Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Plants that live well and die well

It was garden designer Piet Oudolf who taught me to see beauty in plants during their fall dying away. Here are two examples from my garden, the button-like seeds heads of Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm', and a hanging seed head of giant sunflower planted by birds, which grew beside our pond.

For more information on Piet Oudolf, I have a page on my web site about his garden design ideas.

© Yvonne Cunnington, Country Gardener

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fall splendour - grasses and more

Fall is best time of year for me. Here are my reasons for loving autumn:

1. Heat and humidity go away
2. The light is golden and magical
3. The garden chores are almost over

4. Fantastic leaf colors
5. Harvest goodies: crisp apples, squash, cranberries are in season; you can roast dinner in the oven again
6. My favorite plants, ornamental grasses, really shine

Fountain grass in front, backed by flame grass and feather reed grass

Close-up of flame grass (Miscanthus sinensis var. purpurascens)

7. Crisp frosty mornings and nights under a cozy duvet
8. The golf course across the road begins to get less busy, so I can walk the dogs there again
9. I can wear black turtle necks and jeans again (my favorite uniform)
10. My birthday is in October

© Yvonne Cunnington, Country Gardener

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fall garden pictures and more

I was away last weekend in Killarney, not far from Sudbury, where I joined a fun group of people for a photo workshop, and had a lovely time. The pictures here were taken at Killarney Mountain Lodge.

Since then, I've had a kind of writer's, or should I say blogger's block, and so I haven't posted. Figured I'd better start again, and break this dry spell with some pictures from the fall garden. We've had a dry spell too in terms of rain, but the soil is still moist on most of the property, except on our south-facing hill, (below).

Fountain grass comes into its own at this time of year

© Yvonne Cunnington, Country Gardener

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A good article on establishing a meadow

The New York Times recently had a good article in their Home and Garden section about creating a perennial meadow:
"A perennial meadow in bloom, its colors constantly changing with the play of light and shadow, may be nature at its most alluring. Yet, as random and natural as a meadow looks, there is nothing haphazard about creating one. Planting a meadow, it turns out, is as rule-bound and time-consuming as planting any perennial border, according to Larry Weaner, a Pennsylvania landscape designer and one of the pioneers of meadow design in the United States."
Read the full article here to find out what's involved and how long it takes to get the plants flowering. The description is very similar to the process we went through to get our own meadow, pictured above, established.

More links: information about our meadow at my web site, and also a blog post about weed control in the meadow.

© Yvonne Cunnington, Country Gardener

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mama and babies - Time for a move

We've had a bit of a love affair with succulent plants. This variegated Agave americana collection began with a single plant, the biggest one in pot on the ground. It was much smaller when I bought it six or so years ago. Since then it has had many offsets, and my dear husband keeps propagating them.

These plants, and other non-hardy succulents look great in our front courtyard all summer, and they're easy to care for because they don't need much watering.

However, it's getting cold - last night it was only 5 degrees C (41F) - and today we must move them into the greenhouse, where they'll spend the next six weeks or so before we move them to the basement (because we don't heat the greenhouse in the winter). Once inside, they overwinter under a big mercury vapor light.

I'm lucky that my husband doesn't mind looking after them. I take care of so many plants in the summer that I don't even want to look at them in the winter.

© Yvonne Cunnington, Country Gardener

Monday, September 15, 2008

It really should stop raining now

We are in the "Very High" region between London and Toronto
Click on map to see it bigger

Here's the Ontario precipitation map up to Sept. 13. What a contrast to last year's drought from hell! We're wet and soggy again, and it's been like that for weeks.

It rained on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, about two inches worth, including Hurricane Ike leftovers. On Thursday, before all the rain started, we laid some sod to patch up an area near the laneway where the grass has died in last summer's drought. We were happy not to have to water the sod for the last four days.

There's a lot of lawn on our 10 acres, and I seem to be spending all my gardening time mowing. Although the grass was very high today, the ground was too soft and wet for the ride-on mower, so I'll try tomorrow. I'm relieved that we didn't get as much rain as my friend in Michigan. She reports eight inches over the weekend, and says she doesn't ever remember so much rain in such a short period of time. Before the recent rain, her part of Michigan near Lansing was in a drought.

From drought to record rainfall - what a difference!

© Yvonne Cunnington, Country Gardener

Monday, September 08, 2008

A few days off in Michigan

Over the weekend I drove to Michigan to visit my hort buddy, Sandy, who lives near Lansing. At the border they always ask where you're going, and when I say to visit a friend, the next question is: "How do you know her?"

Well, here's the story: we met 11 years ago on a Horticultural magazine tour of gardens in the Pacific Northwest. We bonded because we both enjoy wine with dinner, and it's always nice to find someone to share a carafe of sauvignon blanc or cabernet merlot, when many of the rest are drinking coke (yuck!) or water. After the trip, we kept in touch via email. When we discovered that it's only a four-hour drive to each other's homes, we began regular visits across the border.

These pictures are from her country garden. I really liked her white and blue bed (picture at the top), backed by Annabelle and Limelight hydrangeas, and blue and white petunias with alyssum.

Sandy's solution to racoons destroying birdbaths by climbing on them and smashing them is to set large clay saucers (found at Ikea) on a solid foundation of bricks. It works and makes a nice garden focal point. Love that golden yucca - it just glows.

The very charming entrance to Sandy's herb and vegetable garden, fenced off with chicken wire to keep critters out.

Flowers from the garden: I just love Sandy's gorgeous arrangements. (I'm generally too lazy to go out and cut flowers.)

Thanks, Sandy, for hosting me and taking me shopping. (As most Canadians know, the shopping in the US is so much better.)

© Yvonne Cunnington, Country Gardener

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Change of season - Welcome September

We're having a week of hot days, and the "official" start of fall is still two and a half weeks away, but the garden already feels different.

Early mornings have an autumnal atmosphere with cool temperatures, heavy dew and mist rising from the pond. The meadow is quickly turning to seedheads, and flocks of migrating song birds are stopping to feast there. I just love this time of year.

© Yvonne Cunnington, Country Gardener