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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Time-tested tools for gardeners

A while back, I lost it. I mean, really lost it. My garden tool bag, that is. Worse, it held all my best-of-the-best tools, collected over a gardening lifetime. You’d better believe that taught me a thing or few. Like: not to get distracted by a phone call when loading stuff into a car not to lean my tool […]

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12 things to like about 2016

By many measures, 2016 was one of the most deplorable of annus horribilis-es. The Grim Reaper was unusually busy, and some things did not turn out as hoped. But let’s try to bright-side it. A look back: January One thing to like, every year, is Toronto’s skirt hem along the great freshwater sea that is Lake Ontario. A […]

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TBG Holiday Market and Open House 2016

Toronto Botanical Garden’s Annual Holiday Open House will be a little different this year. It happens tomorrow, Dec. 1st, 2016, from 2 pm to 8 pm, with a parallel members-only event starting at 6:30 pm. I’ll be there, accompanied by our N.O.D. (Number One Dot), and with bells on. The difference will be the extended […]

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Up close and personal with pollen

An almost-wordless Wednesday post from my photo archives – in the days when I could shoot these things freehand, simply by breathing out and holding my breath. My hands aren’t quite as steady without a tripod today. Blame the heavy lens. No idea what the bee species is, but it was really getting into the […]

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A short, quirky floral tour of Taiwan

When I first visited Taiwan five years ago, I had no idea it would be the first Asian country I would come to know – and, after four more trips,  come to love, too. Here are a few floral impressions from my introduction to the country. Though it was a business trip, as always my antennae were up for […]

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