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Planting for Spring

November 14th, 2017 | 11 Comments »

Last week my computer went on the blink and for three whole days, my typing fingers had a rest. The days off-line gave me time to do other things, but instead of using the time wisely, I wandered around feeling bereft.

So it was only yesterday, when all was once again well on the computer front, that I ventured outside to plant bulbs. I should have done this weeks ago but the weather had been so fine, almost summer-like, that I kept putting it off.

Until the snow fell.

 

Snow on November 10? Not a welcome sight.
Snow on November 10? Not a welcome sight.

 

There wasn’t much of it, but it was a clear warning that the job had to be done before the ground froze. Thankfully I hadn’t ordered too many bulbs so the job didn’t take long.

 

Empty boxes and bags are proof that all the bulbs are now in the ground.
Empty boxes and bags are proof that all the bulbs are now in the ground.

 

Planting bulbs lets me hope and dream. Come spring, will I see a sprinkle or a cloud of snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii) alongside the path to  the China Terrace?

 

Daffodils bloom every spring along the path to the China Terrace in May. All being well, the snowdrops will bloom in April.
Daffodils along the path to the China Terrace bloom in May. All being well, the snowdrops will bloom in April.

 

Will the several dozen trout lilies (Erythronium tuolumnense ‘Pagoda’) planted under the witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) by the front door look like they grew there naturally, as I intend?

 

The blossoms on the native witch hazel aren't showy but they shine in the sunshine on an autumn day.
The blossoms on the native witch hazel aren’t showy but they shine in the sunshine on an autumn day.

 

Walking in my mind along the path through the Big Meadow, I dream of seeing a mix of blue and white Camassia (Camassia leichtlinii ‘alba’ and ‘caerulea’) poking their heads through the grass.

 

I planted the bulbs in large groups on either side of the path. Fingers crossed that they will naturalize.
The group of gardeners walking the path through the Big Meadow visited Glen Villa last June. The camassia I planted on either side of the path should bloom soon after, before the grass gets too tall. Fingers crossed that the bulbs will naturalize.

 

And with luck, my dream of seeing foxtail lilies (Eremurus x isabellinus ‘Cleopatra’) towering above the boxwood and nepeta at The Aqueduct will come true.

 

Eremurus isn't reliably hardy in my zone. But the thought of the tall orange-toned spikes rising above the nepeta made the choice irresistible.
Eremurus isn’t reliably hardy in my zone. But the thought of the tall orange-toned spikes rising above the nepeta made the choice irresistible.

 

What I’m most eager to see though, are the blossoms on the long avenue of crabapple trees we finally finished planting. (I wrote about them in my last blog post.)

The Avenue is impressive, whether seen from the road looking north…

 

The ground is a mess now and the tags and trunk protectors need to be removed.
The ground is a mess now and the tags and trunk protectors need to be removed.

 

or from the driveway looking south.

 

The Avenue stretches across the field.
The Avenue stretches across a very muddy field.

 

In the spring we’ll harrow and seed this long strip of earth, now arrow-straight. The grass should be a young, tender green when the trees bloom, pink and white.

Looking along the line of tree trunks confirms that every tree is where it should be.
Looking along the line of tree trunks confirms that every tree is where it should be. Hooray!

 

But first we’ll enjoy another winter, with snow piled high outside and fires roaring inside. There will be books to read and dreams to dream.

And finally, spring will come.

The Straight and (not very) Narrow

November 1st, 2017 | 23 Comments »
These crabapple trees in front of my daughter's house are Malus 'Dolgo.'
  When is a straight path not straight enough? When is it too narrow? Last March, I decided to transform an unused farm field into something spectacular by lining the path that ran through it  with crabapple trees. When the ground was barely thawed, I paced out the length to determine how many trees to order.   [caption id="attachment_5771" align="aligncenter" width="5169"] This path was a convenient short cut across a flat farm field.[/caption]   I was taken aback. We needed 100 trees, 50 each side, planted at 18 foot intervals. The number made me

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The Grandchildren Trees

October 24th, 2017 | 12 Comments »
One grandchild stands next to her tree along with her father.
The year after our first grandchild was born, we planted a maple tree in her honour. A few years later when our second grandchild was born, we did the same. We continued to do this. After each birth, another tree was planted. We planted the trees in a straight row, on the slope of an old farm field where the growing conditions were right -- plenty of sunshine and soil that wasn't too wet or too dry.  When the fifth grandchild was born, there wasn't enough room in the row, so we

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Giving Thanks

October 9th, 2017 | 15 Comments »
The foliage of this tree (Nyssa sylvatica) is always colourful in autumn but this is the first time I've seen it with two distinct colours.  Can anyone explain why this happens?
  Today is Thanksgiving day in Canada, and there is much to be thankful for. In the garden, colours are bright.   [caption id="attachment_5729" align="aligncenter" width="2820"] Sedum 'Autumn Joy' lives up to its name.[/caption]   Even when the flowers have faded, I'm thankful for work that's been done.  At the Aqueduct the catmint ( Nepeta racemosa 'Walker's Low') has been cut back, making the bed look more like a monk's shaved head than the overgrown mop of foliage it was only days ago.   [caption id="attachment_5743" align="aligncenter" width="5184"] Those stubs of nepeta between

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The Big Meadow, 2017

September 25th, 2017 | 8 Comments »
I took this photo near the end of July. The mown path remained green all summer, thanks to the amount of rain we received.
Is it accurate to call The Big Lawn at Glen Villa The Big Meadow? If you use an American definition, the answer is yes.  If you consult an English dictionary, the answer is less clear. Webster's Dictionary defines a meadow as a tract of low or level land producing grass which is mown for hay,  and that definition fits precisely. Allowing the sweep of grass beside our house that was tended for decades to remain untouched produced six large bales of hay last year, the first year we didn't mow regularly.  Those bales were

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Little Things Mean a Lot

September 18th, 2017 | 12 Comments »
The added height offers a different perspective on the Skating Pond.
Little things mean a lot, in the garden as well as in song. It's the little things that explain why we gardeners are always looking and re-looking. Shall I move this plant, modify this combination, add or subtract? This past week I've been changing some little things at the Skating Pond. After 12 years, a few boards on the boardwalk needed to be replaced. And changing some boards gave me the chance (the excuse?) to change a few more. Quite a few, as it turned out. Because what started as a tweak ended

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Michiko’s Garden

September 10th, 2017 | 4 Comments »
Striations in the rock suggest ripples in a stream.
Last week I visited a very special garden, where rock outcroppings enhanced with shade-loving plants create an atmosphere of deep serenity.   [caption id="attachment_5589" align="aligncenter" width="1425"] Polystichum, or Christmas fern, is found in shady woodlands throughout Quebec. Note the small patch of tiarella cordifolia, another indigenous plant, at the top of the photo.[/caption]   Developed over the last fifteen years by designer Michiko Gagnon, the garden is at the end of a cul-de-sac in Quebec's Eastern Townships, not far from the U.S. border. It's an idyllic setting, with an old farmhouse that she and

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A Colour-full Summer

August 28th, 2017 | 10 Comments »
The Coleus is a variety called Indian Summer. I pinched it back regularly to keep it from getting too big.  (thanks for the warning, Nancy A.!)
Even while summer is coming to an end, the garden continues to make me happy. I'm really pleased with the gravel garden.  Early in the summer we adjusted the slate border; now it steps rather than slopes down, giving a firmer definition to the edge. While the yucca didn't bloom this year, it did produce dense clumps that should bloom next year. The sedum 'Dazzleberry' is growing well and the small islands of sandwort (Arenaria verna) that I added offer good colour contrast.   [caption id="attachment_5567" align="aligncenter" width="705"] Although it doesn't show

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Metis International Garden Festival

August 22nd, 2017 | 6 Comments »
The optical illusion never fails to delight.
  Recently I visited the International Garden Festival at Metis, Quebec. I've attended the Festival many times since it first opened in 2000, but in previous years I've gone with adults. This year was special -- I went with two teenage granddaughters.   [caption id="attachment_5512" align="aligncenter" width="1425"] The festival gardens are adjacent to the St. Lawrence River in a part of Quebec that offers much to explore.[/caption]   Playsages, the theme for this year's Festival, was a good fit for the three of us. The word is a mash-up of languages, blending

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A Mid-Summer Check Up

August 14th, 2017 | 6 Comments »
I can't identify the plant exactly -- I gathered seeds from plants that were growing along a nearby road.
In the middle of August, the garden feels different. It's not as fresh or vibrant, not as satisfying. This makes it tempting to move into planning mode. But first, I need to review the goals I set for the year, to assess what still needs to be done. One goal was to hold a second Open Garden Day. I checked that off in July. Another was to let the garden express itself. This is a goal that will never be finished. But I'm doing my best, letting nature take its course in the fields and

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