If you’re a gardening newbie and haven’t a clue where to start, pick up Nancy J. Ondra’s Five Plant Gardens: 52 Ways to Grow a Perennial Garden with Just Five Plants. Gardening expert Ondra provides 52 easy-to-execute garden plans, each using five well-considered plants that grow nicely together.
Celebrate spring in the city with the Gardiner Museum‘s Spring Awakening: Gardiner in Bloom exhibition.
Featuring a collection of large-scale floral installations by six Toronto designers, the exhibit combines the beauty of spring blooms and the museum’s permanent collections. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be invited for a behind-the-scenes look at the exhibit. While designers hung branches, positioned flowers and placed moss I managed to snap a few pictures of these one-of-a-kind creations.
On a much sunnier afternoon, I happily attended a flower arranging workshop hosted by flower shop owner Alison Westlake of Coriander Girl and urban flower farmer Sarah Nixon of My Luscious Backyard. I’d like to share a few tricks of the trade for creating your own garden-inspired flower arrangements at home.
The Calgary Horticultural Society Garden Show is this Saturday and Sunday at Spruce Meadows! It’s always a great event, with lots of great speakers and displays included in the entry fee ($15 at the door, $10 for Society members). I’m particularly looking forward to the talks on budget gardening and planting a food forest.
I’m on the speaker roster again this year, talking about weeds, my area of greatest expertise, having grown so many of them. If you can make it, please come introduce yourself!
I’m kind of excited about this little surprise I’ve got ready for my sister’s birthday next week, and I thought I’d show it off as maybe you would like to do something similar. Although that pretty much means the end of the surprise. Happy Birthday, Jenni!
Step one: choose a pretty bowl or vase. I found one with a cable-knit design, because Jenni’s an extraordinary knitter. If you’re thinking Easter, a cute flower bowl such as one of these might do nicely.
Step two: fill it with goodies! I know what you’re thinking: chocolate! But we are gardeners, and of course, we are not swayed by such mundane things as chocolate. Goodies equals seeds!
Be sure to match your seed choices with the right person. Not everyone wants to baby a finicky flower; a seasoned veteran might welcome the challenge. I’ve got a bunch of seed that’s been harvested by myself or friends which I wanted to share with my sister, but you could just as easily use packets of commercial seed. Bonus for that route: instructions included! I’m not worried about Jenni having instructions; a landscape design/arbourculture degree, her, and Google make a pretty good team.
But instructions or no, go for making things pretty. Find some cool paper (keep it lightweight for easy folding),scissors, and some ribbon, stickers, decorative tape, or twine. Fancy pens optional.
I’m recycling my paper from an old printer’s sample book and a desk calendar. If you are packaging saved seed, make sure to fold each side over a few times to keep the seeds from escaping. If you feel like getting right into it, try making decorative envelopes like these – just be sure all edges are sealed. If you’re using prepackaged, all they need is a pretty wrapper.
Then tuck all your little packets of goodness into the bowl, with a couple of other little trinkets that suit the season or the recipient: pussy willows, a notebook…
Oh, all right, you might as well throw some really good chocolate in there while you’re at it. If you must.
Apparently it is still winter.
Bring on the books.
A lovely little volume that I stumbled across several years ago, comprised of garden and gardeners profiles, has continued to be dear to me. The Garden That You Are (Sono Nis Press, 2007) looks at eight different gardens and the people who tend them. It explores how a gardener’s life is intertwined with the land, how our history and relationships play into the daily experiences of the garden. All the gardeners spotlighted in the book have different approaches, different focuses, different ages, different backgrounds — but they all live within a square mile of each other in British Columbia’s beautiful Slocan Valley.
There is much practical knowledge to be taken from these pages: advice, recipes, plant lists. But the reason I keep going back to it is for the inspiration. I don’t mean ideas, necessarily, but that this book gets you thinking about why you yourself garden, what drives your experience.
It is a step back from the ‘to-do’ list and the ‘must-have’ mentality. A thoroughly colourful and enjoyable one.
One of my New Year’s resolutions, subcategory: gardening, is to finally put in my apple tree. I chose, quite a long while ago, the Prairie Sensation apple developed at the University of Saskatchewan as the best fit for my location and tastes. Now the big question: where to put it.
It may seem backwards, as many of you would consider a particular spot and then choose something to fit it. I use that approach frequently as well. But I am in that enviable position of having enough land that I can pick a tree first, and ask questions later. Not that I buy plants willy-nilly, or put no thought into their needs; I just have a property large enough that I have several options for any given plant I decide might enjoy my garden.
Any of you small-plot gardeners growing green with envy right now are welcome to come help me mow and weed this summer.
Now. If you would be so kind to offer some opinions, here is a rough drawing of our property, completely not to scale, to give you an idea of my options.
Location A: my original plan. Full sun; little bit of shade late in the day from the house. Well protected from prevailing west winds, somewhat from northerly. Snow collects here to protect the tree from freeze/thaw cycles. Frost tends to pool lower to the east, and there’s the crabapple nearby for cross pollination. In view from the house and street for optimal blossom enjoyment. Down side: Really close to property line. What if whomever buys the neighbouring lot (it’s for sale now) does not want errant apples?
Location B: There’s lots of room in this back quarter of the property, but no wind protection–at least not until the evergreens and ash get a little more size on them. Full sun, all day, but kind of far from the crab, though if we go with one idea and build up a little orchard back here, that wouldn’t be a problem.
Location C: Another area that could become a little orchard. Kind of far away from the house, though. Again, the wind protection and pollination issues, potentially resolvable, but this is a low spot and I think it would turn out to be a frost pocket.
So really, it’s probably a choice between A: picturesque with the stone walkway, but some shade and potential neighbour nagging; or B: work towards the orchard and grow that windbreak.
Please, help me decide!