Tuesday, July 22, 2014


OK I know - I'm going backwards here.  The Lilacs finished blooming two months ago, right?  Right.  And wrong.  It's true the shrub most people call Lilac - Syrnga vulgaris sp. blooms in May, usually in the County around the long weekend (although this year a week or so later -my records show them starting to bloom on Partridge Hollow on May 26).  Another variety, Syrnga prestoniae, started a few weeks later and bloomed until July 1. 

The flowers of all Lilacs are in one shade or another of pink or purple, as well as white and sometimes two toned.  The difference between the two lie in the shape of the leaves and flower clusters.   You can tell the difference in these two photos - the regular common Lilac has dark green, sometimes glossy leaves and bold, vibrant, in your face (and nose!) colour and fragrance, while the Preston lilac (this one likely a James McFarlane variety) has a much more delicate perfume and and very subtle colour palette.  The leaves are paler green, almost fuzzy sometimes, and not quite as round as the S. vulgaris.

Syringa vulgaris

As far as origins go, Lilacs are native to the Balkans but quite easily naturalized throughout Europe and much of North America.  Preston Lilacs were hybridized right here in Canada, at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa in the 1920's.  They're more cold resistant and mildew resistant than other varieties, I find, and mine have never had a 'bad' flowering year compared to some years where I get very few blooms on the S. vulgaris.

Syringa prestoniae

The won't grow just anywhere - full sun is best (otherwise they'll get leggy and won't bloom as much) and they do like moist soil but not wet.  I made the mistake early on of planting a bunch of them all around the back end - where the limestone was particularly close to the surface, creating drainage problems in the spring and letting the thin layer of soil get powder dry in July and August.  Only three of an original eight bushes survive, and none of them are terrible happy.  The Preston Lilacs, on the other hand, one of them in particular, seemed to have been able to adapt, sending down roots far enough to survive the summer, and I also happened to plant them a little higher instead of level with the normal soil surface.

 I don't think I could ever get enough Lilac and plan to plant many more in the years to come.  Properly situated, of course.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


I arrived in The County this weekend to discover The Mound awash in colour, as if a hand from the clouds had reached down and, with one swoosh of a giant brush, painted it with red, yellow, orange and pink.

It's time for the Daylilies.

On the Mound, when I see the Daylilies (Hemerocallis, various species and cultivars) next to the whites of Ox Eye Daisy and in combination with the purple Echinacea and the scarlet Monarda, I find the colours to be, from close up, sometimes cacophonous and sometimes harmonious.  It varies according to the time of day and the harshness of the light.  What I've been drinking.  Elsewhere in the garden there are smallish clumps of red and yellow flowers, burgundy tetraploids, quickly expanding piles of the double orange daylily a former neighbour in Toronto gave me.  I also have two sections of the more common organge 'ditch' daylily.  I know some people don't really like them, and relegate them truly to the ditch, but I appreciate the vibrancy they give the garden at the beginning of July, both in the back garden as well as along the curve of the driveway coming in from the road.

In any event, here are a few of the beauties.

 I have a lot of yellow-ish Daylilies, and several that are variations of yellow and red.  I started many from seed, pollinating a red flower anther with pollen from the stamen of this canary yellow one.
One of the hybrids

Catherine Woodbury  the only named Daylily I have.

One of my favourites - this peach colour.

And of course the common orange 'ditch' daylily.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Construction begins - and something new on The Mound

It's hard for me to believe, and I really won't believe it until I walk through a front door, but The Prince Edward Group (my husband's company) has started construction on the new homestead in The County.  Architectural technician Pegi Amos and excavator Paul Greer came over to stake out the foundation.  After much discussion about drainage, direction and septic fields, the four stakes were pounded into the ground (through the very few inches they could go before hitting stone) and voila!  Step One done!

If you look closely you may see the four stakes in the ground.  Looking from the road towards the back of the field.

Looking down towards the road.  That's the well right up front.

(Gaillardia x grandiflora)

A happy surprise this summer was the emergence and quite spectacular blooming of these Blanket Flowers (Gaillardia x grandiflora).  I harvested seeds from the Leslie Street spit (Tommy Thompson Park) a few years ago and threw them all over the Mound.  Hopefully they'll self seed a bit.  On the spit, where the 'soil' started life as concrete landfill, these flowers only grow to about six inches or so.  On the Mound they're reaching 18 inches -- I guess I can't complain anymore about how horrible the soil is here eh?

Monday, July 7, 2014


A new apartment in Toronto, building a new home in The County, and, finally, a new computer.  I haven't been able to post anything for a while as my late lamented laptop, after 11 glorious years, finally bit the dust.  So here I am on my new HP, ready to share thoughts and images from the past few months and eagerly looking forward to chronicling the building of our new house in Prince Edward County, and the planning and planting of the gardens to surround it.

A reminder - here's the acreage (this past April) onto which the new home will arise:

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Shileau's Pond

It was a long, cold winter with lots of snow.  This means flooding in the Quinte region, including on our property.  We generally have a smallish pond of melt water that stays a week or two, but this year the size of the pond is exceptionally large.  It laps at the border of the Mound on the east and stretches all the way across the width of the front field, stopping finally three or four metres west of the lemon Magnolia.  This means that the entire entrance garden is underwater -- Magnolia, Lilacs, Spirea, Spruce, Iris, Peonies, Tulips, Daylilies...  everything.  I'm worried about all of them, perhaps most of all the bulbs, like the Fritillaria and Colchicum.Only time will tell if they survive...

The first Crocus of the year, about a month later blooming than last year
Narcissus making an appearance
Shileau's Pond - HUGE this year!

Shileau's Pond - reaching all the way to the Mound