Neighbours talking over the garden gate has long been a tradition. They share gardening tips, complain about the weather and pests yet are ever eager to discuss their gardens. That is what I had in mind when creating this blog. So stop by my garden gate to find out the latest happenings in my garden.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
"All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child." ~ Madame Marie Curie"

Friday, March 30, 2007

More Signs of Spring

Buds on Maple Tree
March 26, 2007

Mike Thomas, a reformed anti-blogger who's blog is call Brannigans Law commented on my cooking blog about a video his wife had made about gnomes. I just had to check out her video called "I Think I'm a Gnome Now". This is a must see for all gardeners unless of course you don't like gnomes. I have three of gnomes in the video: Jack, Jeff and Phillip. Thanks Mike for giving me a great chuckle this morning! Here's to all gnome lovers everywhere!

Signs of spring are everywhere! I can't believe how quickly buds appeared on the trees. Although the weather has cooled a little, it does look like March just may go out like a lamb. A short 30 days ago I posted how it came in like a lion here. Tomorrow will tell!

I spent a bit of time emptying pots in the greenhouse. We are putting in an offer on another house tonight something that may create a few challenges for this growing season but nothing we haven't gone through before. The landscaping is mature so that's a real plus. So I'm definitely in the spring cleaning mode both inside and out. The garden paths need a good vacuuming but the beds themselves look fine. They just need the soil worked up and grid laid out. Garden plans are on schedule despite the uncertainty.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Signs of Spring

There have been a few signs of spring here. The temperatures reached 77ºF here on Monday and that's after our first thunderstorm of the season. Yesterday I spotted our first robin, the bluejays were back to pecking at the window and the weather was very mild. So I did a little garden work, took the solar lights out to charge in the greenhouse and take a few pictures.


I have two outdoor chive patches. Now anyone who has grown chives know they are practically indestructible. The main patch is in bed #2 that is dedicated to herbs.

The second patch was started last year in a barrel I intend to gnomify. We freeze in the winter so I did not expect these chives to survive. Yet they did and are now poking their heads through. I think Philip the fluting gnome will look good here and it not I'm sure another know will find a home in this barrel.


I don't know the varieties of tulips as they were here before we bought the house. I initially did a complete dig not realizing there were tulips there. They must have liked that because they have multiplied and rewarded me with abundant blooms. This is one of many along our south wall and as you can see will be in bloom shortly. I can't wait! There is something about tulips blowing in the wind that just means winter is well behind us.

Tulips have a special meaning for me. When I was little you wore either a white tulip or red tulip on Mother's Day depending on whether your mom was living. Well my biological mom died a few days after I was born but I had the mom who raised me so I got to wear both! My tulips are scarlet, yellow and sort of a mix so I hope neither mom cares about the colour and know that I think about both of them often. A vase of tulips always graces our table on Mother's Day.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Phillip & Jeff

Please welcome Phillip and Jeff, my newest gnomes checking out one of the seed trays. They arrived by gnometravel this morning. While Gnameless is still looking for help in the garden, these two don't really looking like they have their mind on garden work. But that's ok because I'm sure Gnameless already knows that a gnome village requires input from all the little folk. Gnomes always work together and that's the way it should be.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Ten Ways to Go Green in the Garden

  1. compost
  2. use mulch
  3. use only organic fertilizers
  4. manually remove pests
  5. collect rainwater for garden watering needs
  6. use solar powered lighting instead of electric
  7. attract beneficial insects
  8. use natural pesticides
  9. use companion planting
  10. use organic soil ammendments
Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome

Friday, March 16, 2007


Lexington Harbour, Michigan

A very condensed version of this entry was first posted on my personal blog, My Journey this morning. Once I started writing it, I thought if expanded it would make a good entry here. The entry on that blog starts with a little animation I was playing with this morning but I thought for this entry, I would start out with a sunrise picture since skywatching is the theme. While the connection with gardening is not at first apparent, hopefully by the time I'm finished, you will see the connection.

Mornings are one of my favourite times of the day. I love watching the sunrise to great the day and hear the birds twittering as the world seems to come alive. During the growing season it is the best time to be out in the garden. It is nice and cool, quiet yet buzzing with activity. Many detrimental insects like the Japanese Beetle are sluggish making manual removal easy. However, it is also one of the best predictors of what the day will be like weatherwise. And that is what this entry is all about, watching the skies and becoming in tune to what they are saying.

Long before television, radio and weatherman, our ancestors relied on the skies for when to plant, what to plant, and for the weather. In 1792 farmer's almanacs became popular as weather predictors based on astronomy and they offered valuable farming tips, something most people could use. In 1793 Robert B Thomas published the first issue of The Farmer's Almanac renamed to The Old Farmer's Almanac in 1831 but changed back in 1835 to the original name. When Robert B Thomas died in 1847 his successor, John H. Jenks returned the "Old" and it has remained that way since. This almanac is by far the popular almanac today. I buy a copy each year.

Approaching Storm

We boated to Lexington Harbour and stayed overnight fully intending to spend the following day there and possibly another night. I arose early to watch the skies. Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning does ring true as any boater will tell you. Some of the most gorgeous sunrises give way to the nastiest weather throughout the day. So it was this day and the storm was chasing us as we left the harbour headed across the Lake Huron. My suspicions were confirmed by the marine radio and within about 20 minutes we could see the storm coming. The dark clouds here were minor to how bad it got but we had to stop to put the top up so I couldn't get any more pictures.

There are other ways to tell of changing weather besides a red sky. Some are obvious but others subtle so if you catch the subtle hints first, you can have your garden battened down before nasty weather hits. Observe the moon on a clear night. A hazy ring around the moon means precipitation will be coming. A cloudy night means you are out of luck so look for other signs. A sudden still where it seems nothing is moving is the calm before the storm. Maple leaves especially silver maple turn upside down before a storm. I don't know why they do this but they do and I know it is a sure sign of a storm. Birds quite often act differently and where there were a lot of birds twittering away, suddenly it becomes quiet without nary a bird in sight. Even the squirrels seem to disappear. There is little doubt what it means when the sky turns a sickly green. These are all signs of precipitation or nasty weather on the way.

Sometimes the daybreak reveals a haze. It is pretty to photograph but it means the weather will be hot and dry or hot and humid depending on where you live. Over the period of a few days the haze may deepen each morning to the point it is noticeable during the daylight hours. As the humidity builds one or more signs of stormy weather will appear.

So, how does this pertain to gardening? As gardeners, we are stewards of the earth. It provides for us and in return we try improve but do no harm. Watering can cost a lot of money in some areas, is restricted in others and for those on wells conservation is always a concern. By watching the skies and learning the signs, you will save on watering. If the sky is clear, check the moon for a haze around out. If there is, don't water the next day. If signs are pointing towards rain, even if it comes later in the day, do not water unless your plants are under obvious stress (droopy, wilted). If the signs are pointed towards moderate (pinkish sunrise with blue sky) then water normally. If the signs are for hot, humid weather building towards thunderstorms water normally, increasing if needed but only until the first signs of weather changing.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Please Wecome Jack My New Gnome

Gnameless Gnome & Jack

Gnameless gnome was used to being the only gnome in my garden. As you can see he lost a couple of pieces off his rake so I'll have to see if I can find a way to fix that for him. He was joined by a wide variety of other garden decorations. This year I decided to use a unifying theme instead of a mish mash of decorations. Of course that theme had to be gnomes! The visiting kids should really like these little guys! I also decided to add solar lighting and while I now have eight solar lights and two solar rock lights (spotlights made to look like rocks) I am planning on adding just enough to get a subtle twinkle effect.

Jack the swinging woodland gnome arrived today. His birthplace was Aarons Enterprises Inc. then he traveled to Krupps and finally came to me. He is an 8" gnome so a bit smaller than Gnameless. I was quite happy with him so ordered two more gnomes. I'm planning on making or buying gnome ladders for each of the beds so the gnomes can get up there and will be adding a few other gnome accessories. The goal is to achieve a gnomescape without interfering with the function of the gardens.

Gnomes and other garden critters should be protected by an acrylic spray with UV protector annually in it something I did not know. So I will be cleaning Gnomeless and the raccoon twins then spraying all of them before placing in the garden this year.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Let the Fun Begin!

It's that time of year folks! Time to get all the seed packets in order, start seedlings indoors and get your hands dirty. It's also a good time to rejuvenate and start houseplants. Let the fun begin!

Seeds Everywhere!

I admit it, I'm just a little behind on starting my seeds indoors but only by a few days. Yesterday was sunny and a balmy 63ºF so that spurred me into action. Unfortunately the prediction is for colder temperatures for the rest of the week with chance of snow flurries. It is March so anything can be expected.

This was the condition of my dining room table yesterday. There were seeds everywhere as I sorted them into various piles. I plant according to the average day of last frost (ADLF) so some seeds are started indoors six to eight weeks before the ADLF while others are planted directly in the ground. Towards the upper corner is my gardening journal for the past year. I cull out the seed packets based on the performance noted in my journal. There are also several zipper sandwich bags holding various seeds I collected. Just barely visible on the chair to the right is a large plastic bin holding various collected seeds as well.

Just Beginning

My biggest problem for starting seeds indoors is space. We don't have a basement or spare room and the house is spatially challenged as it is. So despite my decluttering goals in preparing for spring cleaning, the seed trays will add to visual clutter until I can open the greenhouse.

Near the dining room table were the most of the things to get me going. They were only there for the photo shoot as we would end up tripping over them. This is just a small number of flats I will be starting this year. All the pots and cells had to be washed along with the seed trays. I've vowed to washed them as they are used this time so they are clean and ready to go for next year. I know I have clean ones in the shed but the entry is flooded at the moment.

So Monday I brought in a few of the cells and seed trays to wash, battling drizzling rain but thankful they were in the greenhouse not the shed. The greenhouse needs a complete clean-out but I will talk about that in a later entry. While the first batch was drying, I went to get the Stim-Root® for geranium cutting. I thought I knew right where it was but my husband did a little reorganize so it took me almost 2 hours to find it! By then the rest seemed overwhelming but by yesterday I was ready to get going. Seed sorting took longer than expected and even though I did not get any seeds planted, the soil was mixed and trays filled ready for seeding. I didn't get the aloe divided or geranium cuttings finished but I managed to get the much neglected African violet divided.

African Violet

My mom had a knack with African violets and hers always looked gorgeous likely because she was always tending to them. This was my poor, neglected African violet. It was overcrowded and in need of attention. I decided to divide the plant as from first looks there were two crowns. I also decided to propagate using the water method I saw my mom do countless times.

In preparation for this, I watered the plant well from the bottom. African violets are prone to brown water marks on their leaves so I always water from the bottom. Then I removed the dead flowers. Once it was well watered, I removed it from the pot. As suspected the plant was root bound. Dividing the smaller crown from the main plant was fairly easy to do with my fingers. Before re-potting, I cut away any yellowed leaves as well as a few for starting in water.

The Aftermath

I potted the larger piece of the plant in a 6" pot and the smaller piece in a 4" pot. Then four leaves were placed through holes in plastic wrap so their cut ends rested in the water. Once these form roots, they will be transplanted into pots. The new plant will grow from the cut end up through the soil and at the same time the old leave will begin withering. Once dead, the leaf can be removed.

This morning the new African violets appear to have survived their ordeal with no signs of shock. I'll post entries of their progress along the way.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Garden Goodies

Garden Goodies

I treated myself yesterday for behaving at the dentist. I hate dentists so actually bribed myself. Yes I know, I clearly stated here that I was gnomifying the garden and I am but the store I stopped at had no gnomes! I bought two new bird feeders and solar lights. I think I might pick up another set of the post solar lights and perhaps another solar rock. All are on sale until this weekend. I think with a bit of planning they will really look nice in the garden. Oh a frog did sort of slip in but he's going up closer to the house away from the main garden area, I think so shouldn't affect the gnomes. I only bought three packs of seeds: mammoth long island dill, parsley and stringless green pod bush beans. I am now officially on the countdown to gardening season!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Balloon Flower
Platycodon grandiflorum

The balloon flower is one of my favourites. Platycodon means like a broad bell and grandiflorum means having big flowers. The plant gets its name from the shape of the buds. They look like small pillowy balloons. I only have one balloon flower plant. It usually blooms in early to midsummer. This plant does seem to be rather hardy. A well meaning family member pulled when helping me in the garden, no names mentioned, my dear husband! I've lost more plants that way! It was tossed into the weed pile where I discovered it and replanted the poor thing.

March came in like a lion today. I had high hopes when I got up around 5 am that the day would be a lamb but by 6:30 am a mixture of snow and freezing rain was falling. Since then we've had a couple of flurries. The skies remain threatening with the current temperature sitting at -1º C but it is supposed to rise to 3ºC with a thunderstorm this afternoon. 'Tis not fit for man nor beast out there today!

Despite the weather, I have been garden planning. I ordered a cute little gnome sitting on a swing. The gnomification of my garden has begun! My long time yet unnamed gnome will now have a new friend. The new gnome's name is Jack and while that doesn't sound very gnomish, he was already named so I'm not sure if it's ok to rename and adopted gnome. I've also been going through my seeds deciding which ones to start shortly. I added a countdown ticker at the bottome of the page so you can see how many days left to our average day for last frost in Zone 6A, Ontario, Canada. It's now time to start seedlings indoors here.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome