Category Archives: Gardening

Everything’s Coming Up Roses – Summer Garden Blooms

One of the fun things about moving to a new house is that you get the surprise of finding out what the previous owners planted in their gardens!  Each new bloom and emerging plant has been like a wonderful gift.

Now that summer is fully upon is, everything seems to be bursting into bloom.  Not being a huge flower planter myself (herbs and vegetables are more my thing) I have been thoroughly enjoying being the benefactor of the pretty plantings of the previous house owner!  And the roses!  There are wild roses everywhere!  Front, back, side, and around the pool.  And although I enjoy their pretty fragrance, I do NOT enjoy their prickly thorns.  Ouch!  So a few of these might find their way to the compost pile at some point, or at least get a significant pruning.  But for now, I am content to enjoy the beauty of all of these blooms!

Here are a few that have just begun to show their pretty heads:

Garden Flowers Orange Lily Pink Hollyhock Pink Hollyhock Garden Flowers MarigoldThe marigolds are not a surprise as I planted them myself.  :)
Mini Rose in Pink And here is a rose I don’t mind.  This miniature rose bush was given to me by one of my students as an end of year gift and after being transplanted to the garden it is just beginning to come back into bloom.  DaisyAnd daisies, which I always now think of as “the friendliest flower.”  (Bonus points to you if you know what movie that comes from!)

Finally, it’s not a bloom, but definitely beautiful in it’s own right (not to mention downright delicious!)

Ripe Red RaspberryI’d love to know, what’s blooming in your garden right now?

The most amazing plant discovery ever!

Last year I made the most amazing plant discovery ever.  Seriously.  This plant is a medicinal powerhouse.  Chew it or chop it up and apply it for immediate relief from bug bites, bee stings, nettle stings, and rashes.  Apply it to a deep sliver and it will actually pull it out of the skin.  It cures infections, stops bleeding, and, oh yeah, you can eat it too.

As you are probably imagining, this is a rare rainforest plant only recently discovered and this is why the general public doesn’t know about it yet.  It is sold at such high prices that only the elite have access to it.  Um, not quite.

This plant is actually a “weed” that grows prolifically just about everywhere.  Even city dwellers can probably find it sprouting between side walk stones.  But somehow, in the ease of plunking down our money at the nearest drug store, it’s medicinal use has been long forgotten.

This amazing plant is the topic of my last instalment of the Forgotten Plants series over at Gnowfglins.   I really couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this garden weed in the pages of my medicinal herb book and I can’t wait to make better use of it in my garden, and medicine cabinet, in the spring.

If you know of any other “forgotten plants” I’d love to hear about them!

Forgotten Plants Series

It has been a very busy few months around here as we moved to a new town, settled into our new house, and began our new jobs.  And yes, since we just can’t seem to help ourselves, we have begun renovations on our new house, too.  (How many of you already knew that was going to happen?)

In the midst of all the busyness, I was also accepted as a contributing writer at GNOWFGLINS.  Are you familiar with Wardeh’s bolg?  It is a treasure trove of information for anyone interested in raising their own food, preserving the harvest, and preparing healthy, in-season meals for their families.

My first series is all about “Forgotten Plants: once prolific in the kitchen gardens of our ancestors, but now so rare that the average person might never have even heard of them.  Many of these deserve to find space in our gardens again!” 


Lovage is an easy-to-grow perennial that can be used very much like celery.  I even included a recipe for Lovage Lemon Chicken.

Borage is one of my garden favourites!  It’s wonderful for eating as well as a helpful companion plant!  The flowers are pretty on a salad, and the leaves are perfect for a cool glass of borage lemonade.

Walking onions are one of my new favourites!  Click on over to read how I discovered these at our local historical settlement!

And finally, an old favourite from The Handy Reliable Cookbook (remember my great-grandmother’s old cookbook?)  I even included one of the old recipes in the post!

The final instalment in the series will be posted soon and will feature an undervalued plant that just about everyone has growing in their yard or garden, any guesses?


From Lawn to Garden in a Day

When I was deep into gardening plans this winter, wanting to grow more things than we have room for in our current gardens, I thought “wouldn’t it be great to turn the big patch of lawn in front of our house into a garden?”

There were many reasons this would work – we already had plantings on the other side of the house and this would even things out, it’s a hard space to mow because of the hill, and we need the space.  Hubby had his reservations, but decided to trust me on this one and went ahead and ordered the necessary soil and compost.  (I love that man!)

So, on Saturday morning, when I woke up, the front of my house looked like this.  (Well, not exactly like this because I forgot to take a before photo, and this was taken a few years ago, but you get the idea.  There is lawn in front of the house.)

About mid-morning, it was looking more like this.  We put down thick layers of cardboard to suppress the grass and started piling 6 inches of soil/compost on top.

By the end of the day – success!  Instant garden!  I transplanted a few plants from elsewhere in our gardens, plus seedlings I had started a couple of months ago indoors.  Then I planted the rest of the space with seeds for a variety of flowering plants.  Hopefully the birds won’t discover them before they have a chance to sprout.  Next year, when the grass and cardboard has had a chance to decompose, I will probably plant a few bushes along the house.

Hubby also took the opportunity to re-do our walkway, and I rearranged the other front flower beds and topped them up with soil and compost.

Not bad for one day’s work!  (But goodness were my muscles sore this morning!) :)

What’s growing in your gardens this year?

Signs of Spring

Despite the cold chill in the air, there are signs of Spring popping up everywhere.

These pretty little flowers are always some of the first to bloom in my garden, nestled among my tulip and hyacinth leaves.  (I never actually see any tulips or hyacinths as the deer like to keep them well pruned!)  I have no idea what type of flower they are, but have found them growing all over my lawn!

The rhubarb is beginning to grow!  It won’t be long now until we are eating tasty rhubarb treats again!

And then….drum roll please….we have…..

Asparagus!!!!  I am so excited to see the asparagus return to the garden.  Last year we plunked it in with everything else and hoped for the best.  Over the winter I was doing some gardening reading and realized that there are a tonne of things you are supposed to do for Asparagus when you plant it.  None of which we did.  To try to make up for the lack, I did give them an extra dose of compost when the ground thawed and then have hoped for the best.  I am so excited to see these beautiful green spears poking up out of the ground.

There are a few signs of spring inside too….

My flower, herb, and tomato seeds have begun to sprout!  I am always so excited when the first leaves begin to appear.  Just another month and we’ll be setting them outside!

Is there anything growing in your garden or sprouting in your house this spring?

My New Favourite Gardening Book

We have a whole shelf in our book-filled house dedicated to gardening.  Last year I posted a list of my favourites, and since then I have a list a mile long of books I have read from the library, and those that I hope to read.

But of all the gardening books I have read so far, I now have a new favourite.

You Grow Girl by Gayla Trail.

This book is different from any gardening book I have read before, and I think that is why I love it so much.

To start with, Gayla keeps things simple.  After reading stacks of gardening books with flawless photos and long lists of plants I can never seem to find, and a confusing amount of information on soil and ph and watering and garden design, it is refreshing to find a book that is, well, fun!  Rather than getting bogged down by how much there is to be done, she makes gardening sound doable, reminds you that it doesn’t have to be perfect, and then gives you lots of great ideas for making your garden a success.

And it’s not that the book isn’t meaty, because it is.  There is a wealth of information in there on starting a successful garden, no matter how small the space you have to grow (and even what to do if you are growing on a public space!)   But there are also really fun crafty projects like making your own leaf-shaped concrete stepping stones (I so want to do this!), sewing yourself a garden apron, creating moss-covered pots and stones, making tea with your own home-grown herbs, and on and on.  All told in a relaxed, you-can-do-this kind of way.

And as much as I love reading about gardening, I sometimes find the process a little stressful as the list of things I have to be doing and I should be doing and I need to be planting gets longer and longer.  You Grow Girl comes without the panic.  Instead there is the kind of enthusiasm you get when talking to your best friend about the thing you are passionate about.  I finished reading the book inspired and excited about the gardening season ahead.  (and I have yet another book  I am going to keep out of the library as long as I can….) :)  I am also adding “grow my own loofah sponge” to my list of gardening things to do.  I had no idea this was something you could grow in your garden – how cool is that?!

Gayla also has an amazing gardening blog which I read regularly, and two other gardening books which I can’t wait to check out.

Have you read any good books lately?

The Scent of Spring in Winter’s Chill

It has finally decided to be winter.  The ground outside is snow-covered, the temperature has dipped into the negatives, and with added wind chill today and tomorrow I am going to want to spend my time inside next to our cozy wood stove.  But despite the chill, the promise of spring has already entered our household.

The seed catalogues have arrived!

If you are not a gardener, then the arrival of a spring catalogue in January may be nothing more than junk mail to you, and perhaps laughable in its early arrival (which is what I did when the Spring/Summer Sears catalogue arrived at our doorstep before Christmas!)

But to me, the arrival of the seed catalogues marks the beginning of a new planting season.  And in my mind, one of the best parts (because there is no actual work to be done yet, just dreaming!)  :)

And so, I will cuddle by the wood stove, and contemplate what delights will grow in our garden this year.  Will it be a new type of yellow beet?  Will we brave the green caterpillars and try cabbage again?  Oh the possibilities that good earth and a few seeds will provide!

Was that the scent of spring in the air?

Getting the Garden Ready for Winter

We have had an absolutely gorgeous fall here in Atlantic Canada.  Warm temperatures and sunny days  have meant the longest gardening season we have ever had. 

I am still harvesting the odd lettuces and spinach, many of the herbs are still growing, and some of the plants (like the celery) have been tricked into sending up new shoots! 



Despite this, we know that winter will soon be coming.  So while the weather is still warm, hubby and I spent the day putting the garden to bed for another year. 

We have been cleaning out plants here and there as they have finished their growing season, but when we began working our garden still looked like this:


By the time we were done, the garden looked like this:


We removed all of the annual plants completely, snipped off the spent perennial stems, and weeded all of the gardens.  We then piled leaves as mulch over some of the perennials, including the strawberries and newly planted Egyptian Onions.  Last year we bought straw to cover our strawberry plants and still lost them over the winter, so we’ll see if they are still around in the spring. 

We usually cover everything with a layer of compost/manure in the fall, but we missed the garden centre sale on these items this year, so will have to wait for spring.  (We make compost of our own, but not enough to cover all of the gardens!)

I have left the lettuces and spinach for now since we are still harvesting (although since we removed all of the deer netting I am not sure what will be left once they discover the ”free buffet”), and we are still enjoying carrots and a new crop of green onions.  This late harvest almost made us want to build some cold frames to see how long we could extend the growing season, but I think that is going to be an experiment for another year.

And so another gardening season has come to a close.  Is anyone else still harvesting?  What do you do to prepare your garden for winter?

Harvesting Herbs


I know I haven’t been writing here as much as usual.  Thanks to all of you who have stuck with me through this busy time and still read my posts.  You mean the world to me!

We have been extremely blessed this year with an abnormally mild fall.  Usually by this time my garden is frost-bitten and gone, except for carrots, but this year we are still harvesting lettuce, spinach, herbs and celery.  Oh the celery we grew this year!  Seriously, if you live anywhere close by and you would like to have your own bunch of fresh-from-the-garden celery, please let me know!  I am happy to share from our bounty.  I’m also considering sending all my friends bouquets of parsley and dill - what do you think?  :)

This extended warm spell has also given me lots of time to harvest most of the herbs I grew this year (other than the basil, which faints at the first sign of cold, but luckily I already had most of that made into pesto weeks ago.)

I am pretty simple when it comes to preserving my herbs.

I pick them.

I brush off any dirt that might be sticking to them.

I freeze them in glass jars.  (We have a plethora of glass jars because they aren’t recyclable here, plastic bags would work too.)

I enjoy them all winter long.

That’s it. 

I make pesto with basil, and this year I tried to make a parsley paste of parsley and oil, which I froze in small clumps as I do with the pesto. 

I decided to try to do this with a mortar and pestle, because I heard that it is better for the colour of the herbs when you do it this way.  Next year I will go back to using my food processor.  The end result was not quite as “pasty” as I would have liked it, more like clumps of parsley suspended in oil.  However, when I’m tasting that fresh parsley flavour in our winter cooking I won’t be worrying about consistency.

Anyone else out there enjoying a mild fall?  How are you preserving your garden harvest?

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