Posted in gardens, gardens4u.ca, loreeebee.ca

Gardens4U New Garden Designs

As well as general maintenance (weeding) and spring cleanups, Gardens4u completed several new garden designs so far this season, although one is still a work in progress. Most of the time I remembered to take before and after pictures.

Continuing the Neighbour Theme

At the end of last season a third neighbour asked me to help them reconfigure their front yard around an updated veranda and interlock walkway.

This was one of my easiest projects as the home owners were very hands on. From shopping for and planting perennials and shrubs to sod/grass removal,(the black fabric smothered the existing grass) soil enhancement, and edging of the finished creation, they barely needed me. My job was to recommend plant choices and their placement based on mature size and bloom time. I also created the garden shape with a hose and suggested the location of the stepping stones.

This is what the yard looked like during the process:

…and this is what it looks like now:

Wedding Preparation

Another client asked me to help him transform and design new gardens on his parents’ farm property in preparation of his daughter’s upcoming wedding. The house is being renovated as well with plans for an airbnb property.

There are seven garden beds; a huge undertaking that I have been working on all summer. The bride and groom to be have been helping too, doing most of the clearing, weeding, mulching etc. This frees up my time for the designing and planting, my two favourite parts of a new garden project.

Here are a few before pics:

some during pics:

and some after pics:

These after pictures are of just the garden at the front of the house. The other beds are still in progress. When this project is complete, I will show you the final pictures of all garden beds created. Stay tuned!

Moving to the Backyard

I have been working with these clients for several years now, first at their old home here in Kanata…

Gardens4u New Garden Designs

…and then at their new Hintonburg area home after they moved. Last season I worked on the front yards of their new duplex. The outside of one side is very traditional looking, the other quite modern, so I designed gardens to match the two different styles…

Before pics:

This is what they look like now:

This season these same clients requested my services for garden design and an overhaul in their back and side yards.

before pics:

after pics:

Next season these newly renovated garden beds will look awesome!

Garden Touch Up

At the end of last (2020) season I modified a neighbour’s garden, moving plants and adding new ones to the expanded space. We also added stepping stones to break up the larger area. At the time she had some natural coloured mulch we used up.

This summer we changed the look by adding dark brown mulch, (right on top of the natural coloured mulch) creating a much more vibrant look, which contrasts well/better with the maturing plants.

Designing new gardens or updating tired, old, outdated or overgrown gardens is my favourite part of my gardening business. Check out my website for more before and after pictures of my creations.

Posted in gardens, gardens4u.ca, loreeebee.ca

Essential Garden Tools

Everyone has their own list of what they consider to be essential garden tools. As the owner of a gardening business, I am no exception. These are my essentials, although you don’t have to use specific brands:

Diggers

A shovel, a spade (shovel with a sharp, flat cutting edge) and a trowel will cover all your digging needs. Choose a light weight, but good quality version of both so they are easy to use and will last forever. I have several sizes of shovels too, sometimes you need a small one to get into tight spaces.

Rakes

I have a few different styles and sizes of rakes. The fan shaped ones are good for gathering leaves and debris. I have a tiny (child sized) version that is great for getting in and around plants in your garden. The larger ones work better on lawns.

I prefer the plastic ones as they are nice and light, but my husband prefers a metal one. Go with whatever you will use.

Rakes with straight heads and tines are best for removing thatch from lawns in the spring.

Secateurs or Pruners

This is the one area I advise splurging on because of the working mechanisms. In this case especially, you get what you pay for. If you buy inexpensive secateurs or pruners, they will not work well for long. I have a few different ones that I keep around my yard, in sheltered locations to prevent rusting.

Edging Tool

I consider an edging tool essential since I love the look of natural edging, rather than rocks or rubber edging. Of course, a shovel would work too, but an edging tool, whose head is a half circle, works wonders to create smooth edges in your gardens.

Loppers or Branch Cutters

Once again, pay a bit more to get a good quality pair of loppers. You won’t regret it. Buy some that are heavy (strong) enough, but not too heavy that you cannot handle them efficiently. They come in varying mouth widths too, so choose one that will cut branches up to at last one inch thick. Of course, you can have several (I do) for different chores.

Shears

Shears are like large scissors, great for cutting large sections of plant material at once. They make for quick results on a big plant. For example, I use them for cutting back my large ornamental grasses. I have also seen people using shears to trim small chunks of grass after mowing their lawns, around obstacles in the lawn such as trees. They are not however any good for cutting branches or even twigs.

Tool bag

It is great to have a bag to carry around your hand tools. I currently have one that the tools flop out from, so have been looking for a taller one. This tool bag from Tacklife looks great, perhaps that will be my next purchase. And, as a bonus, it comes with some garden tools. One can never have too many tools!

Nice to Have, but not Essentials

There are many other garden tools I have that the average person would not consider essential. I have a compartmentalized tool bag that contains a roll of string, stakes, a box cutter, a hammer, a tape measure, vine clips etc, in addition to my small hand tools.

I also have several sizes of rubber baskets that are essential to my gardens. They are great for toting garden debris, new plants, weeds, cut flowers, even water in a pinch.

Conclusion

What you consider essential will be different than what I consider essential, based on your needs, physical ability and even your budget. The one thing we should have in common though is keeping our tools clean and sharp. Tools should be cleaned off after each use and sharpened at least once per season. At the end of my gardening season, I spray my tools with a disinfectant, wash them well, then rub blades with a bit of oil to keep them all in tip top shape.

Posted in gardens, gardens4u.ca, loreeebee.ca

Last Garden Project of the Season for Gardens4u

I finished my last garden project of my Gardens4u season recently. The beautiful weather we have experienced lately has certainly helped in that I was able to extend the season a bit.

This latest garden project was for a neighbour. I had already designed a garden in her front yard a few years ago…

…but the condition of her lawn after the drought conditions of this past summer convinced her to extend the garden right to the road.

So, she dug up what little lawn was left, giving me a blank slate….my favourite design opportunity! I amended the existing soil with composted manure, then added stepping stones to divide the yard visually….and to provide access for maintenance as well as amusement for her grandchildren…

 Instead of one large garden, I treated the sections as individual gardens with taller plants in the center and lower ones around the perimeters. I think this will create added visual appeal. (this may be difficult to see now, but will be obvious when the plants mature) Several existing plants were moved to achieve this effect; those that were previously at the edges of the garden were moved to the fronts of each new bed, with taller ones planted behind them. A row of drought-tolerant, succulent groundcover now edges the curb where the lawn refused to thrive.

 After the plants settled into their new homes, mulch was added to finish off the project and protect the new plants over the winter. 

The neighbouring yard/garden visible in my pictures is the mature version of one of my very first Gardens4u projects, way back in 2012.

The challenge now is waiting until spring to see this latest design come alive!

Posted in gardens, gardens4u.ca, loreeebee.ca

Dahlias, dinnerplates or smaller

Do you plant dahlias in your garden? Are they hardy to your garden zone? They are not hardy in my zone 4/5 gardens, so I would have to remove the bulbs each fall to keep them alive, something I cannot seem to commit to.

This, however, is going to change. Call it an early New Year’s resolution if you must, but I plan to order some of these beauties to plant this coming (2021) spring. Maybe because I have become more patient or appreciative or perhaps because I admire all the gorgeous dahlias in everyone else’s gardens. These dahlias bloom from summer until a hard frost kills them off, at least they do here. They may perform in your gardens even longer!

With my recent order of tulip, allium and lily bulbs from Vesey’s, I received a spring catalogue chock full of dahlias in every colour of the rainbow. They got me! Every year, usually around February and not November, I peruse the flower catalogs for spring ideas. As you may know, I have a gardening business, so like to stay on top of new offerings in the flower department.

I love ordering from Vesey’s. Not quite local geographically, (they are located on the east coast in PEI, while I am a few provinces away in Ontario) but a Canadian company, so local in a patriotic sense. If this pandemic has taught us anything, the need to support local businesses should be at the top of the list. Darn, here I thought I could post about something other than the dreaded pandemic. Funny (not funny) how it seeps into our conversations like that.

Check out Vesey’s website to discover all of the dahlia options. You can order individual varieties or mixtures of many colours and shapes. On the website you can request a catalogue of your own to view at your leisure. Orders can be placed online or by mail in an envelope included with your catalog. Shipping is available within Canada and the USA.

I decided (finally) on a combination package of the dinnerplate variety as well as a single beautiful blue version…

The dinnerplate dahlias do live up to their name; I have seen many planted in gardens, just not my own. Yet. The deadline for ordering is not until January, so I may change my mind and order more!

Posted in gardening, gardens4u.ca, lorieb.wordpress.com

Garden Renovation at Ruddy Shenkman Hospice

Recently Gardens4u expanded the front garden at the Ruddy Shenkman Hospice (RSH) in Kanata. I have been volunteering my (gardening) services at RSH for several years now, shortly after it moved to my neighbourhood.

Only the Good Die Young

This project has been a vision in my brain for a while; I just had to wait until all parties were onboard and permission was granted. As a non-profit organization there are always lots of hoops to jump through.

A few existing shrubs were left in place, in particular the burning bush which is gorgeous this time of year. Two large spreading junipers were trimmed and shaped, but will remain in the garden, mainly because they would be much too difficult (for me) to remove. They also provide winter interest as they are evergreen in our climate.

The first step was to mark out the shape of the new garden using a garden hose and black spray paint. My granddaughter was on hand as the inspector for that job…

Next, to save time as well as my back, I enlisted the help of Tim Driscoll of TD Small Loads who scraped the sod and carted it away.

When that chore was complete, we spread the composted manure donated and delivered by Ritchies Feed & Seed on Carp Road in Stittsville.

After the soil amendment came the plants, many of which were donated by other members of the RSH garden team as well as some of my neighbours. The large shrubs were also selected from and donated by Ritchies. I placed the shrubs and perennials strategically in the garden, still in their pots, according to their bloom time and colour, foliage shape as well as their mature size. A few tweaks here and there are always the norm before holes are dug and actual planting takes place.

The final step is to fill any blank spots in with contributions from my own gardens. Then a layer of cedar mulch (also donated and delivered from Ritchies) finishes the garden off…

I can’t wait until this garden matures, it should look beautiful!!

Posted in gardening, gardens4u.ca, lorieb.wordpress.com

October blooms in Gardens4me

Who can believe that October is here already? Not me. Not Gardens4me either as they are still producing lots of blooms.

New this month is the silver lace vine I have adorning my garden shelves/work bench. What a mess this shelving unit is, another job for my fall to do list.

Another fall blooming perennial is the aster, a little soggy in this picture, cheerful none the less…

October blooms
aster

Also putting in a (late) appearance is my beautiful white and red hibiscus…

Roses are still blooming beautifully…

…as is tickseed. Did you know if you cut tickseed back immediately after it first blooms in the summer it will rebloom? This picture is my proof..

October blooms
tickseed

Also reblooming for the third (!!!) time this season is my weigela. It requires no maintenance to make it rebloom, just warm weather…

Annuals in containers are still eye catching, including a gorgeous pal blush pink hibiscus, even though we have had a few frosty nights.

One annual I was disappointed in this summer was the cardinal flower vine on my bamboo teepees. Although the foliage is unique, the blooms (other than a sporadic one mentioned earlier) have only just shown up in earnest….

The frosty nights have caused the leaves to start their colour transformation. From green to red with various shades in between. The vine on my back deck (or green room) is no exception…

We can’t complain about the advancing calendar too much though as our summer here in Eastern Ontario has been awesome. A tad too hot and dry for our lawns, but awesome for we humans. With one daughter-in-law on maternity leave, I was able to spend more time than usual at the lake with her and two of my grandchildren. With pandemic restrictions in place we were not allowed to do much else, so cottage life was the perfect answer.

The rain this week has been great for the fall lawn repair my yard so badly needs. The temperature has been warm too, so my Gardens4me blooms should last a while longer.

Posted in gardening, gardens4u.ca, lorieb.wordpress.com

Mid September Blooms in Gardens4me

Cooler days and nights in mid September makes for much easier gardening. One of my favourite perennial plants this time of year are the cool season ornamental grasses. There are so many varieties to choose from these days, but my favourite is still what I call “fireworks,” for obvious reasons. Its real name is Maiden Grass Silberfeder or Miscanthus Sinensis. Whatever you call it, it is gorgeous!

 There is not much new in Gardens4me this time, but many perennials are still looking dapper. For example, the roses, coneflowers (I love its seed heads too), geraniums and butterfly bushes just won’t quit, not that I’m complaining, and the Turtlehead I mentioned at the beginning of the month has produced even more unique blossoms…

Oh, and my hibiscus is finally making an appearance, a bit later than usual.  I figure my magnolia tree has shaded the hibiscus too much so I plan to trim a few of the lower branches from the magnolia to restore the full sun conditions in that bed.

I’m feeling left out; everyone elses’s hibiscus have been blooming for weeks now.

The coleus I planted are also still beautiful in containers at my local hospice and in my own garden. I love the way the vivid colours appear to be randomly splattered across the leaves…

 

With frost in the forecast a few nights this week, who knows what next week will bring……..stay tuned!

Posted in gardens4u.ca, lorieb.wordpress.com

Another Gardens4U project

My latest Gardens4U project transformed a chinch bug infested backyard into a beautiful area.

When we started out, a patio bordered by a strip of daylilies was the only colour in the yard. The lawn had been nice earlier on the season, until the cinch bugs moved in during the drought we experienced in July.

before & after
before

 

The poor condition of the lawn made it much easier to dig out a new garden bed though, after outlining the new design with a garden hose…

 

I do recommend using composted manure to improve the soil in garden beds and lawns, but this last batch was terrible. Composted manure goes through a heating process so it should not contain weed seeds. Or mulch, stones and even a candy bar wrapper as this batch did.

Unfortunately this client was not familiar with the product, so spread all fifteen of the bags she purchased on her lawn. Now we will have to wait until the grass seed she spread sprouts (hopefully) before we can rake the mulch off, otherwise we would just rake up the seed. I did file a complaint with the manufacturers as well as with Canadian Tire where it was purchased. I am not holding my breath for a response, but it’s the principle of the matter, right?

Once the garden bed was shaped and dug out, the perennials and shrubs were introduced to their new homes. I chose flowering shrubs that will grow tall for the back and shorter perennials for the middle and front of the bed. A few recycled plants from my ICU were also added to fill in the blank spots…

 

The final touch is lots of mulch, in this case dark brown cedar mulch, my personal favourite…

 

A lush green lawn will enhance the garden greatly. This lawn is struggling to come back, but it will rebound faster now that we are done trampling it, especially as the cool fall-like weather is here.

Next season, when these plants have settled in, this garden will look awesome!

 

Posted in family, gardening, gardens4u.ca, lorieb.wordpress.com

Early September in Gardens4me

Although the calendar says early September, the summer weather (heat and humidity) is still going strong. That means many of the perennials blooming last month are still looking good…

Coming into their own this month are the seedheads of the fall grasses that look awesome in the garden or in containers on a deck or veranda…

…as well as another perennial called Turtlehead (I had never heard of it, but it looked promising at the nursery), and an annual vine called Cardinal Climber…

I have lots of roses thriving in Gardens4me, in many different varieties and colours. I love the roses because they bloom off and on all summer and well into the fall. They are also (believe it or not!) relatively low maintenance. Last month I posted a picture of one such rose just starting a second bloom. Here it is (first pic) this week with (just) a few more of its thorny cousins…

My two and a half year old granddaughter loves to play hide and seek in Gardens4me. Now that she has discovered the stepping stones leading into each corner and was taught how to gently move the plants out of the way, she runs from one corner to the next. She is still young enough to think that if she can’t see all of me I can’t see her. So precious!

One of my clients was disenchanted with the statues in his garden, (at least his wife was) so I brought them home and added them to mine knowing my grandkids would love them. The black bear is a favourite; this granddaughter likes to pet it and give it a bath with the hose while my three-and-a-half year old, bug-loving grandson searches for the bugs hiding underneath the bear!

The frog (a mothers day gift from my son years ago), the racoon family (from my father’s garden), and the heron are well loved too. The rabbit hiding in the hostas is pretty banged up now as this same granddaughter used to carry (and drop it) it around everywhere.

Coming into focus soon are the fall favourites such as sedum “Autumn Joy” and more grasses. Although this grass is an annual, I plant it in containers each year and am never disappointed with its pinky-purple plumes this time of year.

Stay tuned for more pictures later this month!

Posted in gardening, gardens, gardens4u.ca, grandkids, loreeebee.ca, nature

Love of Gardening is Contagious

My (almost) seven year old granddaughter has been asking me to make a flower garden at her house to surprise her mom. She has been spending one day a week with me recently; we decided today was the day, now that it has cooled off a bit.

My son was to dig out the sod, but was not working locally today to get home at lunch to do it, so we girls had to do that tedious job ourselves.

After the digging and soil preparation was done we took a break for lunch.

Next we added composted manure, then the plants…

Love of Gardening is Contagious

The finishing touch was the mulch…

I was impressed at my granddaughter’s perseverance, she lasted 4.5 hours with only one short break at lunch time. I guess I should have had her sign a waiver in case anyone reports me for abusing the child labor laws.