Sunday, March 29, 2015

Long Gone Bouquets

I'm still digging through my old photos.  I took a lot of pictures last summer but failed to post any.  I think I lost my blogging mojo somewhere.

June blooms - Spirea, Filipendula and Scabiosa
I usually try and pick at least one bouquet of flowers every month out of my garden.  I love flowers indoors and putting together bouquets gives me another perspective on my garden.

A simple bouquet of peonies and lady's mantle in early July
My theory is if my flowers look good together in the garden they should look good in a vase.  But that's not always the case.  Sometimes they don't go together at all or I'm missing some critical element and I find myself rethinking my planting schemes.

Siberian iris and lady's mantle
Sometimes it's a simple issue of some plants don't make good cut flowers.  I don't design my gardens for cut flowers so that's not necessarily a bad flaw.

Late July brings Filipendula blooms, Veronica, Pearl and Ligularia
A mistake I do see though is a lack of green filler.  I always struggle to find some green to set the flowers against.  The reason is obvious, my garden lacks shrubs and other woody plants.

August bouquet - Asparagus leaves, Rudbeckia hirta and Rudbeckia 'Golden Glow'
I get caught up in the blooms sometimes and forget that you need a backdrop.  The green framework is what the flowers hang on and is very important.  Something to consider for this upcoming garden season.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Halifax Public Gardens

Van Dusen wasn't the only garden I visited last year.  Later in the summer we made a short trip to Halifax.  Oddly enough I always seem to end up in Halifax during the winter.  This was my first time there in summer and I knew exactly what I wanted to see.  I've walked past this garden many times but it's closed in winter.

This time I was able to walk right in and see all the sights at the Halifax Public Gardens.  This garden is a national historic site created in 1874 when two older gardens were combined.  It's a Victorian style garden and very different from the gardens I am used to seeing.

Victorian gardens tend to be quite formal.  They were used to displayed exotic plant collections and often had brightly coloured symmetrical flower beds.  Ornamentation was prized and Victorians did it big displaying large gazebos and sculptures.

The Halifax garden demonstrated many of these typical Victorian characteristics.  There were numerous statues and grand water features.

This very ornate bandstand is surrounded by brightly planted perennial beds.

 Many plantings were impossibly intricate, like this snake that wove through the grass.

There were several of these snakes winding around, perfectly edged and planted in annuals.

Even the more natural looking plantings still featured statues and large masses of plants.

I really enjoyed some of the wonderful plant displays like this one of locally grown dahlias.

This was a great way to search out new plants for my own garden.

I did find though that the Victorian gardening technique was a bit stuffy for me.  I'm not a huge fan of annuals and I like a bit of a wild look to my gardens.  Regardless, I loved being able to wander through this large park in the middle of the city.  It's a welcome refuge from the bustle and noise.

Have you seen any Victorian gardens?  What's your favourite garden style?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Van Dusen Botanical Garden

Since my world is covered in white these days I'm going to step back in time again and revisit a favourite garden.

While I was in Vancouver last spring I managed another trip to my favourite public garden.  I volunteered at Van Dusen Botanical garden for a couple years and it has held a special place in my heart ever since.  It doesn't seem to matter what time of year I visit, there's always something to see. 

It was still early in the season when I arrived and many trees were only just beginning to show their buds but there was still more than enough flowers to keep me occupied for hours.  Spring blooms carpeted the garden and there was something to see in every corner you cared to look.  A large grove of native trilliums was particularly eye catching.  White trilliums are always beautiful to look at but red ones add some amazing contrast.

Bulbs were prominent on this trip.  I particularly liked this combination of soft yellow tulips, pink hyacinth and blue forget me nots.

Many spring blooming trees, like these magnolias, were underplanted with spring bulbs to great effect.

Early blooming Rhododendron shrubs were also putting on a great show.

One of the things about Van Dusen that always impresses me is the scale.  Public gardens can do things that would seem outrageous in a small garden.  Like artwork.  The sheer size, not to mention the quality, of the artwork was impressive.

This giant minotaur was woven out of wire and towered over us.  In the context of the large trees though it appeared perfectly at home.

A grouping of stone persons gathered in front of a grove of white birches also seemed perfectly natural. 

In the heather garden a series of white figures gazes at you from across the hillside.

I don't expect I'll be putting any large sculptures in my garden in the near future but I really enjoyed seeing them here.  It really emphasizes the idea of scale and context.  Plant according to the size of space you have.  A large space can accommodate and will look more natural if large trees and gardens are planted.  Small sculptures will go unnoticed in a large space so take note of the context and place your art accordingly.

What is your favourite public garden?  Are there any garden lessons you've learned from visiting another garden?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

It's Doing it AGAIN!!!

Snowing that is.

Remember the days when my yard looked like this?

See that lovely compost bin on the left hand side?

Now my veggie garden looks like this.

Where exactly did the compost bin go?

The wood strip you see peeking out of the snow is my bin.  That bin is around 4 feet high.

And what about this?

I have a series of trellis' that support peas, beans and tomatoes in the summers.  They stand around 5 feet high.

They don't look so big right now and after today I wonder if we'll see them at all.  There's approximately another 50cm of snow blowing down on us right now.

I think we're going to set a record in the garden this winter for most snow.  It's the first winter I can remember where I completely lost my compost bin.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Visiting Vancouver

All this snow reminds me of last winter.  We had similar cold temperatures and heaps of snow back in 2014.  But last winter I grew tired of the 6 foot snow drifts and packed up my bathing suit and headed west, back home to Vancouver, British Columbia.  Vancouver is a beautiful city at any time of year but it never looked lovelier to my eyes than it did last April.

Vancouver city skyline
While PEI was still being ravaged by winter storms I flew to a spring paradise on the west coast of Canada.  Vancouver is garden zone 8 and their spring was a good month or two ahead of ours. 

Palm trees are quite at home in suburban front yards
While my yard was still covered in snow, Vancouver was in bloom. Cherry trees and magnolias greeted me each day and I was beyond ecstatic to be able to walk around without a parka.  For two weeks Jody and I walked everywhere, taking in all the old haunts that we used to frequent when we lived here.  Stanley Park was one of our stops.  It's a major tourist attraction and a beloved park to locals.  The park is 1001 acres in total and contains a seawall, trails, swimming pool, restaurants, tennis courts, beaches and the Vancouver Aquarium. My favourite part is Lost Lagoon.

Turtles basking in the sun (Lost Lagoon)
We used to live close to the park and searching for turtles in the lake was a favourite past time.  We also spent a lot of time walking the many beaches Vancouver has to offer. You can literally walk for hours along the waterfront and when the sun is out the views are spectacular.

Cherry trees in full bloom

Gorgeous walks along the seawall
Of course there was no shortage of plants to look at.

Everywhere you looked there was plants and flowers to admire.  I was particularly taken with the community gardens I saw.  This garden on an abandoned railway has been there for years but I always enjoy visiting.

This is a perfect little hideaway from the street where people gather to dig, plant and socialize.  Plus it features this great sign.

"You know all the things you've always wanted to do, you should go do them -xxx"
A new garden I noticed in a very prominent spot was the Davie Village Community Garden.

What used to be a gas station is now green
I love love love that this garden is right smack dab on prime real estate in the city core. Who needs another office building?  Hundreds of people are walking by daily and seeing fresh food being grown. It’s insanely refreshing to see something green growing in the concrete jungle and Davie is just the community to pull this off.  Whoever made this happen I applaud you.

Looking at all these old photos makes me think of taking a trip again.  Winters are long in PEI and I'm dreaming of green daily now.  How long is it until spring arrives?