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

Recent Gardens4U Project

Gardens4U recently finished another project. As projects go, this was a fairly simple one. The client had an existing garden in her front yard, but wanted to add some pizazz to it. With lack of sun exposure the predominant issue, my challenge was to find a larger and unique variety of perennials that would perform well in those conditions.

The old garden featured a pair of shade-loving hostas as well as a pair of peonies that were stretching for the sun. While I am not overly fond of hostas (I am a bit of a plant snob afterall) I did reuse these pretty lime green ones.

The new version offers a wider variety of shade loving, colorful perennials as well as a more attractive shape. The new additions are spaced to accommodate the mature size they will reach in a few seasons. Of course the plants in the back row will grow taller than the ones in the middle and front rows. The peonies were also reused, moved forward to benefit from more sunshine. The foliage wilted when I moved them, so I cut them back, assuring the client that they (the peonies) will return next season.

gardens4u
after

One month later, this is what the garden looks like. Despite the incredible heat wave we have been experiencing here in the Ottawa area, the plants have survived and are thriving…

Next season it should look absolutely gorgeous as the plants in the back will have grown taller and all plants will be fuller. I am especially anxious to see the progress of the vivid pink rhododendron I planted in the back left corner. It was chosen as an ideal candidate to anchor the garden, perfect for the part sun conditions that corner has to offer, with a mature height of five feet.

Posted in gardening, lorieb.com

I’m a snob

Ok, I will admit it, I am a snob, a plant snob that is!  Some plants I find just too common and boring.  For example, “Look at that beautiful hosta!” said no one ever.  Or spirea either for that matter, unless you are talking one of the bridal wreath variety, then you may just hear or think that, but only if it is pruned correctly.

I appear to have developed an aversion to hostas, probably because people have overused them in their gardens.  The only time I enjoy them is in the very early spring when their green spikes are one of the first signs of new growth to emerge from the soil as it thaws out here in the Ottawa area.  In the summer they get eaten by slugs and earwigs, and in the fall they turn mushy and slimy…

 

 

So, what perennials do I prefer to hostas for the edges of my gardens?  Here are my choices:

For shady areas I like perennial geraniums.  They are one of the first perennials to green up in the spring, require no maintenance what so ever, and maintain their neat, non-sprawling (most varieties) mounded shape.  They do spread throughout the garden, but are very shallow rooted, so easy to remove from places you do not want them to spread to.  These geraniums are great for planting under trees, even evergreen trees where nothing else will thrive.

Another good choice for an edging plant in shady areas is lamium.  It’s variegated leaves, reblooming pale flowers, and tidy habit make it one of my favourites..

lamium (with daylilies)

 

For part shade to part sun locations in the garden, I am loving heucheras these days.  Some varieties tolerate more sun than others, so be sure to read the tags.  By the way, heuchera is pronounced with a hard c.  I will never forget that after I was chastised for mispronouncing it by a 93-year-old client.  Heucheras come in a variety of colors from palest green to bright chartreuse to orangy-brown to reddish brown to deep wine red.  Leaf shapes vary too from smooth and rounded, to almost maple-leaf-like, to curly, lettuce-leaf-like.  They look good all summer, need no fall cleanup or protection, and survive our cold winters with no problem.  A simple tug to remove any crispy leaves in the spring and they are good to go…

 

pictures on right from Pixabay

 

My first choice for full sun edging plants are those in the sedum or stonecrop families.  As succulents, sedums and stonecrops are all drought tolerant, thriving in hot, dry areas, especially next to stone walkways where not much else will grow. They too come in a variety of colors and shapes, in fact, look especially nice (I think) when varieties are mixed together randomly.

 

pictures from Pixabay

 

So, next season think outside of your comfort zone, and become a plant snob by replacing those boring hostas with a little more pizazz!

 

Posted in gardening

Plants of the week from Gardens4u, take five

These are my favourites for this week…

Traditional perennials: hostas

hostas are great at the front of a border or bed and thrive in deep shade through part sun.  Most hostas prefer shade, but those with yellow leaves or fragrant flowers prefer more sun.  They come in many colours and sizes these days from miniature to huge.  If you do plant the large ones, be sure to give them lots of space as they do not look their best when crowded.

Modern perennials:  geraniums, not the red annual type your grandmother planted, but the perennial variety

Perennial geraniums also look great at the front of borders or beds.  They tolerate shade and part sun.  I love them because they are the first to green up in the spring, offer some colour with the blooms, but look great even when not in bloom.  They come in many colors and sizes.  Some of the larger ones can tend to be floppy, so I stick to the smaller ones.

Shrubs: Black Lace Elderberry

The deep wine colour of Black Lace Elderberries look wonderful mixed with all of the shades of green in your gardens.  They die down to the ground each winter in my area, and are often slow to come back in the spring, but can grow to heights of six feet or more. This spring was so late and the winter so cold, I thought my black lace had died.  Thankfully I decided to give it another week, and sure enough, one week later it was one foot tall!  The pale pink flowers are pretty but I consider them a bonus as they don’t last long.  The dark coloured lacy foliage is the reason I love this shrub.  This season it is a great backdrop for my lily trees featured in the third picture.

Vines:  Silver Lace

Although the Silver Lace vine blooms in the fall and so not blooming this week, I am always suggesting it to my clients.  It is quick growing, covering any structure very fast with white lace like flowers, a beautiful sight in September through November.  Unfortunately I lost mine this past winter due to the severe cold weather we experienced.  It is only hardy to zone 5 which is pushing the envelope for my Ottawa garden.

Annuals: Coleus

Coleus are great for filling in blank spots and contributing splashes of colour in shady spots of your gardens.  I never used to like them, but after seeing them tucked in among perennials in a client’s garden, I’ve changed my mind and added some to my own gardens this year.  Coleus come in many combinations and shades of pink, red and green; all make vibrant additions to a garden or container.

Stay tuned for next week’s choices…