The lusher our garden becomes, the more wildlife we see. Birds, rabbits, deer, chipmunks, squirrels, even garter snakes are now common place in our yard. Isn’t that great you say? Well perhaps, but couldn’t they be better house guests? I mean if the deer love my red begonias so much they want a closer look, don’t they know the don’t touch rule of garden tours?
What used to be lovely red begonias in full bloom just yesterday. I think deer have very poor manners.
So, for the deer and rabbits I’m going to go over some garden visit etiquette (original garden etiquette can be found here):
- “Remember you’re a guest. Be courteous. The host is probably nervous …”
Deer Rules: Remember you are sometimes an unwelcome guest. Please refrain from adding to the owners anxiety by making her wander the gardens every morning wondering what else is missing.
- “If it’s an organized tour, be on time.”
Deer Rules: Please come during the day. I’d be pleased to steer you towards someone else’s garden.
- “Park your car in the designated areas”
Please graze in designated locations only. Preferably out back and away from my planters.
- “Stay on the paths. Do not walk into the garden beds”
Deer Rules: Stay on the paths. No eating in the garden beds.
- “If you bring your children, keep an eye on them. Don’t let them run through beds, pick flowers, climb trees or rocks, throw dirt, or upset the dog.”
Deer Rules: If you bring your children, keep an eye on them. Don’t let them run through the beds, eat my flowers, scrape the bark off my trees or upset the homeowner.
- “Don’t take seeds or cuttings without asking permission”
Deer Rules: You have my permission to eat any weeds, overgrown shrubs and flowers that need deadheading. Anything else please leave for the human visitors.
Perhaps if I post a sign? Likely not. So instead my annual budget has increased by 20% this year as I scramble to replace annuals I’ve grown for years with new ones that are hopefully deer resistant. I’m also slowly replacing shrubs in important areas (to me) with deer proof alternatives. Perhaps then they will move on to someone else’s yard. After all, no-one likes a house guest who stays past their welcome.
I know it’s still officially spring and that peonies, irises & weigela are technically spring blooming plants, but I always think of June as the promise of summer to come. The blooms are bigger, brighter and more intense than the early spring blossoms. I’m enjoying finishing up my summer planters, adding even more colour to the garden. The vegetable garden is almost fully planted, except for a few late season crops. Finally, the spring chores are nearing the end and there is more time to relax and just enjoy what nature brings. My favourite activity this time of year has to be sitting out on the patio, drinking a cup of coffee in the cool morning or even afternoon sun.
So while we’ve just begun, here’s a little taste – with the promise of more.
Peony Red Charm
Iris pallida variegata
White Iris in full bloom
I’ve got a pretty good green thumb when it comes to outdoor plants and the vegetable garden. On top of that I love to experiment. We’ve grown our own sweet potatoes, celery, kidney beans, black beans and even pak choi one year. But for the life of me I can’t grow cauliflower. OK, I’ve only tried twice but after two failed years I give up.
Last year I planted starts from the garden center. Purchased a little late in the season they didn’t really grow and just went to seed. Figuring that I started when the season was too warm & the garden dry, this year I purchased my starts just as the season began. They were planted in the garden at the beginning of May and did quite well for a couple of weeks. Wednesday I looked out and two were basically wilted. This, after almost 2 inches of rain so no way were they dry (nor waterlogged as we have great soil). Yesterday, one more bit the dust. So that leaves just one left, and it’s not looking too good. The only thing I can guess is that the cold weather last weekend harmed them, despite being covered by floating row covers although I thought they were a cold season crop. It can’t be the soil since the row of red cabbage right next to the cauliflower looks great. Cutworms perhaps but they were pretty big by this stage.
So that’s it, no more cauliflower for our garden. I think cauliflower is destined to be our winter vegetable. One of the few nice looking vegetables you can consistently find in the produce aisles in the grocery store in winter, we eat a lot of cauliflower during the off season and in fact are pretty tired of it by the time spring arrives. Perhaps it was meant to be.
Spring may have arrived late this year but it has been almost picture perfect. For the past several years, unseasonably warm weather in April and early May meant that most plants began to leaf out and put on blooms early, only to be damaged by late spring frost. Almost every year I lose something, either the magnolia, pear or crab apple blossoms. Last year was the worst I remember with so much frost damage that the majority of the apple crop in Southern Ontario was lost.
Crab Apples in bloom May 20, 2013
Happily this year, despite a couple cold weekends, we did not see any damaging frosts. For the first time since I started gardening in the country I’ve seen every tree and shrub bloom in beautiful succession starting with the forsythia and serviceberry, through the magnolia and pear blossoms, peaking with the crab apple, hawthorn and lilac blooms and just now finishing with the cascading bridlewreath spirea and doublefile viburnum.
So despite a late start, it has been a perfect spring after all.
Viburnum plicatum f tomentosum May 30, 2013
I don’t care what the calendar says or what the weather was like yesterday, you can always count on a good chance of frost in southern Ontario even into the end of May. Having said that, I always jump the gun and put my tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and basil in during an early hot spell, only to have to cover them up again and this year is no different. Last weekend we were working in temperatures in the high 20′s, tonight it’s going down to 2C. Gotta love Canada.
Luckily I have a good supply of quick frost covers at hand including floating row covers, mini greenhouses and plastic cloches accumulated over the years. So bring it on mother nature, I’m ready!