Sunday, July 10, 2011

How does your garden grow?

The term "garden" translates slightly differently on either side of the Atlantic.  In the UK, your garden is the whole patch of land that comes with your home - large or small, grand or paved - the whole area is called your garden.  
In North America, this would be called your "yard" - and the term "garden" is used more to describe the actual flower beds or vegetable patch where you physically grow stuff. What do your call your outside space in your part of the world?

So, when I first moved to Canada I would tell colleagues I had spent the whole weekend in the garden.  I got slightly quizzical looks as they were probably imagining me standing forlorn in the middle of my poppies, or soaking up the sun among the carrots.  But to me I was spending time in my yard - gardening!  
Regardless of the terminology, I do like to try and grow stuff. Not always successfully. I try to make my "yard" look pretty. My British assumptions and ambition are repeatedly thwarted by the shorter growing season and the Alberta winters - but I'm learning!  
I was sad that my favourite Globe Thistles (echinops) 
have not re-surfaced this year.
However, my lasagne gardening did finally work - it only took 18 months, instead of the usual 6 !  So this has resulted in more space to plant new stuff - and spend more money of course.  Everything is small and new but in a couple of seasons (if it all survives!), these will have filled out nicely.
To finish up this exisiting flower bed, I've put in soft silver Lamb's Ears (Stachys byzantina), interspersed with spikey blues of the Sea Holly (Eryngium).  And some pinky-blue Columbines (Aquilegias to me).  At the back, to give some height, will be some tall blues of Monkshood (Aconitum)And then I've just thrown in some blue pansies this year to give it some instant interest.

So 4 years ago, we owned this barren patch of grass:
And now we own this shapely little number:
A dog run, a home for the trampoline, a path out to the back park area, and a still-terrible lawn (mostly because I refuse to irrigate it) - but it is taking shape and looking better.  Well, I think so anyway!
I love these three trees that were hurredly shoved in the ground in September 2009, with a little prayer that the snow would stay away for a few more weeks - which it did.  They are simple, and fairly commonly grown here - Caragana "Sutherland" - I love the vase shape and the bronzey green bark.
We've given Daughter Number Two a patch to play with - and she chose (what I think are slightly old-fashioned plants) Gladioli and Dahlias - and some ever-popular pansies - plus an obligatory plastic dragonfly to brighten things up!
 Things that do grow remarkably well in this area are poppies, day lillies, iris', russian sage, potentilla, heuchera, and some geraniums.
Coneflowers, columbine and thrift survive well - but my lupins and astilbes all gave up and died rapidly. 
 Oh, and of course, the conifers and pines love it here!

So - how does your garden grow?


  1. Wow, we must have had a worse winter than you did. My lilies didn't come up at all, and my Alberta Spruce (which I thought would be a very hardy evergreen) is intermittently brown from winter-kill.
    Your yard, to use the Canadian terminology, is gorgeous, and your gardens are lovely, too.
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  2. We're growing glads for the first time this year too. I don't know a lot about gardening, but I know that lupins only grow well in a maritime environment. They need salty soil or something like that. So they thrive in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, etc. And in England.

  3. What an amazing job you've done! It's such a great feeling to grow your own food and flowers--like you've made something from nothing!

  4. So this is funny: I am Canadian, but I seldom use the term yard, although of course I understand it. Thought it was more an American term. For me, anything that is green around the house is garden. But otherwise, I agree with Kay... your yard is lovely... and you've obviously put a lot of gardening into it. :-)

  5. You've made quite a few changes in the past four years...and all for the better. I call the cultivated areas "gardens" and the rest the "yard."


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