Posted in garden project, gardens4u, loreeebee.ca, wedding

Gardens4U and Wedding Planning!

Recently I told you of a project Gardens4U has been working on all summer. To recap, a client asked me to spruce up the gardens at his parents farm for his daughter’s wedding.

After walking around the extensive property with the client last April I started work on multiple garden beds. Containers were planted as soon as the last frost date arrived in May, well in advance of the wedding date to give the annuals time to settle in.

My original commitment was one day a week, including through the scorching heat we experienced this summer. Of course, my visits to “the farm” increased in recent weeks as the wedding date drew closer.

Most of the time I remembered to take before and after pictures of the gardens and planters. I so wanted to snap a few last minute pictures the morning of the wedding, but did not want to intrude on the hustle and bustle going on. I will have to wait patiently for the photos I know my clients will share.

Garden Beds

The beds I worked on are referred to here according to their location on the property or their function during the wedding. Pictures are posted in chronological order.

House Bed, 3 Sections:

I cannot take credit for the gorgeous, flagstone sidewalk or lush lawn enhancing these beds at the front of the home. Due to the large expanse of lawn and the poor condition it was in, hydroseed (a sprayed on product) was used with awesome results. A beautiful lawn does wonders for increasing the beauty of gardens…

Ceremony Site:

There is no “before” picture for this bed as there wasn’t a garden there, just the edge of the yard overgrown with trees, scrub brush, and a few transplanted hostas.

Shady Sitting Area:

My client had a vision for this bed, I really just followed his instructions. And chose and planted the appropriate perennials for a shady spot. We then used some of the containers to add some colour to the area…

The Mint Bed That Became a Dahlia Bed:

For the resident chef, I moved the mint into a new herb garden. At least I attempted to move it. Mint can be very invasive, there are still shoots sprouting in that bed.

Sunny Beds:

These two beds were the bride’s Omi’s (grandma) flower gardens, with the one on the right home to her beautiful peonies. Unfortunately they were overgrown with no distinct shape and neglected since her passing several years ago.

Sunflower Bed:

This sunflower bed was supposed to be spectacular, at least that’s the vision I had. Tall, majestic, golden yellow sunflower blooms against the backdrop of the rustic family barn bordered by the bride’s Omi’s (grandma) long established daylilies. We tried to transplant many of the daylilies into some semblance of order, but thanks to their poor performance through the drought conditions this summer I had to cut them right back. They did revive, but not as fast as I hoped they would.

Rock Garden:

I don’t have much experience with rock gardens but I enjoyed choosing creeping plants and tiny succulents to tuck into the crevices. Unfortunately (for the wedding guests) not many of this type of plant are fall bloomers. Next spring and summer it will look gorgeous!

Rodent and Insect Damage

My major challenge during this project was the battle I had keeping the sunflowers intact in their designated bed against the barn wall.

I planted close to thirty sunflowers, most grown from seed on my back veranda, but the squirrels snapped off their growing stalks faster than I could plant them. I actually witnessed a squirrel hanging on the barn wall, mid pounce, as he/she aimed for the flower head of one of the tallest sunflowers.

So frustrating and disappointing!

The other challenge was keeping the dahlia blossoms from becoming a snack bar for earwigs or whatever other insect devoured them shortly after they appeared and before they could mature. I ended up bringing a pot of dahlia from my back deck to fill in the bare spots.

Containers: Thrillers, Fillers and Spillers

We used lots of planters around the property to add colour and drama. Some from the clients’ home that I had created earlier in the season, and some from my own home collection.

Silver Lace Vine

I had planned to drape strands of silver lace vine (from my garden) in the trees to look like the beautiful Spanish moss so prevalent in the south. The wedding planner, who is also a florist, intercepted me though as I carried trays of it down the driveway, and asked for the silver lace to adorn the dining table and archway at the ceremony site. How could I refuse?

Conclusions:

Well, the big day arrived and thankfully the sun was (albeit off and on) shining! We were all nervous as it had been raining, torrentially at times, for the previous two days.

The problem with creating these gardens in one season is that most plants take a while to mature in their new homes, unless you spend a fortune and choose fully mature plantings. Like most gardens I plan and create, these garden beds look great this season, but will look spectacular next summer and for years to come.

A few years ago I created bouquets and containers for my son’s wedding, then a few table arrangements for a friend’s son’s wedding. I have enjoyed these wedding projects so much that I am considering adding wedding (or other events) planning to my Gardens4u list of services! What do you think?

Posted in business, gardening, gardens4u

Next Gardens4U Project

My most recent Gardens4U project involved two new garden beds for the back corners of a large, pie-shaped lot. The yard has a large swimming pool so the corner beds were placed far enough way that pool water will not splash onto the plantings. The clients’ own three dogs, so my plans also had to allow for a running area between the flower beds and the pool. Check out the before and after shots…

To save my time (not to mention my back) and the expense involved, the client dug out the beds after I marked them out. I added composted manure to improve the clay-laden soil, then arranged the perennials and shrubs according to their potential sizes at maturity as well as their bloom time and colour.

When the temperatures cooled off a bit, and I was happy with the placement of plants, I spent half a day planting them in their new beds. Note the drain in one corner bed, a low point in the area that rainwater from several adjacent lots drain into. It is imperative that this drainage site not be adversely affected when adding soil and plants. Although this consideration makes the one bed appear oddly shaped and lacking soil, the drain will not be visible when the plants grow to mature size. After planting, the garden beds were then edged to leave a clear demarcation line between the gardens and the lawn…

Once the perennials and shrubs were watered in well, (every day for a week) I added dark brown, cedar mulch for the finishing touch. The plantings may look a bit sparse right now, but in a few seasons from now they will have reached their full, mature size. If I plant too many plants and too close together, I will have unhappy clients in a few years…

I also talked the clients into outlining the perimeter of their above-ground pool with river rock. They did this project themselves; I think it looks great!

pool edged with river rock

You can see the one corner garden at the back left, peeking out from behind the pool. Onto the next project! Now that the weather has cooled off I can get more done before garden fall cleanups start.

Posted in climate, exercise, freelance writing, gardens4u, lorieb.wordpress.com, Ottawa

Exercise in Winter

What exercise do you get in winter? With my own gardening business, I get plenty of exercise between April and October, sometimes six hours per day! Exercise in winter can be tricky though, I am the first to admit I spend far too much time sitting down writing for whatever projects come my way.

However, when the snow hits, as it has often these past few days here in Ottawa, I love to get my exercise in winter with a shovel in my hand. Especially when the snow is light and fluffy as it was today. These pictures give you an idea of just how much snow we received overnight. Enough to get me out there with my shovel, but not enough to wear me out. The posts on my veranda make great snow gauges…

Who needs a gym membership when you can get an hour (or two or three some days) of cardio exercise shovelling the driveway and sidewalk? Not me!

Posted in gardening, gardens, gardens4u, gardens4u.ca, lorieb.com, weather

Latest project by Gardens4u

As our fall weather was too nice to start garden cleanups and winter preparation, I (GARDENS4U) took on another (small) project last week.  This client lives on the same street as two other clients for whom I have recently reconstructed front gardens.  The client wanted a smaller footprint for the new garden with plants that require no maintenance and stay tidy looking all season.  I started by removing all of the existing plants, leaving the large rock as the focal point…

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before

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after the clean out

 

I replanted a ring of groundcover (lamium) around the tree to include the tree in the garden.  I added heuchera in various colors around the perimeter of the garden to define its new edge, including around the outer edges of the rock. Both of these inclusions make it easier for the lawnmower, removing the chore of trimming around the tree and rock.  The large and overgrown clump of Solomon’s seal was dug out from around the rock.  It was overpowering the rock and looked messy.  Instead, I planted three different varieties of ornamental grass strategically around the edges of the rock, with two tall ones at the corners closest to the house and a shorter one at the front, outer edge.  This will draw the eye to the rock, making it an integral part of the garden.

New plants included the heuchera, a dwarf shrub rose, a varigated and reblooming weigela, as well as several colorful and long blooming perennials.  I reused a few daylilies, some (a very small portion) of the lamium, and none of the aggressive Solomon’s seal.  Unused plants have been potted up in my ICU (home inventory of plants) for recycling (use in someone else’s gardens).  Grass seed was sprinkled on the bare spots where the garden used to extend to. After the past few days of rainy weather the grass seed should be well watered.  If the mild weather holds, the grass may even grow before spring.

The end result was a smaller, tidier garden between the rock and the tree.  As it is currently late in the season, the client will have to wait until next spring and summer to fully appreciate the new look…

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Unfortunately, this week looks like our great weather is behind us so I will be starting that cleanup and winterizing this morning (after it warms up a bit)…not nearly as much fun as designing a new garden!

Posted in gardening, gardens4u, nature, ontario, Ottawa, zone 5

Include vines in your gardens for vertical drama

Vines make wonderful additions to gardens, providing vertical drama to otherwise horizontal landscapes.  They can be used to cover unsightly fences, utility boxes or pipes, storage areas and more.  They make great privacy screens too, shielding your yard from neighbours’ views.  There are many things to consider when choosing a vine for any of these functions…

  • size matters: consider the coverage you need.  Some vines cover a small space, others need lots of room to sprawl
  • invasive:  some vines can be invasive and very hard to remove from places you don’t want them to grow
  • damage:  some vines can cause incredible damage, destroying eavestroughing, fences and even brick!
  • color: some vines change colour in the fall, an added bonus to landscapes.  Others are a bright, chartreuse green contrasting with other green plants in your yard.  Some have flowers, others are grown just for the foliage.
  • pruning/cutting back: some vines require more maintenance than others.  Many die back to the ground when frost hits them making cleanup easy.  Some have to severely cut back in the spring to prevent them from taking over your yard.
  • annual or perennial:  the vines I use are perennial meaning they come back each year on their own.  Included in the perennial category are clematis, ivy, golden hops, hydrangea, bittersweet, honeysuckle and silver lace. There are also many annual varieties available such as morning glories, sweet peas, black-eyed susans and more.
  • Here are a few I have in my gardens…

Choose a few vines to add vertical drama to your landscaping, just do your homework first so you will be pleased with the result.  As always, if you have any questions, please contact me, I would be happy to research the perfect vine for your garden.

Posted in Canada, current events, education, gardens4u, lorieb.com, nature, ontario

Why do leaves change colour in the fall?

Have you ever wondered why leaves change colour in the fall?  This chemistry lesson will teach you all about photosynthesis and chlorophyll.  In the spring of the year new leaves emerge on the trees and plants as a bright green colour….

This bright green colour is due to the large amount of chlorophyll present in the leaves.  Chlorophyll is produced through  photosynthesis which needs water, sunlight and carbon dioxide to happen.  In the spring all of these requirements are available; the melted snow and rain provide the water and the sun is at an advantageous angle in the sky.

In the fall or autumn however, the sun is at a much lower angle with fewer daylight hours.  The soil  around the base of the trees contains much less moisture in the fall than the spring. Without adequate sunlight and water, photosynthesis shuts down, no chlorophyll is produced, and the leaves on the trees turn red, yellow, orange and brown…

That is your chemistry lesson on why the leaves change colours!  These colours on the trees are very pretty to look at, especially here in Canada and the northern USA where the roadsides are cloaked in them.  Get out and enjoy the colours of fall today!