Goings On About the Garden : Springtime 2015


When I first started this blog I thought it was going to mainly be a journal about my plants, both inside the house and out. My plan was to write about what I planted and how it turned out, and generally how nature can still be accessed even when living in the heart of a major city.

Then I decided that only writing about nature and urban wildlife was too narrow a scope (although I regularly read and really enjoy some blogs that stick primarily to gardening, particularly here one written by a man who lives in Chicago). So I added other topics, such as DIYs of things I make, stories about going out, entertaining, thrifting, beauty department hauls and cooking.

But I still love the topic of gardening and plants, and today’s post is about how things went this spring. If you’re not into plants, feel free to look at the pictures and leave!

As for division of labour in our garden, Nick enjoys taking care of the composting, from layering it properly, turning it regularly, and reaping the gold that is perfectly composted organic waste. The plants love it and really respond to it. He also takes care of raking in the fall and cutting any grass that needs it, although we barely have any.

He also helps me get any new plants from the shops to home (see us getting our herb seedlings in Kensington Market last spring here, tulip bulbs in the fall here, and a visit to a new-to-us nursery here, for example). Then planting them and caring for them is my thing.

All this talk about loving plants might lead you to believing that our garden is a show-stopper. It is not. After watching too many things die, I decided several years ago to only include plants that like our particular conditions as they are, and that don’t require any extra watering. That’s with the exception of some annual flowers that I put into pots to decorate our deck area and the herb garden (see last year’s post about the potted plants here) which I do water. Everything else just basically comes up if it can tolerate the dry conditions, so for most of the growing season, there aren’t really that many flowers in the yard. It’s mainly trees and bushes (including the three perfect flowering trees – a forsythia, a lilac, and a hibiscus – planted a long time ago by some unknown gardener who used to live here, who I give a word of thanks to every year, because they are so beautiful. I wrote about them here).


↑ Forsythia ↑

Here’s a boy who is happy it’s springtime …



But I have to say that there is one show-stopping element to our garden, and that is the tulips! If you’ve been reading for a while you might know that I started ‘the great tulip growing adventure’ three autumns ago, where I decided to add some new tulip bulbs every year. Well, those cumulative plantings culminated in quite the tulip extravaganza this year chez Nick and Loulou!


Passers by pulled out their cameras to take pictures … we could see them through the window. An older gentleman brought his DSLR over to take shots and when Nick happened upon him, he said, “I hope you don’t mind, but it looks just like my grandmother’s garden did”. One afternoon, I had a group of 4 little girls come into the yard (as their mothers stood by on the sidewalk) because they wanted to see and talk about the flowers! They were so cute, one of them declaring, “I love nature”.

What I didn’t realize would happen when I planted the bulbs is that some varieties would multiply, so in a spot where I’d originally planted 3 bulbs, 3 years ago, a good dozen came up this year. Some of the ones I put in didn’t bloom at all, but many of them came up with gusto. I hadn’t expected so many and found the whole element of surprise to be exciting and fun. I’d love to be able to rewind time and see it all happen again!












This excellent showing was in spite of losing a good third of the buds to our friendly neighbourhood skunk before they even had a chance to open up. Toronto has quite the wild skunk population … they come out at night and don’t really bother anyone. We very rarely ever smell their presence. They actually come quite close sometimes when we’re sitting outside, and don’t seem at all perturbed even if Eddie the cat is with us. Of course, we don’t make any sudden movements when they’re nearby! My only complaint with them is that they love to break off tulip buds, so I’d go out in the morning and find empty stalks and mashed up buds on the ground.

While the tulips bloomed beautifully, other bulbs did next to nothing. Every year I try daffodils, and just can’t get them to work. Lots of leaves but no flowers. This year I got 1 single flower, even though I planted 6 fresh bulbs last fall. So, I’m giving up on them. Also, the alliums that I put in the fall before, that did very well their first spring (written about here) were a dud this year, again, with lots of leaves and no flowers. There was one bud (pictured with the insect on it) but it shriveled up and died before opening. The crocuses were so-so, but I know that’s because the squirrels dig up and eat the bulbs (see a story about a particular crocus bud eating squirrel here).


↑ the only daffodil ↑


↑ the only allium bud, which never opened ↑

As for mature plants that were put in by someone who lived here before us, the forsythia was lovely, and the lilac has about a thousand buds on it, ready to open. The wysteria had 6 large flower clusters, the best I’ve seen it produce. I’ve been working on my pruning technique, with good results, but I sure would like it to look like one that is down the street that must have 100 huge flowers on it. Even though it hasn’t been much for flowers, the plant has earned its keep over the years because its leaves are very pretty.


↑ a wysteria flower bud ↑


↑ part of a wysteria flower cluster. The whole thing is about a foot long ↑

And the rose bush that has been spectacular for over 10 years now appears to have died. At least most of it has. There are a few shoots here and there, but nothing like what it used to be. I wrote about it in all its splendor here. Then last year it began showing signs of demise then bounced back a bit. But this year it’s not looking very bouncy at all, so I guess it’s just not happy any more. Oh well, c’est la vie. I was actually getting tired of it anyway because its upkeep required a heck of a lot of very prickly work and the flowers, while stunning, only bloomed for a few days every year.

Here is a shot of a plant that consistently does well in our garden, but the flowers are so small that nobody can see them, except me …


↑ violet ↑

There have been other goings on about the garden so far this spring, including our first afternoon sitting out with a friend and fruity cocktails, our first bbq, a brood of sparrows hatching right where we could get a good view of them, and visits from other birds, one species I’ve never seen before. So that means there will be more garden stories to come, but I promise, this is the only one that will be just about plants! Well, at least that’s until later in the season, because I’ll probably have a need to talk about flowers some more!

Thanks very much for dropping over.
xo lou