Call Me Lazy : A Look at my Flower Garden


There are some parts in my life where I admittedly devote less effort than perhaps I could or should.

Thanks goodness science has shed some light on the fact that messy people probably think more clearly, because the chaos around them forces them to concentrate. A recent study, discussed here, revealed that people who have an untidy workspace tend to be more creative and original in their thinking. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it … Because I am sure as heck not pulling out the vacuum cleaner this weekend.

Of course, my mother is one person who has always been aware of my tendencies, and when she stays at our home to sit with Eddie Boycat when we’re away, she sticks to my request, ‘cross-her-heart’, that any doors that are shut when she arrives remain shut throughout her stay. I know how I am but would be horrified to have anyone, other than Nick, see the extent to which I am a creative thinker.

Lest you get the wrong impression though, my messes are very contained to my parts of the home, and the rest of the place is kept looking lived-in but neat enough.

But this story is about my flower garden and how I have become a lazy gardener and not my desk and how it could rightly be deemed a disaster area.

Before I moved to a place with room to do some gardening, I used to daydream about the beautiful outdoor spaces I would create with flowering plants, just like those I saw in magazines. However, moving forward 12 years, I have accepted that you can either work your butt off every single spare moment of the spring, summer and fall, to make that happen, or you can just let nature take its course. Because gorgeous gardens filled with a variety of flowering plants throughout the seasons are just plain hard work.

It’s not that I’m not into hard work though, as I have put a lot into my yard over the years, but the reality of plants is that they are very picky about their environment and will only thrive where they want to thrive. Each needs the exact right conditions to grow, which involves the mix of soil and level of moisture, amount of sunshine, and most importantly the year round temperature level (known as your ‘hardiness zone’. Toronto is zone 6). So no matter how much you try, there are some plants that will just never do well in the conditions you have to offer.

And while I can walk the ‘hood and get serious garden envy (hello yard filled with gorgeous Dahlias. and other yard with the busiest Aster bush I’ve ever seen.) I have learned by now that my particular situation is greatly effected by the huge maple trees that ring my garden. They suck up all the water and make things very shady. In short, they just won’t let many things grow.

So basically, after an initial 7 year period of trying different plants, babying them, moving them if they didn’t seem happy, I have simply reverted to laziness. Nowadays a laissez-faire attitude prevails, and if those pretties want to grow, they will, with or without my assistance.

Finally realizing this certainly takes a load off. And while I wish I had more flowers out there, I am quite happy with what I have. I have also learned that supplementing with a few annual flowering plants (which will only ever last one year) grown in pots keeps things pretty enough for me. Even if the Snapdragons have stopped snapping early this year.

Of course, being a good neighbour means keeping everything trimmed and tidy, and not a wasteland of allergy inducing plants, so I am out there regularly with my clippers and rake, but really, that’s about it these days.

I would call the Purple Clematis Vine (pictured above) my personal biggest success. I planted it the first summer we lived here and throughout the years is struggled but was still alive. So I read up on them and found that they like to be planted in spots where the roots are in shade but the top is in sun. To paraphrase … ‘they like cool feet and a hot head’. I moved it and for the past 3 years it has been a big show off, with hundreds of flowers.

It has a partner Clematis, with darker red coloured flowers, but it only had a couple of flowers on it this year, so I think it is calling it quits.



↑ When we moved in there was a beautiful Wysteria Vine growing up a cable outside our front door. The cable went up to the roof to one of those huge satelite dishes people used to have. Not only did that unsightly thing not work because the technology was outdated by the time we moved in, but we feared that it would pull our roof apart in a big wind. So we paid someone to take it down, which was actually quite an ordeal and ended up breaking part of our new fence. Anyway, when it came down, so did the cable the Wysteria was growing on, so I had to trim it down quite a bit. But I’m happy to say that after 12 years of trying to keep this vigorous plant in order, it finally flowered this year for the first time since the first summer we were here! It had 10 blossoms (which are long dangly things about a foot in length which smell amazing).

sulpur butterfly

↑ A butterfly perched on the Wysteria. I looked it up and found out it is called a ‘Sulphur’ Butterfly, and this particular one is a female because she is very light yellow, while the males are darker coloured.


↑ This rose bush with purply-red roses was here when we moved in too. It has remained small but it still gives us about 8 flowers every year.


↑ Another rose bush inherited from the previous homeowners. This one is called a ‘Single Petal Rose’. It’s the first rose bush to bloom every year and always surprises me with its early flowers.


↑ This pink hibiscus tree was also already here and is huge. It’s in flower right now and there must be a thousand flowers on it. They don’t have much of a perfume but they are glorious to look at. Each flower only blooms for one day, however as you can see there are many buds on each stem. It usually continues to bloom well into September.


↑ Seeing that the pink Hibiscus did so well in our conditions, I thought it made sense to try a different one. This white one is the very last plant I every put out there before giving up on trying new things, (except for tulip bulbs). After 5 years, it’s still only a foot tall, so not nearly as vigorous as the pink one. But it’s trying its best, and offered forth 2 flowers this year. That is two more than it did last year.


↑ This small Lipstick Bush is also trying hard, but is also stunted in growth. After being there for 7 years, it should be large by now, but it is droopy and only about 2 feet tall. But I continue to cheer her on because she’s pretty, and also because of her name.


↑ I brought some Lavender inside and made a bouquet this year. I planted this about 6 years ago, after visiting Nick’s aunt in Edinburgh. She had lavender growing in her garden and before them I’d never thought of growing it myself, although lavender is my favourite smell. It’s planted in a very dry and sunny spot and has done very well.


↑ The Lily of the Valley bloomed way back in early June and is now a ground cover of very green leaves. The patch was a small one that was here when we moved in, but which has grown and grown. The fragrance nearby when it was in flower was amazing. I’ve transplanted some under the maple trees to see how it would do, and it has survived but hasn’t flowered there in the shade.


↑ This one is a Cornflower. It’s a plant I put in a long time ago which is happy where I put it because it has bloomed every year. It is what is known as ‘leggy’ though, which means the stalks grow really tall which makes the plant flop over. Now, a less lazy gardener would definitely do something about that, like tie it up to a frame or something.


↑ This little wild flower, called a Daisy Fleabane is always welcome. Some years they are all over the place and others not so much. This was a ‘not so much’ year so I treasured the couple that we got.


↑ Another wild flower called Columbine. Their perpetually drooping heads make it hard to photograph their faces but I don’t mind a profile shot. Seeing that this plant did so well in my garden I thought it would make sense to plant more Columbines of different varieties. The 2 I tried died right away, but little pinky keeps coming back every year.


↑ I’m afraid this might be the last Lily I see in my garden. I planted 3 varieties several years also, this orange one, a yellow one and a white one. The yellow and orange bloomed for a few years but died away, and this year the orange one only had one flower. So I think this is a sign that Lilies don’t like my garden. Adieu and farewell, it was lovely having you while you lasted. (But please, feel free to make a liar out of me next year.)


↑ Moving along to the annual plants that I have in pots on the deck. Marigolds have always been a favourite. I have an early memory of bringing one in to school in kindergarten and insisting it was called a ‘Merry-Go-Round’ (what we call carousels here).


↑ I got this picture of a Snapdragon last month, and since then this plant has decided to stop blooming. Last year they kept right on going well into the fall, so I’m not sure what happened this year.


↑ I love the tiny Violas. I have an on-line friend with this pretty name, so if you’re reading, Viola, this one’s for you! Sending you a hug across the airwaves.


↑ This year, I tied this new-to-me variety of petunia with flowers are much smaller than the regular ones. It has done very well, so will probably get one again next year.


↑ I also love Fuchsias with their complicated looking duo coloured blooms. Usually I get a different variety which is purple and pink but this year I thought I’d go with this one. But it didn’t do as well so next year I’ll be back to the tried and true.


↑ A fly chilling out on the Fuchsia plant.

Not wanting to repeat myself, I’ll just leave links to the other posts I’ve done this year about the flowers that have come up, that aren’t included here. The Rose Bush, The Lilac Tree, Tulips, A Spring Weekend in Pictures

Thanks for taking a look, and wishing you a great weekend. Hope there’s no vacuuming in your immediate future. Well, um, unless you like vacuuming!
xo loulou