gardens by daisy moore
Daisy's Own Garden:
This is the newly fenced vegetable garden showing the emerging seedlings. The fencing project took us a weekend which included a lot of digging and controversy. We inserted 4 x 4 pressure treated posts every 8 feet and attached chicken wire to this with a staple gun. The back filling of dirt holds the chicken wire in place and strengthens the fencing. It succeeded in preventing rabbits and groundhog from devouring the vegetables. It also deterred much wandering through the garden so that compaction would not be a problem.
The seeds were planted in raised rows with ample space between them in order to hoe the weeds and access the vegetables for picking. It was a pleasant occupation to hoe the weeds. After one well timed hoeing, the vegetables themselves shaded out the weeds and only needed the odd touch up.
We had a bountiful harvest of beets, from which I made 17 jars of the much sought after pickled beets. We grew a lettuce mix which kept us in greens for most of the season. I had intended on planting a later crop of this greens mix when the beets were harvested but did not. I will try to do this in future because there is ample time for a second crop of something after the beets.
Arugula was the most outstanding of all the greens. This was included in the greens mix and I also planted it separately in the Physic Garden. It has a nutty flavour and adds a great deal to any dish. It is wonderful to graze upon whilst in the garden.
We had fennel, leeks, parsnips, spinach, Swiss chard, beans, carrots and squash. These are vegetables which succeed, so far, in our soil. We hope to grow more carrots and onions in future but the soil tends to be too heavy. The yearly addition of compost should help to loosen the soil over time and make the vegetable patch more conducive to root vegetables.
The tepees adjacent to the vegetable garden are trellises for the tomatoes. Better Boy, Bonnie Best and some variety of tiny Tim tomatoes were doing beautifully until the late blight fungus attacked and killed the crop over the course of about 3 days. Scary stuff and quite profound. Our potato crop nearby was also hit and consequently produced a meagre crop of spuds. There is a distinct possibility that I won't grow potatoes next year and try to rid the soil of the fungus. I will move the tomato production to an area well away from the vegetable garden. We are learning the hard way that in order to grow vegetables we must be strict, tidy and selective.
St. John's Wort & Horseradish
This photograph captures the blending of Horseradish, St. John's Wort, Garlic and the flower of Lovage. The St. John's Wort frightens me a little bit because of its capacity to spread by seed. It has come in and out of favour over the years. First as a superstition that it could fend off disease and evil spirits, then as a noxious weed due to its detrimental effects to grazing cattle and recently as a highly useful medicinal herb to ward off depression. I am treating it with respect and really like the flower show. I cut off the spent flowers and assembled them in bunches with the wormwood. The flower heads were excellent decorative pieces in the Christmas Wreath.
The horseradish is an outstanding specimen. It is planted within an iron ring, which I happened to find laying around the garden. I suspect the previous gardener had it around for a similar purpose. The leaves are stunning and different enough from the weed ‘Dock' that you know it is something special. I bravely harvested most of the root. It should easily spring back from small root pieces and is in fact difficult to be rid of.
I always love to have garlic flowers hanging around. These did not produce a large bulb since the conditions were too shady but their purpose wasn't entirely for harvest. The garlic production area is concentrated in a prime spot close to the vegetable garden.
Garlic in Rows
These garlic were transplanted from the rose garden at the peak of their flowering. They had gotten to the point that they were overshadowing the roses and steeling all of the compost. You don't achieve that kind of growth without a little help. We edged the tomato tepee bed with them and allowed them to die back naturally.
Generally for garlic production, you should remove the flowers when they form. This forces the energy into the bulb production instead of producing the magnificent flower and seed head. They can be boiled or barbequed and eaten for a light taste of garlic.
This is the rose garden shortly after the removal of the garlic, the removal of the iris, the introduction of 8 new roses and the salon job on the boxwood hedge. It will be stunning in years ahead. The tall red rose is the original rose from that bed. It was given to me by friends who had an overabundance of roses in their Toronto garden. I wish I knew its name. I have high hopes for all of them but especially ‘Queen Elizabeth' and ‘Peace'. ‘Double Delight' is a highly fragrant fuschia/white mix that really smells like cheap perfume. ‘ Pascali', ‘Aquarius' and ‘John Paul' are three others which looked great after a short while.
After spending so much effort on the revitalization of the rose garden, it had to be kept up. There would be a bi-weekly display of weed seedlings which needed to be hoed. The exposed soil in the rose garden now acts rather like an anthology of weeds in the garden. Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) was a common late summer weed which I thought at first would be okay but I couldn't convince myself that it wasn't a weed. It can be eaten in salads. I suspect I'll be fighting purslane for a while after reading from ‘Ontario Weeds':
‘Eradication of purslane is difficult for several reasons. The seed may retain their viability for many years; it produces seeds over much of its life span; the fleshy character of the stem and leaves enables broken portions to root themselves, and plants may be able to mature seeds after they have been uprooted if they are not destroyed immediately.'
This weed has the will to live which I hope it passes on to the roses.
Nodding Onion & Butterfly Weed
Some of the most outstanding plants in my garden are native to North America. By cultivating them in the garden, their showy features really shine. Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), Nodding Wild Onion (Allium cernum) and a perennial sunflower from a local source make a great show in mid-summer. Purple coneflower (Echinacea sp.) can be seen in the back ground.
Many new native plants were introduced into the garden in the previous season, 1999. These are now performing so well that I hope they will expand by seed or tillering over the next few years. Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) became an outstanding specimen of tall robust growth, covered in lovely blue flowers late in the season.. Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) is the best red you could ever ask for. I might try surrounding it with trailing red verbena, an annual, next year to see which has the best colour.
Plants from the daisy family did extremely well in 2000. The rain kept coming through spring and summer and helped them grow into marvellous specimens at flowering time. Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), green headed Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) and most varieties of aster were abundant and full of long lasting flowers.
I have planted several tall native prairie plants in the front garden of our Toronto residence which should be a bit of an eye catcher next summer, I hope. I have also mixed in some shrubs for fruit and form, the high bush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum) for its edible berries for the birds and the Beauty Bush (Kolkwitzia amabilis) for its arching stems, exfoliating bark and intoxicating aroma while in bloom. Showy tulips and annuals will also grace this bed.
The year 2000 will be remembered as a year with lots and lots and lots of rain. Lawns looked great, plants looked great and there was truly something wrong if your garden didn't look good. Trouble emerged during the season in fairly specific areas due to the bountiful supply of insects and disease along with the moisture. Black spot on roses was a constant battle on the leaves of roses, but they kept on blooming anyway. Apple scab on apple trees had a banger year and most apple trees were an unsightly mess by the end of the summer. The mildew fungus attacked many of the plants with wooly leaves or those that were touching the soil.
Those that avoided trouble (of which there were plenty) had an excellent year. The Ligularia in this picture stands 5-6 feet tall with an equal breadth. It loves moist soil and responded with these generous, substantial spires of yellow flowers. I especially like the deep burgundy-black stems and petioles.
Behind the Ligularia is the twigged screen which edges the woodland garden. There are seats near by which allow you to just sit and admire this magnificent plant.
We came to the realization in the spring that something had to be done with the pond. It was losing water rather rapidly. We discovered several holes near the top edge of the pond and proceeded to try and patch them. After a lengthy discussion with a pond equipment supplier, I was convinced that the sun had destroyed the integrity of the plastic liner and there was no hope or point in keeping it. It was rather a massive undertaking but we drained the pond, removed at least 10 wheelbarrows full of sludge and removed the old liner. I managed to catch all of the fish, 13 in total, and kept them in a large holding bucket during the change over.
We removed the central fountain and made a subtle water fall at one end which kept the water in circulation. I had meant to renovate the garden which surrounds the pond but this will be a project for 2001.
This area was the first to be gardened when I moved to the property in 1991. It hasn't had much done to it since then and it tends to be a bit overgrown with invasive grasses (Miscanthus sp) . There are many plants which simply need a little assistance in order to thrive again. There are several Peonies from the previous gardener and a Rugosa Rose which I would like to help along.
We are able to overfill the pond from time to time and allow it to spill over into a lower bog area. Here we grow blood root (Sanguinaria canadensis), Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum) and swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). I would like to add iris (Iris versicolour) and some sedges (Carex sp.) and rushes (Juncus sp.).
"Sedges have edges and rushes are round,
When I was in Paris in the spring of 2000, rushes were the most outstanding looking plants at Le Jardin des Plantes. When we were on holiday in the Ottawa region, the medium sized rushes which lined the banks of the small, beaver filled lake were beautiful. I managed to save some seeds and would be delighted if they succeed in my garden.
To find out what happened last season, in 2001, click here.
"It was a pleasure working with Daisy and her crew, to see my garden transformed into a work of art."
-- M.T., Guelph
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© Daisy Moore 2006