Looking back to when we moved into this house in 2020, a lot has changed. It is fun to see the changes, in particular in the garden, after our efforts each year. Below are the highlights of the native garden plant changes (growth, death, everything in between) over the past two years. Our efforts are all focused on making an outdoor living space for our family of 5 (2 adults, 2 kids, 1 cat), promoting a healthy, biodiverse space that supports local flora and fauna, specifically supporting pollinators, and promoting the health/abundance of local, native plant species.
For old times' sake, here is a look back when we started:
Front top, west-facing bed:
Species planted: wild strawberry, Missouri milkvetch, showy Jacob's-ladder, prickly wild rose, rosy pussytoes, and red columbine
2020: 2021: 2022:
Wild strawberries! From a healthy start last year, they have taken over the top bed, visibly crowding most other species following the blooming period, except the wild prickly rose.
The first berry! Eaten within seconds of discovery by an eager 2 year old, directly following this picture. Looking forward to tasting at least one berry from the plethora of early-showing fruit before the birds and the kids!
Flowering in stunning patches of purple after establishing last year. She is holding her own into the second growing season.
A strong presence taken up before the wild strawberry domination of late summer. As of the end of July, they are still going strong, although harder to spot amongst the greenery.
Prickly wild rose
The pride of Alberta - are we surprised she is thriving and already multiplying? Numerous booms starting in late may through June, continuing strong stem growth heading into August. Tall and wide sprouts suggesting that we might have considered positioning a little further from the path...
Soft and lovely, these beauties are hanging in despite significant coverage by strawberry runners. They are starting to cover and spread as promised with lovely blooms through July.
Unknowingly planted alongside a rosy pussytoe, this is the only survivor out of 8 red and blue columbines. Not expecting the leaf shape that appeared during early season, she was almost pulled on a number of occasions. Happy she stayed and into August is still displaying intricate red and yellow flowers.
Species planted: Fireweed, bluebell / harebell, scorpion weed, sticky purple geranium
Starting early and bursting gorgeous blooms from the end of May through July, she effectively dominates the east-facing side of the house. Fast growth forcing out a strong, established, but late-growing crop of marigolds that, heading into August, have yet to show. Currently sending out billows of pillowy seed parachutes - look out neighbourhood, fireweed is in town!
Bluebell / harebell
Sadly, after a magnificent first year, which included strong growth and blooms, none of these came up in 2022. This could be as a result of a hard, heavy, snow-packed winter, or discouragement from many sunflower seed shells piling up through fall and winter from the bird feeder above.
Sticky purple geranium
Sun-loving, she persevered through a tough first year with minimal height and no blooms, to successfully flower in her second. Achieving significant height suggestive of strong root establishment, we look forward to what follows this year's initial, small-but-gorgeous blooms.
A victim of rabbits after a promising 2022 start despite dry conditions and a spectacular, late bloom last year. Definitely will be a do-over in a new location - possibly more most area - for 2023.
North (shaded) side of house:
Species planted: golden bedstraw, showy aster (2 varieties), Canada violet, and creeping thyme
2020: 2021: 2022:
Mulch, water, and a bit of love/attention and this former wasteland of scrap material is looking like a suitable home for this shade-loving, dry tolerant crew (next year, fence paint!).
Strongly taking over the outside of the path-fence with tendrils of leaf formations which, heading into August, are starting to show signs of the promised golden autumn display.
Two types of aster, both looking strong despite the growing coverage of golden bedstraw. No blooms as of yet, but strong-healthy looking spread is encouraging for what next year will bring.
Early May flowers were a welcome and unexpected surprise in 2022. Delicate, lovely white/purple flowers bloomed through late July. At this point, difficult to say if the extreme heat is the cause of retreating blooms, or if the show is meant to end until early again next year.
Creeping thyme (north side of house and south side of yard)
The most numerous of plant species put in last year, fairly slow, but steady establishment in both locations. South-side plants achieved bright purple blooms starting mid-July and still gaining momentum into August. Some loss on the north-facing side in the driest area and still no flowers. Looking forward to continued blooms next year.
South edge of backyard:
Species planted: Western white clematis, twinning honeysuckle, wild strawberries, and creeping thyme
2020: 2021: 2022:
Western white clematis
A clear, early success in 2021, she continued to delight this year, not only unexpectedly reviving old-growth shoots, but achieving fence-high height by July. All stalks are healthy and established. Some daring to venture across as well as up, encroaching on the slower-moving honeysuckle. At this rate, the neighbours trailer and motorhome will be covered by EOS 2023 🙌🏻
Single stem slow growth in 2021 precluded branching out and gaining height in 2022. Less dense than the clematis, broad foliage is starting to fill out and build presence. Almost all plants are now intertwining with trellis except a few planted further out from the fence still searching for an initial hold.
Similar to the front of the house, the wild strawberries are quickly becoming dominant ground coverage and sending shoots over everything in sight. Flowering creeping thyme peeking through in brilliant purple blooms - we are pulling for you in 2022!
Sadly, we had two species that didn't establish last season and didn't show this year including smooth blue beard tongue and altitude-loving prairie crocus.
And of course we need to include (even though they are non-native to Alberta) ...
2020: 2021: 2022:
And some close ups!
2023 Potential Species Additions:
Blue flax (full sun - side)
Wild bergamot - bee balm (full sun or part shade)
Purple prairie clover (full sun, average dry moisture)
Silverweed (yellow - under pine tree)
Purple cone flower (dry - near juniper in top bed)