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…

Smoketree 1

Cotinus coggyria: Smoking in the garden

Slow growing. Too big for a shrub and too small for a tree. Straggly. Did I say really slow growing? Smoketrees can get a lot of heat from picky gardeners. But when the setting sun lights up their panicles in a shimmering nimbus how can you think otherwise than your garden is all the more miraculous…

Iris Extraterrestrial

Plant an iris. Get a goddess. Really.

I’ve always thought irises were otherworldly. So it didn’t come as a surprise when I learned that, in Greek mythology, Iris is the goddess of the rainbow. With this in mind, planting some of these flowers in your garden might be a good idea on several levels. What was more surprising to me was that…

Container in fall with soil

Life after dead potted plants

Now that the temperatures are finally dipping below zero celsius here in Southern Ontario, my container plantings are beginning to bite the dust. And so the big fall clean-up begins. But this time around, I’m going to be smarter about it. Having spent this year studying organic horticulture techniques, I’ve found that there are easy ways to…

Dwarf shrub Butter Ball

Teeny weeny evergreen-y shrub

Small is relative. When I went looking for a small evergreen to fit into a narrow garden bed I have in the backyard, it seemed most nurserypersons’ version of dwarf varieties was my version of gigantic. A shrub growing to the height of 15 feet is not my idea of small. So I could’ve hugged John…

Ditch planted with ornmentals

Hunting swales

I love a good swale. They’re so when-you’ve-got-a-lemon-make-lemonade. In garden geek terms, a swale is a shallow ditch. But it is a ditch transformed. A regular run-of-the-mill ditch catches the rain as it sheets off a gentle slope (like a lawn-covered front garden, for instance) and, in the case of suburban ditches like the one…