False Spirea


Well, this may well become an obsession. My husband and I bought an Olloclip macro lens and have been photographing everything in and around the house. The above photo is of false spirea bush buds. It was taken at the lowest magnification. The buds of this plant come out as early as February. Everything around is still cold and dreary while these buds emerge as alizarin red. It’s wonderful to see this brilliant colour form amidst brown and white surroundings.


Sorbaria sorbifolia or False Goat’s Beard comes from Asia, including northern China, Siberia and Korea. It’s a resilient plant that has happily grown in my garden during very wet and dry, sunny summers. Nothing seems to bother it. The only problem is that false spirea is very invasive. I had to dig it out from its original spot and have since learned that it’s used primarily as ground cover. It’s spectacular in the spring when the leaves open but turns a very ordinary green for the rest of the summer.

Fern Leaf Peony


I have coveted this fern leaf peony for years. It grew in front of a delapidated house down the street. The house was rented for years but the original owner must have loved gardens. Some lovely plants still survived between the weeds.  This peony was the queen of the abandoned garden. Its bright red flowers and delicate leaves hovered above the weeds like exotic specimens. I tried to speak to the renters about this plant but never managed to meet them. Then, late last fall,  I was driving by and saw workers tearing down the house. I stopped my car and ran up. They were very kind to this strange, overly excited lady. They stood around the peony in a circle helping me to dig it out. Well, here it is this spring! It’s looking remarkably healthy. I only wish I could share my joy with the original owner.

Paeonia tenuifolia comes from the Caucasus Mountains, north of the Black Sea in the Ukraine as well as Romania an Serbia. Apparently it only grows best for several years but this plant has survived at least a decade of total neglect. It’s a long loved plant that was grown in German gardens already in the 16th century and introduced to America in 1806. It  likes an arid climate like the prairies, cold winters and hot summers. It’s amazing that we don’t see many more of them in Edmonton. 

Tulip Update


These are the tulips my friend Basia gave me last Easter. They came in a spring planter as indoor plants so I didn’t expect them to survive through our winter. But here they are, almost ready to bloom. It’s endlessly exciting to see flowers open. Funny how some things never get boring. I wonder if watching flowers unfold will still be exhilarating at eighty. Here is a lovely time lapse video from the internet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjCzPp-MK48&list=PL9UxSNwA4JobnA1Gcz8JFX4FEtPsiIuLl&nohtml5=False



Every garden plant has a story. This particular batch of chives came from my mother’s garden soon after we bought our first house. They thrived there for twenty five years and came with us to our new house. They are even happier here. Our vegetable garden is nothing but raw earth as it’s still snowing from time to time. These chives don’t mind at all. They are ready to be harvested even as they poke through the morning snow cover.

Allium is widespread though out Europe, Asia and North America and their culinary usage dates 5000 years. It’s no wonder they grow everywhere as they are indestructible. They have no diseases and in fact repel insects due to their sulphur compounds. I plant it amidst lettuce in the hopes that they keep insects away.

High Bush Cranberry


Starting around February the sun-ray shaped branches of this dwarf high bush cranberry turn almost white. It’s a striking view in an otherwise grey garden.  But once summer comes, this bush becomes unsightly. The ends of its leaves curl and turn a rust colour. I have been tempted to replace it with another plant but my bush has a twin. I bought two: one for myself and one for a close friend. Our friendship has run into problems and now to throw out the cranberry would be like throwing away the friendship. As long as I tend to this bush perhaps both the plant and the friendship will heal.

Viburnum is native to Canada. (It’s all the more surprising that I have had so much trouble with it.) Its fruit is edible and early settlers apparent collected it for food. It’s also an important survival food over winter for many birds. Other animals such as moose eat various part of this bush.