I left two ‘Pink Emperor’ tulips that had just bloomed behind at home to come to the Netherlands, the birthplace of the Western world’s obsession with these spring bloomers. My day started with Van Gogh’s botanically inspired paintings and ended at the famous Bloemenmarkt with a wonderful guide by the name of Paulina. This ‘floating’ flower market on Amsterdam’s Singel canal dates back to 1862 when shipments would arrive by boat. Nowadays the stalls are more permanently secured with endless varieties of bulbs and blooms for sale. Paulina picked up some blue tulip bulbs, which she had never seen before, to plant in her garden. I hope she sends me a photo when they bloom! Here are a few photos I took of the market. Wish I could bring home 50 tulips for six euros!
Yesterday morning, I got up bright and early to drive to my hometown of Port Perry to visit the Scugog Spring Garden Show with my mom and dad. This was my first time attending the show and it was a pleasure to visit all the local vendors and run into some familiar faces, like my Grade 8 math teacher, Mr. Philip, who works at the Greenbank Garden Centre. Speakers at this year’s event included Marjorie Mason of Mason House Gardens, Charlie Dobbin and Breakfast Television Toronto’s Frankie Flowers.
I actually purchased more at this show than I did at Canada Blooms! I came home with asparagus and rhubarb to grow along the fence by my garage. Vendor “Perennial John” from John’s Garden in Uxbridge, Ont., was very helpful explaining to this budding gardener when and how to plant them. I also bought a beautiful plant cage from Branching Out, a new floral boutique that opened in November on Water Street in Port Perry. Visitors were lining up to purchase their cheerful bouquets of candy-coloured flowers. My mom bought a gorgeous stone table imprinted with maple leaves from Evergreen Cast Stone. Designer Deb Webster uses the leaves from her garden to create bird baths, wall hangings and tables. I’ve included a photo below as well as some others from the show.
Yesterday I started at one end of my backyard and worked my way toward the vegetable patch weeding (the dandelions are taking over!) and clearing along the way. When I got to my vegetable garden, I intended to pull out the collard greens that I had left behind in the fall. But much to my surprise, there were fresh leaves! I sat there for a few moments munching the tender greens marvelling that I was eating something out of my garden so soon.
I know collard greens are cold-tolerant, but to survive an entire winter? I went back to The Cottage Gardener site where my sister and I ordered our seeds this year and last and the name said it all: Champion Collards. Champions indeed!
Saturday I went mountain biking for a few hours. The course was full of rolling hills, so I expected a bit of stiffness yesterday after a couple of steep climbs. I woke up feeling absolutely great and headed into the garden for the day. After several hours of bending and pulling and clearing and pruning, this morning I can barely move! It just goes to show how good of a workout gardening can be.
This morning, I heard my husband inquire from the kitchen whether I had put a pile of dirt in the backyard. Huh? “Noooo,” I replied as I leapt up to take a look. There in the middle of my backyard, all the grass had been dug up in one place and was sitting in a pile. Damn! Everything was looking so lovely and green. From what I’ve read, I'm guessing this was the work of one or more raccoons looking for grubs… how do I stop future destruction?
I was in my yard every day this weekend, but my forsythia waited until Monday to explode with its yellow blossoms. No matter, I will still have time to enjoy it for another week or so!
The unseasonably warm temperatures worked their magic in my garden last week. They made things happen that usually take a little longer. The best surprise was discovering perennials (or biennials) coming up that I thought were annuals. I didn't realize that my parsley, sage (no rosemary) and thyme would come back, but there they were, tiny little fragrant leaves poking through the soil. I was also pleasantly surprised to see my strawberry plant bursting forth.
Shop, look and learn. That about sums up my to-do list,because I’ll be taking it all in this week at Canada Blooms. Noticed how I put ‘shop’ first? Sigh, it’s a huge problem. But I find any market of interesting finds simply irresistible. Last year I wrote a blog post in anticipation of my first visit ever. This year, I had too much to say for a blog, so I put it in an article: What I’m excited to see at Canada Blooms 2010. Are you attending this week? What are your favourite parts of Canada Blooms?
Last night my sister and I headed to Lula Lounge here in Toronto for the Grow Great Grub book launch party. Once there we enjoyed some tasty vegan treats, planted some Black Zebra tomatoes at the seed-starting table and I finally got to meet author Gayla Trail. I also chatted with fellow gardening writer Mark Disero of gardentoronto.ca and my sister was quite chuffed to win one of the raffle prizes. By the way, after only reading a few pages of the book, I was inspired to try growing some microgreens on my windowsill. Will let you know how they turn out!
Yesterday I attended a PC Home Patio & BBQ preview where we got to see what’s in store for spring. Around the showroom were vignettes showcasing the patio furniture and accessories that will soon be making their way to a Loblaw-owned store near you. The comfy furniture and some of the juicy colour palettes really made me long for spring, especially the vibrant Muskoka chair shown below. Made of painted wood, this quintessential summer chair comes in blue, green and red (as pictured below), retails for only $99.99 and folds up for easy storage.