Happy Fall!

Wildflowers blooming like crazy on a curbside hellstrip.

Wildflowers blooming like crazy on a curbside hellstrip.

It’s the fall solstice, with the day and night having exactly the same number of hours. Also known as the Equinox, it’s all longer nights from here on in, but the process is gradual, and there are many more days for fitting in some important gardening.

Yes, it’s technically the end of summer, but who’s counting? For gardeners, fall is a great season for getting things done. Digging new beds, planting bulbs, planting new perennials, shrubs,trees, clean-up and raking are all waiting to be done. And, let’s face it, doing all these things in cooler weather is a blessing. So don’t put away those tools yet.



Grilled Broccoli

 

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No doubt about it, Canadians love their barbecues, and grilling in the summer is practically a national pastime. We grill corn and eggplant, we grill extra veggies and save them in the freezer and we even use the barbecue to steam vegetables that we otherwise think inappropriate for grilling. And I’ll be the first to admit that, until quite recently, one of those vegetables that I didn’t think was so great on the grill is the humble but beautiful broccoli. Sometimes I love being wrong. Continue »



Are Your Hostas Sunburned?

sunburn on hosta leaves

sunburn on hosta leaves

Have you noticed your hostas looking a little pale and papery in spots this summer? It’s the effect of the intense hot summer we’ve had, which is having a severe impact on our lush, leafy perennials, especially hostas.  Hostas, grown primarily for their foliage, are basically all leaves, and their huge amount of leaf surface makes them very vulnerable to sun damage. A hosta’s neat rosette of attractive leaves, facing upward towards the sun, just like a person lying on the beach, is almost asking for a sunburn.

But it’s not only the heat. Another unfortunate feature of our drought is endless days of cloudless skies, great for golfers, but not for leafy plants. The sun has been unrelenting. The lack of any cloud cover has been a huge factor in causing the sunburn damage.

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Shakshuka

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My husband got a taste for shakshuka, the Middle Eastern egg and tomato dish, when he was travelling in Israel last year, and he hasn’t let up about it since. In the past year we’ve had it for breakfast, brunch and lunch, and with a few variations literally thrown in, it makes a great supper as well. Made with the best tomatoes you can get your hands on-which should be easy this time of year-and served with thick slices of fresh bread or soft pita it is a one dish masterpiece. Shakshuka is a great way to use up those fresh tomatoes that are just a little over ripe and not suitable for salads or sandwiches.  Continue »



Filling in the Cracks with Hardy Sedums

Sedums can fill unusual spaces in the garden, like this V-shaped gap in the garden.

Sedums can fill unusual spaces in the garden, like this V-shaped gap in the garden.

Perennial Sedums, the winter hardy version of succulents, are tough. Remember, if you like succulents, there are two kinds, the tender ones that can’t survive freezing temperatures—like echeveria, jade plants, burro’s tail—and these, commonly called Hens and Chicks or stonecrop, which are perfectly able to withstand Canadian winters. There is always a space where you can fit a few in your garden. And there are so many named varieties of hardy sedum to choose from. Colours range from green, blue-green, and pink all the way to deep purple. One of my favourite new varieties that does well in dry shade is bright yellow-green ‘Angelina’, which turns orange in the fall.

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‘Angelina’ sedum turning orange in September.

 

The sustainable approach to gardening is to make sure you have growing plants covering soil, rather than on relying on mulch. Avoid bare soil at any cost. Instead, use low ground covers for any garden bare spots. Sedums work especially well in garden crevices, as seen in the picture above. They are true ground huggers and help to stop erosion on slopes. This sedum patch above, is growing on a slope, where even mulch would be regularly washed away.

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