Documents: Latest From: Ken Beattie:

A Long Row To Hoe

(A Gardener's Letters)
by Ken Beattie
by Ken Beattie


Ken Beattie has hosted a number of gardening-related programs for WTN.

Ken is currently working with the Canadian Wildlife Federation and is also the author of an informative gardening book series.

August 6, 2006

Hi Sis,

So nice to hear that you have been out already, picking, prying and pulling at your garden ... isn't this time of the year frustrating? The entire garden appears to have been bombed by a cruel and unusual winter with nothing but wet, soggy leaves in its wake and the politically correct amount of snow mould. Secretly, Sis, I enjoyed the final snow on the garden, it covered all my mistakes, the ravages of an inconsistent growing season and the violation of a huge backhoe deployed to establish sense and sensibility to our sewer system. Now what? Do I hire the local grave diggers to make some sense of the grave mound left by the City engineering crew? Shall I simply start heaving the recycled concrete crud from my Hosta beds and level the Heuchera patch to assimilate with my new and rather barren landscape? No .... I think not! I shall devour this chasm of nothingness with pencil and paper, design an entirely new garden and to the devil with the drain age problems. Does it sound like it has been one of those days?
No matter, I have sketched a delightful rendition of Ken's garden on several napkins, a nice piece of drafting paper and some hotel telephone note pads. Very professional, hmm.... at least the design is full of passion, albeit the odd stain from food and beverages. 
I couldn't wait to see how my notion of chartreuse grasses, deep indigo blues and terra cotta pots would translate to my new gardens. The end results are great! I have used Phormiums, or the New Zealand flax in some areas for strong, stately foliage as well as a geranium called Ken's Favorite, a delightful chartreuse and well named I might add. The pavers are rough and tumble almost in the Romanesque theme with smaller circular areas of yellow Tindal Stone from Manitoba. This new approach is truly textural and will stand alone even in the late season without flowers.
I would encourage you to incorporate more foliage this season with a textural theme. Try Alchemilla, Ligularia, Hosta of various species as well as the bold perennial grasses. After all, a garden need not be entirely about the biggest and the best blooms on the block.
Write soon, love to hear about your latest garden purchases....


  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row