a peek inside the fishbowl

23 May, 2018

What’s growing

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Home/reno

Am I a gardener? I asked myself that as I poked around the back yard this morning, thinking about what’s coming up, what needs more attention, how much work it all is to maintain. Honestly, Mark and I can barely keep up for the most part.

My inner dialogue about the garden is the same every year, and it almost always progresses through the season in this way:

  • Will winter ever end?
  • Hey, stuff is growing!
  • I’ve missed GREEN so much.
  • Oh, wait, they’re calling for frost this week
  • [Buys plants anyway]
  • [Cue sunny weather, angels singing etc etc]
  • Yard work begins, with joy in my heart!
  • Am I buying too much? [There is a notable loss of control at the garden centre. This is the time I buy plants that won’t make it because I’m OVERexcited and UNDERinformed. eg. Hens and Chicks truly need full sun.]
  • New plants! Dividing and sharing with friends! Eating fresh chives! Scoring deals at church and school plant sales!
  • How many things can we squeeze in that one small area that gets sunlight in our yard?
  • [Plans are being made.] This year we should definitely level the flagstone patio, what should we do with the hazelnut tree, what about that hedge?
  • [Yard work continues; the heart flags.] My muscles hurt, and it’s not the “good” kind of hurt that makes me feel like I really achieved something, either. And who said gardening was ZEN?
  • [All plans fall by the wayside and the annual rationalizations begin.] We can live with a sloping patio. Those raspberry bushes aren’t out of control, they’re FEEDING US, and they’re protection against invaders! Who cares if there’s a hole in the hedge!
  • Ugh. [The garden grows over, seemingly overnight, and it seems overwhelming to even think about. We take a machete to the worst of it.]
  • It’s fall, first frost. Thankgod we get to start again next year. Next year I’ll make sure we don’t let the garden spin out of control!
  • [Repeat next year.]

At this moment, we’re still in the excited and joyful stage. I’m heading to Ritchie Feed and Seed this afternoon, so we’ll see if I’m able to hold it together.

This is what’s going on now, at this point in the season.

The creeping phlox is creeping along quite nicely:

Phlox, creeping

… as are the hostas. The dark green one in the background of this photo is a giant hosta and it gets a bit bigger every year. It’s my favourite hosta.

Hostas are coming in nicely. The one in the back in a giant hosta with gorgeous leaves

We have a lot of hostas:

Most hostas (ok, I love hostas) and the bird bath.

Allium! Or, call it like you see it, purple pom-poms. This one will flower fully in the next day or two.


The lilacs are in full show mode and are a little braggy about it:

Lilac trees are in full bloom now

I love miniature plants and small rock gardens. This is Irish Moss:

I bought a pack of Irish Moss (I love moss!)

Of course, it wouldn’t be spring without forget-me-nots:


I hung up our old hummingbird feeder (frankly, I had given up on hummingbirds) and was almost immediately rewarded with a visit. It was, in a word, magical.

Hummingbird feeder

We MAY actually get strawberries this year, that is, unless the squirrels get them first:

We might have strawberries this year!

It’s worth mentioning that we have strawberry plants because I stuck a few local strawberries in the dirt a couple of years ago.

And speaking of squirrels, they seem to be out to get me sometimes… sigh.

Darn squirrel dug up my pansy

My gardening strategy right now is this: I will reign in my purchases at the garden centre this year and promise to put in at least 30 minutes of yard work every day. Maybe that way it won’t spiral out of control by August. I should revisit this post at the end of the summer and see where things ended up.


2 Responses to "What’s growing"

1 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Things I am loving: our new patio lights - a peek inside the fishbowl

May 29th, 2018 at 3:20 pm


[…] As I wrote about previously, we’ve been busy planting/weeding/chopping stuff down in our backyard. Mark trimmed some trees and took out a whole bunch of branches, which is great until you have to clean up/bundle up the aforementioned branches. Sigh. In these cases, it’s helpful to have an end game in mind. Which is: (a) to get ahead of the overgrowth and (b) and slowly improve our outdoor space. This has all been rather slow going, so slow, in fact, that it’s taken 20 years to get where we are today. I wish I was kidding. […]

2 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Squirrel combat gets real - a peek inside the fishbowl

June 8th, 2018 at 1:41 pm


[…] a recent post about our garden, I mentioned that squirrels have been digging into my containers. It’s really […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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