Gnome News

ramblings of a plant lover

The World’s Best Garden Hose

Last year I purchased a 100’ garden hose from Home Hardware that boasted on its package to be the “world’s best garden hose” and was assured by the clerk at the store that it was their most popular. It became apparent after a long arduous, very frustrating, nearly comedic, unravelling of this $100 product – a dollar a foot of sheer torment to try and straighten out – that it was in fact the world’s worst garden hose. I was so frustrated, but let it go too long, hoping it would limber up and be more cooperative after some usage. Such was not the case. I gave it away this year.


An Oasis in Sydney Part 1

One of the most memorable gardens I visited on a recent trip to Australia was Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens, right along the harbour front in the heart of the city. Established in 1816, it is the oldest botanic garden and scientific institution in Australia – home to an outstanding collection of plants from around the world with a focus on Australia and the South Pacific.


Celebrating The Year of the Rooster

I recently crossed off a “bucket list” item by making the long arduous journey to the Land Down Under and had the wonderful privilege of visiting some amazing gardens while there. The exhausting journey was well worth the destination.


We landed in Sydney on Australia Day. It may have been misunderstood initially that the fireworks were just for us. However, we soon realized all of the unusual festivities were celebrating a national holiday and it was to be shared. We even got to hear “Crowded House” (for those who remember) play at the Opera House amphitheatre (Circle Quay) – bonus!

Not Long Now

Spring has arrived, barely, and already signs are evident at Forsythe. The fresh green shoots of Sedum are pushing through the soil and the furry Magnolia buds are plentiful on the tree. Even my Lilacs are covered in new buds. Overall it’s been a very mild winter on Lake Ontario, but recently we got another blast of winter which has kept me cautiously optimistic about this much anticipated season.


Magnolia pre-flowers readying for spring.

No Budget Limitations

In a city known for its extraordinary wealth it shouldn’t be too surprising that Singapore’s gardens exceed not only budget imaginations, but creative expectations as well. Our former Creative Director has been working for Disney in Singapore and it came to my attention that Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay are worth taking a look at. Unfortunately I haven’t seen them in person yet, but thanks to some research I’m able to give you a heads up on this mind-blowing botanical development extravaganza. Who knows, maybe it will serve to inspire your own modest adaptations by way of inspiration this spring.

© Gardens by the Bay

© Gardens by the Bay

Spring into Spring!

Here’s a tip: if you haven’t already, check out Garden Design Magazine, a great resource online for ideas and links to all kinds of interesting places. I really enjoyed their latest article on 2017 Trends in Garden Design.

Listed among the top considerations: natural materials, colour blocking, “hyper-localism” (i.e. using endemic plants not just natives, wood and stone from the site), lawn reimagined, natural dye gardens, old and new “mash-up” (sounds like eclecticism, but apparently debatable), active play spaces for all ages, dwarf shrubs, haute houseplants (bringing the garden inside) and sustainability tech (i.e., controlling your irrigation system from your smartphone).

The Royal Botanical Outdoor Theatre of Greenery Part 3

For those who have been following my summer adventure at The Royal Botanical Gardens, a visit to the Barbara Laking Memorial Heritage Garden brings our tour to a conclusion. The smaller of the three I visited with the longest name, hmm? The Laking Garden celebrates the close connections that existed between plants and people in Southern Ontario gardens in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.


This garden is set out by itself and features heirloom varieties popular between 1880 and 1920 – including true heritage specimens acquired from old gardens in the area. Some no longer exist in the horticulture industry, and preserving them is important for reasons beyond their beauty and history.