Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city.


Climbing vines on the shady side 

My house is almost famous for the green wall of vines I have growing on it – which you can see in the banner of our Facebook page. Of all the neighbours, the only others who have vines are those on the end on a row, with a big wall to cover.

My Virginia creeper is now about six years old, and for two years, I also  let one climb out back, on the  shady eastern side. At the same time, I nabbed a real ivy plant and planted it in the same place, but I suspect that Virginia creeper inhibits other plants, as it failed to thrive.

This year, out back, I dug out the creeper and planted a climbing hydrangea in its place, as I wanted the flowers, and a climber that thrived in the shade. Little did I know, but it also released the ivy, which has since taken off.

It’s inspiring me for next year, where I’m going to remove the creeper from the front of my house (except the garage wall) and plant ivy in its place, because it spreads nicely and is less rambunctious.

It is not true that climbing plants damage your bricks. They help shade your home so that it’s cooler, they look nice, and they also give wild birds a place to hang out, and berries and insects to eat. (I’ve had no problem with insects, other than fruit flies that go after my composter.)

A seed library at the Westmount library

I saw something to get excited about at the Westmount Public Library the other day: they are reusing their old card catalogue as a Seed Library. You need a library card to use it, but the terms are generous! Read the photographs below:

Categorized by vegetable or fruit type, and then the specific breed of plant

Here is how you can contribute to the seed library: 

They are looking for well-dried seeds in Ziploc bags. There’s not really any limit to what kind:

  • Herbs
  • Flowers
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Beans
  • Heirloom varieties of plants

Make friends with someone in Westmount if you want to take advantage of their offer; or maybe recreate this seed sharing system in your own library, if they haven’t already.

Garden certification from Espace pour la vie

Hello, wildlife gardeners! Last year, I certified Big City Little Homestead’s garden as Wildlife-Friendly with the Canadian Wildlife Federation (you can too, and I’ll help!). As the Montreal Botanical Garden offers a similar service, I also registered my garden there. Here are the certificates I received:


Here is where you can register your garden: Certification is annual, so you need to update your pictures every year, by October 15th. There are three themes for certification:

  • Biodiversity garden
  • Bird  garden
  • Monarch oasis

They have a map extension they call the “Gardenaut Gallery,” so that you can visit the photos that gardeners have submitted to the program – there are over over 300 entries in all of Quebec!

My entry is here: