Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Piet Oudolf in "Garden Design"

I enjoyed this month's Garden Design magazine (February 2008). The issue's main feature stories cover European gardens, including Piet Oudolf's famous Hummelo garden.

Oudolf has been a great influence in my own gardening, and we even have a bed that we used to call the Oudolf border.

Now that I've let it go more or less naturalized, I call it the wild garden, and treat it like the meadow. This means we just mow around it and have stopped weeding, edging and controlling the plants - they just fight it out now.

What has always intrigued me about Oudolf is the fact that so many of the plants he favors are North American natives, which, of course, makes them perfect for country gardens in Canada and the US.

What he likes about our plants is their stamina, looks, late-flowering tendencies, fall colors and winter textures. This is exactly the look that I came to adore through his example.

When I began my garden here, it was with plant lists take from Oudolf's books, as well as those of James van Sweden, of Oehme van Sweden fame. They are my garden design heros.

© Yvonne Cunnington, Country Gardener

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Want to start your own nursery?

Our hoophouse during our plant selling days

When we first bought our country property - which we did mostly because we wanted more space for gardening - we grew a lot of perennials and native plants from seed to populate our large gardens. Then my husband got into rock gardening and started growing a lot of alpines.

Of course, growing our own, we ended up with lots more plants than we needed, so we started having an annual plant sale, which lasted about four or five years.

At the time I was toying with the idea of starting a small boutique nursery of choice perennials and native plants, but a friend of mine, Doug Green, a former nursery guy turned garden writer said flatly: "You're crazy." I listened and I'm glad we didn't go that route.

Anyway, we gave up the plant sales when they got to be too much, and don't miss them because the sale days were always in May when we were also busiest in the garden.

I know I'm not the first country gardener to fall love with plants and dream about starting my own nursery.

If that sounds like you, here's an interesting post on the topic by Trey Pitsenberger, who runs The Golden Gecko Garden Center in Garden Valley, California, and who calls himself the original blogging nurseryman.

And if you're serious, here's the book to get, So You Want to Start a Nursery, by Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery. You can buy it through this link from the author himself.

© Yvonne Cunnington, Country Gardener

Monday, January 07, 2008

April in January

It got up to 16 degrees C (60 degrees F) today and was still 14 C (57 F) when we went to bed. Virtually all the snow that was here since the beginning of December has melted.

So we've got mud season in January. I prefer snow. But we always get a few days of mud season in January, and it appears to have nothing to do with global warming.

According to David Phillips, senior climatologist for Environment Canada, (who was being quoted in all the papers today) southern Ontario has experienced a January thaw every year since 1937, the earliest year for which records are available, except for 1977, the only year we did not have a January melt-down.

For us temperature roller coasters are quite normal in January, but one of the most dramatic happened three years ago: on Jan. 13, 2005, the temperature reached 17.6 C (63 F). Five days later it dropped to -25 C (-13 F). I remember it well because the golf course across the road opened up for play for about a week.

© Yvonne Cunnington, Country Gardener

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Gorgeous snow day

I took this picture of my neighbor's little courtyard garden after this morning's snowfall.
© Yvonne Cunnington, Country Gardener