What’s wrong with my ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea?

Last year around this time (late April or early May) I noticed something strange about the leaves on shoots of my old, reliable ‘Annabelle’ hydrangeas. They looked glued together into a puffy, leaf-shaped balloon. What was wrong? In fact, they were “glued” or rather tightly stitched together at the edges. Turns out the culprit was the larva of […]

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It’s a rainy spring day, and I’m expecting

Today’s rain has been pretty relentless. But, no matter how it buckets down, I just can’t stop myself from going out, staring at the garden… and expecting things. Expecting the reappearance of a plant planted last fall. Is that it? That? No, just another Norway maple seedling. Drat. Expecting those colour-coordinated tulips I added in 2016 […]

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Double bloodroot blows me away

Every spring, a small, white, puffy flower explodes on the shady north side of my garden – and every year, it’s pure excitement, all over again. It never fails, and it never fails me. In fact, this double version of the native Sanguinaria canadensis has multiplied constantly, ever since it came as a gift from Cold […]

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An Icky Honeydew You Don’t Want

For the last few months I’ve been battling scale on an large indoor-wintering abutilon, or Flowering Maple. I’d been occasionally picking the scale off by hand, or with a microfiber cloth, (which works quite well) and I was (sort of) keeping them at bay. I’m a pretty experienced scale squisher, and I thought I had […]

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How I don’t spring-clean the garden

At last! Sunday gave us a day that was springy enough to let us work outside. An afternoon of liberating my pent-up gardener accomplished a lot. But. No matter how eager I was, here are three things I didn’t do to clean up the garden. I didn’t get carried away April 2 in Toronto is a touch early for any drastic garden task […]

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The long, lovely season of Helleborus

Hellebores (Helleborus spp) are fabulous, long-blooming spring flowers for a dry-shade garden like mine. Although I’m hoping to incorporate more native plants in my garden, this gorgeous Eurasian will likely stay – not only for its months-long show of flowers, but as an early-spring pollen and nectar source for pollinators. In fact, an interesting tidbit […]

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Another use for Luffa (or loofah)

This desiccated winter planter turned my head near George Brown College a few weeks ago. Not for its artistry, but for the realization: Hey, those red “pine cones” are loofahs! Loofahs! Not sea creatures, but the fibrous cores of mature gourds such as Luffa aegyptiaca – all in the cucumber or squash family. We associate loofahs with sponges because they hang […]

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A viral tour of Canada Blooms 2017

There’s never a good time for a bad cold. But when it’s Canada Blooms, and you have a whole bunch of volunteer stuff to do, garden writer events to attend, plus pictures to take and thoughtful* posts to write? Well, ah-chooey! For better or, more likely, worse, here’s my viral or virusy view of this year. (*Doing […]

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White spots on your pine needles? Uh oh.

If you see white dots like these on pine needles, you might mistake them for something the tree produces itself, like pine gum. I did at first, too. But nope. Dots that look like small splashes of white paint or resin on the needles are the winter homes of an insect pest called pine needle scale (Chionaspis pinifoliae). These critters […]

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As if it knew, ‘Moonlight’ amaryllis bloomed

A while back, I bought a bare amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulb from the Toronto Botanical Garden shop. Did I plant it right away? No. Silly me. I procrastinated and I procrastinated. So, while all my gardening friends were posting images of their gorgeous amaryllis(eseses) on Facebook, mine sat sideways on (not in) the pot it was supposed to […]

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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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