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Happy Spring! (Part 2)

Backyard – Ornamental Areas

The rest of our backyard is also coming along nicely.

back yard high view 3

back yard high view 2

scarlet runners, solitary clematis

Instead of planting morning glory vines like we did last year, we decided to give scarlet runner beans a try. Hopefully they will grow up the railing too. The solitary clematis in front of the trellis is doing well.






allium & coneflowers

This is our third season with our allium. It’s also one of the first to emerge in the spring, like the asparagus. Behind the allium are cone flowers (Rudbeckia nitida ‘Herbstsonne’), purchased last year from Boychuk Greenhouses. They will grow up to 70” tall so it’s nice to have the allium in front of it to put on a show while the cone flowers grow up.







I can’t wait for the mockorange to produce its blooms! Last year’s blooms smelled heavenly.







older pear tree

This is our older pear tree. It’s a Golden Spice pear and I’m hoping it will cross pollinate with another pear that we planted last year. Note for the next yard – make sure to figure out if fruiting plants require another specimen for cross pollination.






sad lilac

This area is directly south of the mockorange. You might not be able to see the extremely sad miniature lilac that I pruned down today. Lilacs should be pruned after they are finished blooming because they will produce next year’s blooms on this year’s wood. Doing a severe pruning of the lilac is pretty much going to guarantee we don’t get any blooms this year, but I’m more concerned about keeping it alive than getting it to bloom. Maybe this really invasive perennial (not sure what it is) is choking it out.

 west fence

The west fence is home to more shade-loving plants since it really only gets morning sun.









Last year our bleeding hearts didn’t come back so we decided to give it one more try. I’m pleased to say that we have found success! One of them is just barely hanging on but the one pictured above is a beast!





I’ve never had particularly good luck with hostas. We’ve planted several different types in the last few years but this one seems to be the only one that bounces back each year.







jacob's ladder

I’m a sucker for variegated foliage and this Jacob’s ladder makes me incredibly happy. It will get much larger by the end of the summer and I’m curious to see if some of the foliage turns pink in the fall, as it did last year. (I have no idea if this is a good or a bad thing.)







sea holly

Sea holly is my new obsession. It looks very much like globe thistle but I prefer sea holly’s foliage. We got this plant a few years ago from a greenhouse in Martensville; it wasn’t actually for sale but the owner offered us two of these plants after we chatted for quite awhile. I ordered seeds from West Coast Seeds and plan on starting those in our greenhouse soon.






pergola east garden

The area between the raised beds and the pergola is one of my favourite parts of the yard. It has seen the most change, plant-wise, since we finished the back yard. I think we might finally have some consistency in this area this year. Some of the highlights include:

blue bells & bergenia


Last year my Auntie Darlene gave us a ton of plants from her yard. These are some of my favourites. The bellflowers are filling in nicely and will make a fantastic ground cover. The bergenia has been a little slower to establish but the early blooms were very refreshing.





meadow rue

I think my loudest squeal of delight this spring was when we discovered that the Splendide meadow rue (Thalictrum ‘Splendide’) survived the winter. Meadow rue has the most dainty foliage and the cutest little flowers later in the season. It didn’t emerge until about a week ago but is now growing very quickly.






tarragon & artemisia

I’m actually not a huge fan of either of these plants but I feel a sense of loyalty to them because they are so darn hardy. The larger green plant is actually tarragon, a perennial herb. We planted it in our small raised bed two years ago, not realizing it was a perennial. When it emerged the next spring I decided to move it since I had other plans for the small bed. The plant grew to a HUGE size last year. I chopped it down almost to the ground this spring and it’s already huge. The Artemisia is eye-catching in the evenings with its pale foliage but it definitely tries to take over the yard. I think I prune this plant back more than I do any of the other plants.

young pear & delphinium


Our younger pear tree is in the background but the highlight of this area is the group of delphiniums in front of the tree and beside the tarragon. It produces beautiful blue/purple blooms later in the season.







Pergola Garden

pergola west garden

The garden space behind our pergola resembles a forest floor. The soil is cool, moist, and mossy. Finding plants that enjoy this has been challenging but we have found some species that thrive in this area. These plants are ferns, a perennial potentilla (from Lyndon Penner!), and a lilac behind the ferns.







lilac & ligularia

We received the ligularia from my aunt as well and it let us know very quickly that it appreciated this space. Last year’s foliage was much larger than my face and it produced beautiful yellow blooms. Its foliage is a nice contrast to the fine foliage of the miniature lilac, which will bloom in the next few weeks.




Our Asiatic lilies seem to appreciate this space.





pergola corner

I bought some comfrey from someone on kijiji last year and it has done very well in this space. Apparently comfrey leaves make a good fertilizer for plants but I need to look into this further.









Note: Please pardon the formatting! I’m still trying to learn WordPress and figure out how to make the posts look good on desktops, tablets, and phones.

Happy Spring! (Part 1)

Happy spring! I’m currently take a break from working in the yard to write this post… and watch hockey. That’s a strange combination.

Darin and I have been busy planting, weeding, hardening off plants, and figuring out what has survived the winter and what hasn’t. It doesn’t look like we’ve had too many plant casualties, thank goodness. We were very cognizant to cover our dormant plants with snow early on to protect them from our harsh winter air.

Now that the end of May is upon us, I figured it was time to give a photo tour of our yard. The purpose of this is twofold: first, to show any readers who might be out there what we’ve been up to, and second, to document our yard’s progress through the season. I will aim to do a similar post at the end of June (or perhaps even sooner) to compare.


raised beds high view

We have four raised beds (built by yours truly, not that I’m boasting or anything), two of which are 4’x10’ and two that are 4’x5’. In 2016 and 2017 we dedicated one of the large beds to the three sisters approach but our harvest wasn’t great so we have scrapped that idea for this year.


peppers - raised bed


Bed 1:

Remember those 81 peppers that were in our greenhouse? They are (mostly) adjusted to the outdoors and enjoying their time in one of the large beds.







Bed 2:

Our other large raised bed is now home to 6 tomato plants: 2 “crazy tomatoes”, 2 Romas and 2 San Marzanos. I saved the crazy tomato seeds from a particularly vigorous tomato plant that we grew last year.





small raised bed

Bed 3:

This small bed will (hopefully) be home to cilantro, Kentucky Wonder Green beans, buttercrunch lettuce, and dill. The green leggy things are red onions (‘Red Bull’).






raised bed small box 2


Bed 4:

Our fourth bed looks pretty plain right now. Arugula is just starting to pop up. Hopefully we will see signs of the beets (Chioggia, Cylindra, and rainbox mix) and carrots (Nantes Touchon, Bolero Hybrid, Chantenay, and Little Finger) soon.






The asparagus was one of the first plants to emerge this spring. We didn’t harvest any this year – we will start harvesting next spring.




grape vinesTwo of the three vines are doing very well but it appears the one on the right is dead. I’m not really surprised since it wasn’t very happy last year. We will replace it with another “Beta” grape vine when we get a chance.



herb box


Our trusty Costco herb box currently has rosemary, Greek oregano, Italian oregano, thyme, and lemon verbena.





We also potted up all of the remaining peppers that didn’t fit into the raised beds. Almost all of these are cayenne peppers. We jazzed up the containers a bit by adding some calibrachoa.

May Update – Greenhouse Inventory

Now that it’s getting close to the prairie growing season, I figure it’s time to give an update on those crazy peppers (and everything else that we have going on in our greenhouses). After compiling the list below, I’m starting to dread hardening off all of these plants. We’ll get a good workout bringing these plants in and out every day.

We still have our large greenhouse in the living room and it’s currently housing a ton of plants. I did a quick count tonight, and this is what I tallied up:

Peppers: (Yikes! 81 plants total!)

Other Vegetables/Herbs:


We also decided to plant a bunch of annuals. I didn’t bother counting these little guys because I sowed them fairly thickly and need to thin them out as they get their true leaves. Regardless, we will have a lot: