May Blooms in the Garden

Jacob's Ladder Purple Rain blooming in May

The gardens have certainly reacted to our strange weather patterns this year. We had a very mild winter followed by a warmer-than-usual spring. The mean temperature for May was 15.4C in our area, well above the 12.9C we saw in 2023. The result is that much of the ornamental garden has bloomed earlier than usual.… Read more »

April Blooms in the Garden

Hellebore and lungwart

Until the last few years, April in my gardens meant mostly daffodils. Adding some woodland garden plants changed all that. My three go-to perennials for April: Hellebore, Lungwort (Pulmonaria) and Carex. These perennials combine very well in a woodland or shade to part-shade situation and add a lot of spring interest. Here’s what my April… Read more »

New Strawberry Beds. Trying Again in Raised Planters

New strawberry beds in raised planters

I can’t believe we’ve lived here for 18 years and I’m finally getting around to planting a dedicated strawberry bed. I did try strawberries in the back when we first moved, but the only mammals that got to enjoy them were the chipmunks. I even tried covering the plants with an elaborate chicken wire cage… Read more »

Redoing the Bird Sanctuary Garden Patio

final bird garden patio

It never ceases to amaze me how much a garden evolves over time. When we first moved here in 2004, our gardens were pretty bare, with just a few small evergreens and a lot of ground cover. Bit by bit, I started adding different features and creating separate garden spaces. One of my favourites was… Read more »

Garden & Landscape Bucket List for 2024

Pool garden design plans

My garden landscape has evolved over the years. When I first started, I focused on designing a garden with shrubs and trees, thinking woody plants would be low maintenance for my big yard. I worked hard to add trees and shrubs that bloomed at different times during the season or offered interesting foliage. I supplemented… Read more »

Extreme Cold: How Did the Greenhouse Radiant Floor Hold Up?

Plants moved to floor of the greenhouse

This is my first winter with radiant floor heating in the greenhouse, and our first extreme cold front of 2024 is here. During my first winter with the Hartley, I had only electric heaters in the greenhouse. Unfortunately, when outside temperatures reached negative double-digits Celcius, the greenhouse temperature fell to 2°C. It was also expensive… Read more »

Making a Collage for Container Garden Planning

collage or mood board of all the annuals I'm growing this year

I’ve been reading Arthur Parkinson’s book “The Flower Yard: Growing Flamboyant Flowers in Containers”. I was intrigued by his use of a collage to plan out his seasonal colour schemes. Arthur calls them ‘mood boards’. The idea is you work out your garden colours using images cut out from magazines and garden catalogues. Since I’m… Read more »

2023 Weather Recap – It Felt Cold But Was It?

average temperatures in my area by month

As gardeners, we may feel we’re in tune with the weather, but our perceptions are often skewed by impressions of events that don’t always align with meteorological conditions. I recently pulled some historical weather data for our area, thinking that 2023 was colder than usual. I was very surprised to see that overall, we experienced… Read more »

How Radiant Heat In A Greenhouse Is Different Than Force Air

FLIR image of floor with radiant heat

Radiant heating significantly changes how a greenhouse is heated, and I’ve had to relearn plant placement. With forced air fans, the floor area was cooler as the cold came up through the ground. The middle was warm since that’s where the heaters were directed. And even though heat rises, it was coldest at the top… Read more »

Planting and Sowing Calendar 2024

snapshot of excel spreadsheet with seed starting calendar

In my working life I was an accountant so it’s no surprise that I use an Excel spreadsheet to calculate when to start seeds indoors. It’s similar to many automatic seed-starting charts across the web, although I’ve customized my spreadsheet for what works in my garden. My plan allows me to work off my expected… Read more »