Using black and brown in a garden

Sometimes, I feel bad about filtering the experience of being in a garden through a camera lens. Am I like one of those people who walk around seeing the whole world through the screen of their iPads? But the magic of photography can turn a frantic, 45-minute garden visit into hours of contemplation at home – letting me zoom in, identify hidden treasures, and […]

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‘Green Spice’ is a fabulous Heuchera

A shade gardener who values foliage design, someone like me, needs a healthy appreciation for the huge coralbells family (Heuchera). Hybridizers have created a ridiculously wide array of choices in coralbell leaf shape, colour, patterning, and size. Some have even put the “coral” back in the coralbell flowers. When you add crosses with Heuchera cousin Tiarella you get many more […]

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Lessons from the Danger Garden

Since my earliest days with the long-lost, late-lamented Blotanical, I’ve been a reader of Loree Bohl’s The Danger Garden. With a focus on her passion for spiky plants, Loree has been a regular and prolific blogger since 2009. Get to know her through this interview. Now the growing conditions in Portland (USDA Z8) and Toronto (USDA Z5/Canadian Z6) […]

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Persian shield, not just for containers

Isn’t this a wonderful combination? Usually, you see the metallic purple patterned leaves of Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus) accenting a container. It can also be grown as a houseplant. This time, I found it used as a bedding plant in a public garden in Stratford, Ontario. Loved it! It apparently propagates easily from cuttings. So I […]

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Pros and cons of fragrant sumac

While camping at The Pinery provincial park a few years ago, I took the green picture below, curious about the shrub. It had “leaves of three,” similar to poison ivy (formerly known as Rhus radicans, now Toxicodendron radicans syn. T. rydbergii) But those berries, if that’s what they were! Fuzzy, kind of like a staghorn sumac (Rhus typina). Turns out […]

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St. Augustine grass for containers

Ever experience a strange coincidence? Like mine, years ago, when backpacking around Europe, I met two Australian girls who gave me that old line: Oh, you’re from Canada? We know someone from Canada. Uh huh, I thought, sure you do. Then they named my ex-boyfriend. This week I read that, statistically, coincidences like this aren’t really […]

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The secret life of red maple trees

Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name? Of course, I was talking to this beautiful tree in its red cloak, spotted in an East York garden not far from home. Every step slowed as I walked towards it and looked way up. Was it a Freeman maple (Acer x fremanii)? More and more are appearing along Toronto’s […]

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My ‘Wasabi’ coleus did a little too well

Take a look at that bright green or chartreuse shrub in my front garden above. It isn’t a shrub. It was (once) a single pot of ‘Wasabi’ coleus that I bought from Plant World this spring for my large container. A ‘Wasabi’ intent on taking over the world. Now, ‘Wasabi’ is an amazingly tough and beautiful […]

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Creating a focal point at Hearts + Ivy

The small studio garden of Hearts + Ivy designer Donna Hamilton is like a jewelbox, sparkling with gems. With colour everywhere, everywhere, you feel like a bee, wanting to flit from flower to flower to flower to flower. This got me thinking about focus. I don’t usually post people pictures from garden tours, but this one makes […]

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Hakone grass: Fall in love with foliage

For amping up your foliage design palette, there’s nothing quite like the flowing texture of Hakone or Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra). The cultivar with the gold and green stripes above is likely H. ‘Aureola’) First, my confession. For me, Hakone grass is a case of I can’t always – maybe ever – get what […]

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