Thursday, March 28, 2013

Seasons in My Garden - a Photo Essay

Hope you enjoyed watching my garden change during the seasons!

Please check my other blog Astrid's Home - just posted a recipe for Curried Lamb Shanks.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Good Old Reliable Hostas

Hostas, also known as plantain lilies, are steadfast garden staples because of their beautiful foliage and sometimes, because of their fragrant flowers.
Hostas thrive in the shade but many can tolerate a bit of sun. There are many, many types as well as many sizes. The tiniest ones are called miniatures. The largest can grow over 6' wide!
Reading up on them, I didn't realize that I actually have (or had) a number of Hostas that have gained the Royal Horticulture Society's Award of Garden Merit! I have (Tardiana group) 'June', H. sieboldiana 'Frances Williams', 'Golden Tiara' and 'Krossa Regal'.
Hosta leaves, although beautiful, can be an open invitation as lunch for snails and slugs. I have found slug bait and other slug deterrents to be moderately successful. I heard that the best way to get rid of snails and slugs is to get up very early in the morning, to hand-pick them off and drop them into soapy water. You know? I'll get up early to catch a plane for a vacation but darned if I'm giving up my precious sleep for slugs :)
Slugs and snails don't (can't) eat through thick-leaved Hostas so that in itself is a deterrent. For late risers like me, maybe those our best bet.
One of the best sites for Hosta identification is Hosta Library. It identifies hundreds of varieties by name and photo.

Here is 'Blue Wedgewood' with perennial geranium, Painted Japanese fern, phlox, junipers and impatiens. It grows to about 14" high and 24" wide.

Another shot of 'Blue Wedgewood' beside my Weeping Norway Spruce. Great textural contrast!

This is 'Sagae'. It's big but has never reached the projected size of 31" high x 70" wide.

The prominent hostas here are 'Elegans' (foreground) and 'Paul's Glory' behind it. I used to have 'June' but I don't think that's 'June' at the right…(which should be variegated….I think it died out)

Here is one of the Garden Merit Award winners: 'Krossa Regal' beside Euonymus 'Gaity'

Elaine is surrounded by 'Golden Tiara' and columbines!

Look carefully along the pathway and you'll see variegated "Night Before Christmas'

'Frances Williams' among periwinkle, euonymus and Sweet Williams

One of the tiny miniatures 'Pandora's Box'. I shot this while on a garden tour so I don't know the names of the surrounding Hostas.

Here's my friend Sheila's 'Praying Hands' Hosta

Hostas make great border plants!

Hostas blend so beautifully with all other plants. As my garden has become more and more shady over the years, I appreciate them very much.

Check out recipes for New York Style Cheesecake and Mushroom and Leek Soup on my food/recipe blog:
Astrid's Home

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Water in the Garden

Water features in the garden have become very popular over the years. There's a wide variety to choose from: simple birdbaths, ponds, fountains and swimming pools can all enhance the overall look of a backyard.

Even in our very small yard in the 80's, we had an inground swimming pool. I remember trying to get a quote for an inground pool in a yard that was probably 30' x 40'. Six companies laughed at me until Company #7 said: Ok. We can do it. And they did!! Not only did it look lovely, but we had many hours of enjoyment for ourselves and with friends and neighbours.

In our present yard, space was not an issue but I wanted the pool in before starting to plan a garden (we moved into the house when it was brand new and the backyard was an empty palette). Again, the pool has been a source of relief on hot dry summer days as well as a gorgeous turquoise focal point to be seen from the deck or the kitchen.

Here is a shot of my neighbour's pool with a stunning planter beside it.

I took this photo while on a Toronto garden tour. What a spectacular pool and property!!

The same backyard had a small pond with a fountain.

On a previous garden tour, this shady little nook had a charming statue and a small stone-lined pond.

Bird baths come in a variety of styles and are like a sculpture in a border.

Flowing water looks and sounds nice - here it's in a very contemporary setting.

Speaking of contemporary - this was a lovely water feature highlighting moving water and colourful rocks.

Here is a more formal setting.

And then there are those who are lucky enough to have a river behind their yard!!

Even without a river, you sometimes still get……ducks!

Please be sure to check out my recipe blog The latest entries have been Breaded Tilapia with Orzo, Sunday Morning Crepes and Peanut Butter Cookies.