Wine in the Garden, Yes or No?

Each year Pantone chooses a colour for the new year. Marsala has been chosen as the colour for 2015. It’s not that popular with some people  but I love it. Its rich, warm and inviting. So what does this mean for our gardens? What kinds of plants have this colour? I looked through my garden photos yesterday and here are a few I came across. You will be surprised at how many choices are out there. You should be able to find colours to fill your garden for each season.

Wine in the garden, yes or no?

Spring was an easy one with Irises blooming in early May. When I moved here ten years ago this Iris was already here. My first impression was that it wasn’t my favourite but I kept it. As you can see it’s that dusky brownish red of a good glass of marsala wine. You should also be able to find Pansies in the spring in shades of dark burgundy.

Wine in the garden,yes or no?

I also have several Heucheras that lend themselves to this deep wine colour. They are good both in the ground and in containers. I seem to collect these plants having a few in my collection, okay, about twenty too many. Try Heuchera ‘Plum Pudding’ to add the marsala colour to your garden. This is probably one of the easiest plants to propagate. What I love about this plant is that its evergreen here so it adds winter interest. I can’t seem to get enough of them. This year I will be introducing some Heucherellas to the garden. I love foliage, can you tell?


Wine in the garden,yes or no?


Every garden should have a Cotinus or smoke bush. Its lovely dark wine coloured foliage is striking and shines when paired with bright greens in the garden. Next to my Cotinus is a Hydrangea and the combination of the two plants is stunning.

Wine in the garden, yes or no?

Daylilies can be found in this colour as well. The daylily above is Hemerocallis ‘Pardon Me’. This daylily grows alongside Hostas in the shade garden.

Wine in the garden, yes or no?

This Pelargonium ‘Vancouver Centennial’ with its dark wine coloured veining in the leaves would look amazing planted next to the Daylily ‘Pardon Me’.

Wine in the garden, yes or no?

If you love succulents, you could grow Aeonium as well. Its long succulent leaves are a deep shade of marsala with hints of green in the center.

Wine in the garden, yes or no?

On my visit to VanDusen Botanical garden last summer, I walked through the Black Garden. Above you can see Sedum angelina and the grass to the left really helping the dark colours of Barberry pop. So will you be planting this colour in your garden or do you already have plants that are this colour? One thing is for sure, with this colour it really needs to be up front and center. If you plant this colour by itself it will fade back into the darkness. Place it with lighter coloured plants like chartreuse greens for the best effect in the garden.

7 Great Plants for the Winter Garden

Last weekend I had to pop into Vandusen Botanical Garden to pick up tickets for their Festival of Lights. As I walked to the entrance I  stopped to look at the display of what’s in bloom in the garden. I knew I would see some interesting plants.

7 great plants for the winter garden

At VanDusen Botanical Gardens they have a display set up with whatever is currently in bloom in the garden. Above is a Camellia with its pretty pink blooms. I know many of you are under snow and wondering how we have flowers at this time of year. We live in a zone 8 and have very mild winters with the lowest temperatures getting to about -6C so far but no snow. Yes, we don’t get much snow here. If we do, it often doesn’t arrive until January. So its worth looking for varieties of Camellia that bloom in December.

7 great plants for the winter garden

It’s not just flowers that were highlighted in the display. I loved this variegated boxwood and might just have to get some. I am hoping to build a vegetable garden with raised beds and this may be a nice plant to use as a border. Imagine a food garden surrounded by a hedge of this pretty boxwood with arbors at each end. A girl can dream, right?

7 great plants for the winter garden

How about this Holly with its yellow berries? It’s a bit different from the traditional red. At VanDusen there is a Holly garden full of interesting cultivars. It’s definitely worth a walk in the winter to see the trees.

7 great plants for the winter garden

Of course, no garden should be without Skimmia with its red flowers. This is one of my most favourite winter shrubs with its glossy green leaves and rosy red flowers. It is the one shrub I love to cut for winter arrangements. This plant loves a shady site and is an understory plant for larger trees and shrubs.

7 great plants for the the Winter Garden

This is a photo from my garden where the Skimmia grows on the east side of a very tall hedge. It thrives in this relatively dry area with bits of morning sun.

7 Great plants for the winter garden

I had no idea what this plant was when I saw it. This is evergreen spindlebush. I wish I had written the Latin name down but I didn’t so I will have to do a bit more research on this plant. That’s the problem with common names. If you look up spindle bush you will find several entries.

7 great plants for the winter garden

Mahonia ‘Charity’ takes the stage in a winter garden with its bright yellow flowers. This native plant grows well here with its holly like leaves and winter flowers.

7 great plants for the winter garden

Out of all the flowers I saw on display this is one that caught my eye. I love the seed heads from this plant. It makes you want to reach out and touch them. Imagine the interest they would have in the garden. This is leopard plant or Farfugium japonicum aka Ligularia. When did this change names? Okay as a hort person, this name changing drives me crazy. Is it just me?

7 great plants for the winter garden

Above the display of what was in bloom at the garden was a wall of greenery with Callicarpa or beauty berry woven among it. Lights twinkled even in the daylight. This plant is going on my wish list for the garden. Have you got these plants in your garden? There is nothing better than flowers in winter to brighten up our days.


Are You Coming to Ladner Seedy Saturday?

Are you attending Ladner Seedy Saturday and Garden Expo 2015. This is the fourth year for this event and I can’t wait to go. This event is full of garden presentations, vendors and workshops. This event is hosted by the Ladner Community Garden and the Corporation of Delta and will be held at the historic Harris Barn this year. It’s a fundraiser for the Ladner Community Garden so they can continue with projects such as teaching children and adults how to grow food and about the environment. The Ladner Community Garden also grows food for local food banks and other charities.

Are you coming to Ladner Seedy Saturday?

For details about times and speakers check out the Ladner Community Garden blog. I hear Brian Minter is speaking about ‘The Secrets of Success with Food Gardening, Annuals and Perennials’. I know from classes I have done that gardeners are eager to learn about growing food in their own gardens. Brian Minter is considered the guru of gardening and you will want to arrive early to get a seat as space is limited.

Thomas Hobbs, owner of Southlands Nursery in Vancouver,  is also going to talk at Ladner Seedy Saturday. His topic will be about his new garden in Langley. Tom has battled brambles galore, squatters and even copper thieves while trying to reinvent his twenty acre garden. This should be a fun presentation to listen to.

Are you coming to ladner seedy saturday

So what is my role in this event? For those of you who are just reading today, I am on the executive board for the Ladner Community Garden and plan most of this event along with other directors and volunteers. Where we would we be without volunteers? They are the life blood of all communities and we are grateful for all the support we have had over the years.

Are you coming to Ladner Seedy saturday?

Vendors are signing up for tables to bring you the best in organic gardening. West Coast Seeds returns this year as a sponsor and exhibitor. Have you received their new catalogue yet?  I hear its out this week. If you have never read their catalogue, trust me it is porn for gardeners, really. Not only are its colour photos a feast for the eyes, it’s a valuable resource of vegetable growing information.

Getting Ready For Ladner Seedy Saturday & Garden Expo

Are you a seed saver? At Ladner Seedy Saturday you can bring in seeds that you have saved from last year and trade them for something else. I will have a lot of seeds to trade from my garden. Be sure to package your seeds and label them before you come to the seed swap.

Have you heard the ladies from Botanus speak yet? If not you must come to hear about all the amazing summer bulbs they will be showing us for our gardens. I just watched their latest Botanus garden club video and will share it below. Pam, Elke and Wendy are amazing speakers so you want to miss them.

For a complete list of times and presentations at Ladner Seedy Saturday, check out the Ladner Community Garden blog.



20 Effortless Terrarium Ideas


20 Effortless Terrarium Ideas

Are you looking for a quick and easy project? Why not try creating a terrarium? All you need are a few supplies. If I can do it, so can you. I love to create terrariums. It probably comes from my love for miniature gardening. You see, a terrarium is like a miniature garden under glass. All you need are some of your favourite plants, a glass container, soil, charcoal  and small rocks and you are set to go. I like to use succulents as they are easy to care for and very slow-growing. You want to try to find small indoor plants or succulents. I like to buy my plants in 2″ pots for ease of handling. There are so many great terrarium ideas on Hometalk. Above is a board I clipped to show you just a few ideas to get you started. I love the mason jar idea on top with its tiny succulent planted inside.The raffia tied around the outside rim of the jar makes this a great git for that someone special. Just click on the clipboard above to take you to Hometalk where all the links are for each project shown.   The container you use for your terrarium can be something new, used or repurposed. You can use a mason jar, a fishbowl, a tea light holder or even an old chandelier. Check out your local thrift shops for containers that you can give a second life to.

20 Effortless Terrarium Ideas

To get started this is what I used. See how small the plants are, perfect for this project. I placed a layer of rocks on the bottom of the glass container, This will provide drainage in case of over watering. Of course, no one over waters, do they? I also added some charcoal to help sweeten the container in case it gets overwatered. I used about 1/4 cup and sprinkled it over the stones. Around the edges of the containers I placed some sheet moss. The next step was to add the indoor potting soil. When adding soil to your terrarium, its best to use a small measuring cup or a spoon. As I added each bit of soil, I used my fingers to settle it a bit. Do this part slowly to minimize the residue that may get on the glass. Think miniature when it comes to tools for this garden. Make sure to have a couple of inches of soil for your plants. The plants roots need room to spread. After making sure the soil was nice and level I added a thin layer of white gravel to one side of the container. I also added a bit more moss for decor. Take at look over on my post for complete instructions and photos at  Making a Terrarium- A Snowy Day Project.

20 Effortless Terrarium Ideas

I love the little rocks I bought at the garden center. You can add these to your new terrarium or just use plant material. That’s the fun with terrariums. You can change them up by adding seasonal decor. Above I made a terrarium just before Easter and was able to use it as a centerpiece on my holiday table.  You could change this one by adding items to suit the season. Why not add a few Christmas characters to this terrarium?

20 Effortless Terrarium Ideas

Perhaps you want an even easier terrarium. The terrarium above was featured at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show last year. There is nothing better than a garden show to inspire you with ideas. In this terrarium, the bottom has a layer of tiny white rocks and then Tillandsia or air plants are placed inside. Air plants need little care. Mist them each week to keep them healthy.

20 Effortless Terrarium Ideas

I cannot wait to make these terrariums. Imagine these across your mantel at Christmas with silver accessories to glam it up.The layers were very carefully done so each of the three containers look the same. By adding silver rocks in the middle it gives that extra pop that makes it stand out.. Place some old silver candle holders next to them and you have an elegant display.

So have I inspired you to try to create a terrarium? I hope so. For more ideas you can follow me on Hometalk at

How to Make a Wreath in Two Unique Ways

My daughter called this morning asking if I could show her how to make a wreath. It was time to forage in my yard to see what we could use. Surely I would find some evergreens among the fifty odd trees scattered about the yard. We grabbed a basket and some secateurs and off we went. We picked some fir, willow branches, a few blueberry branches, some rosemary, cedar boughs, Skimmia with its red flowers and Osmanthus. Now I am not a florist so we were learning as we went along. I had seen some more rustic wreaths online and liked the look of them. I had a wire wreath form for my daughter to use as it was her first time and it would allow her  something to use as a base.

How to make a wreath in two unique ways

I picked long three to four-foot strands of willow branches and made my frame from them. I gathered several in one hand and lined the tops up. Next I twisted some green wire around the top to join them together. I had my daughter hold the top and I braided the rest by twisting the strands around each other. It’s not really a braid but made a nice thick base to work from. I wired the end back into the top of the willow strands. I didn’t worry about removing the leaves left on the stems as they will be covered anyway.

how to make a wreath in two unique ways

I didn’t take photos while we made them but have the completed wreaths above. I added some fir and cedar to the upper parts of the willow wreath by tying it in with waxed floral string. The string is hidden by overlapping branches. I was looking for a more natural look for this wreath and left the bottom uncovered so the yellow hues of the willow would show.

How to make a wreath in two unique ways

I added a tiny twig bow I found at the local thrift shop for 50 cents and tucked in a couple of red blueberry branches. Its plain and simple, just how I wanted it.

How to make a wreath in two unique ways

This was my daughters first wreath. Yes, we could have gone to the garden center and bought one but why spend the money if you have the greens in your garden? We didn’t have oasis to use so we just wired branches on to the frame. Evergreens last well and there are lots more where they came from if we need to freshen up the wreath.  She started by wiring on a layer of cedar branches around the base. Cedar can be very thin so the next layer was fir. Hmm… that could be spruce, not sure. When adding greenery you want to make sure you cannot see the base so its best to add lots of greenery. Once the greenery was in place she wanted to add some colour. I suggested using the Skimmia flowers. She turned and looked at me and said that she always likes to do things in threes. Okay, that made me do a double take. She went on to talk about how if you are braiding a horses tail or mane (she has a horse) you alway braid in odd numbers and three or five always work best.  It was then that I told her she had an eye for design as that’s how good plantings are done. We need to do more of these mother-daughter do it yourself mornings. The last touches were to add some sprigs of Osmanthus as it resembles holly and add the tiny bird house to the top. Now all that is needed is to hang it up.

Cost for the wreaths was $1 for the bird house and bow that we used. The rest was free and the time was priceless.

Friday’s Flowers in my November Garden

I live on the southwest coast of BC where the winters are mild. All panic will set loose with the prediction of slight flurries tomorrow. Grocery stores will line up so people don’t starve through  our 1cm of snow. Yes, I am dead serious. We don’t get snow often enough to have snow tires let alone know how to drive very well in it. That’s just the nature of living near Vancouver. Luckily for us the snow stays up on the mountains most of the time.


Today the sun came out after a miserable week of rain. My boots squished down into the soil as I walked across the lawn. Yes, the soil is saturated here but it’s normal for this time of year. What I love about November is the anticipation of blooms on the Viburnum bodnantense. I have been watching it produce its plump buds all month.

Fridays flowers in my November garden

The flowers are a light pink with a delicate fragrance. They are just beginning to open.

Fridays flowers in my November garden

Viburnum bodnantense loses its leaves before the flowers open. With our long summer I didn’t think they would ever drop. There are still many leaves on our trees here.

Fridays flowers in my November garden

It’s a dense woody shrub which grows every which way. I made the mistake of pruning it one year and was left with ugly stubby branches in winter.

Fridays flowers in my November garden

Now we just remove the eye pokers  from this shrub. Mowing the lawn can be a challenge in itself without dodging branches that hang at eye level. There are still many flowers to come on the shrub and they will last until the end of February.

Fridays flowers in my November garden

The Heather is showing colour in the front garden. Don’t you love the glaucous blue foliage on this one?

Fridays flowers in my November garden

In the greenhouse I have a few plants taking refuge from the cold. I cut back the Geraniums in October and brought them in the greenhouse. To my surprise they are blooming again.

Fridays flowers in my November garden

The greenhouse is heated with a tiny heater that keeps it above freezing at about 5 C.  I am using a floating row cover to cover the plants when it dips below freezing outside. It seems to work well for me.

My 3 Most Popular Posts of All Time

I want to take this moment to thank all of my readers. I love that people from all over the world comment on my blog and I read every comment. It’s so much fun to share our gardens virtually and I strive to become a better gardener by reading about your gardens. The month of November has been busy around here. We hired contractors to rip out our 25-year-old bathrooms and our walk in closet. You know you need to do a renovation when the shower leaks through the kitchen, yes, that happened. They are rooms we knew we couldn’t do ourselves. Well, seriously we could but it would take us forever. We kind of like having a shower. Luckily we have one bathroom still working. Its next in line.

Christmas Love

Our renovations started on November 3 and they are well underway. So where have I been? I have been writing my 50,000 words for national novel-writing month of November. I know, like I didn’t have enough going on. I had to be around while the crew was working so I moved my office to the dining room where its a bit quieter. I finished my 50,000 words today a week early and will be letting the first draft of my book sit for six weeks as I try to get some semblance of holiday decor out. I can’t believe Christmas is just a month away.

So since I have a brain that feels like mush after all that writing I am going to share my top posts of all time with you. It’s interesting to see what interests readers of my blog. I have tried a couple of different writing styles but the one where I can just be myself seems to work. I write because I love to and not because its my job. If I can teach just one more person about gardening I will be satisfied.

What is the White Stuff in my Soil?

Yesterday I received an email from the Peace Corps requesting use of one of my photos. I was happy to oblige as it will be using for educating troops on food security. It was a photo of mycelium. I know, whats that? Read my post on “What is the white  stiff stuff in my soil?” I was working in my community garden bed one day and noticed the tiny threads of hyphae in the soil. Gosh, this is kind of geeky soil talk so stay with me. Over the next few weeks I had other gardeners asking about the white stuff in their soil. Everyone kept thinking they had this bad mold issue happening. I was glad to be around to give them advice. This post has been my top post of all time. Now, I have only been blogging since January of 2010 so I think of myself as a writer in progress still.

How to create a Halloween themed miniature garden

My second top post is Creating a Halloween Themed Miniature Garden. I had so much fun creating it and I hope you enjoy the read. I am a natural-born thrifter. Well my Mom has me well-trained. It’s all her fault. I am all over the idea of reusing and repurposing in the garden. When I saw the cute Halloween figurines at the thrift shop for 50 cents, how could I resist? I had the perfect home for them.

How to keep your brassicas pest free

My third top post of all time is titled “How to Keep Your Brassicas Pest Free”. Now you have to understand. I have this dislike for that cabbage moth that daintily flutters about like its her garden. What is she thinking? I got tired of losing my Brassica crops to her larvae and had to figure out a way to slow her down. It’s not perfect but using a floating row cover certainly helps until your plants are gigantic. Then she carefully sneaks in the only gap the plants have popped open during their growth. The cabbage moth and I will always be at war. Hubby even bought me a butterfly net as a joke knowing I may just use it. I haven’t but it’s tucked away for my grandson to use next summer. The idea of setting little one year old legs after cabbage moths make this Grandma happy.

To my American friends, may you have the best Thanksgiving ever. I am almost tempted to have a second Thanksgiving. What a great way to start the upcoming holiday season. I am off to decorate for the holidays but will be back with winter flowers and decor.

Happy gardening,