Westwind Farm Studio- A Natural Garden

Westwind Farm Studio is one of the gardens I visited while in Portland a week ago. This garden has the most amazing views I have ever seen. The style of this garden is very natural with meadow like plantings of grasses taking the show. They specialize in selling lavender which is the first thing you see when you approach the gates to the garden. Considering this is a garden with a yoga and music studio the idea of healing plants like lavender certainly fits its mantra.

westwind studio garden

Before we entered the garden, designer John Greenlee talks about what we can expect to see and what his vision for this garden is. The garden is not completed yet. He has much more work to do beyond the gardens and hopes to introduce native plants in the meadows. It was a pleasure to meet John as I had seen his design work in Langley BC. Designing with grasses is amazing. I just wish I was that talented.


I loved the view from the garden. Rolling hills left you wanting to grab a chair and a cup of coffee to sit and enjoy all day. The main garden is four acres and surrounded by forty acres of meadows and forest.


The flower beds were magical with a sense of wildness to them. I love the fact that the beds were full to the brim with perennials.


Below the house are more flowers creating a natural garden, one that looks like its been there forever.


Even though the gardens are more natural, the pool and yoga studio give it a touch of formality. Garden bloggers dip their toes into the pool to cool off. The pool is located just steps from the home making it a great place to entertain.


The view again from a different part of the garden. Its like the garden has been created in layers upon a hillside with the great view as a borrowed landscape.


I loved the waterfall in the garden. So tranquil and refreshing on a hot day. Look how the grasses just seem to billow and soften the rocks. DSC06179

I can only dream of an outside fireplace. This one was majestic standing so tall and draped in foliage. I will bet many a night is spent in front of the fire here. Our time spent at Westwind Farm Studio was short but will be remembered for a very long time.

Home Grown Bouquets are the Best!


Have you ever wondered where all those beautiful store-bought flowers come from? Most of our flowers are imported from countries in  South America. What a huge carbon footprint we are using to get them to our homes! So I have an idea. Why not promote locally grown flowers? They are just as nice and if you buy from your local farmers market or roadside stand, you will most likely get a bouquet of flowers without any pesticides on them. Yes, most of the flowers we import are laden with pesticides. To think we buy bouquets and take them to sick people in the hospital makes me think twice about where I buy my flowers. Debra Prinzing wrote a book called ‘Slow Flowers’ which is about creating bouquets from locally grown flowers. She even covers all four season. So why are we not doing that here?

august bouqets

I was asked to an engagement party last weekend. I knew I wanted to bring some flowers. You see the bride has not decided on flowers yet. The wedding is next July so why not take a few different bouquets to show her what local flowers are available. In the bouquet above, I placed Pink Phlox, Buddleia, purple Hydrangea, Lavender, Dahlia ‘Little Showoff’, purple Zinnias, hot pink Sweet Peas and a Blue Hydrangea. This is just from my garden. I am sure there are lots of other flowers that could be grown for a July wedding.

July bouquet

I am more of a pastel person but I had so many hot colours in the garden I gave it a whirl. Here I have Cotinus foliage, red and orange Zinnias, Alstromeria, Dahlia ‘Mango Sunset’, Dahlia ‘Honka’, Rudbeckia, Calendula and Marigolds. I used mason jars for vases for each bouquet.

July bouquet

I like the blue and white theme on this bouquet. Here I used blue Hydrangea, white Dahlias, white Sweet Peas, Shasta Daisies and Senecio foliage for its silver highlights.

July bouquet

I realized quickly that using jam jars with old labels didn’t look very good. I came across this foil wrap and wrapped it around the jar and added ribbon to match.

blue & white flowers for July wedding

This jar was wrapped using blue fabric and tied with blue ribbon. I used what I had on hand.

Pink bouquet  for July wedding

I had pink tissue left over so I used it on the lavender-pink bouquet. It was fun to take the flowers to the party. The bride to be was surprised but couldn’t decide on any particular bouquet. She loved them all. We will see which flowers lasted the longest and take it from there. You want your bouquet to be able to last for a couple of days. You may need to make the arrangements the night before.


Harvest Day at the Ladner Community Garden

Did you know that the Ladner Community Garden grows food for the food bank and other charities? A grade three class comes to the children’s garden and plants vegetables in early spring. The volunteers at Ladner Community Garden help to harvest vegetables every Monday so they can be delivered to either the food bank or mental health society. This spring the children planted onions, potatoes, peas, broad beans, salad greens and strawberries. Of course, the first year strawberries were eaten by the children on their last visit to the garden in June but there was still plenty to harvest.


The onion sets the children planted were ready to harvest this week. The greens had toppled over and its usually an indication to slow down on watering to let the onions mature. I gently felt around just under the soil to determine the size of the onion and harvested ones that were the perfect size. They will be laid out on trays to dry off after brushing most of the soil off the roots. Onions need a few weeks to cure so they will stay at my home until they are ready to be dropped off. To cure them I will move the trays to a covered porch so they dry naturally. You want the roots to dry up and be brittle. I will remove the green tops about an inch and half from the top of the onion. I never cut them too short as you don’t want any stem rot to happen. I will check the onions each day to see that they are getting good air circulation. One rotten onion can affect the rest of the crop. I don’t want that to happen.


harvest day

It was also a good day to harvest potatoes. I sure didn’t want to wait any longer as I had experienced wire worm a couple of years ago. I knew that they needed to be dug up immediately. I had already pushed my luck by going on holidays. I was sure to have some large potatoes in this crop. I asked hubby to take this photo as I know many people have no idea how potatoes grow. Last year the headmaster from the school came by wondering what the children did at the garden. He happened to come by just as a volunteer was harvesting potatoes. On a count of one, two, three, the potatoes were lifted from the soil. The head master watched and said,”Wow,that’s amazing!” It was then that I knew our work was paying off. You see he had no idea what was under that soil.


Be sure to bring a plant tray or basket to hold your potatoes. They can get very heavy. I think we filled four plant trays with spuds yesterday.


Between the onions and potatoes, we had a pretty good harvest. There is still lots of harvesting to do. So far the volunteers have harvested peas and broad beans and the plants are now finished.  We are ready to plant a new crop for winter. I am thinking carrots and beets but will delve into my seed stash to see what I have to use.

Bella Madrona, a Step Back in Time

I am still sifting through the hundreds of photos I took of the gardens we saw during the Portland Garden Bloggers Fling. Not only did I see sixteen garden last week but I also saw six more this weekend here at home. I am overwhelmed at all the wonderful gardens out there. They are so inspiring.

bella madrona

When we got off the bus at Bella Madrona, I was mystified. This old farm cottage was the first thing I saw. This garden certainly wasn’t like all the others we had seen and I wondered what was behind those trees. The rustic charm had me feeling like I was back home.

red dahlias with creeping jenny at bella madrona

This was a garden like no other. The history on this garden said it had been developed in 1980 from an old 1932 farmstead. I took over sixty photos of this garden but don’t worry I won’t post them all. Above is one of the gardens with Creeping Jenny contrasting beautifully against the dark foliage of the red Dahlias. Now I know what you are thinking. Who plants Creeping Jenny? It’s so invasive. When you have such a large property, ground covers take on a whole new meaning. Using them properly in the right location can beautify a garden and reduce your maintenance substantially. If you have a small garden, try creeping Jenny or Lysimachia nummularia in a container to get the same effect.

Bella Madrona garden art

I think what I loved about Bella Madrona was its whimsy. Every time I turned a corner, I came across something totally unexpected like this planter and a window.

Bella Madrona garden art

I chuckled when I saw this shabby chic patio set. I knew if hubby had seen it he would offer to sand and paint it for the owner. I don’t know how many times I have told him that rust is ‘in’. It’s cool to be old and rusty. Hmmm…does that include me?

Bella Madrona

I loved this idea of using the fallen limbs for edging. It’s all about using what you have. Using natural edging makes this pathway so inviting. You see, I am all about using found items in the garden.

White Hydrangea at Bella Madrona

I loved this Hydrangea but really this garden isn’t about the flowers. The towering trees with understory  shrubs were arranged into many rooms leading you from one to another never knowing quite what you would see.

Bottle tree at Bella Madrona


Like this bottle tree of sorts. It’s certainly not like your ordinary bottle tree, not that any bottle tree is ordinary. The blue glass is imbedded in this tree.

Bella Madrona

We saw a few pets during our garden tours last week but these were the first ducks. What hams they were posing for the camera.

Garden art at Bella Madrona

I wanted to take home this bench. Moss was everywhere in this garden, on the ground, on the trees and on the furniture.
Garden art at Bella Madrona

You have no idea how pleased I was with this array of tubs hanging on the wall. Truthfully I felt like I was in a scene from American Pickers. I wanted that stuff. Could I strike a bargain?
Bella Madrona art

Especially the Coca-Cola sign that looked like it had been there for many years. I have a shed that would suit this treasure.

Fence at Bella Madrona

The fence around Bella Madrona was adorned with old saws which gave it character. It reminded me of our western fence back home.
Bella Madrona birdhouse art

Bird houses were everywhere and  made using recycled items.

Bella Madrona

I envisioned this area as one where the owner of Bella Madrona would come each morning to sit and dream of the next garden idea. There were so many knick knacks on this porch I felt like an intruder peering into someones personal space. Were these odds and ends on the table to be used in the garden? Only time would tell.

Bella Madrona art

The chair opposite the rocker on the porch had this Starbucks sign. It’s almost like she is saying have a cup of coffee and stay awhile.

Bella Madrona garden seating

I sighed when I saw how these stools were outside in the elements. We have four red leather stools and we haven’t placed them in the garden yet. We really should I guess. It’s no point holding on to stuff if you can’t see it.

Bella Madrona art

Another cute bit of wisdom in the garden.

Bella Madrona garden

I was inspired to do something like this with the columns we have. Perhaps ours will grace the entrance to a new garden we have in mind. Yes, after all this inspiration, we are creating a new garden this fall.

clock at Bella MadronaThe sundial clock was interesting in a small garden room of its own.

Garden art at Bella Madrona

This was such a natural way to display some art in the garden.

Bottle patio at Bella Madrona

What garden would be without a bottle patio? As I walked through this garden, I realized the amount of time it has taken to complete the many projects such as stairs and pathways. The garden has taken all thirty-four years to get this far.

Garden bloggers unite at Bella Madrona

We ended our tour of the garden with refreshments in the garden at Bella Madrona. It was nice to talk to the owner and hear about the weddings that are held in the garden. I also learned about how much work it was to take care of the garden. Gardens of this size cost a lot to maintain and we all get older. Times change and I hope someone comes forward to make this garden a public park. I know my children would have loved it here. They could run and hide in the various garden rooms and spend time in the gnome village. Yes, this garden has its own gnome village. I left realizing that this garden had made me smile more than a few times. For me, that’s what I like.


Friday Flowers-My Thrift Shop Surprise Finally Blooms

It’s amazing how fast a garden grows while you are away. I walked the garden today to see many flowers out in bloom. Most of my Roses have begun to fade but much more has taken the stage.


Salpiglossis or painted tongue is doing well in places that gets lots of sun to areas of partial shade. It is said that these plants do not tolerate hot weather but I think they like our coastal climate.


This is the best Rose in the garden now with large clusters of deep rose-coloured flowers. It had a late start with some winter damage but it’s doing better.


The Godetia is an annual that I collect seed from each year. It’s a mass of blooms now but I can tell it needs a bit of deadheading already. So much catching up to do in the garden after a week away.

Dahlia 'Wheels'

Dahlia ‘Wheels’ is on fire but each year I see the colours not quite as defined as it was in the first year.

Dahlia 'Moonlight Mist'

Its taken Dahlia ‘ Moonlight Mist’ a couple of years to really develop. It loves its home in a container this year. Yes, I ran out of room for the Dahlias. You would think with a half-acre garden I would be able to squeeze it in but sunny areas are prime space for vegetables this year.


More Salpiglossis in a too small of a container. When will I remember how tall they get? Containers line the deck and sidewalk waiting to go back to their garden homes. Keeping them all together made it easy to water while I was away.

Dahlia 'Honka'

Dahlia ‘Honka’ is a novelty Dahlia that I have had for about three years. Its reflexed petals are what makes the flowers so unique.

Dahlia 'Little showoff'

I collect all the collarette Dahlias that I can find. This one is Dahlia ‘ Little Showoff’ which I was able to find at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in early spring. For its first season, its growing and blooming well.


While looking at gardens in Portland, I heard someone remark that they never put pink and orange together. Here it is, but not on purpose. I grew a mix of Lilliput Zinnias and you don’t know the colours until they bloom. Mother nature puts all sorts of colours together and so will I. Check out the Thai basil in full bloom in the center front. Not only does it have purple stems and flowers, now it’s getting tiny white centers.

Dahlia 'Mango sunset'

Okay, this is probably the heaviest bloomer for my garden. Dahlia ‘Mango Sunset’ is definitely a show stopper and one that I will continue to grow and propagate. Not one of my Dahlias can match the blooms carried on this plant.


This Hydrangea was given to me last fall when my daughter moved to a home without a patio. Wasn’t I lucky? I have never owned a pink Hydrangea until now. It’s in full sun and loving it so far.


The last flower I have to share is one I acquired last year. Yes, this is my thrift shop plant from last fall. You can read about it here. I came home to see the flowers had opened to a rich purple. What is happening with the others which seem much taller? I have a feeling they will be white. Is it a white Liatris? We will soon find out.

I am linking over at Tootsie Time for Fertilizer Friday.


Garden Bloggers Fling 2014- Portland Japanese Garden

Last week I travelled to Portland, Oregon to meet 80 garden bloggers for a whirlwind of garden tours over three days. What an adventure! We arrived in Portland and stayed at the fabulous Marriott hotel. I was happy that the fling was so close for us and we could just drive down to Portland from our home in Delta. We visited sixteen gardens over the three days and each one had its own style. This week I will showcase a few of my favourites. Today let’s walk through the Japanese garden in Portland. It must be known that the garden is not that accessible. For those of you who know me, I am pretty adamant about accessibility. After not walking for almost two years, this garden tour was going to be a challenge for anyone who couldn’t do stairs. I managed just fine and am happy to say that I made it through all the gardens except the ones with very steep slopes. After all, I am not crazy enough to jeopardize falling again. Not a chance. Anyway, on to the garden.

Portland japanese

What a treat this Japanese garden was. The cooling effect from the tall trees and the shade cast provided a welcome relief to the ninety degree heat of the day. It was here that I saw trees as tall as the ones back home.

japanese garden

Ponds and waterfall were everywhere. So was seating if you wanted to sit and relax. How tranquil each vista was. I could have sat on a bench all morning just taking in the beauty of the garden and its rippling water features. An hour is not long enough to take in its beauty.

japanese garden

I am not sure what this is supposed to represent. Its been a long time since I worked in a Japanese garden. I know rocks are used to represent the bones of the  garden. I loved the different textures and stones used in this area of the garden.

japanese garden

Seeing the Iris in bloom was a highlight in the garden. Aren’t they exquisite? I love the yellow markings on this one.

japanese garden

This purple Iris is stunning and I would love to add this one to my collection some day.

japanese garden

I saw a lot of familiar plants at the Japanese garden from Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Irises, Hostas and ferns. The most familiar plant was moss, yes moss. There was no bare ground to be seen. Any ground left open was covered in moss. I wanted to feel the softness of the moss as I passed by.

japanese garden

The sand and stone garden was outstanding. I spent some time chatting about the upkeep of this garden. How would one keep the leaves tidied each day? Did it need to be blown with a leaf blower? Did it need to raked everyday? It  looks so simple but complex at the same time. The day I visited it, it was perfect.

japanese garden

I loved the bamboo fountains placed throughout the garden. How cute is that tiny fern growing out of the rock?

japanese garden

For me this garden was one for reflection and not only in the photos. To reflect and realize just how lucky I was to even be here, joining so many great people from all over the world and sharing our passion for gardening. For me this was the most relaxing garden to be in and that’s the intention. It’s a garden where you feel one with nature and that’s such a great feeling.

That Bloomin’ Garden- Planning fall colour for the shade garden

Last week we looked at some easy to grow plants for late summer to fall colour for the sunny garden. Today lets look at some choices for shade. Most of you have probably used Impatiens in your garden over the years. Last year  Impatiens were hit with a fungus called  downy mildew. If you noticed that they were not being sold this spring, that’s why. Once you have downy mildew it stays in your soil for up to ten years. You can still plant the New Guinea Impatiens as the fungus does not affect them. You know your Impatiens have the fungus when all of a sudden the leaves turn yellow and fall off leaving the plant looking awful.

fall colour

I like this tough perennial in my shade garden. This is Ligularia  dentata with its bright yellow flowers in late summer. This plant loves a site from part to full shade. It loves damp soil so be sure to keep it evenly moist. It grows to three feet high and wide.


The flowers are just icing on the cake as Ligularia dentata has huge leaves and reddish stems making a bold statement next to finer leaved plants.


I love Hostas and can’t get enough of them . Using Hostas with bright white edging or ones with golden tones in the leaves will add colour to your shade garden. Try using white in a dark corner to really add some light.


Try hardy Fuchsia for long-lasting colour from late summer to frost. The dainty bell-like flowers come in all different colours. Be sure to check the ultimate size of your plant as they can grow to five feet high and as wide. Give this plant room to grow and I guarantee it will be a show stopper all season.

When I moved into my home, our front garden was bordered by a huge hedge making the shade garden very dark. I planted Aucuba or gold dust plant which is a shrub growing to as high as ten feet. The glossy gold speckled leaves look nice against the dark green hedge.


I think Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ is one of the top must have plants for the garden. If given too much sun its leaves will turn brown so it likes a home in dappled shade to full shade. In spring, this plant sends out forget-me-not like blue flowers. Once the flowers are finished, cut the flowering stems off and watch the leaves grow bigger each week. This plant is lovely paired with Hostas in the shade garden.


Tovara or Persicaria is a plant that will grow in dry or wet shade and doesn’t mind some sun. Its one tough plant. A word of caution, its tiny red flowers in fall will self sow but the baby plants are easily removed. Once again, its flowers are insignificant as its grown mainly for its striking foliage. The chocolate-brown markings look like they were painted on with a few strokes from a paint brush.


For a touch of class look around for Kirengeshoma or yellow wax flower. Its hardy here on the west coast  of BC. This year my plant is at least three feet high and wide and the buds are just forming. When everything else is starting to fade this plant takes the stage. It loves part to full shade and medium watering. I must admit this shade garden of mine has only been watered once this season and the plants are doing well.


Of course, how could I forget Pansies and Violas? In September they start to arrive at the garden centers so grab them when you see them. Plant them early so you can enjoy them before frost arrives. Yes, you may still have some annuals in the garden but try to make room for some Pansies. I like to plant them above spring bulbs. When I plant  Tulips or Daffodils, I place a Pansy nearby. Its a reminder for me to watch for new spring bulbs emerging.