Blue Hydrangea

My Grass Roots

JoanneWelcome to my garden blog. Since this is my first entry, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you…

Well, it all began on a farm just on the outskirts of Monkton, Ontario – just northwest of Stratford. I am the fourth of six children. We had 200 acres of land on which we grew mainly corn, beans and barley. We also raised pigs, and had a few ducks, geese, chickens, goats, and rabbits. I think of all of the great experiences that I had growing up on the farm and I feel so fortunate to have had such a wonderful childhood. Working hand and hand with nature is a constant learning experience.

Gardening was very much a big part of our lives. We grew all the vegetables that we would need, for our family of 8, to take us through to the next year’s harvest.   When we saw that Mom was starting to gather the seed packages together, we knew that spring was just around the corner and the work was about to begin. As soon as we hopped off of the school bus on a warm spring afternoon, Mom would instruct her troops to go inside, change our clothes, and then join her out in the garden.   She would string out the line with twine for the next row and begin to make a shallow trench. We would follow along with the packages of seeds, spacing them out as to her directions. While covering up the seeds with the rich, warm soil, we would occasionally uncover an innocent earthworm that would inevitably be seen flying through the air towards an unsuspecting sibling. To this day, the fragrance of lily-of-the-valley, peonies and lilacs takes me right back to my childhood and my time spent in the gardens.

As a child, I loved spending time out in the garden observing how plants grow, how they set their flower buds, and how the fruit would seem to miraculously start to form. I always wondered how a plant knew what it needed to do and when to do it.   Even the insects in the garden captured my attention, especially the cool looking tomato hornworms. Chores like tilling the soil and weeding were enjoyable tasks for me – just don’t tell my Mom.   I wanted to soak up all that nature had to teach me.

After high school, it seemed like a natural fit for me to continue my education by taking a 2 year Horticultural Technician course at Niagara College in St. Catharines.   Who knew that studying plants would mean minoring in Latin? Here, the world of plants was opened up for me and my love for gardening really grew. I finally started to learn some of the answers to the many questions I had as a child.

For the past 25 years I have been employed at Mori Gardens in Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON as a Garden Designer and Consultant. I have been privileged over the years to have completed approximately two thousand landscape designs of all sizes, for both commercial and residential properties. I love talking with customers about their gardens and helping them to make their dream gardens become a “growing” reality. I still get excited when someone brings in a diseased plant sample for me to diagnose or when they carry in a glass jar that contains some strange bug for me to examine and then educate them on possible solutions to their problems. I also have many opportunities to teach seminars and workshops on various gardening topics which I enjoy greatly. I love to see both experienced and novice gardeners get excited about plants and start to see the possibilities that lie undiscovered in their own yards.

It is these years of garden knowledge and experience and my love for nature that I would like to share with you through my blog. I will be writing about various garden topics, providing “how-to” instructions, monthly chore lists, and diagnosing different insect and disease problems that you may be encountering in your garden, and sharing some design tips. It is my hope that you, in return, will feel free to reply with any gardening questions that you might have or provide tips that you may have for other gardeners. I am looking forward to helping you with your future gardening endeavors.

Growing together,

Joanne