Showing posts with label Gardening and Plants. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gardening and Plants. Show all posts


Summer 2015 Update

I’ve realized that the months of May, June, July and now August have gone by and I haven’t updated my blog.  Let me tell you that it isn't because of a lack of good cheeses to review. I have been enjoying some lovely cheeses including new Quebec cheeses and wonderful chèvres. I also had a problem with my computer which took me awhile to learn how to repair. The reason I haven't updated this blog is I have been spending most of my spare time in the garden this summer.

Earlier in the year, my partner Chris and I have decided to convert the side of the apartment building where we live, into a garden. It was a semi-shaded grassed area that actually consisted of mostly weeds. We spent the first few weeks digging and turning-up the clay soil and incorporating soil and compost to the various bedding areas.  We dug up, divided and moved a variety of different Hostas that we had previously planted in the front yard, into this more suitable shady garden.  We divided and moved quite a few daylilies (Hemerocallis) that we had previously planted along the side of the building into another area of the yard that we dug up.

Garden area before
Garden in progress
Garden now
Last year, I had planted some herbs in the sunnier area of this garden and later in the season I planted a variety of perennials (irises, astilbe, sedum, yarrow and daylilies) I had received from one of my co-worker's mother. Since the sage and oregano that we planted last year was doing well in this area, we added lemon balm, dill, lemon verbena and rosemary which were part of a lovely selection of herbs; I had received as a birthday gift from some of the girls at work.  I also enjoy having another variety of herbs (basil, parsley & mint) close at hand planted in containers on my balcony.

working in the garden
Here I am working hard at it

Now, after a few months the garden is still a work in progress. The pathway we designed to run through the garden is still being worked on, as we find suitable bricks or paving blocks that we keep adding to it.

Daylilies Hemerocallis

Dianthus in bud Dianthus flower

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) oregano, evening primrose and phlox

lemon verbena and nasturtium winter savory

 Sedum (Autumn Joy)

Needless to say, I've been having a lot of fun this summer working in the garden. Sure it is a lot of physical work but as the garden was progressing we became a bit whimsical in our approach and it was quite enjoyable.


Evening Primrose

(Oenothera biennis)

Oenothera biennis is a species of Oenothera, an herbaceous flowering plant native to America which can be found from Newfoundland to Alberta. Common names for the Oenothera biennis include; evening primrose, evening star, suncups and sundrops.
Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)
Oenothera biennis is a biennial (as the name suggests) or short-lived perennial herb producing strong fleshy roots and a basal rosette of lance-shaped leaves in the first year. In the second year, the stems grow and develop beautiful yellow, tubular flowers.

The "evening" in the name relates to the fact that it is a night blooming plant that will produce a succession of short lived blooms from late spring until mid-summer if the dead flowers are removed promptly. The flowers are hermaphrodite, produced on a tall spike and only last until the following day. The flowers open-up visibly fast, every evening producing a lovely spectacle. Their flowers open in the evenings for night flying moths to pollinate them. The Evening Primrose isn't a "primrose," a name best applied to the genus Primula.

The Evening Primrose has eye-catching bright, lemon-yellow, cup-shaped, flowers that measure 2 to 3 inches across and have a mild lemon-scented fragrance. The glossy rich green lance-shaped leaves surround spreading red stems. The seed pods are 4-winged and 2 to 3 inch long and are often used in flower arrangements. It has a spreading growth of 6 to 12 inches in height and 2 to 3 feet wide. The evening primrose is a great plant for borders and rock gardens. It is hardy in zones 5 to 8.
Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)
The Evening Primrose prefers to be grown in full sun but will tolerate some light shade in the afternoon.
It is an easy plant to take care of; it spreads enthusiastically and might need control. The evening primrose attracts butterflies and birds.

Evening primrose extracts were used medicinally by both Indians and early settlers. The oil from the seed of the evening primrose plant is a gamma-linolenic acid, which is an omega-6 essential fatty acid. The oil is used to treat skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Evening Primrose oil is also used for treatment of many ailments among them; rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, premenstrual syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome. In foods, evening primrose oil is used as a dietary source of essential fatty acids.


John Cabot Rose

(Hybrid Kordesii Rose - Rosa 'John Cabot'; Hybridized by Dr. Felicitas Svejda in 1978)

The John Cabot Rose is surely one of my favourite plants in the garden. It is a beautiful easy to grow winter-hardy climbing rose.
John Cabot Rose
Today we can appreciate the John Cabot Rose thanks to Agriculture Canada, who began a rose breeding program in the 1960's. Their plan was to cross roses with new developed roses from Europe and create a series of roses that would be easy to grow, hardy, disease resistant, repeat blooming and easy to propagate from cuttings. The result of this program has forever changed our Canadian rose gardens. The roses that were developed from this program are known as the Explorer series.

The John Cabot Rose has large, semi-double blossoms that are soft-red in bud, opening to the deepest orchid pink. The flowers, borne in clusters of 3 to 10 blossoms have a slight fragrance. The rose bush is covered with blooms from June with repeat flowers through to fall.

The John Cabot climbing rose can attain a height of 10 feet (3 meter) tall and easily spread to 8 feet (2.5 meter) wide within a couple of years. It is ideal rose to grow on a trellis, fence and arbor or as a hedge. The John Cabot Rose needs full sun (minimum of 6hrs.) and well-drained soil. This rose has healthy glossy foliage that has good resistance to black-spot and powdery mildew and is very winter hardy. It can be grown in Zones 2B to 9.

The John Cabot Rose is an easy care rose that's great for all gardens.

Also check out the William Baffin Rose another hardy climbing rose from the Explorer series.



Viola Sororia

Viola sororia is a species of Violaceae, a genus of flowering plants belonging to the Violet family. 

Viola sororia

Viola sororia, known as the Common Blue Violet, is a stem-less herbaceous hardy perennial plant that is native to eastern North America. It is known by a number of common names including; Common Meadow Violet, Purple Violet, Woolly Blue Violet, Hooded Violet and Wood Violet.

Violets grows easily in all types of soils and are a good choice for a shady or woodland garden or if you are looking for a quick natural look to a garden. Violets can be aggressive and easily invade lawns, but are an excellent choice for a ground cover. This is a very early flowering violet; it blooms from April to June.

Viola sororia have heart-shaped, scalloped dark green leaves and pretty blue violet flowers that droop from slender stems. The plant propagates on horizontal runners that root every 3 to 5 inches.

Viola flower

Violets are the host plants for Fritillary butterflies. Like many other butterflies, their caterpillars are very selective about what they eat. They do not go for milkweeds as do monarchs; they prefer violets instead. Without violets, there would be no more of those pretty orange and black speckled butterflies.

As well as being used as a common garden plant, Viola sororia has historically been used for food and folk medicine. The flowers picked in early spring when newly opened can be eaten raw in salads or crystallized and used to decorate cakes. The viola flowers can be taken fresh or dried in an infusion to help coughs and bronchitis and also used for soothing nerves, headaches and insomnia.  Herbalists claim that an infusion of dried leaves or dried roots of the viola can alleviate catarrh and bronchitis.



Hibiscus is a beautiful flowering plant belonging to the mallow family, Malvaceae. There are many species of Hibiscus including both annual and perennial herbaceous plants.

Hibiscus is recognizable by its showy trumpet-shaped flowers that can be quite large from 4 to 18 cm wide. The petals of the Hibiscus flower come in various colours from white, pink, orange, purple, yellow and my favourite “coral”,. The individual flowers are short-lived; they live only for one day. However, the numerous flower buds produced on the shrub's new growth, provide an abundance of flowers from July to September and even later if the plant is brought indoors before the cold fall nights kick in.
The sepals of the Hibiscus sabdariffa flower are used to make Hibiscus tea, a hot and cold herbal drink consumed by people around the world. Hibiscus tea is also referred to as sorrel and roselle, which is another common name for the hibiscus flower.
Hibiscus and hummingbird
Hibiscus plants are often used in the garden to attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.
Thanks to my brother-in-law Colin for the great picture of the hibiscus and hummingbird.



(Ocimum Basilicum)

Basil also known as 'sweet Basil' is an annual plant used as an herb.

Basil leaves

Basil is one of the principal members of the “Mint” family.
Basil can easily be cultivated from seeds; it takes less than two weeks to germinate. The plant is easy to grow; it needs plenty of sunlight, moist soil and regular pruning to grow to a height of 75 cm (2.5 ft).
Basil grows in tropical climates but since they are unable to survive our cold winter weather they are best grown in pots and can be brought indoors.
Basil is a highly fragrant plant whose leaves are used as a seasoning herb for many different types of foods and is used all over the world and is used in numerous cuisines.


Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Clematis 'Jackmanii' is a hardy perennial climbing vine with large purple blooms. The jackmanii species is a hybrid clematis which was derived from crosses between Clematis lanuginosa, Clematis viticella and Clematis hendersonii introduced in 1862 by nurseryman George Jackman from Surrey, England.
Clematis 'Jackmanii with William Baffin roses

The Clematis Jackmanii will grow to a height of 2 to 3 meters (7' to 10') and a spread of 1 to 2 meters (3' to 6'). Its showy blue-purple flowers will bloom from late June through July.  Clematis generally prefers full sun, but the Jackmanii will tolerate part shade. It is a fairly easy maintenance plant as long as you make sure the roots of the plant are kept cool. Always shade the base of the clematis by planting a low annual or perennial and protect its base with mulch. The yearly blooms on the clematis occur on the plant's new growth, therefore prune back the plant in early spring to 1' to 2' from the ground to guaranty an abundance of showy purple blooms.


'Alaska' Shasta Daisy

(Leucanthemum x superbum 'Alaska')
'Alaska' Shasta Daisy

‘Alaska’ Shasta Daisies are attractive large single snow white blooms with soft yellow centers that bloom in June through July. It is a hardy perennial that will thrive just about anywhere and will grow to a height of 60-90 cm (2'-3'). It grows best in full sunlight, but will tolerate any light, or soil condition. The stems are long and stiff which makes beautiful cut flowers and the blooms are long lasting.

This eye-catching Shasta daisy is a popular favourite garden plant as it mixes magnificently in any perennial garden. The plant is attractive to bees and birds and serves as a good butterfly nectar source. 


William Baffin Rose

William Baffin Rose
The William Baffin Rose is a climbing rose from the Canadian Explorer Rose Series. It has free-flowering, slightly fragrant, raspberry pink semi-double flowers with golden centers.

Like all the roses in the Explorer Series, they are hardy roses that can survive our Northern climate and are mildew and disease-resistant. The William Baffin Rose is not really a climbing rose but rather a tall shrub rose whose thorny canes can be trained to climb.

The William Baffin Rose is very easy to take care and is a vigorous grower; it can easily reach heights of 8’ to 10’ in a couple of years. The eye-catching showy clusters of flowers bloom in June and re-bloom in August.

A real beauty!

Read more on Explorer Roses at The Canadian Rose Society.



(Echinacea purpurea)

I can't help it... it's the 1st day of spring... the sun is shining... I have the gardening itch...
Even though the echinacea flower is not due to bloom until July - August, I've enjoyed the lovely presence of last year's dried blooms peeking through the snow covered bed over the winter months.
The echinacea plant commonly known as purple coneflower is a drought-tolerant perennial herb flowering plant that belongs to the daisy family.  Echinacea is native to North America grows to 1 m (3 ft) and has stuning purple pompom bloom with its daisy-like petals. There are a variety of different types of echinacea available in pink, white, yellow, lime green & red.
The echinacea has been used historically in North America by indigenous people, as one of their major medicinal herbs. It is also commonly used today as an immune system booster.


Lemon Verbena

(Lippia citriodora)
Lemon Verbena

Lemon Verbena is a lovely plant with a nice pure fruity lemon fragrance.
Verbena plants are drought-resistant shrub-like herbs that grow to 2 -3 m (6 - 9 ft.) high. They tolerate full to partial sun, and enjoy light well-drained soil.
In late summer, tiny lavender (or white) flowers appear amid the long, light-green slender leaves.  It is sensitive to cold; it can be grown as a perennial in zone 9 but can be grown anywhere as an annual. It makes a great container plant that can be moved indoor during the winter.
Lemon verbena leaves are used to add a lemony flavor to fish and poultry dishes, vegetable marinades, salad dressings, jams, puddings, and beverages. It also is used to make herbal teas, or added to standard tea instead of actual lemons.


Canada Goldenrod Perennial

(Solidago canadensis)

Canada Goldenrod

Canada goldenrod is an herbaceous perennial plant of the family Asteraceae native to North America. It is often grown as a wildflower. This is a tall, slim plant 120 - 150 cm (4-5 feet ) topped off with fluffy, bright golden flower spikes that bloom in the fall. Goldenrods grow just about everywhere. They are most often seen in fields or along stream banks, but they can also be seen in woods. Beware before planting Goldenrod as they are sometimes considered a weed, because they grow quickly and can be very invasive. It's spectacular display of bright yellow flowers cannot be missed.