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Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

flowers

Hellebores

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Tulips are among my favorite flowers. Their rich, vibrant colours light up the garden at a time when many other plants are just beginning their summer growth spurt. Here is a photo essay that captures some of the brilliance of this year’s tulip display in my garden.

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Although many plants are just getting started, there is something new to see in the garden every day, now that spring is finally, in its two steps forward, one step back manner, here. Shared here are some highlights of the early spring garden that I have been delighting in daily.

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Tulips: Love those lush, rich colours

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Cushion Spurge (Euphorbia polychroma)

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Our native Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphylium ) with a self-seeded Wood Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum ) looking for growing room.

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A little forest of native Mayapple umbrellas (Podophyllum peltatum )

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Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum spp.), early flowers for hummingbirds.

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This euonymus standard retains some colour all winter, but brightens with new leaf growth in the spring.

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This comfrey (Symphytum uplandicum ‘Axminster Gold’ ), looks harmless in the spring, giving little indication of the giant it will become. The dark leaves belong to Geranium pratense ‘Dark Reiter’.

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Henry the Samurai (Saruma henryi) has dainty yellow flowers.

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Darmera peltata produces longstemmed pink flowers first and then follows up with large leaves.

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This golden bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis ‘Gold Heart’) shines even on rainy days.

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So does Hosta ‘Nancy’, with her brilliant gold leaves.

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The impressive flower of a Crown Imperial Lily (Fritillaria imperialis).

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Epimedium rubrum has put on a dazzling show of tiny dancers.

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Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) and, below, the brilliant red bloom of the early peony Paeonia tenuifolia.

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seeds

Once again, the gardening season is at hand. I like to get things rolling by attending a local Seedy Saturday event. Last weekend, I made the drive up to Ottawa to join other gardeners in the joy of anticipating our return to the soil. A number of venders of heirloom and organic seeds and supplies come together to offer attendees, pictured above, a cornucopia of seeds. It would be possible to order the seeds by mail, but the buzz of excitement makes attending Seedy Saturday much more fun.

I mostly go to get a selection of tomato seeds. Last year I didn’t bother, and missed trying new varieties. This year, I purchased eight varieties from Terra Edibles and Gerta’s Organic Gardens:

Black and Brown Boar
Berkeley Tie Dye
Winterkeeper
Dancing with Smurfs
Pink Boar
Allegheny Sunset
Druzba
Persimmon

Seedy Saturdays are a project of Seeds of Diversity, an organization dedicated to encouraging the preservation and cultivation of heirloom and endangered varieties of food crops. You can locate a Seedy Saturday near you by visiting their website.

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The winner of this year’s ‘First Tomato of the Year’ title is Early Girl, above. This spring, in a fit of laziness, I didn’t bother to start any tomato seedlings myself, and was thus restricted to the more limited selection available at nurseries. Early Girl is a popular variety with home gardeners, producing nicely shaped, medium-sized, bright red globes in a short planting season.

Wikipedia notes: Based on a short-season hybrid tomato developed in France, the Early Girl was originally distributed in the United States by PetoSeed Co., a major agricultural seed supplier. The variety was named “Early Girl” by PetoSeed board member Joe Howland to complement the company’s popular “Better Boy” tomato. Seed catalog Burpee Seeds struck an exclusive three-year deal for the new variety, and featured it on the cover of its 1975 Spring catalog.

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Speaking of Better Boy, Early Girl only just beat out the boy next door for top honours. The first Better Boy tomato will be ripe in another day or two. Better Boy tomaotes have been around for about 50 years, and reportedly hold a Guinness record for most fruit produced on a single plant.

But the true test of a tomato is in the eating. I sliced up the first Early Girl and RailGuy and I shared the slices over lunch. The slices are a beautiful brilliant red, and much more juicy than the tomatoes I last bought at the grocery store. The flavour is pleasant but mild, perhaps a bit bland if you like your tomatoes with a little punch.

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I also have several varieties of cherry tomatoes that have already started producing mature fruit and are great for snacking and salads. Pictured below is Sweet Gold, which produces lots of golden tomatoes that are a bit larger than the popular little Sweet Million cherry tomatoes. They are prone to cracking if left to become overripe, however.

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In past years, we have used a few raised beds as an informal vegetable garden. This spring, we expanded the vegetable space into a more formal area with walkways, a screened sitting area, and flowers and vegetables in a mixed potager garden. We started with taking up the sod with a rented machine and laying out the beds and walkways. Pictured above is the new site as it looked on June 3rd. The little wilted plants in the left-hand foreground are sunflowers, transplanted from the places where birdseed had sprouted around the yard.

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And here is the same view now, two months later. The sunflowers are now 5 and 6 feet tall! Corn, to the right, is also taller than I am.

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Before…

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…and after!

It has been very satisfying to watch the transformation of this space. And very pleasant to sip tea in the screened room and watch as goldfinches help themselves to sunflower seeds and hummingbirds visit flowers.

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morninggarden

July! Already! The summer, as usual is whizzing by. The garden is lush and well-grown, with many plants reaching their full height and the daylilies beginning to bloom. The new vegetable garden has leaped up. That this area was bare ground just over a month ago beggars belief. The northern garden is an amazing annual event. This explosion of growth defies reason; and yet, there it is. Here’s a look around the garden today.

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hollyhocks

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