Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Predictions for Garden Trends 2012

I am so excited about this upcoming gardening year, can hardly wait till spring. In fact, after the hullabaloo of the holidays is over, there will be a great many days spent in the greenhouse seeding and planning, prepping and plotting. 

Here are some garden trends, as I see them, for 2012. Some are no-brainers, lol, as we see them happening in a big way already... As in - eating more of the flavourful and homegrown foods, whether from the local Farmer's Market or your own kitchen gardens.

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1. Hues - Black is going to continue to be huge this year... In annuals such as the stunning new petunias Phantom, Black Cat or Black Velvet, or the beautiful Blackie Sweet Potato Vines. There are several varieties of Coleus, Cannas, Callas and Dahlias that will add that sooty punch to your planter or garden.
- Perennials in the deep black or dusky tones - Violas, Irises, Ajugas, and Acteas make great contrast plants in the landscape or planter. I am personally a huge fan of perennials in planters, whether or not they reside there for longer than a season or two. They are then transferred into the garden to grow and shine as my fickle planter heart has moved on to either another colour scheme or a new season.
- Rich jewel tones to contrast with the blacks, especially Amber, will be huge this year. Heucheras such as Creme Brulee' and Amber Waves are used more than ever in pots and planters while grasses in lime and citron tones pop against the deep, dark tones.

2. Heirloom/ Heritage seeds -  The ultimate in organic growing! You will reap what you sow as the seeds remain true, the fruits of your labour will be so delicious and much more flavourful, and with oh-so-many varieties to choose from in pretty colours, stripes, and shapes, such diversity. I guess you can tell that I am pretty jazzed about his one :) 

3. Xeriscape/drought tolerant - this remains a huge trend not only due to the fact that we are  becoming more water conscious, yay! thus saving both water and money and also due to the ease of maintaining a no mow, no fertilise, little-to-no water garden in our busy lives. These gardens/landscapes will also look much lovelier than lawns with no doggy spot patchiness, browning in drought, or shagginess in times of plentiful rain. 

4. Low maintenance native plants - this planting works with your land and the natural resources available. Natives are drought tolerant and thrive in the local conditions without extra fuss. Native plantings used in rain gardens help to hold, retain, and filter storm water in a positive way, to preserve groundwater, streams and lakes from pollution.  

5. Vertical gardening - pallet gardens, pouch gardens, wall gardens, trellises, and vines add visual interest to the landscape and offer the ability to grow more in small spaces.

6. Grow Your Own - Kitchen/potager gardens, so good for so many reasons. Provide fresh flowers and food for your table (and freezer), are sustainable and green, no more worrying about pesticides,  waxes or other additives, and promote natural wild life to return to our yards ... homes and food for the butterflies, hummers, birds, lady bugs, frogs, bees and pollinators...

7. Kids and Fairy Gardens - involving and teaching the next generation by making it fun for kids to learn how to grow.

8. Farmer's Markets - Fresh, local fruits, vegetables, berries, and foods of all kinds. Flowers, bread, handi-crafts, bags, dresses, jewelry, one-of-a-kinds instead of mass produced. Eggs from happy little chickens with room to roam, meat from your neighbourhood farms, honey from bee keepers in your area (happy pollinators). Supporting the people in your local area instead of huge conglomerates from afar.

9. Urban Agriculture - Now I am not necessarily suggesting guerrilla gardening, that one plants up anywhere and everywhere, seed-bombing the world (although the idea appeals immensely ...) but more about community gardens, the using formerly abandoned or forgotten areas in resourceful and useful ways. There are two that just went up in my little city, Nanaimo, and over 70 of them in the city of Vancouver! Way to change the world
To see pictures of my predictions, click here

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

More December Ramblings

A hodge podge of pics from around the yard
this last week before Christmas...  

Bon fire - Perfect on a very grey December day...

The Herb Bed is still bright and colourful - Thyme, Sage, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Marjoram... and Dianthus going strong. Herbaceous herbs, like chives, have died down for the winter months.

 Oops... I added the spring pea vines to this raised bed
as they are such a good soil amendment.
Not wanting to waste any lovely compost-ables...  
Seems there were some old pea pods still clinging to the vines
as I now have a lovely crop of peas coming up :)

Heirloom Italian Flat leaf Parsley is still lush and beautiful.

   In the greenhouse
One wants in, the other wants out.

Loving this purple Heather.

This variegated Osmanthus - False Holly, is super pretty any time of year
but seems most appropriate during the holidays. 

Love the contrast between the Golden Cypress
and Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Seed Companies 2012

Dominion Seed House from Ontario, Canada. Purchased their seeds for the first time. The packaging is a little dull... but they have a great selection and also carry seeds that seem to be harder to come by. Ordered by phone, service was very efficient, if not exactly enthusiastic, the seeds arrived within a week! Even though it was during the December mail rush! Their website is set up well and easy to shop.. strangely though, could not always access it.

Stokes - A wonderful company, been around for a very long time, found both in Canada and the States. The catalogue is really nice with much better pics this year than last year, though wish they had pics of each item. Best feature - the seeding and growing info for each and every product is listed right in the order catalogue. I keep mine in the greenhouse with me as a quick guide. 

Renee's Garden Seeds - Has the loveliest colour combinations and most interesting selection of herbs, flowers and vegetables. The Zinnias come in the best colour combos I've ever seen...  for me that means no yellow, unless I want it (not)! Their Dukat Dill is the all time best, my favourite, you know how we Scandinavians love our dill. I actually trialed it against several other varieties/seed companies, and it proved to be the happiest, healthiest and tastiest in my raised garden bed. Oh, and the packaging is adorable!

Orders for heirloom tomatoes, peppers, cukes, and onions are logged into my journal... Yes, I do input the information into Excel also, but the journal is handier to access wherever I go than the computer is.

Heirloom veggie, herb, and flower seeds are coming from these companies this year...

Upper Canada Seeds - Canadian company, new to me, with a fabulous selection of heirloom tomatoes. They are listed by early, mid, or late fruiting. Click on the name of the tomato, up pops all the information. Nice site. Shipping and handling is included, so no extra fee. Yay! Received a personal thank-you email from the owner... probably recognised a fellow tomato fan (nut) ;)

Heritage Harvest Seeds - Canadian heritage and heirloom seed company, veggies, herbs, and flowers, with a great website and pictures of most all of the products. They have a main page for each category, tomatoes having it's very own main page, which lists all the varieties, so is easy to shop. Very nice site.

The Cottage Gardener - a Canadian heirloom seed supplier, flowers, herbs, and veggies.  Lovely site, good descriptions and pictures for much of the product on line. Great service, too. My only small, wee, little beef, is that the tomatoes are organised alphabetically only... wish they were broken down further into groupings by colour, or size, or fruiting time, to make it a bit less time consuming to find what I need. Other that that small thing, is a really great site. They also have a catalogue for those of us who like to peruse and go back over and over again :)    

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds - an American company with a fabulous selection and a super gorgeous catalogue. They are also on Facebook : ) Last year, my pepper seeds were stuck in customs for a bit, just long enough to make me a wee bit nervous about the seeding dates, but other than that, excellent service and information, great site, so easy to shop. I think most peeps are familiar with these guys, so I won't gush.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Homemade Yule

Mossy wreathes made of twigs, moss, and lichens, bound with thin gold wire.

Mossy lichen balls, wrapped with the same thin gold wire, 


Handmade patchwork wreathes.

Using lots of natural elements...

Handmade patchwork wreathes hung on a traditional Finnish Cookie Tree.
Though cookies would be yummier, hanging from the tree they are too easy to grab and nibble every time one goes by. Wreathes are easier on the figure.

Most everything on the tree is either handmade or made of natural materials, with a few lovely tarnished brassy accents.

Muslin Snowman faces, 'Candy Sticks' of ribbon and dowels, stuffed burlap hearts, and birch bark star topper.

Burlap hearts , bark pears, twig balls, white painted pine cones, and lovely tarnished brass orbs.

A tattery, handmade, burlap wreathe.

Boa wreathe with large burlap bow.

Yet another wreathe, must of been a wreathe kinda year, made of hand-picked Mahonia
 (yep, ouch!)

Outdoor planters with living Cotoneaster. white Heathers, mosses, lichen covered twigs and branches.

Holly shrub, two varieties of white winter heathers (one to bloom in late fall, and in early winter), with a few added accents of mosses, lichens, twigs, cones, and a cute little solar lantern. 

Friday, 2 December 2011

December Ramblings

 Welcome to the garden in December...

The Johnny-Jump-Ups, which burnt out in summer, are now all abloom again. They self-seed freely in the potager pathways.

Little 'Lilah is enjoying the carrots from one of our three ( really! ) winter carrot patches. Here we have Chantenays and Nantes.

The 'Tools Of My Trade" at the greenhouse...  A 20 year old child's waggon (for moving things from place to place), trusty garden fork (lifting perennials, turning compost, and digging holes in our hard-pan), a Hand Mattock (two headed tool for digging, weeding, whacking, trenching...), plus one very supportive garden companion.  

Inside the greenhouse...
I recently noticed a picture of Martha's Jade plants in a magazine somewhere, and realised that one of mine is awfully leggy.
Trimmed it back to a nice shape, took the trimmings and dipped them into a #2 rooting hormone (for it's fungicidal properties), and left them to callous over for two weeks time.
Next week, will plant them in a high porosity seeding mix with added perlite.
Hoping at least a dozen of my trimmings 'take' and become new plants.

Greenhouse Blossoms continue to thrive... though the heater is, once again, not working. It worked all of 3 days.

Just love the greenhouse all lit up in the evening.

The 'hoophouse'...  where I overwinter perennials and roses.

Beautiful weather once again... Was snowy and cold in November (typical), however, December brought sunshine and warmth. Enjoying the +7 C days.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Lichens and Mossy Things

I have developed a strange affection for mosses and lichens...  I simply love how they look.. hanging from trees or growing all over logs and branches.

Use lichen covered branches to add textural interest or to provide support.... like this little Rosemary standard... Stuff moss in any and all bare spots : )

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

November Garden Ramblings

This bit of snowy, windy cool weather on our typically temperate island, has had me playing catch up indoors, as I much prefer the steady drizzle of rain to this slushy mess. However, decided to venture forth outdoors to clear my head, while shaking the heavy snow from trees and shrubs to prevent breakage.  

The David Austin English roses are remarkably resilient, not only hanging in there, but actually blossoming in these cool temps.  

Sharifa Asma

The Generous Gardener

Unknown - perhaps Jude The Obscure.

A few Snapdragons have come back to shine, as well...

Heather is flourishing...

This Pyracantha has not yet been noticed by the birds, as fruit still clings to it's branches. It's orange-berried neighbour has already been plucked bare, so perhaps this red variety is not quite as tasty?

Paperbark Birch is stunning at any time of the year.

The Fothergilla has not quite yet lost it's gorgeous, red leaves, though, I suspect that they will fall in the next week or two.
Fothergilla Mount Airy

Nandina also clings to it's fall foliage.

The native Mahonia in the neighbouring woods has begun to change from green to ruddy and then this lovely burnished red colour, while Salal remains green year round.

Today...Sun is shining, air is warmer, and rain is in the forecast. Yay.

Sunday, 20 November 2011


Sorry all, I see that when I made some blog updates last night, the text from several postings has been covered over by the picture 'frame'. This has occurred mostly on 'Where It All Began' and 'Greenhouse Goes Up'.

Please bear with me, as I first take a good walk outside to clear my head, so that I can continue my (attempts) reparations with a less fuzzy brain.

Update...Think I got it fixed. Yay! Please let me know if you have any further problems viewing the posts.

A Nurse Log ....  A fallen tree, soft with decay, which provides a fertile, moist environment for seeds of other trees, shrubs, and plants to germinate, take hold, and grow in the rotting wood.

Moving Thyme

Sadly, the Nitty Gritty Potager blog is no more... but the good news is that I can now be found at my new blog called the Olde Thyme F...