Good Morning Toronto! Let’s talk Peonies!

This week I had the pleasure of talking with Matt Galloway, at the CBC Metro Morning studio, about one of my favourite things: peonies. The link to the peony interview is here. Why am I a self-confessed peony nut? Well, growing ‘Festiva Maxima’ peonies was my first garden success. Waaay back, thirty years ago when […]

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Spring, season of fragrant trees and shrubs

Next time you walk down the street in May and wonder, “What’s that wonderful smell?” look up. It might be coming from above, and flowering trees and shrubs. These are just three. One of the underestimated smelly (in the best way) shrubs is the Viburnum – not all with fragrance, but some that make you want only […]

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Coreopsis makes its own sunshine

Yesterday’s frigid winds had me dreaming of summer – and sunshine. And reminded me that America’s National Garden Bureau (wish Canada had a similar organization) has the perfect “Plant of the Year” for a day like that. Coreopsis or tickseed. Sunshine on a stick! As usual, here am I, the shady gardener, yearning for plants I […]

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How to (not) kill a houseplant

Beware! This is a picture of a crime scene. It’s a dumb cane plant (Dieffenbachia), being killed slowly by a combination of too much neglect and too much “love.” How can that be, you ask? Look at the tell-tale signs. Naked stems The first clue is that “palm tree” effect that happens when lower leaves die off […]

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Love-in-a-mist is one cool, hardy annual

So you’re desperate to get out and do something in the garden? In our Canadian Zone 6 (USDA Zone 5), you’ll be happy to learn some annual seeds are okay to scatter right now. Some may have already scattered themselves last fall – and early spring is a second chance to do it yourself. Provided you’ve picked the right spot, […]

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Snowdrop alert 2018

Sarah wins the Snowdrop Sweepstakes this year [Ed: At least, on our street.]. Her prize is the chance to crow over these adorables sticking their tongues out at winter. And at her sister, because my 250 newly planted Galanthus and the 50 or so already in my garden are way behind. On the other hand, when […]

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Remember to grow some edible flowers

Have you ever eaten a begonia? I hadn’t even thought about eating one until a tour with the National Garden Bureau introduced me to a Pink Lady garnished with one, courtesy of plant breeder Benary. It was the flower of one of their BIG series (Begonia x benariensis) and its lemony flavour was a complement to […]

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So, where can you find exotic vegetable seed?

If you’ve read our review of two books on growing not-the-usual vegetables, you might be curious about where to find the seeds to grow them. By coincidence, a couple of leads fell into my hands last month, and sent me into a digging expedition for more.  Like the cute little mouse melon above? Read on to find seeds. […]

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Should have forced some paperwhites

While waiting for a meeting to begin at the Toronto Botanical Garden this week, something clucked at me for not doing something last fall. No, not a chicken. It was a pot of paperwhite Narcissus. Forcing bulbs is so easy. Yet fall can be so busy that even easy things can be neglected. Not this fall, I hope. Perhaps if I […]

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Native plants and the colour purple

When Pantone named Ultra Violet its “Color of the Year” 2018, native plants were way ahead of them. Pollinating bees and butterflies love the colour purple – because that’s how butterflies’ and bees’ eyes are made. So it’s unsurprising that many native plants can be found at this end of the spectrum. It’s especially true for fall plants striving […]

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