Welcome to the Jungle

Crocosmia, Montbretia, Jupiter variety I’ll just cut straight to the chase for those of you with short attention spans: I am nuts about gardening, and the next 500 words or so are basically going to be not much more than variations on that message.

I was prompted to write this post when a friend and business colleague tweeted about how well some plants from my garden were doing on his downtown roof, and further how his jeweler wife had made a casting of a crocosmia (aka Montbretia, Jupiter variety in case you are geeky that way) bud, one of my great favorites, inspired by it. There are so many layers to that: sharing, life, growth, beauty, art: time for a post to celebrate it all.

I am a bit of a messy, creative, “just go for it” type of person, and my garden is no different: I don’t worry too much about what “should” go where, and kind of revel in minor gardening “transgressions” like mixing flowers and vegetables together in the same bed and being perfectly happy with the neighbour’s climbing plants making themselves at home on our side of the fence as well.

It kind of feels like a very large, slightly out of control laboratory/playground, where my family and hundreds of small creatures like to hang out.

One of my daughter’s favorite activities is to make “houses” for fairies, woodbugs, beetles and worms out of shells, petals and random other not quite as natural materials (shoeboxes, Christmas ornaments, etc). We also have rituals of “slug patrol” (it’s not all peace and love, I’m afraid), making pressed flowers, planting seeds and of course picking the fruits of our labours.

A couple of things that happened recently that were special for us. We have a large lavender bush in the front bed that is often literally hopping with bees. One evening my daughter and I were watching them and observed that it was kind of a dance that they were doing. I said that I wanted to get my camera to take a picture, and she said “No Mummy, stay here with me. I don’t want you to miss any of it – we can just remember extra hard.”

The photo here is from last year, of one of our “dancers” having its way with an Agapanthus (aka Lily of the Nile), another favorite and  source of pride in my Northerly zone.

Tree Frog in the GardenIt was just a few days later when we were poking around and happened upon a very special friend: a very large, beautiful tree frog. The community I live in is on an island in a river flood plain and we have large ditches that in many ways are a nuisance and yet offer the wonderful benefit of supporting these amazing beings. That said, we only actually see them a few times a year, the rest of the time just being happy to hear their song around the neighborhood.

Aside from the pleasure of experiencing beauty, creativity and family connection, I love eating the food that we have grown (tomatoes, golden beets, blueberries, corn, salad greens and basil being chief among them) and feeling like our little yard is part of a much larger ecosystem that, for the most part at least, we interact with in a supportive way.


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  • I too am a recipient of some of Madeleine’s plants, including Montbretia and Japanese Anenome (both of which are blooming beautifully right now). I have planted most of my front garden with root divisions and plantlets from my Mom, sisters, neighbours and friends.  It is wonderful to look at each plant and remember who shared it with me.  I also love to share back!  🙂

  • I’ve witnessed the beautiful transformation of Madeleine’s garden and am also a recipient of its bounty. The crocosmia she delivered to my home a few years ago are thriving and her homemade pesto from her basil crop is to die for! A meal at Madeleine’s is always colourfully presented with tasty fresh picked veggies and a gorgeous display of hand picked perennials. Thank you Madeleine!

  • Madeleine

    You guys are the best! The crocosmia that we all love so much actually came from my Mom’s garden. I also have plants from my late Aunt (I come by the gardening nuttiness honestly – she was off the charts) and a dear family friend who is a Botanical Jedi (aka Master Gardener). Finally, did you know that Gardener is (literally!) my middle name? It’s spelled “Gardner” and is my Mom’s maiden name 🙂

  • Jennifer

    I loved where your daughter said she didn’t want you to miss the experience of the bees! So cute! I was sitting in my garden last summer and was lucky enough to witness a hummingbird fly through and get at some nectar from the flowers. I happened to have my camera next to me and filmed a bit and then realized I was watching this awesome creature through my camera! So I abruptly turned it off and just watched it. Your daughter’s quote reminded me of this story and that sometimes you just need to enjoy the experience.