Archive for the ‘My garden’ Category

Top deck veggie patch
Andrea Bellamy |


Seems like this is the week of Before and Afters (ie. I am finally getting my act together in my own garden). Last year, our third-floor deck was a complete embarrassment due to a lack of access to water. This year, after installing a drip-irrigation system and some raised beds, we’re in business.


You can’t see it all in the photo, but I’ve got six heritage tomato plants, zucchini, basil, shiso, cilantro, edamame, purple bush beans, mixed lettuces and some ornamental perennials — and let’s not forget the fig tree. Now it’s such a lovely place to come and sit in the evening; breathing in the heady mix of tomato leaves, basil and fresh soil.



Makeshift herb garden

After months of searching for an affordable modern trough for my herbs, I was getting desperate, and my herbs were getting leggy in their little starter pots.


Enter the Fniss wastepaper basket, discovered while standing in the Ikea checkout line. At $2.99 each, they make great little planters, non?


I bought five and lined them up where I had wanted a trough to go – I think it’s a great solution.


Here’s how I did it: I carefully drilled three holes in each bottom using a 5mm (1/4″) drill bit (the plastic is thin so you have to apply gentle pressure with the drill or the bottom may crack). I filled each one with a mixture of Coco Earth (to retain water) and Sea Soil, a gorgeous dark soil that practically matches the black of the containers.

Thanks, Ikea!


I love my new fence
Andrea Bellamy |

It’s such an exciting time in my own garden right now. Not only is everything ripening and in bloom, but we’ve also finally started construction on our backyard project.

I don’t blog about my backyard much, and there’s a reason for it: it looks like hell. While I love my front patio, where we spend most of our outdoor time – and my third-floor deck, which has recently pulled its act together – my backyard has been sadly neglected. Since we moved in last year, it has been a holding ground for plants I moved from our last home, a rather large barbecue, more sloppy container plantings than is acceptable, and, well, things we didn’t know what else to do with.

In short, my backyard is unfit for human consumption, and thus no photos exist on on this site. Until now…


This photo, taken from the third-floor deck, is my backyard’s before photo: the one with no makeup, bad posture and unflattering clothing. I am sharing this because the makeover is finally in progress. There is no glamourous after photo to share… yet. But there will be!

The backyard makeover plan starts with the fence.


The existing one wasn’t a completely unsightly fence. Certainly it wasn’t the worst thing about our roughly 13′ x 15′ space. But it was the first thing to change.


Ta-da! Isn’t it gorgeous? (Sorry, but I’m so over the moon with it, I don’t care if I’m bragging.)

A few evenings and one full day’s work (cutting, staining, assembling) and a few hundred dollars in red cedar — and it was so worth it. I am so completely in love with my new fence – and yes, I would totally marry it.



A good home for houseplants
Andrea Bellamy |


Ta da! After months of coveting others’ creations and searching for the right vessel, I finally made my own terrarium. The photos are kind of bad due to the reflection, unfortunately, but you get the idea.


I started with a layer of charcoal, which prevents mold from growing, added soil-less potting mix, then followed with the plants: a plumosa (asparagus fern), lipstick plant and Irish moss. I added the “lawn fawn”, a perfectly-kitschy little deer, just for fun, but you could easily skip it for a more sophisticated look.

Did I mention that I can’t fit my hand in the top, so this was all done with my husband’s barbecue tongs?

You like? I think it’s fab. (As an aside, there was a lot of grumbling last year about houseplant hatred; could terrariums turn it around for the piteous old houseplant?)

Wanna try it? Here’s a good article on the how-to of building a terrarium.


About that flower quiz…
Andrea Bellamy |

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

Hanna over at This Garden Is Illegal just posted the meanings behind all the flowers in her now-famous What Flower are You? quiz. It’s amazing how widely the seeds of this quiz have been dispersed. If you haven’t taken it for yourself, do so now. It only takes a couple minutes and it’s fun. This was my result:

Daffodil – You have a sunny disposition and are normally one of the first to show up for the party. You don’t need too much attention from the host once you get there as you are more than capable of making yourself seen and heard.

Suits me fine – I just wish I was something a little more exotic!


Spring shopping spree


It’s amazing how quickly you can drop $150 at the nursery. But I got a lot of bang for my buck (see above), and I did it in less than half an hour, all during a business call my husband had to take on our Easter Monday holiday.

I apologize for the infrequency of posts lately; I was really feeling stalled by the backyard dilemma and my indecisiveness surrounding it, but after a late-night “eureka!” moment and subsequent design break through, I feel like I can finally move forward with my garden(ing) and garden blogging. But this post isn’t even about the back garden. That $150 I mentioned earlier? All plants for the front garden. Ahem.


Before: Okay, this was the front garden: exactly as the developer installed it – Fagus sylvatica ‘Dawyck’ (European Beech) in the centre flanked by a yew hedge with escallonia in front. Boring. (Say in sing-song voice.) It’s a raised bed, approximately 3m (9′) x 1.5m (3.75′) flanked by three- and four-story townhouses in our shared courtyard, outside our front door. Behind it is our little bistro set, much used in the summer months.


After: So fresh it’s garden show-y. But don’t hold that against it. I think it looks better in person, when the brightness isn’t so much the sole focus but a nice counterpoint to the greyness of the surrounding, dominant buildings.

Here’s what I planted:

Spiraea x bumalda ‘Goldflame’ (Goldflame Spirea)

Achillea millefolium ‘Paprika’
Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle)
Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Woodside Gold’ (Woodside Gold Columbine)
Carex dipsacea (Olive sedge)
Heuchera ‘Marmalade’ (Coral Bells)
Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Autumn Joy Stonecrop)
Stipa tenuissima (Mexican Feather Grass)


Ipomoea ‘Sweet Caroline Sweet Heart Purple’
Verbena Star Dreams ‘Double Salmon’


Conflict of self-interest
Andrea Bellamy |

My backyard is having a bit of an identity crisis. It’s not its fault; it’s picking it up from me. I can’t decide what I want it to be. Is it a garden? A farm? Or an outdoor room?

When I say, “backyard,” I mean a 180 sq.ft square currently covered in concrete pavers, surrounded by a 5-ft fence. The 2-ft. strip that isn’t covered with pavers acts as a temporary holding area for plants I brought with me when I moved last year. As you can imagine, it is truly a thing of beauty. (I’ve only posted one photo of it, and even then it was covered in snow.)

I’ve been looking at this embarrassment of a garden for over a year now. At first I told myself that I wanted to give it a year to get to know the conditions of the site. Now I know I was just stalling. I just can’t decide what to do with it.

The nature lover in me wants to ditch the patio altogether and create a garden. In my world, this would probably start off as an earnest attempt to create a wildlife-attracting edible forest garden and end up being a mish-mash of nostalgic favourites and I-found-this-on-sale-
at-the-nursery-and-I-must-have-its. I have no self-control.

The environmentalist in me reads the first page of my local veggie-growing bible, the West Coast Seeds catalogue, and wants to create a small-plot intensive farm. Due to peak oil, climate change and general impending doom, West Coast Seeds owner Mary Ballon is this year urging her customers to use their land as a step toward self-sufficiency. She urges us to be farmers rather than gardeners, and reduce our dependency on oil. Sounds great. But while I love growing vegetables, would I be satisfied with all-veg, all the time?

The designer in me takes a look at the architecture of my building and the minimalist nature of our indoor furnishings and thinks I should create an outdoor room. Sleek, minimalist and modern, it would be mostly, if not all, patio, with just a few carefully-chosen container plantings. Obviously, this approach is in conflict with the two above.

What’s a girl to do? Have you ever (or do you always) find yourself in this predicament? What did you do?


Hallelujah, gardening season is upon us!
Andrea Bellamy |


Even if you’re not into Valentine’s Day, as a gardener, you gotta love it. Sure, it’s still cold and rainy, but the days are getting longer (at least in the Northern Hemisphere). For me, Valentine’s Day marks a turning point: I can stick stuff in the ground.

In my USDA Zone 8b garden, I’m planting hardy spring vegetables, like green onions, beets and radishes. I’m also planting spinach, chard, arugula and mizuna.

Hardy spring-blooming annuals like poppies, cornflowers, larkspur and agrostemma can also be planted now. Want to find out what you can do in the garden now? There’s something for every zone.

Photo Lathyrus sativus azureus (Container “Electric Blue” Sweet Pea) from Renee’s Garden Seeds.


Schnoopette has expensive taste
Andrea Bellamy |


I love this orchid, which was a housewarming gift from Ben’s aunt and uncle. It’s a common Moth orchid, or phalaenopsis, and its flowers are so lovely. The petals are fuchsia and shimmery – they remind me of eyeshadow (I know, I’m such a girl). Plus, I even made it bloom again, which is something I’ve never managed to do with orchids.


As such, I was a little peeved when I noticed that one of the flowers has been nibbled. “Geez,” I thought. “So much for winter at least being a time when you can relax your plant-pest-patrol duties!”

I got over it quickly, though. I mean, Schnoopette really puts up with a lot from us (see below). She has to take her revenge for prior humiliations when she gets a chance!



What should I plant here?
Andrea Bellamy |


So, there’s this wall at the end of our courtyard. It’s actually another building – BC Fur, a small family-run business that, despite my father-in-law’s “jokes,” doesn’t deal in neighbourhood cats. To my relief, they only wash sheepskins. Or so I’m told. Anyhow, there’s this blank, north-facing wall (shown above around Halloween, obviously) that I’d love to grow a vine against – and I need your advice in choosing one. Here are my requirements:

– shade-tolerant
– preferrably evergreen
– have flowers or berries or interesting colour
– vigorous growth
self-supporting Commenters have noted that this wouldn’t be good for my neighbour’s building. I haven’t asked permission to attach a trellis, but let’s assume I can.

I’m considering Akebia quinata (Chocolate vine) and Parthenocissus tricuspidata (Boston Ivy), however, I don’t know that Akebia will do well in shade – or grow tall enough. Boston ivy, of course, doesn’t meet my evergreen requirement. Sigh… Any suggestions?


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