A dramatic container planting filled with tropical plants and succulents.

Idea starters for creative container plantings

I’m feeling the need to get creative with some fresh container planting ideas. This may have something to do with the fact that the weather right now is…(fill in your choice of expletive here). We’re already well into April but winter is continuing to be annoying, flinging snow, rain and hail all over southwestern Ontario.…

Container trials

Revving up (or saving) late summer garden containers

What do 2,200 varieties of plants, all in containers exposed to a merciless Southern Ontario summer, look like? Awesome. The Sawaya Container Trials, one of North America’s largest, threw open their doors (so to speak) in late July for growers, retailers and members of the Garden Writers Association to check out what’s doing best, what…

Mirror in arbour

Keppel Croft: A garden with magic rabbit holes

On the eastern shore of the Bruce Peninsula in Southern Ontario, Bill and Dawn Loney’s very personal garden is equal parts labyrinth, zen oasis and trip down a variety of magic rabbit holes. Thank goodness they open it to the public during the summer. Though untrained in any formal sense, both gardeners have created a…

Hens and chickens

Fun with succulents

Succulents–those chubby, rubbery plants originally hailing from arid climes–are my go-to plants when I want to fill a space with texture, not have to worry about their maintenance and, I’ll admit it, add a bit of humour. Maybe it’s their otherworldly shapes and colours. When succulents are planted in unlikely places, their oddness stands out…

Cabbage in flower bed

Brassica rising

As much as I loathe seeing Halloween candy already lining grocery store shelves, I love the flip-side to putting autumn in overdrive–finding cool weather plants that take over garden beds and containers with all the subtly of a Mac truck. Great big orange domes of neatly clipped chrysanthemums lining a front walkway. Constellations of purple…

Salmon garden sculpture

A garden festivus for the rest of us

You’d be forgiven if you read “International Garden Festival” and thought “Hoity Toity Ho Hum”. But the annual showcase of out-of-this-world garden designs at Reford Gardens in Grand Metis, Quebec, is simply amazingly crazy fun for kids, adults, gardeners and non-gardeners. I recently posted about seven reasons for going to this extraordinary place but didn’t…

Flower planting ideas

7 reasons for visiting Reford Gardens

Two weeks ago I drove (and drove and drove) to Reford Gardens, also known as Les Jardins de Metis in Grand-Metis. The historical landmark sits on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River about halfway up the humped back of the Gaspe Peninsula. The journey there took two solid days of driving from my…

Fountain and rocks in front garden

Love that curb appeal

Real estate agents love to talk “curb appeal”. In Toronto’s Cabbagetown, home-owners have taken this concept to a whole new level. Here are some ways home-proud gardeners have created teeny, tiny front yards that can make any sidewalk stroller do an “Oh, wow!” Click on any image to get more info.

Container planting for shade

Container idea: One colour wonders

In art class, a depiction of a bunch of stuff all in the same colour family is considered monochromatic. Think Picasso during his Blue Period. In gardening, this is usually considered boring. Unless you were Vita Sackville-West, whose White Garden (Ok, so there are green and silvery grey plants, too) at Sissinghurst Castle still brings droves…

Purple coleus

In the mood for purple

A professional artist once told me “Never forget the purple.” He was looking at a portrait I was painting–which lacked, among other things, any sense of depth–and encouraging me to try underpainting. Many great masters of the art world used this technique to give their works luminosity by, you guessed it, painting in layers starting…