Monthly Archives: June 2010

Summer Retreat

Huckleberry Island

Summer is here and  all over, people are looking for a place in the sun.  For us is time to load up the car and head north.  We follow the QEW all the way to our little piece of paradise in an Island on a remote lake in  Algonquin Park, Ontario.

It is time to enjoy the pleasures of lazy summer days and balmy sweet silent nights. Only the sound of nature, the cry of the loons, and occasionally, the haunting calls of the wolf, deep in the forest, pierce the night.  A nature lover by heart, I am   fortunate to be able to share a spot like this with the natural world that occupies it.  Respectfully, with minimum impact, we should all venture into the woods and get in touch with nature. There, we can then find peace for the spirit and time to reflect on this great world we live in.   It helps me grasp the reality of what is really important in our lives.  We live in a fast world.  Are we able to keep up with the daily bombardment of information, technology and social demands without taking time to soothe our spirit?


So I’ll say goodbye for a short time, to recharge.  Without TV, Newspapers, or the Internet, I would be out of touch… but surrounded by beauty like this…


Sedum album 'Coral Carpet'

Even on a wet rainy day Sedum or Stonecrop, planted in between informal steps, offers a bright splash to my day.  I could not get anything to grow in between these steps except weeds.  Then I found this dense miniature of a plant which has exceeded my expectations.  It grows so tight that weeds have a hard time getting their own space.

There are some 600 species of Sedums grown around North America, they range from perennial, annual, evergreen or deciduous, creeping or tall species.  I am absolutely in love with the creeping variety of Sedums.  The real low varieties are ideal for filling spaces in between walks, on the front of the border along walkways, around pools and ponds, or even next to foundations.  All prefer sunny locations, well drained soil, tolerate dry poor sites and thrive on neglect.  Is that a perfect plant or what?  The low spreading varieties benefit from a stone edge if keeping it contained is an issue.

The leaves, colors, and even the shape of the plant vary so much from species,that it is a bit challenging to identify them all. One unifying characteristic is that they are always succulent.  Leaves are fleshy, sometimes rounded or flat oval forms to minute beaded pearls.  Most attach directly to the stem and can be golden, red, purple or tricolor.  Read more here. All are fast growing and easy to propagate by from seed, division or leaf and stem cuttings.

Sedum spurium 'Voodoo'

“No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.”

— Thomas Jefferson

Lets Talk About a Great Bloomer

Oenothera fruticosa or Evening Primrose

Every June, I can’t wait for the time when Oenothera bursts into bloom. Its bright yellow profuse blooms fill me with hope,  I fell in love with its sunny blooms the moment I spotted it at a farmer’s market some 16 years ago;  after an afternoon of shopping, my bags were full and my cash all gone.  My son, then 8 years old, proudly produced two dollars so I could buy the plant.  I have never been disappointed by this mighty performer.

Eonothera fruticosa, also known as Sundrops and Narrow-leaf evening primrose, is a perennial that propagates easily without being invasive.  Fibrous crowns form dense clumps of evergreen rosettes.  In the spring, flowering stems grow to carry the flower display which starts in late may and persist thru june and into early July.  I have divided that original plant 3 or 4 times and have several colonies thought my garden in both shade and sun and they all manage to bloom.  Those in shaded areas bloom slightly lighter and a few days later. All in all, this is a plant I highly recommend for your perennial border.

Oenothera growing in shade.

If you’ve never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom.  ~Terri Guillemets

June 2010

My Garden at the end of May.

May was a month full of activity in my garden.  The beds were edged and twelve yards of mulch were carefully spread on every bed and around hundreds of perennials.  June is here and it is time to deadhead the May bloomers, keep after those weeds, maintain the edging and stay vigilant for pests and disease.

Deadheading is important to keep the plant looking fresh.  By removing spent blooms and stopping seed production (which is the plant’s ultimate goal), the plant will put out a fresh set of buds.  Not all perennials will respond this way; plants that have flowers on one long stem generally will not re-bloom once it fades. This includes most spring bulbs as well as Irises and tall Geraniums.  If given a haircut when most first blooms have faded,  certain perennials with numerous small flowers will produce a second blooming . Thread leaf coreopsis are a good example of this.

Weeds, weeds and more weeds.  They never seem to give up,  I take a walk about the flower beds armed with my trusty weeder and a bucket,  always in the lookout for those that clearly do not belong and seem to appear out of nowhere overnight.  If they somehow manage to go into bloom, it just means your yard is about to be invaded.

Edging is one of those things that does not seem to stay neat and needs a pass with the pruners or edger from time to time.  I am a bit obsessive about this, but it is worth it because it makes the entire bed look so much more manicured.

Remember to pinch your mums up to July 4th to promote a fuller, more compact plant with a lot more buds. I just pinch the top set of double leaves on each stem, and the stem will compensate by putting out side shoots which in turn will form their own buds.  This is what growers do to make the fall mums so full of blossoms.

…”Any garden demands as much of its maker as he has to give.  But I do not need to tell you, if you are a gardener, that no other undertaking will give you as great a return for the amount of effort put into it”

-Elizabeth Lawrence