Gardening Blog

A calendar that sprouts wildflowers

The first thing I did this past Monday when I got into work is hang my 2010 calendar at my desk. The neat thing about this Botanical Paperworks creation is that as I rip each month off to reveal a new calendar page and whimsical illustration, I can save the old one to plant in my garden. Pages are made of cotton or 100% post-consumer waste and are riddled with North American wildflower seeds. Planting instructions are available on the site. Stay tuned to see what sprouts!

The photo below is the tin version, but I wanted to show what the pages inside looked like.botanical-paperworks-calendar2

Paint your garden black

Ok, don’t paint all of it black. But add some contrast this spring with something really interesting, a conversation piece. Plant something black. I came back from my holiday vacation to find Black Plants by Paul Bonnie on my desk. It was an interesting contrast to the white swirl of snowflakes that I could see out the office window. The featured plants are gorgeous and unexpected–a nice change from the usual botanical suspects gracing the nursery. Now they’re not all pitch-black per se, but some plants have black leaves or stripes on their petals or are deep shades of purple or burgundy. I’ve included a couple of examples below!

Black hollyhock (Alcea rosea 'Nigra')

Black hollyhock (Alcea rosea 'Nigra')

Large wild ginger (Asarum maximum)

Large wild ginger (Asarum maximum)


Purchase Black Plants: 75 Striking Choices for the Garden through Amazon.

Flowerpot mugs

flowerpot-mugsI’m not sure how these cute cups escaped our gift guide, but my dad gave one to all the gardeners in his life–my mom, sister and I–for Christmas. Made to look like terra cotta pots, these mugs are available at Lee Valley Tools!

Happy holidays fellow budding gardeners!

Well, my work week is just about done, which means I’ll be taking an indulgence-filled break from being a budding gardener. I just wanted to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season. We have lots of great gardening tips and ideas planned for 2010. And, as always, welcome your feedback about what you want to see on the site (please leave your comments below).

See you next year!

Adopt the right tree for your yard

tree-atlas2The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has recently created a Tree Atlas. This helpful tool allows you to choose your region on a map and then provides you with a list of trees that will thrive in your area. Each tree’s page features photos, optimal growing conditions and interesting facts. Surf around a bit and you will find there is also lots of helpful information about the environmental importance of trees, as well as Ontario’s pledge to plant 50 million trees by 2020. You can make your own pledge to plant a tree by filling out a special form on the site. My lot is not particularly huge, but once we decide how we’re going to block out the new two-story house going up behind us, I will be ready to make my pledge!

A Christmas pickle?

pickleThe folks at Canadian Tire hosted a festive ‘Christmas in July’ event back in the summer at their offices. Upon leaving, we got a gift bag of holiday treats featuring some of their products, like NOMA tree lights and a Christmas pickle ornament. I found this last item a little odd until I read on the tag that in Old World Germany, the last decoration placed on the tree–said pickle–would be hidden among the boughs and the first child to find it Christmas morning would be blessed with good luck. I wonder if they used a real pickle back then! Needless to say, this little gem is going to my good friend Heather who LOVES dill pickles.

In looking on the Canadian Tire site for my pickle pic, I happened across a neat tool they’ve created that lets you upload a photo of your house so you can try out the different Christmas lights and outdoor ornaments they sell in the store. There is a Christmas tree decorator, as well. And yes, you can see how the pickle might look hanging from your tree!

Highlights from the Evergreen Festival

Last week, I was thrilled to be a part of Elaine Martin aka The Vintage Gardener's Evergreen Festival. I helped Elaine as she demonstrated how easy it is to put together gorgeous holiday urns and I also presented a little session on forcing amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs for the holidays.

My assistant editor, Jen Murray, came along to videotape my seminar (which we'll be posting soon!) and we took lots of snaps of Elaine's beautiful holiday fair, some of which I've displayed below.

Fellow gardening writer, Mark Disero, also published his take on the day.

Me posing with a couple of urns that were created during Elaine's presentation.

Me posing with a couple of urns that were created during Elaine's presentation.

One of Elaine's gorgeous evergreen carts where you could pick and choose what you wanted to use to create wreaths, urns, bows, etc.

One of Elaine's gorgeous evergreen carts where you could pick and choose what you wanted to use to create wreaths, urns, garlands, bows, etc.

One of the lovely pots Elaine helped me create as I explained how to force amaryllis bulbs. You can't see them, but they're hiding among the greenery and will grow around the branches in this lovely arrangement.

One of the lovely pots Elaine helped me create as I explained how to force amaryllis bulbs. You can't see them, but they're hiding among the greenery and will grow around the branches in this lovely arrangement.

Guest blog: Gnome and garden

By Jennifer Murray

Gnomes are a staple of the gardening world–even in the Harry Potter novels, gardens are full of these little troublemakers. Treat them well, and they will guard your precious belongings and help you with chores. Treat them poorly, and they will make mischief whenever possible, including stealing keys, underwear and garden tools.

Why all the gnome talk? We thought ahead for the long, cold months ahead and found a solution for keeping our gardening spirit alive: Gnome and Garden! This handy little kit contains a mini gnome, lawn, flowers, backdrops (Swiss mountain, anyone?) and a book about how to care for your gnome at the office.

The gnome care book recommends naming the gnome (we’re going with Gnorman), greeting your gnome each day and appeasing its lust for mischief with paperclips and other offerings. Paperclips for help with office chores? Count me in…


(Gnorman was also featured in our holiday gift guide!)

Tweeting houseplants

Have you ever wondered what you’re houseplants are thinking? Well, thanks to this cool gadget, your houseplant can now tweet. By using Twitter, your houseplant will communicate with you via the Internet. The Botanicalls DIY Plant Twitter Kit easily translates all dialect of ‘houseplant’ to English.

add2_botanicalls_plant_twitter_kit_inplantSo how does it work? The original breakthrough was made when the chief scientist at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) was trying to communicate with a patch of catnip by using a super computer.

“I CAN HAZ TWITTER?” said the plant. This confused the scientist, but his granddaughter was able to figure out that the plant wanted to Tweet! Plant who tweet don’t have much to say, but they do request that you water them and thank you once you have.

Fact or fiction? Who knows, but this fun toy is perfect for a techie gardener who is feeling stir crazy during the long winter months!

My new fave: The pincushion flower

It was about a month or so ago that I first laid eyes on the pincushion flower. So when I needed to figure out what I wanted to carry at my wedding (which took place this past weekend), yellow pincushion flowers came to mind not only for their unique beauty, but because I liked the sewing connection, as well. I also ordered some extra to display on the tables at our venue, School Bakery & Cafe. Besides the yellow orbs of the pincushion blooms, I was pretty clueless as to what else I could put with them. Without having an example flower on hand, Helen at Anthi Floral Boutique was so helpful recommending complementary greenery — Jamaica greens and bear grass for the vases and aspidistra for the wedding bouquets. For vases I used Bernardin jars that I got thanks to my Uncle Glenn, and then I tied black raffia around the necks as a finishing touch.

For the bouquets my sister and I carried, we removed the greenery from the lower stem of the pincushion flowers and wrapped them in aspidistra and raffia.

Below is an image of one of my vases. I was very pleased with how they turned out!


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