Welcome to The Tranquil Garden

I hope you will enjoy the journey I'm starting today. I welcome all your comments and questions on my blog posts and hope you will find my observations about my garden interesting and possibly helpful. I am not an expert (far from it!), so this will be a learning experience all round. I'm planning to do research when questions come up that I can't answer. Frankly, the only reason I feel qualified to write a blog is because anyone can do it! The reason I chose to blog about gardening is because I love it, and I think it's therapeutic to get one's hands (or gardening gloves) dirty by planting things that with luck, educated guesses and a bit of sun and rain, will grow!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Vacation Musings

One thing I love about traveling is noticing how gardens vary from one part of the world to another. Of course this has a lot to do with growing zones; but just as no two gardeners will create the same garden in the same region, there must be differences that arise from culture, traditions of that particular region, local gardening trends, etc.. I find it fascinating and, though the contrasts are not glaring from Nova Scotia to Quebec, there are some worth noting.
Walking through Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, yesterday, my husband and I were struck by the number of a particular kind of hydrangea that we saw in front of many of the colourfully painted, cedar-sided houses just outside the "downtown core" (okay, the main street!). After doing a little on-line research, I discovered that it is called "peegee hydrangea" and is a tree-type. The ones we saw had off-white clusters with pink tinges extravagantly covering the whole tree. The picture is one I took myself and is quite typical of the ones we saw.

Another plant I noticed in a couple of gardens was a rhododendron or possibly an azalea (hmmm...I should know the difference! Hold the phone...). What struck me was the size of these plants! I saw more than one that would have been more at home in the tropics, it was so enormous. Also, it had buds on it, and I thought these were spring-flowering plants. The photo I took is below, right. The plant is so large that there is sizeable maple seedling growing up through it that probably has gone unnoticed until recently.

Right, I'm back-- and now I know that Rhododendron is the genus name (spelled with a capital "R") and azaleas are a species of that genus (lower-case "a"). I always wondered about that. I also learned that there are indeed late-summer flowering types, although most seem to bloom in spring. There you are! You're welcome! They prefer acidic soil and semi-shade, too, FYI. I found a terrific site in case you're interested in growing these finicky babies in your garden. http://landscaping.about.com/cs/treesshrubs/a/rhodo_azaleas_2.htm

I'm going to end this for now, but I'm posting a picture of a garden bed I saw beside Notre-Dame in Paris. It's quite a different style than you'd find here, but beautiful. The bed is mostly low-growing annuals (verbena, perhaps?), but here and there a tulip pops up. If it had only been one or two tulips in someone's private garden bed I would have said that they were just strays forgotten by a squirrel or missed by the gardener, but these seemed to be deliberately planted that way. In Canadian gardens tulips are invariably planted "en masse" for the head-turning effect that produces, but why not try this sometime? Pick the right colours and it could be just as alluring and just think of all the gardeners who would stand staring quizzically at your front garden, wondering "Was this an accident? Do I like it?" Food for thought...this is how trends start!


  1. Viv, I really enjoyed 'Les Tulipes de Notre Dame'. Indeed they appear to be planted deliberately and to startling effect. I think they are calling to all of us to be true to ourselves. Like the tulips, our time in the garden is fleeting so we should muster the courage to show our own colours.

  2. Ha! You are totally right about the hydrangea trees! I am in another small NS town, and many yards have these trees. I noticed them here when I arrived a few weeks ago, has never seen them before and didn't know what they were, thanks for that!

  3. Actually, there are a lot of these hydrangeas in Ottawa, too. Seems to be increasing. Like you said about the rhodos, the one in your picture looks bigger than most of the ones here. By now, they are also quite a bit pinker than the one seemed to be in the photo but it could be our season is a bit later. They get darker as the season progresses, towards a brownish pink, still attractive.
    By the way, those buds on the rhodos are for next year's flowers.
    I'm enjoying your postings, Viv!

  4. Ensuzelle, it took me awhile to find your posting but I was glad to get it. Also glad to find out about the rhodo buds, interesting that they're for next year.