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?

Wedding Planning with Gardens4U

Recently I told you of a project Gardens4U has been working on all summer. To recap, a client asked me to spruce up the gardens at his parents farm for his daughter’s wedding. Although Gardens4U has not done extensive wedding planning, this project was so much fun.

Where to Start the Wedding Planning

After walking around the extensive property with the client last April, the wedding planning began. I started by working on multiple neglected garden beds. Containers were planted as soon as the last frost date arrived in May, well in advance of the wedding date to give the annuals time to settle in.

My original commitment was one day a week, including through the scorching heat we experienced this summer. Of course, my visits to “the farm” increased in recent weeks as the wedding date drew closer.

Most of the time I remembered to take before and after pictures of the gardens and planters. I so wanted to snap a few last minute pictures the morning of the wedding, but did not want to intrude on the hustle and bustle going on. I will have to wait patiently for the photos I know my clients will share.

Garden Beds

The beds I worked on are referred to here according to their location on the property or their function during the wedding. Pictures are posted in chronological order.

House Bed, 3 Sections:

I cannot take credit for the gorgeous, flagstone sidewalk or lush lawn enhancing these beds at the front of the home. Due to the large expanse of lawn and the poor condition it was in, hydroseed (a sprayed on product) was used with awesome results. A beautiful lawn does wonders for increasing the beauty of gardens…

Ceremony Site:

There is no “before” picture for this bed as there wasn’t a garden there, just the edge of the yard overgrown with trees, scrub brush, and a few transplanted hostas.

Shady Sitting Area:

My client had a vision for this bed, I really just followed his instructions. And chose and planted the appropriate perennials for a shady spot. We then used some of the containers to add some colour to the area…

The Mint Bed That Became a Dahlia Bed:

For the resident chef, I moved the mint into a new herb garden. At least I attempted to move it. Mint can be very invasive, there are still shoots sprouting in that bed.

Sunny Beds:

These two beds were the bride’s Omi’s (grandma) flower gardens, with the one on the right home to her beautiful peonies. Unfortunately they were overgrown with no distinct shape and neglected since her passing several years ago.

Sunflower Bed:

This sunflower bed was supposed to be spectacular, at least that’s the vision I had. Tall, majestic, golden yellow sunflower blooms against the backdrop of the rustic family barn bordered by the bride’s Omi’s (grandma) long established daylilies. We tried to transplant many of the daylilies into some semblance of order, but thanks to their poor performance through the drought conditions this summer I had to cut them right back. They did revive, but not as fast as I hoped they would.

Rock Garden:

I don’t have much experience with rock gardens but I enjoyed choosing creeping plants and tiny succulents to tuck into the crevices. Unfortunately (for the wedding guests) not many of this type of plant are fall bloomers. Next spring and summer it will look gorgeous!

Rodent and Insect Damage Deter Wedding Planning

My major challenge during this project was the battle I had keeping the sunflowers intact in their designated bed against the barn wall.

I planted close to thirty sunflowers, most grown from seed on my back veranda. Unfortunately, the squirrels snapped off their growing stalks faster than I could plant them. I actually witnessed a squirrel hanging on the barn wall, mid pounce, as he/she aimed for the flower head of one of the tallest sunflowers.

So frustrating and disappointing!

The other challenge was keeping the dahlia blossoms from becoming a snack bar. Earwigs or whatever other insect devoured them shortly after they appeared and before they could mature. I ended up bringing a pot of dahlias from my back deck to fill in the bare spots.

Containers: Thrillers, Fillers and Spillers

We used lots of planters around the property to add colour and drama. Some came from the clients’ home that I had created earlier in the season. The rest I brought over from my own home collection.

Silver Lace Vine

I had planned to drape strands of silver lace vine (from my garden) in the trees to look like the beautiful Spanish moss so prevalent in the south. The wedding planner, who is also a florist, intercepted me though as I carried trays of it down the driveway. She asked for the silver lace to adorn the dining table and archway at the ceremony site. How could I refuse?

Conclusions:

Well, the big day arrived and thankfully the sun was (albeit off and on) shining! We were all nervous as it had been raining, torrentially at times, for the previous two days.

The problem with creating these gardens in one season is that most plants take a while to mature in their new homes. Unless of course, you spend a fortune and choose fully mature plantings. Like most gardens I plan and create, these garden beds look great this season, but will look spectacular next summer and for years to come.

A few years ago I created bouquets and containers for my son’s wedding. Then a few years later I created table arrangements for a friend’s son’s wedding. I have enjoyed these wedding projects so much that I am considering adding wedding (or other events) planning to my Gardens4u list of services!

What do you think? Contact me if you are interested in my wedding planning services.

Dahlias, dinnerplates or smaller

Dahlias

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!