{ Archive for October, 2012 }

Garden eye spy: Roses are red

What is it about roses that inspire adoration? For me I think it has something to do with my father’s prized English rose garden struggling to survive the harsh Canadian climate each year, thus making the triumphant fanfare of blossoms all the more impressive when they finally arrived. Or perhaps it is as simple as bold colour being captured within intricately grown petals. Whatever the reason, roses are my favourite floral subject to photograph.
This rose portrait was taken last weekend during a leisurely post-brunch stroll. I love the delicate folds, the soothing colour and the unexpected almost romantic pattern that lingers within this flower. Part of me is tempted to print this image to canvas and hang in my bedroom as a piece of artwork. Do you love roses as much as I do?

(Laura L. Benn is the Multi-brand Web Content Editor at TC Media. Follow her writing, photography and other creative ventures on her popular blog LLB {words + photos}  or via Twitter.)

The virtual garden

I have palm trees in my garden.
No, really.
I still live in Alberta, and there’s snow on the ground, but my garden is full of palm trees, and there are NO WEEDS.
Okay, so the garden happens to be on my iPad, but still.
Seeing as how the ground is freezing up and I’m transitioning from real gardening to the imagining of next year, I thought I’d spend a little time in the App Store digging for some gardening gizmos.
One of the first I fiddled with was LawnCAD, a landscape drawing program ($4.99), and along with the other trees and rectangles, you can place palm trees! And pines, and bushes, of course. I’m finding it kind of finicky to work with so far, but that may be because I’m a layman; maybe it’s great for professionals. Point is, I’m visualizing my house surrounded by palm trees. An innocent winter pleasure.

Next week I’ll tell you more about some of the apps I’ve found. In the meantime, tell me about your favourite virtual gardening gadgets. What works? What doesn’t?

The digging of the potatoes

After plugging them into the ground in early June, my potatoes have lived without the interference of human attention. Unless you count the sprinkler blanketed over the whole garden. My mom is visiting this week and she keeps asking what she can help with (!!). So far, she’s washed every dish as soon as it was dirtied and made some serious headway with the laundry. To spare her from reading the same Dora the Explorer picture book for the tenth time, I suggested we head outside and dig the last of the veggies. My youngest daughter had to get in on the action, of course. She seems way more excited about these potatoes than the ones I have put on her plate before. Think she’ll start eating them now?

Garden eye spy: Morning light

When is your favourite time to be in a garden? The sun-kissed afternoon? The late serene evening? I personally love the very early morning for one special reason; soft light. Everything looks more magical in those few precious hours before the world fully wakes and gives way to its inevitable hustle and bustle. A romantic quality lingers wherever the light touches.
Take this pretty blossom for example. Standing on its own off to the side of a garden path, it is probably overlooked most of the time. But in the gentle glow of morning it becomes illuminated, the centre of attention, the star of the walkway.

(Laura L. Benn is the Multi-brand Web Content Editor at TC Media. Follow her writing, photography and other creative ventures on her popular blog LLB {words + photos}  or via Twitter.)

Quick frost cover-up

Remember the Cubs’ pumpkins?

Since helping the boys start the plants this spring, I have been gently nudging Chris to get his boys to take care of them (or take care of them himself), since it’s really their project, and I’ve got plenty of over things I’m already not on top of.

I “suggested” he’d better cover them up one night a couple of weeks ago, as there was a good chance of frost, but stayed out of it beyond pointing him to the burlap and the extra sheets. Guess what that guy did? Instead of using the flat sheets and weighing down the corners like I would have done, he grabbed fitted sheets and snuggled them right over the plants. The elastic was just right to hold the sheet on the plant without rubbing or breaking leaves.

Genius, right?

And look what they’ve got to show for it:

Ta-da! 'Jack of All Trades' has my endorsement for strong growth and quick fruit. Seeds, flesh, and carving: TBA


Good night, sweet earth

As I sit writing this, the first snowfall of the season sits on the lawn, and the radio is announcing a heavy snowfall warning for our area.

I’m sorry friends, it’s here.

We’ve been having such a pleasant, warm autumn that I’ve just been working steadily away, weeding and mulching and digging carrots, with nary a thought of full-on winter. The last few days, however, have been a flurry of activity: Chris mowing and finishing up the drip cap on a window we just replaced, me planting bulbs and gathering forgotten tools back to the shed. It’s amazing what little white cartoon crystals on the internet weather forecast will do.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this will melt in a few days, and I can finish digging up the beets, not to mention that most of you are probably still veritable ages away from winter proper. Just consider me your early-warning system: time to finish up. Time to tuck in your tenders, cover up select conifers. The earth is stretching her leafy-treed arms and getting ready for bed. So enjoy some relaxed late-night conversation with your garden, talk about your plans for when it awakes. Make it some hot chocolate, and kiss it goodnight.


Good night.

Sleep tight.

Low-maintenance Monday: Creeping Japanese sedge

Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’, a low-growing, ornamental, variegated sedge is selected as one of the top ten low-maintenance plants by the illustrious gardeners in Gardening from a Hammock.

What makes it such a favourite?

The creeping Japanese sedge grows 20 to 30 cm and spreads between 30 to 45 cm in zones 5 to 9. It is a slow-spreading perennial with grass-like, arching stems covered with forest-green leaves trimmed in bright white or cream. It is grown for its foliage and for its ability to complement other plants.

Garden designer Kim Price of Kim Price Landscape Design Inc. likes it because it handles half sun or shade and flowers from June through July. “The variegated green and cream leaves provide interest throughout the season,” she says.

Creeping Japanese sedge can be used for an accent, border edging or groundcover. It also is a valuable addition to a woodland garden, in mass planting or in containers. Photo courtesy of Heritage Perennials.

The creeping Japanese sedge ‘Ice Dance’ is as “fresh and green in January as it is in August,” says Jeff Mason who runs Mason House Gardens in Uxbridge, Ontario. “It looks like someone took a bunch of spider plants and plunked them in the ground.” This sedge spreads but is not invasive. It has white, creamy variegation with a relatively fine texture.

Aldona Satterthwaite, executive director of the Toronto Botanical Garden uses it to fashion a dramatic silver and white palette in her garden. She combines ‘Ice Dance’ sedge, lamium ‘White Nancy’ and variegated Solomon’s seal under an old silver-edged dogwood. She explains that the leaves of the sedge are trimmed in bright white, while the lamium has silver leaves with white flowers.

Creeping Japanese sedge is one of the star plants selected by 17 expert gardeners in Gardening from a Hammock by Ellen Novack and Dan Cooper. Gardening from a Hammock is an easy-to-use book describing how to create a fabulous, four-season garden using low-maintenance plants. It’s loaded with tips and has a botanical reference guide.