Get inspired by the ingenuity and passion of other likeminded gardeners. Here you will find posts about the small space, urban gardens I have built and maintained through the years, alongside tours of gardens that I have visited including interviews with the gardeners.
I’ve got several deadlines on tap, a chipped filling that has exposed something that should not be exposed, and a bad case of writer’s block, so today’s post will be nearly wordless. These photos were taken on a trip to Shelburne several weeks ago to visit Brian Bixley’s garden, Lilactree Farm.
Brian and his wife purchased the property, a former cattle farm I believe, in the late 1960′s. They’ve divided up the land nearest to the house into garden rooms that are surrounded by tall hedges and filled with trees. It was open and treeless originally. Many of the rooms radiate from this bird bath.
They’re waiting for me to stop taking pictures and catch up. We haven’t even entered the property by this point. I could have spent my life exploring the flora on that road!
Perennial sweet peas and geraniums have self-seeded alongside the road just off of the property.
Gorgeous and easy to maintain, but they don’t have that signature sweet pea scent.
When the country road was expanded, Brian tossed seeds of thyme and other drought tolerant plants into the ditch. That ditch is nicer than my street garden. If I had it to do all over again….
This is how we spent New Year’s Eve day last year: Some friends drove us to the east side of Dominica, to the village of Delices (how fitting) to meet an aunt and great aunt (who turned 100 this year!) and to see their amazing backyard food garden.
It was one of my most favourite days on the island. In Delices, the neighbouring backyards functioned like small farms, with fruit trees and spices and rabbits for manure. It felt just like a really large community garden, but everyone has their own yard and attached house rather than a small plot. There was a strong cooperative spirit, and everyone was very generous in sharing their gardens with us. Never mind that we were sent away with a big bag of fresh citrus, turmeric, cinnamon, and other produce.
I could have spent a week there and was sad to leave after only an hour or two. There was so much to see and discover. I was able to see several different types of tropical fruit growing on the tree for the first time ever, including this beautiful jackfruit. There was a mangosteen tree, too, but it was still very young. I hope to see a tree laden with that fruit one day!
I could have spent the rest of my life there: growing my own mangosteen tree, massive ginger plants, and chocolate, surrounded by tall mountains and lush forest until I grow tired of it all and begin to crave the smell of Autumn (as is inevitable because the grass is always greener). Perhaps I will one day.
When I wrote about the Morelle de Balbis (Solanum sisymbrifolium) last it was on April 30, 2010 when the seedling was still living in the greenhouse. It had just begun to produce its thorns and I was beginning to get a glimpse into what I’d signed on for.
It is now July 1 and the plant has been living outdoors in soil for just over a month or so. When it came time to plant, I decided to grow it in a large pot, rather than in the ground. The final mature growth of this thorny Tomato Family plant is estimated to come in at around 5′ tall. I had a feeling it was going to be fairly treacherous to grow. Planting it into a garden bed meant there would be a greater chance of scratching myself on the thorns. I am not a particularly graceful person. I bash into door frames fairly regularly. I live in small spaces and I garden in cramped quarters, which means I regularly come into close contact with plants whether I want to or not. As the Morelle de Balbis grows it becomes more and more apparent that this is not a plant I want rubbing up against my skin.
Shortly after planting. I used straw mulch to help lock in moisture and keep weed seeds from sprouting.
I did not have any room left in the big pots on my roof, so I decided to plant it in a container in “the new space.” Oh, didn’t I tell you? There is a FOURTH garden this year. The fourth is a yard share, located through a secret door in the back garden of friend. One of my goals for this year was to get a bigger garden space. And when it didn’t happen through the City allotment garden network, a friend stepped up and asked me to join their space. I am so grateful.
With other gardeners in the space, I had to be especially mindful of this plant’s placement. As a part of the garden’s revamp in the spring, we decided to make use of a sunny spot along a fence by lining up large recycling bins for container growing. I planted the Morelle de Balbis in the furthest bin along the fence where I hoped it would receive minimal contact.
About a month after planting. The Morelle de Balbis is in the centre and is flanked by two determinate tomato plants: ‘Black Seaman’ and ‘Whippersnapper.’ All are under-planted with different varieties of basil.
The other day I realized that I am in a garden everyday during the growing season, enjoying some pretty fantastic things that never show up on this site. It’s not uncommon for me to visit a stunning garden and take hundreds of photos that I never get around to posting here. I’m still sitting on photos from Cuba I took 2 winters ago, a trip to the Highline in New York City last October, and countless other gems. Let’s not talk about the folders and folders and stacks of film from my month-long trip to the Caribbean.
But my recent acquisition of an iphone has made it so much easier for me (albeit with less clarity) to grab a quick snap of something inspiring and share it online in real time, or very near real time. I figured if I made a project that forced me to stop what I am doing once a day, take a photo, and then post it online, I might have a nice collection at the end of the year.
Unfortunately, I suspect that capturing an interesting garden image daily might get difficult during the growing season so I’ve decided to name the project Garden 52. That way I am only pushed to come up with one photo a week during the off season. I think we’d all grow bored looking at dim and slightly blurry photos of my houseplants day after day come December.
Yesterday, I made a timelapse video of the day in the life of one of the herb pots I am growing on the roof (1 pm – 10:30 pm). I choose to focus on the ‘Rose Petal’ thyme because it’s blooms were attracting a lot of tiny little bees and pollinators.
My favorite portion is around the 8 seconds remaining mark when the light has dimmed and the parsley plant begins stretching one of its leaves upwards.
Night time is red, rather than black because of the annoying security light next door that blazes through the evening and all through the night.