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, April 30, 2008

Spring Days in the Garden

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. The reality is the gardens in our new home are proving difficult at best. I'm dealing with horrible soil that is mostly clay mixed with a lot of stone and rock along with inclimate weather. The gardens are at the point where I look at them then get frustrated because I simply don't know where to start. The problem is we really are still in the tearing out phase of an over planted and poorly planted property yet we have to take our time because we want to see what is where in case we want to keep it. So the past few days have involved more tearing out and minimal planting. As long as I can get the existing beds straightened around and my herbs planted this year, I will be a very happy gardener!


Much of the perimeter of our property is lined with evergreens of some type with very poorly planted flower beds. Bordering most of the flower beds are rocks but some of the beds have the black plastic edging. We are ripping out most of the rock and all of the plastic edging. The primary reason for doing so is aesthetics. I really don't like the look of plastic edging and I prefer soft lines over the hard lines of rocks.

The rocks along the side walkway were actually creating a problem by forming a sloped hill that drained towards the foundation of the house. The garden beds themselves are tucked under tall cedars so they don't get a lot of light. The soil (before) was mainly covered with decaying wood chips providing the perfect breeding ground for the huge centipedes that find their way indoors. There were also a lot of mis-plantings and in spots gravel as well as flat shale stones throughout the beds. I made an executive decision that the only way to control the earwigs and centipedes was to slope the bed away from the house foundation and remove some of their habitat. So the bark chips were raked up and all the larger rocks were removed. A fair amount of soil had to be removed as well to get the soil level below the sidewalk.

One problem we have that will have to corrected is indicated by the arrow. A portion of the sidewalk has sunk as a result of erosion from water running from the garden bed towards the foundation combined with a downspout that was allowed to direct water directly to the foundation. While it does add a bit of character, correcting the water problems are our first priority. This water issue combined with current serious sewer issues means I will not be doing a lot of planting in the larger side gardens in case right away in case we have to dig up the sewer line.

Tulips & Daffodiles

Scattered throughout our property are lovely clumps of tulips, daffodiles, crocuses and narcisses. This is one good reason for not disturbing the garden beds below surface if you move into a home before seeing what is in the garden beds. The garden beds here are loaded with these beautiful spring flowers. I was rather surprised to not find any hyacinths! At any rate these are all bulbulous perennials so the rule of thumb is when the flower dies off, leave the greenery. It will slowly turn brown at which time you can then remove it. If your crocuses or other bulbulous perennials break through the grass, do not rush with that first grass cutting of the season. The reason for doing this is the leaves are feeding the bulb for next spring's display of colour.

Revamped Bed

Our house is earth bermed meaning it basically is built into a slope. This makes it very energy efficient to heat but diverting water away from the foundation is critical. I quickly found out that what looks like a flower bed and was planted as a flower bed is not a flower bed. Such is the case of this small bed that originally had two unkept boxwoods and dead rose bushes. A feeble attempt at digging revealed that this area is actually meant as foundation drainage so filled with a few feet (yes feet) of gravel with soil on top. What I wanted here was colour so I settled on creeping thyme with shallow roots that will fill the bed with maintenance free colour while not interfering with the intended purpose of the area.

I dug this bead out about 2 inches below the level of the sidewalk, lower than the iron bar that indicated where the brickwork starts on the house. Then I added fresh top soil and leveled out the bed. I put in three solar path lights that will help light the side of the house then I sprinkled on McKenzie creeping thyme. This is the first time using this product so I will make a complete post on it as soon as I see the results. Creeping thyme is a low growing ground cover that can handle being stepped on, ideal for the location. Once grown it should soften the edge of the sidewalk without being invasive. Unlike English ivy, it is low growing so will not provide a habitat for field mice, something we have had problems with here.

So, that's what has been happening in our gardens. Yesterday one of my kids removed three evergreen bushes and a dilapidated euonymus bush for me so I'm off to work on one of those spots. I'll post about it shortly.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

April 14, 2008

How did you spend Earth Day? I found it difficult to say I'm going to give up using this or not going to do that for the day. The reason being is we try to celebrate Earth Day every day so some things folks get excited about doing for Earth Day have been a norm for us every day for years. I spent a good portion of the day cleaning out the side yard gardens, most of it manually. That meant moving a lot of rocks then raking to level the ground. The previous owner obviously loved rocks so we have an abundance but they simply do not work well here. I will keep a couple for accents then the rest will be moving on. Oh and this is the second day in a row that the furnace has been turned off and since I was outdoors most of the day energy use indoors dropped. The day was beautiful with warm sun kisses teasing the skin. It was easy to keep going in the gardens :)

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome