Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Super-Early Preview of the Sept Issue of Gardens East!

I just got the latest issue of Gardens East magazine in the mail yesterday!! So exciting.. it's always packed with so much info. And this issue featured 2 of my articles! One on an amazing Oakfield, NS garden and the other was on some of my favourite veggies for autumn. That may sound funny, but it's time to start to think about what you want to harvest this fall. Our fall/winter carrots will be planted in about a month and I've already tucked more kale seedlings into the garden.

Anyway, on to the topic at hand. I'm currently procrastinating, oops, I mean working on the Sept garden profile for Gardens East and thought I'd share a few of the photos that I took at this gorgeous Dartmouth garden.. just a few tidbits to pique your interest!! 

Hens and chicks in a chair that is painted with hens and chicks!! Love it.. Also, I'm really into the lime green/purple colour combo of campanula and lady's mantle. Finally, look at the big seashell below, planted with sedums.. I could have stared at it for hours.. so many colours and textures..

The sun is peaking out, so hopefully our dreary weather is over.. get out and play in your garden!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Check out my latest Proven Winners blog post!

Lobularia 'Blushing Princess'
My latest blog post for Proven Winners is now live! For my take on Lobularia 'Snow Princess', click here! (spoiler alert - this has been one of my top container picks for years!)

And for my 2 minute video profiling some of my container gardens, click here! Two of the new plants I am trialing for Proven Winners are soon-to-be-released Lobularia's - Blushing Princess and Frosty Knight. So, far, they are outstanding.. for photos, just scroll down to my recent post on my planters and pots.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Check out my 1st video!!

My first ever Proven Winners video is up on youtube!! It's only a short 2 min piece on my container gardens, but it was a lot of fun to do (I should have kept the out takes - much swearing!!).. hmmmm.. might have to do a few videos for this blog..? Thoughts?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Potted Garden - Edibles and Ornamentals

Red lolla lettuce with Lobularia 'Blushing Princess' and
Lobularia 'Frosty Knight'
I have a lot of container gardens. It's not my fault! Because I blog for Proven Winners (see that funky badge on the right side of my blog? It will take you to my posts), they send me trial plants a year in advance so that I can test out (and write about with confidence) the soon-to-be-released plants..

This year, I had already potted up about a dozen medium sized pots, planters, window boxes and hanging baskets when the Proven Winners plants arrived.. I had to scrounge around for more containers (I'm a frugal (aka, cheap) gardener, so I wasn't going to spend big $$$ on more pots) and now have a back deck that is home to about 18 containers, a few window boxes and 2 large planters.. yikes!!

Of course, I like to combine my ornamental plants with edibles, so tucked in many of my planters is a variety of leaf lettuces, 'Bright Lights' swiss chard, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants (the like the heat of the back deck) and peas. I love the way leaf lettuce really fills out a container, plus, it's only a quick jaunt to the deck to pick a few leaves for my lunchtime wraps and sandwiches..

But, I love my container gardens and they really add a lush look to the back deck.. Plus, they attract hummingbirds and butterflies like crazy! So, I just popped out and took a few updated photos of my pots, as well as a shot of my tomatoes underplanted with arugula. Thought I should document that before I start harvesting tonight for supper!!

Happy Summer!

Another shot of my lettuce and the two 2013 Lobularias.. Also,
note that electric reddish-pink Supertunia called 'Watermelon
Charm' in the back of the photo.. he's coming next year too!
If you look super close, you'll also see some green leaf
lettuce at the top of the photo too.. 

A mini sweet pepper combined with Lobularia
'Blushing Princess', Supertunia 'Watermelon
Charm', Superbells 'Lemon Slice' (another 2013
introduction) and various tidbits..

Another shot of the pepper.. can't wait to try the sweet
fruits - some are about 1-inch already!

Here's a new 2012 petunia called 'Pink Lemonade'.. It's not as low
maintenance as the Proven Winners Supertunia because I need
to deadhead the spent flowers, but I do love the colour combo!

A bit sunny out, but here's a look at my tomatoes (and a rogue borage)
that are underplanted with a thick layer of arugula - 22 days from seeding.
Time to eat!! :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

I love community gardens

I spent this past Saturday morning in downtown Halifax away from my own garden (which desperately needs some TLC!), but I was thrilled to discover a gorgeous community garden tucked away behind a large apartment building near Saint Mary's University. I love community gardens and it thrills me to see so many new ones popping up around the Maritime provinces.. I had the pleasure of visiting a few on my recent trip to Saint John, New Brunswick when I hosted Marigolds for Main Street (see my older posts). The Peninsula Urban Garden Society plots that I visited on Saturday aren't new, but were established almost a decade ago with the help of Counciller Sue Uteck. It was also expanded a few years ago and now boasts about 40 plots - and a long waiting list.. which shows that we still need more community gardens!

On a related note, I also have been hearing about folks who share their yards with those not lucky enough to have space to grow food and flowers..

While I was poking around the community garden, I was hoping that some of the members would pop in to tend to their plants so that I could talk to them, but unfortunately that didn't happen.. Nevertheless, I snapped a few photos so that I could share the beauty of these productive plots that show just how much food can be grown (in mid-June!) in a small space.. note, the fun use of hanging containers to grow vining plants..

Who says food garden't aren't beautiful spaces?? Not me!

Everyone plants their own assortment of favourite veggies/herbs/fruits and flowers.

Strawberries and leaf lettuce.

Love this plot - incredibly productive for mid-June and so much variety.

Dinosaur kale, lettuces, carrots, garlic, nasturtiums, peas and so much more!

A bounty of spring greens and tomato seedlings for summer fruits.

Too cool.. zucchini, peas and a few other edible vines.

Very organized spaces and such a nice place to spend a few hours..

Asian greens and more!

There were also a few cherry trees, high bush blueberries and more.. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

A few more container garden photos..

Don't you just love how the garden changes every day?? I just gave my pots on the back deck a thorough watering and thought I would snap a few photos.. I've been bogged down with book 2 this week (and last week and the week before and...) and also need to start preparing for this weekend's radio show.. The hilarious Amanda Thomson of Kiss My Aster will be joining me for the last 1/2 hour to share some garden laughs.. she also blogs for Proven Winners, which is where we initially met. Also, Jill Covill, the owner of Bunchberry Nurseries will talk ground covers - and any other types of plants that our callers want to discuss! She is a wealth of knowledge and I always enjoy our chats.. Then, if the stars align, we'll talk to the NY Botanical Gardens about their amazing new children's gardens.. fingers crossed that I can make that one happen.. anyhow, until Sunday, enjoy these glimpses of my garden..

Love lantana so much.. and so do the bees, butterflies...

One of my pots that is really coming along - check out that deep
lettuce beside the soon-to-be-released Proven Winners Lobularia
Frosty Knight (variegated foliage)

I haven't grown nigella in years, but got a packet from Renee's Garden.
This is Persian Jewels mix and the first flower opened this morning...

Finally, here is a new Petunia 'Blueberry Lime Jam' that was sent
to me as a seed sample by McKenzie Seeds this past
spring.. It's supposed to be a mix of two varieties - one lime green and
the other purple and the first bloom opened today.
The flower is HUGE and incredibly scented.. so easy to grow
from seed!! (check out my dirt-stained fingers for scale!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The 2012 American Horticultural Society Book Award

While some of us were busy emceeing Marigolds for Main Street in Saint John, NB, others were off in
Virginia accepting the 2012 American Horticultural Society Book Award for The Year Round
Vegetable Gardener! :) Here is my wonderful editor, Carleen Madigan accepting the award on my behalf.
Thanks for everything Carleen!! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Proven Winners Update!

A variety of container plants.. just potted up about 10 days
ago.. imagine what they will look like in a month!
It's been a few weeks since my boxes of Proven Winners plants arrived and I have potted up a variety of containers, window boxes and pots with my plants..

Yet before I share the update with you, I should first offer some background info.. I do blog for Proven Winners (as you can see from the 'button' on the righthand side of my blog page). That means that I write a monthly blog on their website (My blog link) and they also send me several boxes of plants to test each year. This is how garden writers/media know whether many of the 'new' plants are worth their potting soil!

I do get paid to write the monthly blog for PW, but they don't pay me to say nice stuff, rather to voice my opinion.. so, if I don't like a particular plant, I will say so. On the other hand, if I love how any of the plants do in my Maritime garden, I will also share that..

I am LOVING this new 'spiller', 'Frosty Knight'
Lobularia on the left.. check out the funky
variegated leaves! And it does flower too..
delicate lacy blooms in creamy white. That
is a red lettuce in the middle - love leaf
lettuce in my pots.
Many of plants in my pots below are going to be released by Proven Winners in 2013, so this is a sneak peek of some of the top plants that will be available next spring.. I'm just lucky enough to test them a year in advance.. so far, given our crappy, wet weather, I'm rather pleased.. a few of the plants in my pots are random plants that appealed to me at local nurseries.. and a few are veggies that I grew.. I like to add a mix of edibles and ornamentals to my pots, as you can see below.

Also, as the summer progresses, I will keep you posted on how these plants do.. will they put up with the sometimes endless fog and wet weather or if by some miracle, the summer is long and hot, can they deal with the blazing heat.. stay tuned to find out! :)

Besides the nasturtium in the front of the pot, these are
all Proven Winners 2013 plants. That is Supertunia
Watermelon Charm on the right with the glowing red
blooms, Euphorbia Diamond Frost surrounding it with the
delicate white flowers (available now!), Superbells Lemon
Slice on the left and middle with the bi-coloured yellow and
white flowers, Cleome 'SeƱorita Blanca' coming along on the
left and Purple Fountain Grass in the middle - love the textures!

Here's a squat fiber pot with more Supertunia Watermelon
Charm, Lobularia Frosty Knight, Superbells Lemon Slice,
Coleus Marooned and Lobularia Blushing Princess which
has soft pink flowers, rather than the white found on the popular
Lobularia Snow Princess (also available now)

A collection of pots - dahlias, peppers, 2013 Proven Winners
sample plants.

Here's a close up of Lobularia 'Blushing Princess'.. love
the subtle hint of pink!
A close up of 'Blushing Princess'

Cleome Senorita Blanca.. it grows 2 to 4 feet tall, making it
a great 'thriller' in a large pot or plant it in clumps for non-stop
bloom in the flower border. 

One thing I love about the Superbells and Supertunias from
Proven Winners is that I don't have to deadhead them!! I
was also excited to try out this new 'Pink Lemonade' Petunia (not
a PW plant) and I love the unusual soft pink/yellow colour
combo, but I don't love the smutty petals in damp weather and
the necessary deadheading to keep it looking tidy and blooming
well.. as you can see, after a week of dreary weather, many
of the flowers also look dreary..

Here's a photo of one of my old wooden planter
boxes. This year it's home to three peppers, an eggplant and
a tomato. Plus, nasturtiums, Lemon Gem marigolds
and along the back, a thick line of Sugar Ann bush peas that grow
just 2 feet tall.. Perfect for a patio planting of peas!

Last shot of my 2013 PW plants.. here is Superbells Lemon
Slice close up.. I really like the striped flowers and the
vigorous growth.. I'll keep you updated on how they perform
with the coming summer weather!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Win a Copy of my Book, The Year Round Vegetable Gardener

Check out Cristina Da Silva's excellent blog, The Real Gardener by clicking here. You can win a copy of my recently released book, The Year Round Vegetable Gardener. Thanks so much to Cristina for reviewing my book and hosting this giveaway!!

The draw is on June 15th - good luck!

Marigolds on Main Street - 15 Colourful Years!

The new community garden at the Q-Plex
What a fun trip to Saint John, New Brunswick for the 15th anniversary of Marigolds on Main Street!  I was thrilled to be invited to emcee this popular annual event that involves over a 1000 school children from Saint John, planting tens of thousands of brightly coloured marigolds down one of the busiest streets in the city.

I drove up on Tuesday, where I had the honour of a guided tour of the amazing new recreation facility in Quispamsis, just outside Saint John, called the Q-Plex. After a delightful lunch, I was able to check out their new community garden on the grounds. The Saint John area is home to six community gardens, and having a population of about 70,000 in the city itself, that is very impressive.

Thanks to Kent Building Supplies for donating the materials!
And congratulations to the winners of the 2 frames!
I also gave a talk at the Q-Plex that afternoon and one that evening at the Lily Lake Pavilion, set on the shores of Lily Lake and nestled within historic Rockwood Park. Rockwood Park is one of the largest urban parks in North America and is over 2000 acres (if I recall correctly)! Kent Building Supplies kindly donated the materials for two 3 x 6 foot cedar cold frames, topped in twin wall polycarbonate. The lovely folks who came to my talks were able to fill out a ballet and hope Lady Luck was with them! Trust me, I was rather tempted to grab one, toss it on top of my car and head for home.. Gorgeous structures!!

On Wednesday morning, it was time for marigold planting! Over 1100 kids came down to do the planting and within about 20 min, the long stretch of Main Street was transformed! I did get my hands dirty and planted some too, but I also took a lot of photos as you can see..

Once again, thanks so much to the Marigolds on Main Street committee for inviting me to Saint John! They have worked long and hard to make the event happen and it was a great success! I look forward to following the progress of the newly planted marigolds on the website for Marigolds on Main Street.

On my way home, I popped into a brand new organic garden centre/landscaping company in Fall River, NS that I keep hearing about.. it's called Natural Harmonics and the owners are working hard to create a business that offers a wide range of natural seeds, plants and gardening supplies. From biodegradable (but so colourful!) pots and containers to coir (a peat substitute) to organic seeds to worm poo (from local supplier Growing Green Earthworm Castings).. Thanks for the tour and I look forward to my return to your store. (And I can't wait to plant the dinosaur kale transplants I bought!).. like I needed more plants!!

Here are some more photos from Marigolds on Main Street and a few from Natural Harmonics:

Another photo of the new Q-Plex community garden

The lovely Anne from Halifax Seed in Saint John selling
copies of my books at my talks - thanks Anne!!

The marigold flats have arrived on Main Street

Here come the kids - stand back!!

Getting busy planting!

It was non-stop planting for 20 min.. Maybe these kids can
help me get my garden planted?

Anne and her lovely daughter getting their
hands dirty planting marigolds

Wow, almost done! Look at the difference!

It's going to be so pretty all summer

What do you do when you're finished planting?? Get a
snow cone! Yum!

Check out Fall River's latest garden centre and
landscaping business

A wall of worm poo! They also have organic
fertilizers like Seaboost too

Locally grown, organic seedlings. Such bold colours!

Take home, separate and plant in your garden..