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

October blooms in Gardens4me

Who can believe that October is here already? Not me. Not Gardens4me either as they are still producing lots of blooms.

New this month is the silver lace vine I have adorning my garden shelves/work bench. What a mess this shelving unit is, another job for my fall to do list.

Another fall blooming perennial is the aster, a little soggy in this picture, cheerful none the less…

October blooms
aster

Also putting in a (late) appearance is my beautiful white and red hibiscus…

Roses are still blooming beautifully…

…as is tickseed. Did you know if you cut tickseed back immediately after it first blooms in the summer it will rebloom? This picture is my proof..

October blooms
tickseed

Also reblooming for the third (!!!) time this season is my weigela. It requires no maintenance to make it rebloom, just warm weather…

Annuals in containers are still eye catching, including a gorgeous pal blush pink hibiscus, even though we have had a few frosty nights.

One annual I was disappointed in this summer was the cardinal flower vine on my bamboo teepees. Although the foliage is unique, the blooms (other than a sporadic one mentioned earlier) have only just shown up in earnest….

The frosty nights have caused the leaves to start their colour transformation. From green to red with various shades in between. The vine on my back deck (or green room) is no exception…

We can’t complain about the advancing calendar too much though as our summer here in Eastern Ontario has been awesome. A tad too hot and dry for our lawns, but awesome for we humans. With one daughter-in-law on maternity leave, I was able to spend more time than usual at the lake with her and two of my grandchildren. With pandemic restrictions in place we were not allowed to do much else, so cottage life was the perfect answer.

The rain this week has been great for the fall lawn repair my yard so badly needs. The temperature has been warm too, so my Gardens4me blooms should last a while longer.

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 gardens, gardens4u.ca, loreeebee.ca

Garden Makeover in the Rain

Rainy days are good for a garden makeover, except for the mess that is inevitable. Today was such a day. Gardens4u got this project going early this morning before the rain started, but a drizzle started a few hours in, followed by a torrential downpour. Downpours to me mean lunch time, sitting in my van. Luckily, the rain subsided enough for me to continue until the job was complete. Well, except for the cleanup. Trying to sweep up my mess on the wet stone was not very effective. Nothing a hose down won’t fix though, a job I left for the homeowner when the rain stopped, long after I left.

These are the “before” pictures. The tree is a dead maple that was removed with the stump ground down before I started the makeover…

The burning bush (far right in second pic), lilac (center in first pic) and hydrangea (right corner in first pic) were salvaged, with the lilac getting a good pruning to whip it into shape. Everything else was removed. New shrubs and perennials were strategically planted and composted manure, my new favourite soil amendment, was added.

Here are the “after” pictures…

New plantings in this garden makeover include a pink magnolia (center of bed), a “Wine & Roses” weigela, several ornamental grasses, coneflowers, pink and purple sages and lavender, as well as several varieties of sedum and stonecrop to spill over the edges of this sunny garden. Once the new plants are established and well watered, I will add mulch to complete the job.

A second bed, between the sidewalk and the garage, is next up on my garden makeover list. Stay tuned for more before and after pictures.

Posted in gardening, lorieb.com

Weigela shrubs, three shapes

Shrubs are valuable in a large garden bed, especially because they offer a variation in shapes which adds visual drama to your garden.  Recently I have been experimenting with shrubs that can be trained to grow in different forms or shapes.

The most common form of a weigela is the rounded, shrub form…

Photinia_fraseri_A

 

This weigela was purchased as a standard, which some call a “ball on a stick.”  This shape variation makes a great accent in a small garden or in a tight corner of a larger garden as it is here …

IMG1250

 

 

This weigela was purchased and planted in a shrub form.  Upon maturity, it was an overgrown, unpruned shrub that was crowded into a corner of an entrance to a backyard.  I removed most of the lower branches, so it now looks more like a tree and suits the location much better…

20160811_101958

 

These are great examples of a weigela shrub grown in three different forms to add variation in the plant shapes in your gardens.  I love the tree-like shapes because you can add some low growing at the base for additional color and texture.

Hopefully, I have inspired you to experiment with your own shrubs.

 

Posted in Canada, gardening, nature, Ottawa

Plants of the week from Gardens4u, take two…

These are my favourites this week…

Traditional Perennials: Roses, roses and more roses…because, in my opinion, you can never have too many roses…

Roses come in many colors and growth habits; climbers, shrubs, bushes and even trees.  They look awesome climbing a wall or fence, at the front of a perennial border, or towards the back of a large bed.  Although I have them under the traditional perennial category, the modern versions are much hardier and require less maintenance to keep them looking beautiful year after year.  With the exception of the yellow shrub rose pictured that only blooms for about one week, the other roses, especially the shrubs, in my garden bloom from June right through to a hard frost.  A few years ago the white one was still blooming in November!

Modern Perennials:  Goats Beard or Aruncus or Wild Spirea…

IMG1320

I have only seen Goat’s Beard with white blooms, it is new to my knowledge base.  Please let me know if it comes in other colors too, it is absolutely striking!  In addition to the towering version shown here, it apparently comes in a dwarf variety as well.

Shrubs:  Weigela

The weigela in my garden is in tree form (right), although the bush form is much more common.  The tree form fits into the back of a border, especially in front of a fence, or veranda in this case.  One of my clients once talked me into cutting his weigela bush right back to about one foot tall because a backhoe was scheduled to work on his pool area and he thought the bush would get ruined.    I did cut it back, but was worried as the bush must have been six feet in diameter and five feet in height: spectacular.   I wish I had taken a picture of it to show you before and after the pruning.  It did survive the drastic hair cut, but is not quite as large yet two years later.

Vines:  Clematis

Clematis vines come in many colours too, from white to yellow to pink or blue and many shades of purple; all are beautiful ways to cover a wall or fence.  Some blooms are flat, singles and others have raised centers (doubles)  I have two that climb through a tree.  Unlike other vines, they will not damage a tree as their stems are very light, almost fragile.

Annuals:  Pansies

Pansies look like tiny, cheerful faces to me; I love them in containers of any kind.  They too come in many colors, although I do tend to go for the purple ones.

Stay tuned for next week’s picks…

Posted in gardening

My Favorite Perennial & Annual Plants

As a professional gardener, I often get asked what my favorite plants are.   I have favorites of both the perennial (they come back every year) and annual (plant new ones each year after the danger of frost has passed in the spring) variety, for different conditions in my garden…

For full sun, hot and dry conditions, I am very fond of ornamental grasses; there are many varieties, both annual and perennial, that range from short to very tall in height, all with different seed heads, colors, and leaf shapes:

392_GrassPosterWeb3-15-06
ornamental grasses

Most require very little care, simply cut back the perennial ones to a few inches early in the spring, before new growth appears.  If you don’t like the appearance of the brown, dead-looking grass in the off-season, you can cut the plant back in the fall instead, but I like the look of the grass in the winter landscape.  The annual variety dies as soon as frost arrives in the fall/winter, simply pull it out and discard it.

My new favorite perennial this summer is Russian Sage.  It blooms from July to October, with wispy pale purple flower stalks and fine, lacy leaves: gorgeous!

russian_sage
Russian Sage

Russian Sage is also very easy to care for in your garden, in fact pruning is only necessary if the plant gets out of shape, which it rarely does.  If you do wish to cut it back, do so in spring, but wait until the new growth greens up.  Russian Sage, like the ornamental grasses,  also likes full sun and hot, dry conditions.

In part sun areas of your garden, my favorite perennial plant would be a geranium.  Not the annual red or white geraniums of your grandmother’s day that you put in planters each spring (these are my least favorite annuals) but the hardy perennial variety.  They come in many sizes and colors including blue, pink, purple, white, and magenta; all do well in part sun and part shade, some even tolerate full shade.  This picture shows only a few of the many varieties available:

Hardy-Geranium-Collection
hardy perennial geranium varieties

Another favorite part sun to shade perennial plant is sedge, which looks like a short version of the ornamental grasses mentioned above, but prefers moist soil and tolerate part to full shade.

My favorite annual plant continues to be Allium.  Alliums are bulbs, to be planted in the fall for a spectacular display in the spring and early summer.  They too like hot dry conditions in the garden.  To keep the squirrels from eating them on you, plant daffodil bulbs around the allium bulbs; squirrels hate daffodils!  Alliums come in blue, white, and my all time favorite, purple:

  allium Allium_Mont_Blanc allium-purple-sensation

Although I have not met many plants I do not like, i have decided recently that my least favorite is the purple sand cherry, known for its deep red/purple colored leaves.  It tends to look good for a few years, after which it tends to become leggy and out of control if not pruned hard and often.  I have encountered quite a few in the overgrown, neglected gardens I have restored this season; all were difficult to restore.  An easier alternative to the purple sand cherry would be a ninebark, weigela, barberry or black lace elderberry, pictured below in that order, all available in many varieties, and all with that nice, deep red coloring to contrast with all the green in your garden:

purple-sand-cherry
purple sand cherry

ninebarkweigelaroseglow-barberry-eaglelakenurserisblack lace elderberry

Of course, these are MY favorites, I’m sure you all have your own.  Please feel free to share!