Common Ground Landscape Design
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Garden Journal

This is Spring

I would like to introduce to you the awakening of my spirit. It's called Spring, and this is what she looks like.

 Forsythia blossoms

forsythia blossom

                       Pulsatilla blossoms purple pasque flower







trillium flowertrilliums

 light purple Vinca flower






blood root


          Vinca Blossom 

             white spring blossoms




Blood root



                                                                         I don't know but isn't it pretty?

wild leeks

Wild Leeks
. Wild leeks are so delicious, when eaten raw the flatulance is quite something. But the intense flavour of garlic infused with pepper may just be worth it. When cooked they sweeten and lose their potency. If you are going into the forests to harvest some please remember to harvest them sustainably. Only take one leaf per stem. PS. they freeze beautifully.  I don't wash them before I freeze them. I wash them just before I use them.


This is such a special time of year. Please, everyone go and visit High Park in the next two weeks there are about 1000 white flowering Japanese Cherry trees that are going to be in bloom. Truly the best part of that experince is watching the blossoms flutter out of the trees like snow and fall to the ground. It is so romantic. Take a lover and a picnic, although you don't need either, just bring your child like wonder. I LOVE THIS TIME OF YEAR!!!! In the timing scheme of things I am especially excited as I watch the Scilla disappear. It means that the Lilacs are about to bloom. I Love the scent of lilacs! Last year my friend Natalie and I carefully pruned a road side Lilac and brought the scent indoors. It was heavenly. Give the branches a shake, you don't want to bring in any 8 legged hitch hikers.  natalie with Lilac blossoms

Sweet Scilla

Hello there

We have been cleaning gardens in earnest these past few dasy as the temperatures are slowly rising. Today, we saw the sun shine! We all stopped to eat humus and carrots to celebrate!                                    yans scilla




On Cranbrooke ave between Yonge St. and Ave Rd. there are some really sweet scilla popping through the ground in a lovely rock garden that I had to capture.

Although these specimens are in small confined clumps the most impressive displays are on Spadina Rd, just south of St. Clair. just before Casa Loma. The entire lawn next to the sidewalk on the east side is covered with them. I'll get a picture in the next few days.



rock garden


Ok this is an update. Temperatures in the Toronto area are now soaring. Today, one of my employees got a sunburn on the back of his neck! He went from wearing a winter hat to having a sun burn in the same week! Everything is exploding, plants that have waiting patiently for it ot warm up are going ballistic and popping out all over the place. It is so glorious. I will be out there with my camera to capture it.


                                                        Happy Earth Day everyone! 

My Seedlings

I have always wanted to start perennials from seeds, and wouldn't you know it, the perennial that I chose is Aconitum (Monkshood) are the only seeds on that shelf that need a cold period before being sown. Who knew? So, into the fridge they go for 3 months!

If you look at the photo below you'll see that my basil is about 3 cm tall and my beefstake tomatoes are amazing (far right) the Nastutiums are lucious (center right) and just turned green. I have an east facing window so I shuffle them around from the front window to the back window during the day. Also on the window sill are (to the far left) my orange "Explosion" Dahlias and to the far right are my organic potatoes that are growing their eyes beautifully.                                                              plants on the window sill

I also have some red current tomato seeds in this terra cotta pot that I will have to transplant pretty soon.

tomato seedlings








I made my own fertilizer out of a bag of turkey pooh that I got as a freeby at the Guelph Organic Conference back in January. I poked holes in the zip lock bag let the pooh meld with the water for about 6-7 hours. After a good saturation period, I dilute it, and then every other watering I pour/spray it on. You can also do this with a bag of well rotted compost from the bottom of your composter, you know, just in case you don't have any pooh around. The next few photos are a demonstration of this process. Including one really cool photograph of a close up of the pooh leaving the bag and making it's way down to the bottom of the vase! I also made a fertilizer out of seaweed, which I will show you as well. Ok here goes.

turkey pooh in a bag

 I poked the bag with a knife.

(and cleaned it very well after!) 








turkey pooh in water

 Then I put the pierced bag into this tall vase, but any container will do, and I let it sit here for a few hours.










pooh stream in the vase

Ok, tell me that this isn't a very cool photograph! I think knowing it's pooh makes it even cooler!




 Ok lets move on...


watery pooh and a spray bottle

 I then pour it into a spray bottle and spray it onto the plants every other feeding.





seaweed in water


You can also do this same thing with sea weed that you buy at any health food store, although you want to dilute this more, as there is some salt content. I let it sit in the water for about 2 hours. It is very cool how the seaweed expands.




 seaweed in water expands

Rehydration! I put the spent seaweed into some miso soup. It was delicious!


Everything is doing beautifully. Remember to put your seedlings out in to the sunshine for short periods to get them used to direct sunlight before setting them out. Hmmmm nothing like cooked seedlings on a hot day.


Good Luck with your seedlings! 









I am so done with winter.

It's cold out. I mean really cold out. Like blustering winds, hats, mitts and scarves kind of cold out. What happened to Spring? Are we being punished for our delightfully mild and late winter? Is there nothing we can do? You'd think that a gardener wouldfan tail willow have more patience, I don't. I wanna get dirty. I wannna clean gardens and say hello to these sleepy plants that are starting to poke their heads out.

Two nights ago I had the funniest dream. I dreamt that all plants were retractable like a turtle. If it was too cold for them, they could move back down slowly into the earth and stay warm :)

A few days ago, I took this photograph of a very tall Fan tail Willow that I planted in a customer's garden. The pussy willows water lilliesare just coming into bud. This shrub is finally making its signiture shape of branc, the shape of a fan. What is so remarkable about this photograph is the deep grey color of the sky. The Nether Wetwork says that it will be 15 C and sunny by next Saturday. I have my fingers crossed, and In the mean time I have been admiring photographs of flowers that have the sun shining directly onto them, and imagining that I too am feeling the warmth of the sun.



Heavenly Hellebores

A few days ago we were cleaning up in a customer's garden, before the temperatures plummeted. We were taking "stalk" of all that needed to get done this year, and as I looked down I noticed these little guys. Well aren't they just the little harbingers of Spring? Hellebores are the first perennials of the season to bloom, and I am always amazed that they can survive the really cold nights of early Spring. I can't tell you where she is hiding, cause she is in a back yard, and that would just be too difficult to explain to myfirst clean up of the season customer what you were all doing back there!









Calling All Gardeners Without A Garden!

Bob's backyard For all of you apartment dwellers in the north end of the city, who need a patch of green, I may have a solution for you. I was just looking on line at a forum in Vancouver where people who have gardens and don't pay any attention to them, find people who love to garden, and they swap services. The property owner gets a garden, and the gardener gets to garden.

Last night between, between huge hunks of maror , I was chatting with my brother Bob. He feels badly that as a young(ish) bachelor he doesn't have the time to use this 20x7  vegetable patch at the back of his garden. I asked him if he would mind if I posted this on the net and let people know that there is a garden in need of a farmer/gardener in North York (Bathurst and Wilson area). So, if you have any inclination to tend a garden, then please feel free to contact me. It needs a little love, but a few years ago he and I grew some pretty spectacular tomatoes and zuccinis.

I have been thinking about running a similar forum if one does not already exist in the city of Toronto. Does any one out there know if one does? please let me know. I'll rustle up a picture of the garden and post it soon. 

You don't need any nails for this one!

lovely colored coffins
Well, I know this isn't a Spring related journal entry, but I just couldn't resist. A few weeks ago I was surfing the web and I came across this google ad. I was so intrigued, I had to click it. I wasn't sure if I was reading the add correctly, but it turns out that I had. It was an ad for environmentally friendly coffins! and they are so beautifully decorated. Well, I can now exit in the style I have grown accustomed to.

I have often wondered why people spend  THOUSANDS  of dollars  on a coffin that you will only see for a few days, and then never see ever again. 

In this day and age of global deforestation this option couldn't come at a better time. My friend Sagar was over for lunch yestareday, who is from Kathmandu, and he was telling me  that  1x1' of lumber starts at  $10.00 CAD  because trees are so scarce.  Looking out of the window he said "It's not like Canada, where you have so many trees" When he said that I thought about all of the sweet little wood lots around the city that are now condominiums, and all of the places I used to go hiking along the Humber River that are now golf courses.hhhmmmmm. Maybe in a cardboard coffin is, "the way to go".

Sweet Crocuses

Today; as I was driving along, out of the corner of my eye I saw a splash of color. At this time of year when I have long days of driving around to see customers, the only colour that I see is in dog clothing. So imagine my surprise when I discovered this sweet littlecrocus with stamens Crocus clumppatch of Crocuses.

 You can visit this patch of Crocuses on Briar Hill Rd. on the north side of the street and west of Bathurst st. You only have a few days, so if you want to see them, go now. Yes now, what are you waiting for!


Crocus close up


Spring has officially sprung in Toronto

Well It's official with temperatures in the high teens today I spotting two specialspring time kensington beer drinkers varieties of wild flora and fauna. These two photos will demonstrate the wiley and no longer hibernating Homo Sapien engaged in various mating rituals and activities, including cleverly procuring a fermented beverage long known for it's ability to loosen and lubricate vocal chords and pockets. Gathering together in the sunshine they admire one another and eat a variety of foods, the other is a Galanthus.

snow drops There it was and not just poking through, she as you can see is in full bloom. If you would like to see her she is on Kensington Ave south of the market on the west side. I can't unfortunately give you the address as I don't have permission from the owner of the house, (they weren't home) but I hope that I have given you enough clues to find your way. Happy Spring Toronto! 

England #1

What can I say, England was....beautiful. Just being able to go out side with out a coat on was such a treat. The icing on the cake, was all of the incredible plants that were blooming. The Purple Sand Cherries , which are as tall and thick as trees were inPurple Sandcherry Blossom full bloom. I could spot at least 6 different varieties of Daffodil , and growing wild at the side of every road way was a variety of Prunus avium which were just covered from top to bottom with little white flowers. For those of us in Canada and the north, they looked fairly similar to our Serviceberry , Amelanchier canadenis which also grow wild at road ways and forests. I can't wait to show you the photographs and the latest podcasts that we are presently editing.

I traveled to England at this time of year for two reasons. One, my friend Gary's parents were celebrating their fortieth wedding anniversary, and the other reason I went to England was to revisit Kew Gardens. Two days was not enough. I could live in one of those floating boat houses that we spotted along the River Thames and visit Kew everyday for a year, easily. The feeling I get when surrounded by living history is so extraordinary. Glass houses that were built in eighteenth century, and their world famous Pagoda that was built in seventeen hundreds. I have old country envy. Even the venue for the anniversary party was in a sixteenth century country estate, that was later converted into a hotel, and in some rooms the floors are the original wood.Seckford Hall Back Door

I felt safe in a 300 acre world where the understanding upon entering is....

“This where you come to know, and then to feel, that plants are the most important species on this planet, here is the evidence to prove it. Now, be in awe, and, not only are these plants going to save the world if we let them, but here is how we can do it with knowledge, class, and style!”

Click on my Flickr box and check out the photographs, much much much more to follow.