5 Annuals You Need to Try

I love trying out new seeds so each year as I read through the seed catalogues I try to order something I have never tried before. There is so much choice in seed catalogues. The garden centers don’t often carry the unusual and old-fashioned annuals we remember from our grandmother’s gardens.

5 Annuals You need to try

In the spring I sprinkled some wildflower mixes in the garden. Some were for moist soil and some were to attract pollinating insects. I sprinkled a few seeds directly but in case I accidentally weeded the tiny seedlings out I also started some seeds in the greenhouse in early spring. Above is one of the poppies in bloom. They range from pinks to white in the garden. It is said that poppies are hard to transplant. If you do it with the whole root ball intact it’s not usually a problem.

5 annuals you need to try

This annual had me stumped. I didn’t know what it was but I love it. Flowers in shades of pinks, whites and purples bloom along tender pink stems. The flowers resemble that of miniature Hollyhocks. This is Clarkia. I had to go back to the seed package to figure it out. I haven’t grown this annual in over thirty years. No wonder I didn’t remember it. It turns out this is a good cut flower.

5 annuals you need to try

This plant is still a puzzle. It could either by Didiscus or annual Iberis. They are both very similar in flower. The umbel shaped flowers are sure to attract pollinators to the garden. Mixed in with the spring-flowering Forget Me Nots, this garden is all pastels.

5 annuals you need to try

I wasn’t surprised to see the Godetia bloom. I have grown this old-fashioned flower for many years. I love the two-tone shades of pink on this easy to grow flower. Note to self, I must collect seed from this one.

5 annuals you need to try

I started seed to grow Echium vulgare in 2014. It grew a rosette of leaves at the base and that was it. I always think of this plant as an annual. Perhaps its biennial here. The spring flowers opened from pink buds to this vivid blue. I grew this flower about twenty years ago and hadn’t seen seed offered until last year. What I do remember about this plant from my experience growing it in the 1980’s is that it was covered in caterpillars. Of course, I was a new gardener then and though it was a pest. It turns out this a host plant for the Painted Lady butterfly. So far I haven’t seen any larva on the plant. The butterfly is all over the garden as I have a few other host plants for them to enjoy. The common name for this flower is Viper’s Bugloss. It has bristly stems and hairy leaves. I grow it for the blue flowers. I think they are stunning.

Do you grow unusual annual flowers? I love trying new seeds each year.

10 Pretty Vignettes for the Garden

Over the last few years I have travelled to see many beautiful gardens. It’s not just the plants that make each one special. Of course, plants are a big reason we like to look at gardens but it’s also how they are featured in the garden. As much as I would love my garden to be one of those Better Homes and Gardens type it is more on the rustic, free-flowing, cram every plant in it kind. Let’s look at how you can make your garden come alive. I used the word vignette to represent a small section of the garden that I enjoyed. A vignette is described as being a collection of items or a quietly touching or appealing scene for  visual enjoyment.

10 pretty vignettes for the garden

I visited this garden in Portland last year. Doesnt this seating area look inviting? What draws the eye is the ladies head on the table. The colour was chosen to match the inviting sofa. I find this a welcoming look. The lushness of the container plantings creates a corner for a private moment for two.

10 pretty vignettes for the garden

One item used extensively in gardens now is glass. Glass art is everywhere. These blue fiddlesticks look wonderful in a garden. Choose a colour to match your flowers or use in a space that needs a pop of colour.
10 pretty vignettes for the garden

Arches are a favourite in the garden. This one is made of steel and covered in climbing roses. I wonder if the view to the garden below is what was being framed by this arch. Use arches to welcome people to your garden and to draw their eye to a new area of the garden.

10 pretty vignettes for the garden

For the easiest vignette to create, use a large container. Above you can see the impact a textured container has. Not all containers need to be planted.

10 pretty vignettes for the garden

This is last summer in my garden. I wanted to be able to enjoy the fragrance of the roses so we placed the Adirondack chairs here for a place to sit and enjoy.

10 pretty vignettes for the garden

Not every vignette has to cost a lot. Try planting up a small box like with flowers. I placed water-filled mason jars in this pretty box and added cut flowers. I like to place bouquets around the yard, on benches, tables and near the front door for all to enjoy.

10 pretty vignettes for the garden

How about finding a table like this? Tables like this are easy to find. You could spray paint the legs and edges a colour to match your flowers nearby. A quick new chair cover completes the look. The use of a fence panel to create privacy without being intrusive is genius.

10 pretty vignettes for the garden

I am a cat lover so when I saw this statue I couldn’t resist a photo. Clearly this cat is the master of this garden with his head held high watching everything around him.

10 pretty vignettes for the garden

This vignette had me thinking. Did the globe represent a large egg or the earth ? Grasses spilled out casually while the grasses in the background softened the display. It’s a simple but interesting vignette.

10 pretty vignettes for the garden

I saw this bird house in a local garden this week. The colour of the bird house matched the fence behind but also tied in with the Clematis along the fence. The dragons on the bird house guard the garden. What interesting details it has! It was surrounded below by more flowers in blue and white tones which made this mostly shade garden pop.

So do you have vignettes in your garden? I bet you do without realizing it. From simple to ornate there is a vignette for everyone.

Building a Kitchen Garden-Part Three

The new kitchen garden is finally planted! I am excited to get some of my many hundreds of plants in the ground. I still have lots of perennials to go in the ground so I will keep plugging along. I may get done by the end of summer. I know, too many plants.

Building a kitchen garden-Part Three

I planted one raised bed full of miniature peppers, green bell peppers, jalapeno and chile jalapeno peppers. I decided to test out the red plastic that is said to help your plants produce more. I am a bit skeptical but saw one gardener use it last year and they had loads of peppers. It’s a finicky thing to do and after working on three feet of the bed, I gave up. I am one of those old-fashioned gardeners I guess. Cutting x’s and trying to dig a hole for each pepper plant was very time-consuming. The plastic is held down with landscape pegs so it doesn’t blow away. It has tiny perforations in it so water can get through.

Building a Kitchen garden-Part Three

I no sooner planted all the peppers and remembered that I wanted to plant some Marigolds as companion plants around the sides of the bed. Sigh, it was time to roll back the plastic at this point.

Building a Kitchen Garden-Part three

I sure won’t run out of basil this summer. I think there are about seventy-two basil plants in this garden. I alternated the Red Rubin basil with the green leafed varieties to give this bed a nice colour scheme.

Building a kitchen garden-Part three

Over a three day period the garden was planted. Two beds of heirloom tomatoes were planted and another bed with cucumbers of different types. One bed of tomatoes are varieties that I am growing for a seed bank. The other bed of tomatoes is for personal use.

Building a kitchen garden-Part three

I planted cucuamelons at each end of the cucumber bed as I know they need to climb. I will be growing these tiny melons for seed this year.Hopefully I will have cucamelon plants available for next year’s plant sale. Cucamelons are tiny grape-sized melons that you can eat by popping them into your mouth. As you can see the vine is quite delicate and won’t need heavy supports. It is said that you can let it clamber up through other plants. I look forward to harvesting my first cucamelon. My sister and I are both growing them this year. Are you?

Building a kitchen garden-Part three

In this bed I planted Crystal Apple cucumbers, Lemon cucumbers and Persian Baby cucumbers. The Crystal apple cucumbers germinated in four days. After  a week the Lemon cucumbers were not up so I have replanted with fresh seeds collected last summer. The Persian Baby cucumbers were transplanted from the greenhouse and are a mini cucumber. More food straight from the garden!

Building a kitchen garden-Part three

Today the raspberry canes went in. There are only three canes but they will produce new canes later in the season. I was able to propagate a few raspberry cuttings in early spring by cutting some canes off established plants. I took the canes and stuck them in a one gallon pot of soil and kept them watered. Three out of five took so I am happy with the results. Nothing beats fresh raspberries from the garden. So what comes next? Keeping this bed watered is a daily chore until the seeds are up. Once the seeds germinate they can go longer without water. With a dry summer on the way I will be mulching the garden with straw or hay. I tried straw last year and only had to water once every two weeks. Straw has less weed seeds so it’s the best choice for mulching your vegetable garden. I may try hay as well. Hay grown for feed has a lot of nutrients so it makes sense to use it instead of straw. It makes sense to feed the soil so it can be enriched at the same time as conserving moisture. As I look at how our new kitchen garden has evolved I can’t help but remember this post from late winter called My Garden Dreams for 2015. Take a look at what I called the back forty last year. That’s where the kitchen garden is now. What a transformation! We are still working on getting bricks down for the paths and trying to decide on a type of mulch for the sides. It was a big decision to build the kitchen garden. We could have laid sod at a third of the cost. But then, you can’t eat grass now can you?

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day-Love in a Mist & Poor Man’s Orchid

I am trying to soak in every minute of this month in the garden. So many new flowers opening each week that I don’t want to miss any of them. I take daily walks in the garden to see how things are growing. If I see a problem, be it a pest or a stressed out plant, I can usually nip it in the bud. This year I have planted some different annual flowers. I love the funny names some flowers have like love in a mist and poor mans orchid. Have you noticed how many plant names have romantic symbolism? How about bridal wreath and bachelors button? Lets take a look at a couple in the garden this week.

Love in a mist & Poor Mans orchid

The Schizanthus above is a pretty plant. It blooms in late spring but will start to decline with the heat of summer. I had to try a planting of them in the back garden. The trees and shrubs have grown and what used to be a sunny garden now has some shade. I hope the shade in this garden will extend the bloom on the Schizanthus. It’s commonly known as poor man’s orchid or butterfly flower and comes in many pastel colours.

Love in a mist & poor mans orchid

On the wild side of the garden along the bank, feverfew is in full bloom. Not much grows here except weeds so it’s a welcome sight. Feverfew is a wonderful filler in a vase of flowers. Try it in place of baby’s breath. The real name for this plant is actually Tanacetum parthenium. The name feverfew comes from the latin word febrifugia which means fever reducer.

Love in a mist & poor mans rchid

Nigella or love in a mist is in bloom this week. Who doesn’t love blue flowers in the garden? This annual self sows each year. Let the puffy seed pods mature on the plant and you will have Nigella in the garden for years to come.

Love in a mist & poor mans orchid

In early spring I planted some seeds to attract pollinating insects.The flower above is new this week.  I am not sure what it is. It reminds me of Godetia. Not only does it have peachy-pink flowers but pink stems as well.

Love in a mist & poor mans orchid

I don’t often grow Marigolds but this year I wanted to add them as companion crops in the new kitchen garden. The Marigold in the foreground is a red signet Marigold and behind it is Marigold ‘Bonanza Mix’. I was intrigued by the thought of a red Marigold and will save seed from this one as the blooms finish. Did you know there are hundreds of seeds in the spent blooms of Marigolds?

Love in a mist & poor mans orchid

Zinnia ‘Purple Prince’ has opened its first flower. The package of seeds showed a deep purple flower, not this dark pink one. I have paired this with Zinnia ‘Green Envy’ and can’t wait to see how well they look together.
Love in a mist & poor mans orchid

Everything is out of the greenhouse including the succulents. My neighbour gave us a cement bird bath with a small crack in it. I knew the succulents would look great in it. The little birds are one of my thrift shop finds. They love their new home.

Love in a mist & poor man orchid

Senecio has its yellow daisy like flowers this week. I usually cut them off but farmer Jim said how lovely they were so they will stay. You see he dislikes Senecio and wants it moved. Maybe if I let it flower he will change his mind. I used this plant in an area that gets the most sun. The tiny hairs on the leaves of this plant help it to retain moisture.

Love in a mist & poor mans orchid

Its poppy season and the peach poppy is out. I love poppies and can’t wait for some of my annual poppies to bloom. Did I tell you I was growing black poppies this year? They should be open any day now.

Love in a  mist & poor mans orchid

Hardy geraniums really add to the garden this month. This one reaches about two feet high and about  the same across. They are workhorses in the garden and come in so many colours. I paired this with the Coreopsis and the contrast is amazing.

Today I am linking over at May Dreams Gardens to share my flowers on garden bloggers bloom day which happens on the 15th of each month.

Building a Kitchen Garden- Part Two

After all the building was done to create the new kitchen garden beds, we took a breather to think about what would come next. I knew we had to order soil as soon as possible. Finding good soil is always an issue. There is nothing worse than soil with too many wood chips in it or too much sand.

Building a kitchen garden-part two

I finally made a decision to go with one of the more expensive soil mixes. I knew that getting the first load of soil was pretty important as it would be the base of the garden for years to come. It still had bits of plastic, glass and wood chips in it from the recycling process but we picked out the junk including a large square of landscape fabric. To figure out the quantity of soil needed  I went online to calculate the amount. The beds are 4′ by 8′ and 20″ high. The online calculator said I would need 12 cubic yards of soil. Phew, just thinking about shovelling twelve yards of soil made me tired. I think that’s why we waited for a week.

Building a kitchen garden-part two

It was right. All the soil went into the six beds. Because the weather turned incredibly warm we filled the beds in the evening and early morning. Mid day was way too warm to be working in the garden. If you look closely at the garden beds, you will that my farmer Jim used some cedar he had left over to trim the sides of the bed. Okay, don’t tell Jim I called him a farmer. We just had the discussion on whether we are gardeners or farmers. I was told by a farmer friend that if you grow food you are a farmer. Jim will tell you he doesn’t work in the garden. Not true. He does a lot of the slug work. He also loves the rewards that come from growing our own food.

Building a kitchen garden -part two

The garden bed at the far right has some posts at either end. I had thought about having a bed of strawberries but when we discussed our likes it was decided that we prefer raspberries even more. The post at either end will become the supports for the raspberry canes.

Building a kitchen garden-Part two

For now I have planted red onions at one end of the raspberry bed. The raspberry canes I have propagated from cuttings are still small and we won’t have fruit until next year. The onions will come out in late summer making room for more canes to go in. Jim will be doing some more building on this garden bed. Not sure what he has up his sleeve this time.

Building a kitchen garden-part two

Although the brick work is not quite finished around the outside of the beds I went ahead and planted four types of basil this morning. I planted Red Rubin which can be used for salad dressing or vinegars, cinnamon basil which can be used as a replacement for cinnamon, Sweet Genovese which is the common green basil and Siam Queen Thai basil. I alternated the plantings to have a nice show of alternating colours. After all vegetable gardens can be pretty. There are 72 basil plants. I know, what was I thinking? Pretty soon I will be giving away basil, making pesto and using it on pizza. Pesto is so delicious. Try it as a layer in homemade lasagna. You will love it. For one of my favourite pesto recipes, check out pesto with a twist.

That’s it for this week. I hope to get all the beds planted over the next couple of days and will update you soon. If you missed part one of our kitchen garden project, check it out. kitchen garden-part one. Stay tuned for part three.

A Walk in the Garden in June

A walk in the garden in June

Now that June is here the roses are at their peak. Above is the greenhouse like arbor on the far side of the garden covered in pink roses. Climbing roses do well on this large support system and are easy to maintain by weaving branches in and out of the frame. I do let a few dangle below so I can smell the roses up close.

A walk in the garden in June

On the other side of the arbor pink roses blend like carefree spirits with purple clematis. I lost control  of this clematis a couple of years ago. It’s now wound its way so high up I haven’t the heart to cut it back. I enjoy seeing it ramble through the roses each summer. Its time to get out and remove the branch of roses off the container below. The weight of new roses has weighed the branch down and its time to tie it in place. Honeysuckle is also blooming to the right above the bird bath.

 

A walk in the garden in June

By the front door I have Rose ‘Laura Ford’ in full bloom. It’s another fragrant mini climber growing to about eight feet.

A walk in the garden in June

Every year I anxiously wait for this pink rose to open. You see it came from a cutting in my Mom’s garden and she no longer lives there. I have recently taken a couple of stem cuttings to add some roses to our new kitchen garden. You never know, we may just have to add an arbor to the new kitchen garden. I will update the progress on the new kitchen garden next week. To see what we have done so far, click here.

A walk in the garden In June

Under the large rose arbor I have what I call the wild garden. I like the look of an english country style garden and try to fill the area under the arbor with perennials and self sowing flowers. I recently had some children in  the garden and they loved the Stachys or Lambs Ear plants I had along one edge of the garden. The softness of the leaves had the children petting them. It wasn’t until I gave a talk on plants to use to attract pollinators that I found out this is one of them. You can see the purple flowers are just beginning to open. There is no lack of plants to attract bees in this garden but knowing I have a new one makes it even better.

A walk in the Garden in June

White Campanula blooms amongst the golden hues of Alstromeria. Many people think Alstromeria is invasive but I haven’t had that problem. Mind you, when you garden on a half-acre, plants that fill the large gaps with colour are a blessing. Ground covers take on a whole new meaning in this garden.

A walk in the garden in June

I have always loved Geraniums for their ease, hardiness and colours.They bloom for weeks and weeks. Ugh, I see the horsetail in the back. Oh well, I never get them all out. My garden is certainly never perfect. I think mother nature likes to challenge me everyday and that’s okay.

Today I am linking over at New House New Home with Heather. Please visit her garden and check out her blooms. They are stunning!

 

Pest Alert-Coreopsis Leaf Beetle

 

Pest alert- Coreopsis Leaf beetle

Last year I started some Coreopsis from seed. Being its perennial I knew I would have to wait until year two to see blooms but that was okay. I had seen the gorgeous blooms at the community garden and wanted them at home as well. Above are the blooms of the Coreopsis at the community garden. They are the perfect plant for a rock wall garden. This plant grows easily from seed and is hardy here.

Pest Alert-Coreopsis Leaf Beetle

Last week I had friends over and one of them spotted something nibbling on my Coreopsis plants. If you look closely at the photo above you can see holes and tears in the leaves. There were sign of excrement on the leaves. I knew that wasn’t a good sign. Pest Alert-Coreopsis Leaf Beetle

My friend, Alex, spotted the bugs with his young eyes. They were tucked inside the buds having a great time. At first I thought they resembled lady bugs but we all know they have spots not stripes. I had to take a closer look.

Pest Alert-Coreopsis Leaf Beetle

I grabbed a small plastic container and started to hand-pick the beetle off the Coreopsis plants. That way I could get a good look at them. They have the same hard shell as a ladybug but each of these beetles had three distinct black stripes on them. The beetle is about 1/4″ long. So what could it be? They were only on the Coreopsis plants and no other plant nearby had them. I knew it was something specific to Coreopsis so my online search began.

Pest Alert-Coreopsis Leaf Beetle

This closeup was what I had to go with. Finally after a bit of sleuthing I found a short article by Linda Gilkeson with a photo of the beetle. It was the Coreopsis leaf beetle or Calligrapha californica coreopsivora. I wasn’t sure how to control them but being an organic gardener I started to hand-pick them off the plants daily. I squished them as I went. I know, poor things, but I wanted to see blooms after two years of waiting for the plants. I continued to do daily inspections and pick the beetles off. I see less and less of this pest and it looks like I will have flowers soon. Remember the flowers I showed you at the community garden? They do not have any beetles on them. The only difference between my planting and the community garden is theirs is more exposed to wind and full sun. My garden is quite protected and shaded from the hot afternoon sun. I guess my question is where did they come from? How do they overwinter and on what?  I have learned that this adult beetle will lay eggs near the base of the plant so by picking off as many as I can hopefully it will disrupt the life cycle of this pest. I sure don’t want them back next year.

Wouldn’t you know the next week I started receiving emails from the master gardeners at VanDusen about this new pest. The Coreopsis leaf beetle had returned after a seven-year hiatus. This is common for many insects. Gardeners all over are reporting this beetle on their Coreopsis plants. So check your plants and hand-pick them off. Drop them into a bucket of soapy water to drown them. I actually tried this but found the beetles quite adaptable to the water so squishing became my method of control.