The initial riot of colour from the tulips is slowly subsiding (helped along by the unseasonably warm weather I think), but there are still fresh buds appearing! The more fancy tulips are coming out to play now, along with the ever-reliable bleeding heart, and some creeping phlox.
I love my shade perennials. The bleeding hearts are a must-have for a cold-climate shade garden. They are so hardy, beautiful, and classic. I also love lily of the valley. It has an amazing fragrance, naturalizes well, and has the cutest little bell-shaped blooms. I was even able to find a pale pink variety at the greenhouse this year!
My favourite ground cover has finally bloomed, and as always, it's stunning. It's called creeping phlox, and it forms the most amazingly dense masses of flowers. It slowly naturalizes year after year, but i've noticed if you don't use weed-barrier to control the growth it will integrate dandelions and grass, and it's nearly impossible to remove the weeds once they've blended with the plant. I've had to dig up more than one clump of phlox because of this.
My trees are in full bloom now too! I am most excited for my heirloom cherry tree. This tree is a direct ancestor of the tree my Grandma took from her family farm. The original tree has since died, but Grandma allowed a few saplings to sprout around the tree over the years, and when we moved to Grande Prairie, she let me take a little cherry tree with me! I also have an ornamental flowering crab tree that gets little purple apples on it. They're not safe to eat, but the moose and deer seem to like them.
The back lawn is having a rough go of things, between 2 female dogs, dandelions, and horrible topsoil, it doesn't stand a chance! Some serious grass 911 will be in order, once I get a larger stretch off of work. Happy gardening!
A Zone 2 Spring Garden
A Spring Garden in Northern Canada... Worth the wait!
Spring has come very early in Grande Prairie this year... at least that's how it feels. I spent a lot of hours last year planting fall bulbs, and now they're putting on quite the spring show. I bought tulip and daffodil bulbs from Brecks Bulbs, as well as from Costco. Brecks also had some lovely specialty items like Blue Grape Hyacinths and Double Snowdrops. So, I thought I'd document what went where, what worked, what didn't, and how everything is integrating into my perennial landscape.
This plant has to be my absolute favourite for a Northern Canadian perennial shade garden. My Grandma calls it Elephant Ears, but its also called Pigsqueak. It's real name is Bergenia, and it's a real gem. It loves shade, doesn't seem to care about soil quality, and naturalizes beautifully. It has big, beautiful tropical plant-looking leaves, that are nearly evergreen. These are very forgiving shade perennials that allow you to entirely neglect them. The spring flowers are a gorgeous pink, and unlike hostas, they are great to divide every few years. I have them in a spot in my yard up against the house, where I couldn't even get Liliy of the Valley to grow. This grouping of plants is about 5 years old, and I've divided them twice already.
These are special little Daffodils, called Quail Daffodils. I ordered them in bulk from Brecks Wholesale last fall, so this is their first year in the garden. I planted them in two big masses in the front beds of the full/part sun garden, because they are short, sun-loving, and naturalize well. Eventually my goal is to eliminate the weed barrier in the perennial beds, as the perennials slowly grow into the space. I'm impressed with these little daffodils, and their lovely mass of flowers on their very first year. I made sure to plant them in an area that has perennials that will grow in, to cover the space in the summer months, so they are placed in front of daylilies and beside a gooseberry bush.
This is a plant that I planted 2 years ago, and loved it SO MUCH that I bought more bulbs and planted it in 2 more spots last fall. I ordered this from Brecks Bulbs, and they call it Spring Larkspur, but I believe the actual name is Corydalis. It is the first flower to bloom every spring that I've had it, and has such a full, lush growth of leaves and flowers. It doesn't seem to mind part sun, so I have it in spots that only get 4 - 6 hours of sun a day. Once the flowers die back, so does the entire plant, so I just toss a bit of mulch over the bare spot to keep the weeds down in the summer. It's not a tall plant either, so I keep it closer to the front of the beds, where it won't get blocked out by taller tulips and daffodils.
These are two more specialty bulbs. The first one I bought from Veseys 2 years ago. They call them Checkered Lilies (Brecks also has them and calles them Guinea-Hen Flower). The latin name for them is Fritillaria meleagris. These were underwhelming the first year, but this year they put on a much bigger show, with 2 -3 flowers per stalk, and they've doubled in height (they're now about as tall as the tulips). They are sun-lovers, so these would be awesome in a sunny spring perennial bed.
The second flower is one I ordered from Brecks last fall, so this is its first spring in the garden. They are called Blue Grape Hyacinths, and according to Brecks they are extremely Hardy, naturalize well, and do well in any sun exposure. I have them at the front of my full/part sun perennial bed, and they're doing very well. Especially considering this is only their first year. The blue/purple colour is very striking, and is a nice contrast to the yellow Quail Daffodils in the same bed.
So this is a stunning shade perennial I ordered last summer. They are Hardy Primrose plants, and they over-wintered wonderfully (in a shady, cold part of the yard too). The HARDY part of the name is important, as most Primrose plants are a zone 5 and would never survive here. Unfortunately, the website I ordered these from last year is no longer running, and I haven't been able to find them anywhere else. It's too bad, because these are really beautiful flowers... and I want more!
Here is the first round of Tulips, all of which I planted last fall. The more plain yellow and red ones were from Costco, and all the rest are from Brecks. These are all Early Spring blooming tulips, and the more showy ones tend to be later in the season... But theres a lot of buds out there right now, so we should have one heck of a tulip show VERY soon. I can't wait!
There are 2 blooms in the garden that I did not get pictures of. One is called Glory of the Snow, and the other is the Double Snowdrops. They both bloomed and then wilted before I had a chance to get pictures. Hopefully they'll last a little longer next year!
Seed Starting, and a Rescue Mission
Once March arrives, no matter the weather, I drag out the seed-starting trays and get to work. It's one of those things I spend all winter planning, and then get way too excited when it's finally time... All my planning inevitably goes out the window, and I plant way too much of everything. This year is already shaping up to be dangerous... and I'm trying to figure out how to plant more and more stuff in my little suburban oasis. Last fall I worked hard at organizing and saving my seeds. I purchased some super cool aluminum watch-makers cases from Lee Valley (the greatest gardening store on Earth), and I love how organized they kept everything!
I had an unexpected endeavour along with the usual seed starting... the garlic in my fridge had started growing. It was starting to look like an actual plant in there, all sad and clinging to life... so being the crazy plant lady, I rescued them. So now we have 24 sprouted garlic plants growing in the greenhouse (I use that term loosely).
I have also started some cauliflower at Lauren's request. I'm going to have to figure out how to keep the bugs away from it this year (organically of course). In addition, I have Inca Merigolds (they're massive), and at least 12 different kinds of tomatoes started. It's going to be an exciting spring, so get planting!
Fall Harvest Already?
The garden has been quite the adventure this year. I decided to try a new gardening method called square foot gardening. Everything was planted a little late because of the extensive planning, and construction required before planting (ok maybe not that extensive, but certainly more than I was used to). Watching the garden grow into the new method was pretty exciting, and I think I increased my yield compared to previous years... I will need to change the layout for next year, and fine tune things, but overall, I'm not disappointed.