Theresa Forte, special to Postmedia News

Theresa Forte

Theresa Forte is a Niagara Falls-based gardening consultant whose columns appear regularly in the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review.


FORTE: Amaryllis — size does matter

While some people might feel intimidated by the sight of a softball-sized amaryllis bulb, with its burnished, peeling outer layers, and a tangle of fleshy roots, I look at the same bulb and feel empowered — I know this bulb is packed with potential.

If you love the warm yellow, oranges and reds of autumn, stop by the central house at the Floral Showhouse where 235 exhibition, bush, cushion and cascade chrysanthemums create a blazing display of colour. (Theresa Forte/Special to Postmedia News)

FORTE: Chrysanthemums steal the show

Do you crave autumn’s warm palette of red, orange and yellow or seek out the cooler schemes of pink, purple and white?

Sampling of Florist zinnias, still blooming in the south facing border: Crayola-crayon shades of orange, pink, red, yellow and white, arranged in single miniature vases. The one-metre-tall stems were stripped of leaves and cut short to fit the tiny glass vases. (Theresa Forte/Special to Postmedia News)

FORTE: Homegrown fall bouquets

I headed out into the garden on the weekend to cut a few flowers for the table — a half-dozen tall dahlias were calling me from across the garden.

A praying mantis peeks out from a screen of white salvia — their ability to turn their heads and face the camera really makes them seem more knowing. (Theresa Forte/Special to Postmedia News)

FORTE: Look who's coming to dinner

By all rights, I shouldn’t be sitting barefoot, on the back deck, this late in the season, but you won’t hear me complain.

Along the south-facing border in writer Theresa Forte's garden, northern sea oats, dahlias, canna, Joe Pye Weed, stachys, zinnias and a host of annuals and ornamental grasses create a soothing palette of green, pink, burgundy and silver. (Theresa Forte/Special to Postmedia News)

FORTE: Fall garden musings

After a couple of weeks out of the country, it was good to come home last week and enjoy a quiet weekend in the garden.

It’s easy to tell the male from the female monarch, the male has a single black dot on its back wings. (Theresa Forte/Special to Postmedia News)

FORTE: Welcoming monarch butterflies

I enjoy taking long walks along the cottage roads when we visit Port Elgin on the shores of Lake Huron: the ever-evolving panorama of charming cottages, gardens and country lanes is a feast for the eyes.

Chocolate Sprinkles cherry tomatoes featured deep green streaks on orange-red fruit that explode with flavour. The plant bears thick trusses of fruit and is compact enough to grow in a container on the patio. — photos by Theresa M. Forte/special to postmedia news

FORTE: A garden needs tomatoes

Is there anything to compare to the flavour of a just-picked, sun warmed, August tomato? A September tomato might come close, but if the nights turn cool, the later crop loses a little sweetness.Tomatoes don’t ask for much in return for their delicious fruit: decent soil, a drink of water when they are thirsty and plenty of sun.

Dahlia ‘Mister Optimist’ lives up to its name — three tubers doubled over the last season, giving me six large tubers to plant this year. I now have a bumper crop of beautiful 11-cm wide red flowers edged in soft yellow, for cutting. A head start in the green house gave me flowers by mid-July, dahlias will bloom until knocked down by frost in the autumn. (Theresa Forte/Special to Postmedia News)

FORTE: Dinner plate dahlias

Coming home from a summer holiday can be a bit of a letdown, unless there is a special treat to look forward to at home.

Pearl crescent enjoying a sunny patch of shasta daisies. (Theresa Forte/Special to Postmedia News)

FORTE: Sharing vacation photos

I set out with my camera over my shoulder. I was on a mission. I was looking for ‘words.’

Mature trees, generous pathways, raised beds and eclectic statuary are featured in Sam Fiore’s garden. The garden will be open to the public for Niagara Falls Horticultural Society’s garden walk on Saturday. (Theresa Forte/Special to Postmedia News)

FORTE: Garden walk time in Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls Horticultural Society’s 22nd annual garden walk is Saturday. Twelve beautiful gardens, each a reflection of the homeowner’s sense of what a garden means to them.

Clouded sulphur butterfly breakfasting on a yellow blanketflower in a container on the deck. (Theresa Forte/Special to Postmedia News)

FORTE: Breakfast musings in the garden

On quiet weekend mornings, I look forward to breakfast on the deck. It’s a pretty simple affair, freshly brewed coffee, a slice of toast and the sounds of the garden waking up.

The flowers of the bottlebrush buckeye feature slender, hair-like filaments tipped with distinctive red anthers, bursting out of tubular flowers. They are magnets for butterflies and bees. Photo: Theresa M. Forte

FORTE: Soaring spires — solutions for shade gardens

Early last summer, I spotted the long, fluffy spikes of the bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) anchoring the back of a reflecting pool at Longwood Gardens, just outside of Philadelphia, PA. It was scorching hot outside, and I bee-lined for the cool shade of the woods at the end of a long, formal lawn. At first, the buckeye was no more than a

Red Grootendorst shrub roses are very hardy and self-sufficient. (Theresa Forte/Special to Postmedia News)

FORTE: A Father's Day note

Dear Dad, while watering the garden tonight, I noticed my peace rose had come into flower, and suddenly our strolls around the garden came to mind.

The charming west garden room features shade-loving perennials and a screen of interesting trees and shrubs. (Theresa Forte/Special to Postmedia News)

FORTE: Shaw Guild offers garden tour

Dust off your walking shoes and summer hats — garden walk season opens this weekend with the Shaw Guild Garden Tour.