Posted in gardening, gardens4u.ca, zone 4

Early August Blooms in Gardens4Me

The summer is flying by, August is upon us. We were fortunate to receive some much needed rain last week so my Gardens4me are looking pretty luscious this week.

A few blossoms pictured in my late July post are still hanging around, surprisingly. A perennial geranium is reblooming, even though I did not get around to cutting it back as I usually do to encourage a repeat performance…

New this month are the heliopsis or false sunflowers, providing splashes of vivid yellow at my gate and amongst the greenery of my “jungle” as my 6 year old granddaughter calls it.

Also new this month are the garden phlox (as opposed to the creeping variety) in bright pink and white…

as well as tickseed…

Also thriving after our heavy rains are the weeds in my lawn. My granddaughter (the same one that loves my “jungle”) helped me mow the weeds one day, until a thunderstorm sent us running into the house…

I love the fact that my grandchildren enjoy my gardens, hopefully they will remember these days in years to come. I know I cherished the time spent in my own grandmothers’ gardens.

Today I stopped by the hospice that I volunteer at to check out the gardens and containers I planted. I am particularly thrilled with the progress of the coleus spilling out of these containers in the shade. Every year there appears to be more varieties available; their colours are striking!

What’s happening in your gardens?

Posted in gardening, gardens4u.ca, lorieb.wordpress.com, zone 4

Late July in Gardens4me

How do your gardens look in late July? Colour can be a little anemic this time of year here in Ontario, so your gardens may need some extra TLC. My solution? I try to visit garden centers every two weeks to purchase perennials in bloom at that time, then take them home and add to them to the spots lacking colour in my gardens.

I did just that earlier this week. I found this huge container of pink larkspur that broke up into six individual plants when I took it out of the pot. Bonus! One was blooming, the others have tons of blooms ready to explode. I planted all of them separately to add splashes of colour throughout my backyard garden.

This time of year I also add annuals to my containers that need a colour boost or to replace annuals that are not performing well. Here are a few pictures of the same containers with an infusion of colour…

During this heatwave we have been sweating through, my containers need watering every day. That fact and vacation do not go together well. I recently came home from an extra-long weekend at the cottage to find the cleomes (one of my favourite annuals) on my front veranda were fried. They have since been replaced with three Spanish lavender plants that are considered annuals in my Ottawa area. At present all it has to offer is a heavenly scent, but it should bloom soon…

If you go away for more than two days, ask a neighbour to water your containers, or move them (the containers, not the neighbours) to a shady spot to prevent their demise. Water balls (the things you fill with water and insert into the soil) work well for a few days too, depending on how hot it is and how thirsty your plants are.

the blue water ball (center, back) provides moisture when I am away

The pink wave petunias are stretching towards the sun, but look like they are trying to escape through the railing of my veranda.

Also needing daily attention (refilling) are the numerous bird baths in my gardens, a chore my 2 year old granddaughter tackles diligently when she is here.

a chickadee sipping the cold water

My lilies in part sun spots are still looking good, (the full sun ones have lost their petals, much to the dismay of the same granddaughter) and my weigela tree is providing an encore…

My Annabelle hydrangea is coming along, parts of it in bloom, others still working on it…

… and this pink gayfeather is just beginning to show off…

By next week its bold spires will be stretching to the sun and waving in the breeze.

That’s it for blooms in Gardens4me now that July is on its way out, but into the history books for our hottest and driest July in many years.

Stay tuned for more pictures soon.

Posted in gardening, gardens4u.ca, zone 4, zone 5

June Blooms in Gardens4me

In my Gardens4u business I design gardens based on the wishes and dreams of my clients. In a moment of silliness, as I was waiting for Premier Ford to allow me to get back into those gardens, I painted Gardens4me on the archway over the gate to my own backyard garden. That’s because they have been created according to my taste and no one else’s. My personal oasis of sorts.

My own gardens are created just the way I love gardens….the style I aim for is called English Cottage Garden. I like when the plants, predominantly perennials with a shrub here and there, blend together, looking like they belong together. It takes a loooooong time to achieve this effect and is never quite “done.” I am always tweaking the look, moving, dividing and adding plants as I see fit. Although purple is my favourite colour in the garden (can you tell?) I do try to add contrasting colours to make each bloom “pop.” A variety in foliage shades and textures is a must too for my desired effect.

The following gallery of pictures is from my backyard. It seems the garden gets bigger each year and the lawn shrinks…

When we moved into this home years ago, the south-facing front yard was in full sun, but a dwarf blue spruce turned out not so dwarf, so I get part sun there now. This allows for a wider variety of plants…

These pictures were snapped just after a rainfall, that’s when they look the lushest. Although we have had an usually hot June with very little rain (my lawn is already looking parched), next month the real heat lovers (roses and lilies) will be the feature…….stay tuned!

Posted in gardens, gardens4u.ca, loreeebee.ca, mother nature, zone 4

Pink “Ann” Magnolia: Gorgeous!

My pink magnolia is blooming in this beautiful weather, and it is gorgeous! This beauty is an “Ann” variety, hardy to zone 4….

The bright pink magnolia is in my back yard, while the white star magnolia I posted pictures of a few weeks ago is in a more protected (from north winds) area in my front yard. I can get away with zone 5 plants there. In case you missed how spectacular it was, this is what it looked like…

magnolia blossom

Both of these varieties bloom before their leaves appear, a unique and striking feature of magnolia trees.

Posted in gardens, gardens4u.ca, loreeebee.ca, Ottawa, zone 4

Pruning dormant shrubs and trees

In Ottawa (predominantly zone 4) this is a perfect time to prune dormant shrubs and trees.  The timing is even more perfect if you are out of sorts self isolating or practicing social distancing as currently recommended by our government officials.

The trick is knowing what should and should not be pruned or cut back this early.  Here is a list of plants you can cut back NOW…

  • trees (it is much easier to see branches that need to be cut back before the leaves sprout).  Oak, ash, birch, maple, linden, walnut and fruit trees are on this list.  Beware, some of these trees will release sap when cut this time of year.
  • shrubs that do NOT flower in spring.  Leave the trimming of lilacs, forsythia, etc until right AFTER they bloom.  The shrubs you can prune now include hydrangeas, potentilla,  spirea, (with the exception of bridal wreath variety) smoke tree, butterfly bush, ninebarks, false spirea, and weigela to name a few.
  • shrubs grown for their foliage only (burning bush, willows, boxwood, euonymus, cedars, dogwoods, barberry, junipers, yews, etc)
  • roses, except for the climbing variety.  Cut back to 1/4 inch above an outward facing bud/leaf node, slanting the cut in a 45 degree angle, away from the bud/leaf node. (see picture below)
  • vines, (except those that flower early, like clematis) especially vigorous growers, can be cut back to 5 feet from the ground.  My golden hops falls into this category.  Left unpruned, it will take over my gardens, in one season.
  • ornamental grasses (cut back to 4 inches from ground)
  • stalky perennials (these should snap off easily at ground level) like coneflowers, daisies,
  • perennials that have died back to the ground, leaving mushy mounds, can be tidied up now.  Hostas are an example.  I cut my hostas back in the fall because I can’t handle the mushiness in the spring.

 

Many trees and shrubs do not need to be pruned, unless their growth is out of control or they have diseased, dead or crossing branches.  All such branches should be removed any time of the year, but while dormant it is easier to visualize the crossing or damaged branches.  Cut broken branches back to the closest healthy branch.  Cut diseased branches back to the ground.  Cut crossing branches back to where they no longer cross/touch another branch.  You may have to choose which of the crossing branches is the best one to keep.

Other garden chores to do early

There are several other garden chores you can get done early, as soon as spring fever hits…

  • edging can be done as soon as the ground is thawed enough to get the edger in. The same applies to making your garden larger or changing its shape.
  • perennials can be dug up, divided and/or moved as soon as the ground thaws too.
  • add compost or composted manure around your plants.
  • take cuttings from any shrubs you have pruned.  Dip the end into rooting hormone and put the cutting into a pot of soil.  I make hundreds of new plants this way each year.  They take a few years to reach maturity, but it does work.
  • clean out and disinfect any pots you emptied in the fall that you plan to reuse this season.
  • start annuals or perennial seeds indoors. My granddaughter loves to plant them and watch them grow.
  • clean out and replace bird houses.
  • rake your lawn, hard, but wait until it is no longer soft and soggy.
  • treat your lawn with weed & feed, preemergent crabgrass treatment, or grass seed.  You cannot treat for weeds and spread seed at the same time.  If you treat for weeds now, wait six weeks before adding seed.  Fescue is best in our area, grubs don’t like the roots.
  • powerwash verandas, decks, fences, patios, patio furniture and any other surfaces that get dirty/moldy over the winter.
  • leave the debris in the gardens though, as bees and other beneficial critters are still hiding there.

As new Growth Appears

Some plants, like most varieties of clematis vines, should only be cut back (to 4 inches) when new growth appears.  This happens sometime after the dormant stage and before the last frost date.

After the Last Frost

Some garden chores must wait until the chance of frost is gone.  I rely on the blooming of my forsythia to tell me when it’s time.  Mother Nature is amazing and the forsythias haven’t steered me wrong yet.  Here is a list of garden chores that should wait…

  • pruning climbing roses.  Cut lateral (side shoots emerging from main stem) shoots back to two buds from the main stem.  As above, angle your cuts. As the lateral shoots grow, tuck them into their trellis (or whatever they are growing against) horizontally.  They produce more blooms that way.
  • trim old growth from late bloomers like hibiscus only when new growth appears.  Every year I worry mine did not make it through the winter, then bang, they show up, just as I’m about to give up on them and pull them out.  My advice?  If you think yours has croaked, wait a week.

So, if spring fever has hit you (as it has me) get out into your yard and garden to get a start on things.  Take advantage of the social distancing restrictions to give your gardens some extra TLC!  Later in the season, when we are able to entertain friend and family again, you will be happy you spent the time now.

Just don’t forget to do your stretches first!  Your muscles will thank you.

feature (top) image credit to Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in gardening, gardens, gardens4u.ca, lorieb.com, nature, Ottawa, zone 4, zone 5

In bloom this last week of July in zone 4 to 5

In bloom this last week of July here in my Ottawa (zones 4 to 5) gardens are more lilies, more roses, more of everything that was in bloom last week.

The lilies are absolutely spectacular, there must be close to thirty blossoms on the three plants at my front lamp post and more in my back garden…

 

My favourite rose this week is a pale, blush pink:

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As I was walking around my backyard, a pair of cardinals were flitting through my plum tree watching me. The red male really stood out against the green of the leaves, he came to within a few feet of me…

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