Sunday, June 15, 2014

Humming Along

Things have been humming along quietly, but nicely here in beautiful southern Ontario.  I've spent most days outdoors last week (except for a rainy day), and was a bit shocked to see I hadn't posted anything here since last Wednesday!!  At least I've been visiting lots of blogs in the meantime.
Not much happening here except for changes in the garden.  The lilacs are finished now ...

And the finished blossoms covered the ground and birdbath.  The warm weather has made the birdbath a popular spot for my feathered friends.  It gets a scrub every day since the birds won't use it if the water is dirty (I took the photo of the blossoms on the water before I cleaned it here).
The iris are still in full bloom, and I've been enjoying these beauties every day.  If one gets bent over (as a few did in the heavy rain last week), I cut them off and bring them indoors.  The blooms last for quite a few days indoors, which has been nice.
My mom's favourite "black" iris came into bloom as well.  Here's the bud all tightly curled ... love this!
... and the bloom (a bit covered in pollen from the pine tree) ...
The columbine are doing well as always.  I let the flowers go to seed so that they'll come back next year.  I'm not all that fond of the miniature columbine flowers, but now I never see the large columbines which I really do love.  This pink variety (below) is a pretty plant because all the flowers face upwards.
It sits in the garden in front of the shed.
The miniature varieties all have heads hanging down, which is a shame because you can't see the flowers as well unless you take a photo lying on the ground.
Here's a shady character!
As you can see (above) there's been lots of pruning going on around here.  I've cut out nine evergreen bushes from different gardens (four trips to the dump!).  I was getting so tired of trimming up evergreens (junipers, boxwood, and others with names unknown to me), and I'm just not that crazy about them anymore.  I decided to be ruthless and put in plants that I really love instead. 
Below is one bush I cut out (on the right).  I don't remember the name of the bush, but it wasn't as thick and full as it used to be, and was looking a bit scraggly.  The photo is from last summer. 
In its place I transplanted some ferns and bought a scented astilbe (below).  I've been using bark nuggets for ground cover in a few places in the backyard.  I really like these nuggets as the big chunks of bark don't disintegrate over winter.  This is the third summer for these nuggets and they're still holding up.  They look nice after a rain, and they keep weeds down as well as a more mulchy ground cover.  As you can see in the photo, I think I'll need to put some of that black edging inside the rock border to keep the dirt from washing away every time I water here. 
There were more bushes taken out of the front yard, and silly me didn't take a before photo so I'll have to rely on these winter shots to show the changes (sorry ... I know no one wants to see snow right now).  These were from the great ice storm, and you'll see the junipers in front and a couple of taller evergreens flanking the front window.

Another before shot.
And this is what it looks like now ...
Although the evergreen bushes looked nice in the winter, they were starting to give the house a sort of choking feel to it in the summertime.  I wanted the front to look a little more airy and light.  I like that we can now actually see the front garden from our sunken driveway.  The bushes were hiding the garden completely unless you stood right in front of it on the lawn. 
The top wall had quite a lean outwards, and my husband thankfully took off all the stones and reset them in a straight line again (the steps are in desperate need of straightening now too). 
Although it's difficult to see in the above photo, I planted a weeping lilac at the top of the steps on the left.  I'm not sure how tall this will grow, but hopefully at least 5 or 6 feet (the tag didn't mention height).  I like the openness of this plant, and it won't interfere with the view of the front garden. 
Weeping Lilac
I planted some lavender to eventually become a lavender hedge just in front of the remaining evergreen tree.  I followed Judith's (Lavender Cottage) suggestion and put a layer of pea gravel in the hole dug for the lavender, put some dirt on top of that and then put in the lavender plants.  Lavender likes it hot, and boy will they like it in this, the hottest spot of my yard!  I hope it all goes to plan and these little plants fluff up well over the years ... they look a little lost at the moment.  I have one more plant that I'll put in the very end there.  I had picked up three small plants from one gardening store, and then found some slightly larger plants at another store.  I decided to use them all, but now that I see the way I planted them, I think I'll change it and put them all in a straight line despite their different sizes.
I'm quite excited about this turning into a lavender hedge!  Last summer I planted two lavender plants in the back yard beside my compost bin.  It seemed a good hot place for it to grow, and I thought it might combat any smells coming from the compost bin :)  They've grown quite a lot since last summer, and there are even a few little sprouts coming up in that area, so I'm very happy about that!
Here's another view of the front yard garden.  Now we can see our lilies, and the mock orange has come into blossom too.  I was tempted to chop down the mock orange because it always gets aphids (same for the mock orange beside my patio), and they do quite a lot of damage to the bushes and I'm tired of battling aphids every summer on just these two bushes for some reason.
However, the powerful aroma of these bushes is wonderful, and every time it comes into flower, I change my mind and decide to give it one more chance.
Here's the mock orange beside my patio, it keeps getting smaller and smaller each year because of aphids (and yes, I know you can squirt soapy water on them, but they still come back each year).
My peony in the front garden (below).  I bought this peony because it originally was tinged with pale red in the centre ... now that red is almost non-existent, and they're just white peonies (not quite as showy, but still nice).
More plants in the front garden ... lupins (which used to be yellow, but have reverted to purple).
And some more iris which are doing great in this very sunny spot.
This little planter (below) was made by my great-grandfather the potter.  One of the little branches was broken off long, long ago, but it looks nice in this "woodland" setting, don't you think?  I put some fuchsia and lobelia in it, and they're both doing great.
We have another fuchsia in a hanging basket in this colour combo ...
And some vine plant growing in pots beside the shed door ... and more lobelia in the window box there.

This is one of the plants that I moved today ... it must've weighed 30 lbs when I got it all dug out!!
I hope it likes its new spot in the front garden. The other plant I dug out was beside this one, but I don't have a photo of it (cranesbill).
So that's my garden tour today ... I'm beat :P
 Garden Party 2.


  1. Wendy, your garden is absolutely beautiful, love the lilacs! I see why you have been spending lots of time out doors.....I would be doing the same thing!
    xx Shari

  2. You have done a great job to make your garden look very beautiful. All the pictures are nice. The dog peeping inside the garden between the leaves looks very good!

  3. Wow Wendy, your garden is amazing!! You have made a massive transformation in the front in particular. It will be spectacular when everything settles in to its new positions. The black iris looks beautiful, your Mum would be proud! It has been so lovely to have a tour around your garden, I just wish that I could come for a visit now! I really like your rock edging for the borders, I might just borrow that I idea as I need something to keep the bark mulch in that we use - ours is more finely shredded than yours is - as the birds tend to fling it around a bit! I hope that you have had a fun weekend gardening. xx

  4. I bet you're beat Wendy- you have a lot of work in your garden but oh, it's so beautiful and really shows it's cared for and loved! I love your black Iris - what a beauty that is, and the front of your home does look much more open, light, and inviting now. Well done on all your hard work, the results are easy to see! xoJoy

  5. Yay for summer!!!!!!!!!! I love that dark reddish iris - how gorgeous!!!!

    Your garden is lovely. Enjoy!!

  6. Wendy, Wendy, how does your garden grow? Beautifully! I do wish your lavender the best. We had 3 beauties out by the mailbox that did not survive the Winter. Sadly the mister also had to cut out our gorgeous Coral Bark maple as it died from the cold as well. Fuschias take me back to my grandmother's garden -- camellia, fuschia, and the most amazing roses garden ever. Enjoy the fruits of your labor.

  7. you have such a lovely garden-your iris's are so pretty too-lots of different colors-and love the picture with the petals in the birdbath
    enjoy summer!

  8. No wonder you are looks a though you have been gardening for Canada!
    We are passing through your area tomorrow to take one of the cats to the cardiologist in T.O....we'll wave as we go by.
    Jane x

  9. Your garden is looking lovely, with so many beautiful flowers, I love lilacs.
    Have a wonderful week Wendy, I think we are into couple of days of rain this week :(- Gaia

  10. Full-frontal raised ranch photos! Haha. Your house is really beautiful, Wendy. I love the steps coming up to the front, it's really elegant. Your flowers are very pretty too.

  11. Oh wow you have been working hard Wendy, the front of your house looks lovely and more open now the bushes have gone. Your garden looks amazing and I love the black Iris. :)

  12. Hi Wendy, I was just having a look around for some new blogs to read and I am so happy to find yours! I am always looking for garden tips and ways to be inspired, I think I am going to like it here. :) You really do have a beautiful front garden, I think the changes you have made look fantastic. I have never seen a black iris. I bet you cannot wait for it to open, it will look stunning. And I also never knew lupins could change colour, I've never had any in my garden before but I've always liked them. See how much I have learnt coming here! Looking forward to reading more, have a great week! :)

  13. Your garden looks lovely, I enjoyed the tour! I love the changes and your pretty walkways, and all your gorgeous flowers. Thanks for showing me around. xo Karen

  14. I really like the black iris... what a smokin' contrast of color in the garden it must be. I am surprised that taking the big bush out from the front yard didn't leave a big open space in your lawn, or did the grass fill in already? The fuchsias are really pretty. Your lavender is going to look so nice and it is so so fragrant. I am semi obsessed with it. I have a fantasy of ripping out my front lawn and planting rows of lavender and it would be so beautiful. But I am certain my husband would flip out so that is why I call it a fantasy.

  15. Everything looks wonderful. I need to come back later to examine things a bit more closely. ;) I hope we don't get the bad storm from the states. They are saying southern and northeastern Ontario might.

  16. Wow Wendy your garden is looking gorgeous. It's amazing when you think back to all that snow that you had! I love the smell of mock orange, we have one in our front garden and when it's bloom you can smell it as soon as you open the front door! Have a lovely week, Sarah xo

  17. Goodness you've been busy! But how pretty it all looks and the improvements look great to me.

    Our mock orange died a few years back. I miss it.

  18. Beautiful photos of your lovely garden. I can almost smell the lilac though in that first photo!

  19. A lovely tour of your gardens and I like the different columbines you have. It's disappointing when a plant reverts to a single colour as in the case of your peony. I've this problem with echinaca, white ones reverting to purple.

  20. The colorful flowers in your garden are wonderful.

    Just as I sat down at the computer, I looked out to the garden and bemoaned my lack of color. We are in a multi year drought and there just isn't water to keep my garden lush.

  21. That black iris is amazing! WOW! And your columbines are just fantastic!!! I don't have any in the garden but I need to add some next spring because every time I see them they make me pause....just so pretty! And that stone path you have up there is awesome! I can't wait to see the lavender....I have always admired that plant and I am coming to you with advice on that one! Your blooms are outstanding as usual and your front garden looks fantastic! A wonderful weekend to you lady! Nicole xo


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