Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Calling All Garden Enthusiasts! A "Seedy Sale" at Wall*Flower*Studio - March 27 & 28

The first annual "Seedy Sale" is happening this coming weekend at Wall Flower Studio
It's the time of year when the 2010 gardening season begins in earnest!

All kinds of opportunities to learn and share with your neighbours in the Haliburton community about all kinds of gardening topics.
~ Purchase or trade heirloom, native, and organic vegetable and flower seeds.
~ Learn how to make "Seed Balls"
~ Learn how to "Compost without attracting wildlife", i.e. Bears
~ Sign up for a wreathmaking and design workshops, as well as other garden inspired classes.
~ Learn how to save your own seeds.
~ Plus a whole lot more!
~ Snacks and beverages served too.
~ Bring a gardening friend along!
~ Hours are 10 am - 4 pm both Saturday and Sunday of this coming weekend.
*Please scroll down this blog page to view the map for directions to Wall Flower Studio.
For more information please contact Karen via ~
email: sloanartgallery(at)gmail(dot)com
(or) tel. (705) 489-3781

Thank you and Happy Spring!

Cutting Celery

My uncle Allan grew Cutting Celery in his garden. That's where I'd first learned of it's existance.
He was diabetic and used this particular celery to add flavour to his soups and sauces. I think it would be nice added to dips as well.
I find the taste to be a little on the pungent side, and more flavourful than the regular celery stalks one finds at the grocery store, but enjoy it nonetheless.
Thinking this (I'm going to call it an herb), kind of celery is really underrated here in North America, but have heard that it is highly valued and a mainstay in many dishes overseas.
Cutting celery is an actual celery, just without the enlarged stalk, and I've never grown regular but imagine this variety is easier to grow.
The attractive 18" tall plants produce an abundance of dark green foliage that does indeed resembles regular celery, but looks more like an herb to me and I treat it as such.
Harvest leaves often by cutting 3/4 way down the stems , so that new tender leaves can emerge.
I've used the leaves both fresh and dried, as they do retain their delicious flavor.
Soups, salads, sandwiches, stews, and more, can benefit from cutting celery.
I think it's an annual. I haven't had any success with over-wintering it, so that's just a guess...! Feel free to jump in and comment if anyone can add to that!
From my experience, it performs best in fertile soil in full sun. I grow it in a raised bed. Make sure to keep well watered!
I suggest planting it in your kitchen garden! (with 6" spacing.)
This year, as an experiment, I'm going to try growing it indoors to see if it will perform like some other herbs do on a sunny windowsil.
Happy Gardening!

Monday, 22 March 2010

Lilacs ~ Art Inspired by the Garden

Likely my favourite of all the flowering shrubs.
The lilac never fails to beckon a painting or two from me.
A garden sure is good fodder for inspiration.
We're getting freezing rain this eve.
Hope wherever you are, the weather is a better behaved.

Flower Arranging - Creating A Floral Display From Your Own Garden!


Creating a floral design for yourself, or a friend, from your own garden is always a fabulous way to bring the garden indoors!
Here are some tips I've learned along the way. And even if you're into saving some of your flowers and drying them to make wreaths, pot pourri, and especially making fresh arrangements, then I hope these tidbits and advice are of some help!
Don't cut the flowers from your garden during the hottest part of the day. It's best to do this in the morning, after the dew has evaporated. This is especially important if you’re cutting herbs to hang and dry. The heat of the day can wilt the flowers, and sometimes, depending on what variety you choose, they may not be easily revived.
I know, I know... Some people like to use scissors to cut the stems, but think of what that does. It pinches and squishes the sides of the stem together. The flower then cannot take up the water that it requires, which means they won't last as long as they might have otherwise. Cutting on an angle with a good sharp knife is always best. I honestly cringe when I see someone demonstrating this on a TV show, and they’re using scissors!
Have a pail of tepid water right there as you are cutting the stems. This way, especially if you’re outside, the flowers can be placed directly in the water. The reasoning behind this is because air pockets can form in the stem if they’re out of water for too long. Air pockets will block that all important water from rising up the stem and reaching up the flower, which means yet again, that they won’t last as long as they should.
You'll hear all kinds of ways to keep the water clean, (adding saltpetre is my favourite! I've also heard aspirin, a rusty nail, copper penny, well, you name it...!) But in reality, the only true thing that's going to help is by changing the water daily, and of course, re cutting the stems. All this folklore is nothing more than a placebo, really! Amusing as well, but not really beneficial or even practical.
Don't forget about those greens! They always compliment your flowers. It’s like a grand painting without a frame if they aren’t added. If you have some ferns growing nearby, they’re always a nice addition, and Hosta leaves look amazing too, if they aren’t too huge and overwhelm the flowers! They also last very well in water.
As for your container, I always use thin transparent tape, placed in grid fashion on the top, which is an easy way to prop up the flowers in what looks like a professional job! This is called the "mechanics" behind your floral design, and the clear tape can be easily disguised with greens, and even by tucking some moss around the edges which provides a very natural look! I like to tuck in some branches last as they are nice for adding height to any arrangement, even if there’s only a few added. Curly willow, dogwood, forsythia, and others, are always perfect for just that.
Think of creating your own arrangement for that next dinner party! A little floral treasure as a hostess gift for dinners with friends is always a nice touch and certainly appreciated alongside that bottle of wine!

My thanks and gratitude (as always!), to Van Nes Flowers Inc. in Toronto for providing me with such a gorgeous display for this post! Please click the link above, or the photo, to visit their wonderful shop online!
Have fun, and Happy Gardening!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Linaria purpurea ~ Purple Toadflax

Purple Toadflax - Linaria purpurea
This very hardy perennial & native plant is already displaying signs of life in my garden.
Shall take a picture and add it later today. (Zone: 3 - 9 USDA).
It's such an easily grown specimen. I enjoy it because of the blooms that look like dainty miniature snapdragons, the wispy-ness of the structure, and the foliage that makes it appear much more delicate than it actually is, especially while it's swaying in a warm summer breeze!
It's an upright perennial that self-seeds. Last year I was able to collect literally hundreds and hundreds of seeds from this plant. It doesn't self-seed in a nasty way like some other plants do, Phytostegia comes to mind, and it's easy to remove if they start to grow where they're not wanted.
The bees and butterflies were all over them. I don't think I ever looked at the plant during its growing phase without there being some type of pollinator on it! And what else made me really happy was the Deer did not graze upon them, even though there are other flowers right beside them that were chomped upon, my giant blue Lobelia for one.
The classic pink/mauve little blooms show for months, from July, right through until frost.
This plant is in well-drained soil, which isn't very difficult to provide here in rocky Haliburton, and I sowed the seeds at ½’”depth, and spaced 4” apart. The plant forms little clumps which can easily be divided, placed in other spots of your garden, or, shared with friends!The location I've provided, and where it seems quite happy is a partly shady spot, but I'm pretty sure it would tolerate full sun or even a bit deeper shade.
Linaria grows to 36" and the clumps are about 24" wide. It is drought tolerant, too!
Methinks it's an underrated plant, maybe due to it's affinity to its relative, butter and eggs, which grows anywhere, but this lovely native is well deserving of a spot in the garden!
Happy Gardening! : )

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Blooming Friday - Depicting Summer

Ah, Summer! : )
My daffs are only just popping up out of the ground now, and I don't want to rush Spring as it's just begun here in my neck of the woods...
A ways to go before these cheerful blooms find their way back to what is depicted here in this photo, but isn't it nice to have something to look forward to?!
Am thinking that's what makes gardening so enjoyable, and might be what it's all about! : )
Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend!
To learn more about participating in "Blooming Friday", please visit Katarina's wonderful blog.

Clematis - Nelly Moser - A Stunning Heirloom

This gorgeous climber is well worth a spot in any garden. The bloom size is the up to 6" across, so the flowers on a 'Nelly Moser' clematis are truly magnificent.
Each petal is a frosty-pink with a deeper pink bar down the centre, the anthers are a lovely shade of purple, and it's shimmery and seemingly silvery seeds are almost as attractive as the flowers.
It has vined to ten feet in my garden, and I've read that after many years may begin to send up vines to fifteen feet. Wow!
In more temperate climates, it flowers late April through June, with a re-blooming period in late August, though in less mild climates like mine this cold-hardy vine won't necessarily have the second bloom period. Too bad for me!
It doesn't demand much, if any pruning, and the spring flowering is on the previous year's vines. If pruning does seem necessary, as much as the top third can be shorn down after the spring flowers go to seed. This will induce fresh growth & enhance the late summer & early autumn re-bloom, again, if you're living in a milder climate than me!
It likes to have its leaves & flowers in full sun, like most fancy hybrids, but again, as mostly all clematis, it's roots should be shaded & cool, in moist, well draining soil. I plant ground covers and mulch well around any clematis for this purpose.
The huge flowers can be short-lived in too much hot sun, but I've found that they can last much longer in some dappled sunlight or with only morning sun.
'Nelly Moser' is an heirloom hybrid from the late 1800’s, and the breeder was Marcel Moser of Versailles, France. Such a lovely history!

Happy Gardening !!!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010


This beautiful "Pink Turtlehead", (Chelone lyonii - Hot Lips) blooms from late July right through to October. It's a North American native perennial flower that hosts the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly.
Chelone comes from the Greek word that means tortoise because each blossom resembles, (without too much imagination required), a turtle's head.
It's a good perennial for late summer colour. It doesn't like excessive heat, but will tolerate full Sun if it has it's requirement of moist soil. Actually, the soggier the soil, the better it will perform in your garden!
The flowers are cross-pollinated primarily by bumblebees, but I've seen the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird visiting my flowers for their nectar. But, here is the best part of all... The bitter foliage is usually avoided by Deer and other herbivores. Hooray!!
I've yet to see a white variety growing, but from what I've read, they too are happiest in damp locations such as ditches beside the road. This lovely pink/purple version grows in my shade garden and is considered a rare and possibly endangered species. I have collected a limited amount of seeds from them, so if you're intersted, email/query me here:
- sloanartgallery(at)gmail(dot)com
  • Foliage: Herbaceous smooth-textured.
  • Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings.
  • This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds.
  • Propagation Methods: By dividing the rootball or from seed; direct sow outdoors in fall or early spring.
  • Stratify seeds if sowing indoors.
  • Seed Collecting: Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds.
  • Non-patented native perennial
  • Height: 24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
Thanks for viewing & Happy Gardening : )

Purple Carrots ??? : ) Tasty Heirloom Vegetables!

Admittedly, when I first learned of this variety of carrot, my first thoughts were that it was some nasty GMO creation. Being the curious sort that I am, and after some digging, (pardon the pun), for further information, I was amazed to discover that it's an heirloom dating back to the 1800's!
A truly stunning heirloom carrot in fact. The Purple Dragon produces bright, dark-purple coloured carrots with an orange interior.

The beautiful deep reddish-purple exterior provides an amazing contrast with the yellowish-orange interior when peeled or sliced. Beautiful food!

Beautiful to look at, and even better to eat! It's been stated as one of the most refined carrot you can grow and a real specialty at Farmer's Markets!
The flavour, I can tell you, is slightly spicy, but also sweet!
A winning combination if ever there was.

80-90 days - Sow seeds thinly. 1" depth in trench. Cover half full with soil medium and keep watered. They should be planted outdoors before your last frost date. (Please see my links at the side. Scroll down to "USDA and Canada grow Zones/frost link" for more info).

To purchase these carrot seeds, and many other heirloom and open-pollinated varieties of garden seed, please visit my Local Harvest Store (and/or) my Etsy Shop. Thank you!

Happy Gardening : )

Monday, 15 March 2010

Borage - Beautiful Blue Borago officinalis

Borage - Borago officinalis

I just love this picture. Those showy little blue star-shaped flowers attract bees, butterflies, and all kinds of good pollinators to my garden.
I use Borage for companion planting. It's well known that growing them near your tomato plants can not only to improve their growth, but also to make them taste better and to repel the tomato hornworm. Who can argue with such wisdom?! A wonderful addition to any kitchen or herb garden.
The edible flowers have a delicate cucumber flavour. Marvelous in salads, sandwiches or as a pretty garnish!
Borage is an annual herb that prefers to be grown in full sun.

I especially admire them since they are an heirloom, and have been cultivated since at least the year 1440. Such a historic plant.
In folklore, this lovely herb was thought to bring courage to the heart. The ancient Celtic people believed borage helped bring courage to face enemies in battle.
When planting seeds in Spring, first, soak the seeds in wet paper towel for twenty-four hours, then sow directly into the garden.
Borage will grow to a height of 3 feet.
To purchase Borage seeds please visit my LocalHarvest Store. : )
Thanks for visiting, & as always, Happy Gardening!

A Spring Green Collection!

Well this is something I've never done before! I'm happy to be promoting a fellow artist/gardener's work here on my garden blog. Am so taken with my friend Cheldena's Spring Green Jewellery Collection, that I couldn't resist!
Her garden collection of handmade jewellery is a perfect fit to compliment any gardener, including me! (After all, I'm not in the garden all the time, but do manage to take in social occasions once in a while!)
Cheldena has many new handmade artisan jewellery items for this 2010 spring season and that's what I would love to share with you!
These jewelry items are original designs that Cheldena is also happy to custom create.
Just visit her online shop & beautiful Spring Green Collection and you will likely be as taken with her work as I am!
Happy Gardening!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Kitchen Garden ~ Potager Planning for 2010

Originally called a potager garden by the French, a kitchen garden is a little different from a vegetable, herb or flower garden because it combines elements of all of them.
As mentioned, the French have been so successful with this type of garden method since medieval times. It was usually always grown near the kitchen, (mostly for convenience sake), where food and fresh ingredients could be picked and used fresh.

Being more than just a typical veggie garden, flowers, herbs and of course vegetables were grown together in a very charming manner. Architectural elements added such as a bench or an arbour added a touch of whimsy, but usually were there for practical, useful and obvious reasons as well. In essence, potager gardens were not only useful, but also pleasing to the eye. No small task for any gardener, really, but it can be done! I've decided to tackle one this year, well, at least expand and reorganize the one I have, and here are some thoughts and ideas I'll use that may be helpful to anyone else thinking of planning for this type of garden as well!

Firstly, I'll be incorporating many more herbs, especially useful ones that I can use fresh, and some to dry for use later on in the season. I'll be adding some structural features such as arbours and a new pathway, as well as some trellises that will have edible food growing on them, like heirloom beans, peas and many other varieties. Perhaps even a water feature will appear!

Although I'm fortunate to have enough property to incorporate a garden of this nature, I can't actually grow my kitchen garden too close to my kitchen! It's located upstairs for one, and also, the closest spot I could grow it is in a very shady area of my property, so this actually can't always be accomplished, but don't let that stop you! And in actual fact, just to add, some shading is actually a good thing, especially during the hottest part of the day for certain herbs like dill and basil.

Just a note about space... If you don't have the property but might have a balcony or a small town yard, remember there is always an alternative, so I suggest learning more about container gardening, (please view an older post I've written regarding that).

Unasked for advice with respect towards design....
The kitchen garden should be considered a working garden and it should be convenient for the gardener.
A gardener should try to develop aesthetic elements that will be both pleasing to the eye, and be functional as well.
Locating a proper site is first and formost. Most herbs, vegetables, and flowers need at least six hours a day of direct sunlight, so paying attention and charting that will be optimum in finding where the best plot can be located.
A spot that has some shade during the afternoon for those aforementioned annual herbs, and of course lettuces too will certainly be appreciated by them! They just don't like that mid-day heat.
Good drainage is appreciated by moste plants, so keeping this in mind, I've already built a couple of raised beds where I'm quite sure my herbs will thrive!

I've already decided on a focal point and lay out for my kitchen garden and this was done using graph paper at the kitchen table. But I also went one step further and took photographs of the site I'm adding the garden to, and have drawn right on my photo's. It's a great way to visualize what one cannot visualize on graph paper.
I've decide to group some plants in irregularly shaped, curved beds around a central point instead of just plain rows. I have a nice birdbath that never has seem to have found the proper home in my garden, so that's likely going to be the focal point.
Since my raised beds are already lined up, so I feel they will compliment each other in their differing design placement.

This is where the paths will come in. My planting beds will be narrow enough for easily reaching without breaking my back, and of course for weeding, and to pick the produce I intend to grow. But I do want to make sure that I can fit my small wheelbarrow down this path and be able to turn it around without having to trample anything, even accidentally!
I've already checked that my garden hose will reach, and am looking into a submerged soaker hose with is actually better for the plants and the environment too. Less water is lost during those hot summer days, so more of it actually gets to the plants roots!

I'm not sure what to do with defining the space and the edge of the gardens as of yet. There's a few things I'm thinking of doing.. One is a border, like boxwood, but I'm not really a formal kind of gardener, and that's a lot of maintenance clipping them, but they do look good in other peoples gardens! I'll likely go with a stone border or another type of organic mulch, which of course keeps moisture in the soil and helps to keep the weeds away.

What to plant?
I'm really into heirloom and native plants, but must consider space. I likely won't be planting watermelons, but will be trying some new (to me) old varieties of tomatoes, peppers, corn, and other varieties. The herbs are really going to be fun, and I can't wait to use many in new recipes that call for fresh herbs.
The other consideration I'm giving what I plant will be where things I plant are placed. Corn and sunflowers will be at the back, as well as any trellis with beans, peas, or any other tall plants that will block the sun from the shorter plants. It's amazing, but many people don't give that any consideration, but it's a big one!

Since I have many seeds, and much to divide this spring and summer, I'll save some money by planting them. Incorporating a lot of flowers amongst the varieties that are edible is very important to me, and the whole reason for a garden like this. Besides, that will not only bring in the pollinators, but will offer a softness and that eye pleasing quality that I'm after with myPotager/Kitchen garden! Hoping to do justice to it all! To be continued.. With photo's too!

Would love to hear any comments about your kitchen garden, and any tips you find helpful.
Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Seedy Saturdays & Sundays, too!

Well, here's a peek at my booth during February's Seedy Saturday (on a Sunday), in Toronto.
Luckily my husband is always on the ball and remembered the camera!
Pictured here is the calm before the storm! A very busy day, indeed, and I met many fellow gardeners. All in all a very enjoyable and successful event!

Wall Flower Studio has 3 more events this month of March, so if you're in the area during any of these, drop on by!


Lastly, Wall Flower Studio's (Free, no strings attached!) garden & seed catalogue is available. If you'd like one, simply drop me a line, via email: sloanartgallery[at]gmail[dot]com

Happy Gardening!

Monday, 1 March 2010

Heirloom Amaryllis - New Seeds Almost Ready!

Amaryllis - Hippeastrum vittatum - Seed Pods developing nicely!

Lovely dark peach - orange colour flowers
This amaryllis was originally my great-grandmother's plant. It was passed down to my great Uncle Allan, (whom I miss dreadfully), and, now of course, to me. It's well over 100 years old, and for the past few years I've been collecting and selling the seeds from it.
This wonderful plant, (among other treasured heirloom seeds varieties I've collected) is one of the reasons I decided to enter the seed business. I love the idea of ressurecting and promoting old varieties of heirloom seeds that have been long forgotten by the corporate growers/seed houses of today.
I have now grown many plants from the seeds, as they are extremely easy to propogate.
This year, when people visit my studio/garden, I'll have some plants potted up and offered for sale.
I think my Uncle Allan would be very happy to see this lovely species shared with others!

 The "Mother Ship" !!!

The closest name I can find for this variety of Amaryllis is 'vittata'.
It's been confirmed by 2 well known and knowledgeable growers of antique bulbs,
so I am satisfied that I'm correct with the name.
Culture Notes:
I can tell you that I've been successfully growing this amaryllis for 10 years now.
Hippeastrum 'vittatum' does best in full sun to partial shade with a rich moist soil mix.
They enjoy full sunlight during the growing season and I put them outside.
This will vary with your climate. I live in Zone 3 USDA, but this will be different for someone living in SoCal!
When coming into flower, partial shade helps to bring out their brilliant colour. After the amaryllis has flowered, it should be treated throughout the rest of the year like any other house plant. I never have had to put it in a dark place to rest in order to bring it into flower. It's internal clock seems to know best!
Thanks for viewing, and Happy Gardening!