolutely no work as they readily self-sow.

 The Jack-in-the-pulpits are in bloom too.  Our bush is just perfect for them and they pop up all over the place especially where they get just a little sun . 

 Silver dollar is another biennial like the forget-me-nots, and it also self-sows a lot.

The bleeding heart is finishing up but it always looks pretty with the forget-me-nots.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Natural History Museum -London

 I was really pleased that we were able to visit the Natural History Museum with hardly any time spent waiting in line at the entrance.   The building is fabulous. A perfect tribute to  the eccentric Victorians who travelled the world in search of undiscovered plants, animals and artifacts. It has a very Egyptian tone to it which must have been very exotic in its time.  This is the main entrance.
 I found the beige stone highlighted with a blue-grey stone to be quite stunning, and all the details just keep you looking and looking.

Beautiful windows.

 A tiger (?) flanked by some iguanas.  So cool.  And did someone plant those green things or did they just pop up?  They fit in perfectly.

 Isn't this an amazing design?  Click for full size pic.

 What would a museum of nature be without a dinosaur?  This one had a very, very long tail that was only about the width of a pencil the last few feet of it. The vertebrae had an unusual forward tilt to them.  The inside of the building was just as wonderful as the outside with skylights and arches leading to the various exhibit rooms.

No wonder people make movies here.
As for the exhibits themselves, I was disappointed. Lots of stuffed animals and birds in glass cases with not a lot of information about them or much attempt to create an illusion of natural habitat.  The exhibits at the museum in Ottawa are much more interesting and attractive.  But that's OK, the building was well worth the visit.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Torenia -an alternative to Impatiens

 For the first time in forever, I am not planting impatiens this spring because of the virus that decimated my plants last year and would likely do the same this year.  I was hesitant to buy coleus as I read that they also could be affected.  So I bought a few torenia plants which will grow in shade or part shade like impatiens.  The torenia is  bright and perky, and I'm already enjoying having them.
 Usually you find them in shades of pink and purple. The garden centers don't always have them, but I'm guessing, that with the impatiens virus problem, that they will be more available this year than previous years .

You can start torenia from seed but it needs to be planted 8-10 weeks ahead to be ready to bloom  at planting time.  A fun little flower that's perfect for pots and hanging baskets.

I have been enjoying listening to the veery thrush that is frequenting our bush.  It is a nondescript bird about the size of a robin, with a medium brown back and some flecking on its white breast, but it has a very unique song, sort of a bittersweet melody.  The Cornell University has an excellent ornithology site that includes bird songs so if you have never heard a veery thrush, you could hear it there

Monday, May 26, 2014

More Butterflies

 The butterfly house was filled with lots of colourful flowers to keep the butterflies well fed and happy.

I really enjoyed my visit with the butterflies.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Butterflies at the Museum of Natural History

 While we were in London, I visited the butterfly exhibit at the Museum of Natural History.  I didn't make note of the names of the butterflies, but I don't think that matters very much as I believe most of them are from warmer climates than the UK so they wouldn't be ones you would see in the wild in Britain.  They are wonderful to look at, name or no name.

 A sign asked visitors not to touch the butterflies, but the butterflies kept landing on people so close encounters happened anyway.  At the exit to the exhibit, a full-length mirror was positioned so that you could check yourself for any butterflies that might be hitching a ride with you.

 Some of the butterflies were getting old and looked a little tattered.

 So many different shapes and colours.

 This handsome one has a striped body to match the stripes on his wing next to his thorax.

 I like the way the pink gradually fades out looking like it was made by a paintbrush .

 More butterflies next time.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

View From the Room

We were back in London last week, and this was the view from our hotel window.
We actually had 3 small grocery stores on our block as well as a drugstore, which was very convenient . I like the French name of the store:  "Le Super Marche".  All around London are sandwich shops , and the most prevalent shops are part of a chain called "Pret a Manger". The sandwiches are definitely English-style despite the name: Smoked salmon, cheese and tomato,
tuna and sweet corn, etc. The "Pret a Manger" sandwiches are all made fresh every morning and any left-overs at the end of the day are given away to charity.

Restauranteurs will sometimes be outside their restaurants drumming up business.  This Lebanese restaurant was across the street from the hotel , a couple of doors down from the little grocery store.
We ate at an Italian restaurant one evening and they were also "selling their wares".

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Millions of Trilliums

 Well, maybe not millions of trilliums, but we certainly have lots growing in our bush.  It's such pleasure to see them blooming in May.

 They pop up all through the gardens which is just fine by me.

I think they look great next to the variegated hostas.

 No wonder they are the provincial flower of Ontario.

 I wasn't sure if Virginia bluebells were native to Ontario, but a brief search on-line leads me to believe that in certain areas they are native, although rare.  I have a couple of plants that I bought several years ago that are quite happy in our zone 4, and they are slowly spreading. Like most spring bloomers, they like spring sun and summer shade with loamy soil.

This is a patch of wild garlic.  When we first bought our property about 35 years ago, the wild garlic had been pretty well picked out as it is considered a spring treat.  We have left the garlic to grow, and now have at least four patches that are about 5' in diameter.  The plants taste like a cross between garlic and onion.  In Quebec, the pickers have been so ruthless that the wild garlic is now a protected species in that province.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Unusual Primula

I noticed this primula plant, which I think is a primula elatior Crescendo variety, had some pretty white markings and edging which are not typical for primulas.  Other flowers on the plant have similar coloration. I wonder if the plant will consistently bloom this way or if it is just a fluke this year.  I will have to pamper it and try to make sure it blooms next year .  Maybe I have a brand new variety in my garden.

Monday, May 12, 2014

There's Always a Show-Off

 A few years ago someone gave me a piece of this yellow primula.  It had lots of blooms at the time, and I thought she was probably feeding it some fancy fish fertilizer . But no, it is just an overachiever. While my other primulas putter along with minimal flowering or perhaps die over the winter, this yellow primula and its divisions  always bloom profusely. 
 This little yellow Tarda tulip is much more subdued.  The leaves are more like scilla leaves than tulip leaves, and the blooms are only about 1 1/2 inches wide.   Looks very natural.

 I have been hearing and seeing a Baltimore oriole the last few days, but it is hard to get a picture of him as he loves to sit in the very top of the trees.  I've never had a nesting pair, and I keep hoping for one. I put out an orange on an oriole feeder, but he is not interested in it.  I did read, though, that as the spring progresses that orioles prefer insects as food as the extra protein helps to build up their strength.  We have lots of insects so perhaps he is enjoying a richer diet than fruit.

 On the subject of insects, my pulmonaria plants are abuzz with bumblebees.  If you would like to help out the wild bumblebees, I would suggest that you establish a patch of pulmonaria because the bees really, really like it. 

 What would spring be without a few tulips to brighten up the landscape?

I bought a few small size Wave petunia plants. I like the tidier habit of the smaller blooms (about 1" across), and I like the way their colour lightens as they fade.
What a lovely month May is!

Friday, May 9, 2014

"Which way to the pond?"

It's not unusual to see mallard ducks around here, but usually they are on some body of water not strolling along in a hardwood bush.  Earlier today, two male mallards flew into our bush, and then started walking around, looking for what, I don't know.  I was a bit slow on the camera grab so there is only one in the picture. They are beautiful birds no matter where they are.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


 Lady's Mantle has a slightly fuzzy leaf so it always catches the water nicely.

The two upper drops could be eyes, and the larger lower one a mouth - a crocus fish?

 The Bleeding Heart was sprinkled with little balls of water.

 A diamond in the rough?

Sequined leaves.

We've been nursing a sick dog, and then I hurt my foot.  It felt good to go take some pictures today.