Fairy Gardening Books – Giveaway Winners!

Drumroll, please…it’s time to announce the winners of my Fairy Gardening Books Giveaway! 

Without further ado…

Fairy Gardening 101 goes to Alys of Gardening Nirvana!


Laurie from Notes from the Hinterland has won Fairy Gardening!

Congratulations to you both!  I hope you enjoy the books!  Thank you to everyone for entering!

Alys and Laurie, please let me know your mailing address via the “Contact Me” form on my blog (in the drop down menu below “About Me”), and I’ll get your books out to you in the next couple of days.

Have a wonderful week, everyone!  Happy gardening!

August 3, 2015 Begoniaresize

Flowery Friday: Silene uniflora and Papyrus profiler.

IMG_1359One of the tidiest, most low-maintenance plants in my garden, Silene uniflora ‘Druett’s Variegated’ (catchfly).  It’s also very amiable:  by the end of the season, the absolute brute that is my Engleman ivy will have flopped and clambered all over it.  No power struggle between these two – they’re like drunken buddies after a long night out.  “I love you, man.”  “No – I love YOU.”

I’ve been planting and watering my new babies like a madwoman…we had some rain earlier this week but it moistened only the top inch or so of soil.  I’m hearing that in the north, some farmers who had their crops wiped out by a late frost are not replanting because of the drought.  “Heat stress” might be the catchword of the summer, as we’re looking forward to some long hot weeks ahead.  I have always tried for mostly drought-tolerant plants because we don’t have a good watering system at the apartment I’m lazy and cannot be bothered to water – I hope I’ve made the right choices that will see the garden through.  Calgary is seriously arid, anyway – that rain shadow cast by the Rocky Mountains is pretty immense.  It’s something we have to take into consideration when we plant.  Or we should, anyway.

My other gardening news:  it looks like we’re finally on track to build a pergola for the community garden, a project I’ve been involved with since late last year.  Hopefully within a month or so I’ll be able to show photos.

I attended a container planting workshop held by the Calgary Horticultural Society last night and was introduced to the decidedly-non-Prairie-denizen dwarf papyrus (Cyperus profiler) – I was one of only a few gardeners in the room who were not familiar with it, so I guess that shows how little I’ve been out in the garden centres as of late (granted, I don’t plant more than one or two containers a year).  Apparently the papyrus sucks back water like no one’s business, which doesn’t really conform to my aforementioned gardening practices, but it’s so funky I will lug water for it daily if I have to.  (Please excuse the photo – I took it this morning in brilliant sunshine).


What’s new in your garden this week?  What are your plans for this weekend (gardening or otherwise)?  I hope it’s a great one for you!  

New windows, garlic greens, and other things.

Sooooo…I’m waiting patiently (okay, maybe not so patiently – who am I kidding, really?) for the snow to melt here and in the meantime things are happening on my windowsill.

I mean, REALLY happening.  A couple of weeks ago, maintenance staff arrived with new windows for our apartment building.  It was definitely cause for celebration, as our previous windows were at least two decades old – probably more like three –  and we were having issues with ice building up between the panes (especially as one of them had a small hole in it).  The hardware wasn’t working smoothly anymore, either.  Of course, once the new windows were installed, I couldn’t bear the sight of the chipped windowsill, and we had some imperfections on the wall from when we had blinds put up a few years ago, so out came the filler and the paint.  I’m extremely pleased with the results – but now I think the whole place needs new paint!  UGH.

The African violets are certainly happy with the new windows and the sunshine.  These two bloom frequently, every 2 to 3 months or so.  I have a couple of others as well, but the one looks to be on its last legs and the other hasn’t bloomed in about a year.


African violet - 11 March 2014

And there’s a leaf cutting I started a couple of months ago.  I wish I could say it is from the plant that is dying, but it’s not – I didn’t have the forethought to take a cutting and now the mother plant is so far gone I don’t think it would be useful to try.  It’s too bad – the pale pink flowers were so pretty and delicate, almost sugary-looking.


African violet pink

I keep buying cacti – with my watering habits (“when I remember to, which is often nearly too late”), they seem to thrive.  I was all excited when I brought this Mammillaria spinosissima home, thinking I had a new-to-me species until my hubby reminded me I already had one. (My excuse is that the “red head” on my established one has long grown out).  I don’t know how he remembered this and I didn’t – I honestly thought he wasn’t paying attention.  Good thing I don’t buy designer shoes or handbags – he’d call me on them every time.  😉


And I’ve been growing garlic greens!  I planted a LOT of garlic in my community garden bed last fall, both bulbils and bulbs, but I still had some bulbils left and I really wanted to use them up, so I popped them into a pot and voila!  Fresh greens in less than two weeks. It’s been so nice to use them in cooking.


I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!  What home and garden projects have you been working on lately?


Late blooms at the Silver Springs Botanical Garden.


Now, there’s a wall with some fall flowery punch!  I definitely need to take a cue from the talented gardeners that make the Silver Springs Botanical Garden here in northwest Calgary such a special place to visit, and plant a few more selections that give more visual impact in late autumn.  My beds are somewhat…lacking.  (Well, actually, they’re covered in leaves right now so no one notices the paltry amount of flowers.  At least, I hope that’s the case!).   😉


Up close, the flowers may look a bit ragged around the edges, but who cares?  En masse, they are stunning.




The labyrinth is new to the Garden this year – what a lovely addition.  I wish I lived in the neighbourhood so I could go over whenever  I wanted to and walk or just sit quietly on the benches nearby.   Unfortunately, the community I live in is quite a hike from Silver Springs.



What plants in your garden are making a statement right now?

If you had the space, would you incorporate a labyrinth into your garden design?

The late garden.

I wouldn’t call what my garden is doing right now “going strong,” but there are still pockets of colour in my perennial beds, despite (and perhaps because of) numerous frosts.   Here are a few of my favourites:


Alpine strawberries


The ubiquitous Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’


Lungwort – a new acquisition given to me by a co-worker


Sedum ‘Matrona’


Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’ – silver and gold now


Lady’s mantle – love that bronzed look!


Veronica penduncularis – isn’t that foliage awesome?

The scabiosa I posted about here is still bravely putting up a single bright blossom, and my blue flaxes are just ending their second flush.  The thymes never let up all summer long and are heading into freeze up without a break (that’s never happened before).  The Campanula rotundifolia ‘Olympica’ is on round number two, as is the Silene schafta.  As for the annuals, my snapdragons and calibrachoa can still pass muster, while the wax begonias I received from Proven Winners seem completely unaffected by the cool weather.

I figured that my new liatris would not flower this year (I planted ten corms this spring), but they all sent up a huge amount of foliage over the summer so I will look forward to blooms next fall.  I fall-seeded some perennial asters, sweet Williams and a heirloom larkspur so we’ll see how that little experiment turns out in…oh…eight months or so.

I put in three dozen crocus corms yesterday afternoon, to add to my expanding collection (I suppose it only expands if the squirrels don’t get to them first!).  While digging around, I noticed that the scilla and some of the muscari I planted over the last couple of years are sprouting foliage like mad, completely out of season.  If our confusing and lovely autumn weather continues, I may have spring flowers yet before the snow flies!  😉

Which plants are your favourites in the October garden?  Have you had any surprises?

Happy Thanksgiving to my family and friends here in Canada!  I hope everyone has a wonderful day filled with good company and delicious food! 



Yep, autumn has definitely descended.

We’ve had some pretty strong winds here in Calgary, which has facilitated the “falling” part of the season, and now the evidence is lying everywhere:


So much for photosynthesis for this year!  I can sympathize – the shorter daylengths make me want to drop, too…into the soft cushions of my couch with a cup of hot cocoa and a good book.  At least I’m not changing colour, as well (unless you count the fact that I seem to already be losing my summer tan).   😉

I can never resist the temptation to shuffle through the leaves and kick them around just to hear that satisfying rustle and crunch – it just never gets old.  I can totally understand the pure joy of this adorable pup (if you haven’t seen the video hit from YouTube yet, treat yourself – it’s precious!):

The “ground” leaves never last long around our apartment complex, because the landscapers come by nearly daily and blow them into bags to cart away (I seriously hope they’re “leafcycling!”).  I always have to scramble to make sure I get enough to pile into my perennial beds, and to put into small bags to save as bedding and food for my vermicomposting worms.  Yesterday, I scooped up a giant bag of golden poplar leaves to take over to our community garden’s compost bins – we now need a large source of “browns” to add the mountains of “greens” that we yanked out of the tired beds on the weekend during our final fall work bee.

What do you do with your fallen leaves?


(I took the photos in this post at the Silver Springs Botanical Garden, Calgary, Alberta)

Read more!  Autumn Leaves and Fall Colors

5 Things to Do with All Those Fall Leaves

Deciduous Leaves Falling

Annual Performance Review.


Begonia benariensis ‘Surefire™ Rose’

I planted more annuals in my flowerbeds this year than I usually do: verbena in mixed jewel-like colours, hot red and orange Tagetes marigolds, and a few delicate pink snapdragons (with the notion that they would complement the handsome dark burgundy heritage ‘Black Prince’ that has been reseeding itself for the past three summers).  Anyone who regularly follows my blog knows how the story of the verbena ended:  the bunnies ate them (well, most of them, anyway).  And the snapdragons?  Well, let’s just say the little divas didn’t like the weather.  Or the soil.  Or something.  Even the Prince, usually so reliable, forgot his lines and stalked off the stage in a huff.  In the midst of all this chaos, the marigolds have managed to put on a brave, inspired performance, but really, once again, I’m questioning my ability to select annuals that don’t end up as rabbit chow AND keep on delivering.  It’s not too much to ask for, is it?  Well, okay, maybe….

At least, as far as my containers went, there were some definite big-time superstars.  I love begonias, but up until now, I’ve only grown tuberous types – I’ve got an ooey gooey soft spot for the rose-like flowers and all those magnificent colours!  But the fibrous (wax) begonia ‘Surefire™ Rose’ (one of Proven Winners’ new selections that will be available to home gardeners in 2014) easily won me over…the bronzy-green foliage is big and bold and the coral-red flowers persisted all summer long (they’re still going strong as I write this).  One of the reasons I like begonias so much is that they’re so low maintenance – water when needed, feed a bit of diluted liquid kelp twice a month, and…well…stand back and admire.  No staking, no deadheading, no hassle – and ‘Surefire™ Rose’ fits the bill nicely.  Call me a lazy gardener, but that’s just the way I like it.   Now if only I could poll the rabbits and find out what their least favourite flower is!   😉

What annuals performed best in your garden this year?

Do you grow begonias (of any type)?  Did you make the switch from impatiens to begonias due to downy mildew concerns?

(Although Proven Winners generously provided me with a few annual plant selections from their upcoming 2014 catalogue to trial in my zone 3 garden, I was not compensated to review them.  My opinions of how they performed are my own).



Many of you are probably far more familiar with this plant, Angelica archangelica, than I am…I’d never set eyes on one before I spotted this massive specimen on the grounds of the Devonian Botanic Gardens in Devon, Alberta. (Maintained by the University of Alberta, the Gardens showcase pretty much every type of plant you can possibly grow in this province. My hubby and I took a tour a couple of weekends ago, but it will likely be awhile before I get through the volume of photos we shot. There will definitely be more posts about our trip!).

I find it fascinating that angelica is grown commercially (most notably in France) for the confectionary trade – apparently its stalks are candied and used to decorate cakes and other baking. I guess you can candy the leaves as well. (There is a recipe for candied angelica here, as well as some really interesting recipes involving reindeer meat and the herb). I also read that the stems and stalks are often eaten as vegetables, and that the seeds and roots are used to flavour liqueurs and gin. AND you can eat the flowerheads! What a versatile plant. If it wasn’t so insanely large (2 metres tall), I might consider finding a spot for it….  According to what I’ve read online, angelica tastes somewhat like celery – is that right?  In my head, I’m lumping it in with lovage, another Apiaceae family member.

A relative, A. sylvestris, is now on the noxious list of invasive plants in the Maritimes, and it is believed that it is only a matter of time before it makes its way west.  From what I’ve read, it appears that A. sylvestris grows wild in many parts of the world and it is often used as a forage plant.



I’m curious to find out more about this plant! Do you grow or know anything about angelica?

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – July 2013

Okay, I’m dipping my toes into the water…this is my very first GBBD post.

Given that we don’t have blooms in our gardens here in Calgary for about 8 months out of the year, I’m going to really celebrate July’s flowers!

Click on over to May Dreams Gardens to join in the fun!  Thanks so much to Carol for hosting!


The only rose I have room to grow in my garden…in the miniature (Kordes series)



Gypsophila repens ‘Rosea’


Alchemilla mollis ‘Thriller’ and Salvia superba


Linum flavum compactum


Dianthus barbatus ‘Indian Carpet’


Thyme and Dianthus deltoides ‘Confetti Cherry Red’


Verbena – one of the ‘Quartz XP Mix’


Silene uniflora ‘Druett’s Variegated’  with Engleman ivy in background


Click on the photo to join the meme!   

Have a wonderful week, everyone!