A small clump of Maidenhair fern.

Small, shade garden ideas with surprising Maidenhair fern

Ferns are having a moment not just because they’re sharing airtime with Zach Galifianakis during his hilarious/shockingly irreverent celebrity interviews on Between Two Ferns. Their general gorgeousness, lush but not overpowering, make them a popular choice for small gardens and many have an impressive hardiness that’s earning them starring roles in high profile places like New…

Compact goldenrod

In defence of goldenrod

I was riding shotgun with my guy last weekend. As we were flying down a dirt road, he nodded towards the ditch on his side.  It was clogged with tall leafy plants topped with gazillions of tiny yellow flowers. They’re the reason for my fits of sneezes, he said. A conversation ensued. He was quite…

Maple trees

The new exotic: Canadian arctic tundra plants

Introducing exotic plants into your garden can be tricky although do-able if you’re into high maintenance gardening or you keep them in containers and bring them inside just before the first frost. But that’s just it. Here in Southern Ontario, we often think of exotic plants as being fragile beauties from tropical paradises much farther…

Sarracenia 5

Into the wild(flowers)

Just as the first wave of blooms in my garden has peaked in late spring, our wildflowers farther to the north are just starting to show. I’m amazed at how many truly strange and wonderful plants grow in Southern Ontario and though they’re not everywhere, you don’t have to trek for miles into the wilderness…

Native plant in bloom

Wild and crazy wild ginger

Wild ginger appears every spring on a moss-covered boulder just outside the door to our cottage on the Bruce Peninsula. It’s a peculiar plant in many ways so I’m pleased but a little surprised to see it showing up at more and more garden centres here in Southern Ontario. If you’re tempted to try some of…

Magnolia blossoms

Bartender, I’ll have a Magnolia, please!

Magnolias in bloom always put me in the mood for swishy dresses, Champagne cocktails and sultry jazz played on a record player. I even get the urge to break out in a pout ala Scarlet O’Hara. Maybe it’s those fleshy, blushing blooms busting out all over their naked branches. When their flowers start to fade,…

Beebalm

5 myths about native plants

Why is it that sometimes the things closest to us are the least understood? Here’s a quick myth-busting guide to native plants with some gorgeous options for adding “local colour” to a garden in Southern Ontario. Myth #1: Native plants are drought tolerant. A plant native to your area has thrived in your area for a…

Pods without seeds

Shake, rattle, extol

Fall’s loud and brassy flower show may have packed up and left but nobody bothered to tell the rhythm section. Seed heads of every shape and size are still shaking it up–none more rattlingly satisfying than Baptisia australis, a hardy perennial commonly called Blue false indigo or Blue wild indigo. A native of the Northeastern U.S., this robust…

Fern and snow

A fine fern for now

The non-stop carols on the radio are already driving me crazy. I wish there was a switch I could flip. Before December 1st–no holiday anything. After December 1st–full-on Santa insanity. But I have one exception to my no-holiday-related-anything-before-December rule. That’s my adorable new Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides). Set into the ground just a few weeks…

New England Aster blooms

Aster la vista, baby

When you want to give your garden a brilliant send-off before it slips into winter, asters can supply the fireworks. Looking like mini-daisies in purple, pink or white, they’re easy-to-grow perennials and (bonus!) the best of the bunch is a native wildflower of Ontario–New England Aster (Aster novae-anglia). They’re the tallest of the asters and…