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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

See my work on Pinterest at Garden Guru Montreal


Joseph and His Plants of Many Colors

Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener, Joseph Tychonievich, Timber Press.

When I learned that garden writing colleague, Joseph Tychonievich, had published his first book, I felt both joy and sadness. The joy I experienced was a culmination of several years of watching this young scientist’s career blossom – literally – before my eyes.  

The sadness arose when I realized that I did not have the academic credentials to give his work, on plant breeding for the home gardener, the review it deserved. That is why it makes me happy anytime someone else reviews the book. 

A few years ago, while in a post-graduate program at university, Joseph began a garden blog. He wrote his posts in an effortless and entertaining manner. On his site, he used words-  as a cartoonist uses pen and ink - to deliver his thoughts and feelings into the imagination of his readers. For a scientist, that is a remarkable and enviable talent.

Through his posts, I felt his enthusiasm for his chosen field and was inspired by his vibrant approach both to gardening and to life itself. Even now, his deceptively simple yet original use of language, both in his blog posts and on Facebook, allow readers to feel his pulse and share in the adrenaline racing through his body.

Eventually, just as cream rises to the surface of milk, Joseph attracted the attention of Timber Press who offered him a book contract. I was not surprised.

In short, Joseph is a natural born communicator who leaves his readers smiling. His enthusiasm for all things botanical is palpable in almost everything he writes. He has an original voice and uses it effectively. With simple words to create powerful imagery, he has created an endearing style of writing that reveals a warm, joy-filled personality. His followers can’t help but grow fond of him even if they have never met him in person.

This month, on behalf of his association with Arrowhead Alpine Plants, Joseph brought a collection of spring flowering plants to Detroit Garden Works, the design studio of Deborah Silver. His display was so colorful, that it inspired Ms. Silver, who usually features conservative-colored plant compositions, to share Joseph's vivid choices in a photo-essay on her blog, Dirt Simple.

From the moment he appeared online, Joseph attracted the eager attention of gardeners, bloggers, writers, and horticultural professionals. He impressed Timber Press to add him to their roster of authors and inspired Deborah Silver to illustrate her blog with richly colored images.  

He brings a smile to the faces of his fans and so moves those who have met him that some wish he were part of their family. Joseph is a reminder that if one chooses a career out of passion, every day can be a celebration of life.

Recently, I was pleased to discover that horticulturist Geri Laufer has written a glowing review of his first publication. Echoing my sentiments and in her words:-

“The author’s gift is to present the technical world of plant breeding so simply and in such a captivating manner that anyone can understand it—and everyone will want to try it. After all, it’s like making chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.”

Ms. Laufer has described the essence of a talented scientist-communicator who is able to make plant breeding as enjoyable as baking cookies. Few garden writers touch people’s hearts as deeply and effectively as Joseph does. That is why his book deserves our attention. 



Should We Risk Our Health for A Beautiful Rose? 

Image:-, a Canadian catalogue and online plant provider.Recently, the French language garden magazine Fleurs Plantes et Jardins published a pictorial review of roses that survive cold climates. Included in that article was a photo of the hybrid musk rose, Mozart. A continuous top seller at many retail and online nurseries, it caught my attention because it is striking and beautiful.  

Researching this plant online, I discovered that it flowers profusely, producing a non-stop show of enormous sprays of small, single pink blooms with white centers and reddish-  pink edges. Its arching habit allows the gardener to grow it as a cascading specimen or as a climber against a fence.

This is a perfumed rose that tolerates light shade, re blooms until autumn, and grows 3 to 6 feet tall depending upon growing conditions. In some locations, it is reported to spread wider than 8 feet. In the fall, the color display is followed by showy orange hips.

Most importantly, it has excellent resistance to disease. With a winter tolerance for CND Zone 4 or USDA Zone 5, the description of this rose is impressive. What’s not to like? Plenty!

While Mozart is virtually disease resistant, it is not pest free. Here is a list of all of the bugs that might attack this rose, depending upon a gardener’s local eco-system:-  Aphids, leaf hoppers, spider mites, scale, caterpillars, sawfly larvae, cane borers, Japanese beetles, rose stem girders, rose midges, rose slugs, rose chafers, and  leaf-cutting bees.

If Mozart is such a cafeteria for bugs, it may be necessary to spray it with pesticides. However, many gardeners worry that using such products compromises the health of all living things; some are not convinced that it does while still others pay no attention to such matters.

I don’t want to tempt fate by trying to prove who is right and who is wrong. I prefer to be cautious. Consequently, I am reluctant to plant this versatile, eye-catching rose. Those who are concerned about the residual effects that toxic substances have upon all living things will opt for carefree plants that need no pesticides to survive.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if breeders could develop a pest- free rose that performs just like Mozart does?


Yoga Positions for Gardeners, a book review

Gardener’s Yoga - Bend & Stretch, Dig & Grow. Veronica D’Orazio, Sasquatch Books.

Essentially, this delightful little manual demonstrates how yoga can help combat the common aches and pains associated with otherwise pleasurable gardening chores.

In this cheerfully illustrated handbook, the author suggests a series of yoga poses that help prepare our bodies for our favorite hobby, protect our limbs from surprising strains, and soothe our muscles after our outdoor work has taken its physical toll.  

For both men and women, the objective is to foster awareness how breathing, posture, and deliberate flowing movement can benefit the gardener. For those who have never practiced yoga before, this publication, based upon twenty-one simple poses, also serves as a general introduction to yoga itself.

When Veronica D’Orazio felt her back go out after a strenuous week of weeding, she decided to soothe her sore muscles with yoga. That inspired her to create a yoga program that targets the body’s stress, helps prevent injury, and bolsters strength and flexibility.

Prior to beginning a gardening chore, the reader is encouraged to Break Ground. This group of yoga poses gently warms up the spine and prepares the lower limbs for the day’s work

For the actual outdoor chores, aka Planting Seeds, the author suggests poses that emphasize breathing and balance to reduce body tension and soreness.

In the last section titled Harvest Time, the focus is on poses for relaxation and elongating tired muscles to restore and unwind the body.

A valuable addition to this publication is a chart that readers can consult when seeking guidance to cure specific pain. Seven body parts that are most vulnerable to discomfort are cross-referenced with specific yoga poses that offer relief.

If yoga is a new concept for gardeners, it’s helpful to know that it does more than relieve strain on muscles and joints. It also rejuvenates the mind and spirit, balances the central nervous system, cleanses internal organs, strengthens the circulatory system, and promotes an overall sense of well-being and contentment. In that respect, both yoga and gardening are sources of similar natural benefits and each complements the other.

The author is a certified yoga instructor and gardener. The illustrator, Tim Foss, who gives life and meaning to Ms. D’Orazio’s text, is also a gardener and yoga practitioner. The publisher, Seattle-based Sasquatch Books, has created the ultimate printed product. It is an instructive, affordable gift, beautiful to look at, and fun to read.



"Campfire" is a Continuous-Blooming Rose for Cold Climates. blooming roses are one of the most important plants that I use in my garden compositions. Their petals are reminiscent of the soft, old-fashioned flower heads of yesteryear, while their ruggedness resonates with gardeners in colder climates. Depending upon variety and growing conditions, a large number of them are resistant to pests and diseases.

The only shortcoming of this class of plants is the absence of intense fragrance usually associated with short blooming high maintenance hybrid tea and old-fashioned roses. Nevertheless, for this perennial gardener, who wants to see color in his flowerbeds all season long, nothing compares to continuous blooming rose bushes to pump out colorful flowers from early summer to late fall and sometimes to early winter. my enthusiasm, therefore, when I read, in the Spring 2013 edition of Garden Making magazine, that Campfire Rose, would be this season’s new introduction in the Canadian Artist Series. From the developers of the Explorer and Parkland roses, this series of next-generation plants are named after Canadian artists who created lasting works of beauty on canvas, in sculpture, or in song. Campfire Rose pays homage to a painting by Tom Thompson.

A Canadian Artists rose is evaluated more rigorously than those in the previous two series of Parkland and Explorer for the benefit of growers and gardeners across Canada and the northern United States. It must be adaptable to all parts of Canada and able to survive the climate, frost lines, diseases and capricious weather patterns from coast to coast. That means a gardener in Prince George, British Columbia, can reliably grow the same rose bush as the gardener in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Kingston, Ontario, Dauphin, Manitoba, or Truro, Nova Scotia.

For those of us who garden in cold climates, it’s comforting to know that roses that have been bred in Canada hardly ever require winter protection. Known for their toughness and refinement, they have strong root systems, clean foliage, good-to-excellent disease resistance, and strong blooming power.

Campfire Rose variety starts to flower in early summer and remains in bloom until hard frost sets in. Can a passionate gardener ask for anything more?

Growers report that this vibrant, multi-colored variety is an awesome performer. Commercial sites describe it as having a mild fragrance. Very rounded, full and bushy, it reaches 2 to 3 feet in height and is slightly wider than high.  

According to technical details supplied by the breeder and growers, the 20-petal blossoms of Campfire Rose begin as shapely buds with yellow and red tones. The flowers open yellow, edged in a deep rosy pink. Some blooms that appear  in the early season will be nearly all yellow, gradually developing pink edging. As the season progresses the pink edging becomes more prominent. Some flowers will be nearly all pink and some nearly all yellow. As autumn approaches, the blooms tend to be yellow in bud, quickly turning soft pink. Growers report that the unusual, stunning, visual effect is harlequin-like.  

Campfire Rose is described as being one of the most disease resistant of any hardy rose and cold hardy to USDA Zone 2 or CAN Zone 3. The branching on this plant is at 45 degrees, giving it both height and width. It covers ground quickly yet has enough height to be used as a high ground cover or low shrub. The stems are smooth with only the occasional short thorns, making it easy to work with.  This upcoming spring, I look forward with great excitement to test grow this new rose in my garden.

Most Canadian nurseries carry Canadian Artist roses. American gardeners should inquire at the nurseries listed below.



Levi Reunions Inc.


St. Paul

Bailey Nurseries


St. Paul

Friends School Of Minnesota


North Dakota


High Plains Concept



Harvest Garden Centre



Sheyenne Gardens



Helen's Country Greenhouse



The Flower House



Hwy 200 Greenhouse



Tree Tunnels: A Visually Stunning Photo Essay

JACARANDA WALK, PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICAOne doesn’t have to be gardener to appreciate nature’s beauty. I discovered this photo-essay via a friend’s email; she sent it to me after receiving it from a colleague who had copied it from a foreign-language forwarded message received from Europe.

AUTUMN TREE TUNNEL, SMUGGLER'S NOTCH, VERMONT, USAIt is possible that it originated at

BAMBOO PATH, ARASHIYAMA, JAPANThe power of the images is so moving and pervasive, that readers around the world have been downloading this post and eagerly forwarding it to their contacts.

RUA GONCALO DE CARVALHO, PORTO ALEGRE, BRAZILIt has been re posted on countless other websites, including YouTube. Yet, there has been no accreditation to its originator. This reproduction has occurred even though the Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects the content of the original source.

GINKO TREE TUNNEL, TOKYO, JAPANThe photo-list impressed me so that I thought to share it with my readers.

WISTERIA TUNNEL, SHIZUOKA, JAPANHowever, as a blogger, I had an obligation to determine its source. 

CHERRY BLOSSOM TUNNEL, BONN, GERMANYThat created an ethical dilemma because this copyrighted material has already been reproduced without accreditation all over the internet and has been forwarded around the world via innumerable personal emails.

YEW TREE TUNNEL, WALES, UKBy now, some may incorrectly assume that it is in the public domain.

TUNNEL OF LOVE, KLEVAN, UKRAINEUsing a Google search, I discovered that, to the best of my knowledge, is the originator.

THE DARK HEDGES, GRACEHILL HOUSE, NORTHERN IRELANDI would be grateful to any reader who can confirm or correct this information. In the meanwhile, I hope that these images generate as much pleasure for you as they have for me and the thousands of readers around the world who have been sharing them with their friends.