Monday, 21 May 2012

Victoria Day Update

With the continuing hot and dry weather, I haven't been able to keep pace with the garden this spring on the blog.  This weekend, most of my gardening took place at Davey's Mum's place near Lake Huron, a good 3 hours drive from home.  We did make it back to Toronto by about 1pm, so I was able to spend some time getting things somewhat under control in my own garden.  My poor pink tulips, which have always been the highlight of my spring garden,  had concerned me last year.  They now appear to have been largely decimated by some disease or other, which has quickly withered the foliage and will preclude the bulbs getting a good store of energy for future blooms.  I've had them since I created my garden from a lawn about 7 years ago, so they've had a good innings and I will be digging them up and discarding them.  The other challenge is that our dry winter and even drier spring have left my garden absolutely parched.  It's unusual for it to be so dry this early in the season, so I'm going to have to start watering already....ugh!  On a positive note, my white tree peony has avoided being torn apart in the spring downpours we normally have at this time of year, and looks quite stunning, as does the creamy clematis clambering over the garage and the lovely delicate anemones in the front garden.  The alliums which were intended to fill a gap between the end of the tulips and the arrival of mid-summer flowers, are already in full bloom due to the unusual weather.....but they do look rather lovely, so I'm glad I planted more last fall.

This beautiful creamy white clematis envelops my garage in late spring, before the roses come into bloom.  Too bad I lost the tag, so I can't identify the variety for you.

Tree peonies are in full bloom now, a good 2-3 weeks earlier than normal.

The blooms are dinner plate sized, and pleasantly fragrant.

These airy anemones have spread and grown over the years, and are now scattered through several of my friends' gardens too!

These white tulips looked stunning this year.....
.....but my poor pink tulips, despite mostly coming up and blooming, are now withered and largely looking dead, so they will need to be removed this year.   Need to think of a new scheme for next spring.

I planted several clumps of alliums last fall....loving their stately elegance.

Order of Work May 23

  • Planted out white cosmos seedlings
  • sowed larkspurs
  • sowed trionfo violetta beans at the base of the espalier supports.   I was inspired to try these by a post on "You Grow Girl", so hopefully they will fulfill my hopes for something both beautiful and utlitarian
  • planted out "Arabian Nights" Dahlias, which had been started off a few weeks ago indoors
  • corralled the peonies.  I didn't get around to making lovely twig structures to support them this year, but at least I've staked them before blooming!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

What a difference.....a year makes

We've clearly had an early spring this year, but after an unseasonably warm blast in March, things did cool off during most of April.  I decided to take a look back at photos from this time last year, to see what a difference a year makes.  Check out the results below:
May 8, 2011: Not much in bloom yet.  Daffodils and forget-me-knots haven't opened up yet.

May 6, 2012: Quite a bit more growth evident on the boxwoods, and daffodils and forget-me-knots are in full force. 
 I did finally also get two of the espalier apple trees that I started off last year in the ground at last.  I have set some metal t-bar tree stakes in cement which is curing as we speak, and I'll run wires between these to support the trees as they are trained.

Listening to extracts from Semele on 96.3's a soundbite for you - Where'er you walk two ways (and they couldn't be more different!).   Rich, resonant and stately, by Ms. Kathleen Ferrier, or bright, youthful and sweet, by Ms. Julie Andrews!

Lemon Meringue Cake for a birthday

Last night we had a little low key gathering of friends for drinks to celebrate a birthday.  I hadn't baked anything for ages, so decided this would be a good opportunity to get some practice in, by volunteering to bake the cake.  I turned to what has become an old standby, both because it's simple and quick to produce, and because the results are quite frankly fantastic!  Nigella's lemon meringue cake is a real winner!  It would have been even easier had I been able to use a good store bought lemon curd, but on my travels yesterday, I visited 3 different supermarkets to no avail, and ultimately had to make my own instead.  Not that this was a hardship, since now I have an extra jar of luscious curd in the fridge, waiting for me to indulge with breakfast toast!  I followed Nigel Slater's recipe for the lemon curd, and the accompanying article is a good read too.

PS - I cut the sugar in Nigella's meringue recipe by half, to very good effect.
The cake and meringue are baked in a single operation, making things much quicker and easier than classic lemon meringue pie.  Sandwiched together with whipped cream and fresh lemon curd, the results are nice and fluffy and light in character, if not in calories!

I know it looks like a bit of a "hot mess" (the cake, not the recipient!), but that doesn't diminish how fabulously rich, and creamy and luscious the taste is!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Merry month of May

Been a bit busy for blogging of late, and didn't want to bore you with minutiae, but I came home from work today, and found that the nice warm and wet weather this week had really made things spring forth, so I thought it was time to capture some of that.  Things are definitely a little ahead of tulips are nearly in bloom already, and in previous years, that hasn't happened until late May (when I went to France on vacation in 2009, the buds had barely coloured up by the time we left on May 23, and they were still in bloom when we returned at the end of the first week of June!).
tulips are well ahead of schedule in my garden this year

This hosta has recently been potted up, along with some Lady's Mantle and a nerine bulb, which hopefully will come up trumps in the fall

Muscari have bulked up this year

These daffodils are in their third year and the clumps have bulked up nicely now.

They smell so good!

I can't get enough of this chartreusey-limey-yellow at this time of year.

Tulips have survived for another year....they've been coming up reliably for 7 years now.   A couple of clumps look to be dying back, so I'll have the opportunity to try something new when fall bulb planting comes around.

This bleeding heart was a new addition this year - definitely an old time favourite!

Photo isn't doing justice here, but my recently acquired Pink Frost hellebore is still going strong, but the blooms are now a very deep, almost mahogany red.