Garden Sketch

Drawing from life in the yard

Navigation Menu

Spring: Celebrate Life in the Garden

Spring: Celebrate Life in the Garden

Posted by on Apr 2, 2015 in Backyard, Flowers, Gardens, Inspiration, Spring, West Coast |

Spring has sprung. While much of the rest of Canada still digs out and thaws from its deep winter freeze, west coast gardens have busted through. We’ve sprinted through the early spring blooms with colourful rapidity, leaving cherry blossom petals as the only white stuff on the ground here. Our Crocuses were drawn from the early February mud by days of unusual sunshine that has also lured us outside to enjoy them. Tall Daffodils created their own helioclimes of warm yellow. Now Tulips and Bleeding Hearts paint away the brown of winter landscaping. It’s no surprise that many of these harbingers of spring grow from bulbs, planted long before. It’s the best time to celebrate life in the garden.

Cherry Blossoms

But when we planted those bulbs in the autumn, it was hard to know how things would turn out. Should we plant in blocks or patterns? Will they bloom this time? We dig and dream. The energy stored within these little bulbs provides the biological drive: a life force that defies our long dark winters and often bitter cold. We tidy up the stems a bit after they bloom, but the floppy leaves do most of the work to return nutrients to the bulbs for next year.

Daffodils

And they come back. Even though the winter garden appears razed to the ground, first a little leaf unfurls and before long a whole plant bursts into bloom; each according to its own rhythm, a symphony of colour played slowly over the spring and summer months.

Bleeding Hearts

So it is in spring that I am struck by the faith and wonder of gardening. It’s a faith in nature and the universe that after getting progressively darker every day for six months, everything turns and slowly and gradually, we see more light. To reward our faith, we are trothed the gift of colour.

Planter Colour

We also have the stick of a Rhododendron newly planted in our yard. Its parent lives on the Sumas prairie: a giant bush whose branches became so heavy, this one dropped to kiss the ground. Uncle Neil selected a few most likely to succeed for us. His plant in turn had come from the family property in New Westminster where they were all born and grew up in the teens and twenties of the last century. They lost the house in the Crash, but transplanted their home by way of Rhododendrons, Snowdrops and rhubarb when they moved. In our turn, we’ve also drawn from them, to help us make our homes. They have been part of our shared hope to make things better–but we also don’t forget how tough it can be.

Transplanted Rhododendron

Uncle Neil died in February.

We’ve lost his loving presence, his curiosity and deep knowledge of the people and world around him. But we’re grateful that he’ll live on in our gardens.

Snowdrops

Read More

Frosted Fall Gardens

Frosted Fall Gardens

Posted by on Nov 19, 2014 in Backyard, Flowers, Front Yard, Gardens |

We’ve had a hard frost here in Vancouver most mornings this week.  The cold has freeze-dried the plants in the garden and finished off most of my annuals.  I got out last weekend to catch the shapes and colours of my frosted fall garden.

Twists of Japanese Blood Grass

Twists of Japanese Blood Grass

I couldn’t resist the look of the Japanese Blood Grass this morning.  It’s leaves must feel like my super dry hands this week as the cold sucks the moisture from my skin.  Happily my fingers haven’t curled up like these leaves–yet!

Siberian Bugloss

Siberian Bugloss

I’ve raved about my Siberian Bugloss before.  It’s the first of my hosta-type plants to re-emerge in the spring and it’s the last to die off.  It’s a great add to any shady garden for its beautiful variegated leaves and whimsical blue flowers.  It may even bounce back from this frost depending on the weather in the next few weeks.

Organic Symmetry

Organic Symmetry

This plant is normally a taller, but has given way to the cold.  I don’t know what it is called, but brought a little of it over from Point Roberts where it seemed to thrive under the tall Hemlock Firs (which my neighbour also has along the property line).  It has very pretty pink and white blossoms in the summer.

Chickadee Chats

Chickadee Chats

This guy was hanging out with me in the yard this morning.  Obviously really happy that I had refilled the feeder!

Nearly Headless Marigolds

Nearly Headless Marigolds

Yes, the frost took it’s toll on the annuals.  Still robust last weekend, they have bowed to their fate.

Leafy Lettuce

Leafy Lettuce

I’m not sure that the texture of this lettuce would be very palatable now.  I wonder if it might rebound once the rains return.  It does seem to like this sunny spot in the garden.

Free Dried Japanese Maple Leaves

Free Dried Japanese Maple Leaves

The leaves on my Japanese Maple were incredible this morning.  It reminded me of picture of frozen waves from Lake Superior last year.  It’s like they curled around the wind that blew so hard this week and froze in place.

IMG_2603

The cheerful pink of these plants has finally faded, but the Crocosmia have retained their orange hue.

Well, I had left a bunch of plants in the ground, because it shame to pull them up while they were still blooming.  These heavy frosts have definitely dealt them a death blow and set up one last weekend of work before I start my winter rest from the garden.  I’ve really loved my garden this year.  How about you?  Any special victories in your yard?

 

 

 

Read More

It’s our Day! It’s our Special Day! Garden Sketch App Launch

It’s our Day!  It’s our Special Day! Garden Sketch App Launch

Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Backyard, Do it Yourself, Flowers, Front Yard, Garden Design, Garden Sketch, Gardening Apps, Gardens, Inspiration, iPad App |

The long wait is over.  After much fussing, planning and worrying it is finally time for the Garden Sketch App launch!  It is now available for iPads in the App Store.  Click here to download.  Garden Sketch will be free for the next few weeks, after which the price will be set to $3.99.  So download it now!

Use Garden Sketch to map your yard with the house, sheds, existing trees and gardens, then create new plans of future garden designs.  There are preset logos for plants, shrubs and trees in three sizes and different colours.  There is also the option of straight or freehand lines and freehand shapes to define spaces.  You can easily add notes to create plant lists.   Export your designs to email or social media platforms as screen grabs or pdfs.

Garden Sketch has a quick and an easy learning curve, but also has plenty of subtlety.  As your skill improves and the designs get better and better and you can fine tune the details.  We’ve found that working with a Stylus really helps to get nice lines and precise plant placement.

Autumn is a great time to use Garden Sketch.  Your garden is still beautiful and full of summer colour.  Use Garden Sketch to record all the plants in your garden and get a head start on your ideas for next year’s plans.

Send your comments and questions to me via email to maija[at]gardensketchapp.com.

Thanks to Jane for sending us this design!  Feel free to share your plans on our Facebook page or with us on Twitter – @GardenSketchApp.  Stay tuned, for a contest with prizes!

Garden Sketch Plan

Garden Sketch Plan

We’ll have a series of posts over the next few weeks with tips for you to get the most from Garden Sketch.

Read More

Gardening as an Act of Creation

Gardening as an Act of Creation

Posted by on Jul 31, 2014 in Backyard, Flowers, Front Yard, Garden Design, Gardens, Inspiration |

I’ve always brought green things into my life.  My first year of university, I bought a plant so I could share my boarding house room with another living thing.  I always pulled the weeds and planted annuals in the gardens of our rental houses, but it has been here in this house that gardening has become an act of creation.

Breaking it down, I would say that I garden for three reasons: beauty, to create spaces and joy. The beauty piece is self evident.  It’s why we buy tulips on those grey days when winter seems in its final convulsive fits.  Beauty seems like a luxury in tough times but it is also very powerful.  Beauty draws us in and brings us closer.  And as fleeting as it seems, it connects us with the human condition as Robert Frost once said, “Nothing gold can stay.” Wandering my yard, I have realized that what gardens do is create spaces, like small acts of architecture.  As someone walks by on the sidewalk, they are invited into the space created by the ridiculously cheerful wall of Black Eyed Susans.  I’ve watched the smiles come over their faces as they reach out to check if the flowers are real.

The front sidewalk

The front sidewalk

On the other side of the same garden bed, there is a completely separate space–one that is shared with the people invited into my home.  It’s a view that is private and separate from that public facade.

The Other Side of the Garden

The Other Side of the Garden

In the backyard, the cute low fence keeps the dogs in, but still grants a view.  Here the pergola gives us a place to site our deck chairs as we enjoy the coolness of the evening.  With a few bird feeders, we’ve also created a space for creatures to visit.  The chickadees, juncos, finches and sparrows hover and flit, filling the space with life.  Our most welcomed guest is the Rufous hummingbird, who always exits the yard with an acrobatic flourish. IMG_0874 When we create these spaces for beauty in our lives, we can’t help but create joy.  I feel it as I sit here in the early morning scribbling my words.  I know it as I putter, watering my charges and pulling weeds.  I indulge myself as I daydream about the plants I will add next year.  The beauty of the garden is a luxury, but there are precious few things that we can do that bring us such joy.

What about you?  Why do you love to garden?

Read More

Introducing Garden Sketch

Posted by on Jul 24, 2014 in Do it Yourself, Flowers, Garden Design, Garden Sketch, Gardens | 1 comment

The Front Garden

The Front Garden

My quest to build a gardening App began two years ago. We had finished landscaping the yard at my new house. The lawn and garden beds were beautiful, but empty. I knew I had to get started but I had no idea how. It was classic blank page syndrome.

Front Yard Blank Slate

Front Yard Blank Slate

As I stared at my property from the sidewalk, I thought, “There must be an App for that!”  It’s exciting to be here a couple of years later and be introducing Garden Sketch, our flower gardening App.

At the time, I visited out the App store looking for something to simplify the job of mapping my yard so that I could plan what to plant. To my great surprise, there weren’t any. There were encyclopedias and ‘look books’, gardening magazines and weird photo Apps, which would allow you to take a picture and then paste pictures of plants into your garden on top.  Nothing to help me map the yard and then make a good plan for a flower garden.  There were lots of functional Apps to lay out vegetables gardens, complete with tips about how to grow carrots and lettuce. I was interested in planning flowers gardens. Vegetables would come later.

In the absence of a technological solution, I reverted to pencil and paper and got started.

Rough Sketch August 2012

Rough Sketch August 2012

We planted a Japanese Maple and added in the Shasta Daisies. I had loved the cheerful Black-Eyed Susans all summer, so I lined the sidewalk with them. It seemed like a couple of Smoke Bushes would add a wide brush stroke of colour to compliment the Maple, so those went in as well.   We planted in September and then we waited. Unsure how anything would look the next summer. It has been all trial and error, but I am happy with the way things have come along.

As I was moving through this process, I began talking to other people, friends and neighbours, but most understood and seemed excited about the idea of doing their garden planning work on an iPad. So I approached Todd and Tylor from Denim and Steel about what it would take to actually build what I imagined in my head. This past winter we applied for and received funding from Creative BC for the purposes of building a working prototype of what has become Garden Sketch.

With a cash infusion, we’ve begun construction. This past Thursday night we shared an Alpha vesion (early days!) with a small group and they got to play with the App and provide feedback to what we’ve built so far.

Alpha Testing Team for Garden Sketch

Alpha Testing Team for Garden Sketch

Our testers had a short steep curve to get started by learning how to use the App. They quickly go the hang of it and were soon calling out suggestions, especially to brighten the colours and the thickness of lines. Our older eyes are rather unforgiving. Here are some of the maps and designs they produced.

Alpha Tester's First Garden Sketch

Alpha Tester’s First Garden Sketch

I’m afraid our Todd from our tech team has thumped us all with his beautiful plan of what his perfect yard would look like.

toddsieling_2014-Jul-19

 

Coming soon? Water features.

Read More

Summer Joy: Daisy Explosion

Posted by on Jul 1, 2014 in Flowers, Gardens, Inspiration |

Happy Canada Day everyone!

I always feel like summer is like riding a roller coaster.  During May and June we are chugging up those wooden tracks the days getting longer and longer.  Then on July 1st it is a huge whoosh! and before we know it, the days rush by getting shorter and shorter and it will be September again.  The past couple of mornings have been warm enough to head out onto my deck with a cup of tea and my notebook to write my morning pages.  I love the quiet and being able to look out over the yard.  I hope you have a special place to enjoy this summer weather too.

Today I thought I would share a some pictures that capture that pop of colour from one day to the next.  Over the last couple of weeks or so my Shasta Daisies have burst forth in a daisy explosion. It’s pure summer joy.

Shasta Daisy Ready to Burst

Shasta Daisy Ready to Burst

I love wandering the garden in the coolness of the evening, keeping an eye on things and predicting when the will bloom.

It happens in the blink of a yellow eye.

Shasta Daisy Full Glory

Shasta Daisy Full Glory

There is something about these daisies that can’t help but make you feel cheerful.  I recommend them for a sunny garden.  They are low maintenance and bloom for about six weeks or so, although they do need to be deadheaded to keep the plant looking perky.

Shasta Daisy Riot of Cheerfulness

Shasta Daisy Riot of Cheerfulness

Coming up next: a wall of Black Eyed Susans.

IMG_0479

Read More