Where is Spring?

 No winter lasts for ever. No spring skips its turn. – Hal Borland

Spring officially arrived two weeks and in pouring through photos from the past few years I know that spring does actually show its face before the end of March. This photo from 2012 shows my Crocuses in full bloom this same week yet, as I look out my window, all I see is snow. 

Even with the snow piled in my yard I know spring is on its way, after all a short drive south and grass is to be seen pretty much everywhere, which is reassuring whenever I need a “pick me up”

However there are lots of other signs of spring that I always seek out

  • Spring Home Shows – I’m willing to bet your local community has had or is about to have a spring home show. These a perfect way to get in “spring mode” as everyone is eager to get into spring projects!
  • Garden Centers Are Reopening – after the holiday season many Garden Centres close their doors, now they are all reopening for the season and a quick stop in is bound to get you excited for spring. Smelling the fresh plants and seeing things growing is bound to lift your spirits.
  • Robins and other Songbirds arriving back in the area – their morning wake up calls are music to anyone’s ears!
  • Warm days – as the mercury creeps up the thermometer we can’t help but think that spring is upon us. Those first double digit days get everyone itching to get back in the garden!
  • Seeing the first signs of life in the garden – seeing that first plant push through the soil sells me on the arrival of spring. When I see fresh green in the garden I know that a new season is upon us!!! You’ll often find me out in the garden looking for this sign…and cheering once I find it!

What signs do you look for to signal the start of spring? Leave me a note in the comments!


Pantone’s 2015 Color of the Year – Marsala

marsalachipPantone‘s color of the year for 2015 is Marsala Pantone describes Marsala as “An earthy shade with a bit of sophistication”.

Thinking about this years color of the year I first wondered how it was incorporated into the garden, but right away I realized that Marsala is an earthy tone, one the we would naturally see occurring in our gardens. Some might call it “muddy” while others might call it “wine”, either way it’s deep red-brown tones are rich and work well in the garden amongst other common colours we are drawn to for our plantings. Partner Marsala toned plants with Lavanders, Yellows and Oranges for the biggest impact.

Marsala can be easily incorporated into the garden though the use of plants such as:

  • the many selections of Heuchera with deep maroon foliage such as Obsidian or Plum Pudding
  • shrubs with deep foliage such as Wine and Roses Weigela and Coppertina Ninebark
  • Daylilies such as Summer Wine and Pardon Me
  • the amazing Purple Smoke Tree which is a favorite with its light “smokey” blooms during the summer months
  • spring Pansies offer a ton of color selections and we can always count on finding a wine-deep purple tone among the many trays that fill the garden center
  • hedges of Barberry are adorned with rich wine toned leaves, just watch for those thorns!

Marsala can also be incorporated into your outdoor space by using cushions, pillows and placemats on your outdoor furniture. Cushions and placements are a fun way to play with color without making a major commitment!

Do you plan on adding Marsala to your garden this year? Leave a comment below!

Blooming in my Garden – Bugbane

There are a few late flowering perennials I love to add to my gardens, afterall it is nice to have that last nurse of color before winter comes. One of my favorite perennials for not only its late blooms but also it’s wonderful fragrance is Bugbane.

A great perennial for a shady or woodland-type setting, the foliage has a rich purple, almost black tone with a rich lacy texture. The tall spikes of pinkish-white blooms rise above the plant in fall and have the most wonderful sweet fragrance, you will often find bees and butterflies dancing around these delicate blooms!

Plant Bugbane in rich, moist soil in an area where it will receive morning sunlight. Bugbane will grow to 60″x30″, so be sure to leave it lots of room. This perennial is deer and rabbit resistant, so it makes a great specimen in those areas where planting is tough due to wildlife constraints.


Vacation…and Checking Out the Trees

It’s been a bit since I have had a chance to post, it has been a very busy summer! I just wanted to share a few quick photos from my trip this month to West Virginia.

We were spoiled and stayed at the gorgeous Greenbrier Hotel, which, I had read, is rich in history, golf and interior decorating greatness. What I quickly came to find was that they had some amazing things outside as well. From “Old White” – a 100 year old golf course designed by Charles McDonald, to the lush gardens and the gorgeous infinity pool, it was like eye candy to me 🙂 The hotel also was like a mini botanical garden in that all the trees had plaques naming the tree in both common and botanical name!

I grabbed a bunch of photos but wanted to share these few photos of some of my favorite trees:

I love Flowering Dogwood and use them often in my designs. It was a treat to see these ones, with their fantastic form and covered in fruit (and the odd one sporting a few blooms as well!)

A close-up of the Dogwood fruit. They always remind me of Lychee!

This was a stunning sample of a Japanese Maple. The form, the leaves, it was perfect!

I love London Plane Tree. Looking up into the canopy and seeing the exfoliating bark is just stunning!

This is a tree I don’t see often but it’s shape is a perfect representation of what we refer to as a “vase”. The Green Vase Zelkova. They were speckled across the hotel grounds and were all stunning!

I found this beauty at a gas station of all places on our way out of town. I am a sucker for Weeping Spruce. There is something about the size, the shape, the form…it’s stiff, yet flowing…not too big. It’s a real conversation piece, kinda like your own “cousin it” for the front yard

My question is, when you are on vacation, do you look at things that remind you of home or your job? When I look through my vacation pictures there is a good chunk that are of walkways, trees, flowers, walls…its a natural draw for me…that or an obsession!

Kids and Gardening – Fun Stuff at Innisfil Montessori Academy

I love when kids are interested in plants and gardening. When I see visit clients or friends and their children ask me questions about plants or their gardens I am always thrilled to answer them and engage them in the design process. Introducing children to gardening at a young age will help build a love and appreciation for plants and gardening that they will carry on into adulthood and hopefully pass on to their children. Not to mention the many health benefits of gardening – being outdoors, getting exercise, stress relief!

Today I stopped by and visited my friends at Innisfil Montessori Academy and was so excited to see that the classes have been working on learning about plants! A quick peak into the JK/SK classroom and I saw a windowsill full of pots labeled with all different vegetables full of soil and seeds waiting to sprout under the watchful eye of an eager classroom of young budding gardeners! The bulletin boards are full of bright colorful artwork depicting seeds, leaves, and the parts of a plant. The staff at IMA are definitely planting the Seeds of Success with the lessons they are teaching about our plants and environment!

To see more of what the kids and staff of IMA are up to visit their Facebook Page




Finally, a sign of spring!


We had a lot of snow here in Central Ontario, a LOT of snow! And it seems like it has been taking forever to melt, as I look out my window I still have alas of my lawn and gardens completely under snow cover.

Today as I looked out my office window I was shocked to see shoots popping out from the ground! Finally, a sign of life! I had been searching for that first sign of spring. Sure I had seen my first Robin and had a whiff of my first skunk, but to a gardener the first true sign of spring is something green emerging from the soil. I will admit, I have been green with envy of all my friends posting photos of bulbs popping up in their gardens over the past month, I was happy when I could see a new level of lights as the snow melted on the Christmas decoration that has been stuck in the snow since December!

It might not be much, but seeing the Daylilies popping up, naturalized along the forest edge was a huge step towards spring. Sure, my Snowdrops that I planted as a “sure sign of spring” are no where to be found, but we have life.