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"

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Laying Sod

Note: This is a modified entry from my homemaking blog. The pictures are the same but I have added or deleted parts of the descriptions. There may still be some overlap but there will also be more detailed information.

When we decided to by this house we had the main goal of buying waterfront property for family use. If you have read any of my other blogs you will know what a strong emphasis we put on family. We loved the look of the new backyard aka our outdoor living space that ends at the water's edge and has a park-like setting but we knew we would have to make some modifications. While during the week it is my husband and I at home the kids are home so there are usually nine of us but with the soon to be new additions that number will be thirteen. We do a lot of entertaining that includes extended family members and friends so we often have thirty or more for weekend outdoor events. Since the water plays a large role too, it was important to use to create a comfortable and useable outdoor living space.


Unfortunately the backyard was quite overgrown. The previous owner just kept planting and planting. She was in fact planting the day of the move! The problem was she planted shade loving plants in the sun and visa versa. I'm still finding rogue plantings and garden decorations. A true dilemna is trying to work in both herbal and vegetable gardens. We know the vegetable garden cannot go in the backyard but I'm sure working herbals into the perimeter will work.

The larger picture shows part of the backyard and deck after we removed a large forsythia bush that prevented entry onto the dock (1) and raised the tree bonnets so we could see the water. Removing the forsythia was bitter sweet. We needed access to the dock but the bush was blocking access yet it was a beautiful bush. Removing the bush made the dock useable but we needed to repair the area in front of the dock. We had thought of patio stones but then decided that sod would be best. Under all the trees there were small, overgrown gardens (2) with five cedar bushes surrounding one (3) silver maple. The cedar bushes were mosquito and spider magnets. Now this isn't good because of the West Niles threat and it would appear I'm allergic to at least some kind of spider bite so spider control (more on that later) is now a real concern. These are not really nice looking spiders either but more on that later once I get them identified. It also wouldn't sit well for outdoor entertaining. An old and neglected pathway of stepping stones (4) led to the dock but we decided they had to go as well. I don't think the pathway was all that unsightly but my husband didn't like it so it went anyway. In fairness it was in an awarkward location and we really need the green space so he is quite correct.

Prep work including removing all of the overgrown gardens, cedar bushes (3) and stepping stones. That was a lot of work! Not shown in the picture is a circle about 6' diameter at the start of the stepping stones that originally was paved with a fountain the original owner somehow forgot to leave behind. I was actually happy she didn't leave it since the fountain was right in the path between the kitchen and dock. Removal of the vegetation took a few days and a few trips to a relative's burn pile. It was a lot of work! The cement was recycled for errosion control by a friend. The cleaned areas were raked well and topped with top soil just before laying the sod. Once everything was cleared out and prepped we had a glimpse of what our new outdoor living space would look like.

The sod came in rolls on a flatbed trailer and yes it is heavy (5). This is a DIY project but it is hot, heavy and dirty work. Because of the time factor getting the house ready for the anniversary party, we hired it out. They were able to do everything the same day even though we were cutting the timing close. The weather was working against us, very hot, humid and unseasonably dry. Once part of the sod was laid where the cedar bushes had been (6) we knew we had made the right decision. New picnic tables (7) were constructed for the event. We wanted to keep that pleasing park-like setting. In all the installation took about 5 hours.

The sod was looking rather sad during the installation process (1). The temperatures were blistering hot and the summer had been unseasonably dry that I think the only thing that saved the existing grass was the copious amounts of shade. I took a picture from the upper sunporch of our newly gained yard space that hopefully would be ready in time for our anniversary party.

The sod went in on the Thursday before the anniversary party so we kept the water going until late Sunday afternoon. It would have been nice to set up a water system from the water's edge but our neighbour had been having a lot of problems due to the lower water levels so we decided to use municiple water. The sod was practically swimming! We let the ground firm from then until the party. While it did not look like a pristine, well manicured lawn it was considerably better than it had been and held up well with the extra traffic of almost seventy people. The following day we watered in the morning only then continued doing that for the following five days.


This is not the best picture as it was taken from the upper level sunporch through the screen but we are really pleased with the results. The numbers show all the areas where we sodded. As you can see the space is now expanded to fit our needs. The sod is doing nicely and thanks to Mother Nature we haven't had to water as much. A water system for using the natural water is in the works so watch for that. Oh and just up from 5 we removed an entire small garden something I forgot about when preparing the picture.

It is always very important to us to create an appealing outdoor livingspace for our family and friends wherever we live. We are very pleased with the results so far. In the spring we will be working in more vegetation, mainly herbs around the perimeter but keeping the centre portion open and user friendly. An overgrown sloping garden with English Ivy ground cover will more than likely be replaced with an herbal garden since it is close to the kitchen. We've decided to keep what vegetables we are growing out of the backyard ares and while that is proving to be a bit more challenging it fits in our scheme of creating a warm, welcoming and functional area to entertain larger groups of of family and friends.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Walk-a-bout the Gardens

Each time I do a walk-a-bout the gardens I discover new plants. I'm excited even though I am sorely missing my main vegetable garden this year. Plans are underway for a late season garden as soon as it cools a bit more at night. I'm hoping to plant towards the third week of August for our zone. In the meantime I've been starting herbs and discovering what is already growing here.


Daylilies (Hemerocallis sp.) are hardy, adapatable and rarely bothered by pests. Their showy, trumpet shaped flowers are sure to please. As perennials they are very easy to care for. The only place they do not grow well is near trees. They like full sun, regular water and occasional fertilizing. Deadheading will keep the plants tidy and may encourage some daylilies to rebloom but it not really necessary. Daylilies are propagated by root division every 3 to 5 years.

There are several clumps of daylilies here that won't be able to be identified until they bloom. I suspect at least one will be the common Tiger lily. I have not identified this daylily that is quite similar to Dark Star that is growing in the outer most yard. This daylily is undeniably orange instead of the deep rose of Dark Star. So I will have to do a little research.

Morning Glory

Morning Glories (Convolvulaceae sp.) are my favourite flowering vines so I was delighted to discover a couple of very small vines in the front garden. Spiral shaped buds open to funnel shaped flowers. New flowers bloom daily opening in the morning and dying off by late afternoon. Morning glories can be trellised and used as privacy screens. They will not attach to siding or brick making them ideal flowering vines for the side of houses. Most morning glories in our zone are annuals but these appear to be perennial.

Bird's Nest

There is always something special about discovering a bird's nest. This is the second one I've found since moving here. It is in the branches of a small ornamental tree near the front door. The nest is high enough that I can't see into it but there doesn't appear to be any activity.

We have a nice variety of birds in the gardens. A pair of cardinals visit daily as do several sparrows and house finches. Other identified birds that visit include: Baltimore Oriole, Cowbirds, robins, bluejays, grackles, redwing blackbird, goldfinches, swallows and Northern flickers. There is also a wide variety of water fowl. I haven't seen a hummingbird visiting yet but know they are in the area as are woodpeckers, nuthatches and many more. It will be interesting documenting the various bird species visiting our new gardens.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

In the Garden

Not much has been happening in the gardens other than clearing brush and over growth. We decided to remove all of the remaining bits of garden decorations left by the previous owner to create a more uniform theme. The focus has been on preparing the greenspace areas for our upcoming anniversary party. The unseasonably dry weather combined with higher temperatures are working against us. I've put the sprinkle to both the grass and shrubs hoping it will help. The sod is scheduled to be put in tomorrow where we removed gardens entirely. I will have to keep the water to these areas so the sod survives.

Gnameless Gnome

Gnameless has taken up watching over the gardens between the house and garage. He's the official gnome greeter for newly arriving gnomes. He is shaded by a large peony (Paeonia) and boxwood. I'm not sure what colour the peony is so will have to wait for the blooms. I've always wanted peonies as my Mom had them in her garden. There are three peony bushes in the garden area between the house and garage. I'll comment more on growing peonies in a later blog entry.


The previous owner left a stump that I felt would work well with my theme. I nestled the stump into a cascading bed of English Ivy off the covered patio. The ivy covers the hill at the side of the house opening into a wider, ivy covered garden filled with various plants, some of which need to be removed. Our long-time garden helpers, the racoon brothers, found a home on top of the stump. They will be guarding a gnome entrance, not yet installed. To the right of the stump are more boxwoods. Behind the stump is a clump of silver grass.

Rose of Sharon, Althea

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is a beautiful flower bush that I previously commented on here. They are often used as hedges in our area or as an ornament bush in the garden. I had three varieties in our previous garden and saved seeds from each. With any luck I will be able to enjoy these varieties again in this garden.

I was quite pleased to discover a lovely Rose of Sharon (Althea) in the gardens between the house and garage. Unlike my the Rose of Sharon from the previous garden, this one has double blooms giving the bush a rather exotic look. The bright pink blooms add a wonderful splash of colour against the green backdrop and English Ivy ground cover.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome