Archive for 2008

Winter Greetings

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since my last post! Time flies when you’re having fun . . . or just plain busy.

On the fun front, we celebrated our daughter’s birthday last week---my “baby” just turned 25 years old! We’ve also been to several holiday gatherings and special get-togethers with friends; always fun no matter what time of year it is! In fact, the planter/bowl featured in this photo was purchased at Urban Roots last week during their holiday open house. Last, my DH and I are planning a two week road trip to California. Our vacation will include visits with family in northern California and Lake Tahoe, as well as a tour through Death Valley (never been, can’t wait!).

The busy has been fun, too. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks working on the proof of my book, Plant Smart! Six Steps to Choosing Perfect Plants. The art director and I are working together, back and forth; to create an attractive, readable format that complements the book’s content. I can’t wait for you to see it! Keeping up with my volunteer obligations and preparing for several lectures in January have also kept me glued to the keyboard.

Watching the weather out my office window has been the extent of my garden activities of late. I hope to return in the New Year with lots of photos of beautiful places and gardens from my winter travels to share with you.

In the meantime, if anyone has a favorite independent garden center or book store that they could refer me to for possible book sales, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you to all of my readers and best wishes for warm and happy holidays!

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SPEC AGM and Holiday Party

SPEC recently hosted its 2008 annual general meeting and its holiday party. We had a great time meeting with our members, enjoying local food made by board members and celebrating our volunteers.

Here is Vicky Baker who won our 'volunteer of the year' award.
Thanks for all your hard work and dedication Vicky!
Teomi and Betsy Mae enjoying the party.

Joanna, Saskia, Dan, Jay and Betsy Mae eating food and watching the slide show.

AGM meeting

Karen and Gerry getting down to business.

A full house.

The board members were responsible for bringing the food and beverages. Our goal was to make our spread as local (within BC) as possible. It was a great success.

I enjoyed the challenge and made Spelt-Stuffed Sweet Peppers. The peppers were grown at the UBC greenhouse and the spelt, mushrooms and onions were all BC grown. The only ingredient that was not local was the olive oil. Although, I felt it was allowed because I purchased it in Italy from the grower and physically carried it with me home.

Sweet pepper plants growing at the UBC greenhouse.

Spelt-Stuffed Sweet Peppers

Here in Vancouver this morning we awoke to our first snow fall. Its a winter wonderland!
We may just have a white holiday season after all.
Happy Holidays,

Veggie containers under snow.

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Let it Snow!

This is a view of my Sunday afternoon garden. We finally got a “real” snow---about 2-3 inches. Many areas south of us and into the mountains got much, much more; well over a foot in some areas. I’m thankful for the little bit of moisture my garden will receive, and for a beautiful start to the holiday season!

A quick reminder: if you are interested in learning about landscape design, then join me at Denver Botanic Gardens this Sunday, December 7th, from 9:00-4:00, for my presentation of Landscape Design Theory.

Go here for more information and to register for the class.

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coming together

After a couple hiccups with equipment and weather, we now have eight of our ten beds assembled. This is an example of our mini lasagna beds: Step 1: level the bed and soil

Step 2: add a thick layer of newspaper (cardboard works too). This is to prevent weeds and other nasties from coming up

Step 3: fill with leaves (and other organic material as you can get your hands on)

For this one we have also installed a floating cover, which we hope to plant overwintering crops in. Nice view!

One setback, which we'll have to see how serious is next season, is this root disease that we found on both our tomatoes and beans. Any suggestions for prevention or treatment welcome!

a view from above! That's us, by the benches, the green field is city square, and Cambie Street is behind it although the garden is NOT visible from the street

a view from the south

We have disbanded our regular Sunday meetings, but there will still be chances to get involved! Write to SPEC or to to find out how!

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Last of the Fall Gold

Last Friday we had our first official snowfall (more than three weeks later than average); a mere “trace”, but a measurable one. Today we will set a record high temperature---into the upper 70’s---for this date.

Our growing cycle for this year seems to have been set last spring when I noted (here) how late the woody plants were coming into leaf and bloom. All of the seasons since then have followed in synch and arrived/extended a bit off the norm. That’s OK. Sometimes it takes the “not-normal” to open our eyes to the world around us.

What have you been seeing lately?

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Interesting Phenomenon

This past weekend my shrubs were at the peak of their fall color show. The compact burning bush (Euonymus alatus 'Compactus'), with its florescent, hot pink foliage, is especially stunning this year.

However, when viewed from behind (the scene from my office window), you can see that the foliage on the interior of the plant has gone completely white. I don’t remember seeing this happen before. The leaves seem to be fading from the darker, interior areas of the plant out to the edges of the branches.
Has our unseasonably warm weather this autumn allowed the colored foliage to fade without falling? Given enough time, could this plant be completely covered in white foliage?

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Meet. . . Aster ‘Lady in Black’

I’ll admit it; this plant is no longer in bloom now, it was in its’ prime earlier this month. But if you’re still doing some garden planting now, you might want to consider this little beauty.

Aster lateriflorus ‘Lady in Black’ has a lovely, vase shaped form and fine foliage that is purple with green and burgundy undertones. As you can see, the tiny white daisy-like flowers that cover the plant surprise with big raspberry- pink centers. I have mine planted near the edge of the lawn, where it can get plenty of moisture. In rich soil I have seen these get 3-4 feet tall, although my own specimen is pretty puny!

All summer long I look forward to seeing this in bloom. So if you need to add some fine foliage and/or late summer flowers to your garden, ‘Lady in Black’ might be the perfect plant.

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The Calendar Says…

We’re almost a full month into autumn now, but my potted summer annuals and tropicals are still going strong. Although we’ve had several nights of hard frost lately, even my impatiens---which usually melt into a disgusting mess with just a cold stare---are still going strong.

This view from my patio chair shows that we still have a ways to go before it truly looks like fall. And that’s very OK with me!

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Cha- cha- cha- cha… Changes!

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I’ve instituted a few changes to The Art Garden today that I hope you’ll take a few minutes to explore:

I’ve added a Lecture Schedule that lists the dates and topics of my upcoming speaking gigs. Many of them are in association with my new book, Plant Smart! Six Steps to Choosing Perfect Plants, which will be arriving in early 2009. (In fact, I’ve just spent the past week pouring over my editor’s proof. Now it’s off to the art department. Yippee!) I enjoy speaking to both consumers and trade professionals alike; please contact me at if you would like more information about a variety of landscape/garden lecture topics for your garden group, staff or clients.

You will also see a change-up in my blog list. I’ve dropped a few blogs that are not active, and added a few new ones; including the infamous Garden Rant (Maddening? Yes. Thought provoking? Yes. Worth your time? Maybe!).

Thanks for visiting today!
Photo: Maximillian sunflower, Helianthus maximiliana, blooming in my garden today.

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City Square happenings

Well, it's been a long time and we've been busy in the garden. We've harvested green beans, tomatoes (mostly cherry), a few tomatillos, a few beets, a cabbage, a couple (small) carrots, squash, and more lettuce. We also planted strawberries, and are wathing to see if some of our other late plantings will produce anything.

zorka and the mighty cabbage
beautiful squash
yes, they (whoever they are) finally painted the benches! (although I think we could have done better....)
teomi and a perfect tomatillo, which has filled it's papery covering
mmmm, cabbage. notice how the one on the right split - irregular watering?
cam and the clippers, making more light for the garden!
corn, which never got fertilized, but gives us hope that it may actually work!
liz and the fruits of our labours - THANKS FOR ALL YOUR HELP!!
our garden grows more than food.....

SAVE THIS DATE!! NEXT SUNDAY, OCTOBER 19TH, at 10am, we will be meeting to close down the garden and install raised beds in preparation for next season. Come join the fun and become part of our community of gardeners!

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Recipe for a Perfect Weekend

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Above: Looking north to Mt. Blanca between Fort Garland and San Luis, Colorado
Below: Scarlet gilia, Ipomopsis aggregata

Below: Looking north to Taos, New Mexico
Destination: Taos, New Mexico
Drive time: 4 ½ -5 hours from Denver
Weather: perfect warm autumn days and crisp, cool nights
Best lunch or dinner: Orlando’s New Mexican Café (505-751-1450). Try the blue corn stacked enchiladas with shredded beef and the caribe chile---my favorite! We always eat lunch there as soon as we arrive in town to get our vacation off to a great start.
Best place for a cold one: Eske’s Brew Pub.
Best place for live music: The Taos Inn---free every night (some acts better than others, of course) in the Adobe Bar.
Best place to stay: Casa Benevides Bed and Breakfast Inn; a small, charming (and, yes, rustic) hotel in an historic adobe building. Superior breakfasts and afternoon tea. Park your car and walk everywhere!

Add your favorite companion and enjoy! Above: Looking north up the Rio Grande river near Pilar, NM

Below: Rabbitbrush (or Chamisa, as they say in NM), Chrysothamnus nauseosus. See the praying mantis hanging upside down?

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On the Cover of the Rolling Stone!

Well, not exactly . . . but it was exciting to get one of my photos of a walkway at Denver Botanic Gardens featured on the cover of our regional industry magazine. Colorado has extremely progressive and active organizations for all facets of the green (landscape) industry, and this is the magazine they look to for the latest information on new plant introductions, water management, business practices, people in the news, etc., etc.
This particular issue is a hard-hitting focus on green---environmental and sustainable--- practices that we can, and should, implement into our everyday working practices and overall business plans. Stay tuned for more on this topic!

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Sorrento in September

Nancy, Laura and I spent three great days in Sorrento, BC participating in the BC Food Systems Network. The theme for this years conference was Food without Fossil Fuels: Re-establishing Local Cooperation and Interdependence. Laura and I presented our work from the demonstration gardens and the pesticides safe disposal project. There were many interesting and inspiring talks that examined food issues and amazing food projects from a local and global perspective. It seems there is much work to do to improve our food system and it was wonderful to meet people who devote their lives to this cause.

The gathering's youngest participant.

In addition to attending some great talks, there was also time to enjoy the beauty and land of the Secwepemc territory. The nearby Neskonlith reserve was home to Grand Chief George Manuel who was a leader in bringing aboriginal rights into the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The site and staff at the Sorrento Centre were very welcoming.

Laura enjoying a swim in the lake.

Nancy getting her apple supply for apple pie.

Laura picking apples.

The gathering was a wonderful way to refuel the soul and to get geared for fall.
Thanks to SPEC for the opportunity to attend.

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