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

Mid September Blooms in Gardens4me

Cooler days and nights in mid September makes for much easier gardening. One of my favourite perennial plants this time of year are the cool season ornamental grasses. There are so many varieties to choose from these days, but my favourite is still what I call “fireworks,” for obvious reasons. Its real name is Maiden Grass Silberfeder or Miscanthus Sinensis. Whatever you call it, it is gorgeous!

 There is not much new in Gardens4me this time, but many perennials are still looking dapper. For example, the roses, coneflowers (I love its seed heads too), geraniums and butterfly bushes just won’t quit, not that I’m complaining, and the Turtlehead I mentioned at the beginning of the month has produced even more unique blossoms…

Oh, and my hibiscus is finally making an appearance, a bit later than usual.  I figure my magnolia tree has shaded the hibiscus too much so I plan to trim a few of the lower branches from the magnolia to restore the full sun conditions in that bed.

I’m feeling left out; everyone elses’s hibiscus have been blooming for weeks now.

The coleus I planted are also still beautiful in containers at my local hospice and in my own garden. I love the way the vivid colours appear to be randomly splattered across the leaves…

 

With frost in the forecast a few nights this week, who knows what next week will bring……..stay tuned!

Posted in gardens4u.ca, lorieb.wordpress.com

Another Gardens4U project

My latest Gardens4U project transformed a chinch bug infested backyard into a beautiful area.

When we started out, a patio bordered by a strip of daylilies was the only colour in the yard. The lawn had been nice earlier on the season, until the cinch bugs moved in during the drought we experienced in July.

before & after
before

 

The poor condition of the lawn made it much easier to dig out a new garden bed though, after outlining the new design with a garden hose…

 

I do recommend using composted manure to improve the soil in garden beds and lawns, but this last batch was terrible. Composted manure goes through a heating process so it should not contain weed seeds. Or mulch, stones and even a candy bar wrapper as this batch did.

Unfortunately this client was not familiar with the product, so spread all fifteen of the bags she purchased on her lawn. Now we will have to wait until the grass seed she spread sprouts (hopefully) before we can rake the mulch off, otherwise we would just rake up the seed. I did file a complaint with the manufacturers as well as with Canadian Tire where it was purchased. I am not holding my breath for a response, but it’s the principle of the matter, right?

Once the garden bed was shaped and dug out, the perennials and shrubs were introduced to their new homes. I chose flowering shrubs that will grow tall for the back and shorter perennials for the middle and front of the bed. A few recycled plants from my ICU were also added to fill in the blank spots…

 

The final touch is lots of mulch, in this case dark brown cedar mulch, my personal favourite…

 

A lush green lawn will enhance the garden greatly. This lawn is struggling to come back, but it will rebound faster now that we are done trampling it, especially as the cool fall-like weather is here.

Next season, when these plants have settled in, this garden will look awesome!

 

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

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!

Posted in gardening, gardens, gardens4u.ca, grandkids, loreeebee.ca, nature

Love of Gardening is Contagious

My (almost) seven year old granddaughter has been asking me to make a flower garden at her house to surprise her mom. She has been spending one day a week with me recently; we decided today was the day, now that it has cooled off a bit.

My son was to dig out the sod, but was not working locally today to get home at lunch to do it, so we girls had to do that tedious job ourselves.

After the digging and soil preparation was done we took a break for lunch.

Next we added composted manure, then the plants…

Love of Gardening is Contagious

The finishing touch was the mulch…

I was impressed at my granddaughter’s perseverance, she lasted 4.5 hours with only one short break at lunch time. I guess I should have had her sign a waiver in case anyone reports me for abusing the child labor laws.

Posted in business, gardening, gardens4u

Next Gardens4U Project

My most recent Gardens4U project involved two new garden beds for the back corners of a large, pie-shaped lot. The yard has a large swimming pool so the corner beds were placed far enough way that pool water will not splash onto the plantings. The clients’ own three dogs, so my plans also had to allow for a running area between the flower beds and the pool. Check out the before and after shots…

To save my time (not to mention my back) and the expense involved, the client dug out the beds after I marked them out. I added composted manure to improve the clay-laden soil, then arranged the perennials and shrubs according to their potential sizes at maturity as well as their bloom time and colour.

When the temperatures cooled off a bit, and I was happy with the placement of plants, I spent half a day planting them in their new beds. Note the drain in one corner bed, a low point in the area that rainwater from several adjacent lots drain into. It is imperative that this drainage site not be adversely affected when adding soil and plants. Although this consideration makes the one bed appear oddly shaped and lacking soil, the drain will not be visible when the plants grow to mature size. After planting, the garden beds were then edged to leave a clear demarcation line between the gardens and the lawn…

Once the perennials and shrubs were watered in well, (every day for a week) I added dark brown, cedar mulch for the finishing touch. The plantings may look a bit sparse right now, but in a few seasons from now they will have reached their full, mature size. If I plant too many plants and too close together, I will have unhappy clients in a few years…

I also talked the clients into outlining the perimeter of their above-ground pool with river rock. They did this project themselves; I think it looks great!

pool edged with river rock

You can see the one corner garden at the back left, peeking out from behind the pool. Onto the next project! Now that the weather has cooled off I can get more done before garden fall cleanups start.

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, gardens4u.ca, lorieb.wordpress.com, zone 4

Late July 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.

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

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.

lily trees and monarda
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 are still going strong, and the delphiniums are bluer than blue…

My annuals are still looking vibrant too…

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.

Posted in gardening, gardens4u.ca

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…

Posted in gardening, gardens4u.ca, zone 4, zone 5

June Blooms in Gardens4me

In my Gardens4u business I design gardens based on the wishes and dreams of my clients. In a moment of silliness, as I was waiting for Premier Ford to allow me to get back into those gardens, I painted Gardens4me on the archway over the gate to my own backyard garden. That’s because they have been created according to my taste and no one else’s. My personal oasis of sorts.

My own gardens are created just the way I love gardens….the style I aim for is called English Cottage Garden. I like when the plants, predominantly perennials with a shrub here and there, blend together, looking like they belong together. It takes a loooooong time to achieve this effect and is never quite “done.” I am always tweaking the look, moving, dividing and adding plants as I see fit. Although purple is my favourite colour in the garden (can you tell?) I do try to add contrasting colours to make each bloom “pop.” A variety in foliage shades and textures is a must too for my desired effect.

The following gallery of pictures is from my backyard. It seems the garden gets bigger each year and the lawn shrinks…

When we moved into this home years ago, the south-facing front yard was in full sun, but a dwarf blue spruce turned out not so dwarf, so I get part sun there now. This allows for a wider variety of plants…

These pictures were snapped just after a rainfall, that’s when they look the lushest. Although we have had an usually hot June with very little rain (my lawn is already looking parched), next month the real heat lovers (roses and lilies) will be the feature…….stay tuned!