Friday, May 20, 2016

Twelve views of tulips

A bouquet of tulips from my garden, in light from my window
Call this post: I'm going to show you pictures of these tulips until you beg me to stop. Tulips are amazing in a vase. They continue to grow and change for days. One day, the morning light caught the bouquet I'd picked last week, and suddenly my camera was in my hands. And I couldn't stop looking.

Petals
Feathers
Tears
Frills
Profusion
Petticoats
Quills
Ruffles
Crinolines
Yearning
Still life. Still living.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The best way to grow tulips

Tulipa 'Parrot King' is a kingly parrot tulip
Yes, I've had problems with squirrels and tulips. Who hasn't? It almost put me off ever planting tulips again. But I've learned that the best way to foil squirrels when growing tulips is to grow more tulips. Like the British way of making tea: Plant "one for me, and one for thee (you nasty little squirrel), and one for the pot." (They can't snap off every flower head when you plant lots.) Then, after you plant, cover the planting hole with Acti-Sol hen manure pellets. Four years running, I haven't lost a bulb yet.

After we emigrated to Canada, our mother kept up an almost weekly correspondence with her mum back in Wales. Each fall, Gran would write about how she'd planted hundreds of bulbs. She loved parrot tulips, and they always remind me of her. So the best way to grow tulips is to grow tulips that you love.
Lily-flowered tulips are elegance on a stick, and 'Ballerina' is one of my favourites. I'm very happy with her tutu of vernal sweet pea (Lathyrus verna) here and think I need more. So the best way to grow tulips is to grow them behind another plant – in a combo that brings out the best in each other.
Before the rains, there was a veil of serviceberry (Amelanchier). So the best way to grow tulips… is to use see-through plants that frame the tulips and create a sense of surprise.
Early-flowering Tulipa 'Verona' is a pale yellow, peony-flowered tulip that fades to cream. So the best way to grow tulips…is to select tulips that bloom from early, to mid and late spring, embracing in their many, many shapes.
Tulips can also be fragrant, too. This one might (or might not) be the scented Tulipa 'Sanson' which I planted two years ago. So the best way to grow tulips is to grow them close to a spot where you can bend down to enjoy their perfume.
The best way to grow tulips... is to plant tulips. Like the gal who just ordered too many bulbs from FlowerBulbsRUs.com – she is her grandmother's granddaughter – which will arrive by mail at planting time.
And a May day that rained, sleeted and hailed (twice) might just be the best day to be glad you grow tulips.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Bring me all your Virginia bluebells

Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica), looking lust-afterable in a Beach garden
Virginia bluebells are native North American spring ephemerals and they're just fabulous – in any garden but mine. Wish my shady garden had the moisture they need to be as happy as they are here.

You want them, too. You know you do. Mobot tells you more. Grow some for me while you're at it.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Go see Grow Op 2016 at the Gladstone

You get an underworld view of daffodil bulbs in Persephone by the Toronto Flower Market and various local growers, including Sarah Nixon of My Luscious Backyard whom we ran into at the show.
Happy Earth Day. A perfect time to share earthy thoughts that make us think. These scenes are just a few from the Gladstone Hotel's annual alternative garden show Grow Op, taglined "Cultivating Curiosity." The show runs till April 24th, and I hope you'll find time over the weekend to see it.

Thirty artists, landscape architects, historians and other smart and creative folk have made things that provoke and stimulate. Like these. And we haven't even shown you the countertop cricket farm...

Look closely to see the etched cities surrounding grassy terraria in Green Living by glass artist Becky Lauzon.
Turf and its roots are the medium in Terrena by [R]ed[U]x Lab from Ryerson's architecture department – the same group who made one of my favourites (the dayglo pine cone) in 2015's Winter Stations.
Artist Michael Rennick with one of his many pieces in Sticks, Stones, String and Sealing Wax
If I had a million dollars (story of my life) I'd've been happy to take this one of Rennick's works home. Part dreamscape, part garden, part Dali-esque horse head.
Woodworker Shelly Dwyer's Unbroken by Nature sees what she calls "garbage chairs" rehabilitated and reborn into something new using willow basket weaving techniques. This is one of her chair pods.
Vivian Wong of Wabi-Sabi Collective with All Night Blossoms Fell, inspired by Tanabata-style wishing trees.
My wish is to have one of these in a corner of my home.
Loop, a cool hydroponic garden by urban-ag design collective Design Build Grow Studio
Bright pink manganese chloride crystals grow in glass bulbs in Michaela Macleod's strangely beautiful My Chemical Garden
One of the evening's award-winners, David Perrett stands beside three hollowed-out, ash-borer felled trunks, collectively titled Timber. The base of each trunk allows it to rock back and forth, like one of those punching-bag clowns.
Chainsaws, chisels and a lot of elbow grease went into hollowing out these. The textures, manmade inside, insect made outside, were mesmerizing. And no one could resist giving each trunk a shove. Go try it before the weekend ends!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Spring 2016 is (finally) in the air

No. Unfortunately not a picture of a Toronto garden. Not yet.
Nearly a year ago, I photographed this in the display garden of Sunset Publishing in California, sighing that it would perk me up before my return to the brownery back home. Well, Facebook just reminded me of it, so I thought I'd share it here to perk you up, as well. Think Spring, friends!

And don't you love that circular arbor? I'm trying to imagine how to make one for myself. Any tips?

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Yes, we're all patiently waiting for spring 2016

Joe Fafard's cows in the meadow of Toronto's Financial District
Last night's double-digit minus temps and today's snow make me feel like these gals look. Resigned.
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