How to over-winter gladiolus

This month, I’ve learned you can’t do everything. Setting priorities means doing what counts most (such as saving the Gladiolus corms that have given me such pleasure), and setting the rest aside (such as NaBloPoMo 2017). Before the unseasonal cold snap this month, I dug up the corms above. What’s a corm? It’s the thickened […]

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The reason I planted 250 snowdrops

October and November have been so busy, I had to go back to look at my spring pictures to see aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall those bulbs in bloom. Just to remind myself that it’s worthwhile planting bulbs now, despite the fact that the weather is getting grim and life is unusually hectic. In spring, when my appetite was biggest, […]

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Amelanchier foliage glows red for fall

While planting the first 300 of my far-too-many bulbs today, I felt I’d earned the right to pause for a moment and admire the red fall foliage on my serviceberry (Amelanchier). The sun had scooted under the clouds and was making the leaves just glow. Amazing. This year’s glow seems stronger than last year’s. However, when […]

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Pachypodium, the monster on my windowsill

My reputation as Helen the Houseplant Killer might be at risk. I keep discovering plants that resist my planticidal tendencies. Like the one above, which arrived as a gift from our son three years ago. It still lives! Not only that, if it lives longer, it might qualify as a killer itself, or at least as a […]

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Do your grasses have catchew disease?

You might want to categorize this under “pets and diseases.” That first word isn’t a typo. Some disfiguring plant problems have nothing to do with bugs or fungi. Some “pests” are considerably larger. For example, if your lovely Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’) is supposed to look like this. And, instead, it looks like […]

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Getting ready for the big chill

Today’s cold snap reminds us. Winter is coming! The first frost for Toronto statistically falls around October 29th. But when overnight temps dip into the low single digits, like now, we know that anything could happen. So today, in honour of Cathy’s In a Vase on Monday (IAVOM) over on Rambling in the Garden, I took pity on some […]

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Knotweed: The naughty and the not

To be honest, most knotweeds are at least a little naughty. They can spreaaaaaaad. That might be a good trait in a ground cover. But some, notably the invasive and hard to eradicate Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica, syn. Fallopia japonica, syn. Polygonum cuspidatum), are very, very naughty indeed. This PDF from the Ontario Invasive Plant Council explains. Others, like our covergirl, Persicaria amplexicaulis […]

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My volunteer tomato adventure

After the Tomato Heartbreak of 2016 (*more on that in a moment), I vowed there’d be no more than one tomato plant in my garden. Certainly no tomatoes planted in my big garden trough. Despite last year being one of the best years in memory for tomatoes and despite me darting out, waving arms and shouting, […]

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Zinnia, the gift that gives and gives

Heaven knows why I resisted growing Zinnia for so long. I think I assumed my garden was too shady, or that I didn’t have enough room. This year, I had a packet of red-and-white ‘Canada Day’ zinnia seed mix from Renee’s Garden. When it was fairly late, the first week of July, I thought, what […]

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The evil that is painted plants

Ireland has beautiful gardens, and I’ll soon be writing about them. But you won’t see these spray-painted heathers in any of them. Pictured at the Irish big-box store Woodie’s in Dundalk, County Louth, they prove that even countries with beautiful gardens can commit serious “crimes against nature.” They put the “vulgar” in Calluna vulgaris. Online snooping reveals that this crime has […]

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Yarrow

Pink yarrow in the garden of Barbara Katz, #GBFling2017 on the TorontoGardens.com blog

Yarrow or Achillea millefolium is a reliable but kinda plain-Jane flower that’s easy to take for granted. That is, until you notice it used skillfully – as I did in the garden of U.S. landscape designer Barbara Katz on the 2017 Garden Bloggers Fling. Wow, I thought, looking at the vignette above, Great colour echo between the Echinacea and coleus. And, oh. […]

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2017 was a great year for Hydrangeas

In 2017, we’ve had rain, we’ve had rain, we’ve had more rain. It’s raining now! My annuals are slow to bloom, probably due to lack of sunshine. But one thing for sure seems to be doing well around Toronto. Hydrangeas! The smooth hydrangea or Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ in my dry-shade front garden (above) is mammoth! Lots of rain and […]

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