This is a great time to plant bulbs, at least here in Ottawa, for a wonderful harbinger of spring. As long as the ground is not yet frozen, bulbs can be planted.
How to Deter Squirrels from Digging up Your Bulbs
I tend to wait until mid-November so the squirrels don’t raid my bulbs. As well as waiting until as late as possible to plant your bulbs, there are a few other ways to guarantee spring-blooming:
use bloodmeal: sprinkle a handful in the hole, over the bulbs. Be sure to wear gloves when using bloodmeal. Bonemeal is a fertilizer that will help them grow, but will not deter rodents.
cut squares of chicken wire and place a square in each hole. I plant my bulbs in groups of five, so a one foot square piece of wire is sufficient. It can be purchased in a role at most grocery, DIY stores.
banana peels over the bulbsin the hole also works. I have done this in the past with success, crisscrossing the strips of peel over the bulbs like spokes on a wheel.
plant alliums, members of the onion family, or daffodils as squirrels don’t like either of these.
I generally order my bulbs from Brecks, this year was no exception. Their prices are reasonable (especially if you buy in bulk as I do) and the variety of bulbs is amazing. I love looking through their catalogs picking and choosing colours, bloom time, height etc. These are the tulip and allium bulbs I chose this year:
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…
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:
Another magnolia blooms a bit later in my backyard. This beauty is the Ann variety, with blossoms that change in shape as they progress…
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:
I have a forsythia in my backyard too, but it is still small and not as effectively placed as the beauty above.
Next to bloom in my gardens are my plum trees, usually. This year their blossoms were barely therethanks 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.
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, 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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
Plant your amaryllis bulbs indoors this week for Christmas-time blooms. They take six or seven weeks to grow into gorgeous flowers. I have seen them in red, red and white, white and pale pink; all are beautiful!
Most grocery and department stores or nurseries carry them in kits with everything you need included. Each box contains a bulb, soil and a pot with instructions on how to grow your amaryllis. Once potted up, leave it in a (indirect) sunny spot and watch it grow. Turn the pot regularly to keep the stem growing straight.
In recent years I have planted lots of variations. One thing I have learned is that they are extremely top-heavy when full grown. For that reason, be sure to add a stick to support them in their pot, attaching the growing stem to the stick with a loose tie.
Take your pick, but do it soon if you want them to bloom in time for Christmas.
What do you do with the unsightly foliage from your spring bulbs once their flowers fade and the petals fall off? Experts say you are supposed to leave the foliage intact until it turns yellow allowing the bulbs to store energy for next spring.
I tend to plant my bulbs amongst perennials that will grow taller than the bulb foliage so it will not be visible while waiting for it to wilt and die off.
Others tie the foliage into knots. I had not heard of this trick until recently when aclientasked me to knot hers. I did as requested, and it looked quite neat and tidy, but I don’t think will look so nice when they start to yellow.
If you do decide to knot the foliage, the trick (I learned this after several attempts) is to restrict each knot to just a few leaves.
Wandering through my gardens this past weekend, I found these spring beauties…
magnolia blossoms and blue skies
golden elderberry shoots
white and purple tulips
white and purple tulips
plum tree blossoms
purple tulip ready to burst
yellow wood poppy
Spring is my favourite time of year. It has arrived a bit late here in Ottawa this year, but has finally arrived. You can see the exciting changes in the gardens daily as the bulbs burst into bloom and the perennials poke through the soil.
Yes, you read that right. Now is the time to save your banana peels for bulb planting. Over the years I have tried many things to deter squirrels from digging up the bulbs I plant in my clients’ gardens as well as my own.
Placing a few strips of banana peel over the bulbs in the hole you have dug seems to be the best method I have found, especially for single (and expensive!) bulbs like Lily trees …
Another trick is to plant daffodils and tulips in the same hole as that seems to deter squirrels too because they do not like daffodils…
We eat lots of bananas in my home, so I collect the peels in a plastic baggie and store the baggie in my freezer until I am ready to plant the bulbs…
Try my banana trick and let me know if it works for you. Now is the perfect time here in zone 4 to 5 for planting bulbs!
Today is a snow day for Gardens4u. I tried hard to get all of my clients’ gardens ready for winter and bulbs planted this week before the snow hit, but will have to wait for better weather before I get them all done. Fortunately, the weather forecast for the next two weeks is promising to be warmer and greener:
I have been hesitant to cut back most plants in their gardens (and mine too) because everything has looked so nice up until yesterday. We have had a beautiful fall season with extended bloom on most perennials and annuals. This snow will take its toll on these perennials and annuals, so they will be ready to be cut back when I get to them next week.
For those of you wondering if it is too late to plant bulbs, you can plant them until the ground freezes. Plant them pointy side up, or if you are not sure which side is up, on their sides. I sprinkle cayenne pepper in the holes with the bulbs and over the soil on top of the holes to deter the squirrels from digging up the bulbs. Another trick is to plant daffodils in the same hole as the tulips. Squirrels hate daffodils. Someone told me to try putting banana peels in the hole with my tulip bulbs to deter squirrels. I haven’t tried that trick yet, but it may be worth a try. Don’t forget to water your newly planted bulbs. If your hose has been disconnected and outside water turned off for the season, get some water from your kitchen sink to sprinkle over the planted bulbs.
The snow is pretty today, but I am glad it is not here to stay. Yet…
For the past three years I have purchased lily tree bulbs in bulk to sell to my clients. Whatever bulbs I do not sell and plant in my clients’ gardens, I plant in my own. Every year there seems to be a new variety available in the lily tree bulbs. The first season the plant grows to about three feet tall, the second year to about four feet tall and the third year over six feet tall. Last year’s oldest plant had 16 blooms on it! Here are a few recent pictures of the lily trees in my gardens…
Amaryllis are beautiful anytime, but over the Christmas holidays they make a spectacular and dramatic decoration for your home. Each year I plant several bulbs in early November so they will be in bloom in time for the holidays. I sell them through GARDENS4U and give them as gifts, but always plant enough to ensure I have several to enjoy in my own home throughout the dreary winter months. Follow this link to see blooms from previous years AMARYLLIS
The amaryllis bulbs grow very quickly; you will see a change almost daily. These next pictures are from a pale pink beauty this past season:
Over the past few years I have learned a few tricks for keeping amaryllis looking their best:
Plant the bulb in soil, leaving the top one third of the bulb exposed.
Choose a deep bowl to plant them in and insert a stake of some sort to tie the stalk to. This will prevent the plant from tipping over when the blossoms in full bloom cause the plant to become top heavy:
Keep notes of what the blossom colors will be (they come in a wide variety) so you can co-ordinate containers, especially if you plan to give them as gifts.
Add a few small decorations to enhance your container, especially during the initial growing phase of the amaryllis before the flowers boom. I buy my decorations at the dollar store to minimize costs.
Water sparingly (weekly) until flowers bloom, then water daily.
The brighter and warmer the area you grow them in, the faster they will bloom. Once in bloom, changing their location to a less sunny, cooler spot will extend their bloom time.
When it is done blooming, if you wish to save your amaryllis bulb for reuse, follow these steps:
Once the blooms have all faded, cut off the flower stems just above where it comes out of the bulb.You might notice that the bulb is slightly softer or smaller than when you first planted it. (or received it) That’s because it has used up a lot of the material inside the bulb to make the flowers and stems you’ve just seen. It has to begin the process of restoring that material and fattening the bulb again.
To do this, you should treat your amaryllis bulb like a houseplant. If it is in a pot without drainage holes(many of my Christmas planters use inexpensive pots without drainage) transplant it to one with holes. As it grows more leaves, water it whenever the soil looks dry (sparingly) Once a month, add fertilizer to the water to keep the supply of nutrients available. Give it as much bright light as you can during the winter months. In summer, take it outside. Put it in bright or filtered light, but not direct sunlight.
By the end of the summer, it will actually feel much plumper and fuller. At end of September let the amaryllis bulb go dormant: Bring it inside, and stop watering it. Once the soil has dried out, the leaves will begin to die. When they have all turned yellow and then brown, the bulb is dormant. You can cut off all the leaves just above the neck and pull the whole bulb and root ball out of the pot. Shake off the soil and trim the roots back to about two inches. The bulb will look just like it was when you first got it.
Leave the bulb somewhere cool and dry until the beginning of November (if you want blooms for Christmas), when you can plant it in a pot of fresh soil and start the flowering process all over again. Plant so the top third of the bulb is exposed. It should take about a month after it’s planted for it to bloom. If you’re careful, you can keep this flowering-and-replenishing cycle going for years. The bulb will grow larger each year and gradually start producing second and even third flower stalks
These spectacular beauties are lily trees. The last two pictures are from my own garden one year after planting a single bulb next to my front lamp post.
These lily trees look beautiful at the back of garden borders where their foliage lasts all season providing a lush green backdrop for other perennials. I have had problems with japanese beetles devouring other lilies I have planted previous years, but for some reason the beetles do not bother these lily trees. Their stems are very sturdy, reaching up to 4 feet the first year and 8 feet in three years. New stems form from a single bulb, with at least 4 massive, gorgeous flowers the first season, and up to 30 in three years. They come in many solid colors, including white, yellow, purple, pink as well as many combinations of those colors.
I have ordered thirty of these lily tree bulbs that are to be shipped from Holland shortly. Including shipping charges and taxes, they are $8 per bulb. Please let me know if you would like one or more for your gardens. They should be arriving soon, to be planted this fall…