Thursday, June 21, 2012

Lyme Disease Experts Fear Disease Explosion

A warming climate has health officials worried that tick populations are already spreading, bringing with them the germs that can lead to Lyme disease.
Dr. Robbin Lindsay, a research scientist with the Public Health Agency of Canada who specializes in zoonotic diseases, says the populations of the blacklegged ticks that carry Lyme disease (sometimes called the deer tick) are growing.
Definitely something to think about!!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Encyclopedia of Exotic Plants for Temperate Climates -- Book Review


Encyclopedia of Exotic Plants for Temperate Climates by Will Giles is published by TimberPress.
This book expresses my feeling that a garden can be unique, exotic and yet, very doable.  I  myself have used banana trees, canna & calla lilies, pineapple lilies, Mexican shell flowers, brugmansias, mandevillas, hardy cactus, gardenia and tropical hibiscus to add a bit of the unusual to my garden.  My garden already sports southern magnolias, a hardy orange tree and a variegated zelkova to add interest.  This book covers all of these and many many more.  I use oxalis in my garden pots & I had to restrain my mother-in-law--who is from New Zealand--from using my weed torch on them.    Encyclopedia of Exotic Plants for Temperate Climates covers all these plants except the oxalis so maybe like my mother-in-law consider it a weed.  Encyclopedia of Exotic Plants for Temperate Climates covers 1500 plant species to add that touch to your garden and has over 500 colour photographs.  It has given me ideas my family will only roll their eyes at, if I even suggest them.  One of them is to use more aroids.  Encyclopedia of Exotic Plants for Temperate Climates by Will Giles is the book to inspire the novice gardener and even the bored accomplished horticulturalist.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Beautiful No-Mow Yards -- Book Review

The first thought that comes to my mind is to make sure your no-mow yard does not offend your neighbours or contravene  local by-laws. -- (CBS) MASSAPEQUA PARK, N.Y. - Brace yourself for a mow-down showdown in Massapequa Park on Long Island, where the powers that be are imposing big fines on homeowners who don't cut it when it comes to yard work.
First time offenders could be hit with a $1,000 fine. Fines for repeat offenders could reach a whopping $10,000, CBS New York reported.  ( --
I remember a very distant friend coming up to me at a garden show.  She described what the city had done to her native prairie garden and hundreds of naturalized daffodils while she was away tending to her spouse.  They raped her garden & to this day the city refuses to admit their liability or the damage done.
A no-mow garden can be a beautiful thing.  My side gardens, both west and east are no-mow gardens.  When you walk through either my white garden or my quiet garden you cannot help but brush up against the plant material.  My backyard each year looses more and more grass.  Beautiful No-Mow Yards 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives by Evelyn J. Hadden covers play areas, edible gardens, shade gardens, pond gardens, a meadow and prairie garden, just to name a few.  My favourite is the shade woodland garden.  Beautiful No-Mow Yards 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives by Evelyn J. Hadden will allow you to pick features from each garden making it your own unique garden.  When you are ready to begin then the chapter on converting you lawn to a garden will let you avoid a bad start and many mis-steps.  OK! so you are keeping some lawn.  Me too!!   There is a chapter for making that lawn eco-friendly.  This chapter is short and to the point.  Part three of Beautiful No-Mow yards is all about the plants, their shapes, textures and uses.  A good book with some great ideas.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Tale of the Tilley Endurable Hat

The Well-Loved Tilley!
Bruce loves his Tilley Endurable Hat.  He bought it 20+ years ago when he first started at CKTB 610AM.  He wanted it for gardening so bought one with the widest brim & green underneath to cut down on the glare.  I can remember thinking it was an outrageous price to pay for a hat, but he wanted it so he got it.  Well that Tilley hat has served him well!!  He has worn it continuously when gardening and also while doing other jobs around the yard.  The other day I washed his Tilley hat on gentle washer cycle as I have done many times & when it came out of the washer the top was shredded.  My question to Bruce when I picked him up from work was "How much do you love your Tilley Hat?"  His immediate response was "Why?"  Well I washed it and it is not quite the same, the top shredded.  He was not amused!!  A few emails later to Tilley Endurables & it was couriered to Tilley Endurables in Don Mills.  Bruce had to have a tracking number so he could make sure they received it.  Within a week the Tilley box arrived at our door.  Inside the box was a brand spanking new Tilley hat. 

The brand spanking new Tilley!!
 Bruce loves his new Tilley hat.  It still has to be broken in but he put it on and went out and did some deadheading.  This Tilley hat is on it's way to becoming just as well loved.

Doesn't he look dapper!!
Here is Bruce trying out his new Tilley hat while deadheading.


Friday, June 8, 2012


The latest Open-Line Garden Show recording is up online.
Check out the Multimedia tab.

Dirr's Encyclopledia of Trees & Shrubs -- Book Review

Michael A Dirr's books have always been the horticultural industry manual of choice.  All the good horticultural schools have them in their library.  Many of the schools include this book as a course required text book.  Each new edition is always better than the last.  I keep them all as reference books because each covers different plant material and the ever changing varieties.

Oh did I forget the 893 pages jammed packed of the best colour true photographs.  There are on average 3-5 photographs per page.  You do the math!!

The information is informative and critical with that being said no plant in this book does not have it's value or presents in a garden under- or overstated. If you want a perfect example of this, read what Michael says about Paulowna tomentosa (pg 558) if that does not convince you, read what he says about one of my favourite plants in my garden, Hedera colchica 'Dentata variegata' (pg 339)

One of the sections you will use the most is the section on selecting plants for specific characteristics or purposes.  In this section you will find plants for planting in groves, shade, salt, wet soils, dry soils winter interest and many more like flower colour.

You can leave Dirr's Encyclopedia of Trees & Shrubs out as a coffee table book but if you do, not not invite more friends than you have copies of this book.  They will be mesmerized.  You will not get must conversation out of them and it will be mostly Oh's, Ah's and I want that one!

The last thing they will say as they leave is can I borrow your book. Be strong! say NO, make them buy their own , or you may never see it again!  If you do see it again, it will come back to you Well Loved!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Concrete Garden Projects -- Book Review


Concrete Garden Projects Easy & Inexpensive Containers, Furniture, Water Features & More by Malin Nilsson &  Camilla Arvidsson makes it easy to create imaginative concrete forms, planters and bird baths.  I have always thought that aged concrete features add beauty and age to a garden.  It doesn't hurt to add a little moss to the planter and forms.  This creates that 'I belong here because I have been here longer than you look'.  I was inspired by this book to create concrete candles holders--to delineate a sidewalk or path--to hold incense sticks or votives.

While the first 3/4 of the book will give you ideas, the rest takes you step-by-step with colour pictures through the process of creating numbers, shoe scrappers, pots, bowls, large pots, stepping stones, table tops, birdbaths and much more.  For my daughters they think that all these would be improved by glass beads and anything with garish colour.  They forget that the garden plants are the focus of the garden and the plants are to show them off.

TimberPress has hit a home-run with Concrete Garden Projects Easy & Inexpensive Containers, Furniture, Water Features & More as the average & advanced gardener can create their own unique and interesting garden.  I would like to create my own concrete Tardis and dye the concrete blue, but it would be too much work.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener -- Book Review


The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabbour, published by Storey is simply the best overall book on vegetable growing I have read.  Combine this book with Canadian Vegetable Gardening, The Vegetable Gardeners Bible & What's Wrong with My Vegetable Garden & your library on vegetable gardening is complete.  This book focuses on producing fresh nutritious food year round.  It does so in a northern climate of Halifax, Nova Scotia as such it is a comparable climate to us in southern Ontario and upstate New York.  Niki keeps it simple, productive and even recommends her favourite varieties to help you be successful.  eg.  for cucumbers, 'Niki's Picks' are Lemon, Diva, & Marketmore 76, Sultan & Suyo Long.  Niki starts right from bed preparation to polytunnels, coldframes and raised beds.
If you can't grow potatoes she has a way for you to do so successfully.  Oh and don't forget she does herbs too!  The section on succession planting will help you tremendously to increase your vegetable gardens productivity all year round.