Monday, June 20, 2011

The Spring of My Content

With apologies to Shakespeare, I do believe this is "the spring of my content" after an arduous winter of my discontent. Calgary generally has a long cold winter, but not so much snow. This winter was an outlier, as it was longer than usual and snowed constantly, like the typical east coast winters of my childhood.

Spring usually seems too brief and then it turns into summer. Calgary has a semi-arid climate (Zone 3 for gardeners). Our humidity is low, so summer here is a pleasant mild blue-sky affair, with lots of weather in the 20's and occasionally days in the 30's C (mid-80's F).

However, this has been a long, cool wet spring, and I am thrilled! For the past two months, it's been raining almost daily and the days are cool, around 20C (68F and below). As a result, our gardens are vibrant and green (and don't need constant watering) and the air is damp and cool. Call me crazy, but as much as I love a sunny day, I adore cool weather, rain, and stormy days.

Today, I thought I'd share some photos of our shade bed, which is doing better than usual for this time of year. This bed gets dappled morning light - otherwise all shade. We've planted various hostas and ferns here, together with white and pink bleeding hearts (the columbines died):
My favorite addition to the bed is the groundcover in the front (little white flowers), called Sweet Woodruff. I think it is my favorite thing in the garden, as it reminds me of a shady meadow. It does NOT like being stepped on, and I have replanted it once already. We often plant some shade-loving annuals here for colour, but didn't get around to it this year:

In this bed, we have several varieties of hostas and ferns, as well as a Lady's Mantle. To the left, under the tree is the glossy green Bergenia (Elephant's Ears), flowering now, and which stays green all winter. I can't seem to find many colourful perennials that will survive in this bed, so do send ideas if you have any (keeping in mind we are Zone 3!):

Our Mayday tree always gets a pot of annuals, for summer colour. Behind the Mayday is a large bush of Goatsbeard, which gets a gorgeous ivory lace fan-like flower in mid-summer. It reminds me so much of raspberry bushes:

Here is our conifer bed, in a cedar box. The conifers give us winter interest. The umbrella-shaped leafy tree in the middle is a grafted caragana, which is just starting to get its yellow flowers. There is a blue star juniper in the foreground, followed by a dwarf spruce shrub (left), followed by yellowish barberry (right) and so on. The bed is symmetrical around the umbrella caragana. We add annuals for colour:
One of my fun favorites is my small herb bed where I grow cooking herbs and spearmint for tea. We have a serious crop of chives (Allium schoenoprasum) ready to bloom. They come back each year. I love their funny purple flowers:
I hope you've enjoyed the tour. Later I will show you the other half of the back yard, which contains our sun-facing beds with their bounty of summer flowers...


  1. Your garden is beautiful! There's nothing better than an established garden. I've always loved Sweet Woodruff. That goat's beard is the largest one I've ever seen! Love the stone border too. Very nice!

  2. Terri,
    This is so inspiring! We have tons of shade in our backyard. Love all your ferns and those sweet little pink Wooddruff buds.

  3. Anonymous5:07 pm

    Your garden is lovely. I feel like I want to rush out and work in my garden! Thank you for sharing.

  4. Love the freshness and all that greenery. Inspirational!

  5. an absolutely beautiful shade bed, terri. I have one full of hostas and you have inspired me to mix in some other plants for variety. I'm going back to study your images again...donna

  6. Your garden truly does look lush and happy. I am always searching for color for a shaded garden. I'm sorry that the columbine didn't make it because they come in so many wonderful colors. Astilbe? Would that provide some color?

  7. Thank you for the tour. Your garden is lush, green and lovely. Would delphiniums or lupins be a possibility for color?

  8. Your garden is beautiful!

    The first thing I thought of when you asked for suggestions for colour for your shade garden is Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica). I had them in my Calgary shade garden. You might also consider planting a clematis on against your fence. One of the best things you could do would be to pop along to Rundlewood Gardens in Altadore. Rod and Llyn open their garden to the public on Sundays (and Thursdays). You will get lots of wonderful ideas as well as be able to buy plants. June is undoubtedly the best month to see Rundlewood, although it's wonderful any time of the year.

  9. Oops, meant to post you a link:

  10. how did i miss this?

    your garden is so pretty. this is the first time i've seen it. it looks so lush! can't wait to see the other side terri.


  11. Terri,
    What a nice space...think I'll go out and weed so my garden looks as nice!

  12. Oh I can't wait til things start blooming in our yard! You have such a stunning yard, I'm loving these photos! I took pics of my pergola all dressed up this afternoon (with the 2 hour lull in the rain), and I hope you'll stop by and take a peak! :)

  13. Thank you for an excellent post! I enjoyed the gardens you featured very much, and you made some excellent points. I think a great garden must have personality that sets it apart.
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  14. This is most interesting blog.Lingerie.

  15. beautiful back yard....