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Epic Fail! My Life as a Garden Maven

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Epic Fail! My Life as a Garden Maven

Postby Daisy » Dec 10, 2012 2:53 pm

'm new here and hoping to gain some inspiration. I haven't quite found my footing on this site yet, so wasn't quite sure where a post like this belongs. I do know I am thoroughly enjoying all of the inspiration here.

I was sitting at a long wait in a Doctor's office reading magazines when I came upon Canadian Gardening and was rather disappointed when the receptionist called my name right in the middle of a good article. :lol:

I was just 'digging' into an article named "Emerald Islet", a lovely Irish inspired garden in Sarnia and this huge label screamed to me on the magazine front that read "MAGAZINES ARE NOT TO BE REMOVED FROM THIS PROPERTY" (Lol!), and not ever wanting to be detained in custody for Doctor's Office magazine theft along with the same people ripping out recipes and cutting new tags off bedding, I bought the latest issue right away and Canadian Gardening subscriptions are now in progress for myself and some gardening lovers on my list.

My name is Daisy and I'm a self-described Epic Fail as a Garden Maven wannabe. :(

Where did the gardening gene go when it comes to me? And the sewing gene? And the crafty gene?....oh right...back to the issue at hand - Gardening!

I come from a line of humble backyard gardening masters. I love it. I want it. I have some reasonable time for it, but my gardening history tells the sad truth. Our spaces look horrible.

My now departed Grandmother lived in her backyard garden all summer and it was a magical journey for both adults and children alike. It was somewhat of a chaotic wildflower perennial garden long before it became fashionable once again.

Her gardens were created and nurtured by both she and Mother Nature since the early 1930's. Wishing wells, pathways, strange and amazing plants from seeds the birds had carried and dropped all formed an amazing cluster of beauty at every step. What great memories of Gramma's garden!

My long retired parents have humbly worked in their yard together for years and both of them flush with embarassment and modesty when strangers ask for tours of their garden.

Their garden has been a lifelong and a lovelong progress. They're great with advice, and their best advice is 'trial, error and time' and constant discovery and change. Oh, how I wished my trials and errors ended up looking so nice.

I also have a very close family member who works for a large seed company and mails us interesting seeds each year.

I frequent seed exchange meet and greets and would like to get involved with the local garden club....if they'd have me! As the saying goes, any group that would have me as a member, I'm not sure I'd want to be a part of.

Several years ago, after many years of my own trial and error, our backyard garden and yard looked the most decent it ever had.

At that time, with the combination of my other half not ever really truly enjoying gardening and his travelling a lot, as well as the sudden onset of unusual and debilitating serious fatigue for me, my gardening was totally put on the backburner for about 3 years. I'm much better today and raring to get back into it. :)

Over the years, I've bought many landscaping and gardening books from Mark Cullen to Lois Hole and everything in between.

At this time, I can't even think of hiring a landscaping professional for a consultation, although I would dearly love to (would that be a good investment?) My parents are great and give good advice, but I also genuinely seek help from fellow Canadian Gardeners as another eye in my quest for our future pleasure spaces.

Eventually, after I eventually began feeling a little better with good medical care, I ended up committing the ultimate gardening sin in going hog-wild with Round-Up one day when I was so tired and embarassed of ugly bramble, weeds and a yard that looked awful to me.

It was totally uncharacteristic of my nature (dislike chemicals), but I was fed up. The wasteland still awaits, with the exception of some Hosta and Rhubarb I wanted to preserve.

I started some Heirloom tomatoes last spring indoors with the hopes of some bounty, but the spring sun entering our home at that time of year is scarce at best and the seedlings ended up spindly, leggy and weak. Fail! Off to the Garden Centre I traipsed to get some run-of-the-mill transplants. My other half built a cold frame through the summer for me which I plan on utilizing this upcoming spring. We are in Zone 2B.

I really need advice on current winter planning for my blank slate next spring to start the process of eventually working on having lovely beds of flowers, herbs, shrubs and vegetable beds. I'm old and wise enough to know there is no such thing as instant and it's a long and patient process needing committment, but I have to start somewhere and I'm befuddled. I'm ready for it!

I've been on several landscaping websites, but Canadian Gardening is unique in it's own right, so glad to find this site.

I will post some photos once I get a feel for where they should specifically go.

The best thing about fresh fallen snow on the Prairies is that our yard looks exactly like our neighbors right now. I live beside two old guys who spend hours loving their gardens and I'm sure equip manicure scissors on their lawnmowers. One stands and watches his grass grow, I'm convinced. Love those great neighbors to pieces, so I'm sure they'd be happy our place will be receiving a makeover.

Thanks all for hearing out my long rant. Any and all advice is genuinely appreciated for these pathetic spaces if I may post my queries.
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Re: Epic Fail! My Life as a Garden Maven

Postby davefrombc » Dec 10, 2012 3:43 pm

Welcome to the forum Daisy. You'll find a friendly bunch in here . You'll notice there are several general topics and the Garden Fence where general discussions are ... However, We're pretty informal here and often threads get hijacked or led off in directions unrelated to the original post. Search on growing under lights, and seed starting under lights to find quite a bit of discussion on seed starting. There's pictures and discussions on pretty much any question you may have on every aspect of gardening, pets and what have you ... and the occasional banter that may knot the knickers of the more straight laced among us... In other words , we're a family here.
BC Fraser Valley zone 7/8
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Re: Epic Fail! My Life as a Garden Maven

Postby CdnChelsea » Dec 10, 2012 3:54 pm


Hello Daisy : )

Our forums are a bit slow right now, but there is a wealth of knowledge in previous posts so what I do is go back and read some of those posts. I like to go back and pick up some tips from fellow gardeners. To me, this is a great forum.

Here is a little background about me...
I have always loved flowers, plants and birds and being close to nature. My dream place would be living in a hobbit-style house, built into a gigantic oak tree. A house that would be part of nature. It would be in a forest, on the edge of a meadow filled with beautiful flowers. Oh.... and a mountain fed stream close and it has to have a waterfall. I want it all. I need to win the lottery. I'm a dreamer. : )

In reality, my home and gardens are slowly becoming what I want them to be. I started the gardens with a blank slate. Only weeds, no lawn. The trees were Poplars. Imo, they are messy, shallow-rooted, fast growing, then dying trees. We cut them down.

Over the years we have been planting some trees and building gardens. My plan is to create my own little Eden, our own little sanctuary. I have almost managed to block out the view of the road and neighbours by planting a narrow forest along the property's edge.
It's far from being finished but hey, half the fun is getting there! : )

Ok,......no more rambling.

So nice to meet another garden enthusiast.

Welcome, Daisy : )

"Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth
are never alone or weary of life" ~ Rachel Carson
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Re: Epic Fail! My Life as a Garden Maven

Postby Laura » Dec 10, 2012 4:00 pm

Welcome Daisy ..... I am sure you will find what you are looking for here.Lots of nice people and great advice on the forum.

I have been cleaning up my garden this week and I know what you mean by needing a re-do.I have things planted here and there and think it is time for a "real" flowerbed.I have a small veggie spot called the Patch,some perrenials,some fruit,and I always have some annuals.

I don't really know a whole lot about gardening but I have such fun just being out there .... you will too I know.
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Re: Epic Fail! My Life as a Garden Maven

Postby CdnChelsea » Dec 10, 2012 4:02 pm


Hi Dave! : )

Nice to see you here. You must have been typing when I was. I thought I was going to be the first one to respond, but you beat me to it.

Nice welcome and oh so true.

*edit* Laura, nice to see you, too : )


"Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth
are never alone or weary of life" ~ Rachel Carson
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Re: Epic Fail! My Life as a Garden Maven

Postby orchidguy » Dec 10, 2012 4:10 pm

Welcome to the forums Daisy. I hope you'll find what you're looking for here.

All gardeners are works in progress, ever learning, ever changing and ever growing.

My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant's point of view. ~H. Fred Dale
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Re: Epic Fail! My Life as a Garden Maven

Postby Elena Zimmerman » Dec 10, 2012 5:17 pm

Don't get discouraged. My first garden, I worked and worked on it for many years, and then we sold the house, and then we visited a couple of years after, and there it was, a lovely garden i planted, mature and smart looking.

My current one, 3 years in, still looks like a collection of twigs, random shrubs and no hard-scaping to speak of.... except for a kick ass gravel pad I laid around the composter last year (if I say so myself). I do want to hire professionals eventually to do stone-work and pathways. I read a few books on laying stone, and I don't think i can do it myself.

I had spindly tomatoes as well. After which I swore of planting ANYTHING till last week of April. Apparently, here in Calgary, the first 2 weeks of June are a real killer, with cold rains and all, so if I plant in the end of April/early May, the plants get enough natural sun and are ready to be planted in the 3rd week of June. Did not work last year, with the super-early spring, but annual seeds all overwintered and I had more annuals than I knew what to do with!
Gardening in Calgary, AB, Zone 3, Chinook conditions
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Re: Epic Fail! My Life as a Garden Maven

Postby Daisy » Dec 11, 2012 12:10 pm

Thank you all for such a warm welcome and being brave souls for reading my post....errrr...novel.

I look so forward to gaining some great knowledge over the winter from this website. Looks like you are all a great bunch and very helpful!
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Re: Epic Fail! My Life as a Garden Maven

Postby Peggy2296 » Dec 16, 2012 12:12 pm

Hi Daisy! Nice to find a kindred soul. Last fall I had my property literally stripped to the bare bones. Looking at this large, totally blank canvas made me eager and excited! Visions of lovely and lush gardens danced in my head, but somehow my hands couldn't translate those visions into reality, leaving me mostly disappointed and frustrated. Nothing looked the way I saw it in my feverish brain.

I did get helpful advice and inspiration from the very knowledgeable people on this forum, and I haven't given up yet!:)
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Re: Epic Fail! My Life as a Garden Maven

Postby Heidi S » Dec 20, 2012 3:00 pm

HI Daisy,

As a fellow northerner, Zone 3, I can relate to spindly seedings and such trauma. One of the things to work out is when your frost free season starts and ends in your area, and work back your seedling starts from there.

I live in Prince George, BC and we have our frost free time from June 6 to August 15th and I don't typically start any seeds until the end of April at the earliest, because they languish on the windowsill too long and never do well once they can get outside. Actually, I start my greenhouse up mid May and heat it overnight to keep things from freezing during that time, but they go outside as soon as they have sprouted to get the strong light they need to grow strong. I don't have room for light benches, and specialized equipment so I just work with the seasons as they are, and don't fight nature.

Most seed and plant instructions are not written with a northerner in mind. Just like everyone assumes that all of BC is like Vancouver (almost sub tropical rainforest @ Zone 8-9), your conditions in a Zone 2 location will be vastly different from the major, southern environments most publications focus on.

I found when I moved here from Vancouver (and what a shock that was to my system), the best resources I found were to talk to the local old-timers who have lots of experience in the area.

I have killed lots of plants, shrubs and trees in the process of learning to garden in this dry cold environment, but after 17 years, I am now giving advice to others and helping their success. If there is a garden club in your area join it, chat with the local nursery, and just talk with neighbours who seem to be having success.

There are a few of us northerners on this forum, so keep asking questions, we will give you our best experiences, and you will find a way to work in your area with practice. Keeping a planting journal can really help, if for no other reason than to note the dates you do things, and how the weather and conditions were that year, so you can understand your results.

Enjoy reading your seed catalogues for now, and watch for the interesting Alphabet soup feature that starts in the new year, where we show off our interesting photos of successes and failures from the previous year's efforts.
Heidi S,
Prince George, BC
Zone 3!

Master Gardener in Training....
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