Snowdrop alert 2017. On the early side.

After all my whining observations about the early wave of spring in other parts, we are finally seeing signs of hope in Toronto. One of spring’s bellwethers for us on the Toronto Gardens blog is the arrival of snowdrops (Galanthus) in our small city plots. Well, they’re here. Today! Or one snowdrop is, as you can see above – and glory […]

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Seedy Saturday at the TBG

My sister is the seed-starter in our family. She’d tell you all the great reasons to start plants from seed, beginning with the joy of seeing a wee plant unfold from the soil – an everyday miracle I never get tired of. Cost-effectiveness is another one. Seed-started plants make it all the more affordable to create a scene like the one above, a […]

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Opuntia will come back from the dead

If this seems a gruesome way to begin, it’s because of my “undying” admiration of the paddle cactus or prickly pear (Opuntia spp.). Did you know that southern Ontario has a native cactus (in the wild, it’s endangered)? This is the family, if not the one. And we can overwinter it here in Toronto’s USDA Z5/Canadian Z6. When […]

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Love She Sheds? Win the book

We fell in love with she sheds before we knew she sheds were she sheds! That’s the term for the distaff version of a man cave, but in outdoor shed. In 2012, for instance, we showed you Beacher Michelle Blais’ hand-built creation. In 2015, we peeked into an artsy bunkhouse in Port Hope. And, last August, I mused about […]

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Lessons from the Danger Garden

Since my earliest days with the long-lost, late-lamented Blotanical, I’ve been a reader of Loree Bohl’s The Danger Garden. With a focus on her passion for spiky plants, Loree has been a regular and prolific blogger since 2009. Get to know her through this interview. Now the growing conditions in Portland (USDA Z8) and Toronto (USDA Z5/Canadian Z6) […]

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Coping with Spring Envy

On the weekend, I FaceTimed with our youngest daughter, who currently lives in the UK. She was telling me about her life there. You know. Hopes, dreams, fears. But I was eager to get on to the important stuff. “I’ll bet you have daffodils.” “What?” She sounded confused by my non-sequitur. “Daffodils. I’ll bet they’re blooming now. Or […]

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On ants, aphids and mutualism

I’d wanted to tell you a cool thing about ants and aphids. These are Norway maple aphids (Periphyllus lyropictus), one of 4,000+ aphid species. (Who knew the annoying little sap-suckers were so specialized!) They were visible on the top of the leaf, not their usual worksite on the underside. See how they’re in a nice, neat herd? The “cool thing,” if […]

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What Toronto needs is a Chinese garden

Google “classical Chinese garden Toronto” and here’s what you’ll discover: we have a lot of Chinese restaurants with “garden” in their name. Digging deeper might get you this link to the lost Chinese garden once-upon-a-time on Spadina Avenue. But do we have an actual, gardeny Chinese garden in T.O.? Not yet. And I wish we did. Classical Chinese […]

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Not a native plant (but it sure looked like one)

When Gail of Clay and Limestone reminded me about her upcoming Wildflower Wednesday meme, I got all excited. I’d been saving the shot above for a post with the working title “lesser-known native plants.” Trouble is, the more I looked, the more I saw it isn’t the plant I’d thought it was (Uvularia grandiflora or merrybells) – though at […]

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Invaders I wish I’d never planted

This is not a picture of a spring garden. No, it’s a stand-off between the Hatfields and McCoys, with Prokofiev’s ominous Dance of the Knights as the sound-track. To the left, the Hatfields, wearing purple. To the right, green-clad McCoys. Each creeps towards a battle in the middle – and takeover of my garden. What is an invasive plant? […]

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Paving the way: One pebble at a time

In the Italianate terrace at Powerscourt Estate in Ireland’s County Wicklow, a journey of 1,000 pebbles (many times over) began in 1843 with the very first stone, placed by a kid aged seven. Look at the finish date above – more than three decades later. And it all happened one pebble at a time. It makes me think of […]

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A flashback to Jane Austen’s garden

A regular reader of this blog might know our affection for Jane Austen. We began our very first post, more than 10 years ago, with one of her quotes. And she does pop up here from time to time. With the 200th anniversary of Austen’s death (aged just 41) coming on July 18th, 2017’s arrival flooded my social media […]

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