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Gnome News

ramblings of a plant lover

Spring is in Full Swing

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Well, we planted our new garden at Forsythe last fall and so far, everything has come up green (a few minor exceptions). Very happy with the sancutary this provides us in this very urban setting.

The Town of Oakville, in true adversarial form, has provided one last surprise blow on this challenging property makeover by serving us with a short list of petty “deficiencies” that would require essentially undoing a good chunk of the back of the property, primarily to inspect what they failed to inspect earlier on, remove the pressure treated retainer boards along the back and drop the soil grade by 7″ to 10″. Extremely disheartening at this stage of the game with large trees in place.

Making The Final Cut

This year I gave up on electrical and gas machines and decided to get a push mower. I won’t mislead here, it’s not as easy but quieter and my grass lawn is so small it seemed a reasonable commitment. The whole experience is quite nostalgic actually. The smell of fresh cut grass and boyhood memories of cutting neighbours’ lawns to earn money for my first bike. If you feel so inclined, I’d recommend “The Silent Cut” by Mascot – a good heavy duty option. Check it out here.

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Beautiful Virgin Gorda & Miami

On a recent cruise of the Caribbean I had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful British Virgin Islands. We took a 45 minute water taxi from Tortola to Virgin Gorda and Baths. Walking through “a labyrinth of house-sized granite boulders” was quite an experience. While this wasn’t a contracted “Rock Garden” project, but a fastidious act of nature, it certainly could provide some inspiration for your next landscape venture. Of course budget and scale would have to be considered. The lush tropical gardens and vegetation surrounded by turquoise and cobalt blues seas is Caribbean idyllic. The high point entrance of the park was stunning.

Just above the Virgin Gorda was this lovely view of the British Virgin Islands including Tortola.

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Loved watching this Emerald-Throated Carib (Hummingbird) weaving in and out of his Magnolia. It took a few shots but I finally got it. It was busy fighting off the larger birds who wanted to share the tree.

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The shadow of the the Palm on this three storey boulder was eye-catching.

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Along the shores at the Virgin Gorda baths the sail boats lined up for a perfect day.

Costco, of all places!

I’m a big fan of Gardena products and was delighted to see this lovely offering at the front entrance of Costco on a recent visit. One can never have enough stylish quality garden gloves and especially in a variety of colours to pick from. Good value – kind of gets one in the mood for a new season of gardening!

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Don’t Let February Get You Down

Winter is no excuse for any gardener to be idle, even when you live in the snow belt. Unless of course you just need a holiday from it all.

I spend my winter months reviewing garden ideas on Twitter and Instagram. Getting inspired. If I’m not travelling to warmer climates to check out gardens, I might even take a local trip to one of my favourite gardening centre destinations – Sheridan Nurseries in Toronto. Sometimes it’s worth it just for the aroma of tropical imports in their generous greenhouse areas for indoor plants. Sheridan has a sumptuous stock of exotics like Orchids, Jasmine, Oleander, Ficus, Mandevilla, Bougainvillea, etc.

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Now that our garden room is fully finished we needed just a touch of green to carry me through to spring when the garden that surrounds it comes back to life. Having an inordinate appetite for topiaries led me to the last of their Ivy plants, which fit the space (and the pots) just perfectly.

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First Zinnia Flowers Grown in Space

Originally posted on The Verge.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is currently coming up on the end of his year-long stay on the International Space Station. That means it’s been almost 300 days since he’s experienced all the magnificent nature and plant life that planet Earth has to offer. Fortunately for Kelly, the station has its very own Veggie plant growth facility, where the crew members have been growing plants of their own. And the most recent batch of crops has just bloomed: bright orange zinnia flowers.

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Photo by Scott Kelly