Six on Saturday – Signs of Spring

Galanthus elwesii March 30 2018 small

This holiday long weekend is much sunnier – so far – than the weather channels had predicted, with seasonal temperatures for a change.  I think it might just be a blip though because it’s been cooler than normal so far this spring and there’s snow predicted for later next week.  Heavy sigh.   Plants know what time of year it is though – here are six signs that spring is underway in Southeastern Ontario, and a tip of my Tilly to The Propagator for this theme.

Acer pensylvanicum leaf bud March 30 2018 small

Acer pensylvanicum leaf buds swelling.  This small understory tree is also called Striped Maple because the bark of young branches has attractive vertical stripes, or Moose Maple because in Northern Ontario moose are fond of nibbling on the branches.

Lilac leaf bud March 30 2018 small

It’ll be about a month and a half before bloom but these Lilac flower buds are starting to swell.

Clematic leaf bud March 30 2018 small

The buds on this Clematis durandii have broken.  It’s a favourite rambling Clematis – I have it clambering over large rocks and amongst daylilies where the large purple flowers make a statement.

Sorbaria sorbifolia bud March 30 2018 small 2

False Spirea – Sorbaria sorbifolia – it just can’t wait to get a jump on spring!

Daffodil flower buds March 30 2018 small

Daffodils – I’m guessing they’ll be open next Saturday but you never know.  It’s not going to be much about zero for the next few days, with some snow expected later in the week.  These full size Narcissus are in a warmish micro climate in the yard; the tiny Tete a Tete – usually the first to bloom – are in a cooler spot and have just poked out of the ground. 

Galanthus elwesii March 30 2018 small

Snowdrops – Galanthus elwesii – have been in bloom for more than a month now.  Really – it’s the only thing I can count on for March.

 

DIY – seed starting by Re-using

I love yogurt (or for non North Americans, Yoghurt) – have some every morning, sometimes as a topping for melons, berries or nuts, sometime right from the little plastic container. Of course, all these containers go into the recycling bin, and I can only hope some intrepid company is melting them down to make new plastic thingamjigs somewhere in the world.

I also love the three “R’s” – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and it struck me a few weeks ago that I can possibly Reuse before Recycling, and save a few pennies as well. So I started collecting the yogurt containers, large and small, to use for seed starting.

I’m not sure if it will work. The wonderful thing abut using Jiffy® pots is you don’t need to disturb seedling roots when planting out. With the yogurt containers, I’ll have to carefully slide the root mass into the planting hole. So I’ll be conducting a quasi-scientific study — half of my new tomato seedlings in Jiffy, half in yogurt. All else will be the same (starting medium, heat and light while in front of the window, and side by side in the garden). I’m looking forward to the results!

Seed starting DIY 1 March 18 2018

Here are some of my seeds this year. There’s a grape tomato from Stokes® called Chocolate Sprinkles and an All American Selection cocktail tomato from Earthworks Seeds called Red Racer. I love cocktail tomatoes – they’re the perfect size for salads. I’m also trying to start my chard this way – this variety is Scarlet Charlotte from Renee’s Garden. They recommend starting them outside when there is no danger of a hard frost, but in my experience the rabbits think chard seedlings are an appetizer so I’m hoping that by planting a lot of larger plants I may get a harvest.

Seed starting DIY 2 March 18 2018

I wasn’t sure how to put drainage holes in the bottom of the yogurt cups so I tried with secateurs and a knife before realizing plain ol’ kitchen scissors work best.

Seed starting DIY 3 March 18 2018

I wanted three triangle holes – the scissors provided the cleanest and easiest cut.

Seed starting DIY 4 March 18 2018

I’ve never done this before but the Stokes seed pack suggested soaking the Jiffy pot in warm water before adding growing medium. It makes sense – otherwise the sphagnum peat moss would pull moisture from the medium, causing it to dry our faster and making watering a bit trickier.

Seed starting DIY 5 March 18 2018

The final result – four pots for each tomato variety, two started in a yogurt container and two in the Jiffy pot, and a whole lot of chard! The tray is now covered and on top of the freezer where it’s a titch warmer than my windowsill (if I had an electric heating mat I’d use it – maybe next year!)

The Flower Show Part of Canada Blooms

 

Flower Show 1 Paola Zattera floral entry

From Italy –  Paola Zattera designed this show stopping arrangement,

When I visit garden shows or county fairs I generally either breeze through or walk on by the flower show part.  You know, the tables with vases of cut flowers, or weird looking arrangements that use sticks and leaves and kitchen gadgets that make the whole thing appear…strange.  I know, I know  – it’s a complicated process; running and judging a flower show takes a lot of time and effort.  You can tell just by reading the info tags beside each display — there’s a million different types/classes of entries.

I took the time this year to more closely tour the winning entries of the Toronto Flower Show at Canada Blooms.  I was amazed.  I spotted at least four main categories:  dresses based on Disney themes, small planted boxes meant to be viewed from above, front door decorations and arrangements by international floral artists that interpret the ‘experimental’ move genre.   Here are a few of my favourites, with apologies for not noting the floral artists’ names.  Lesson learned!

These are the front door decorations.  Although I loved the snowshoe best, it was the Hyacinth wreath that won the day – these are living bulbs forming the wreath!  I have no idea how the artisan who crafted it manages to keep the roots moist throughout the show; perhaps there’s something between the bulb and the beautiful moss diaper they’re wearing.

 

These dresses are made from flower petals, bark, leaves, twigs….they’re what I imagine movie stars would wear if there was a red carpet event in the middle of the enchanted forest.

 

Flower Show 8 as see from aboveI took photos of several of the ‘gardens in a box’ which, the sign said, are meant to be viewed from above, but my shadow was in all of them.  Including this one!

You have to admire the imagination, creativity and tremendous skill demonstrated by all the displays.  The neat thing is, if I had been at  the flower show at the right time I could have seen judging and creating being demonstrated.  Next year!

Going to the Movies at Canada Blooms

Canada Blooms 2018 welcome 1

The theme of Canada Blooms this year is Let’s Go To The Movies.  The creators of many of the feature gardens interpreted or used as inspiration a well known movie such as The Jungle Book, Midnight in Paris and even Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth (the feature garden is called An Inconvenient Garden – its central courtyard is bare concrete and dead Cedars and dead grasses…).

The most colourful and playful bits of the garden show weren’t feature gardens but the accents, small pieces running down the middle of Floral Alley or put together to demonstrate the theme.  Here are a few of my favourites.

Canada Blooms 2018 welcome 3

This giant tub of ‘popcorn’ (tiny white and yellow roses) spilling from the ceiling greets visitors to the main hall.

Canada Blooms 2018 welcome 8

The City of Toronto display right beside the giant popcorn tub is an inviting mass of colour waiting for pollinators to buzz amongst the petals.

These displays running down Floral Alley and the giant red and white popcorn tubs placed here and there helped unify the show and remind people, if they had forgotten, what the theme is:

 

This manikin couple greets visitors on the red carpet — the dress is a pretty beautiful floral creation!

more Allan Garden delights

Allan Gardens March 7 2018 looking up

Under the main dome, filled with palms reaching up to touch the glass.

The wonderful thing about Allan Gardens Conservatory is you can be satisfied and invigorated by visiting for just 15 minutes or by spending as long as 45.   Take a quick walk through the entire complex to enjoy the colours, fragrance and humid air, or, leisurely stroll the meandering pathways, examining the large and sometimes tiny specimens, many of them exotics (for Ontario), all of them meticulously cared for. The city horticulturalists pack hundreds of species into the half dozen greenhouses; some seem to have been there forever and some are obviously seasonal.  Here are a few of my favourites from the permanent collection and the current Spring Blooms installation.

From the spring show – lots of Muscari, Narcissus, Hyacinth and Tulips, plus the occasional surprise, like Winter Aconite.

 

 

 

 

 

Rhodo and Koi Pond at Allan Gardens

This koi pond is there year-round, but the Rhododendron is now in bloom!

 

Also in bloom is Agapanthus – I’ve heard it being called a weed in more tropical parts of the world but here, not so much!  I love the blue flowers.  And this variegated Brugmansia is quite spectacular.

 

 

 

Surprising for me was this patch of kale, left to flower – the yellow flowers are really quite beautiful when massed like this – and the lemon tree!  I wonder if the staff enjoy G&T’s after closing time…

 

 

Cactus at Allan Gardens March 7 2018 small

There are lots of succulents and cacti in the desert house, some of them so tall they’re brushing the roof.  For me, this quartet epitomizes the look. If I lived in Arizona or New Mexico I’d likely have a bunch of them on either side of the front walkway.

Seen in the metal roof struts; I wonder what he’s found to chomp on…

Squirrel at Alan Gardens
Meander