Garden Chronicles: Day Dreaming

If April showers bring May flowers, what does April freezing rain bring?  It’s like Mother Nature wants to teach us patience as she taunts us with weather that seems like spring, but then pelts us with freezing rain and snow flurries.

In the meantime, there’s been much planning and day dreaming for the spring garden and thinking about our old garden. I especially enjoyed putting together this corner – we added all kinds of things like sedum, hens and chicks, angelina, and creeping thyme to surround a fountain we got for a bargain at Home Depot. It was lovely. See those two straight green stalks on the left of the maple tree?  Errant garlic cloves, probably relocated by a squirrel.

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It eventually all filled in the next year

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It was in this space that I discovered a love of gardening. I loved every minute we spent working, relaxing, sitting there, and I would start every morning in the garden, taking it all in (and plucking a weed or two). More pictures from the old garden at the end of the post.

Our new backyard is much bigger than the old one and we wanted to get as much of the grunt work done last fall so that there would be no delay with planting come spring. This resulted in a flurry of activity in the fall, including the removal of 21 half dead cedar trees along the one edge of the property, some minor changes to the shape of some planting beds, expansion of the patio, reinstalling stone edging that keeps the soil for other trees contained and – most exciting – getting a fenced in veggie garden installed to keep out Burlington’s rather large population of rabbits. Given that the warmth of spring is late this year, it’s a good thing we did the work in the fall or our growing season would be even shorter!

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Flash forward to late last week when I glanced out and saw a bunny sitting in one of the raised beds.  It was making a nest! Not so bunny proof!  We hadn’t yet put the chicken wire under the edges of the fence, to prevent them from digging through the gravel, and wriggling their cotton tails under the fence. Guess what we’re doing next weekend?

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Perhaps it was this same bunny from last year?

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While the thought of having baby bunnies held some appeal (not to mention many friends cheering for the bunnies, angora bunnies maybe?), I am glad we were able to remove the grass and block off the access before the garden became a nursery.  While I thoroughly enjoyed watching young bunnies play chase in our yard last year, I don’t particularly want to deal with a family of bunnies and the ensuing dog-hunts-baby-bunny / bunnies-eat-all-the-plants drama that would definitely ensue if they took up permanent residence in the yard.

Rabbit wars aside, I have so many plans for our front, back and veggie garden and I’m just itching to get started!

The veggie garden has 4 large beds, there will be plenty of room to grow all kinds of deliciousness!  On the list for this year:

  • tomatoes (Seeds from Cubits Rare Heirloom Organic Seeds, William Dam Seeds)
  • carrots (Cubits)
  • beets (Cubits)
  • peppers (Cubits and Urban Harvest)
  • eggplant (Cubits)
  • kale (Richters Herbs)
  • asparagus – still need to find some
  • salad greens (Cubits, and Richters
  • strawberries (probably from Richters)
  • garlic – does anyone have any garlic favorites? Last year I planted 30 cloves and loved having fresh garlic for a couple of months.
  • rhubarb – still need to get a plant
  • assorted herbs planted around the garden.

While the sunniest/driest sections of the garden will be reserved for drought tolerant plants, the rest of the garden will need a reliable watering system, especially the veggie garden. Thanks to our old backyard that was “fry an egg on the patio sunny”, I know just what to use!

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I raved last year about Lee Valley’s DIY sprinkler system to anyone who would listen. Paired with a water timer, the DIY system didn’t break the bank and made life so much easier. No crying over dried out, dead plants!  You can see a row of three little adjustable mister/bubbler heads and the small lead hoses in the picture above, and once a day they made those young tomato and basil plants very happy with a targeted watering. On the hottest days, the timer was set to water the plants twice a day. While there are a couple of different kinds of sprinkler heads, I liked those pictured above and one called the dribbler best, because they keep the watering focused on the base of the plant, near the roots. We used one dribbler each for a couple of young trees and it worked wonderfully. I’m definitely going to be setting up another system in both the front and back of the house this year.

Also in the this year’s garden, lots of flowers! T. wants our front and back yards to “look like a colourful meadow”, so we popped in alliums, oriental poppies, black tulips, crocus, daffodil and some ornamental grasses before the first frost in the fall. As much as I’ve enjoyed the snow this year (there I said it!) I can’t wait for the early spring flowers to start growing and blooming!  Hopefully the hostas, astilbe and hellebores in the front will have survived the winter too.  Once the last frost passes here, we will put in a few other floral delights and with some luck I’ll have some nice flowers of my own to work with after the Coriander Girl workshops I’m attending this spring. The first one took place  yesterday – more on that later this week!  Do you know Alison over at Coriander Girl? I’ll totally forgive you if get lost in her site and forget to come back here, those girls do the most amazing things with flowers, and I’m so excited to learn from her and Sarah of My Luscious Backyard! Sarah already gave me some fabulous tips on where to finds some seeds and I’ve listed them below along with my other favorites.

To be planted:

  • dahlia (Oakridge Dahlias)
  • peonies
  • zinnia (William Dam)
  • coneflowers (I’ll probably just pick these up at a Connon Nurseries)
  • lavender (I really want to check this place out – Weir’s Lane Lavender Farm, we have driven past signs for it, but I’ve not yet had a chance to visit, those of you on the east side of southern Ontario may want to check out PEC Lavender, we had a few plants that I bought from them at a farmer’s market 3 years ago and they did very well in our old garden, as did the several others from Connon)
  • foxglove (Swallowtail Garden Seeds)
  • larkspur (haven’t decided where to get this yet)
  • california poppies (Swallowtail Garden Seeds)
  • tiger eye rudbeckia (William Dam)
  • cosmos (William Dam)
  • and a whole bunch of other wild flowers, which will hopefully be easy to grow, thanks to some lovely seed mixes that we got at William Dam in Flamborough.

So many plans, so little warm weather! C’mon April!

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P.S. Thanks to that great time sucker Pinterest  – my garden boards are here, here and oh, here…

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