Sunday, June 22, 2014


Gingko Tree
Bonsai literally means plantings in tray, from bon, a tray or low-sided pot, and sai, a planting or plantings.  It's a Japanese art form using miniature trees grown in specialized containers.  CC and I have a few of them throughout the garden and we are trying to make some newer ones from succulents, which are especially easy and attractive to use.  It involves branch and root pruning, fertilizing and mounding of the surrounding soil.  The succulent versions come inside for the winter, but the tree versions are planted in a cold frame at the side of the house so that they can properly go dormant for the winter.

L to R: Portularia, Korean Maple Tree, Ginkgo Tree
Chinese Elm
Christmas Cactus (white), a few years old
Christmas Cactus (pink and white), just started


New Coffee Table Book
I was off this past Friday and went to the local book shop to buy some summer reading material.  I bought a recent Stephen King novel, the latest by Zadie Smith, a couple of magazines and the above book for the coffee table.  I had seen it written up some time ago and always wanted a copy. It's a very clever and humorous book that will appeal to all the OCD people in your life (alphabetically sorted of course).

Going to pot.
CC was away this weekend, up north, dealing with a very tricky client, and because he didn't want me to be bored, he left me with a "To Try" list (that's a passive-aggressive "To Do" list for those who were unaware). I did most of the items on it yesterday morning, but saved the best for last.  He wanted me to organize the small and messy potting shed in the garage.  Well, that just got my OCD-tendencies going into overdrive, so I dragged all the pots out of the potting shed and the greenhouse, filled up a big container with water, and cleaned the pots then arranged them around the garden to dry, before I sorted them and put them away.
Bird's-eye view
Although I enjoyed myself immensely, it was back-breaking work and took about 5 hours from start to finish!  I took lots of water breaks and took lots of photos, from many different angles.  I love the colour of the terra cotta with the green of the garden.

I had fun arranging them, and kept adding pieces as I cleaned them.  Anyone wandering in off the street would probably have thought it looked like some ancient city of thimbles or bells, or, more probably, that some crazy person lived here.

Used the table too!
The best part was sorting them according to size and organizing them into stacks either in the potting shed or the greenhouse.  I put newspaper between the larger ones in the greenhouse, to make them easier to separate and to keep them drier.

More from the Garden

Very pretty Peony
With all the rain, followed by warm and sunny days, the garden has ben moving along rapidly.  Flowers are coming and going at a rapid rate, but thank god for digital cameras, so I can capture the garden at its best.  Case in point, is the lovely picture above.  CC bought this last year, and although I must confess I'm not a big fan of peonies, this one is a keeper.  It isn't one of the "doubles", so it doesn't get water-logged and collapse after a good rainfall and end up looking like a bunch of soggy toilet paper lying on the lawn.

Phlox-like wildflower with a green bee.
Tiny bee coming in for a landing on the Nectaroscordum.
If you love flowers, then you better love bees, because without them, there's no pollination!  I have long been fascinated by insects of all kind and appreciate the diversity and beauty of them, even if some of them have something of an "ick" factor. We have something in bloom most of the growing season and have an abundance of bees, wasps, spiders, midges (ick), mosquitoes (double ick), etc. The other week, I saw a very unusual insect, but didn't get a chance to get a picture of it.  It resembled a mosquito hawk, but had black and white striped legs!  Very unusual, but very cool.

This past winter, we had a pair of rabbits in the back garden, and even though I was born in the year of the rabbit and find them quite cute, I know how destructive they can be.  Well, as it happens, they must have bred (go figure!) and we now have a little guy hopping through the garden, munching away on whatever suits his fancy.  I have decided to call him Stu as a warning.

Portulaca and Marigolds
Of the many pots we planted earlier on this season, our favourite is one on the deck, off the kitchen.  It has Marigolds and Portulaca, both sun-loving plants.  They're colourful and pump out the blooms and they are visible from the kitchen window and never fail to cheer us up.

Amaryllis and Hosta leaves.
We have many pots of Amaryllis bulbs in the laundry room, and have successfully grown plants from seed.  When they are not in flower, they are quite dull, but the flowers are spectacular.  CC likes to use them as cut flowers in arrangements, instead of bringing the whole plant upstairs - isn't he clever?  The above is mixed with giant Hosta leaves, courtesy of the neighbours gardener, and they're displayed in my Manhattan glass vase, which complements the lines in the leaves beautifully.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


We have had visits from all sorts of creatures in the garden the past couple of weeks - a a baby rabbit, chipmunks (there seems to be a sudden population explosion of them), toads, tadpoles (in the pond, happily cohabiting with the goldfish), and many birds - Chickadees, Goldfinches, Cardinals, Woodpeckers, Grackles and their young, Starlings and their young and even a Hummingbird! The garden is looking very lush and green and we have put many of our indoor plants outside to take advantage of the warmth, rainwater and humidity.  Here are some current favourite shots of the garden…
English Quince blossom
Barberry purpurea flowers
Allium and Nectaroscordum
Spiderwort, by the pond

Toronto Visit

Was in Toronto again for a quick visit.  Stayed in at friends' overnight Thursday and saw a movie before I had dinner with them.  On the Friday, I went to the AGO to see the Henry Moore-Francis Bacon exhibit, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Have been a fan of both for some time now.  Love the sensuality of Moore's figures and the nightmarish quality of Bacon's faces.  Interesting to learn about the effects of the Blitz on both of them.

Carved rock in the AGO Atrium
LOVE at the AGO
After seeing the exhibit, I had a cheap and cheerful lunch in Chinatown - $4.99 for a pot of tea, a bowl of soup and a huge plate of black bean chicken on rice noodles!

From there, I went up to the ROM to see the Forbidden City exhibit and the 1914 Design exhibit.  Beautiful stuff and very well curated.  I did get a lot of the Chinese rulers names mixed up, because they are so foreign to my ears, but the art was exceptional.

Totem Pole in ROM staircase


Here are some of the many Irises we have had in flower in the last week or so.  They are starting to fade, but I can't wait to see what's up next!