Thursday, August 23, 2012

My friend Sheila's garden

Once upon a time (in the 80's), Marg, Sheila and I used to all work at the library together. We became great friends and have stayed that way over the years.
Marg and I went to visit Sheila today. Her home and gardens are situated on a property that spans more than an acre and extends down to the Grand River.
Almost as soon as we arrived, we went on a garden tour. Please join me as I show you the magnificent job Sheila and her husband have done with this huge yard.

One of Sheila's urn designs was featured in Fine Gardening a few years ago. This is a variation of the original: Kong coleus, sweet potato vine and corkscrew hazel branches in an "extremely heavy" heirloom urn from the 1800's.
Boxwood neatly borders the entrance gardens.

This section is filled with "goodies": a White Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus) that smells heavenly in the spring, Holly, Heuchera, Hosta and a clematis that spills over the wall.

Climbing hydrangea, clematis and Rose Glow Barberry share the front bed with a solemn golden Lady.

Sweet potato vine, a thin leaf variation of potato vine called "Illusion Emerald Lace"and dark red coleus make a wonderful "spiller" composition in an unusual container: an antique baby bathtub!

Beside the driveway is a bed that features, among many other things, ferns: Ostrich ferns, Ghost fern, Japanese Painted Fern and …..

…....Maidenhair Fern.

Over the years, Sheila has dug up and replanted into the front and the back many, many 'February' or 'Winter Daphne (Daphne mezereum) from an area near the river. These magnificent shrubs have highly scented lilac blooms in late April or early May and later have bright red berries. They seem to do well regardless where she transplants them!

These Heron are my favourite statues in the garden!

Sheila searches out and buys many Japanese Maples. Two recent purchases include Acer campestre 'Carnival', a beautiful variegated type and Acer palmetum 'Ukigumo' or 'Floating Cloud'.

I am always gushing about my Oakleaf Hydrangea, so I was very interested to see a dwarf one in this section of the garden. A small one like this would have been better suited to the location where I have my big overgrown one - sometime I lose sight of my front door!! Oh well - too late now…

Oooops! Bad Hair Day!!

Hosta 'Praying Hands' is definitely a collector's item. Its upright, narrow, tightly folded leaves resemble hands that are praying.

In the one large bed beside the driveway, Sheila has incorporated a Canna Lily (in a container), a purple smokebush and Sweet Autumn Clematis

Here's Sweet Autumn Clematis close up.

This is the Sun Border neatly bordered by boxwood and with a cedar hedge backdrop.

The corner of the property features a lime smokebush, a barberry bush that must be cut down every spring, hydrangea paniculata, a Gingko tree and an Eastern Redbud.

These are very special: a Tiger Eye Sumac…..

…….and Hydrangea 'Pinky Winky'.

And now we go to the "backyard", heading down towards the river.

Sheila describes the garden being in tiers, rather than rooms. Here, though is a "room" with an excellent spot to sit and view the river.

The idea was to create neat, orderly beds among the existing trees. But it had to look as if it had just "happened" that way. Sheila has been highly successful in achieving this.

Even the river bank has been planted with water loving plants.

Thanks so much for having us over, Sheila! The place looks even more magnificent than last year :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August 15 - Garden Blogger's Bloom Day

Every gardener and every garden blogger has lamented this summer's high temperatures and lack of rain. I certainly have! But despite these 2 major setbacks, the flowers carry on, brave souls!!

So here's what's blooming in my garden on August 15th Garden Blogger's Bloom Day:

Asiatic lily 'Strawberry and Cream'

Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta)

Daylily 'Mateus'

Cream coloured shrub rose (blooming for a second time around)

Beautiful wine-coloured Scabiosa that I grew from seed. Since the package was labelled Imperial Giants Mixed, most are a pale mauve but one bloomed this fabulous burgundy colour.

Anise hyssop

White phlox

The oakleaf hydrangea is already turning from pink to bronze

2 different colours of self-seeding Sweet Pea

Coral bells are blooming for a second time…..

….as is the 'Anthony Waterer' Spirea.

Last but not least is the Morning Glory on the back fence.

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day is a Meme created by May Dreams Gardens
Gardeners post images of what's blooming in their garden on the 15th day of every month. All are welcome to participate.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

I've started a NEW Blog!

Hello Gardening Friends
Just wanted you to know that I have recently started a new blog which I have named Astrid's Home. It will feature lots of tried-and-true recipes that I have collected over the years as well as menu ideas, some decorating tips and shopping finds. Please stop by and give the recipes a try. Hopefully there are some you could use at your next family dinner or party.

Astrid's Home is at

Here are some of the recipes I have featured so far (LOTS more to come):

Butter Tarts

Spinach Salad

Shrimps and Dip

Savoury Cheese Krispies

Please take a look and let me know what you think. Happy Gardening and Happy Eating!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mother Nature as Design Teacher

It's interesting to look at peoples' front yards and backyards. Some have been designed by the owner, others professionally landscaped. Many are great, but others somehow look "wrong".
Perhaps the proportions are incorrect: too few small plants in a sinewy shape clinging to the edge of a large house. Other times it's big boulders and rocks just plunked near the driveway, attempting to make them look natural.
So the question is: how do you make a landscape look as if it just "happened"?
Sometimes you need to observe how Mother Nature did it and the ideas are right before your eyes.

This past weekend we were at up at a friend's cottage and the more I looked around, the more I saw rock formations and plant groupings worth photographing.

Large rocks only look natural if they are buried at least halfway if not two thirds of the way into the ground.

Groups of trees in a front yard look very tidy and formal but here they look very good too, growing where the original seed landed.

Another example of how deeply rocks should be into the ground.

This grouping of a large rock as focal point, with smaller rocks scattered nearby, would probably work best in a rural setting. I loved those little round pockets of vegetation.

Due to the lack of rain, the water level of the lake is down 16"!! I have never seen this many rocks exposed at the end of the Point. But just look at the fabulous composition!

Here are some grasses on the slope of the shore.

The view down the shoreline.

It's amazing what nature can teach you about landscape design. But when I wasn't shooting pictures like crazy, it was lovely relaxing in the summer breeze just gazing out over the lake…...