Posted in gardens, loreeebee.ca, weather

Which Plants Bloom in Spring?

Spring is my favourite season. I love the fact that the plants in gardens, roadsides and parks start strutting their stuff, with changes every day. My own gardens don’t disappoint me every spring, in fact I am known to just wander/putter around enjoying the new growth.

If you too love spring blossoms, here are a few plants that bloom in spring for your yard and gardens…

Magnolias

My spring starts off with the star magnolia in my front yard. From afar, the blossoms look like pom poms, brightening up my yard even before the leaves emerge. Up close they are even more spectacular:

Which Plants Bloom in Spring

Another magnolia blooms a bit later in my backyard. This beauty is the Ann variety, with blossoms that change in shape as they progress…

Forsythia

After my white star magnolia blooms and drops its flowers, forsythia bushes brighten the neighbourhood with their striking yellow blossoms. My neighbour’s is especially pleasing to me as I enjoy this view from my front windows:

which plants bloom in spring

I have a forsythia in my backyard too, but it is still small and not as effectively placed as the beauty above.

Plum Trees

Next to bloom in my gardens are my plum trees, usually. This year their blossoms were barely there thanks to the birds. This is what they are supposed to look like:

Plum trees are very fragrant when blooming too, another sign of spring. Unfortunately my husband suffers from seasonal allergies, so he does not find them as appealing as I do.

Apple and Crab Apple Trees

Next up to bloom are my McIntosh apple trees. This year they are particularly gorgeous…

…perhaps because the plum trees were not. The apple trees are loaded with bees too; I’m doing my part to keep them thriving!

Around the same time as the apple trees in my backyard, the crab apple tree in my front yard and in yards all across this city are in full bloom, ranging from the palest of pink, to light pink to my own darker almost-wine-coloured version. Whatever the variety, they are all beautifully spring-like.

Lilac Trees and Bushes

While most lilac trees and bushes are in bloom by now, with their distinct and fragrant blossoms, mine does not bloom until early June. After the plum and apples trees have shown off. These lilacs are still spring bloomers by calendar standards, but not quite a harbinger of spring in my yard.

which plants bloom in spring

Shrub Roses

Shrub roses (usually) bloom earlier and for longer than rose bushes, but of course there are exceptions. My favourite shrub rose, with pale yellow five-lobed petals and lemony yellow centers is just starting to bloom now while my crab apple tree is still going strong.

A few other varieties of pink shrub roses throughout my gardens will wait a few weeks before they decide to bloom.

Roses of the climbing or bushes type wait for the hotter days (and nights) of summer to perform.

Spring Bulbs

Spring bulbs, are planted in the fall to provide early spring colour in your gardens. Early tulips and daffodils are currently blooming, with allium still working on their strappy leaves and tall stems. The alliums will be blooming soon too, with the later variety of tulips. With summer still a month away, these later tulips and allium are still considered spring blooming bulbs.

Rhododendrons

Another spring blooming shrub is the rhododendron, fast becoming one of my favourite for all of my gardens including my own. They too range in colour, including white, pale pink, hot pink, red and a purply pink.

I have a story that I tell anyone who will listen of how I was introduced to rhododendrons. Currently I choose them for most part sun gardens, especially eastern and northeastern facing ones, their preferred exposure. I have two in my own backyard too, ready to burst out in blossoms any time now…

Other Spring Blooming Perennials

A few perennials bloom in spring too. A few examples in my gardens are garden sage with pale purple flowers and Jack Frost brunnera which sports green and white heart-shaped leaves and tiny blue flowers:

Groundcovers

There are also several groundcovers that bloom in spring. In my gardens that includes sweet woodruff with delicate leaves and tiny white flowers, as well as lamium with varigated leaves and pearl pink blossoms:

Fiddlehead Ferns

These ferns don’t flower as such, but their fronds are fascinating to watch unfurl. Apparently fiddleheads are delicious to cook and eat, although I have not tried them. This bed is full of ferns, turning into a lush, green focal point in summer:

Conclusions

There are lots of plants to choose from for spring colour in your gardens. Plant bulbs in the fall or perennials and shrubs anytime the ground is warm enough to dig in.

Posted in gardens, loreeebee.ca, weather

Late Winter, Early Spring Garden Chores

photo credit

Spring is here according to our calendars and the nice weather, although I’ve heard rumours the colder stuff will return for a bit soon. There are many garden or yard chores that should be done this time of year and not put off until the last frost date.

Late winter is considered to be approximately 6 weeks before the beginning of the spring thaw, so will depend on where you live. If you are not sure, count backwards from your area’s last frost date. To me (in zone 4 or 5) this means early April is (usually) late winter or early spring. I can always hope earlier.

It is much easier to see the “bone structure” of your trees before they leaf out, so pruning shade trees like oak and maples now, while they are still dormant, is perfect timing.

Pruning is done for several reasons, even cosmetic ones.

Dead, Broken, Diseased or Crossing Branches

Dead, broken, diseased or crossing/rubbing branches can be cut back at any time during the year. This applies to trees and shrubs. Cut right to the next branch, without leaving a stub.

In the case of crossing or rubbing branches, decide which of the crossing branches lends best to the overall shape of the tree or shrub and remove the other. Keep in mind branches should grow upwards and outwards for optimal shape.

Heavy snow falls and winter winds can snap even the healthiest of branches. These broken branches should be removed for aesthetic purposes as well as for the continued health of the tree or shrub.

Although it may be difficult to determine if branches are dead or diseased yet, you can mark any suspicious ones for pruning later if this is the case. There is no wrong time to remove dead or diseased branches.

Shaping or Rejuvenating

Trees and shrubs always look nicer and tidier when shaped properly and not overgrown. Now is the time to do this, before new growth begins blurring the shape. This is especially true if you have a hard time cutting out perfectly healthy branches.

Pruning to enhance the shape will encourage and stimulate new growth in spring, which is when you want to encourage new growth. Pruning in fall however, encourages growth when future cold weather could kill it off.

Overgrown shrubs and trees also benefit from drastic rejuvenating this time of year. Again, this is because the new growth that will be stimulated has a better chance of survival heading into spring rather than winter. I have had particular success drastically cutting back overgrown dappled willows and forsythia in my business. Even though forsythia is on the list of shrubs not to trim back early, this one was so overgrown my client just wanted it reduced in size, willing to sacrifice the blooms that year.

Evergreen Trees and Shrubs to Prune now

If removing the lower branches of evergreens in your landscape is something you have been considering, now is the time to do so. This is a great way to drastically change your landscape and even improve the condition of your lawn that tries to grow under them.

Boxwoods, yews, holly and other evergreen shrubs should be trimmed now, while dormant, and before new growth appears.

Spruce and firs can be trimmed back now, but pruning pines should wait until June or July, after their first growth of what are called candles (new shoots at the tips). No earlier and no later. With pines, prune (delay growth) by cutting back the candles by half or remove dead, diseased, broken (or unwanted lower) branches to their main stem.

Shrubs or Trees You Should NOT Prune Now

There are exceptions to the “most trees and shrubs” that benefit from spring pruning. These would be the ones that flower early and prefer pruning after they flower. They include:

  • Lilac
  • forsythia
  • bridle wreath spirea
  • mophead and oakleaf hydrangea
  • spring blooming clematis
  • rhododendrons
  • magnolia
  • wisteria
  • flowering almond
  • mock orange
  • weigela
  • nine barks
  • viburnum
  • witch hazel
  • spring flowering trees like plum, cherry, pear or dogwood

The general rule of thumb is “if it blooms before June, prune after flowering. If it blooms after June, prune in spring.” That is because spring bloomers do so on older (last year’s) wood, while later flowers come from new (spring generated) wood.

Cutting Back Ornamental Grasses and Perennials

If you left your ornamental grasses to sway in the winter winds, cut them back as soon as you can get to them, even if you have to wade through some lingering snow. Ornamental grasses should be cut back to four to six inches from the ground. It is much easier to do this now than to wait until new growth starts when you will have to pick the dead and crispy brown stalks from the tender new green shoots. I did mine a few weeks ago when I was itching to do something garden related.

This applies to other perennials you left over the winter. Bird lovers often leave seed heads and pods for their fine feathered friends to snack on. Some leave perennial stalks for their beauty when covered in snow or some variation in an otherwise bleak-looking winter garden. For whatever reason you have left yours intact, now is the time to cut (snap off) the brown and crispy stalks down to ground level.

Conclusions

For more ideas on what you can tackle in your garden this early, check out last year’s post at this time of year.

I’ve got my ornamental grasses cut back already and my lawn raked and seeded, with edging next on my agenda. Garden cleanups will have to wait a few more weeks.

Posted in gardens, loreeebee.ca, weather

Itching to get Gardening? What you Can Do Now.

Photo Credit

Is spring looking promising in your neck of the woods? The warmer, sunny days here (Ottawa, zone 4/5) are making me itch to get into my gardens.

Use Caution!

It is still (at least it is here) early to get into the gardens to clean them out as many (most) hardy perennials and shrubs are still dormant. I know it is tempting when you start seeing green shoots, but hold off a bit. At least until the soil is not mushy.

The same cautionary rule applies to your lawn. If the snow is gone, wait until it is no longer squishy to walk on before raking, aerating, top dressing etc. I have been aerating in the fall for the past few years, so I am one step ahead.

You also should beware of overwintering bees and other beneficial insects. Gardening too early will disturb them before they are ready to come out of their cozy spots under the debris in your gardens.

Also be on the lookout for nests belonging to our fine feathered friends. Spring is nest and baby season for birds. If you discover one being used, avoid it for a while, until babies have left.

Rabbits have their babies in burrows or holes in the ground in a protected area. I came across one a few years ago when weeding a client’s garden. I was pulling weeds, when I spotted movement. The only way I could distinguish that they were baby rabbits was by their big feet. They had no hair yet. I replaced the weeds to protect them and moved onto another area of the garden.

What can You Do This Early?

Prune Trees

You can prune trees now, in fact this is the best time to do so, before the leaves come out. Just do not prune anything that blooms early, like lilacs or forsythia, as you will cut off the spring blossoms. And, if you have to trample all over your soggy lawn to get to the trees to prune them, perhaps you better wait for a few weeks.

Use a good quality, sharp set of loppers to prune branches. This is one of those times it pays to purchase quality. Choose a set you can handle, as some are quite heavy and create a workout for your arms.

If cut branches are diseased, wipe lopper blades with disinfectant (rubbing alcolol or hydrogen peroxide) between cuts.

Cut Back Ornamental Grasses

You can and should cut back ornamental grasses that were left tall for the winter. By now they look weather-beaten. Cut them back to 4 to 6 inches from the ground. This will ensure the new green shoots (when they appear) wont have to compete with the dead brown ones.

Use a sharp pair of garden shears to make the job of cutting back the ornamental grasses much easier.

Plan and Dream

This is also a great time of year to plan. Make a list of things you want to do, even if they seem far-fetched. Sometimes dreams become reality!

Get Ahead of Crabgrass

If crabgrass is making an appearance in your lawn, treat it quick! As soon as the snow is gone crabgrass germinates, so the earlier you get to it the better. The snow is always gone from my south facing lawn first, so I have to get on the crabgrass now. You can recognize the sprouts as they are bright green in an otherwise drab lawn, and whorled like spokes on a wheel.

I have tried corn gluten, a preemergent, with varying results; the biggest problem is finding it in the stores so early. Scotts has a product out with good reviews for treating crabgrass. I have yet to try it.

This year I poured boiling water on the germinating sprouts, will let you know how that works.

Disinfect Tools and Pots with Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is an environmentally friendly alternative to bleach for cleaning and disinfecting in the garden.

If you use containers on your patio, deck or in your gardens, a warm sunny day is a great time to clean them out. Rinse them out and spray with undiluted 3% hydrogen peroxide to disinfect them. Let the pots sit in the hydrogen peroxide for at least ten minutes. Rinse again, then fill them with new soil so they are ready to fill with annuals when your last frost date arrives.

If you intend to fill any containers with perennials (I have some with ornamental grasses in them) you can do that now. Contact your local nurseries to see what they have available, my favourite here is Ritchie Feed & Seed.

Hydrogen peroxide is also an effective way to clean your tools. Spray or soak them, let them sit for a minimum of ten minutes, then rinse and dry.

Change up Your Outdoor Decor

Remove your winter arrangements (the evergreens that are not so green anymore) and replace them with harbingers of spring. Nothing says spring like pussy willows (I saw some at Farm Boy yesterday) or forsythia branches!

Start Some Seeds

Non-hardy seeds should be started at least six weeks before your last frost date, so this is a great time to get them going. I have learned a few tips over the winter regarding seedlings. Stay tuned for a future post on that subject, coming soon.

Conclusions

While it is still too early to really get started, there are a few things you can do to scratch that gardening itch.

Stay tuned for a more detailed post next week on the next steps in spring cleanups.

Posted in gardens, loreeebee.ca, weather

Cold Weather Good for Gardens

As we are in the grips of a cold snap, I feel the need to remind you that cold weather is good for your gardens. The survival of your plants and the bugs that try their darndest to destroy them depends on just how low the mercury drops and for how long it stays low. Snow levels also come into consideration for both plant and insect survival.

Insects are amazingly resilient, doing whatever they have to to survive. Based on how well they can tolerate cold temperatures, there are two types of insects. Freeze avoidance insects are those that seek a warm spot in which to hibernate, but can only handle a small amount of cold before their bodily fluids freeze, killing them:

Japanese Beetles

Those annoying Japanese beetles that can strip plants bare in one day do not like cold weather. Extensive stretches of cold below -15C not only kills them off, but also destroys the eggs they lay in the soil of your gardens and containers. Reasearch will show you that any season where Japanese beetles were particularly destructive can be blamed on a preceding warm winter.

Fleas

Fleas are not much of a concern in gardens, but they are for your fur babies. Fleas are even more sensitive to cold than Japanese beetles, as their larvae, pupae and eggs can not tolerate temperatures below freezing. For a stretch of below zero temperatures that is, at least ten days worth. The longer the stretch of cold weather lasts, the less fleas can effectively reproduce.

Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes try to find a spot to overwinter, but many are killed off with cold weather too. Unfortunately though, many of their eggs are winter-hardy to some degree, just waiting to hatch when temperatures warm up.

Ticks

Unfortunately, many tick species are able to bury deep into piles of leaves and debris, keeping themselves warm enough to survive winters. A winter with lots of snow only adds to their survival as the snow acts as insulation.

The colder the weather, the less chance of tick survival. Extremely cold weather has been known to eradicate some mosquito species, such as the asian tiger mosquito that carries the Zika virus.

Ash Borers

Ash borers are also termed freeze avoidants meaning they seek warmth, but will not die unless their bodily fluids freeze. Research has shown that ash borers can tolerate temperatures down to minus 30C degrees.

Freeze Tolerants

Some insects, such as cockroaches and wooly caterpillars are completely unperturbed by cold weather. These are called freeze tolerants, withstanding even the coldest temperatures around the world.

Fungal Pathogens

Lack of moisture kills off this annoying garden problem. So cold, snowless winters are their biggest destroyers. Unfortunately, severe cold and lack of snow is one of the best ways to kill off perennial plants too. Plants need snow to protect them from the cold too.

Conclusions

A long deep freeze in winter will most likely reduce the destructive bug population in your gardens. Even more damaging to insects is a deep freeze after soil temperatures have started to warm up in spring. At this stage in their reproductive cycle, insects and their eggs will be even more susceptible to a cold snap.

Another reason insects do not tolerate extended winters (late arrival of spring) is because as they “hibernate” they survive on their supply of stored fat and sugar. If these stores are depleted before spring arrives, the insects cannot survive.

Unfortunately, many plants do not handle drastic thaw/freeze/thaw cycles well either, so be careful what you wish for!

photo credit

Posted in current events, gardening, gardens4u.ca, lorieb.wordpress.com, weather

May Flowers, not Snow!

April showers are supposed to bring May flowers, not snow!

Last week our Ontario premier Doug Ford promised to lift social distancing restrictions. Landscapers like myself across the province cheered as we were included in the first group allowed back to work. As a result of this announcement, I have been a busy beaver this week with spring cleanup of my clientsgardens.

Not today! I woke up this morning to a blanket of white, fluffy snow. How can something so annoying be so pretty?…

Perhaps Mother Nature heard me groaning about my sore (overworked) muscles and decided to give me a day off…

Posted in gardens, lorieb.wordpress.com, Ottawa, weather

What a Difference a Day Makes

Don’t you just love spring?  It seems every day something new is popping up in my garden.  Saturday we had a beautiful spring-like day and by the end of it my daffodils were blooming…..

Monday evening my magnolia was looking promising under the low light at dusk…

By noon Tuesday, a few magnolias were in full bloom, with bees buzzing happily from blossom to blossom…

Wednesday brought more blossoms with cloudy skies and wind, lots of wind…

Today the magnolia blossoms are soggy in the rain….

Posted in lorieb.wordpress.com, weather

Pussy Willows and Double Digits: Signs of Spring

Yesterday (Monday) the temperature rose into the double digits here in Ottawa. That’s incredible (although not unheard of) for early March. Although, as forecast, this spring-like weather is already less exciting today…

While the sunshine and warm temperature teased us of things to come, I changed up the décor in my urns flanking my garage and the milk can (from my grandparents’ farm) on my front porch. The evergreen boughs that looked so nice late last fall, have looked a little sad lately, not the lush green their name implies…

not so evergreen boughs

I also removed the Christmas/winter decorations (shiny bulbs, pinecones and a very cute owl), but saved them in my seasonal stash for next winter, leaving the (still attractive) red dogwood twigs in place. I found a few (artificial) sprigs of forsythia in said stash and tucked them into the dogwood twigs, then promptly texted my neighbour to brag that my forsythia is blooming before hers…

At my local grocery store I was delighted to discover bunches of pussy willows in the floral department. I can never avoid perusing any floral department, in any store, especially in spring. The pussy willows were calling my name, or maybe my spring fever was running rampant. Whatever, they created an awesome addition to my spring displays at home…

The rain in the forecast should help melt the still-existent snowbanks away. Every (rain) cloud has its silver lining I say. With colder weather (back) in the forecast later this week, I may have to bring some of these floral harbingers of spring indoors for some temporary respite.

I’m sure later this week I will be reminiscing the too fleeting sneak peak at spring.

Posted in climate change, current events, lorieb.wordpress.com, social media, weather

Australian bushfires: extreme weather, climate change or both?

In the debate about climate change, a common misconception is that weather and climate are the same thing. They are not the same, but they are definitely linked together. Evidence is growing to support the belief that extreme weather events are increasing due to human induced climate change. This chart defines and gives examples of both weather and climate, for those of you that still require clarification…

Social media is wonderful for keeping us aware of what is going on in the rest of the world, but sometimes it is hard to decipher the facts from the fiction and fake news. For example, we in Canada are horrified reading, hearing about and viewing pictures of the wildfires currently ravaging Australia. To put this catastrophe into perspective, I asked a Canadian friend living in Adelaide Hills, South Australia to put into words the harrowing experience she is living….

For many people around the world summer conjures imagines of fun in the sun. And it does for me too. Here in South Australia we have beautiful, sandy beaches. We’re known as the Festival State and our summers are jam packed with activities. World renowned wine regions are on our door step. Our hot, sunny summers mean we can schedule and attend lots of barbecues and other backyard get-togethers. There’s so much to enjoy and look forward to.

But what many of my overseas family and friends don’t ask when I post the latest forecast of the upcoming heatwave is the question in the back of my mind, ‘Have we done enough?’ While hot dry days sound great when you’re faced with shovelling your driveway for the third time in less than two weeks, for me these days cause concern. I live in the Adelaide Hills—a gorgeous wildlife and nature filled area. It’s also prone to bushfires. I watch the weather and the warnings like a hawk. Each day the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and the Country Fire Service (CFS) issue fire danger ratings for the various regions within our state. These range from low, high, very high, severe, extreme, up to catastrophic. These ratings are based partially on temperature, but also factor in humidity, fuel loads and their moisture content, wind velocity (speed and direction), if there’s a weather change due and if there’s any associated thunderstorm activity.

Throughout summer it’s typical for any day to have a very high fire danger rating associated with it. We worry when it goes beyond that. Everyone living or travelling through a potential bushfire area is encouraged to have a Bushfire Survival Plan. These plans are different for everyone and are dependent on individual circumstances and requirements. Mine is divided into four stages and takes up the entirety of two single spaced, A4 pages. It’s posted on the inside of my pantry door and everyone knows what’s in it. We’ve practiced our plans and can be out the door and heading up our driveway in less than 10 minutes if an evacuation order is issued. Fires don’t only start on extreme or catastrophic days, and they don’t only start during waking hours. Most importantly, our plan covers what to do if we’re trapped and can’t leave.

However, being bushfire ready isn’t only about loading up the car and heading off to someplace safe. We spend considerable effort during the rest of the year making sure we’re prepared. We have a large 3000 square meter property that lots of trees and wildlife call their home too. In preparation for the “big day,” we move all our important documents and photos to a secure offsite location before the fire season starts. We routinely collect and dispose of deadfall, trim trees and bushes, and keep our eaves troughs/guttering clear of debris. We have lists of things to do in the days and hours before a catastrophic day to try and minimize the threat of ember attack. On bad days we pack up early and leave before anything starts. It’s quite sobering to look at your family huddled in the car and think that this is all that will be left if the worse happens.

The Friday before Christmas this year was a catastrophic day. Fortunately, we had a couple of days warning, but the rating for the next day can come in as late as 4:00pm. We were well on our way when the first fire of the day broke out. It was caused by a tree branch, weakened by drought, falling on some power lines. After that ~190 new fires spawned. These were started by high winds blowing embers many kilometers from the ignition point, and by dry lightning strikes that accompanied a weather change later in the day. The Watch and Act zone was a half hour from my house and embers were starting fires in nearby communities. The family of my middle son’s girlfriend was evacuated. A friend of mine’s home was razed to the ground when a sudden wind change drove the fire across her farm. She and her family were safe, having left early like we did, but for a while they didn’t know the fate of the farm animals they were forced to leave behind. Miraculously, the animals survived unscathed, despite the scorched and blackened ground surrounding them.

2019 was Australia’s hottest and driest year on record. Our fire season has slowly but surely lengthened. Typically it would run from December to April, but over the years we’ve seen bad fires start in late winter and early spring. Australia is the land of bushfires and flash flooding, but these fires are not what we’ve previously experienced. I hope they don’t become the new normal.

Nancy Leinweber, freelance writer, Adelaide Hills, South Australia

Residents within the bushfire regions rely heavily on the 13,000 volunteers of CFS (South Australia Country Fire Service) for information, warnings, condition updates, advice and help. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), phone apps and Facebook groups of additional volunteers also provide local updates. It truly sounds like survival of the most informed and prepared.

I will be the first to admit that social media is wonderful for keeping in touch with family and friends around the world. However, it also permits the rampant spread of false information and distortions of the truth. For example, we read here in Canada that the fires in Australia were started by arsonists. Nancy had this to say about the arson stories we heard/read about…

Australia fires

A fire started within my watch zone (a 7km diameter area around my house) yesterday. The wind was blowing away from our property. The CFS dispatched 15 appliances and 3 aircraft (who dropped 12 loads of water). The cause is not suspicious.

In our own area we had ~190 fires start on one day. Zero were attributed to arson. We did have one person arrested for attempting to start fires (I think 4 fires) several days after the day I wrote about in the above comment. I think some of these things are taken out of context. The police released figures stating that 180+ people had been caught starting fires. This included 23 that were arrested and charged with arson. The rest were idiots ignoring common sense and fire-bans. They were warned for doing things like tossing a cigarette butt out of a car window, having a BBQ, using a chainsaw, angle grinder, etc. during total fire-bans. Apparently ~1% or so of bushfires are started by arson and this year is no exception.

An article written by the President of the Australian Academy of Science sums up just how devastating these unprecedented bushfires (as well as other extreme weather events) are, and will continue to be, without science-based consideration and adaptations moving forward…

The scientific evidence base shows that as the world warms due to human induced climate change, we experience an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events.

Bushfires, along with other weather and climate challenges, pose complex and wide-ranging problems. Population growth, climate change, temperature extremes, droughts, storms, wind and floods are intersecting in ways that are difficult to untangle and address.

Professor John Shine, President of Australian Academy of Science

To learn more about the link between climate change and extreme weather events such as the Australian bushfires, do your research before you spread damaging information. Search for reliable, trustworthy, evidence-based information and ignore the rest.

Posted in DIY, gardening, gardens, gardens4u.ca, loreeebee.ca, weather

Winter Evergreen Arrangements

As I was removing window boxes filled with perennials and frost damaged annuals at the hospice I volunteer at, it dawned on me that these window boxes would look awesome with winter evergreen arrangements in them. Evergreen boughs with pops of red for a splash of color against the white walls of the building and snow on the ground.

Thanks to the early arrival of winter weather in our area, the plants and soil in the window boxes were frozen solid. I brought them home and put them in my basement to warm up to enable the change of décor.

Once thawed, the first thing I did was remove the dead annuals. Next I trimmed the dormant perennials hard, back to a few inches from the soil level. This step was to allow space for the evergreen boughs and decorative trimmings.

Most grocery stores sell evergreen boughs in bundles this time of year for such DIY projects, as do home improvement stores like Lowes and Home Depot. I just take a walk through the woodland trails in my neighbourhood with a pair of clippers and a bag. Cedar, pine, and spruce boughs as well as pine cones are plentiful. Sometimes I can even find some vibrant red dogwood and/or contrasting white birch branches and twigs. If not, the stores sell those as well.

Your local dollar store will provide the finishing touches like artificial poinsettia, bows, red berries etc. Battery powered twinkling lights were also added for night time pizzazz.

Posted in gardening, gardens4u.ca, weather

Garden Successes for 2019 Season

Well, it appears my garden season is over for 2019.  The increasingly cold, wet and miserable weather is telling me to give it up.  It was a great season, with lots of garden successes to snap pictures of. When I remembered to that is.

Success with Annuals

Still one of my favourite annuals, these gorgeous cleome (AKA spider flowers) went crazy in a garden at the hospice I volunteer at.  Unfortunately, they are non-hardy annuals in our climate, but I will definitely plant some again next spring.  I like to plant as many colour variations that I can find, this year I used dark pink, pale pink and white…

Other annuals starring in my garden successes included coleus (they come variegated in contrasting colours), miniature multi-coloured hibiscus (for a tropical look), portulaca (for full sun colour) as well as black-eyed-susan and sweet potato vines…

Eye Popping Colour Combinations

Another of my garden successes this season involved the colour combinations I chose in several containers.  Remember, the best colour combos are those that are opposites on the colour wheel.  Don’t try to match your colours if you are going for the WOW factor, contrasting colours give more of an impact…

Container Gardening

The containers I planted for clients and myself were garden successes too.  As described above, I aim for colour combinations that create splashes of bold colours…

These window boxes were created to add a splash of colour to the otherwise bland white older portion of the same hospice mentioned above.  The empty window boxes came from a client that passed away a few years ago.  I added perennials from my own gardens and a few annuals for contrasting colours, then attached six of them to the wall below the windows with brackets…

Wedding Flowers

I attempted more wedding flowers this season and am happy to say these too were one of my garden successes. This time I had the pleasure of creating small tabletop arrangements.  The biggest hurdle was the colour scheme.  The bride and groom wanted blue and silver but anyone with a bit of flower savvy knows that neither blue or silver are abundant colours in gardens.  Unless of course you want to order (expensive) exotic varieties from afar. They turned our well, phew…

Other beauties

My lily trees just keep getting more and more gorgeous every year.  Their very first season they grew to about eighteen inches with a few blooms.  This year I had multiple, thick, sturdy stems with tons of spectacular blooms…

This time of year any nice days are a rare bonus, we were fortunate to experience a few last week.  This picture shows a rose bush in a client’s garden that would just not quit.  It is (was) so beautiful that neighbours thought the blooms were fake.  When they saw me preparing the garden for the winter, one neighbour came over to comment and check for herself…

gardens successes
ever blooming rose