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!

Hydrangeas: Blue, Pink, or Purple

hydrangeas

Some of my GARDENS4U  gardens have blue hydrangeas and some have pink hydrangeas.  A garden I was at recently had both.

We all know that blue and pink together make purple, so I was not surprised to see a few pale purple blossoms within the garden…

hydrangeas
purple hydrangea

What Does theBlossom Colour Depend on?

The colour of your hydrangea blooms depend on the pH of your garden soil.

If you prefer your hydrangeas to be pink, make your soil alkaline (pH of 6.0-6.2)  You can do this by adding garden lime to your soil.

If you would rather your hydrangeas to be a blue color, lower your soil’s pH to the acidic side (between 5.2 and 5.5).  Acidic soil can be achieved by adding 1/2 cup wettable sulfur powder or other commercial soil acidifiers each spring.  Pine needles or pine bark applied as a mulch also creates acidic soil conducive to blue hydrangeas.  So does compost or composted manure.  Some gardeners have had success using coffee grounds to provide acidic soil around their hydrangeas.

Testing Your Soil to Determine its pH

So, how do you know if your soil is acidic or alkaline?  Try this simple soil pH test using ingredients from your kitchen:

  • Collect soil from different parts of your garden.  If you have a large garden, you may want to label your containers.  Styrofoam cups work well.
  • put 2 spoonfuls of soil into each of several containers.  (Two containers for each location)
  • Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the soil in one container.  If it fizzes, you have alkaline soil, with a pH between 7 and 8.
  • If it doesn’t fizz after doing the vinegar test, then add distilled water to the other container taken from the same location until the 2 teaspoons of soil are muddy. Add 1/2 cup baking soda. If it fizzes you have acidic soil, with a pH between 5 and 6.
  • If your soil doesn’t react at all it is neutral with a pH of close to 7.

Experiment with Soil pH

Once you get your soil’s pH figured out, try adding the appropriate soil amendments to just one side of a hydrangea bush to see if you can get both pink and blue blooms on one plant; perhaps you will end up with purple!

Purple passion

I have a passion for purple, especially purple flowers.  When my daughter-in-law decided purple was the color she wanted in her bouquets and floral decorations, I was excited as I have lots of purple flowers in my gardens.  I even planted extra purple flowering perennials just in case I didn’t have enough…

Too bad many of them didn’t bloom in time for the wedding thanks to the wet and cool spring Mother Nature gifted us with this year.  To improvise,  I borrowed purple blossoms from my clients’ garden to supplement the ones I did have in bloom to make bouquets and flower arrangements.

For the past week (now almost two weeks after the wedding)  my passion for purple has been blooming in profusion in my gardens!

Donate Used Clothing to BBBSO

donate used clothing

Did you know that who you donate used clothing to has become a competition? Many organizations (charitable and otherwise) have contracts with distributors to make money from your donations of clothing and small household items.  This is not a problem when the proceeds fall into the right hands, to be used for the right reasons. Unfortunately, there are those that prey on the opportunities intended to promote generosity and compassion for the less fortunate.  Donation bins are popping up everywhere, and not always in approved locations.  If not approved and supported by the City of Ottawa, they will be removed.

If you wish to keep reusable items out of our overflowing landfills and support a non-profit organization that provides mentors to at-risk youngsters in our community, check out this option.  The Ottawa branch of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Association (BBBSO) is spreading the word and dropping off their distinctive purple bins to collect donations of old clothing. These PURPLE BINS are approved by the City of Ottawa, maintained, and monitored by the BBBSO, with all proceeds going to the BBBSO.

donate used clothing

There are many ways you can support the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program. You can donate used clothing, money, or your time by mentoring a youngster.  The emergence of the purple bins in Ottawa has now made it even easier for individuals and organizations to provide support in our community.   Businesses can organize a clothing drive or apply to have a purple bin (maintained and monitored by BBBSO) at their location.

The Big Brothers and Big Sisters program has always been somewhat of a tradition in the Sliter (my maiden name) family.  My cousin was the first executive director and co-founder at the Cornwall branch for many years.  My brother, nephew and I have all mentored several youngsters.   My nephew is a past president and member of the board of directors here in Ottawa. When he was living in Ottawa, he even used his truck to drop off purple bins at approved locations.

Check out the purple bin link for details on how you can get involved in this wonderful cause.  You may start a family tradition!