Gardening Blog

garden eye spy: yellow nostalgia

As the days begin to get a little warmer once again I find myself craving more than ever bright, vibrant bursts of colour. So away to a florist’s I went this past weekend in search of cheerful, sunshine like blooms and this is what I found.
Just the sight of this pretty petaled poesy made me infinitely happier. Is there a particular colour that always stands out in the garden for you? I’d love to know!

(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 Creative  or via Twitter.)

garden eye spy: winter berries

It is always a treat to stumble upon some bright colour in the garden, especially when trying to muddle through the overreaching presence of grey during the winter months.
These berries were a welcome surprise over the weekend while out for a meandering walk. The only downside, of course, is that they make me miss summer. What other lovely colours have you seen this winter?

(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 Creative  or via Twitter.)

Garden eye spy: Nature’s patterns

We talk a lot about colour in this photo column, mostly because nature offers us an endless supply of hues to be enthralled by. However, another thrilling aspect of the natural world that should not be overlooked is pattern.
Take a moment and admire the textures and patterns present on the leaves of many common plants. They often look like a miniature seamstress has been hard at work, weaving together fine lines and beautiful colours. This leafy specimen reminded me of an intricate tapestry. What are some of your favourite colours and patterns to see in nature?

(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.)

Garden eye spy: Raindrops

Winter is almost here, but before our little corner of the globe becomes blanketed with thick white snow I thought I would share one final fall photo. These beautiful little rain drops caught my eye while out on an afternoon fall stroll.
They reminded me of tiny glass pearls and the way they decorated the vibrant leafy presence of a humble flowering cabbage made me smile. Fall is always a comforting time of year, rain and all, because it makes me feel cozy. Do you enjoy rainy days? Will you miss rainy days or are you ready for full on snowfall?

(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})

Welcome, winter

The bulbs are in the ground, the hoses are put away, the cold frame is tucked in with leaves.

See you next year!

View out our front window.

Laurel leaf willows in the morning sun.

Mountain ash ready for a snooze.

Who's been visiting the bird house?

Asparagus fronds are gorgeous in the frost.

Garden eye spy: Magnificent mums

Aren’t mums delightful? I think other than the happy-go-lucky daisy, they are my favourite flower. They always look welcoming and cheerful. Of course, the fact that they are available in a wide variety of dazzling colours never hurts either!
If you had to choose a favourite fall bloom, what would it be? Are you a mum maniac like myself or do you prefer something else? Would love to hear your thoughts! There are only a few more official weeks of fall left, so let’s relish every last opportunity to savour the season, shall we?

(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})

Houseplant for the holidays: Norfolk Island pine

Have you seen them yet?

They show up every year right about now, with glossy bright green foliage that could capture the heart of any gardener entering GSW (Growing Season Withdrawal). Looking for all the world like miniature, limey-er Christmas trees, Norfolk Island pines are often sold in pots in North America, though back home in the South Pacific they grow to be proper, full-on trees. Not a true pine, Araucaria heterophylla has softer ‘needles’ and a somewhat droopy habit reminiscent of cedars or–dare I say it–palm trees. Its unique blend of familiar and exotic elements, combined with its sheer aliveness whilst everything else is going to sleep, make it an easy sell at the Walmart checkout.

I, in my short but illustrious career, have already killed two. One succumbed to either too much water or too little light, the other I’m quite certain disapproved of the cold draft it got every time someone opened the front door. My sister kept one out of drafts, in bright, indirect light, with infrequent watering, and it lived for ages as one of the happiest, loveliest houseplants you could wish for.

I am determined to try again. Third time’s the charm?


How I accidentally joined a horticultural society

I was up in Calgary this week with Chris for an eye appointment and to see Neil Young in concert (why yes, it was amazing, thank you for asking) and we found ourselves with a few hours to kill in-between. He wanted to hit the hobby shop, and I wanted to have a tiny snooze before rocking it in the free world. So I parked the car, he went in, and I closed my eyes–but not before spotting the little house tucked beside the parking lot. The little house with the lovely, snow-filled garden and the sign reading “Calgary Horticultural Society“.

I sat there pseudo-sleeping, thinking about popping in to say hello. I had been to their big garden show back in April, but had not signed up for a membership, rationalizing that I live three hours away and wouldn’t be able to attend any events anyway, except maybe the show again in the spring… Anyhow, I was supposed to be napping. Besides, even the term ‘horticultural society’ seems formidable… I feel like donning my rose gauntlets and a British accent as soon as I think the words. Aren’t these kind of societies for the snobbery? Will they test me on my Latin before starting any kind of conversation? I might as well have been back in high school, that’s how awkward I felt.

Well, the bunny got the better of me. Yup, right there in the heart of the city, a little brown bunny nibbling on the elite Horticultural Society ground cover. I got up and in I went.

This is the part where I apologize to Janet and Maryjo for the snobbery comments above, for the lovely ladies I spoke to in the office were anything but snobs. They welcomed me warmly and we had a short chat about upcoming events, their (beautiful and useful) newsletter, bunnies, and raccoons. Before I knew it we were swapping emails and I was promising to buy a membership and check out their online forums.

I feel silly now for being so apprehensive. I know I’m not getting everything I could be out of gardening unless I connect with other people who share my interest.  I love our forums for this purpose, but I’m looking forward to the ones, because only a Southern Albertan really knows the meaning of a chinook.

So that’s your challenge this week: search out a connection with your gardening community. Whether it’s someone down your street, at your favourite greenhouse, online, or in a club or society, we all need someone with whom we can share, complain, brag, and learn.

Garden eye spy: Photography tip

Last week I gushed about the beauty and promise of morning light and apparently I can’t get enough of it! Here is another garden photo illuminated by a sunny glow and this week I’m going to share a photography tip so you too can capture a beautiful moment like this on camera!
The trick to achieving an image with a soft ethereal glow is to make sure that your light source (the sun, if you’re using natural night) is behind your photo subject. When shooting a flower in particular this ensures that the petals will be illuminated and retain their colour. If you photograph a flower with a strong light source hitting it from the front, the flower will become washed out or very high contrast which ruins the aesthetic of the image.

Once your light source is properly lined up, shoot ‘through’ the flower — not from above, not from below, but directly through it to capture the colours and glow at the same time. If need be use a camera hood or cup your hand above the camera lens to avoid any unwanted flares. Happy photographing!

(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.)

Poppy day

It’s almost Remembrance Day, and I’m slightly annoyed.
Excuse me while I grab my soapbox.
The Halloween sugar rush hadn’t even gotten up to full steam before I started seeing Christmas show up in the decor and on the shelves around town. What’s up with that? Remembrance Day has become the forgotten holiday, the little afterthought on the commercial calendar. I mean, it’s not even two weeks after the candy carnival, and there’s a full six weeks to brough-ha-ha over the mid-winter festival of your choice. Can’t we take a measly eleven days to focus on the lessons of history? To acknowledge the freedom we have to be over the top about pagan and religious observances? Maybe we don’t like to look death and war in the face. It’s not pleasant. But isn’t it important?
Okay, my soapbox is back under the bed. This week, after being inundated with leftover candy and resisting the premature onslaught of tinsel, I attended the pre-Remembrance Day ceremony held at my children’s school. I found myself appreciative of the respect shown there, but left wondering what I could do to more fully recognize the holiday. Don’t get me wrong, I do not want to add Remembrance Day to the list of commercialism casualties. But I wish I had a pot of Papaver rhoeas in my house right now.
They’re an agricultural weed in Europe, which is why they grew so readily on the graves of the dead in Flanders. Some enterprising soul could probably make a go at providing us live plants to go with our fake lapel pins, with the proceeds going to the Legion, or Unesco, or something.
There are many poppies out there, and I enjoy my Iceland poppies (Papaver nudicaule) in the summer. But I’m wishing for a little shot of the red ones right now to offset all the snow and help me remember Poppy Day. Maybe next year I’ll be thinking ahead and time it right to do it myself, but for now, I guess I’ll be content to pay my respects with a replica poppy, and all of my heart.

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