What’s growing August & September: Rudbeckia

What great flowers for late summer and early fall the Rudbeckias are. They’re like sunshine on a stick! This lowly little Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is one of the earlier ones. Right now, the city is alight with constellations of Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ which, in 1999, was rightly chosen by the Perennial Plant Association as its […]

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Lessons from English gardens 3

What a simple idea for preventing your monkshood from toppling: large open baskets composed of twigs and string. Rather than the unsightly stake, or the rigid rings, create something organic that almost disappears in the foliage. This one works, regardless of your continent or zone. It’s a keeper.

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Lessons from English gardens 2

Colour! Colour combinations transcend borders. This one came from the to-die-for garden of our first cousin (once removed) Jill. Jill lives in a to-die-for rectory in an equally death-provoking, picture-perfect village in the rolling Welsh countryside. Sheep graze across the dry-stone wall and country brook and lavender springs up at will in charmingly grouped clumps […]

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Lessons from English Gardens 1

Sarah and I recently returned from a trip to the U.K., each with a child in tow. Many gardens were on our list of things to see. Unfortunately, while the kids, despite being 14 and 15, were fairly cooperative, our eyes were definitely bigger than our timetable. With great sadness, we had to cross Stourhead and […]

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Cracks in the sidewalk

Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) is a favourite of mine. Under the right conditions, they can be light and ethereal, with starry flowers that live up to their name – like white, pink, mauve and cerise constellations. Rotten things. “Right conditions” means that they grow better in sidewalk cracks than they do in my garden. When too […]

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The month of the triffids

Go away for three weeks in July, and what usually happens? A sudden onset of Gobi Desert. Go away for three weeks in July 2008, during which, the stats tell me, there was 171% more rainfall and 5% more sunshine than normal, and return to a world gone wild. The water-loving hydrangeas are weighted down […]

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Life will intrude (and other excuses)

Drat this vacation. The maniacal rush to get things done before taking a break is screwing up my garden. Next spring, I’ll probably regret not having deadheaded those tarda tulips. Hopefully, all their energies didn’t go into making seed. Just popped out now and sprinkled the seeds over some new ground. Don’t know if this […]

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What’s growing in June & July: Roses!

There’s something about Toronto and roses. Even the most unassuming front porch can often have an amazing display of climbing roses in June. I once took a course on perennials at the then-Civic Garden Centre (now, Toronto Botanical Garden). It was taught by Keith Squires, of Country Squires Garden in Milton (worth a visit for […]

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What’s growing in May & June: Peonies!

Really, it’s a little late in the month to be talking about peonies. But Sarah brought me a big bunch from her country place, which is a week or so behind the city. And so, of course, I thought: Peonies!! I’m talking herbaceous peonies here, not the glorious tree peonies that are becoming more readily […]

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On ruthlessness, or lack thereof

Dame’s rocket or Hesperis. The bees still love them. They still smell lovely in the evening. They’re still making flowers. And, this afternoon before the big rain, I even saw an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly swooping down for a sip. But they’re taking over. Despite, or perhaps because of, the perpetual flower-making machine at the […]

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What’s growing in June: Digitalis

By dint of name alone, foxgloves are like fairy flowers. If foxes wore gloves, they might look a bit like these. The bell-shaped flowers remind me of the kind of thing I might have seen fairies wearing for hats — along with the fuzzy caps of poppies – in the British children’s books I grew […]

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