Posts tagged ‘primulas’

This year’s spring garden

pink tulip 2

This morning’s weather report told me that temperatures are set to soar this week, 20C and above. I am always suspicious about the long range forecast, but never above hoping it will come true.

My garden is doing well this year after a mild winter and a good spring with lots of sunshine. Daffodils and crocuses have come and gone, and my tulips are at their best right now with faces open and so much colour. A couple of weeks ago I planted hanging baskets with a mix of violets, pansies, swiss chard and mustard greens and they are doing very well.

orange tulips 2

violets chard mustard greens

One new thing is the holly plant we bought at Christmas – it’s flowering. I’ve never seen this before, somehow, despite my studious (obsessive?) observation of other people’s gardens. Always so neat to have an actual discovery, to find out something you never knew before. Of course, in the back of my mind when I see red holly berries I know that there must be a flower behind the fruit, but there are so many things that never find their way out from those mental recesses.

flowering holly

Lemon balm is another surprise. I planted it last year and look at how beautifully it has already come back. I wonder if it is part of the mint family of plants, which are another thriving species in my garden. Both make wonderful tea and cocktails, so I am always happy to see them growing so well.

lemon balm

pale grape hyacinths in basket

Such a promising time of year – so much to look forward to – here’s hoping for that heat so all the things still dormant can find their way up.

hyacinth close up

yellow primula 2014

pink primula and crocus 2014

2014 daffodils

purple primula

April 28, 2014 at 8:11 am

A walk through the garden

rockland primulas 2
Welcome to the new year. I am happy to be still in pajamas at three in the afternoon enjoying a quiet day as 2014 begins. It is calm and overcast today in Vancouver, one of those west coast days where the air is moist and warm. Moss and ferns and lichen rule the landscape this time of year, even in the city, and especially in the tucked away areas of Vancouver Island where we spent most of the last week visiting family.

We had a couple of hours to spare on our way home from the Island this time, and one of the things we did was stop for a walk at Government House gardens in Victoria. I used to live a five-minute walk away from these gardens when Victoria was home, so I know them well.

You can always tell how much care and thought goes into a garden by what it looks like during the winter months. The Government House gardens are a good reminder about the quiet beauty of the plants that thrive at this time of year: Garry oaks, evergreens, lichens, moss, berries on trees and shrubs, first flowers like hellebores, cyclamen, snowdrops and blue-flowering rosemary.

rockland rosemary 2

Cultiver ton jardin is the thought that is with me today as I think about how to approach the new year. Cultivate your garden. It’s not a new idea, but it’s a good one. It comes from a famous book called Candide by the French writer Voltaire. Candide’s life starts out with innocence and promise. Tragedy after tragedy plagues him, however, and after much loss and struggle, Candide concludes that the only path through this suffering is to focus inward, away from those things out of our control and toward practical action: “Il faut cultiver notre jardin.” One must cultivate one’s own garden.

rockland flowers

What Voltaire meant by the garden keeps many a Literature major up at night. A space of our own making, a place of growth and discovery, a gathering of loves, a sanctuary to help us survive trauma and hardship. At times it might feel like a futile exercise, cultivating our little gardens while the world crumbles around us. But without the garden how can we find the strength to create the change we seek?

Last night we had friends over to celebrate New Year’s Eve, and as always I am at a loss when the question of resolutions comes around. I’m leery of resolutions because I’m just not motivated by goals. That seems like a terrible thing to admit, but it’s true. Goals quickly become tasks on a list – obligations – which make me want to run in the opposite direction. I don’t know why I feel that way, but I’ve given up fighting it. Doing the things themselves is fine; it’s the planning to act that brings me down. I attempt to do most of the things I see others striving for: eat well, exercise, and try to live in the best way I can. But I’ll never approach those things as goals or resolutions. If I have a goal I need a motivation beyond the goal itself to see things through. Ideas like mindfulness, intention and sustaining a practice (artistic, spiritual, healthy living, etc) work much better for me than the idea of achieving a goal. I’m wired for living life in increments, not for planning big leaps and bounds.

rockland hellebores

When it was my turn to offer goals for the new year, travel seemed like the only thing to say. It’s too wonderful to hate, so I felt safe putting it on a resolutions list.

“Cop out,” said my husband, who is one of the most goal-oriented people I’ve ever met. He claims travel doesn’t count as a real resolution since I’ve already half done it by making plans for two trips during the first part of 2014: Hawaii in January and then Denmark, Sweden and Germany in March. I think my resolution still counts. And it was truthful: travel is a goal of mine every year, but more importantly, it’s part of my garden cultivation strategy. No matter what is going on my life, being in a new place seems to make it better.

It takes a day of thought to come to a proper answer sometimes. My walk through the gardens at Government House brought quiet and solace on one of the last days of 2013, and reminded me about the importance of creating something beautiful that can stand up to winter in its literal and metaphoric forms.

2014, for me, I hope, will be about continuing to cultivate a garden worthy of all the seasons.

rockland new rhodos

rockland mountains

rockland red berry bush

rockland garry oak

rockland moss

rockland rosemary

rockland tree in front of house

January 1, 2014 at 6:06 pm Leave a comment

Spring garden

lime clematis2

Here are a few photos of my garden as it welcomes the spring. I love living on the West Coast all times of year, but early spring is when I appreciate it most. Nothing made me more crazy living in Calgary than seeing spring on the calendar and snow on the ground, and each year spent in Vancouver (this is my fourth spring) reminds me how glad I am to be here.

I know many of you are still struggling with the dregs of winter, so I hope these images feel encouraging and hopeful – something to tide you over until things warm up all over the country. I promise I don’t mean to gloat!

primula in metal pot

sping garden 2013

one purple crocus

cinnamon hellebores

pink and white primulas in the sun

March 23, 2013 at 11:00 am 1 comment

Still growing

It’s hard to believe that there are still things growing as we enter the first part of December, but look at this: a blooming pink primula that has come back to life after the heat of summer. These tough flowers continue to thrive in our little garden and this one is adding a welcome spark of brightness right now.

December 1, 2011 at 11:01 pm Leave a comment

Primulas in bloom

Vancouver experienced some very chilly temperatures a couple of weeks ago (even snow!), but luckily my primulas were hardy enough to survive the cold snap. I planted them in early February after seeing them displayed in these gorgeous, colourful rows at my favourite garden centre, Southlands Nursery,

It’s this time of year that makes me love living on the west coast. When we used to live in Victoria I always enjoyed the annual flower count and the bragging rights that come with being the first place in Canada to experience spring. And when I lived in Calgary this is the time of year I hated the most – waiting and waiting for the endless winter to cease.

There were primulas blooming in our tiny garden when we bought our new house here in Vancouver last year. It’s amazing to see them again and think of all the time that has passed and everything that can happen in the short space of a year.

March 10, 2011 at 9:26 pm 2 comments


Flickr Photos

hellebores at van dusen gardens

hellebores at van dusen gardens_2

kalanchoe

white narcissus

pink snow

cherry blossom festival

cherry blossom festival april 7

haiku glass house

cherry blossoms april 7

yoshino cherry

More Photos

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