Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hug me, a book review and garden mystery...

Some of you might remember a post I did back on June 11th, about a bookstore in Canada that Andrew had found online and we hoped to visit (if you didn't see that post click on that link, it's wonderful!). I never made it out to Type Books but Andrew did and he bought me this...

Which I intended to write about, but hadn't gotten around to. Then, while intensively watering the garden in preparation for our ongoing June heatwave, I saw this - my own, real-life, replication of the book cover!

Who is that little guy and how did he get there? I might have grown an Opuntia there in the past, that died, but I don't think so. No seeds have been scattered, it's a mystery...

So the book, well it's a treasure. Here's one half of the front endpapers. It's a family tree on an Opuntia (!!!). There's Auntie Opuntiae and Unclelus Notocactus, and in the center Cacti Manor. It continues onto the other half, which I didn't scan.

Felipe is the book's hero character, and the little cactus on the cover of the book (shown at the top).

Here's Felipe in his own, private, home - after he was banned from Cacti Manor. Since he learned to enjoy his own company, and nobody else's, he wanted to make sure trespassers got the hint and stayed away, hence the threat to be "prickled."

I'm purposely not giving much more away, Hug Me is a delightful book with gorgeous illustrations by Simona Ciraolo - check it out! And the next time we have a young visitor I can't wait to grab it and share it with them.

Oh, and now I've got my own cactus named Felipe...

All material © 2009-2015 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Scans of Simona Ciraolo's illustrations and text for Hug Me used my permission from Flying Eye Books. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Kicking off American Flowers Week with a visit to My Luscious Backyard…

Getting off the bus at the first stop, on the first morning, of the 2015 GBF in Toronto this is what I saw...

This is where we were headed, the home of Sarah Nixon and her business My Luscious Backyard. That's Sarah on the right. She and her family live on the "31" side of the brick duplex (do they call them that in Canada? - Nope! evidently they're called "semi" as in "semi-detached").

Having made our way into her backyard she's about to talk with us about what it is she does...

Sarah's business model is based on using residential yards around Toronto as "micro farm plots" She grows many of the flowers used in her bouquets (which are delivered weekly to flower subscription recipients across the city and done for weddings and special events) in her neighbor's yards (10 of them, to be exact). She does the work (including starting most of her plants from seed) and the homeowner gets to enjoy an intensively planted garden, without lifting a finger. After Sarah answered questions she did a demonstration for us, and then we walked a couple of blocks to visit one of these micro farm plots. But before then (while the questions were answered) I wandered around, getting a closer look at her garden...

I've no idea what this is but it would be lovely in an arrangement.

In the hours and days to follow Physocarpus (ninebark) and Peonies were to be seen all over town. Little did I know this was just the beginning...

I've never grown Baptisia, but do love the foliage.

Sweat peas and Dahlia tubers just getting started...

I also walked back under that great vine-covered arbor to check out her workspace.

Heck even her compost is interesting!

Inside the greenhouse/shed...where it all begins.

How could I not pause to appreciate this sweet ride? Sarah's adorable daughter was at her side most of the morning, I bet this belongs to her, or maybe a younger sibling.

This incredible tool is used to work the soil.

I do love the Physocarpus foliage!

Now we're watching Sarah put together a bouquet with stems fresh cut that morning. She started with the foliage which helps to stabilize the flowers once they go in.

I didn't manage to get a good shot of the finished product, but it was beautiful. Exactly the sort of loose, "fresh from the garden" type of arrangement I love...

Which brings me to the fact this is the first day of American Flowers Week, running June 29 - July 4, 2015. This, the "inaugural campaign to promote American flowers, foliage and designs," was launched by Deborah Prinzing of slowflowers.com. It's a "week-long celebration of domestic flowers to raise consumer awareness and unite America’s flower farmers with the U.S. floral industry." Of course the fact that I'm highlighting a Canadian florist and then talking about American-grown flowers might seem a little odd to some, but what Sarah is doing with My Luscious Backyard is exactly what the slow flowers moment is all about. Cut flowers from your garden if you can, and if not buy local (local meaning from the U.S.) flowers...they're so much better (fresher) than ones flown-in from far away countries, and you're supporting American workers/farmers.

Now we walk, and I snap photos. You know exploring neighborhoods is one of my favorite things to do.

OMG! So much Bishop's Weed. Turns out it's all over Toronto...

Coffee shop? Second hand store? I was intrigued, but it was just getting open for the day.

I've got a neighbor who exercises this level of control over her trees too.

We've made it to our destination, one of Sarah's growing grounds. Sadly spring came late to the Toronto area so things are just getting started here. I wish we could see it in a another month or so.

The divots around each plant are created to capture rain water. The idea of rains in the summer is so foreign to me, but I guess it happens! This little guy is (I believe) Capsicum annuum 'Black Pearl', a plant Pam has written about multiple times and I keep intending to grow.

I wandered off from the group (yes, I do that a lot) and discovered this wonderful small tree just down the road. Someone identified it for me and I'm sure I wrote the name down. Can't find it now!

It's got to be in the pea family, anyone know?

Remnants from pruning would look lovely in a vase...

All material © 2009-2015 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Friday, June 26, 2015

It’s the last Friday of the month and that means…favorite plants!

Everyone’s on the edge of their seats wondering what my standout plants are this month, right? Well, at the top of my list has got to be the pair of Dierama that are blooming in the garden right now. To my eye they look to be nearly the same color, but when a camera gets involved, well, things look very different…

I believe this is Dierama 'Merlin' – purchased at Portland Nursery this spring.

And this is Dierama 'dark purple' – purchased at Garden Fever late last winter. It's not nearly that blue in person, in fact I wouldn't say it's blue at all. Isn't that weird?

Interestingly there is this comparison of  various “dark purple” flowers on the Edelweiss Perennials website (they're the grower of the plant I bought) showing the wide variations in color the seeds can produce. I really wish you could see both of these plants with your own eyes to understand how slight color the difference is...

I do feel a bit like a cheater, being excited about blooming Dierama that I haven’t yet had to overwinter, as I hear it can be a challenge (well-drained soil is a must). They’re generally hardy to USDA Zones 7-8 (cold-wise) and do love the sun. Their foliage is rather grass-like, which you can kind of make out in this image…

The second plant I’m sharing this month is new to me, I am so excited to finally be growing it! Ludwigia sedioides, aka Mosaic plant. I originally fell for this one back when my stock tank pond was in the shade and I couldn’t grow it (it likes sun).

It’s a potted annual (in my Zone) with green to red diamond-shaped leaves that float on the surface of the water. Said to be a fast grower I’m hoping it enjoys this weekend’s heatwave (it requires water 72 degrees or warmer) and pushes out lots of new leaves.

Another of my Manzanitas has been “faved” in the past, but I don’t think Arctostaphylos x ‘Austin Griffiths' has ever gotten the nod. Why this month? It’s molting!

The entire outer layer of bark is peeling away, exposing bright amber-green new bark underneath.

Pencil-shaving-like old bark falls to the ground.

It’s the coolest thing!

And finally, in case you didn’t hear me scream for joy (aka post about it on Facebook), I am now the proud owner of this lovely variegated Agave parryi…

A gift from my friend Gerhard (Succulents and More…) he says it’s probably A. parryi 'Excelsior' which would make it possibly hardy to USDA Zone 7, not that I’ll be planting it in the ground anytime soon. It’s got a little growing to do first.

So...that’s my wrap up of favorites in the garden these (hot) days of June. What are yours? Please tell us about them!

All material © 2009-2015 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.