And some real COOL gardening, in Yukon and Alaska style.

Yukon garden, with row covers to protect from 'anytime' frost.
Yukon garden, with row covers to protect from ‘anytime’ frost.

Yesterday we returned from an all too short trip to see my sister in the Yukon. Sadly, this was my very first trip there, and it went by soooooo fast. But, it also was an eye opening experience, and I will return before too long.

While this is a gardening blog, it seems to take side trips to travel and gardens, so I hope you enjoy that as well! Today, I will highlight some plant material, but it would be very hard to write this and not post some of the photos of glorious scenery….so that is what I will do!

Deck plantings, and a great coffee spot!
Deck plantings, and a great coffee spot!

Raised in the quite northern part of Alberta, and also lived in the furthest north community, I understand northern life, and I love it. As all people, I am now unaccustomed to the differences, because I have been a ‘southern’ dweller for a good number of years. Prior to moving to Central Alberta, we were in sunny, hot Medicine Hat, which is prairie, and a very mild climate in winter. So, after landing in Whitehorse at 11 pm, spending time touring a bit with my sister, then driving to her home in Haines Junction, and hour and 1/2 away, we were facing 2 am. Still light out…..seriously! Solstice just past, we enjoyed amazing long days, and forgot all about bed time until one of us started to nod off! That was well past midnight each night! Loved it!

Emerald Lake, between Whitehorse YK and Skagway AK
Emerald Lake, between Whitehorse YK and Skagway AK

As you can imagine, the sun hours aid northern communities in growing amazing gardens. We were privileged to visit a few in both the Yukon, and in Haines, Alaska, a 250 km drive south, with a coastal climate. Very different, but amazing non the less. Highly recommended as a travel destination, if you are at all interested. Life in northern areas is very much about the outdoor experience, the vistas, the animals, the vegetation….and sooooo worth every second.

Close to Skagway
Skagway Town site

We started out in Haines Junction, spending a bit of time seeing the sights in and around this small town. It is located right by Kluane National Park, and is a hub for many activities. My sister is a great guide having lived in the Yukon for several years, and decided to take us on the Golden Circle tour: Whitehorse, Skagway Alaska, Haines Alaska, (Juneau is part of it, but we didn’t go there) and back to Hanies Junction Yukon. We loaded ourselves into her truck and camper unit and headed out. It is a long drive, but never boring! We spotted an elk herd shortly after setting out, and had to stop to take a few pics of course! We overnighted in Skagway, with the intent to take a train up to Laughton Glacier, and hike, but we couldn’t on the day we were there. Skagway is a cruise ship port, and 2 days a week are booked solid on the train. We hit one of those days!

Mountain lake hike

So we hiked up to a mountain lake, and enjoyed ourselves regardless. We also drove out to Dyea, an old, now abandoned, community from gold rush days. We enjoyed lunch and the wild flowers everywhere!!!

Mountain lake at Skagway
Blue flag iris in the meadow at Dyea
On the Ferry from Skagway to Haines
On the Ferry from Skagway to Haines

The following day we took the ferry to Haines and spent the day either hiking or stopping at amazing locations. Luckily for us, my Sister has many friends in Haines, so we were up close and personal with a few gardens, art studios, coffee shops, and even a micro brew!

Yellow flag in an artist friends garden
Yellow flag in an artist friends garden

Both Haines and Skagway are on ocean inlets, so the climate is different than inlandOcean waters at Haines

Ocean waters at Haines Alaska

Rainbow Glacier
Rainbow Glacier

Glaciers are numerous, and we were so fortunate to see a few quite close, along with the amazing mountain scenery. We also we introduced to some of the fishing practices, and saw parts of that industry.

Fish plant in an idyllic location
Fish plant in an idyllic location
Along the way, from Haines Alaska to Haines Junction Yukon
Along the way, from Haines Alaska to Haines Junction Yukon

Our drive back was a different kind of scenic. Still mountainous, but also large valleys, and rolling alpine ridges, with rivers, streams and lakes everywhere.


Kluane Lake
Kluane Lake

We spent our final day in Kluane National Park, exploring more. We biked and hiked trails, which I am not really in the best of shape for, but we did it! And we loved it.

Dust from the silt on the Slims river, at Kluane Lake
Dust from the silt on the Slims river, at Kluane Lake
Natural vegetation creating a stunning drive!
Natural vegetation creating a stunning drive!

We stopped at Sheep Mountain, and we fortunate to see many mountain sheep

Mountain sheep high on the mountain
Mountain sheep high on the mountain

high up. The spotting scope helped with detail, but we watched for a long time as they traversed the craggy heights. The coloration of the rocks was so amazing!!

Wild chocolate lilies
Wild chocolate lilies
Wild delphinium and columbine
Wild delphinium and columbine
View from my sister's home
View from my sister’s home
Near Haines Junction Yukon

Garden care…..

IMG_3077I am planning on taking a short break from the garden…..and from home actually! Although this is not the best time of the year to leave (in my opinion) I think I need a break. My sister lives in the Yukon, where I have not yet been, so today, I will be taking flight to her place. When I am back I will post some photos from that beautiful place.

Meanwhile, I have been preparing the garden, as I am leaving it to a friend who will be watering, and checking it. Of course, I am worried and not… garden is my therapy and peaceful place, despite the work that it takes. But, I also know that if something is not completed or done ‘my’ way, that is okay too. After all, everyone does not have the same love of gardening, so it is what it is!!

We have had rain every day, and at this point, watering is not an issue, except for IMG_3076some of the containers, which are only annual flowers. And my lettuce bowl! I have checked the weather and it will be warmer, but still some showers….I have moved some of the baskets to one location, and will move others as well…..I know where everyone sits, but someone else…..well, they will need to stroll through.

I picked my strawberries yesterday, and they will be ripe again in a couple of days. I actually managed to freeze a few already!! Love this time of year as things become mature and ready to harvest…..I am sure my friend will enjoy the berries as they come, and will bring her grand daughters to pick.

IMG_3078I also took the row cover off of my onions…..this year I have a little experiment going…..I am trying to keep the onion ‘maggots’ out of the garden….I have 2 locations planted. One I have been using wood ash in and around the onion rows, an old trick my mother used. The other, I installed bendy hoops and white row cover, to keep away the little moths that lay the eggs that in turn produce the hungry onion eating worms!! Will keep you posted on what worked better! Any other ideas are welcome!!!

So, until next week, happy gardening.

Just an ordinary day in the garden

IMG_3061Sometimes, I feel like that is what my life is…..a day in the garden. No matter the weather, I can be found out there somewhere. My rationale is that we have a LOT of months of snow, and a rather short growing season, so I want to soak in all I can while I can! Is there such a thing as a garden overdose? If there is, don’t tell me…..

We had a rain day yesterday. I cannot say sweet rain, because at times, it came down so hard it looked like a bucket dump! But, not a lot of damage sustained here. The only minor set back was one of my plums, whose branches drooped to almost 90 degrees from the ground, so Hubby dutifully went out and shook them, soaking himself in the process. It did little. This morning, we went to inspect, and I pruned back the branches a bit to take some of the weight off. We also secured some areas where the tree has ‘crotched’, pulling the larger branches in and holding them with good old fashioned pantyhose! I like it, actually, because of the ‘give’ in the material, and yet it is ridiculously strong.

Of course, a little pruning lead to a little inspecting, followed by a little weed pulling, and a little threading vines into trellises, and then a little strawberry IMG_3058 picking! I am amazed at this patch! A bit of a fluke, as the original plants ordered never came, so 2 years ago I went on a mad hunt for strawberries. I found these plants all stuffed into one pot at a greenhouse, and bought it/them. When I got home, I separated and found 12 plants crammed into one, so this became my start. These crazies start producing in June and keep on going until October! I have since separated runners and started a second bed. They grow and produce well. Later today,  I will use them in a rhubarb/strawberry muffin recipe, as I also harvested my rhubarb a day ago and after 2 loaves, one cake, one cobbler and 2 dozen muffins, I still have enough left for another batch of muffins! Love it!

IMG_3060I had to snap a follow up pic of this beautiful iris, who was not yet in flower last post! This is a favorite and gets the royal treatment as it is probably the one who has traveled the most with us! Although it does not spread very quickly, I have been able to share it. I am careful with this process though, because I love this guy, and he tends to be a bit of a temperamental iris! Who knew?

Because of yesterday’s rain, it seemed like a good time to snap a pic or 2 of the IMG_3062yard. The garden boxes are doing well…..very well. The addition of manure has been a good reason to check on them regularly….to pick out the little annual weedlings! Pretty sure I have pulled some of the lettuce and the kohlrabi in the process….The tomatoes love the raised beds and are a bit crazy as usual, but whatever. I reserve a spot for them, and once early veggies are out, they can just take over. I harvest a lot, and am just now using the last of the roasted roma’s, and of the tomato sauce! And I still have lots of salsa…..

IMG_3063The fruit garden seems to be flourishing a bit this year, with the expulsion of the deer family. Although it is not visible in the photos, there is a deer fence 7 feet high, made of a fine black mesh, that works wonders. I can tear it with my fingers, so it is not strong, but the barrier it provides works. I did a LOT of research before we installed this. It is not a permanent costly project, and is easily removed or repaired, and it works! year 2 and I am happy. The deer walk by, have a look, nod to us, and munch away on my compost pile…..I’m fine with that.

Better go…..I hear the garden calling…..Happy Gardening!!

The Stately Iris

Yes, here I go again with more about perennials! And the ‘old fashioned’ ones to boot. If you could do a walk about in my garden, you would see that there is a mix of old and new, and really, I love them all…..right now I am featuring some of the bloomers…..and the iris seems to be pulling out all stops now to put on a show!

I have some new shades that have not yet opened, so please bear with me, and them. One of the things about different varieties is the different bloom times! I IMG_3021almost missed the little early blue iris blooming! The photos are a bit ragged, but still shows the cuteness. I really like this little one. It is the first to open up in the spring, and is quick to multiple, so is a great ‘sharer’. When we started landscaping here 4 years ago, we had several perennials in a ‘hold garden’ that  I had started just for the purpose of holding plants for landscaping! By the time we actually were ready to landscape, several had IMG_3028grown to a shareable size. I had been given some irises from a friend before we moved, and I loved the color. Now having a large plant, I asked my neighbor if he would like some….and yes, he would. The color is quite unique and everyone who sees it would like a start, which I love to do. So, I broke up the plant, taking some of it’s rhizomous root across the street…..the next day, here comes our neighbor, with a WHEELBARROW full of the little blue early bloomer! ‘Would you like some?’ he asks……why yes, yes I would like some…..just not that many! He laughed, told me to take what I wanted and he would give the rest away! So we have this cute little guy, who remains nameless, and has made his home to other yards as well…..I do love the sharing of plants!!!!

I am actually thinking of going neighbor to neighbor with my shovel, and asking what plants they want to share…..wouldn’t that be fun? I can just imagine the stunned looks I would get! Still…….

I often invite friends to come plant shopping in my garden. There are ones that cannot be split or moved, but I will tell them so. Anything else is fair game. I still have a ‘holding’ garden for extras, and when someone wants them, off they go! Of course, some dividing is spring time and some is fall, but I make note of what is wanted and split in the appropriate time.

IMG_3018This cute iris was also a gift, before we moved, from a neighbor. She had a hillside that was covered in irises: some yellow, some white and some in this purple yellow mix. They all bloomed at exactly the same time and it was absolutely gorgeous! This guy always reminds me of her garden….

And then there is the iris Hubby has been keeping for some years now, he had it before we were married….it will IMG_3027open next week… is bright white with a purple beard and is a German Iris….tall, gorgeous. Right now the only color is the bud, which would make one think it is a dark flower, but not so!

This one has been split and shared so many times!!! It actually refused to bloom for us for a few years prior to moving, but since we have relocated it here, it never fails to impress.

In the back garden I have some new irises, just planted last fall…..they are slow and only one has buds, but we need to be patient. They are solid white, and solid yellow. I am looking forward to seeing them for the first time.

IMG_3026Finally, in the front, a unique one I planted 2 years ago, now showing off an enormous bloom. I loved the paleness of it…and immediately split and shared with a friend, so it was slower to bloom last year. I think it is making up for it now!!

There are, of course, other things abloom in the garden, but sometimes we lose the beauty by showing too many, so again, I chose just one type of perennial.  Hopefully you enjoyed them!

IMG_3025              IMG_3029

Bleeding Hearts

Perennials… favorites in the garden by far…..but, I always say that each plant, regardless of size or color or re-bloom, or re-plant…..all have a place in this little space.

Kind of a metaphor for life, isn’t it. No matter who we are or where we come from, how long we have been here, or any other factor, we all have a place….some don’t necessarily fit so well together, but then, a little nudge to the left or right and voila! Beauty!

Okay, I admit I am a little weird at times, but I am also a bit melancholy. We have had a few hiccups in our world, nothing major, but ‘life happens’, and we need to adjust from time to time. This is why I have been missing in action a bit of late. Just taking care of business….and that is how it should be.

We have made our way back to the garden though, and with it, substantial changes. I am especially enjoying the daily change of the colors and foliage and blossoms! I swear my ferns grew 2 feet in 3 days, and what is up with the irises? They are happy happy happy. The rock phlox is nearing it’s finale, with blossoms, and considering the winter kill back, I am amazed that they flower at all!

IMG_3012But today we are looking at the bleeding hearts. I love them. Old fashioned though they may be, they are troupers through and through. The graceful foliage, delicate flowers, and early consistent blooming makes me appreciate them all over again each year.

As a child I remember the one and only bleeding heart Mom had on the east side of the house. As all children, we were fascinated by the weird blossoms. “They really look like a heart” we would tell one another each year. Now that seems like a silly statement, but to a 5 year old, a heart shaped flower is AMAZING!!!! As are so many things in the garden.

Our mother would not allow us to pick flowers without her permission. And even then, we were very limited in what we could pick. She was a practical farm woman, who didn’t want to waste anything, so why would you pick and kill a blossom that could potentially live on in the garden another week or more? Makes sense…when you are an adult…not a child. I have a much more relaxed thinking…..if you like it, and it won’t harm anything….please enjoy!!!

I have only 3 variety of bleeding heart: Dicentra spectabilis, D. spectabilis ‘Alba’, IMG_3013and D. formosa. The first 2 represent the common type, that is easily shared….although the Alba is a white flowering bleeding heart, which is not really all that common. I have the pink ones on the north side of the house, but not up to it, so they receive morning and evening sun. The Alba is on the west, but also is shaded to the south by the garage so it only gets late afternoon and evening sun. I love it. It gets about 2 feet tall and is a beauty.

IMG_3011The fern leaf, or fringed….Dicentra formosa…..I have on the north side and also in an eastern exposure bed… is amazing and low growing, and, honestly, I love the foliage more than the flower!!!

Give them a good drink throughout flowering season. They can take sun or shade, but prefer a mix. And, if your climate is quite hot in the summer, the plant will turn brown and disappear, but will show some growth as it cools and it will treat you to it’s regalia in the spring once again!!