Thursday, July 31, 2008


I have Cosmos in the garden for the first time this year. What a pretty bloom. It's the perfect fairy flower, planted for a special little girl who turns five today! Happy birthday my little munchkin.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bring on the All-Stars!

The garden is looking great right now. That's because the garden all-stars are in bloom.

Geranium "Rozanne" narrowly escaped the compost heap last year. It didn't look like much for most of the summer season but this year it's a massive mound of blooms.

Another view of "Rozanne." Her remarkable comeback earns this geranium a spot on the all-star list.

The astilbe have been all-stars from the day they were planted, bringing colour to a semi-shady section of the garden. I'm glad I snapped this photo. The blooms were all flattened today in a massive rainstorm.

Liatris fulfill my need for tall, spikey, purplish plants. In fact, tall, spikey and purplish automatically puts a plant in the running for all-star status.

The globe thistle looks great even before it is in full bloom. I think if you stare at this photo long enough, you might have a psychedelic experience.

The globe thistle provides the backdrop for the all-star of all the all-stars: the purple coneflower. What an extraordinary flower. I can't get enough and if I had the space, I would plant a whole field of them. What a sight that would be. Until I get my field, I'll just enjoy my all-stars doing what they do best.

Friday, July 18, 2008

First Cherry Tomato

It was four months ago that I embarked on My Great Canadian Tomato Experiment. The journey was inspired by Seeds of Diversity which was encouraging Canadians to grow Canadian tomatoes. During a visit to Seedy Saturday in March I picked up a packet of Petitebec seeds and set forth with great determination to grown my own tomatoes. I never thought I would get this far (ie. fruit on the vine, ready to be picked.) After months of nurturing and several transplants, I had succeeded in growing thirteen very respectable plants. I gave five away to friends and family. I planted eight in my own garden but lost one. My seven remaining plants are doing great and promising a bountiful summer for the cherry tomato.

Tonight, I plucked the first tomato from the vine. It looked great: just the perfect shade of red. It smelled great: just like a tomato should. It felt great: plump but firm. I would love to tell you what it tasted like but I didn't get a taste. That honour went to my five-year-old who signalled her taste-test approval with a thumbs up (it's hard to speak with a mouth full of juicy tomato). I could get my first taste as early as tomorrow. This is the only tomato I am growing this year (I am a cherry tomato fanatic). I will try to save some seed and grow it again next year. After such great success, though, Petitebec may have to share some garden space with a few new varieties of tomato that I'll try to grow from seed.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Where Did You Come From?

Gardens are always good for at least a few surprises every season. Flowers that change colour. Volunteer plants that pop up in unusual places. Bulbs that have been relocated by the squirrels. My garden had offered up no surprises this year...until today. And what a surprise it was. I had never seen anything like it. Where could these beautiful blooms have come from?

I pushed aside some sage and there it was: a hen and chick. Actually, just the hen. No chicks. I planted this particular sempervivum in a container last summer only to have it ravaged by the aforementioned bulb-relocating squirrels. Having given up on the container arrangement, I found I couldn't give up on this plant. I transplanted it into the garden where the squirrels continued to bat it about. As the season ended, I knew I should bring it in for the winter. After all it had taken so much abuse already. I never got around to it. I assumed the hen and chicks was a goner. I was wrong. It survived and, as if to spite me, it is blooming beautifully. I'm not a huge fan of succulents, but this one won me over with its spunk.

Sadly, the determination demonstrated by this plant may be all for nought. I have read on the internet that a hen and chick will die after blooming. It takes so much energy to produce the long stalk and blooms that the plant is simply spent. Like I said, there is only a hen. No chicks. So if this plant dies, that's it. No one left to carry on. In just one afternoon I went from feeling the excitement of discovering a new bloom to the disappointment of knowing this plant might not be around for much longer. The only thing to do is wait and see and enjoy the stunning blooms in the meantime. If I'm lucky, this spunky succulent will prove the internet information wrong and surprise me yet again.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Edibles in the Garden

I have always been a casual vegetable gardener. A tomato or two planted in among the perennials. A planting of potatoes about a decade ago just for fun. I planted strawberries for years before conceding defeat to the squirrels. This year I decided it was time to get serious about growing my own food. So I put in two raised vegetable beds this spring. The results have been most satisfying so far. Just this morning I harvested a small crop of green bush beans. By tomorrow there will be enough beans to make a small salad: steamed green beans with diced onion, tossed with some oil and vinegar with just a pinch of salt. This is a favourite dish so it's good that I planted a lot of beans. The Scarlett Runner beans will add to the crop. They have just started to bloom. I'm excited about the beans, but more excited about the hummingbirds this plant may attract to my otherwise devoid-of-hummingbirds backyard.

The snow peas were outstanding performers. They yielded enough for two delicious stir-fry dinners-for-two. Actually, they yielded far more than that but I couldn't resist eating the peas right off the vine. So crispy and so crunchy. I can only describe the peas as fun. They look cool as they climb their trellises, their blossoms are super-cute, they grow unbelievably fast and picking and eating them right off the vine is incredibly satisfying. I plan to plant another round of seeds toward the end of summer for a late season harvest. Some garden websites suggest a mid-August start. Sounds good to me but I'll hold off a week or two longer if it's still especially hot around here.

The radish crop was done a long time ago. It's hard to believe the start of the growing season seems so far in the past. The radishes were easy to grow and more than abundant. I wish there was more one could do with radishes, especially because they are so plentiful. Aside from adding them to salads or popping one into your mouth for a quick snack, there's not much out there recipes-wise when it comes to radishes. Nevertheless, I will try for a late season crop of radishes too. I did find a recipe for Radish-Top Soup which uses the radish greens. It may be worth a try as the days start to cool down and the warm comfort of soup is welcome on the dinner menu once again.

It's not all about great successes in the garden. There have been some hard lessons learned but this requires me to gloat about yet another of the great successes. When the carrot seeds went in I had very little hope of producing anything edible. I was under the impression that carrots were tough to grow, especially if your soil wasn't just right. Well my carrots have been thriving. So much so that they have completely shaded two rows of green onions that are struggling to hang on. The onions are smaller than I would have expected by this time and I blame the carrots. Fortunately the row of leeks appears unaffected by the robust carrots. I will definitely re-arrange the planting scheme next time around to factor in heights and shading. If the carrots continue on this path to harvest success, I plan to double the crop next year: four rows instead of two.

There's so much more still to come from the veggie patch, or potager as I like to call it. There are dozens of green cherry tomatoes on the vine waiting to ripen. The zucchini have just bloomed. The brussel sprouts won't be ready for months yet. I understand they taste best if allowed to stay on the plant through a frost. I have no way of knowing how the potatoes are doing but their green tops look healthy. The parsley is a little small but will soon be ripe for picking. And the broccoli seems a bit slow but I'm determined to see it through. When I first put in the raised beds, I worried that they were too big. Now I realize they are too small. Next year's challenge will be to more efficiently use the space available and maximize the number and variety of edibles in the garden.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Some Fanfare Please...

Last week, it was with great excitement that I pranced around the backyard with delight when the first "Ernest Markham" clematis bloom burst onto the scene. Actually, "burst" is too strong a word (that's my enthusiasm coming through). It's more like the clematis quietly announced its arrival. "Look at me," it said with a wink. "I know you have been waiting." Indeed I have. Not just in the few weeks since I planted it, but for years and years.

I can't remember when I first saw a clematis, I just know that I have always wanted one. A clematis in full bloom was a sure sign that a serious gardener lurked somewhere behind the garden gate or down the flagstone path. Having always thought of myself as simply an amateur greenthumb, growing clematis (much like growing roses) seemed to be a lofty ambition. There was one other big factor: the perfect spot for the clematis was right up against a rickety, old fence that had threatened some form of collapse on a daily basis for nearly a decade. I couldn't possibly grow a beautiful clematis up that fence. Well, my green thumb has gotten a little greener and there is finally a new fence in the yard. So in went the clematis.

Now just a week after its first bloom, Little Ernie (I think I'll call this clematis Little Ernie) is bursting, yes bursting, with blooms. It has been well worth the wait. Some fanfare really is in order. There is one small problem, however. Little Ernie looks a little lonely don't you think? Now that I'm the serious gardener behind the garden gate, it seems only fair that I find Little Early some playmates. With the spectacular spectacle clematis has to offer, it won't be long before I'm cueing the trumpets yet again.

Silly Seedheads

Earlier this spring I planted some Dwarf Windflowers (anemone multifida rubra). Their delicate red blooms caught my eye. They were perfect for what was slowly evolving into my five-year old's secret garden (designed specifically to attract fairies.) Now that the plants have gone to seed, the windflowers seem even better suited to a children's garden. They look downright silly. I did a double take a few days ago when I first saw a strange puffy, white substance in a semi-shady section of the garden. Then I laughed when I realized it was the seeds in all their fuzzy glory. Honestly, they made me think of Albert Einstein. I had the urge to get some of those kids' craft googly eyes and stick them on the plant. If the seed heads are any indication, there will be plenty of windflowers next spring and by July I'll have an army of Einsteins standing tall in the secret garden.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

There are all sorts of firsts in the blogosphere: first post, first comment, first anniversary. I have to thank the tenacious Gardenista at Northern Exposure Gardening for another first here at My Roots Run Deep. I've been tagged! If the hands don't give it away, here's something very obvious about me: I LOVE to garden. But today's tag is about the not so obvious.

But first, let's get the guidelines out of the way:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on the blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

So here goes: six random facts about me.

1. I have only ever lived at three addresses, all within a five minute walk of each other. In fact, I live on the street I grew up on. My preference for my west-Toronto neighbourhood is in part the inspiration for the name of my blog. My husband always jokes about how deep my roots really run.

2. When mystery writer Elizabeth George comes out with a new novel, I put everything on hold. The laundry languishes, the phone goes unanswered, the family is left to fend for themselves for dinner. Even a trip to the garden centre can wait. She's that good. I have read everything she has written and am amazed that she keeps getting better and better and better. And I don't even like mysteries!

3. I saw Martin Scorsese's "Mean Streets" in high school. The film, featuring a young Robert DeNiro and Harvey Keitel, blew me away. There was a raw energy to it that I had never seen before. It was back in the days of the VHS tape so when I finished watching the film, I hit rewind and watched it again. I still consider it my favourite film of all-time. (Note to Gardenista: "Hot Fuzz" is a great film, the best time I had at the movies in a long-time.)

4. I always wear my hair short. If it's longer than a buzz cut, it's too long for me.

5. I'm addicted to Coca-Cola. I could live on Coke and Coke alone. I deal with my Coke obsession by going cold-turkey. I once went a whole year without a taste. Now, I try to keep my habit to a can a week.

6. I love Halloween. If it were up to me, the whole country would get a week off to decorate and celebrate and fling ridiculous amounts of candy to waiting children. It is just too much fun! Last year I was Moses but was mistaken for Santa Claus and Dumbledore from the Harry Potter films. I guess the costume alone wasn't enough. I need to work on developing the character.

Now it's my turn to tag:

1. Connie at Notes from a Cottage Garden. Connie always has an encouraging word and her beautiful garden is an inspiration.

2. Gisela at Guildwood Gardens. Gisela's garden and wildlife photos are so beautiful I find it hard to believe we live in the same city.

3. Jeremy at Paradise in Progress. The man with a garden blueprint one day, and a beautiful garden the next.

4. Garden Lily at Flowers and Weeds. Garden Lily's espaliered fruit trees are simply divine.

5. Violet at Lady Greenthumb's Garden. I just started reading Violet's blog. Her flowers are beautiful. Her garden crew of cats and dogs is delightful. And we can commiserate over Croatia's performance in the Euro Cup.

6. And finally, The Wicked Gardener This Florida gardener cracks me up. Just check out the anniversary photo on her blog. Married on Halloween! That's what I'm talking about! Oh, and her garden rocks too.

So tag. You're it. Thanks again to Gardenista for inspiring some fun.