Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Flashy Fall Colours

Last weekend was the peak of the fall colour which coincided nicely with our Canadian Thanksgiving. We   haven't had much in  the way of windy days so the leaves stayed on the trees for longer than normal.  Then they suddenly rained down like a snowstorm and today most of the trees are bare.

I like the eye-popping lime green mixed in with the reds and oranges.

The colourful backdrop allows you to see the structure of the dead branch.

The sky is a lovely blue, but not as spectacularly blue as it was last year in the middle of the lockdown.

Every leaf is different.

This puffball mushroom is about 15" across . When we were young in Quebec, we used to find smaller puffballs about the size of golfballs.  Unlike most mushrooms, a puffball is the same all the way through - no gills.  We would slice them and fry them in butter and they were delicious. My parents were careful about picking mushrooms as a friend of theirs had a very bad experience eating the wrong mushroom, but there was no mistaking the puffballs. As they age, the puffballs turn brown and develop a hole in the top.  The skin gets sort of papery and the inside is filled with spores.  If you push on it at this stage, the spores come out in clouds, hence the name puffball.

This is a beautiful specimen of maple on a neighbour's front lawn.  I think as a young tree they snipped out the leader because it has many uniform sized branches all around. It's gorgeous at any time of the year. It's about 40 years old.

A fun little decoration to make people smile .

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

As The Leaves Fall

The flowers are few and far between at this time of year but the spots of colour are well appreciated.

This hardy geranium has been blooming since June. The main flush of flowers was earlier in the season but it has continued to make new leaves and a few flowers into autumn.  I really like the vibrant magenta with the dark centre.

A few zinnias.
The Japanese anemone are fun plants with their lime green centres. They are pretty tough and can be invasive in mild climates but in zone 4 they just add a nice bit of brightness when September rolls around.

Monday, September 13, 2021

September Flowers

The white astrantia has been blooming all summer. This is its second year in the garden and it has grown super well.  I have been watering it regularly as it has been a dry summer but still I am surprised at how well it has been growing.  I have picked some of the flower clusters and dried them so I can enjoy them through the winter.

I had some left over ageratum and zinnia seeds to I tossed them in a planter that had a few potatoes planted in it.  The potatoes didn't do much but the flowers have come along nicely.  The ageratum is pretty leggy especially the magenta and white so it has fallen over but I kind of like the sprawling effect of it.

The magenta gomphrena was seeded in the pot in May so it is just coming into full bloom now.  I like having some plants that are just getting going at the end of the summer as they have a freshness to them that the flowers that have been blooming longer don't have anymore.  I will dry the gomphrena as well as it does very well as a dried flower.  There is a bit of yellow statice in the pot.  With the dry weather, it didn't do as well as other years .  It was also direct seeded in May.

Here is some yellow hyssop with lavender blooms.  Again it was direct seeded in May. The flowers are very attractive to bees. I like the chartreuse leaves that are so bright.  With the bright pink petunias, they make a vibrant combination.  The hyssop is a perennial but other times that I have grown it in the ground, it has not survived our winter so now I am just growing it as an annual.


The marigolds are still blooming profusely.  I started them inside towards the end of April so they were pretty small when I planted them out.  They grew really quickly and I had blooms by the end of June. I think they established better than if I had bought flats of plants already in bloom.

Some late blooming phlox with some sedum.  Some phlox is very late blooming such as this one and I have an orange one that is still just in bud.  I hope it will eventually open.

The yellow pear-shaped cherry tomatoes are tasty and also bright on the plant.  It's been a good year for tomatoes as they enjoyed all the sun we had.  I had so many full sized tomatoes that I even made tomato sauce something I almost never do.  The tomatoes are full of flavour and sweet.

I haven't been able to get a shot of him or her but the bright green tree frog that hung out last year in our white plastic pipe railing on our back deck has been back for most of the summer.  I presume it is the same one. Pretty cool that even a frog would return to a happy place from one year to the next.   He is very shy and scoots away from us if we try to take a photo but I'm still hoping that I can sneak up on him.

Hope your gardens are doing well and here's hoping for good days ahead.


Sunday, August 15, 2021

Just Sweet Pepper, Sweet Pepperbush

The Just Sweet variety of sweet pepper was a 2019 All-American selection and I can see why.  The smallish peppers (about 3" long) have a wonderful sweet flavour. I have tried a few pepper varieties over the years and none of them come close to the flavour of the Just Sweet peppers.
The plants are healthy and vigorous. Next year, I should stake them as they are so full of peppers that they got blown over somewhat in the rain and wind.  I bought the seeds from Halifax Seeds, $4.99 for 8 seeds, so a bit pricey but they are well worth it.  I lost one plant early on as it never made a true set of leaves but with seven plants I will likely have all the peppers I need until harvest time next year.  I like the smaller size as I find that is the perfect size for snacking.  I am freezing the surplus which is super easy as you don't have to blanch peppers, just wash them, take out the seeds, cut them up if you want, and freeze them. 
The sweet pepper bush (Clethra alnifolnia) has a lovely sweet scent that wafts through the air if there is even the slightest breeze. My plant is only about 2 feet high and will likely never get taller because the ends of some branches get winter kill. It is not a fussy plant and blooms even if it isn't in full sun.
The small fragrant flowers are very attractive to little bees and other pollinators.

I planted some crocosmia this spring and it has grown well but no blooms.  The internet tells me that it could be because it is the first year, not enough sun, or too rich soil.  Guilty on all three counts, I think.  Will they survive the winter? Time will tell. This variety is supposed to be hardy to zone 4 but I think you have to be in zone 6 to be reliably confident that crocosmia will make it through the winter.  I am in zone 4 and sometimes have success with zone 5 plants.

This is a view that shows how you can blend vegetables, annuals, perennials and even weeds to make a pleasant grouping.  In the front are marigolds, next, beets with a few bright green weeds, celery on the left.       Beyond are a couple of hostas, phlox, purple bee balm and a spray of asparagus.  Further back still is a patch of native jewelweeds that grows quite tall.

We are dog sitting our daughter's dog Bonnie for a couple of weeks. She is 15 years old but still has a sparkle in her eye.

Hope you are all enjoying  tasty vegetables and beautiful flowers from your gardens. 


Saturday, July 31, 2021


I have a few different echinacea varieties in the garden and I have tried other ones that have not survived the winter.  This one is, I think, Hot Papaya.  It opens very orangey and changes over a few weeks until it is quite a dark rusty red.  I find the plant is rather weak and needs more watering to get it growing. 

This pink pompom variety makes lots of flowers but the stems are very floppy so that's disappointing.

A  regular pink variety. Very robust with lots of flowers and strong stems.

This is Green Twister.  I started it last year from seed and I'm quite happy with it.  It's fairly tall and has very strong stems.  I will probably only get 2 flowers per stem this year but I am optimistic that next year it will bush out.  I have four planted near each other so I hope to have a nice patch next year.

I have another green variety, Green Jewel, but it hasn't bloomed yet.  I find the plant small and slow but when it finally blooms the flowers last a long time. Only a couple of flowers per plant and not a very tall plant so a bit disappointing on that front, but the flowers are very well formed.

This is not echinacea, it is rudbeckia but it blooms at the same time and works really well with echinacea.  It can be a bit of a bully in good soil but if it's planted with other strong plants it is a great addition to the garden.  Super dependable and tons of flowers until frost.

The balloon flower with more flowers open.

Supermoon lily.  I really like the pale yellow colour with rusty spots.  It has a knock-out fragrance that you can smell from 10' away if there is a light breeze.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Balloon Flower

Balloon Flower (Platycodon Grandiflorus) is a  a sturdy perennial plant with bold purple flowers.

I planted two side by side and they are making lots of buds and flowers. The flower gets its name from the buds that are like little balloons. They suddenly pop open and you have colourful star-shaped flowers.  They also come in white and pink but I found the pink to be very washed out so now I stick with the purple ones.

They are easy to care for and enjoy a sunny location.  Mine lean a bit because they are not in a site with all day sun but the stems are good and stiff and don't flop.   They have a taproot so they can't be transplanted once they are established but you can buy young plants that are still small enough to handle the transplant.

The balloon flowers will make a nice clump if the soil is adequately enriched. They can tolerate dry conditions and don't like to be soggy. So far I haven't had any insect pests or diseases on the balloon flowers.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Striped Zinnias, Tiger Lily, Daylily, Magenta Astilbe

I started these zinnias with seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  I didn't know how I felt about striped zinnias when I looked at the seed packet but now that they are blooming I find them really cheerful and fun.

This is a hybrid tiger lily that I've had for years.  It has lived in a couple of places but seems happy here.  Because the plant is very tall and leaning, the flowers are making a circular pattern which I like.

I like the dark freckles on the tiger lily.  Because it is not a true tiger lily, it does not have the dark seeds along the stem so it does not self-sow.  It also does not make new bulblets from the main bulb so it is forever one plant. 
I have tried a variety of daylilies over the years and find that the ones that most closely resemble wild daylilies in shape are the ones that bloom well.  With the fancy ruffly varieties, I'm lucky to get one or two blooms but these lilies have many buds.
This one is very similar to the first photo but the flowers are actually a little darker.  Nice big flowers.

The magenta astilbe is a shortish plant and the flowers are not as fluffy as the pink or white ones. In a shady location, the strong colour stands out nicely.

We have had a cool summer, hardly a day that gets to 30C, so the pansies are still blooming well. Usually they are too heat stressed to keep going through July.

The vegetable garden is coming along well as the vegetables do best with temperatures in the mid 20Cs.  The beans recovered from the beetles and I have an abundance of beans to eat.