Back in the garden and the earth knows something is up…

So I’m back in my likl gyaden!


I tweeted a couple of days ago that the maples clearly know something is up. In five years of living here, I’ve never seen so many little maple seedlings. They’re in the grass, in the garden beds, in the flowerpots – everywhere they can get a root in. I’d said it reminded me of how amoebas encyst and split in dry times. At that point I hadn’t read the weather predictions for the summer. It turns out that heat is hell bent upon us, temperatures turned up, with ideal weather for forest fires like the one in Fort McMurray. A vast beast leaping across the western Canadian landscape, it has now crossed from Alberta into Saskatchewan. Folks in its path must be terrified. God help them!

Nothing to do with global warming, of course, just as last year’s being the hottest year on record means… Well, it seems not to mean anything to a lot of people. Still, all growing things round here seem to be battening down for something, for it’s not just the maples. There’s another tree with seedlings all over everything. I thought it was an oak, but there aren’t any acorns on the roots, so oak seedlings they are not. And the dandelions are gone wild… but they’re wild beasts anyway, dents de lion, as my friend Sonia Chin first pointed out to me. Lion’s teeth! They’ve been taking over in this neck of the woods for some time. My primitive solution to the dandelion scourge is to behead them. Each dandelion decapitated represents fifty future dandelions nipped in the bud. At least that’s what I tell myself. I’ll get around to digging them out eventually, but I’ve got to get the garden going first.

It is exhilarating to be back busy about plants and grasses and lawns, even though it’s so dry. I grieve for some things. I lost every fern this winter, never mind it was the mildest of the last few years. Perhaps they missed the snow water? You can see a couple behind the campanulas in this photo.



There was that small grove of green ones in one corner of the garden, and some silver ones in a long bed by the fence with our neighbour to the north. Ah well. A grove of forget-me-nots has replaced the green ones, sprung out of nowhere, and they are a pretty comfort.

So, back to my tentative gardening efforts, for I wasn’t much of a gardener in the tropics and am very much a novice here in the north. I do know one or two things by now. Bark nuggets are a great investment. They really keep the weeds out. Something interesting, though… The bark nuggets of 2016 aren’t like those of a mere two years ago. They are chunky rather than flat and they look less like bark. I wonder why? I also suspect that the same actuaries who worked out the savings on a pair of jeans if it has five loops instead of seven, have worked out the savings over millions of bags of nuggets if each contains a couple large chunks of wood, as in board, lumber. I have had the opportunity of studying bag after bag of nuggets, for my solution to the intimidating problem of the front ‘lawn’ has been to make a huge newspaper+bark bed out of most of it. (See the one with the campanulas above, which I made with great success three years ago). It is this close scrutiny that has revealed at least one chunk of board in every bag of bark!

As for the rest of the lawn, I shall band my belly and try my best to create a rain garden that will make use of the water from the rainspout on that side of the house. Forget-me-nots and rudbeckia, both of which thrive here, are apparently good plants for a rain garden. I shall start with them.

Rain barrels are also a great investment. I have just bought our third, and in this city, it’s possible to apply for a rebate on one’s storm water charge if one has two or more rain barrels – a bigger one if one also has a rain garden! We do have to find a better way to get the water to flow out when it’s down to the bottom of the barrel, though, perhaps by mounting the barrels on a platform.

Today I worked hard at the “English garden” that occupies a large oval in our backyard and is ringed with a flagstone path. I struggled with the grasses. A warning again about grasses! Some of them won’t stay in place and you will struggle with them once they commence walking about. So know your grass before you sweep it up and take it home.

Sadly, the delphiniums didn’t make it back in quantity this year. Here they are making a splendid show a couple years ago.

Two sturdy plants made it through, so I’ve planted new ones, though they will take time to establish themselves. They were my pride and joy! A bit of possibly important serendipity: the seeds and young shoots of delphiniums are poisonous. They can kill if ingested.

Now I shall have to make a decision on the grape vine, for which we don’t have an arbour. We can’t control its mad excursions with the curved trellises we’ve tried to train it onto, and we’ve never reaped grapes, not even two summers ago when it was covered with bunches, which we bagged with brown paper bags. The critters ended up getting them all. For that reason, my tomatoes are growing inside this summer!

More in due course from this apprentice gardener! Meanwhile, happy gardening!