In the garden

This summer has been a special one in the garden. I have loved the lush growth that is a rarity in this usually dry prairie climate. The winter was a mild one thankfully and spring arrived early. There has been more rain than usual. Hops and clematis vines race around each other to take over trellis space, climb over fences and wrap around plants. Tall spires of Veronicastrum sibiricum wave delicately in cool, evening breezes while masses of lilies and daylilies are blooming their elegant hearts out. I think they are putting on a show just for me.

What has become obvious is the urgent need to divide perennials. Last summer, there was some crowding but it wasn’t that apparent. Now it certainly is. The lilies are especially eager to burst forth and take over their compatriots. Where the Baptisia australis expanded at a glacial pace in past years, it has emerged as a plant thug this year. Who would have thought it capable? Perhaps I can go into yarn dyeing – I certainly have enough plants. Lest I stray off topic and wax enthusiastically about one of my all-time favourite plants, I would be remiss in failing to mention the perennially-beautiful Dictamnus albus (aka Gas plant). It put on a lengthly show throughout the spring.  (shown below).IMG_1667

Here is a small clump of Baptisia australis. Tulips have just finished blooming as has the Bergenia cordifolia.IMG_0344

Last spring and summer, I did much less knitting than usual. I am making up for it now. For the past few weeks, I took time out to block the shawls that I knit over the winter and spring. One of these days, I will take photos. It feels good to be back knitting shawls and enjoying it as I did in my early knitting times. Hopefully there will be knitting photographs coming up soon!

A Martagon in my garden

Last year I came across a Martagon lily at a local garden centre and did a little dance of joy.

I have wanted a Martagon for years. Once home, I planted it near the main walk in the back garden. This spring, I was secretly thrilled with the appearance of new green shoots.

Every day brings a few new blooms and I was pleased to find that they have reawakened my joy in photographing my garden again. Last year, I couldn’t work up the enthusiasm to take my camera out and contented myself with taking photographs with my phone.

For the past few days, I have taken out my camera and experimented with my macro lenses. Mostly I get distracted with seeing all the minute things, like tiny bugs and exquisitely-rendered spiderwebs that escape our regular sight.

So, thank you Martagon, for the inspiration. Long may you bloom. 

A spring in my step

It doesn’t matter how many springs I have lived through, each one feels like my first. I love the wonderful feeling of anticipation and possibility that spring brings. My heart does a little dance when I see puddles on the streets and dirt appearing as if by magic in my garden. Every bit of green is a delight to me. I want to take great gulps of air and dance my way down the garden path.

I’ve rediscovered my camera and spent a contented afternoon taking photos of the tulips currently residing on my dining room table. It was a challenge keeping my cat, Finn, from knocking over the tulip vase.

Happy spring to you all!

A different kind of white I like

Today while walking the dog, I thought about how much I like white flowers in summer and how little I like the white of the snow these days.  If it hadn’t been so cold, I would have stopped to take more photos of my dog gallivanting in the snow. I am certain that he far prefers the white of snow to the white of flowers. Winter is my dog’s season ~ he’s bursting with energy and enthusiasm. If he could, he’d happily spend his day running along the river bank in a nearby park.

I look at my wicker chairs that didn’t quite make it into the garage before the snow arrived and I try to imagine when next I will be sitting in them.

Tonight as I was looking through photographs from last summer, I came across this image of Nicotiana sylvestris. As I sat looking at it, I vividly remembered how wonderfully this plant scented the summer’s early evening air. That’s why every year I grow large numbers of this plant throughout both my front and back gardens.

I love an array of scents in the garden. They linger in my mind long after the flowers have finished blooming.Do you have a favourite flower scent that holds good memories for you?

Beginning again

Lately I've been dreaming of sweet peas.  Sweetpink1Perhaps it is simply a longing for warmer weather or a need to breathe in the wonderful scents of spring and summer. Then again, maybe it is a result of many evenings spent paging through seed catalogues and vividly imagining my back fence covered in delicate sweet pea blooms.

Sweetpred1For many years, I have tried growing sweet peas and have not met with much success. Last year, even though I didn't do anything differently, several sweet pea vines appeared laden with blooms. It was great fun taking photographs of


As the days grow longer, I am itching to get out in the garden. It won't be much longer. I'll be planting many more sweet peas this coming spring with the hope of having a fence covered with them just like in my dreams. Sweetpfaded`1

I have been away from blogging for almost

one year now. Time passes by quickly. I've missed my blogging friends and hope to post more often. Reading Anna Maria's post here gave me the impetus to step right back into blogging. So here I am again. 

Spring memories & Pasqueflowers


Sometimes a garden's greatest solace lies in the place it holds in our memory. At other times, the value of a garden resides not in our thoughts about the garden, but in the darker, more mysterious thoughts that it permits amid the reassurance offered by its presence in our lives. The garden one returns to, year after year, builds memories, not only of itself, but of the thoughts and events one brings to and takes from the garden.

(Quoted from J.B. Tankard & M.R. Van Valkenburgh, Gertrude Jekyll: A Vision of Garden and Wood Herbaceous Border, at 26.)

Photograph of Pulsatilla vulgaris ~ Pasqueflower ~ from my back garden, 19 May 2009.

Symphyandra hoffmannii ~ an uncommon plant

Symphyandra hoffmannii
has been one of my favourite plants ever since I first planted it in my garden in Ottawa. It is a prolific self-seeder, but I am okay with that. 2843353664_3393a4797a_oIn spring, I simply pull out the rosettes that are growing too close to one another. This is an easy task, since the plants have shallow roots. 

Before I moved back to Saskatchewan, I gathered some seeds and sowed them in my garden here. They are some of the first plants to appear in spring and always bring back memories of my Ottawa garden in spring. I can picture the two Magnolia trees that put on such a stunning show and I delight in remembering the Kerria japonica and their cheerful blooms.  Visions of my beautiful Rhodendron 'Orchid Lights' drift through my mind.  These spring beauties are particularly poignant memories because I cannot grow any them here.

Although Symphyandra is considered a biennial, I have yet to have a summer without their delicate and beautiful blooms.  One of the distinct advantages of these plants is that their nodding white bell-shaped flowers bloom in late summer and last for ages.  Another feature in their favour is that they will grow in virtually any soil in a sunny location or in a partially-shaded one.  They also remain remarkably free of any diseases or pests.

Last summer, I was pleased to see one errant plant thriving among the bricks of my back patio. It survived repeated crushings by my big brown dog who has always loved napping against a nearby rock.

As you can tell from this photograph, the blooms of the Symphyandra bear a close resemblance to those in the Campanula family. No doubt this is where they received their common name of ring (or ringed) bellflower. From what I've unearthed, they are native to Bosnia.

I have yet to understand why Symphyandra hoffmannii is not a better-known plant.

~ Doing things differently ~

 At this time every year, I'm restless to begin seed starting. I've done it for way more years than I can count on my fingers.Irisquilt1 My enthusiasm knows no bounds as I dream about the seeds transforming into healthy, beautiful blooms. Each spring finds me contentedly preparing my six or seven seed-starting trays. Miraculously, or so it always seems to me, little shoots soon appear under the grow lights. Thus begins my gardening season.

While the urge  to start seeds is at its strongest now that the snow's melting, I'm resisting it. All winter long, I've been tossing around ideas about what I want to do in the garden this year. Rather than having trays of seedlings that I madly dash around planting when the last frost date passes, my plan is to spend more time working on my soil and dividing perennials.  I am also going to start some summer bulbs in the hopes that they blooming earlier than they do if planted near May's end.  

I'll let you know if I can keep up my resolve and stick with my winter-concocted plan.