Tag Archives: muscari

The Big Meadow, Year 3

May 24th, 2018 | 13 Comments »

In 2016, in order to discourage Canada geese from ‘littering’ the  lawn, we began to transform it into a meadow. We didn’t follow the advice given by experts on how to create a meadow — their process involved too much work and too much expense. Instead we simply stopped cutting the grass. We let it grow throughout the season and cut it only once in the fall, to mulch the leaves and to cut down any trees that were taking root.

Now, entering the third year of this experiment, it is fascinating to see what is appearing. From a distance, the open area looks like an ordinary lawn spotted with large patches of blue and white. Most noticeable are the patches of blue, thanks to the wild violets that are growing everywhere.


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The white patches are wild strawberries, and I’m hoping their fruit will be edible, even if small and rather seedy.


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Other white patches are thanks to the plant (Cardamine pratensis) shown below. It goes by various common names —  lady’s smock and milkmaids are two, and presumably refer to the colour of the flower. It is also called mayflower because that’s when it blooms.



This wildflower is growing in damp ground, in full sun. It is quite delicate and lovely en masse.
There is some interesting folklore associated with this flower that I plan to write about soon.


There are dots of yellow in the meadow and spots of green brighter than the lawn, coming from ‘weeds’ like dandelions and creeping Charlie. These would make pristine lawn lovers throw their hands up in horror but I rather like them both.


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Patches of russet brown come from the maple seedlings that have appeared in great numbers.


There are hundreds of maple seedlings in this small section. In other areas, they are not as thick.
It seems that this is a ‘mast’ year for maple trees. I’m not the only one who has noticed how many more seedlings there are than normal.


Up close, it is easy to see the russet coloration of the new leaves.


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Rising above the grass are the leaves of lupins. We will let them go to seed, and if they like the area, they will spread happily in years to come.


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But of all the colours,  blue predominates. The biggest patch of blue is under the linden tree.


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We’ve been planting muscari, or grape hyacinth bulbs, for the last few years and finally they are having the impact I wanted.


muscari (1 of 1)
I like the occasional dandelion. Mixed in with the dark blue muscari, they shine in contrast.


Week by week and month by month, the meadow will change. The muscari and the spring wildflowers will fade; the various grasses that made up the lawn will grow taller.  There will be surprises — or so I hope.

And with luck, the Canada geese will leave us alone.

A Change of (Ad)dress

May 23rd, 2016 | 14 Comments »
  The weather at this time of year does strange things to the mind -- and to the wardrobe. One day is cold, the next is hot. Changing locations makes the uncertainties even worse. What do I pack? Summer dresses or winter woolies? I arrived in England a few days ago on a chilly morning that felt much like the mornings I'd left behind in Canada. But looking out at the countryside, it was obvious that summer was now dressing the fields.   [caption id="attachment_3982" align="aligncenter" width="3888"] A froth of white


The Dragon’s Tail

August 23rd, 2015 | 8 Comments »
One of the first flower beds I added at Glen Villa was The Dragon's Tail, a line of grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) that sweeps across a flat grassy area like a child's scribble.   [caption id="attachment_2677" align="aligncenter" width="800"] This photo is from 2007, the spring after we planted the muscari bulbs for the second time.[/caption]   I laid out the shape with a lawn mower, cutting a gentle curve, then altering it slightly to add a bit more movement. A friend named it -- he said the shape looked some wild animal,


An Artist’s Garden in Spring

May 19th, 2013 | 1 Comment »
An article about Glen Villa, entitled An Artist's Garden in Spring, appeared this week in the Montreal magazine Urban Expressions.  Written by Donna Nebenzahl, the article is lavishly illustrated with my photographs of spring flowers. I particularly liked the big spread that shows the linden tree, with muscari, or grape hycinth, blooming in the grass. Urban Expressions used a different photo. I like this one, too. The link takes you to the article but doesn't show the excellent layout. Too bad, because the balance between text and photos showed the photographs at