The new garden with its crooked stepping stones that the deer love.

The new garden with its crooked stepping stones that the deer love.


August 1 and summer is fully dressed.

We built a new garden last fall—we did it the easy way by laying down wet newspaper and covering that with a foot of topsoil. This spring, I scoured the garden centres for grasses because Glen had a hankering for their tall stately forms. He thought we should move the roses and have this space filled with waving grass. I didn’t move the roses, though. Now we have a grasses-and-roses-and-everything-goes kind of garden that you can meander through, walking along a badly laid set of stepping stones that I could barely lift—but I did!

The deer, that have recently taken to coming by for a visit and a bit of a nibble, love that pathway and they tread it nightly, stopping by to sample my coveted hydrangea blossoms – they even eat the lupins and have nipped off and stunted the phlox. I can deal with this, but we put a stop to their molestation of the columnar apple tree that was valiantly striving to survive these nightly raids. Glenn built a fence around it and the little tree is starting to recover.

hydrangea, basil

A pot of little leaf basil set among the hydrangeas to fool the deer. They don’t like the smell.

I found a way to fool the deer into leaving one of the hydrangeas alone: I placed a pot of strong smelling basil among the blooms and it worked! They have a yearning for hosta, too, and nibble on their favourites, leaving the one right beside untouched. They love the blossoms so hosta deadheading was off the to-do list this summer.

It’s not that I don’t love the deer, it’s just that I love my garden more.

It is a glorious summer – hot during the day, raining at night. The cucumbers are growing so fast I can’t


The cucumbers are getting away form me.

harvest them on time. Even the Empress Wu hosta that I thought was dead finally emerged, very late but fully intact. I am so looking forward to her reaching her mature four feet height. Many plants were affected by the late frost this spring; our 15-year-old tree peony didn’t show any signs of life until almost the end of June and brown leaves are hanging off the apple like tawdry remnants on a handkerchief tree. It dropped hundreds of tiny apples, too, but the crop is still heavy enough to bend the branches.

I am impatient at the computer this morning. The outdoors is calling; the sun is beckoning from a brilliant blue sky. I want to be among the daylilies (all the real lilies have succumbed to the dastardly red lily leaf beetles). I am itching to take the spent blossoms away from the patch of crazy daisies that makes me so happy. I need to fertilize the pretty container annuals – all red and orange this year – and give them a trim so they can continue to bloom. There is so much to do in the garden. The weeds are on steroids.

Tomorrow, I will take my granddaughter to the International Peace Gardens to revel in the work that Connie and Rodney and Keith and Johannes and Kathy have done there this summer. It is truly lovely. Claire will get to see the amazing succulents garden, wandering through the greenhouses to marvel at their myriad forms and shapes. Succulents are so other-worldly; we have an amazing collection there — world class.

And along the way, we can marvel at the golden fields of canola and the odd acreage of blue flax. The drive is a beautiful adventure all on its own. I love this province.