The 70th Canadian Tulip Festival, 2022

Colourful flowers at the Canadian Tulip Festival 2022 in Ottawa, Ontario

A rainbow-coloured fête of all things tulip, the annual Canadian Tulip Festival in May celebrated its 70th birthday this year. It’s the largest festival of its kind in North America! And I saw it on opening weekend, when things looked their freshest – despite a rogue heatwave during our visit that showed how ephemeral these spring flowers […]

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Giving thanks for happenstance

Bee on sunflower

Sometimes, planning is overrated. If it weren’t for happy accidents, there’d be no Post-Its or penicillin. Strangers sat down randomly at conference lunch table, sowing the magic beans for Savvy Gardening. A young guy in university  residence spotted a girl drying her hair by their common-room radiator and offered his hair dryer. Reader, I married him. And, thanks to friendship, my sister and I became […]

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Creating garden walls with gabions

Outdoor dining area defined by gabion cage garden walls

When visitors see our garden renovation, one of their first positive comments is about the gabion retaining walls. We agree. For high design impact at low cost, the gabions – the stone-filled wire baskets shown above from our window on a rainy day – were among our most satisfying decisions. Other options for the garden walls ranged from cheap (cementing the old limestone pavers that […]

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How we built our shed from a kit

Our back yard transformation began with the demolition of our +30-year-old cedar shed and construction of a big, beautiful new Urban Studio from Summerwood. We managed to snag it at a Black Friday discount in November 2020. Picturewise, this is a long post! Here’s the TL:DR. We’d thought about a new shed for a long time. Summerwood offers […]

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DIY-ing a garden to gather in

Outdoor dining area in a renovated garden

In 2020-21, who didn’t miss seeing friends and extended family, or dream of being able to celebrate with them again? Because outdoors is the safest place for that, given the pandemic, garden renovations boomed. Prices for building materials shot into the stratosphere, if you could find any, or find someone to build things for you. Our solution was to do it […]

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2021 is my “Year of the Bugs”

No matter how much I learn about the garden, there’s always more to know. To plug the (many!) gaps in my knowledge, I often designate my own “Year of the [Fill in the Blank]” to zoom in on a single subject. One was The Year of Ornamental Grasses. At the start, I knew almost zip. Except […]

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Plant a Flower Patch to Save the wild Rusty-Patched Bumblebee

I’m SO excited to discover this free eguide on helping our endangered wild bees, including the rusty-patched bumblebee. Written by bee scientist Sheila Colla, wildflower garden writer Lorraine Johnson, and illustrated by science illustrator Ann Sanderson, this little ebook gives you all the info and tools to create your own habitat for this endangered wild bee, and others. A wild […]

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Chester Station bursts into everlasting bloom

Floral mosaic by Canadian artist Katharine Harvey in Chester TTC Station

When a garden friend told me about this mosaic installation by Canadian artist Katharine Harvey, I rushed right over to Chester subway station for a new installment of our TTC Garden Tour. Wow. These glorious panels of hand-glazed ceramic tile depict native plants that might have grown in and around the old Chester Village or Don […]

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Forest bathing and how nature has kept me sane

Bruce Trail near Dundas Ontario

How have you been holding it together? For me, it’s being outdoors. Often. Back in June, I wrote about walking around the nabe in a love letter to my neighbours. But it’s not only out in my yard or on city streets. Toronto and the Golden Horseshoe, that wide band sweeping around Lake Ontario’s western tip, both offer many other ways […]

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In 2021, our garden journal is 29 years old!

Toronto and Golden Horseshoe Gardener's Journal 2021 thumbnails

Sometimes I think we’re bonkers. Four years ago, we inherited an annual garden journal that was already a hit, and yet we keep on trying to make it better. Three years ago, we introduced an interactive digital version of the immense gardener’s source directory. Last year, we laminated the print book’s covers to stand up to soiled […]

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Pictures are easier than 1000 words

I’ll be frank. The whole “COVID Thing” has had me tongue-tied, blogwise. It has been a lot easier to post regularly on my Instagram feed than to write blog posts this year. The result is bite-sized eyecandy, easy to share, and easy to digest. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll get an almost daily eyeful […]

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Even small gardens can have a cutting garden

Way back in winter 2019/20, I decided to turn some of my bigger planters from vegetables to flowers. Yes, I made a cutting garden in the Microgarden. With no regrets. Not one. When the Plague of 2020 had everyone else scrambling to buy up veggie seeds, I already had my seeds – for Zinnia, Calendula, Cosmos, and other long-blooming flowers […]

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