November Weather

So far, our November weather has been incredibly beautiful. At least it has been here in eastern Ontario. We are enjoying this fall bonus as it’s not going to last for much longer I hear.

Garden Blooms Still Glorious

With the warmer-than-usual October and November weather, our perennial garden blooms are still hanging in there. A few light touches of frost have killed off some annuals but even many of them still look lovely. These are from the butterfly garden at our local hospice. I have been hesitant to replace the annuals in my containers for fall and winter decor because the annuals still look great.

Yard Work

Home and cottage yard work has actually been quite pleasant with this nice November weather. In fact so pleasant that fall is fast becoming our favourite cottage season. Warm days and evenings with an absence of bugs have been a bonus.

Even though we are missing a few trees, the deciduous (with leaves that fall) ones make for lots of leaves. It takes days to rake and mulch them, then add them to gardens. Every bit we get done this fall means less to rake in the spring!

I’ve also been granted a few extra days to clean up gardens for clients in my gardening business.

Lakeside Sunsets

The extended fall weather means we have been able to enjoy more lakeside sunsets than usual too. I cannot remember enjoying weather like this in November. When the weather is warm, my arthritic bones and joints are keen to stay at the cottage as long as possible.

Even the turkeys have been enjoying the weather (in the trees, third picture) Hopefully, your fall weather has been nice enough too. What bonuses have you experienced with this November weather?

Overwintering Annuals, Take Two

October blooms

A few years ago, I shared my plan to overwinter some frost-tender tropical plants from my outdoor collection. I was not successful with the bougainvillea featured in that post, but I’ve learned a lot since then, mainly from a group of experts on Facebook.

Washing Roots

It is advised (by said experts mentioned above) to shake the outside dirt off of the roots and then to give them a good rinse with a strong jet of water from your hose before bringing the plant inside. This practice loosens the root ball so the roots can stretch out in their new location.

This works especially well on houseplants that need to be repotted to larger pots too. When examining the roots of tender annuals and houseplants, remove any rotted or dead roots.

Prevent Bugs From Overwintering in Your House Too

The last thing you want to welcome into your home for the winter is bugs. Adult bugs and their eggs will come in if you do not treat the plants, soil, and roots that you bring in. I don’t mind the tiny (the size of fruit flies) buggers flying around, but my husband and grandchildren hate them.

There are several ways to eliminate both the adults and eggs. Insecticidal soap or a solution of hydrogen peroxide works well on the plants and soil. Sticky traps will catch adults preventing them from laying any more eggs. These sticky traps also work well on fruit flies.

Tropicals I’m Attempting to Overwinter this Season

This fall I pulled up three tropical plants that I used as the thrillers in containers.

I find it frustrating (and sad) that these beautiful plants are just achieving that mature, settled-in look when frost ruins them in our zone 4 to 5 gardens. This year I decided to remove the thrillers, rinse their roots with water as advised above, spray them several times with insecticidal soap, then bring them inside.

My biggest challenge was finding sunny spots for them to overwinter. My south and east-facing windows were already houseplant-loaded. It took a bit of shuffling to find spots for three (more) large plants.

Hopefully, they survive until I can reuse them in the spring.

Taking Cuttings

I also took more cuttings from fully mature annuals this fall. Like the tropical “thrillers” in the center of my containers, the fillers and spillers were gorgeous this year too. Especially the coleus, which continues to be my favourite annual for containers in shady spots.

They are all set up in perlite on my basement counter; as soon as roots form I will pot the baby plants up so I have a collection to use in spring. For those of you not familiar with perlite, it is a form of volcanic glass with a high water content, used to propagate plants without soil.

Digging up Dahlia Tubers

Another new thing I am trying this year is digging up the dahlia bulbs I planted in the spring. I have always admired dahlias in everyone else’s gardens, so decided to try them myself this year. My granddaughters loved the various colours and shapes that bloomed right up until this past week when our first frost descended on us..

I followed the same guideline with the dahlia tubers as I did for the roots of the other annuals I am overwintering. Digging up and rinsing well with a hose. The difference here is that I had to leave these lying in a single layer on the floor of my garage to dry before storing them in a box in a cool, dark spot.

Overwintering Annuals, Take Two
dahlia tubers

All of my overwintering preparations are complete, now I just have to wait until spring to see how successful I have been. Have you had any success with overwintering frost tender plants?

October Blooms in Zone 4

October blooms

There is not usually much still looking good in this zone 4-5 region of Eastern Ontario. This year the recent spot of warm weather has encouraged some October blooms. Many perennials are reblooming and annuals are perking up in my gardens.

Annual Blooms

Annuals are those type of plants that get killed off by frost and must be replanted every spring. Their claim to fame is that they bloom all summer. By this time of year though they often look leggy and washed out.

On a stroll through my gardens this (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend, I found a few annuals still looking cute including portulaca, zinnias, dahlias. Annuals in all the containers I planted are still looking marvelous too!

Perennial October Blooms

Perennials are my go to plants as you only have to plant them once. Although you can move them around season to season if you (or they) are not happy where they are located. I do that all the time.

Unlike annuals that bloom all summer, perennials only bloom for a specific time through the growing season, a month at most. Some though rebloom after their initial bloom time, offering a bonus of colour when you least expect it.

I have several roses for example that do just that. These bloom and rebloom and sometimes rebloom again!

Other perennials sporting reblooming features include sage, butterfly bush, tickseed, blanket flower, geraniums, lavender, false sunflowers, asters, achillea, tickseed, daisies, and clematis:

The silver lace vine, asters, ornamental grasses, hibiscus, and hydrangeas are not reblooming, just fall blooming perennials that are still going strong:

What’s still looking good in your garden?

October blooms in Gardens4me

October blooms

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.

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!

Late July Blooms 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.

Mid-July Blooms in Gardens4me

Those lily trees I told you about in a previous post have now popped, adding incredible colour and fragrance to my mid-July Gardens4me gardens.

mid-July lily trees
lily trees and monarda
mid-July lily trees
mid-July lily trees
aren’t they gorgeous?

Also in bloom, this time of year are drought-tolerant perennials in every colour of the rainbow. The filipendula sprays are turning from white to their signature pale pink, the monarda is still going strong, and the delphiniums are bluer than blue. Reblooming daylilies are still showing off as well…

The annuals I planted in containers and bare spots in the garden are also still blooming well in mid-July.  I always choose annuals that offer interesting foliage as well as flowers. For these containers, I use colours that are opposites (contrasting) on the colour wheel for maximum effect. This way you get pops of colour; for example, look at the purple next to the orange in this first picture:

Now I’m hoping for some rain to help me keep all these blooms hydrated. Stay tuned for the next batch of pictures from Gardens4me. My next Gardens4u project will be completed soon as well, will be sure to post pictures of it too.

Early July Blooms in Gardens4me

We have had an extraordinary summer so far, with weeks of hot dry weather. My lawns have taken a beating with the extensive drought, but my gardens are still looking good in early July. When planning my gardens, I chose drought tolerant perennials that could handle little to no maintenance. These choices are being tested this summer.

This next set of pictures are some of the annuals I have planted in various containers on my front veranda and back deck. Succulents continue to be some of my favourites for containers; they love the drought…

A soaker hose prevents my perennial gardens from drying out in this heat, I have used it quite frequently lately. For those of you not familiar with soaker hoses, they are rubber hoses with tiny holes in them so water sprays at the base of plants. Set up early in the spring as perennials are emerging, the hose will disappear into the foliage by this time of year. Connect as many as you need to snake through your garden, especially in the areas that receive lots of sun. Turn it on early in the morning and let it run for several hours.

My granddaughter is always willing to help me water the gardens and containers too…

helping Grandma water

Although, now that she is a “big girl” of two and half years, she has graduated to manning the hose…

Repurposed Items as Planters

I am all about reusing and recycling, so I love the ideas people come up with for using repurposed items for planters. As long as the item has a method of draining water from it, the sky’s the limit. If it does not have holes in the bottom, you can either drill some into it or put a layer of small rocks or pebbles in the bottom to create the necessary drainage space.

This idea of using an old BBQ that was designated for the garbage comes from a fellow WP blogger living in sunny California. It makes a perfect planter for his extra tomatoes…

I have a few repurposed items masquerading as planters in my gardens too. An old milk can from my grandparents’ farm is perfect for sprigs or branches, especially in the fall or spring. This milk can does not have drainage and the bottom is too rusty to drill holes into it, so I choose branches that don’t need water or insert a pot (that has drainage holes in it) into the mouth of the milk can. Pussy willows are an example of branches that do not require water. It is now sitting on my front porch with pussy willows still in it, left over from their spring display. I added a pot of soil to which I tucked a few sprigs of blue lyme grass and annual bacopa for a summery look.

Other repurposed items I currently use as planters are two old ash buckets that used to sit beside an indoor fireplace. They both have pebbles in the bottom for drainage. One sits beside the milk can in the picture above, the other is pictured below. Both look great with colourful annuals…

And an old teacup and saucer makes a great (fake, so no need for drainage) plant holder in my living room, AKA “the green room” as named by my two year old granddaughter.

Use your imagination to come up with repurposed items you have around your home. They make great planters!

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