Thursday, November 22, 2018


 I was looking for a poinsettia for the Christmas season but this pretty cyclamen caught my eye and I bought it as well as a modest poinsettia. I love the leaf patterning and the blossoms are such a lovely shade of magenta.
I did some reading up on cyclamen care after I got it home.  I have had cyclamen in the past but I haven't cared for them diligently and they have ended up in the garbage after their bloom cycle. This one I am going to try to keep going. I am thinking about the growing conditions of the outdoor hardy cylamen that  has done well  for a number of years. When the hardy cyclamen is dormant in the summer, it is in dry shade. When the fall rain comes, it starts to grow and it is happy with lots of moisture as it leafs out and blooms. So for my indoor cyclamen, I will give it moderate water (letting it soak up water from a saucer for 15 minutes) and some half-strength liquid fertilizer through its bloom cycle.  I have it on the dining room table about 8' away from the south-facing window. With the low angle of the sun, it gets sun shining on it in the morning but the light is gentle. It will have steady temperature which will minimize stress.
After it stops blooming, the leaves will fall off and it will enter a necessary dormant period during which I will cut back on the watering and light.  Two or three months of rest will allow it to renew itself and then I can start to encourage it to grow again by increasing the light. I will only increase the watering when active growth starts. Here's hoping it works.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Flash Fiction

I just had a short flash fiction piece published at It's titled Gone Again and it appears as the November 10, 2018 entry. I hope you go to their site and read it. I've been reading the other posts. Some of them are funny, some sad, some sci-fi, some dark, some light but they all give you a little window into someone's life. Maybe you will be inspired to write some yourself :)

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Without a Frost -late season flowers

Because we haven't had a frost yet, many of the flowers are still blooming. The pink shrub rose rebloomed a couple of weeks ago and the hibiscus will bloom until frost. Here's hoping it will survive the winter.

 Hostas usually bloom earlier in the summer but they will send up flower stalks later in the season if the weather is warm enough.  The purple flowers are, I think, an annual verbascum. They have bloomed all summer in the mixed pot that they came in.
 Japanese anemones are so cheerful with their green centers surrounded by bright yellow stamens. White ones are common and hardy, but they also come in pink some of which have double petals.
 Japanese anemones like a bright location but don't like to bake in hot summer sun so some afternoon shade works well. If they like a location too much, they can become invasive especially in warmer climates but where I am in zone 4, they are well behaved.
Dahlias are great for late season blooms. I like this lemony yellow one with big flowers.

Friday, July 13, 2018


I started a few zinnias in the house this spring and they are starting to bloom in the garden. I think starting them inside gave them a good boost, and they are very sturdy plants now. They like the hot, sunny, dry weather we have been having, and the flowers colours are really vibrant.  I find zinnias are prone to disease and insect damage, but this year they are not being affected by either.


 Some of the pansies in pots are still doing well.  This plant started out as white with a dark purple splotch, but is now turning to a lovely lavender with dark purple.

 The dry weather is not bothering the rugosa Blanc Double de Coubert rose. In fact, it usually has little caterpillars that chew on the buds but this year I am not seeing them. This rose has an irregular plant shape that gets rather messy, but it has a lovely fragrance.
 The Chinese delphinium surprised me by coming up again. It's can be pretty floppy but the flowers are a lovely rich blue.
The weather is not so hot now, but we really need some good rainfalls. They are predicting some rain this week so here's hoping they are right.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Orange Flowers

 I planted some nice rich orange plants this spring.  Above is Hot Papaya, one of the newer echinaceas.
 A dragonwing begonia in bright orange.
Campion Vesuvius which is redder than the photo shows, but is definitely dark orange.
The gardens are doing well as we have had lots of sunny weather, but not overly hot. Next week is supposed to be in the 30's so that will stress the plants more.
I'm already picking zucchini, celery, lettuce, Swiss chard and I've managed to outfox the chipmunks with regards to a pot of strawberries and will pick a couple later today.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Late May Flowers

After the spring bulbs have finished, there is a bit of a lull in the perennials. Some flowers are blooming though.  Here are some pretty Virginia bluebells. I like the way they start out pink and gradually mature to blue.

 The gold-leaf bleeding heart is a nice addition to the garden. A hummingbird stopped by the bleeding hearts and had some nectar.  I have seen both a male and female hummingbird in the last few days so I am hoping they will nest nearby.

A couple of late lily-flowered orange tulips. I noticed that a bee, who was struggling to figure out how to get inside a rounded tulip, had a much easier time crawling down the outward facing petals of the lily-flowered one.

I thought some bright celosia would contrast well with the lobelia.

The bleeding heart, brunnera, merrybells and trilliums are all past their prime, but they still give a little colour.
I have ornamental onion in sunnier locations, but these ones are growing in full shade near the Solomon's seal. In the shade, the flowers are smaller but they bloom reliably. Not many plants will bloom in full shade.
This is a tiarella. I like the leaves and delicate flowers and the fact that it looks so much like a native plant. It's hardy, and unlike heucheras, does not pop up out of the soil.
 This is a native foamflower (tiarella). Also very pretty, but more delicate than the nursery produced one.
 A little jumble of plants. At the bottom left is a hickory seedling . I'm always having to weed out trees. I can't let this one grow as it's too close to the house.
 Silver dollar growing in a patch of forget-me-nots.
Wild strawberries that produce delicious, tiny fruit. The berries rarely grow bigger than 1/4 across. It's an attractive plant anyway and the blossoms are cheery.
We might get a thunderstorm tonight which will freshen everything up.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Weeds-Easy Control

When reluctant or non-gardeners talk about gardening , they usually groan about the weeding. I don't particularly like weeding much either which is why I don't do much of it! And yet I still have quite a lot of garden space : veggies, annuals and perennials.
I grow my vegetables in containers and raised beds. It's much easier to control the soil and fewer weed seeds make their way into a raised bed. I do get some weeds in my big pots but it's so much easier to  pull them out when they are up at a convenient height. Of course if you want a big garden, container gardening probably isn't practical but it is surprising how much produce you can get from a small space.
This raised bed has newspaper covering plantings of carrots and peas.  The newspaper has a dual purpose at this point. It is keeping the soil moist and keeping light away from weeds.  Once the peas and carrots sprout, I will put strips of newspaper 5 to 6 layers thick between the rows and cover it with  some dirt so it looks better.

Here I have used an opened-up cardboard box to mulch near a tomato plant. The hose water uncovered some of it but I can quickly shovel a bit of dirt over it again. You can use lots of things as mulch. It just has to keep out the light. Old clothes, old reusable shopping bags, even opaque plastic if you punch a few holes in it are all possibilities.
I also don't stress if I have some weeds in the vegetable garden. Unless they are really out of control, the vegetables still grow just fine.

A lot of people use bark mulch in their perennial beds. I personally don't find it friendly for my kind of gardening which involves frequently moving plants. I find the bark is hard to push aside and turns the soil into a messy mix of dirt and bark. Plus it costs money. In this free form garden, I simply plant vigorous plants that come up early in the spring and beat the weeds to it. Here I have hostas, brunnera, bee balm, wild ginger and pulmonaria. In a month, it will be a solid mass of green that will shade out most weeds.
I had a weedy patch next to my foamflowers so for a couple of years I just made a leaf pile on it in the fall. The weeds have been smothered and I can plant something there if I want to. Right now, I don't really mind the dried leaves.
Another idea is to cover the ground with pots. This is a new planting area. Instead of just filling it with soil, I will keep it covered in pots for a couple of years which will kill any weeds. Then I can dump the soil out of the pots onto the ground. Meanwhile, I have some peas and lettuce growing in the pots. Eventually it will be planted with perennials.
 I like to use perennials that make a good sturdy clump that's impenetrable to weeds:

 daylilies. Other good ones are hostas, rudbeckia, coneflower, perennial cornflower, ornamental onion.

Here is a messy little patch that has been planted with nasturtiums and rudbeckia. In a couple of weeks, I'll know where the nasturtiums have sprouted and the rudbeckia will be bigger. I'll mulch around the plants with newspaper covered in dirt and I'll be set for the summer.
I hope some of these tips help you to enjoy your garden more. And remember , it's a garden, not a living room. A few weeds are not the end of the world.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Various Varieties

It's always fun to see what annuals are for sale as the selection varies from year to year. This year Home Hardware had a flashy selection of hibiscus. In our climate, it's used as an annual. You can see how big the blooms are compared to the petunia. I'm curious to see if the hummingbird that usually comes in June will like it.
I don't always buy pansies as they flag in the summer heat but I got some this year. I like this soft purple one with the distinct veining.
To me this is a really classic pansy.

 Some of the tulips are going wacky. I think they are reverting from red to yellow.  The in between phase is very colourful.

Grape hyacinths are not the showiest flower but they do smell like grape popsicles.

 Bishop's cap is a silly looking plant but it grows well in the shade and makes a nice leafy clump after the blooms fade.
Native merrybells have a lovely form. I let them pop up wherever they like.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Mallards and May Flowers

I saw a Mallard pair swimming in the ditch by the road in front of our property. I thought it was rather sad that they thought the ditch constituted a pond, rather like the urbanites in their 500 sq.ft. condos who think their little rooms constitute a house.  But I guess we have to make-do with whatever is available.
I hope the ducks find better water to swim in as there is a stream not far away.

 They wandered away and then flew off as I approached them. Funny how the female is always to the right of the male.
I saw two lovely rose-breasted grosbeaks this morning. So happy they have stopped by. Usually they  move on in a couple of weeks.  Now I am waiting to see or hear a Baltimore oriole. They also come by this time of year and have a beautiful flute-like song.
 Some pots on the deck. I noticed several missing  pansy blooms and I suspect it's my little friend, the chipmunk, who has been nibbling on them.
 The tulips are starting to bloom. I like the purple, mauve, yellow mix that came from Veseys. I was pleased to see the small reddish ones are still blooming as this is year 3 for them. I have some grape hyacinths at the edge of the tulips. The green clump to the right is wild ginger which makes a nice ground cover although it can be somewhat aggressive.
 Click for full photo.The red  primula polyantha bloom a little later than the bright yellow ones but the flowering time overlaps somewhat. The red really stands out next to the yellow. Near the back are some pale yellow polyantha and in the upper left are some cowslip primula which are just starting to open up. In the lower left, is a gold-leafed bleeding heart a friend gave me last year.
 I planted a regular bleeding heart near the purple windflower. I think that will work .

The white trilliums are welcome volunteers.
We are expecting thunderstorms this evening so that will perk up all the plants.