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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

Entries in garden mentors (2)


A Guest Post for "An Obsessive Neurotic Gardener"

I have been a fan of John Markowski’s blog, An Obsessive Neurotic Gardener, ever since he first started posting. Recently, when John contacted me and asked if I would write a guest blog for his site, I was deeply touched. It took a while for me to decide upon a topic because I wanted it to be appropriate. A polite and perfunctory piece just wouldn’t do. John deserved more; and when you read the guest post that I wrote you will understand why. The piece is titled "Express Yourself". Click here to link to my article at John's blog.


Learning from Gardeners who Don't Pretend to Know

My father-in-law knew nothing about gardening. Because he liked how annuals brightened up his front garden, he committed himself to learning how to plant them. Each season, he would kneel in front of the flower bed, which consisted of very dry, hard-packed clay and would proceed to deform my hand trowels by attempting to dig holes into the almost-concrete substance. Amazingly, though, his wax begonias always thrived and always looked great.

One season, I asked him for the secret of his success. He answered that he found the earth a bit dry when he was planting [ha!] and figured that if annuals needed water and if their roots were underground, then perhaps he should place the water underground as well. Now, that made sense. After excavating a hole in the hard-packed earth, he would fill that hole with water, insert the wax begonia seedling into the water-filled hole, and back fill the hole with the crumbled concrete that he called earth. Never mind that this earth was not a friendly growing medium. He watered the begonias every night and they always looked great.