Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Holidays to You

Here's wishing all my blogging garden friends near and far a wonderful, happy holiday season. I have so much fun visiting your gardens online and am so happy to have you visit mine. Here's to a fabulous 2008 both in the garden and on the web. Merry Christmas to you and yours. And may your thumbs always be green.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Winter Garden

It drizzled snow for much of the day. The result in the garden was quite magical. After a couple of trying days at work, all my stress melted away with one look at the garden. Everything looked so pretty I rushed to get my camera and capture the moment. Funny how a fresh layer of snow transforms the dull grays of winter into something quite beautiful. I have always believed that winter would be okay as long as every day got a fresh dusting of snow. Even deepest, darkest February looks pretty great after a storm. Here's the view of the backyard urn display.

All these years I've been cutting away the faded blooms of the astilbe. What was I thinking? They look quite stunning covered in snow. I also love the golden brown of the leaves. They have a warm and fuzzy quality about them despite the snow.

This shot of the Rose of Sharon reminds me of why I love it so much. It's got great form. I love the way it branches out into a nice round shape. The large seed pods covered in snow just add to the impact. It's a good thing this shrub looks as good as it does without leaves. It takes forever to leaf out in spring. It takes so long, it's enough to make me doubt it will ever bloom again. But good, old reliable always does. It's worth the wait for its showy summer blooms. The winter interest is an added bonus.

And finally, the calamint. I really cannot say enough about this plant. It was a tiny little thing when I purchased it. It grew like crazy all summer long, all the while maintaining its pleasing, compact form. It's the pruning-free plant! The fragrance is astounding. Even the slightest brush of the plant sends its sweet aroma into the air. Even the construction workers who did a number on my garden during work at the neighbours went sniffing around in search of something that "smells so good." And now (surprise, surprise) the calamint looks stunning and is holding its own under the weight of the snow. I am tempted to plant an nice long calamint hedge in the spring. Ah, spring...more than three months away. Until then there's plenty to enjoy in the winter garden.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

For Those With a Prickly Disposition

Hot Pink is the colour of the holiday season as far at this Christmas Cactus is concerned. This one grows on a west-facing windowsill where it gets lots of light all day. In the evenings it basks in the glow of flourescent kitchen lighting. It also gets the occasional blast of cold. The kitchen sliding doors open and close at least half a dozen times a day to allow the cat in and out. The Christmas Cactus approves.

The colour of the bloom is simply outrageous. Paired with a pot that is coincidentally a perfect colour match, the Christmas Cactus is an attention grabber. It has a flamboyant and proud quality about it. "Look at me," it says. The Christmas cactus is an easy plant to grow. Its holiday season display is sure to please even those with the prickliest of dispositions.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

'Tis the Season...

...for homemade leaf mulch. When Environment Canada predicted the country was in store for its coldest winter in 15 years, I decided my plants could use a little extra seasonal warmth. Every autumn I send bags and bags and more bags of fallen leaves from my neighbour's front yard merrily on their way to city compost facilities. This year was different. Instead of bagging all the leaves I piled some high and then used my push mower to chop them up (the right side of the photo is pre-mower, the left side is post).

Much like the raking of leaves, I found the mowing of the leaves strangely exhilirating. With every slice of the turning blades I became more and more convinced that this exercise was a recipe for garden success. I envisioned my garden safe and warm tucked under its blanket of shredded leaves. I imagined the brutal winter cracking and crumbling the leaves into dust. I dreamed of the coming spring when the thaw would leach life giving nourishment from the garden's protective layer.

The mulch went a lot further than I imagined and, due to poor planning on my part, not far enough. The entire bed on the north side of the garden got a layer of about 3-4cm deep. I had to be more selective on the south side because I ran out. I kicked myself for not starting the mulching project two weeks earlier. All those leaves shipped off to compost facilities would have come in very handy.

I did have enough to protect the one plant I fell in love with this season. It's also the one plant I can't wait to see again and have the highest hopes for next year: Japanese "All Gold" Forest Grass or hakenochloa. I'm not sure that this is a plant that has the ability to survive a Canadian winter, let alone the coldest Canadian winter in 15 years. But all tucked in in under its blanket of homemade mulch, maybe, just maybe, it stands a chance.