Late October Blooms in Gardens4me

Late October Blooms

Due to the beautiful weather we have experienced so far this fall, (yesterday we hit 25 degrees C or 77 F) I still have blooms in late October in Gardens4me. Not many, but a few.

Still Blooming

Roses, in particular, are still pretty cheerful, one of the reasons I love and plant roses of all types in my gardens; many of the new varieties bloom from June until the ground freezes. One of my hardy hibiscus is still producing blossoms too, as are the daisies, sage, silver lace vine, and perennial geraniums.

Our Canadian winters are typically long (cold and icy) enough without an early freeze up, so hopefully, that won’t happen too soon. I do still have a few gardens to put to bed for the season.

Gorgeous Seed Heads

Even though the foliage on most perennials has yellowed (time to tidy it up), I love the look of the seed heads many produce. Especially the ornamental grasses; the cool season varieties are (still) gorgeous!

Fall Maintenance

Some grasses I leave as is over the winter, to let the seed heads blow in the wind. Others, particularly the ones I cannot see from my windows, I chop back to 6 inches from the ground. This gives me one less chore to get to in the spring.

Most of the annuals I have around Gardens4me have seen better days and need to be put out of their misery, but the colours in this coleus are still brilliantly beautiful. The sedge grass, heuchera and lamium around the coleus are all perennials whose foliage continues to look nice until covered in snow. I will leave the coleus there for a bit longer…

Late October Blooms
coleus top, sedge bottom left, heuchera bottom center, lamium bottom right

Looking Ahead

With the temperature much more fall-like today and in the forecast this coming week and next month, I am pretty sure this will be my last post about my Gardens4me. One of the best things about the restrictions surrounding the coronavirus is the increased amount of time I spent in my own gardens this 2020 season. I hope you enjoyed my pictures as much as I loved taking them. What did we ever do before cell phones and their ever-accessible cameras? Even my grandkids are getting proficient at using mine.

A smoothie a day keeps me healthy

I have modified the ingredients of my daily smoothie to include turmeric, celery, cucumbers, broccoli slaw, collagen powder, ginger, avocado, lemon juice (fresh) blueberries, hemp hearts and green tea. Same principle though, makes a great hydrating, nutritious, pre-garden drink. Twenty-five years later, with five grandkids to keep up with, I still make one (almost) every day!  The following is reposted from my own blog; one of my earliest posts back in 2012…

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…

Winter Evergreen Arrangements

winter window boxes

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 nighttime pizzazz.

Groundcover, the good, bad and ugly

Groundcover is an integral part of most gardens.  Groundcover is self explanatory, basically plants that cover the bare ground, usually between larger (taller) plants.  The use of groundcover in gardens helps to minimize the appearance of weeds, which is always beneficial.  There are thousands of varieties out there, some good, some not so good (in my opinion) and some downright ugly!  Let me help you decipher some of my favourites and others that I encounter on a daily basis in my gardening business.

The best:

My favourite groundcover includes sweet woodruffe and lamium for part sun to shady areas as well as sedums and stonecrops for hot, sunny spots. Each perky stem of sweet woodruffe sports six shiny green leaves and tiny white flowers in spring.  Even after flowering this groundcover remains attractive all summer long.  Sweet woodruffe requires no deadheading either, which is an added bonus.

Lamium’s flowers are flashier, either pale pink or lavender in colour.  Its variegated foliage (green and white) also remains attractive all season.  Deadheading after blooming will create a second bloom time too.

groundcover
pearl pink lamium

I guess that’s what I like most about these two groundcovers; even when not in bloom they look great.  Although both spread, they do so in small clumps, but are not invasive.  Both are shallow rooted, so easy to remove from areas you don’t want them.  I use both of these as edging plants in my gardens as well. I have also used lamium in shady hanging baskets as it trails nicely as it grows.

For hot, sunny and dry spots in the garden, including tucked between or cascading over rocks, or even in containers, you can’t beat sedums or stonecrops.  Both come in a wide variety of bloom colours.  I especially love the dragon’s blood (red) stonecrop and the cute rosettes of hen and chicks.

Others:

Violets make a successful groundcover as well, but they can be invasive…

groundcover
wild violets

Some of the not so nice (looking) groundcover that crops up uninvited in gardens are clover and mosses. Clover is cute looking too, some people actually confuse sweet woodruffe with clover leaves.  However, clover is much weedier and invasive.  I don’t mind clover in my lawns, but pull it out of my gardens.  Some people encourage moss to grow between their stonework patios and walkways, not a look I am fond of.

The only time groundcover in your gardens does not work well is if you prefer mulch between your plants.  Not that you can’t have both, the problem is that most groundcover is low growing so the mulch can overpower and even smother it.  For this reason, I don’t usually recommend both mulch and groundcover in the same garden.

As I was snapping pictures of these varieties of groundcover the other day, I spied a garter snake peaking out at me from the cover of a hosta.  As a kid I used to think they were called gardener snakes, most likely because I saw them mostly in gardens.   I probably (unintentionally) disturbed this cutie’s sun bask.  By the time I focused on him, he was off, slithering away down the stone path to safety…

Snow day for Gardens4u

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…

 

Spring has sprung in Ottawa

In my visits to area gardens this week I am seeing lots of signs that spring has sprung here in Ottawa, finally…

I hope this spring weather lasts awhile; I have lots of work to do!

Please be sure to visit my other blogs:

Laugh out loud (LOL) with me at YOUR DAILY CHUCKLE

and

be inspired and motivated by famous words of wisdom at WoW

My gardening website can be viewed at www.gardens4u.ca

 

Gardens4u Offseason: The Highlights

Believe it or not there are good things about the offseason in a gardening business. Gardens4u is no exception.  All season, when I am incredibly busy, I make lists of the things I will get done in the offseason.  Here are a few of the best things…

  • I don’t set the alarm clock.  When my husband rolls out of bed at 545am, he no longer asks me what time I want to get up so he can reset the clock for me.  I get up when I wake up; pure luxury!
  • my house gets a great cleaning.  Last winter I went through each and every closet in the house, decluttering and purging, a chore that was long overdue. The kitchen and bathrooms cupboards, garage, laundry room and file cabinet are on the hit list this year.  The organizations that pick up used clothing and household items love me this time of year. I may even get adventurous and open a Kijijii (Canadian version of Ebay) account to sell some of the big things.  That is if I can convince my husband to part with them.
  • I spend more time reading books.  There are lots of interesting choices on my to read list this year, but I would love to hear your suggestions!
  • I spend lots of time updating my website.  Now, I know that doesn’t sound too exciting, but I love looking at the pictures I took this past season, especially the ones of gardens I planted in earlier seasons.  It’s almost like watching the gardens grow!  Be sure to check out the changes at GARDENS4U and send me your comments and suggestions.
  • I go out to lunch or coffee with friends that I have not seen much of through the gardening season.  Give me a shout if you are in the neighbourhood!  I plan to get back to my hometown sometime soon too to reconnect with some childhood friends.
  • I may even get to the scrapbooks I have been meaning to assemble.  Years ago I sorted “stuff” from my three sons’ childhoods into separate bins.  You know, stuff that mothers keep, like school and sports achievements, mementos, pictures etc.  It was a start, but the bins are still full and the scrapbooks empty.  The plan was to give the boys each a scrapbook on their 18th birthday.  Well, my eldest son is about to turn 26.  Time does fly doesn’t it?
  • I dream about spring while looking through my numerous garden books and magazines.
  • I hope to transfer all my old homemade VHS movies onto CDs.  I bought a device to do so, just have to figure out how it works.
  • I can write more often.  My best blog posts have been written in the winter months and I even published a book two winters ago.  I have an idea for a new book, but that project needs a lot of work, that may take a few offseasons.

Well, if I am going to get through this list, I had better get off the computer and get started!  Don’t worry Gardens4u fans, you can take the girl out of the garden, but you can’t take the garden out of the girl.  This list is only to keep me from losing my mind while my gardens are covered in snow.

Losing my gardening tools and my mind

As the end of my gardening season approaches here in Ontario, I have begun to clean out my van and perform an inventory on my gardening tools.  This is also the time of the year when I realize just how bad my memory is when the number of gardening tools has dwindled and I have no idea where the missing ones are.  I tend to misplace several pairs of calipers (or hand clippers) a season.  Even though their handles are usually a bright red or orange, I manage to lose them in the gardens I work in.  I’m sure I have accidentally thrown some out in lawn waste bags.  This year I am disappointed to find that I have also managed to misplace my favourite edger and a handy short shovel…

I will have to send out an email to my clients begging them to check their tool sheds and gardens to see if my tools are hanging out with theirs.

Plants of the week from Gardens4u, take four

Here are my picks for this week…

Traditional perennials: daylilies

daylily blooms are long lasting with a wide variety of colours available ranging from lemon to golden yellow, peach to pink and purple to red.  They are also available in a variety of height to suit all your needs.

Modern perennials: Ornamental grasses

Ornamental grasses are my “go to perennial” for hot dry areas in gardens.  With many heights, colors and seed heads to choose from, you can plant several varieties.  Just be sure to choose those that are suitable fir your garden’s hardiness zone or they will not survive the winter.

Shrubs:  Purple smoke tree

Vines:  climbing hydrangea

Hydrangea vines are slow growing, but once established look beautiful on a wall or fence.  Just do not let it get into your soffits or eavestroughing as it can cause damage.

Annuals: Cleome or spiderflower

I love Cleomes (AKA spiderflowers)  They come in white and several shades of pink.  They look great planted in a container or in the garden in a hot dry spot.

Stay tuned for next week’s picks…