Monday, April 29, 2013

Spring is REALLY emerging…at last!!

I just walked the property, with my camera around my neck, and here's what's emerging in my spring garden (hyacinths above):

Bleeding Hearts - Dicentra spectabilis

Crabapple 'Profusion'

Chionodoxa and Scilla

Climbing Hydrangea

Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost'


Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)…an Ontario Wildflower

Trillium…another Ontario Wildflower


Pink Lady Quince - Chaenomeles sup. 'Pink Lady

Viburnum Burkwoodii


Peony shoots

Please take a look at my recipe blog - the last posts are Red Peppers stuffed with Saffron Rice and Pine Nuts as well as Broccoli and Potato Soup.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Garden Design 1

Between the years 1994 - 2001, I used to run a hobby business that I called Astrid's Garden Design. Local landscape contractors would contact me about doing a design for clients who wanted their front or backyard landscaped. I would plan out the overall design and suggest planting material, and then the contractor would install it.

I combined my love of drawing with horticultural knowledge and had a grand time designing gardens!
Let me show you one of my projects from the year 2000 and I'll explain what I did and why.

This customer had a brand new house that had a blank palette front yard and backyard - there was nothing there but grass. He and his wife wanted a large patio off the back kitchen sliding doors where they could sit and entertain. They also requested relatively low maintenance plants because they were new to gardening and often away a lot in the summer.

Here is what I designed for them. I apologize for the lack of focus especially with the print and names on the first diagram but I wanted you to be able to see the overall design and how I tried to create a flow using curved lines. I will blow up a portion of the design to discuss it - then you should be able to see the plant names more clearly.

The residence is the large blank in the middle. I tried to balance the backyard by making the patio a large curve, whose shape was echoed in the large sugar maple on the other side of the yard. Both circular shapes were balanced by a large evergreen in the opposite corner.
Shrubs, perennials and vines filled the space across the back fence as well as small pond in the upper right corner. The backyard faced north so I chose the plants that could tolerate shade - hostas, daylilies, and hydrangeas.

Viburnum opulus (Cranberry bush)  tolerates sunny or shady conditions

Daylilies and Hostas are good in partial shade

I always tried to mix trees and shrubs in with perennials to add structure. (I'm using my yard as an example - I rarely got to see the finished product of what I had designed).

I liked to add boulders and rocks to a border as well, but remember - do it only in proportion to the whole picture. Don't add too many or they look unnatural and lose their focal impact.

My Dad's garden is a great example of how curved garden beds enhance a square yard.

And evergreens in a corner add a strong sense of stability as well as year round colour and structure

Please visit my recipe blog : the latest post is Warm Fennel Salad with Olives, Pine nuts and Orange.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day April 15 2013

Many gardeners were lucky enough to have spring blooms last month but we still had chilly temperatures and snow here in Southern Ontario.
It's still unseasonably cold but bulbs and shrubs have started to bloom. There aren't too many in flower yet but I'm enjoying the few I have!


Cobalt blue Iris reticulata

Purple and pale blue Iris reticulata


White crocus

Hellebore 'Winter Queen'

Early tulip 'Red Riding Hood'

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.

Also, please check out my recipe blog Astrid's Home - the latest posts have been Jamie Oliver's Spicy Cajun Chicken with Sweet Potato Mash as well as Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Ribs.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

From This to That

Early springtime in the garden starts showing us how nature renews itself every year. I love going out when the weather finally warms up. I always do a full tour of the property, looking for new growth. And today there was lots!! Let's see how the first sprouts look now and how they will look later.

Dicentra spectabilis - Bleeding Heart

Eremurus elwesii - Foxtail Lilies


Double daylily

Tanacetum parthenium - Feverfew

Matteuccia struthopteris - Ostrich Fern

Dianthus barbatus - Sweet William

Aconitum - Monkshood

So, have faith, Impatient Gardeners! (that includes me!!) from small beginnings grow gorgeous flowers and plants :)

Please check out my food blog  - the latest recipes are for Beef Wellington and Jamie Oliver's Cajun Chicken with sweet potato mash and charred corn salsa.