Ok. It’s a cheesy title. But, everything that is blooming right now is pink. The most prominent of today’s blooms are the globe allium. The two year olds are the most dramatic, and I’m hoping the allium that I planted last fall will be as tall next year. Or, I’ll know I bought the wrong variety. Always thankful for May Dreams Gardens for this meme.
What a frustrating day! I should be in Minneapolis enjoying the camaraderie of fellow bloggers and some amazing gardens. But, I’m stuck in Chicago because of travel problems. I can’t blame the airlines, though. I missed my flight, and tried to get to Minneapolis on standby via Chicago. As it turns out, I just can’t get a break on flights out of Chicago. So, I’m staying in my niece’s apartment in the loop and hoping my luggage gets to me. Unlike me, my luggage is in Minneapolis.
But the garden is in full bloom even though I’m a little bit wilted
It’s been a long time coming. A week ago there were five inches of snow on the ground. The hellebores, though in full bloom, bent double under the weight of the snow. But those hearty plants are built for Michigan springs. They are the only thing in bloom right now.
It’s happening in Minneapolis July 14-17!! Learn more here.
One of the great things about Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is that it keeps you honest. If you are going to post pictures of your garden, then you need to make sure the garden looks well tended. It also sends you back to your blog. And, because a community has arisen around this meme, you get to visit other gardens and get a peek at other aesthetics.
This month I decided not to focus so much on close ups. Today my hope is to give visitors a feel for what I experience when I go out into the gardens. Sadly, WordPress would not cooperate with me today. The images below simply would not go in the order that I wanted them to.
Many thanks to May Dreams Gardens for creating a space for garden bloggers to record what is bloom on the 15th of each month.
Here is what is blooming in Garden337. It’s been a great gardening summer so far…
When my friend Stef asked me if I was interested in attending the Garden Bloggers’ Fling in Toronto, I immediately said yes. It was absolutely the right answer. What more could a gardener ask for–great people, beautiful gardens, and terrific swag. I’m a social kind of girl, so being surrounded by so many friendly and knowledgable people was the biggest plus. But I am still marveling at the wonderful gifts I received from Lee Valley Tools. The long bladed trowel is fabulous and the hand rake is going to be so helpful now that the mulch has been spread in all the gardens. Yes, I still have planting to do. Later we were blessed with Corona garden tools. I’m going to need a bigger tool box and maybe a garden tool belt!
We began our fling at High Park, a 400 acre recreational and conservation space. There is a continuing effort to save native plants and raise public awareness of the fragile nature and tremendous value of those plants. We saw introduced species that have invaded other parts of the park and learned about the efforts to restore places in the park to native plants and animals that depend on those plants. Because non-native invasive species are crowding out natives, there is a dangerous decline in native pollinators. More about that below.
That evening we learned more about the Fairmont Hotel’s efforts to provide habitats for native bees. There is a rooftop chef’s garden and a number of honeybee hives. But more importantly there are solitary bee houses. I’ve had my suspicions that our efforts to save our declining honey bee population have been a bit misguided and prompted by corporate interests rather than conservation. The little presentation we saw that night affirmed my suspicions. I recognize the value of honey bees, but the truth is that they are not indigenous to North America and have crowded out native bees. As we diminish native bee habitats, we diminish our knowledge that the bulk of the pollination work in our natural world is carried out by native solitary bees.
I love the bumble bees that visit my gardens, though these are not solitary bees. The carpenter bees are solitary and there are lots of them nuzzling anything that blooms. I didn’t know about mason bees who are also indigenous and excellent pollinators.
There are hundreds of native bee species and I’m starting to learn about the role they play in our own survival. We will disappear when the bees do. And if we do not pay closer attention to the needs of native bees, we will pay a tragic price for our ignorance and our carelessness. You can learn more about the Fairmont’s efforts here. And you can read more about the role native bees play in our own survival here and here. Native bees do a better job of pollinating than honey bees. Who knew!?
We also toured a private garden that has been in the making for 40 years. The owner has paid such careful attention to height, texture, color, and the needs of the plants. There was a lovely water feature full of tadpoles. I tried to find parents, but they must have been nestled into a moist safe place waiting for dusk.
We feasted in several ways at the former estate of General Motors Canada’s first president–Parkwood, now a national historic site. It is a wonderful example of art deco garden design and is the venue for weddings and other events. There were two wedding parties on the estate the day we toured. We were treated to a lovely luncheon in the tea house next to a long reflecting pool. The swan pictured above was one of two fountains at the top of the pool.
We toured more private gardens that afternoon, so many that they have begun to merge in my memory. Cabbagetown, though, was a stand out. Initially a neighborhood settled by Irish imigrants, the neighborhood is now in the midst of restoration and home to some lovely gardens. Narrow lots have become eclectic gardens that maximize space. And we toured Evergreen Brickworks, the site of a large brick making company that has been repurposed into a farmers’ market, wetlands, and window into Toronto’s past.
We also looked at a garden the nestles into a slope that goes to one of Toronto’s ravines carved by a stream system that feeds into rivers that in turn empty into Lake Ontario. And we visited the Aga Kahn Museum that has the most amazing reflecting pools.
It’s been a rough winter for me. My rheumatoid arthritis flared up big time and there were days when it was a struggle just to get out of bed. I made arrangements to get a wheel chair just in case things flared up. But, I didn’t need it. Those with fitness monitors reported that we were walking upwards to 14,000 steps in a day and I trudged along. I didn’t break any speed records and I was pretty slow getting on and off the bus that took us to all those wonderful gardens, but, damn, I did it.
I think my goal, at least for my Secret Garden, has always been to create a country/cottage garden, but I’m not sure that’s quite what I’ve ended up with. I’ll let the reader be the judge. Initially, though, I was charmed by the IDEA of an English cottage garden, at least the romanticized version. And, of course, the book The Secret Garden had everything to do with my own version of that. I don’t have a rambling manor house or a hidden door or a mystical friend who helps me discover a garden that brings the world together in peace and harmony. I am, by the way, particularly charmed by the musical adaptation of the novel.
Some say that cottage gardens were first introduced in Great Britain by the Romans. Others say they arose after the Black Death which wiped out a third of the population in the British Isles. Laborers were few and former serfs found a demand for their work and the fruits of their labor. Rather than paying their rents in crops, serfs could pay a yearly rent, grow fruits and vegetables for their own use and to sell or trade. Some became skilled laborers who kept gardens.
Early cottage gardens were strictly utilitarian, becoming a source for fruits, vegetables, and scented plants that could be used for medicines, adding flavor to wines and ales, and for masking the unpleasant smells associated with being human in a time when there were no toilets or morning shower baths. This was especially important for those living in low-ceilinged thatched cottages that were dark and damp. These scented plants included peonies, pinks, hyssop, daylilies, Madonna lilies, and roses.
Those early cottage gardens were not planted with any attention to aesthetics. But that changed in the 16th century when trade with other regions brought new plants and ideas into the lives of cottagers and the landed gentry. It was the gentry that romanticized the cottage garden. Out went the concept of utility and in came the notion that cottage gardens were a type of planned abandon, a place to spend leisure time, and a way to show off one’s affluence. Tudor gardens borrowed from Italian gardens and included sun dials and statues.
It was the Victorian era that greatly influenced the modern cottage garden with its mass of flowers and a combination of “wild” and highly structured plantings. I suppose that describes my gardens, though I tend to think the “wild” aspect of my gardens comes from a lack of attention rather than a deliberateness. An hour ago I finally decided to tame the dutchman’s pipe that was taking over an arbor designated for clematis. As soon as I finish writing this, I’m going to go out again to pull weeds, plant, and take the pictures that appear here. I find that my blog posts go together better when I write the text and then insert the images. I tend to get overwhelmed by the wildness in my gardens and dither about where to start. I flit from one bed to another with no real plan. That perhaps is a result of my very associational brain. But there is also a sense of freedom there. I don’t have to do things in a logical order.
I noticed that the honey bees are awake and visiting the catmint. The bumble bees have been around for several weeks and I saw several carpenter bees, today, too. They look like bumbles but have shiny butts. Both bumbles and carpenters are excellent pollinators. And, unlike honey bees, bumbles and carpenters are native to North America.
So, is this a cottage garden? Is there enough wild abandon demonstrated, or is it too safe to be classified as a such. Scroll down for a few more pictures.
I am, by the way, looking forward to Garden Bloggers’ Fling in Toronto later this week. I anticipate getting lots of great ideas and experiencing other gardens just for the pure joy of it. This will be my first non-academic conference in decades!!
Yea!!!! It’s my first GBBD of the season! As always, a shout must go out to May Dreams Gardens for creating this opportunity for people all over the world to share their gardens on the 15th of each month.
So, here is what is happening in my garden today.