A Good Home, Canadian Gardens, Gardening, Low-Cost Gardening

8 Tips for Lovely, Low-Cost Gardens

Our gardens are usually lovely because my husband and I take good care of them. 

Blog Photo - Garden - Beautiful long shot to wall

But there’s another reason we’re pleased: nothing we add costs us much. Some gardening tips to share:

  1. Look for end-of-season sales. Blog Photo - Hostas and bird bathMany perennial plants in our garden were bought in late June or early July. Remember: water generously that first summer. Your plants should thrive and return even stronger in subsequent years.
  2. Divide mature plants. Blog Photo - Garden Path and HostaHosta, hydrangea, phlox, bee balm — most perennials, in fact — may be divided within 2 to 4 years of planting, instantly creating more mature plants for other spaces in your garden. We got these green-and-white hosta from our neighbours’ garden and have divided them repeatedly in subsequent years.
  3. Consider gift certificates. Blog Photo - Red Bee Balm and Red ChairsIf you have a big anniversary and friends ask “What would you really like?”, suggest gift certificates from one centrally-located and reputable nursery. I never remember this until it’s too late.  But with a few certificates, you could get a shrub, a tree, or even garden furniture.
  4. Bargain. Blog Photo - Clematis pink and lavenderWe had beautiful clematis plants at the farmhouse garden. Most were straggly-looking at the garden-centre, so we negotiated, got great deals and loved them back to health.
  5. Keep the good stuff. Blog Photo - Pool long shotOne of our most cherished pieces was a gift from friends: a cedar bench made especially for us. We’ve lived in three homes since then, and it always comes along.
  6. Paint the Old Stuff.Blog Photo - Blue Metal TablesOur metal tables were old and rusty. Blue paint brought them back to life.
  7. Work with what you have. Blog Photo - Muskoka chairs and UmbrellaWe never wanted a pool. But the house-with-the-pool cost much less than the houses-that-had-no-pool. So we bought it. Then a neighbour gave us his old paving stones; my husband created another paved area for seating.
  8. When you can’t afford what you want, consider a substitute.Blog Photo - Red Chairs and White Bench
    Blog Photo - Red chairs and white bench front shotI’d like a certain kind of chaises longues for my garden, but cannot afford them. So every spring in the last three years, I’ve bought one of these zero-gravity loungers. Solid and durable, each costs about one tenth of the chair I’d like and is very comfortable too!    Happy saving to you!
8 low-cost garden tips
8 low-cost Garden Tips
A Good Home, Canadian Gardens, The Garden in Early June, Tree Peonies

Garden Porn – ish

Well, it would be garden porn but we’re at that in-between stage right now.

Flowering plants are still budding up…

Blog Photo - Garden Peony about to bloom

Vines are twining up…

Blog Photo - Garden Clematis vine in June

And if it weren’t for the Jack In The Pulpits, cuddling up to an overwhelmingly tall hosta…

Blog Photo - Garden Jacks

Blog Photo - Garden Light Green large hosta

And these sweet little wild anemone flowers cozying up against the stone wall ….

Blog Photo - Garden Whtie flowers against wall

And the vegetable garden, with tomato plants and eggplants and peppers and herbs shooting up in the hot sun….

Blog Photo - Garden Tomatoes and eggplant plants

Or the annuals in pots, under the guardian’s unwavering gaze…. 

Blog Photo - Garden Face and flowers

Or the empty coffee mug forgotten on the Muskoka chair….

Blog Photo - Garden Mug on Chair

Blog Photo - Garden and pot and chair

Blog Photo - Garden Blue pots CU

And green stuff on the ground or climbing up the walls….

Blog Photo - Garden Path and Greenery

And this one and only bloom on this most reluctant tree peony…

Blog Photo - garden Peony in bloom

Overseen by a multitude of ferns and other shrubs not yet blooming…

Blog Photo - Garden peony shrubs and walls

I’d have nothing to show you at all!

A Good Home, Canadian Families, Canadian Gardens, Canadian Homes

What a Project!

Whenever I phone my longtime friend Carol, I always ask: “And what’s Wayne up to now?”

And as soon as she says, “Well, let me tell you…” I’m already grinning.

Wayne, you see, is always building something — from cars to houses — and he thrives on a challenge. 

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol House 1

He played a key role in the recent renovation of Justine Viske’s SOS Lounge, one of many interesting projects.Blog Photo - SOS Justine and Wayne

But he has also been working on his own home between these client-projects. And what a project!

Wayne and Carol bought their current home several years ago, in the village of Warkworth, a 90-minute drive east of Toronto. Long before they moved in, Wayne had plans.

“First up”, says Wayne, “was Carol’s garden shed (with the stained glass windows, lighting and power).” 

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Gdn shed2

And since Carol is a serious gardener, the front landscaping also needed attention.

Blog photo - Wayne and Carol front garden

And since the house was small, they decided to extend it. 

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Addition1

“Now it’s 2014 and the addition is starting to take shape”, Wayne recalls. “The foundation and sub-floor are in place. The walls and trusses are up, and it is beginning to look like we know what we are doing!!…LOL.”

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol house addition

The addition houses a family room and more:

“Well, by late summer 2015, we have a washroom for overnight guests. Carol has an office, and I have completed all mechanical necessities in the main entertainment area, including the fireplace, and have built custom cabinetry throughout.”

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Family Rm inside

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Family Rm inside 2

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol tiny new office

Wayne carefully designed every bit of space.

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Closed-in Porch

It was the same with the new kitchen.

The original was dark and inconvenient for Carol, who is a great cook. So Wayne decided to build her a much better one, in the adjacent room. He redesigned and built the whole thing from scratch.

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Kitchen Pantry

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Kitchen ws

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Kitchen 2

That’s Wayne. Where other people might see an insurmountable problem, Wayne sees an exciting challenge. 

Carol has a say, of course, in both design and decor.

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Living-Dining

But she’s quick to point out that “It’s all Wayne”, while praising him for his meticulous work.

And it is meticulous – the kind of work that stands up to close inspection, whether it’s indoors or out.

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol garden with red maple.JPG

“Early in the nice weather of 2016”, Wayne says, “WE decided to do a little landscaping before starting work on MY pet project, the garage — better known as ‘the Coach House’. 

“As you can see, the landscaping involved the acquisition of a considerable number of fair sized rocks (I FOUND them at the sides of the road, and on the outskirts of farmers fields!!)”

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol new landscape

“Some rather larger rocks were used in the landscaping of our new driveway, the one leading to the new ‘Coach House’. I have to admit they were very difficult to get into the back of my SUV!!!”

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol new driveway and huge rocks

As their friends know, Wayne gets restless without a project.  He completed the kitchen just weeks ago, and returned to the project he started last year: the Coach House, with room for his vintage cars and a guest suite. 

Blog Photo - Wayne and Friends raise coachhouse walls

Blog Photo - Wayne and friends inside coachhouse walls
Wayne Shaw, right

The Coach House exterior is now complete, while work continues inside. 

My family and I can barely wait to see the finished product.

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Coach House

 Meanwhile, we’ve dubbed their much-expanded home  “The Shaw Estate”.

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol House exterior with fence

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol House and Fence sideview

But we’re betting that one of these days, I’ll call Carol and she’ll say, once again: “Well, let me tell you…”

Bravo, Wayne and Carol!

~~

Photos provided by Wayne Shaw.

A Good Home, Canadian Gardens, Canadian Homes, Christmas Arrangements

The Undomestic Diva – Christmas Planter

You’ve never seen such a glamorous photo of me, I know!

Blue pyjamas, my husband’s house-robe, black socks and beige slippers. And yes, that’s a single blue curler in my hair. Don’t ask why.

Blog Photo - Christmas 2017 Planter and Cynthia in houserobe

I woke up determined to do this thing that I’m so inadequate at. 

It took me such a long time that breakfast had to be brought to me right there on the floor. 

Mr. J., the grand-Pug, kept circling me, bemused.

I kept taking out the dried hydrangea and putting them back in.

And this is what The Thing looked like by the time I surrendered….

Blog Photo - Christmas 2017 Planter Outside

As with all my arrangements, it was still missing something — more greenery, brownery, reddery?

Or a birdhouse. Or a shiny thing. Or something.

But that’s for figuring out on another day. 

My Ingredients:

  1. Small branches of cedar and pine
  2. Wild sumac flowers from the roadside
  3. Dried hydrangea from our garden
  4. White birch branches from our garden
  5. Magnolia leaves bought at the nursery
  6. Potting soil – I normally use potting soil from the summer garden, but this year I used fresh potting soil.

I have no doubt that you are greatly impressed.

Photos by Dan Leca.