Sunday, September 2, 2012

Putting the Garden to Bed or, as the Insomniac  Prefers to Say, Laying it to Rest

Welcome to the Labour Day Long Weekend, which in Calgary heralds the end of summer and the swiftly approaching onset of winter, literally arriving at any time now. Thus, the final garden post of the season, with its limited successes and more than a few failures, which should perfectly illustrate why it's taken twenty-five years for the Gothic Mansion's garden to progress this far.

Theoretically, one should be able to plant without fear of frost after the May Long; the gourds and zucchini froze to death  the first week of June. A Second Planting was required to replace the First Planting, which occurs more often than the Oft Disappointed Gardener (a.k.a. the long-suffering spouse) would prefer. Second Planting consisted of fast growing sunflowers, pumpkins, green onions, garlic and beans. The heirloom beans were beautifully striped with purple and white, but one should have taken a picture of them before  blanching, at which point they all turn into boring-looking green beans. 

Pre-weathered wicker set purchased last week for $40.
So the spouse will have somewhere to sit and rest his cold beverage.

When the weeding gets too strenuous.

Sunflowers are the only yellow plant the insomniac  will tolerate in the garden, other than that big patch of something or other a neighbour thoughtfully donated. One feels it might appear a touch ungrateful to pull them out by their roots.

One much prefers them on the sunflowers than in the attic ...

Although one had planned to order lilies this fall, after the arrival of a new pest in the garden this summer - the Dreaded Scarlet Lily Beetle - one is now reconsidering that decision. Hopefully, the garden's existing lilies will survive this latest scourge.

Asiatic Lilies

Maltese Cross

The Japanese Barberry purchased last fall is doing quite well. Next year, plans for a Diablo Ninebark; with its reddish-purple foliage it should look splendid next to the Barberry's mottled purplish-pink leaves. However, one is including it in the garden primarily for its name. Diablo Ninebark.

Japanese Barberry

Although one had promised photos in August of the lovely dragonfly nypmph statue nestled among the newly planted Black Columbines and Poppies, not a single Columbine seed took and only one Black Poppy seems to have made it. Sigh ...

Here, instead, is a picture of a Pink Poppy - not new to the garden, but one of the few plants that has somehow managed to withstand being frozen, eaten or killed by some sort of bug. As of this moment.

NOT the Black Poppy one had hoped for ...

A few of the remaining original Black Hollyhocks along with a single pink one, which the spouse explained started out black but has been naturalized by the bees. The Black Hollyhock seeds that were planted this spring have done well, and one hopes to have an entire section of them along the driveway fence next year. The whole naturalization thing is putting a bit of a crimp in one's plans for an all-black Mourning Garden though ...

One Black Hollyhock and One Pink Hollyhock

What did do well this year was the Virginia Creeper, which the spouse has started growing up the sides of the gazebo. Being a hardy plant, it's also growing on all the fences surrounding the Gothic Mansion and is already turning a beautiful shade of red.

Virginia Creeper

Also doing well are the pumpkins along the south side of the house, which have now overtaken the sidewalk previously visible through the arbour. The Oft Disappointed Gardener is hoping for a few more weeks of warm weather so the pumpkins can grow a bit larger, thus providing an excellent crop for the insomniac's  Hallowe'en decorating and the eldest offspring's favourite, Pumpkin Pie.  

There really is a sidewalk under there. Honest.


The Spruce Grouse and their new brood finally made an appearance near the end of July. In this picture, six babies and an adult - just off camera, another adult and two (or maybe three) more babies. They frighten so easily, it's practically impossible to get a picture of all of them at once, let alone do an accurate count.

Another prolific year for the Spruce Grouse ...

Among the losses this year:
  • One orange Ghost Koi, who has been Laid to Rest in the compost bin, to be reincarnated next year as fish fertilizer for the garden. 
  • Two large limbs from the Russian Olive tree next to the pond, for reasons unknown. It's a magnificent tree that one would be very sad to lose after all these years. 
  • Three five-year old juniper plants. Evidently it was a bad winter for junipers. 
  • Every single berry off the Saskatoon Bush, which one had planned on making a pie out of. Foiled again for another year by those ingenious squirrels. But if you witnessed the acrobatics necessary to get at those berries, you'd have to admit they were well-deserved.

And finally, a completely unplanned addition to the Gothic Mansion's garden many years ago - a Mountain Ash that magically appeared - courtesy of a random bird dropping, perhaps? One will attempt a picture this winter as the tree is being ravaged of its berries by HUNDREDS of Cedar Waxwings. As you may have noticed, one didn't quite get around to painting the cast iron furniture.

The Rowan Tree

One's youngest female offspring bears the same name -
minus the words THE and TREE, of course,
because that would just be weird ...

And so, this weekend, the spouse is currently “putting the garden to bed” as he likes to call it. And the insomniac? Currently getting the real third-floor attic ready for the first sewing project of the season. And maybe one last Harley ride out to the mountains before the snow flies. Because it is a Long Weekend, which will allow the insomniac  an additional day to attempt to straighten out her petrified joints after a day-long bike ride, before having to return to the final week of Contract Work on Tuesday. Unless the contract gets extended, which would allow one to purchase ALL of the Halloween Decor one would like for the Attic. But if not, then there will be lots of free time available for the creation of thrifty Halloween Projects instead. Either way, it's a win-win situation, don't you agree?

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. The insomniac  doesn't know about you, but she is more than ready for some cooler autumn weather. Preferably after  the Harley ride. Goodnight, my pretties.



  1. Your garden is beautiful! I'm impressed you did it all yourself. I like Virginia Creeper too, we used to have it growing under my window when I was a kid. I love the arch, it looks all thorny. The mountain ash is gorgeous and I love your lawn furniture. I want to have a garden like this one day, when my man and I have our own place. It seems like a wonderful place for contemplation.

    1. Thank you, Laura! Although the insomniac  can take absolutely no credit for the garden whatsoever, she will pass your kind words along to the long-suffering spouse, who truly has a green thumb. Unlike herself.

      It really is a wonderful place to spend time “contemplating”. One can spend entire weekends reclining in the gazebo doing just that! When planning your future garden, might one highly recommend a gazebo with a settee ... ;o)

  2. Garden is looking good my friend! I think the weather will hold out and we will have a glorious fall and I will come and
    Ip a pint with you by the pond! Di

    1. Let's plan for next weekend, shall we? The insomniac  will be in charge of procuring the beer! ;o)

  3. I too tried to plant black Hollyhocks. I gave one to my neighbor and hers lived and mine died (and she totally neglects it). But it is not black its a burgundy red color. I also planted some iris that are suppose to be black and they are royal blue. I will never give up my quest on trying to plant a black flower. Your garden is amazing. I like the furniture in white.

    1. From one's rather limited research, evidently there are no truly black plants but only extremely dark shades of burgundy or purple that appear black. That's a completely acceptable compromise!

      If you like the furniture in white (with plenty of rust), then maybe one will contemplate over the winter whether one really needs to paint it after all! ;o)

  4. What a GORGEOUS garden!! Yeah, my partner's the one who loves gardening too - I don't like getting my hands dirty, haaha :P

    1. Oh, exactly! And then once one's hands are nice and filthy, the allergies kick in and pretty soon there's snot and dirt everywhere. Then add to that the additional worry of breaking one's nails, to boot! Yes, one agrees with you completely, Michelle - a garden can be enjoyed just as much from a prone position on the settee ... :D

  5. So nice to read about your garden. It seems like we have a similar climat. We also use to have risk of frost the first week in june, here these nights are called the iron nights.
    The only way I fight the lily beetles is to put on gloves in spring time and squeeze them to death. Their larves are so disguisting, they cover themselves in their faeces to protect themselves, yuck! Oh I have to find a place to plant a virginia creeper, I love the autumn colours of it. I planted it by the fence in my old house, it looks lovely now. The saskatoon bush sounds interesting, I haven't heard about it before but would be a great addition to my garden.
    We had our first frost night a week ago. But it usually is only one and then several weeks without frost so I still have my tomatoes outside. The leaves are getting yellow and starts to fall now so it's time for the garden to rest here as well.

    1. That's an excellent way to phrase it - The Iron Nights - a lot more poetic than how it's referred to over here when it happens; phrases which tend to lean more towards the profane ...

      Oh great, larvae covered in faeces - that's definitely something the spouse will have to deal with on his own. Gah!

      Saskatoon bushes produce a small berry similar to a blueberry in taste, but different enough that they're worthwhile growing, if you can manage to locate some in Sweden!

      Now that winter is on it's way, we can start planning all our crafting projects, which is almost enough to make up for the cold weather we know is right around the corner! :o)

  6. You have an absolutely wonderful garden. I love the northern gardens. My daughter lives in the north, I live in Texas. When I visit her one of the greatest pleasures is walking through her neighborhood.

    1. Why thank you, Gracie! Although one imagines you have many more successes than failures in your Texas Garden than we do up here! ;o)

  7. What a gorgeous garden! How long have you been working on it to get it to this point?

    1. Why thank you, Clementine Dahling!

      We moved the house here in 1987. The first year was spent gutting the interior of the house and putting it back together. The second year, we put up a fence and that was about it. Third year, we started planting trees. Every year since then we work on a little portion and get it the way we like, then move on. And of course every year we lose a lot, due to weather, critters, bugs, etc.

      And when the insomniac says 'we', she means The Royal We. As in, the spouse is the one who actually does all the work; the insomniac merely makes 'suggestions' as to what she'd like done next. ;o)