Thursday, March 26, 2015

Last Year's Best Gardens - Kew Gardens

It's impossibly grey today - rain and snow.  It's that time of year when I'm holding onto the hope of spring and flowers with my fingernails.  So what better time to show you some photos of my and my Aunt Carolyn's trip to England last year.  The focus was gardens.  This, our second day was a 3 hour visit to Kew.  Believe me I could have spent all week there - so many plants - and so little time. Anyway, Aunt Carolyn and I did the speed-walk tour of as much as we could, and saw so many lovely things.

Like this, yet another of the Queen's houses - Kew Palace.

Aunt Carolyn and the Laburnum - I know there are those folks who can't abide by chartreuse....

but when you look up to the sky and see this - how absolutely beautiful.

Some golden coloured Heuchera 'Caramel'.    I don't know about you, but I find this an odd colour to find in the shade.

The perfect walled vegetable and fruit garden by the palace:

No, not my knees, but pretty close, Eucalyptus 'Spinning Gum':

Prancing on the petals at the Arboretum:

Such a pretty rhodo 'John Coutts':

I wish I had space to do this with Primula:

Cornus alternifolia variegata - one of the many things I wish I could grow in my garden.  Actually I can and I did, but it looked like the stunted sad troll version.

Pinks in purple, red, violet, vermillion, white and a dozen other colours.  Old fashioned and so pretty - more people should enjoy this great plant in their gardens.

The Kew arid landscape:

One of the many delightful workers who were only to happy to say hello.  Kevin was tasked with the responsibility of doing the shade-garden fix-up.  Most of these early bloomers would have finished with their big show.

One of the things they really don't concern themselves with at Kew is signage - oh, there is some, just not everywhere, after all, only foolish Canadians would be seeing the place on a 3-hour drop, run and go tour.   Aunt Carolyn and I were not lost - we knew we were in Kew Gardens, but had no idea how to get to the bus at this point.

It is a fine place to wander.  The Queen must enjoy her walks here.

Lupins are such wonderful plants.  Unfortunately they can be short-lived in this part of Ontario.

Now, if you didn't care for the chartreuse, how about these scented pastels?

This is one of the few plants that does equally well in London as it does in Oakville - enormous Allium really are a marvel aren't they:

I've got to move onto my next project:  it's finishing up taxes (yes, hand in the blender time!) and onto my newsletter prep - will be sure to take breaks and share more of our trip to England with you in the weeks ahead.  

Until then.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Paddy's Day

No big shebang this year for St. Paddy's Day - but had to make sure that Bart recognized the occasion.

And I'm sorry to say that the cold of February seems to have destroyed the buds of the Hamamelis - this is the only bit of blossom I could find - look at this compared with last year.

I've never seen bud damage before on this shrub - but I'm thinking they look stunted and unwilling to perform.  It usually is in its glory around the 17th of March - party guests know it's time to stop drinking when they think (they actually do see) they see flowers in bloom in the garden with snow on the ground.

Anyway, it will be a quiet evening with potatoes on the menu.  Reminder to self to hide Kevin's accordion.....

Hope you have a wonderful St. Patrick's day & may the luck of the Irish be with you all year long!


p.s.  I've put together a short video of my impressions of Canada Blooms - let me know what you think.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Could this really be the start of spring?

I just received a Plant Haven email about their latest Royal Hawaiian Colocasia.  Nothing says warmth more than a tropical with Hawaiian in its name.  I'll keep my eyes open at Canada Blooms (starting this Friday) to see if I might purchase either a plant or tuber.  The 'glamour shots' look quite lovely.

Finally got my seed orders in and have received - 3 oz of Double Shirley Poppies for Kevin's clients that I re-package with a branded label. There are 260,000 seeds per oz so, I'm going to have hours of fun getting them into the wee envelopes pretending that I'm a drug dealer.

For my garden I've ordered from Gardens North and Stokes:

So not as many as usual because my garden will have to be redone after the tree removal.  But a few interesting things that have good leaves.  Two different types of Heuchera - they do really well in dry shade.  I'd grown 'Dales Strain' years ago, and am doing it again - looking at simplifying things - more of one variety - and more varieties that take less fussing over.  You can see the Stokes order better if you click on it.  If it works out well, I should have lots of little daisy faces smiling up at me with the Cosmos, Coreopsis and Matricaria.  I'll be placing my vegetable order with Renee's shortly - I've always had great success with her seed - good germination and taste.  Plus I like the fact that she mixes up several varieties in one package - so for someone like me with a smallish veggie garden, I can try more.

This past Sunday, Kevin, Bart and I took our winter pilgrimage down to Niagara Falls to check out the ice bridge.  You can get a bit of an idea of the traffic.  There was a steady stream of income for the local police - there's no stopping/parking on this road, so the cops spent their afternoon handing out a substantially higher price than the $15Cdn to park for as long as you like.

Kevin's buddy Lorne gave him the hat and asked me to take his picture for him.  Kevin is a Habs fan.

I was disappointed when it was so cloudy, but as we waited and watched....slowly the clouds moved away and the sun came out.  On the right are the American Falls - can you believe all the ice in front of them?

Does that ice form look like an elephant to you too?

A little closer:

I could have stayed all day - as the light changed, everything about the Falls looked different:

Can you imagine being there when these bits start to break up?

So cold, and yet so beautiful:

Back to the top of the Canadian Falls:

Back at home, we were able to resume our morning walk to the Lake. The sidewalks were clear. Look who we found bonking his head on a hydro pole:

Lake Ontario did not freeze over - but you're looking at ice here that is about 1.5 meters thick close to shore:

And one last thing.  I'm taking another Coursera MOOC 'Ignite Your Everyday Creativity' through the State University of New York/Buffalo.  First assignment was to decorate a fork, glass or lightbulb.  After a good clean-out this January, the last thing I wanted around was a craft item so I decided to make a glass out of ice - here's my video (skills learned at the last MOOC out of University of Houston):


and what the glass looks like today:

So if you follow the signs: seeds arriving, tropical plants to purchase, Canada Blooms about to start, walks by the Lake, and a melted glass full of lettuce seeds, it is clear - the warmth of spring is just around the corner.