21 November 2013

Is there still a place for garden blogs?

 I'm back, did you miss me? Probably not, if you follow along on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, on Pinterest...or on the somewhat stagnating Bloominganswers. (You'll notice I ignore Google Plus, because that's what I do with it: ignore it).

It's fascinating to see how many types of social media have erupted since I began writing bloomingwriter so many years ago. They've proliferated pretty much like enthusiastic perennials. You know how we say about perennials, 'First year sleep, second year creep, third year leap"? That seems to be how social media options roll, too. Some sort of stumble by the wayside, like StumbleUpon, which was the second thing I joined (and which technically is a discovery engine as opposed to a social media thing), but which I never even look at now.

22 September 2013

Suddenly it's Autumn...almost

 It's little more than an hour until Autumn arrives in Nova Scotia (local time for the autumnal equinox, 1744, or 5:44 pm if you only speak in twelve hour clocks). At times in the last couple of weeks, it has certainly felt like autumn, with cooler days and nights, and of course, that annoying loss of after-supper daylight. Today, it's subtropical here, as some sort of a weather front is pushing in with high winds and warm temperatures and supposedly some rain eventually.

If you have been following along over the past few years, you know I encourage people to keep on planting until you can't get a shovel into the ground, and to plant later-blooming shrubs, perennials, and trees. And to deadhead and fertilize your container plantings, to keep them blooming; and to embrace later blooming annuals for refreshing your containers. So I can report lots of colour in my little garden, how about yours?

26 August 2013

The Garden Colours of August

 It's late August, somehow--after a slow, cool start to spring and summer, things have become rather hot and dry in the past couple of weeks. I hear people lamenting a lack of colour in their gardens, and I'm not sure why.

Recently, I went to Quebec City to attend the annual Garden Writers Association symposium. While it was far from the best conference I've ever attended--though I saw some friends and made a few new ones, I found the overall group very clique-ey, like high school--, there were some interesting moments, and I got to meet some terrific folks at the trade show, like Angela Treadwell-Palmer of Plants Nouveau

07 August 2013

Wildflower Wednesday: Rejoicing in Milkweeds

It's been a long time since I did a post for Wildflower Wednesday, and it seemed like a good idea to pop up a post about one of my favourite, and most important, of wildflowers: milkweed. 

Milkweeds belong to the genus Asclepias, in the dogbane family, Apocynaceae. It's related to dogbane (Apocynum),  bluestar (Amsonia), periwinkle or myrtle (Vinca) and hoya, the wax plant with its stunning flowers. Looking at the flowers of milkweed, I can certainly see the relationship to hoya-the flower clusters, with their individual florets, look like they're made of china--just perfect.

21 July 2013

'And they were all Yellow..."

I remember there was a time when I thought I didn't like the colour yellow. Maybe it was because of the awful lemon-yellow of painted walls, or harvest gold appliances, of my childhood and youth. I do not wear the colour yellow, but I love my softly yellow walls in my home, and the cheerful colours of so many yellow flowers. I'm still not particularly a fan of school-bus yellow flowers, but there are so many other, more subtle and gorgeous flower colours, and this seems to be my year to plant a lot of yellow. Starting, of course, with one of my favourite roses, 'Graham Thomas'. 

28 June 2013

Planting for the Pollinators

It was hugely, bitterly ironic that last week was National Pollinator Week in the USA; the same week in which thousands of bees were killed when public trees in an Oregon community were sprayed with a pesticide deadly to bees. Others were saved by quick action from the community and from the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and the catastrophe has generated a lot of awareness and dialogue about what we can all do to protect and enhance our pollinators--not just the cute butterflies and hummingbirds, but the bees, flies, beetles and others that do yeoman's service in pollinating plants that we all eat. 
 I have been going on about pollinators and protecting them for as long as I have been gardening, so I'm  pleased to see more and more pollinator awareness happening. My column in our provincial newspaper this weekend is about bees and other pollinators, and I indicated I'd be putting up a list of plants that are great for pollinators here on bloomingwriter.

25 June 2013

New Under the Gardening Sun, Part 2: Awesome Annuals

I have a good excuse for why I haven't posted recently--I've been too busy planting containers, planting perennials, making a garden area, reclaiming other spots...dirt under my fingernails, soil in my shoes, I'm a happy camper. But now, to have a little chat about some of the annuals that have turned my head this season--so far. 
 Let's kick off with one of my hands-down favourite annuals, Lantana. I love the way its individual florets change colour as they go from buds to open blossoms on each flower head. They're like a little rainbow of pinks, oranges, reds, yellows and inbetween shades. Someone had fun naming this one, from the Santana series: it's called Banana Punch. Sounds like a Doctor Suess plant; Santana Lantana Banana! Or maybe, like a song sung by Minions...?

03 June 2013

New under the garden sun, part 1: Perennial Pleasures.

 Now that we're finally moved (again, and hopefully for a long while), it's time to make some new gardens so I can plant the new plants that I've seen, and, in some cases, have been coming my way this spring. Some of them are brand new, some are new to this neck of the woods. All of them are charming and I hope they do very, very well.

13 May 2013

The very busy season!

Hi faithful readers and fellow gardeners. It is THAT season, when there aren't enough hours in the day, week, month...lots has happened in the past few weeks, including relocating to a great place in Wolfville that is much easier for me to manage and much more suitable for all kinds of purposes. We're still in the process of moving, so it's a challenge to keep up with non-urgent stuff. But there are a couple of very neat upcoming events to tell you about here in Nova Scotia. 

The first one is the Pugwash Communities in Bloom Gardening Fair, coming up in less than 2 weeks, May 25 9am-4pm. It's the first time I've attended so I'm really looking forward to it. 

I don't CARE what the sign says, the plant sale being advertised here is being held at the NOVA SCOTIA AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE in Truro. This plant sale is a fund raiser for the Rock Garden on the campus, one of the absolute finest gardens in Atlantic Canada, and probably beyond. There will be choice and delightful plants on offer, and if it's anything like the Rare & Unusual Plant sale we just had this past Saturday in Annapolis Royal, it will be a first come, first served, don't wait or you'll miss out kind of event!

Whew! There are assorted other things taking place too, but I don't have time to list them all. You can find some of them on the Events page at bloominganswers.

I will say this--I started buying plants last week, including this double English Primrose 'Ken Dearman'. I need soil, however, so I can start building beds. Anyone ever give someone a few bags or a load of soil as a housewarming gift?

21 April 2013

A chocolate garden for spring

It's been a very busy April, with garden talks and nursery openings and all the chores of spring. So I've been somewhat remiss in doing blog posts, opting instead for chattering on bloominganswers.com and on my open page on Facebook. Now it's the rush to get ready for the annual Saltscapes East Coast Expo, which is next weekend.
I'm very fond of chocolate, but it has to be dark, good quality chocolate. And one shouldn't eat too much of it, so, I'm opting to turn some of my fascinations to Maybe a better idea is a chocolate garden, featuring plants with deep, rich, chocolate foliage or flowers?

30 March 2013

No lilies indoors! An Easter warning & other options

"Hello. My name is Tiny Timbit, and I have an important message for all you cat owners out there. It's about keeping us safe during Easter (and during other times of the year."

 "There are all kinds of plants that you can have in the house when you have kitties. We usually won't bother most plants that might not be tasty, like Hydrangeas..."

17 March 2013

Green Flowers for the Irish (and for Green Flower-lovers)

 It's been quite a while since I did a colour-themed post, and what better day to do it than on St. Patrick's Day? Green flowers and/or Irish names for a late-winter, it's gonnna-be-spring-someday Sunday afternoon.
(Above, clockwise left: 'Greenland' tulip; 'Irish Lemon' heath; 'Spring Green' tulips'; 'Green Envy' echinacea'; 'Green Eyes' echinacea)
 I've heard people say they don't like green flowers, because foliage is green and how will a green flower show up against foliage? Well, in some cases they are somewhat subtle, like the native Jack-in-the-Pulpit seen here.

12 March 2013

Farewell, Fellow Plant Addict

 I've told the story many times of how I met Captain Richard Steele, and how he put me on the path to being fascinated with ericaceous plants. How he inspired me to be the best plantswoman I possibly could, and to rejoice in plants of all kinds.

I met Dick's daughter Diana the same day I met him. In fact, it was Dinah, as her family call her, who took me up to the greenhouse to introduce me to the great man himself, and who made tea for all of us. Before we made it to the greenhouse, however, my late beloved came bursting out of a path at Bayport Plant Farm, where the Steeles planted and bred plants for so many years.

"You have GOT to see this!" he proclaimed. I followed him around the corner, to meet my very first blue poppies, a great profusion of them, growing like weeds. Dinah just grinned at my reaction. She grinned even more at my reaction to her father a short time later. I'm not sure who or what I was more awestruck by, but they all made a permanent impression on me.

10 March 2013

The Art of the Garden Journal

 So last weekend I ran a garden journaling workshop, which was well received by the participants. It's the first time I've done this workshop, so it was a learning experience for all of us, but everyone seemed to come away inspired to do their best at recording their gardening experiences.

Why keep a journal? You'll learn from your own experiences from year to year. When should you start tomato seeds indoors? Which echinaceas did you plant last year? And where DID you plant those echinaceas You'll get to know your garden's soil, microclimates and other factors affecting growing conditions much better. You'll keep all your plant and planting information in one place so you don't go searching for it year after year. You can create an artifact which can be handed down to future generations, or, if you sell your home, to future owners of the home. You can track the natural world, from the blooming of the shadbush to the arrival of the hummingbirds to the hatching of monarch caterpillars. You're only limited by your time and imagination.

24 February 2013

The Orchid Show at Acadia University

 Yesterday was a real red-letter day for me. I was out for the first time since arriving back home from my knee-replacement surgery, nearly two weeks ago. My friend and fellow plant geek Jill picked me up and we went to the annual NS Orchid Society show and sale at Acadia University's KC Irving Centre in Wolfville.

16 February 2013

On the Mend...and planning for the future

I'm happy to report that my knee-replacement surgery DID go ahead last week. I got back home on Monday and am faithfully doing my exercises, walking with a walker but soon going to a cane, and looking forward to the spring. Between the cats, who act as nursemaids, and the flowering plants in the house, like this Paphiopedilum (lady's slipper orchid), I'm feeling pretty cheery most of the time and much encouraged at how much less pain I have!

31 January 2013

Kiss My Aster, a book review

 When I heard about Amanda Thomsen's new book coming out, I was very excited. After all, Amanda is a horticultural whizkid, who makes gardening look easy while also having fun and helping gardeners have even more fun. Whether you follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or her website, you know what I mean. She describes herself as being 'bad to the phloem', which is a delightful play on words and gives you some sense of what's coming.

As per her websites and various personae, Amanda's new book is called Kiss My Aster. Originally, the promo materials called it an Interactive Guide, but my own copy says 'A graphic Guide'. Anyway, this is a book for all levels of gardeners, from the very beginning purple-thumbed to the hardcore type like me, who has lots of experience but also knows there is always something more to learn. In this, Amanda delivers in spadefuls.

24 January 2013

Blooming where we're planted...however we want!

It's not an earth-shattering secret to declare that I don't like garden gnomes. 

I resisted the temptation, some years ago when I was stuck at an awful bed and breakfast locale in Newfoundland and Labrador, to swipe the two ugly garden gnomes out in the 'garden' as I was leaving, and ensconce them on the top of Gros Morne. I did bump them with my suitcase and knock them over, but didn't hurt them in any way. Whew. I feel better for having 'fessed up to that. 

My dislike of garden gnomes, however, is purely personal and really rather good-humoured. I LOVED the whimsical book "How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack", which might not be high lit-er-ah-chure, but is darn funny, and hey, I can even enjoy a whimsically placed gnome or three. I'm not a zombie-fan but I've seen zombie gnomes and they reduced me to chortles of glee. 

The reason for this confession comes as a result of a discussion that happened on Twitter and on the blog of my friend and fellow gardening addict, Colleen Vanderlinden of In the Garden Online. Colleen took umbrage, rightfully so in my opinion, at some negative and critical posts and comments about 'crimes against gardening' posted by another writer. She didn't like the idea of being critical of other gardeners just because we don't share similar tastes. 

12 January 2013

The gardener indoors

This time of year, there are two types of gardening going on in Nova Scotia (and most of eastern North America): the planning of next spring's garden's, and gardening with houseplants. 
When I was a student at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, my residence room was always chockful of plants, ranging in size from tiny succulents like lithops (living stones) to large hanging plants and tough tropicals like rubber and fig trees. (No, there were no illegal plants in my room, thanks for asking). There were a few flowering plants like African violets, but nothing like the choice for flowering options we have these days.

Winter is not my strong suit, but some years ago I began an earnest attempt to get through it in an easier manner than I formerly did. I tend to purchase fresh flowers every couple of weeks, and have those around the house, but I also focus on plenty of flowering plants. Some of my favourites are included in this post.

05 January 2013

A New Year, a new garden, a soon to be new me?

Finally, it's 2013, a year I never dreamed I would be so glad to see. As many of you know, 2012 was my very own personal "annis horribilis", in which I not only lost my beloved partner, but also was uprooted from the home we made together and lived and gardened in for 13 years. I am well and truly grateful to be almost through that terrible "year of firsts" that comes after losing a loved one.

 So many of my friends, near and far, have gone through illness, death of a loved one, job losses and relocations, in the past year or two. Through my own experiences, I really, REALLY know how they feel and can say my mantra for life now is "Be kinder than necessary, for everyone we meet is fighting some kind of battle." It doesn't cost us anything to be kind to one another, although events in the world can often make us wonder. I have been so blessed by the kindness of my family and friends, and am determined to pay it forward in whatever ways possible.

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