Blue Castle Garden: Year 6

In 2010, the garden was shredded by a horrific hail storm. It so devastated the garden, all that remained was to clean up and wait for a fresh start the following year.

Before disaster struck, several projects were completed including construction of a flagstone path and adding decorative art such as trellises, a stone face and strap hinges. Plants were started indoors from seed for the first time.


Starting Seedlings Indoors

To save money, I bought a light stand and started seedlings. The results were pretty impressive considering my inexperience and ended in a fully planted garden that summer. 

Soaking certain types of seeds to improve germination.

Seedlings taking over the house. 

Amended Garden Soil for the Third Year

More mushroom compost was added to further improve the heavy clay soil. It was mixed in by hand with a shovel to avoid damaging bush and tree roots. 

Another huge pile of bagged mushroom compost in the early spring.

Trimmed Patio Post

Trim was added to further refine the post supporting the patio overhang. It was repainted in a more harmonious color. 

While a minor project, it added more beauty to the patio. 

Rerouted Patio Drain Pipe

To eliminate a tripping hazard from the downspout, it was rerouted through the patio step. This allowed water to drain down to the swale alongside the fence.

Placing black drainage pipe through the newly cut holes.

Installed Strap Hinges and Garden Art

The back gate was dressed up with decorative strap hinges. A large stone face was nestled in among the aspen trees to create a new focal point. 

Timeless and durable garden art.

Added Flagstone Pathway to Peninsula

A curved rundle flagstone pathway was laid, providing better reach into the deep peninsula flowerbed. This allowed for easy deadheading, weeding and watering.

The flagstone pathway as viewed from the patio.

Lower groundcovers such as Hens and Chicks flanked the new path.

Added Large Ceramic Pot to Front Entrance

A large ceramic pot was purchased to fill the blank space beside the front door. In Year 10 an obelisk was added for greater presence. 

Planted with Elephant Ears and Lobelia.

Constructed Garden Shed

Needing a permanent place to store garden tools, a small shed was tucked into the end of the narrow side yard. 

Dad putting the cedar shed kit together.

Attached Metal Trellises to Fence

Simple trellis panels were fastened to the fence in a couple key locations to make it less plain. These supported flowering vines which could be seen from various vantage points. 

Clematis vines climbing the three arched trellises.

Trellis panels were added to the pergola area.


Devastating Hailstorm

In late summer a severe hailstorm swept through the city, trashing the garden. It cost $400 million in insurance damages, the most expensive Canadian hailstorm at that time.

Some of the hailstones that came down. 

The lush, flowering front yard just before the hail storm struck.

Only elephant ears and lobelia, protected by the awning avoided damage.

Helena Mix helenium, a late summer flowering perennial, was just coming into bloom.

After disaster struck only chunks of the flowers remained.

Healthy and mature Nagoya Rose flowering kale days before the storm. 

Flowering kale foliage was too stiff to bend under the hailstones. 

All that remained of the Daddy petunias and Clear Crystals Lavender Shades alyssum. 

Colorado yarrow and Venosa Violacea clematis in full bloom.

After the hailstorm struck. 

Broad-leaved Black Magic elephant ear took a beating.  

A neighbourhood fence pockmarked from the hail. 


Severe Hail Barely Damaged Iris

The flexible nature of iris leaves left them largely undamaged. Stiffer, broader leaved plants did not bend enough and frail, delicate plants were shredded. 

Spikey iris foliage weathered the hail much better than flowering kale. 

House Clashed with Hot Flower Colors

Having chosen a hot color scheme (yellow, red and orange) for the front yard, it was disappointing to discover it didn’t suit the colors or style of the house. 

Yellow, red and orange are eye catching from the street.

Despite loving Solar Eclipse rudbeckia and Queen Sophia marigolds, they were too visually strong.


While extremely discouraging at the time, the storm taught me to consider how hail resistant my plant choices are. In future years, I selected plants with smaller leaves and tucked broad-leaved plants into protected areas where possible.

This hailstorm would have felt far more devastating if I had spent hundreds of dollars on plants at local garden centers. It demonstrated to me the importance of learning how to grow plants from seed.

This post is part of the Blue Castle Garden Timeline series. 

About Jolene

I’m an avid gardener whose mission is to bring more beauty into the world. I believe that with the right information anyone can create their own lovely, small garden paradise.

When I’m not gardening you can find me exploring the Canadian Rockies. Learn more…

Jolene Rempel on Cirque Peak, Banff National Park.

About Jolene

I’m an avid gardener whose mission is to bring more beauty into the world. I believe that with the right information anyone can create their own lovely, small garden paradise.

When I’m not gardening you can find me exploring the Canadian Rockies. Learn more…


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