Friday, December 27, 2013

Snowy Day

Went for a walk in the snow today, and there was a lot of it! I read in the paper that we already have more than half what we had last winter, and I'm sure we've had more than we had all the winter before that. It snuck up on me a bit this year. I've been so bogged down with pottery orders..... things breaking down..... chores..... I just about turned into a 'bah, humbug' person. Luckily I did recognize that some of it was just my own small Cloud of Gloom and I decided to take a few days off between Christmas and New Year's for an attitude tune-up. The last Christmas pottery order went home with a happy customer on the 23rd., the Christmas turkey was very fine, and several kitchen appliances do in fact still work. 

The rest can wait while I enjoy the snow!

Kip loves the snow, but he has to stay on the driveway.

The snow is too deep for him to get through. He plows his way in, but then he can't see anything, or sniff anything, and comes to a frustrated halt. Then he sort of  backs out, shakes his snowy head, and trots off down the driveway again.

He's a funny one, loves snow but hates rain. When I open the door for him in the morning he checks the sky and if it's raining he won't go out. My cat, on the other hand, has been known to sit in the middle of the yard in a downpour. More than once.

All the things in the garden still sticking up above the snow have comical hats on, like these sedum stalks in the Rock Garden.

The seed heads of the tall teasels are at their sculptural best; this one is as graceful as a dancer.

Near the end of the driveway there's a large cranberry bush. It was only a spindly stem a few years ago, but this year covers a large area and is heavy with bright red berries. They're too sour and what the Dutch call 'vrang', a word that doesn't really translate, but think pucker-power, to be of much joy for eating. Even the birds don't eat them until they are really, really hungry.

Tomorrow I'm going to get my snowshoes out.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It Was A Dark And Stormy.... Day

Last Friday, that is. It was dark and stormy all day. In the morning there were dark clouds in lines across the sky, the bottoms of the clouds heavy and blue-grey and the tops an odd sort of grey-yellow. The effect was of windrows of clouds piled on top of each other, like bolsters, all moving silently southward together.

Several times during the morning  the 'Welcome' sign beside the Studio door banged against the wall, something it only does when the wind gusts from the north. Of course, Kip and I jumped each time. It was peaceful inside, but obviously not outside.

During the afternoon, I looked out and was surprised to see how how dark it was, and how violently the trees above the Marsh were swaying. No sooner had I said to myself, 'wow, the wind is really whipping those trees around' than I was startled to see the top half of a dead Balsam Fir flying through the air and landing in my Crabapple Garden. By sheer luck, it missed the Crabapple trees and fell away from the truck. It could easily have landed on my truck. This was a tree I had meant to cut it down all summer, but who has time for these things.

Here's the tree. Notice the tall stump to the left in the picture. These trees are brittle, and it isn't the wind blowing at them that breaks them, it is the wind stopping, and the tree snapping back, that causes them to break.

The part lying on my flower bed is about 30' long.

Walking out to get the newspaper, I saw that the large Spruce that has stood at the corner for so long was gone, too.

It was about 40' high, I think, and about 2' through at the base. I thought it was healthy, but obviously not! Luckily it too, fell away from trouble. It more or less went into the Marsh and not over the driveway!

The next day I checked my trails and was surprised and relieved to see that not only were there no healthy trees down, the few dead ones that had crashed had not done so over my trail. This of course is in direct violation of the Law of Nature that states that if a tree falls in the woods and there is nobody to see it, it will fall across your trail.

A little clearing, with my trusty axe and saw, soon cleaned up the small tree in the flowerbed. The Powers of Rot will have to look after the others. I feel very lucky to have had so little damage from such a storm.

There I am, in lumber jack mode!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Please, do not adjust your set...

You may have noticed that I haven't been posting lately. Here's why.

I was sitting at my computer one evening and something inside went 'ping'. Then I had a nice black screen.... not quite the Blue Screen Of Death, but still bad. Turned out my video card had failed. I was able to attach a smaller screen that works for text, but it has the wrong aspect ratio and thus images are s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d, making circles look like Saturn's rings, all dogs look like short-legged Corgis and so on. Pictures of humans are particularly amusing, not.

Anyway, I will be back, just as soon as I get a new video card.

Or a new computer....

The scary thing is, w-i-d-e letters are starting to look normal!

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Few Things....

 Well, only two.

You've heard me talk about the Shaw Woods. It's a very special place, with an old-growth maple/beech/hemlock grove, huge glacial erratics, a pine plantation, a steep rock ridge, nesting Eagles..... and now, trails and interpretive signage for visitors.

On October 6th, a week this Sunday, the Woods will host a series of guided public tours. One hike will concentrate on nature photography, with an experienced photographer sharing his tips to improve your photography, another will be specially geared for families with children, and others will offer short or long hikes to suit every interest and fitness level.

Shaw Woods is less than 90 minutes west of downtown Ottawa, near Cobden. Getting there is simple - just take the 417 (which becomes Hwy. 17) West to Cobden, turn left at the traffic lights on to Eganville Road/County Road 8, turn right at the stop sign 12.3km later onto Bulger Road, and look for the parking lot at 2065 Bulger Road. There will be signs!

You do have to pre-register and it does cost $10 per person, but the money is for a good cause, building a shelter for school programs to use when they visit Shaw Woods.

You can get more information, and register, at Shaw Woods.

I'm looking forward to it - signed up for the Long Hike - hope I can walk that far.....


 I'm getting some feedback about my little quiz about Fall Fruits. Not all of it good! So I'm giving you the answers here, but I warn you now, next year I'm going to make it hard!

In order:  1. Hairy Solomon's Seal, Polygonatum pubescens. There are two very similar wild Solomon's Seals; you can tell this one by the short hairs along the veins on the undersides of the leaves. OK, maybe I can see why nobody got this one.
                2. Cedar cones. A bumper crop this year! The squirrels love them and the ground under some of the cedars (Eastern White Cedar, Thuja occidentalis) is a carpet of short fans of foliage with cones attached.
                 3. Cranberry, Viburnum triloba. My bushes are so filled with berries that the branches are bent down to the ground.
                  4. Aha, gotcha. Maybe that was tricky of me, sorry. These are the fruits of the elegantly named (not) Horsemint or Wild Coffee, Triosteum aurantiacum. The flowers aren't much, small and dingy purple, but the fruits are quite showy and the bush itself has presence. It gets about 3' tall and has large yellowish-green leaves. Easy to grow, but will flop if it is growing in easy conditions. Neglect is the answer.
                   5. Riverbank Grape, Vitis riparia. There are other species of wild grapes, but we only have this one. The others grow south of here. The berries are too sour to eat, but make great jelly. 
                   6. Doll's Eyes, or White Baneberry, Actaea pachypody. Sorry, I know it has been re-named but I can't find it's new name just now. The berries look spooky and can cause serious stomach upsets but taste so bad nobody is ever going to eat a second one.
                   7. Spikenard, Aralia racemosa. These have been huge this summer! One in my Sampler Garden is about 6' tall and 8' across. I have to salute and click my heels together before it will let me by on the path. It's sort of neat how the berries ripen - one cluster at a time in a random sequence.
                    8. False Solomon's Seal, Smilacina racemosa. It doesn't seem quite fair to call something after what it is not, but there we are. The flowers are pretty in the spring, and have a strong lemon scent. The berries stay long after the leaves turn yellow and give a welcome touch of colour in the woodland.
                    9. A Red Trillium berry. T. erectum is the only one with a dark purple-red berry. This particular berry has a hole in the top and somebody (wasp? ant?) has removed all the seeds.
                    10. The beautiful laquered red berries of Jack-in-the-pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum. These are so acrid nobody will eat even one. If you plant the whole berries the seeds germinate in the spring. If you clean the seeds off it seems they have trouble germinating, so just plant the whole shebang and step back.
                      11. Blue Cohosh, Caulophyllum thalictroides. The flowers come very early and are nearly black, small, but black, but the berries are beauties. The foliage isn't bad either, a neat clean shrubby thing about 2' high all summer.
                        12. This is the trickiest one, but the one most of you knew! Virginia creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia. The leaves are a deep wine-red in the fall. The fruits, so oddly arranged on their stalks, have that sort of ugliness which is cute.

Sadly, nobody dared try to win the mug. We'll do it again next fall, and you have all winter to study!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

So long, summer. Hello, fall.

Not that I'm exactly happy about it being fall. I'm sorry summer is over, and there is so much to do in the garden right now that I don't know whether to go out and work like a mad fiend or become a hibernating animal. Almost as bad as spring fever! Still, there are compensations.

One of the best is the Asters. I know they are not really called 'aster' any more - most have been re-classified into Symphyotrichum, Oclemena, Eurybia and Doellingeria - but we can get away with using the name in its friendlier, gardeners',  fashion. The New England Asters, in particular, are at their superb best right now. I just took a jog around the garden and photographed some.

Photographing them is a matter of taking one picture, then seeing a better one, then another better one, then one even better, then..... then you had better calm down because every stem has its bees, wasps and hover flies, and you don't want to get them all upset!

My pure white New England Aster was swarming with bees.

I found this aster growing in a pile of road scrapings a few years ago. I figured the pile was due to be moved to some sort of dump, so I felt no guilt in winkling out a small piece. It has done well, having dozens of stems this year, and next year I'll have some to share. Notice that even the stems lack any kind of pink or blue pigment. In all the others the stems are reddish.

Another one I lucked into, this time growing under a friend's fence inches away from his hungry sheep, has pale purple petals that fade to white. It too is getting large and ready to divide.

Still in scavenging mode, I found a very pale pink this year, I won't say where. If the tiny piece I dug out grows, I'll share when there is enough.


 The basic New England Aster, the one found in every ditch and every neglected field, providing food for so many insects, seems to mainly come in a dark pink/rose colour and a darker, bluer purple.

There is a lot of variation in the petals, too. Most are flat (strap-like, the botanists say), but some are quilled and many are twisted and give a charming shaggy effect.

Just so you don't think I've cheated on the colours, here is a shot of a small piece of my Hillside Garden showing both the pinkish and the bluish Asters.

Don't admire the Rudbeckia behind them too much. That is R. fulgida 'Goldsturm' and it is not one of the compensations of autumn. Even the bees don't care for it, that should tell you something. Another digging session..... just as soon as I finish this (yawn....) nap.....

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fall Planting Sale, Fern Walk, and Quiz

Friday was one of those super-busy days; you know, must do this, must do that, go here, do that, all day. All I had time for in the garden was a quick walk around with the camera.

It struck me that I have a lot of native plants in little pots waiting to either be adopted or planted out. I really need to pot them up into larger pots if I want to keep them over the winter, but every time I think I'll do some, I can't find my darn trowel. And every time I look at them all, I think, 'I really should have a Fall Planting sale'. Don't know why, but the thought just kept coming into my head every time I went near the pots area.....

 Fall is a wonderful time to plant things. There is still two good months of cool damp growing weather ahead so new plants can get well established before winter. Also, you know exactly where you need to add something to your garden! August, the great leveler, will have made any gaps, holes or weak spots quite evident. Not to mention that working in the garden in September is very pleasant - we gardeners like the cool weather too!

So, Sept. 8, from 10am to about 2pm, all my small potted plants will be $1 each. There are ferns, different kinds, Bloodroot, Ginger, Trilliums and much more. Also some non-natives such as a few (very cute) miniature hostas and so on. There are not many of any, but some treasures. The address is 6114 Carp Road. (email me if you need directions.)

After 2pm, I'll take anyone who wants to come, on a Fern Walk, either around the garden, or in the woods. Where we go will depend on the weather and our fancy. Some of the ferns, such as the Botrychiums. are dormant right now, but others are looking particularly good with the cooler weather we have been having. The Walk should take about 2 hours, give or take a digression or two.

It also struck me  how many fruits I saw, and how beautiful some of them are. I've put together a collage of 12 of them, numbered, and I challenge you to identify them! The first person to send me an email with all 12 correct, genus, species and common name, will win..... let's see, how about a genuine, hand-made, stoneware, one-of-a-kind, custom-made (have I belaboured this enough?) Pine Ridge mug? I'll even paint the native plant of your choice on it! So get out your favourite field guide, dust off the braincells, and have some fun!

(PS. Looks like I talked her into it, heh, heh! Signed, The Trowel....  )

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

An Excursion - Eagles' Nest

They say that leaving something behind means that you intend to return. For sure, I always intend to return to the Eagles' Nest area near Calabogie. It is one of my favourite places. But I didn't leave my hand lens there on purpose.

I went there a week ago Sunday, looking for Fragrant Fern spores. I approached the area where they grow from below because, while I can scramble up the steep slope, I can't climb down! The lookout, Eagles' Nest Lookout, is the top of a sharp escarpment. The rock face is at least 200 feet high and cantilevered out over the ground below. There is a secondary trail, unnamed, at the base, which gets quite close. It ends, more or less, in an area of rockfall, and the Ferns grow in the face of the escarpment a hundred or more feet above. Here you can see some of the boulders that make up the rockfall. Can you imagine the noise when these broke off the rockface and fell and rolled? And the  forces that must have been involved?

Unfortunately for me, the area was over-run with young people on some sort of rock-climbing exercise. At least some of them were. The pair busy at the bottom of the area I wanted to climb up where not practicing rock-climbing....

So I went on by, pushing my way through quite dense undergrowth, and scrambled up beyond where they were and then bush-whacked my way back. Needless to say, by the time I got to where I wanted to be, I was hot and scratched and not a little peeved. But I found the ferns and they had ripe spores, so then I was happy again. Only when I got back to the truck did I realize that I had left my hand lens where I had inspected the ferns. Since it is a $90 Bausch & Lomb 14x lens which I gave myself for my birthday, I wanted it back!

So last Friday I went back.

The lens was right where I thought it would be, whew.

I was there early and the day was lovely and cool so I decided to explore. Since I had the escarpment on my left and a shallow meandering pond on my right, I wasn't too worried about getting lost. It was dense going but I eventually came out on an open hillside, overlooking the top of the pond, where it becomes more of a swamp or marsh. The perfect place for lunch! (Note to self - next time pack two sandwiches!)

First thing I saw on the hillside (you always see the interesting things when you stop for lunch), was the leaves of Spiranthes lacera, spp. lacera, or Slender Ladies'-tresses. I was sitting there, feet braced against a rock so I wouldn't slide down into the marsh, munching my (boring) sandwich and thought to myself, 'those look like the leaves of Slender Ladies'-tresses'. Now these leaves are not the least bit distinctive, so I suspect part of this was just wishful thinking, but this time I was right. I soon saw a lot of stems with well-developed seedpods on them. The clearing must have been a great sight a month ago!

The next thing I saw, which I found when I was trying to make a quick count of the Ladies'-tresses, was Blue Ground Cedar, Diphasiastrum tristachyum.

I have lots of Southern Ground Cedar, D. digitatum, and a few Northern Ground Cedar, D. complanatum, at home, but no D. tristachyum. If there had been more than one group of fruiting cones, I would have taken some home and sprinkled the spores in a likely place with a small appeal to magic, but I could only find one. Maybe next year.

In the marsh, I was impressed by the Joe-Pye Weed and the Boneset. Both used to be Eupatorium, now they are, I think, Eutrochium, but I'll have to leave sorting them out for a January project. I used to think there were three native Joe-Pyes, now I believe they are all grouped. Anyway, they were a lovely sight and I'm glad I planted some in my garden. I never paid any attention to the them before, but now I think they can be a great addition to the 'things that bloom in August'.

After all this excitement, I climbed back to the main trail, Manitou Mountain Trail, exchanged greetings with several people enjoying the view from the Lookout, and headed back to the road. But luck wasn't done with me yet! First I got buzzed by one of the Eagles - I heard the whoosh of his (her?) wings and saw the shadow, but didn't really see him. A young couple walking the other way got a picture on his cellphone and he told me the Eagle was no more than 25 feet above me. We watched him circle for a while, tight circles right above us. Maybe a nest was near?

Walking back to the truck I was surprised by one more thing - a pair of stems of Pinedrops, Pterospora andromedea, sticking up out of the small scrub beside the ditch.

Already only seedpods. I've never yet managed to see this plant in bloom, only in seed!

I had some seeds of this a couple of years ago, and I sprinkled them under the tall White Pines beside my driveway. So maybe that was the right place, and maybe, who knows, they might yet appear. It is supposed to take years for them to show above ground.

All in all, an exciting day!

Will I return?

 Of course!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Giant Swallowtail

I was thrilled to see the Giant Swallowtail visiting my garden again. It was here, briefly, last summer. I tried to get a picture, but this thing moves very fast! I guess with wings 6" across you can really motor! Also, it needs to keep its wings moving while it feeds because otherwise it would bend the flower down. Just think of all the energy that must take.

Still not a great picture, but at least you can see the butterfly. I understand it doesn't live here, it is just passin' through.... it is established in Southern Ontario, but considered a bit rare in the Ottawa Valley. I'm honoured that it likes my garden!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Beloved of Bees

There are some plants in my garden that just seem to appeal to bees. Lavender is one - when it blooms the whole Herb Garden is alive with buzzing.  Sometimes there are several bees on one spike, every one of them concentrating madly on getting that nectar and not noticing that their spike is tipping right over. Another one they love is Lamb's-ears or Stachys. I like it too and have lots of it in my Hillside Garden. It looks so good with gravel that I can hardly pull out the seedlings that come up in the path.... But I have learned to cut the flowering stems down before they go to seed. The challenge is to do it without annoying too many bees!

Later in the season, the bees love the Coneflowers. I suspect they come for the pollen. If Echinacea flowers have nectar, and I don't know if they do, it seems to me it would be out of reach for any but the largest bees. But I'm not a bee, and don't speak 'bee', so I don't know.

I have six species of Coneflower in my garden. Of course the main one is E. purpurea, of which I have several cultivars. The original plants I grew from seed. They germinated easily and bloomed a year later. What surprised me though was that the next generation of seedlings (and there were many of them) included quite a lot of white ones. By this time, I had purchased a plant of 'White Swan' and was able to compare it with my white seedlings. On the whole, the seedlings are more attractive. They have yellow cones instead of White Swan's orange ones, and the petals are longer and more graceful.

A closer view of a white Coneflower, with bee

Both in the closeup to the right and in the larger image above, you can see that the cones on the white flowers are more yellow than the ones on the pink flowers.

I do find Coneflowers hard to place in the garden. They are an unusual sort of pink, pink with brown undertones, if you can imagine such a thing. August is the month of Phlox and Yarrow, and both of these clash dreadfully. I did once think an orange Daylily would be good with the Coneflowers, but not so. Together, they both looked dingy. Then I tried a yellow Daylily, and that was worse! The Coneflowers are rather muted colours, and are not enhanced by brighter flowers nearby.  Really, the best combination I have come up with so far is with the Ninebark 'Diablo'. It's leaves are a dark maroon-purple, but with brown undertones. These two are very good together. And because the shrub is always there, you have the bonus of not having to worry about it blooming at the same time as the Coneflowers. Actually, Echinaceas look their best with grasses, ornamental and otherwise.

Grasslands are in fact their natural habitat. There are nine species of Echinacea, all from the prairies or drylands of the middle of the North American continent.
Three of the species, E. atrorubens, E. laevigata and E. sanguinea, are native far to the South of us, and do not survive our cold winters.

E. tennessiensis, which is considered 'endangered' in its native state, will survive here, although I have only managed to get blooms on it once and the plants eventually dwindled to nothing. I must try them again, if I can get seeds. 

 A big difference between E. purpurea and its cousins is that it has a spreading root system while the cousins have taproots. The taproots make the plants very drought-tolerant, but also mean that nurseries find it hard to produce the plants in pots for the home market and that the gardener can't move the plants around easily. You have to put tap-rooted things where you want them and leave them there! That's a problem in a garden like mine, where the smart plants carry their passports at all times.

The difference between E. pallida and E. simulata is apparently in the colour of the pollen. E. pallida has white pollen (good match with the name!) and E. simulata has yellow pollen. I haven't been able to see this, as to me to pollen on both seemed a sort of pale yellowish-whitish grey..... maybe I need a bee to help me with this.

E. angustifolia is much like E. purpurea, but smaller, tap-rooted, and maybe a bit pinker in flower.

Of course, every family has one oddball, and the Echinaceas have E. paradoxa. It is yellow!

Probably, E. paradoxa has the genes that allowed the plant breeders to develop so many yellow, orange and red cultivars!


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Re-e-e-verse, Wa-a-alk Your Ponies..... the Trowel Speaks.

As some of you will remember, I was pretty annoyed last fall when She bought a new trowel. 'What am I,' I thought, 'chopped Daisy stems?' About the only thing I could do was ease my feelings a bit by hiding on her. I went down to, no, I'm not going to say. It was not under the weeds around the Pitcher Plants down by the bog. I might need to go there again. We older trowels can hide like that, we're not so shiny anymore.

Then one day She was growlin' around because She couldn't find me and wanted me for re-potting some ferns. Somebody (not my friend) suggested she use the new one, but she said, no, she wanted the old, experienced one. It was, she said, just right for those pots.

'Experienced???' What the hey does she think, what an insult, what nerve... after all my dedication, hard work, loyalty... wait. Isn't 'experience' a good thing?

Anyway, I stayed hidden. The two-foot deep layer of snow may have been a factor.

Then I kind of forgot about it and got back to work. There was a lot to do in the spring, you know how that goes in a garden. And since then I've been so doggoned busy I haven't even had time to check out the new inmate.

Yesterday I was sort of having a rest, down near the bottom of the potting soil bin. Not hiding, you know, just restin' up a bit after potting up about a million little Aquilegias. Maybe not a million, maybe only about 30, but you know I never went to school. Anyway, there I was having a well-deserved kip when I heard a little, gentle, voice say 'Hi there'. What??? I sat up, shook off the peat crumbs and looked around. Oh, my..... well, isn't that the cutest thing you ever saw.... Slim, shiny, with inches marked (shows intelligence, must have gone to school and studied science) and, get this, RED HAIR.

OK, that changes things. Re-e-e-verse.

We had a little chat. We older guys know how to do that. I explained about how there are always an awful lot of baby ferns and native plants around here, and they always seem to need re-potting. I mentioned that I had told Her several times that there were just too many of them these days, she really ought to have another Sale and get rid of some of them, but she didn't seem to be listening. Anyway, I was able to give my new acquaintance some important tips about how to enjoy working here. She seemed to appreciate it.

Seems a little shy, though. Unless that is just natural born caution. Not a bad thing in a girl, especially a red head. I'll just have to move slow. You can come along, watch an expert, but remember, . wa-a-a-lk your ponies....

Friday, July 19, 2013


An early morning walkabout in the wet garden. Some of the wet is rain because we did get a shower last night, but the rest is dew. I'm in my pj's. You can do that when you live in the woods.

The wild area behind the Studio, which I haven't gotten to at all yet this summer, draws me.

Brushing through the wet grasses and weeds hanging over the path, I go and take a look.

 A bright orange-red lily catches my eye. It is well over three feet tall, and looks wonderful in among the grasses. The grass is (I think) Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Karl Foerster', or at least that was its name when I got it, don't know what it is now, and it is my favourite ornamental grass. Actually, favourite grass of any kind. It is always different, but always beautiful and always graceful.

The lily must be that free bulb some company gave me. I just stuck it in when I was planting grasses and forgot about it.


Not far away I see a Mullein which doesn't look quite like the usual wild one, nor does it look like the two ornamental ones I have around here somewhere . The leaves are narrower than the wild one and the flowers are much better. A closer look shows me that the stalk is also branched.

Must be a hybrid that seeded itself. I can never understand the British gardeners' enthusiasm for Mulleins, but this is sort of interesting......


Good grief. What's this at the edge where I have been digging up rocks and starting a place for Goldenrods? I had potatoes there last year..... got a good crop in spite of the drought, thank you.

Right. Potato plants. Lots of them.

Must have missed a few last year!


In among the grasses I see some soft blue flowers.

I have Tradescantia ohioensis in several places in the garden. I like the large deep blue flowers which open one a day like daylilies, and the oddball foliage.

But this one is a very soft mauvy-blue, quite different. Another seedling, no doubt.


The yuccas in the corner are gorgeous. Huge. The stalks are taller than I am. Don't know what species it is, but I can tell you who gave it to me, so it is Sheila's yucca.

Guess I forgot to cut a seed stalk last fall.


The flowers are gorgeous too, especially with the dew on them.

Something is catching my ankles, and not just my wet pj bottoms. Look down. Oops, the invasive plant bell is going off, ding, ding, ding.....

What the heck, even Bindweed is beautiful this morning.


OK, that's pretty funny. The Daylily root I tossed on the compost pile turns out to be the rust-red one I like. The one I kept and planted is blah yellow....


Some years ago I got a package of seeds of Rudbeckia hirta, Black-eyed Susan, which were supposed to include double flowers. Of course, lots of plants, lots of flowers, but nary a double to be seen.

Now here's one.


And here's a Delphinium, at least it looks like one. Many of them, but every stem has only a few flowers. The colour is that indescribable Delphinium blue....

Wait, I did toss some old seeds here, of  what was supposed to be a short, sturdy, and perennial Larkspur.


My pj's are soaked, the bottom half from the wet grasses and such, and the top from the perspiration that I suddenly realize is rolling down my back. It is only 7am, but it is already over 30C.

Looks like I had better plan to work indoors today. I do have something fairly important to do on the computer, so now I have no excuse not to work on it.... except that I seem to writing a blog entry instead....


Friday, July 5, 2013

Smilax herbacea.....

Smilax herbacea..... Greenbrier.....

Do you smell something? No? Maybe you will when I tell you another name for this vine is Carrion Flower.

Kip and I were walking in the back of our woods and stopped briefly because, with all the growth due to the cool rainy summer and the fact that our trail has had to be re-routed around a massive blow-down, we were a little disoriented and not sure where we were. At least I wasn't. Kip, being a Dog, probably always knows where he is. Anyway, we were standing there and I became aware of an Odor. I looked around, because it was the sort of Odor that dogs love to roll in and I had no desire to wash a dog when I got back home. But he was just standing there, looking up at me and waiting for me to go on.

Another whiff came my way.

Turning my head, I nearly bumped into a round cluster of odd yellow and green flowers. I looked more closely. "Carrion Flower", I thought to myself. I had never seen it before, but had read about it, and as soon as I saw the bloom I knew.

Here is a closer look at the flower cluster. It reminds me a bit of Milkweed.

Of the seven or eight species of Smilax  found in Ontario, this is the only soft vine. The others are woody and have prickles. But they all have clusters of greenish flowers, followed by dark blue or brownish berries.

This one was draped over a Prickly Ash. It was growing in a damp and well-shaded area, and obviously pretty happy there. The vine was already a good 15' long and there were numerous flowers.

Also numerous mosquitoes, so we kept walking.

Kip approved.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wild Blue Iris

Someone once said that the Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy, nor Roman nor an Empire, and we can say theWild Blue Iris is neither very Wild, nor always Blue.

Here it is in its white form. It surprised me in the garden the other day. I had gotten some seeds for Iris versicolor, alba form, from a seed exchange, I forget which one, and had grown some plants. Then the first ones bloomed, all blue..... I gave most of them away and chalked another one up to experience. I didn't really want to try to get seeds from the blue ones and grow them and see if any white ones appeared. A few plants I kept and put in the Rockery and kind of forgot about.

So it was a bit of a thrill to see this!

There was only one flowering stem, but it had 3 buds and they all opened. The flower seems a bit 'skinny', but otherwise a regular I. versicolor. Next year's flowers may be more substantial; it isn't unusual for a plant's first flowers to be a bit small.

Then there is the 'red' form, called 'Kermesina'. It seems to come true from seed. All the plants I got bloomed purple-red like this.

But my favourite is still the plain, common blue one. It is an adaptable beast and will do quite well in a variety of situations. In the wild you may find it on the shores of rivers or lakes, or in a bog. In the garden, it will cope with typical flower-border conditions. I know a field near my place that has a few inches of soil over a flat limestone pavement and it blooms there by the hundreds every year.

But seeing this Iris in a bog, as I did at the White Lake Fen, is a revelation.

The leaves were a full 3' high, the flower stalks were a good 12" above the leaves, and the flowers were twice the size of the ones I have at home. The picture above was taken near the Fen. It was a very sunny day and the image is a bit contrasty, but you can see the vigour of these flowers.Clearly it likes to have its feet or at least its socks, wet.

There are actually two native Wild Blue irises, I. versicolor, and I. prismatica. I. prismatica differs in having very narrow leaves and somewhat more narrow petals. I don't know of it occurring in the wild in the Ottawa Valley, but if you can get a plant, it should do fine in your garden just like its cousin. These irises have fibrous roots like the Siberians, and can be handled in much the same way. They need dividing every few years to encourage blooming, but other than that, need little care. Full sun is best, but they can manage with dappled shade. They are not as susceptible to the various miseries that afflict Bearded Iris, another blessing.

If you love blue flowers, and what gardener doesn't, you need this one!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Ladyslipper Season

June 17 has snuck up on me! This is the peak of the Ladyslipper season here, and I can't let it go by without a post about our local Cypripediums. It's a long post, but then they are fascinating plants.

We have 4 species in the Ottawa Valley, one of which is considered to have two sub-species. At one time it was thought that there was one more species, Calypso bulbosa, which, while not a Cypripedium, does have a slipper-like lip and so is often considered one of the Ladyslippers. But the references are to areas which are now totally built over, or to Gatineau Park. It is of course possible that there are still Calypsos in the Park, but no locations are officially known at this time. In the Canadian Field-Naturalist Special Issue on Orchids in the Ottawa District, 1997, the reference to Calypso includes the sad note, 'observations...(were) made at two now extinct colonies in Eastern Ontario'. The Calypso orchid is common enough in the West, and like so many plants native to the Western half of Canada, it has trouble surviving our warmer and muggier summers.

Here is a collage of our local Slippers.

As you can see, our Ladies are well-slippered.

Starting at the top left, our undoubtedly most famous Cyp is C. reginae, the Showy Ladyslipper. This is an orchid people travel to see, and usually consider it worth the trip. It stands up to 2 feet tall, the flowers are usually 2 to a stalk and up to 5" across. The sepals are pure white, the lip is white with a varying amount of rose stippling.

The Purdon Conservation Area, which has an interesting history, having started as one man's hobby, showcases the Showies. You can check their website (click the link) for a report on the blooming schedule. I just did, and they report few plants in bloom. It is a late year, the nights having been cool, so the Showies are yet to do their thing. The site also tells you how to get there, etc. etc. By the way, this is a great place to take a non-hiking friend as you can see everything from the boardwalk. It is an easy walk, and you can have lunch in Almonte afterwards. Another place to see them, and also an easy walk, is the McNamara Trail in Arnprior. I don't know the names of the various trails, but if you stay to the left from the start you will soon come to a long boardwalk, and there are wonderful plants of Showies at each end. You'll have to look into the low trees and shrubs, but you'll see them. Last year these were the largest and most impressive Showies I saw anywhere, and that is saying something.

Show Ladyslipper is not too difficult to grow, but does not moisture at the roots, especially in the spring.

Our next most famous Cyp is the Pink Ladyslipper. I think it is mostly famous because everybody either jumps to tell you that you can't grow it, or asks how and where can they get one.... both are kind of right. It is difficult to grow, no question. It needs moisture but perfect drainage, acidic pH, dappled sun, no disturbance, and just the right soil fungi. Not something most home gardeners can provide. But if you have a suitable woodland or marshy area, then they aren't any harder to grow than any other orchid.

C. acaule flowers stand about 18" above the large soft pleated leaves. Each growth sends up two leaves, with the flower stem arising directly from the 'nose'. A happy plant can spread to many 'noses' over the years. One I first noticed as a tiny leaf in 2002 now has 8 growths. It appeared in my tiny marsh-side bog and seems happy growing in the moss. The patch in the picture is taken elsewhere in my woods, in the opening left when some large Pines went over. C. acaule and White Pines have a close relationship, both needing the same or similar soil fungi to start their growth cycle. There had been no Ladyslippers there for many many years, but when the Pines fell, they appeared in numbers. The seeds must have lain dormant in the soil for a very long time. Many did not survive because once the Pines were down, the area became very hot and dry in the summer. This patch has, however, done well. I moved several plants into my Sampler Garden, and they have done fine as well. One thing to know about orchids: they have different roots than other plants. They are few in number, do not branch very much, are thick and covered with a spongy coating that absorbs water and nutrients, and they are very susceptible to fungus or bacterial infection. So damaging the roots is very serious. Stepping close to the plant can break the roots and the plants may not be able to grow new roots in time to build up sufficient reserves to survive. That is one reason transplanting them is so difficult, and another is that the roots tend to be much deeper and more widely spread than one thinks. I've seen people dig them as if they were a border perennial and they were reluctant to give away too much soil.... not only bad, but won't work.

The Large Yellow Ladyslipper is, to my mind, our most beautiful Slipper. The bright yellow flower, set off by the light green leaves, catches my eye just right. I have several clumps, although none of them were here naturally. There are some on my neighbour's side..... maybe seeds will waft over some day? Anyway, these are the easiest Cyps to grow. They do well in any humusy woodsy soil. They can take some shade, or more sun if they get enough moisture. Again, clumps can become quite large. I got my first clump from someone who grew them beside her garage. They were between the garage and the sidewalk, in pure rubble. She never watered them, or weeded them, and she picked them for her vases. When I saw them there were hundreds of blooms. I really wish she would come back from Vermont and advise me about mine, they aren't doing nearly so well!

Botanists have decided our Yellow Ladyslippers are different enough from the European one to be a different species, so they are now C. parviflorum. I say 'they' because there are two forms: C. parviflorum pubescens and C. p. Makasin. The latter is much smaller and has redder sepals. Telling one from the other is like identifying Canada Goldenrod: there are two ways to do it. You can spend a couple of hours with a number of specimens, your textbooks and a strong magnifying glass and identify Solidago canadensis with a 95% probability of being correct, or you can glance at your specimen, mentally eliminate a few it can't be, and announce that it is S. canadensis and have a 95% chance of being right. Actually with the Yellow Slippers, it is easier: if you are wondering, then it is C. p. pubescens. If you are looking at C. p. Makasin, you'll know it. Trust me.

The last, and least, of our Slippers is the Ram's-head. It is small, only about 8 - 10" tall, and the flower is, well, dingy. If you get close you'll see it has intriguing details - long hairs around the opening, a delicate stitching of red lines.... great style in the swept-back sepals. But really, this is a plant for the specialist. It is actually fairly easy to grow, but as I said, for the specialist. It does not clump, at least I have never seen it so, and it shabs out quickly after it finishes blooming. If you have a shady mossy spot and you can get a plant, try it.

If you'd like to see the Ram's-head, there are lots in the Marlborough Forest. They bloom a bit later (and for longer) than the others, so you can go see the Yellows, Pinks and Showies first, then go see the Ram's-heads. If you start now you can catch them all this year!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Major Hillside Rework

I've been busy re-working what I call my Hillside Garden. It's called that because.... well, because it is a hillside! When the house and studio were being built, the bulldozer pushed the topsoil from the foundation sites to the side and up over a large exposed granite outcropping. Men with bulldozers do these things.

Here's a picture of what it looked like last fall:

I'm actually rather pleased about that picture, simply because it shows that my garden really does merge into the surrounding woods fairly well. Of course, last summer was a dreadful drought year so the plants in the garden were all shorter and skimpier than usual, but still the basic idea of the garden was working.

But I didn't do any real weeding last year, having lost heart due to the drought, and had done very little the year before. My garden had been on a garden tour the year before, and I ran out of time for getting ready (story of my life) and ended up yanking weeds instead of digging them out. As a result, grass and other nasty stuff got seriously established. So it was really time to give the area a going over. It was rather daunting, being larger than it looks in the picture and having a lot of clay in the soil. Also it is much more on a slope than the picture shows. Maybe this picture makes it clearer:

That was the year after we moved in. The picture shows about half the Hillside area.That wheelbarrow is still going, by the way. The metal thing in the middle ground is the wellhead; remember it as I have a great plan for it and will tell you about it as soon as it is done.

I finished the last bit of the digging part of the re-working yesterday. The perennials I am keeping have all been lifted, de-grassed and re-planted. Many many things that were either proving invasive, like Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm' or too inclined to seed themselves around, like Digitalis grandiflorum, or otherwise undesirable, have been pulled out and trucked to the compost heap. Things like Bearded Iris have been divided and reduced. One thing I wonder about: how did someone who decided, quite rationally, not to have Bearded Iris end up with so many? I've also added some new things like a rose-coloured Veronica, several Oriental Poppies in peach shades and some yellow Heleniums. I have searched for red Heleniums, which I left space for, but no luck. Have to get some seed, I guess. They're easy enough to grow.

Here is what it looks like now:

You can see, especially in the back, that there are large gaps, best thought of as Planting Opportunities, and that the foreground is still a bit of a muddle. Still some Geranium sanguineum (super-invasive and a job to dig out) to get rid off but I thought I'd do that after it blooms, and I'm not sure I'll leave those Chives. I like their shape and don't hate the colour, but they're kind of spreadacious too. Maybe some better mannered Alliums could replace them. The large open area behind them, by the way,  is deliberate. The path, which you can't see, is between the Chives and the open area, and the open, graveled, space is very restful. It sets off the terraced hillside, links this garden area to the others here, and acknowledges that this is really all a rock garden. Best idea I've had so far, putting pea gravel along the Hillside path.

It was quite a job, but in the end I enjoyed it. The weather really helped, lots of soft rain and fairly cool temperatures. Most of the plants I lifted never even wilted. Actually, even the stuff on the compost heap didn't wilt.....

Monday, May 27, 2013

Getting Yours.....

Native plants, that is. What did you think I meant?

At all the big box stores right now, including most of the grocery stores, you will find huge displays of plants for sale.

My favourite groc store surprised me with a rack marked 'Ontario Natives'. Naturally I was right there in seconds.... only to find a very disappointing situation. First of all, the plants were all very small. That wouldn't worry me, but they were all in coir pots, and being so small, they needed to be watered several times a day, which, with seasonal part-time staff trained for 15 minutes, just isn't going to happen.  The pots at the back and on the lower shelves were all bone dry. Already dead. Then, the selection was, to say the least, misleading. There were Trilliums, about 3" tall, labeled 'Trillium Luteum'. Never mind that the 'Luteum' should not be capitalized, T. luteum is not an Ontario native. I also found one labeled 'Trillium Recurvata'. The 'recurvata' should be 'recurvatum'. The language of botany may be an odd-ball Latin, but it does follows the rules of the adjectives matching the noun in form. So if the species name is 'Trillium' , ie, an 'um' ending, the adjective should also end in 'um' or one of its forms. Trillium recurvatum, or Trillia recurvata, not a mixture, please. And please, do not give it the marketing name of 'Purple Trillium', or have a picture of a pink (in other words, fading) T. grandiflorum on the label.

And of course T. recurvatum by any name is not an Ontario native either.

 I did buy one which had a little flower and when I got home and could check in my books, found it was  T. catesbaei. Not an Ontario native. The label in it said 'Jack in the Pulpit'.

All the labels carried the marketing blither about native plants needing less maintenance than non-native species. This is balderdash. Peonies are low maintenance. Astro-turf is low maintenance. My Aunt Fannie is low maintenance. OK, I don't have an Aunt Fannie.... I'd better shut up now, this is turning into a rant.

Instead, hie thyself to the Fletcher Wildlife Garden Native Plants Sale this Saturday. There will be all kinds of native plants, a few donated, some offered by independent small nurseries that specialize in native plants, and many more grown by the volunteers at the Fletcher. They will all be correctly labeled, and carefully grown and cared for. Best of all, the volunteers (and the nursery people) will all be eager to answer your questions about any of the plants. Get there early, and bring a box or two to carry your treasures home in.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Viola Surprise

Nothing beats hand-weeding for getting up close and personal with your plants. You can stand back and look at your garden, and enjoy the overall effect, but it is only when you duck under that floppy Japanese Lilac to dig out the clump of grass that has been waving its seedheads at you that you find the six little plants of Viola rostrata, Long-spurred Violet, that you grew from seed last year and tucked in there at the last minute before it snowed.

Truth to tell, I had forgotten about them. V. rostrata is one of our local native violets, but I have never (yet) found it in the wild. When I saw the seed listed in a seed exchange, I sent for some. They germinated as easily as most violets do, and last August I potted them up in little pots. It was so dry at that time that there was no sense in putting them in the ground. Eventually it got to be late October and I vaguely recall sticking some of them under the Lilac. Today when I ducked under the low branches to pull out the grass, I was startled to see these little faces looking back at me!

You can't mistake this one - the spur is very long, and the markings on the petals are distinctive.They are a good size, too, the plants about 6" tall and the flowers over 1" across.

Which of course leaves me in a slight quandary. I can now say I have V. rostrata.... but not from a known local population, so I can't say I have the indigenous form. As a result, I will count them as 'found', but will not plant them in my woods. Garden, yes, woods, no. Still, it is great fun to see them!

I've put a new box on the right-hand sidebar. Click on the link to 'Ottawa Violets' and a Google Drive document will open. You can read it on the screen, or print it. It is open to anyone with the link, but of course you can't edit the stored version. It is a slightly personal look at the Ottawa Valley's violets, so you may not agree with my organization of the different species. I'll be updating it to add V. rostrata and probably another header page describing some of the identification problems. This will take a few days, so please be patient!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Garden Successes

Aren't garden successes wonderful? You feel so good when one happens. And today I have two of them to report!

The first involves a peony plant which has gotten large and bushy over the years, but has never bloomed. It is one of the fern-leaved ones and it was a gift so I don't know it's name or ancestry, but I have been waiting impatiently for it to bloom and it hasn't. Last fall I remembered having read something about peonies not liking more than an inch or two of soil over the resting buds and I carefully brushed away some of the soil around it's stems.

And today I saw that it has many fat red buds! Ah, success!

The other success I discovered today is even more exciting. I've been trying for a long time to get a patch of Fringed Polygala, Polygala paucifolia, established in my woodland garden. I've had seeds which did not germinate.... I've had seeds which germinated and did not become seedlings..... I've had seedlings that did not become plants..... in other words, I was failing with them all along the line. And yet they grow in masses only a mile or two away. Last summer I got some cuttings from a neighbour. I put them in sand and kept them moist and cool (as much as I could in that awful drought summer) and by fall there did seem to be roots on one of them. I planted it in my mini-bog near the marsh, figuring it wouldn't grow anyway and what would I do with it all winter.

Imagine my delight this morning to see a nice tidy plant, with two flower buds! Here it is, on the left. The picture on the right, just to show you what the flower looks like when it is open, was taken near the White Lake Fen, another place where it grows in its numbers.

P. paucifolia is a curious plant, really. It grows in the moss in boggy areas, and in bone-dry conditions under tall white pines. I've seen it in full sun, and in heavy shade.  It spreads underground to make large patches, and is considered a shrub by some authorities. It occasionally has above-ground seeds, which look like a flake of cayenne pepper, but more often has one or two seeds that develop underground right on the stem or rhizome. These underground, or cleistogamous, flowers, never open, but usually self-fertilize and produce seeds. They are pretty hard to find, though, involving crawling along the ground on one's stomach scraping soil (or bog muck) away from the stems.  The whole plant is only about 6" high, and the flowers are most curious. They look a bit like orchids, although some people see a resemblance to small birds or even angels. Whatever, their curious shape and bright colour make them one of my favourite wildflowers.

Is one small plant too soon to claim success? No, I'm feeling optimistic today!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Trail Work

It's amazing how much you can accomplish with a hand saw when you're afraid of chainsaws. I'll admit it, I once again finked out on buying a chainsaw. After Christmas I decided for sure, absolutely, no excuses, I would get myself a small chainsaw, maybe in March. I would learn to run it, sharpen the chain, service the little engine, the whole shcmeer. Come April I finally took a look at them in my local  Hardware Emporium, and not only did the pricesw cause shock and awe, the safety instructions added Fear. So I turned tail and left the store....

Today being breezy and cool, only about 10C, and dry, I figured it was a good day to get started on clearing my main trail.There were lots of blow-downs, proving again the law that if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it, it will fall across or onto your trail.

The small birch across the trail was no problem. A few minutes with the bow saw and no more climbing over that one. The spruce across the trail was too high up to cut, but chopping off the branches that hung down meant that anyone my height or shorter can now walk right under it. If you're taller than me, just duck. Then I hit the area where a number of long-dead spruces and balsam firs had gone down like dominoes, that is, in all different directions and on top of each other. I thought it would be an awful job, but to my surprise they were crisp and the branches snapped easily when whacked with the axe. Then I sawed through the trunks and piled the debris in long rows beside where I want my trail. This is an interesting little spot, damp, with a rock wall to the north, where a number of species of Grape Ferns grow. Below it there  is a fine stand of Ostrich Fern, Lady Fern, two Silvery Glade Ferns that I planted, and a few Bulblet Ferns ditto. So I wanted to be able to walk through. Other than the fact that the long spruce branches kept whipping me in the face or getting caught in my hair, it really wasn't too bad a job.

The large cedar blow-down was next and had me stumped for a bit. A large clump, seven trunks, crashed last fall. Five of the trunks went one way, two the other. Going around in either direction would have involved either wading or climbing over loose rocks.... not to mention a lot of clearing of small brush. In the end I went through the middle! Now you can walk between the two sets of up-ended roots. It's neat, you can see old blackened wood between the roots, so probably the clump developed as shoots from a tree killed by fire, and you can see the layer of topsoil, then the layer of clay, and then sand. Sort of a geology lesson!

The 10C  temperature did not, unfortunately, deter the blackflies.

But you can walk all the way around again, and only have to duck once, and step over, I think three times. And it was nice and quiet and I didn't have to wear Hearing Protection or Eye Protection, or Steel-toed Boots or bring a gas can or lug a heavy machine.... there's a lot to be said for hand saws.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Ups and Downs of a Gardening Day

I'm too tired to talk!

Started early to weed a small area in the Hillside Garden. Last summer's drought was so bad I lost heart and, sometime in July, quit weeding entirely. In fact, I quit even looking at the garden. So the crabgrass got happy and took over a patch about 15' by 20' in the middle of the border.

Practically as soon as I got started I broke the new garden fork I bought yesterday. Grrrrr. It's going back - it should not have broken. All I was doing was digging up grass; I wasn't even digging up rocks. I had to get the old bent fork back out of the garbage and go on with it, but felt I deserved a short walk-around first.


 Took a look at the Pussy Willow bush in the Sand Hill
Garden. The kitties were gorgeous today. So soft and large.... silver in the sunlight.

 This bush came up on its own and in a good place, but
I have to keep after it to make sure it doesn't turn into
a 40' tall tree!

Then the phone rang (inside my bucket where I keep it
so I don't lose it) and dang, a customer wants to come and
buy a gift for her daughter. Sure, I'll be home today, come
on out.


   Also in the sand garden, a beautiful blue
   Glory-of-the-snow blooming in front of a
   chunk of granite.

   Guess the squirrels missed one....bulb, I mean,
   not granite chunk.


There was a nice patch of it's pink cousin in the Sampler
Garden. For some reason, this one never gets eaten. From
a few bulbs the patch has grown to some dozens now.

I'm afraid to step anywhere in the Sampler. It is my
woodland garden, and the leaves are still covering just
about everything. Trilliums are coming up, looking quite
comical with caps of brown leaves tilted on their heads.

That so-called pond really needs work. I've decided to
get rid of it and changed my mind about six times already
and it is bugging me. Next week, a decision MUST be

 Digging out crabgrass again,  I got to thinking, so
  many of our worst weeds are imports from Europe.

 Where does Europe get its weeds? 

Down at the edge of the Rockery the little pot of
Anemone blanda 'enem' (what a name, who came up
with this one?) made it through the winter.

What a lovely soft clear violet colour!

I didn't really expect it to survive. A. blanda is barely hardy
here. This one is tucked into a sun pocket in the rocks,
maybe that will help.

Drat, here's my customer.

She is nice enough and is happy to select a
large platter with a sunflower on it. Her husband, however,
needs work. First thing out of his mouth, he tells me he 'hates
gardening'. Alright, lots of people do, but does he have
to tell me three times?

I'll bet he watches sports on TV.

Ah, never mind. For sheer purpleness of being, nothing can
beat Iris reticulata. This small clump is pushing up from
under a prostrate white Spruce.

This Spruce survived the drought, most of the others
didn't. On the other hand, it may need to move. It is growing
across my path and the spot it is in doesn't do it justice. It
deserves a starring role. Must give this some thought....

My favorite little Daffodil, 'Tete-a-tete', so-called because every stem has two flowers on it, is blooming everywhere. I wanted to show you 'Rip van Winkle', but I couldn't find him; guess he is still asleep.

Tete-a-tete seeds itself around. You can move the clumps around anytime you find them, they never even
slow down.

Which is more than you can say for crabgrass. It neither sleeps nor slows ....

But I got the spot done, and never mind that I feel wrecked, it was a Grand Day in the Garden!