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At last – a garden update!!!

Yes, I know, you have all been dying to know what my garden is up to this spring.

Most importantly, I posted a photo back in February of the winter indignities this poor garden gnome has had to suffer.  You’ll be happy to know he’s back in his (warmer) element, and today I gave him his own little coleus to supervise.

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I love May!  Green, green, green… everywhere you look, the world is GREEN!

Front yard, Spring 2011:

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Same picture, from 2008:

front yard

More green!  Here’s how the emerald cedar hedge is doing.  The trees have been there for three years now and they’re definitely growing.  Ignore the front and back ones… look how bushy and healthy the others are!

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This is how they looked when they first went in in 2008. 

naomi and the baby trees

I bought $5 trees, to save money, and they were so small, I swore they wouldn’t make it.  Little Naomi Rivka is giving this one a hug.  Now, they are ALMOST taller than her.  If you buy $20 trees, they fill in quicker, but I bought ten of them, so it would have cost $200 instead of only $50.

In case you haven’t been reading for that long, the only trouble these trees gave me the first year was that, after a few months of vigourous growth, the front one, closest to the sidewalk, was STOLEN.  Yup, somebody walked past and TOOK MY TREE, leaving a big gap.

I moved a happy and healthy “spare” tree from close to the house and stuck it in the place of the stolen tree.  I don’t remember exactly what happened since then, but various tree-moving shenanigans have ensued in the three years since, resulting in the death of two emerald cedars, Big Daddy (2009) and Medium-Sized Daddy (2010).  Medium-Sized Daddy made it through last summer beautifully, but mysteriously passed away over the winter.

Last spring, I was smart when I bought Medium-Sized Daddy and KEPT THE RECEIPT.  It came with a one-year warranty, so today, I sent Ted with its browned and bedraggled body over to Fortino’s to pick up a replacement. 

He came home with this year’s contender, Extra-Large Daddy:

new emerald cedar

I dug a nice huge hole for it and filled it in with beautiful, wormy soil.  There is nothing that is going to stop this tree now!!!

Assorted other green-ness:

Ornamental Alliums were the hit of the neighbourhood last year, and I think I planted more last fall… anyway, they’re busy getting ready for their big show.

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Herbs!  Two pots, right up front, with rosemary, lots of parsley, basil, cilantro.  I don’t like sending the kids to the backyard for herbs because I always worry that they will come back with lavender.  This has actually happened.

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And then, there’s the teeny-tiny postage-stamp backyard.  Not nearly so tame, but I’m kind of loving the idea of it as a sort of wild place.

First to greet the spring:  daffodils and rock cress (arabis).  They look like a bouquet together.

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I dug a new bed, which I envisioned as being teardrop-shaped, or loosely triangular, and it IS, but really, it just looks like a grave.  And no, I’m not going to spit three times or say God forbid, or rachmana litzlan.  Graves are graves and I hope everybody here can deal with that. 

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The soil in the bed is SO bad that the basil I planted turned colours and is shrivelling up.  There must have been a toxic waste dump on the property before we moved in.  I have done everything right, city compost, homemade compost, fertilizer, topsoil, for the last five years, but the earth here is SOooo unforgiving.

More or less the same shot, from 2008:

whole backyard

Okay, the scary part for me, looking at these, is I can’t decide which looks better.  The grass looks nice, but what you can’t see in this year’s picture is that the raccoons dug up the backyard grass pretty badly in their desperate quest for grubs. 

It’s definitely a FULLER backyard now… wilder, woolier, less suburban and more… hmm.  Better not think about it too much.  Maybe fewer plants and more tranquility really is the way to go.

And then, there are my new…

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Good garden gloves, I have learned, make me feel  like a superhero.  REALLY.  These are some kind of stretchy fake-fabric, as artificial as they get and I just know they will make my hands schvitz all summer.  I know it, and I love them.  There is a rubbery nitrile coating on the front and they feel like a bathing suit for my hands and when I wear them, I am powerful.

I went to Humber Nurseries today with my mother, in what seems to be a biennial excursion.  It is always pleasantly quick to get there; the first time, I thought it would be 45 minutes to an hour, but, in Brampton, it’s not THAT much further than the movie theatre we go to in Richmond Hill. 

Check out the size of the place!


I love how they alphabetize their perennials.  It’s the perfect garden centre for a plant geek.  Plant World, which is closer, has a great selection, but they don’t alphabetize.  Mostly, they do it by Latin name, but you have to be careful, because some plants, like hostas, have their own special sections. 

We ended up looking at thymes, which are the ultimate plant-geek plant, because there are SO many, and they can be found in three sections:  ground covers (for the low lying and carpeting thymes), perennials (planty thymes) and way over in the vegetables section (edible herby thymes).

Must brag a bit here – speaking of plant geek – that I felt uber-cool and knowledgeable the whole time were were there.  I am the PERFECT person to bring along to the garden centre, having read every issue of Canadian Gardening magazine since about 1992 (someone freecycled me a boxful of back issues).

image My mother would wander over and say, “this looks really nice, doesn’t it?” and I’d say “full shade” and she’d sigh and move on, because she’s planting up a really sunny section.  Okay, it doesn’t sound like I was particularly cool, but trust me – it really was like a superhero thing.  Or like when my mother mentioned “Silver King Sage” and I steered her straight to the artemisias (sages and artemisias – aka wormwoods  - are closely related). 

(she didn’t take the artemisia because she decided she already has one)

image Or like when her garden guy had recommended a particular heuchera and they didn’t have that exact one but I suggested another that I thought she’d love… and then we had to wander the aisle looking for it and whaddya know?  She stopped in front of one and said the colour was just beautiful, and I peeked at the tag, and it was the exact one I recommended.  (Plum Pudding – and it IS beautiful; I own at least one somewhere)

Well, I guess that’s enough geekery for one garden dispatch.  If you love plants and growing stuff, and want to read more of my garden adventures over the years, click the Growing tag below this post.  If you don’t, well, hang in there and we’ll be back to our regular schoolin’ in a couple of days (field trip to the NFB tomorrow!).


  1. Hurray for gardening time!! I am so ready for spring...


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