Category Archives: Garden

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Tulips: A History

Believe it or not, the humble tulip has a long history filled with intrigue, theft, get-rich-quick schemes, a royal birth, and even the liberation of an entire country! Those are some pretty huge events, and all thanks to a small, unassuming bulb:

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Lifting and Storing Tender Bulbs

As much as we love our gorgeous spring bulbs (the Glads, the Dahlias, the Calla Lilies, and all the rest) their beauty comes at a price: they cannot overwinter in our gardens. But that’s okay, because a little effort now will mean you can enjoy them again next year! Here’s how:

Note: For the sake of space (and a certain writer’s sanity), all varieties in question will be referred to as “tender bulbs” or just “bulbs”, even though most of them are corms/tubers/rhizomes/non-bulb beings.

What to Lift: You’ll need to lift any and all of your tender bulbs before the hard frost hits, including Dahlia, Gladiola, Calla Lily, Freesia, Anemone (not the Perennial/Japanese varieties), Ranunculus, Tuber Begonia, Tuberose, Caladium, and Canna Lily.

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Fall Bulbs: Plant Now for Spring Colour!

Fall is a fantastic time for planting, so take advantage of the cooler temperatures and plan(t) ahead for next spring! Many of your favourite spring bloomers, including Daffodils, Tulips, Crocus, Hyacinths, and Allium, arrive as bulbs in early fall and need to be planted before the deep frosts arrive. Fall bulbs need 12-16 weeks of cold weather before they can flower, and each variety has its own “temperature gauge” that tells them when the soil is warm enough to burst through to the open air.

Fall bulbs come in many varieties, including:

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Fall – A Fantastic Time for Planting!

After these long, hot and dry days of summer, some of our gardens and planters may be looking a bit exhausted. Fall brings us shorter days, more frequent rainfalls (hopefully), and bearable temperatures for working in the flowerbeds. Now is the time to remove those pesky weeds, fill in some bare spots and replace those plants that just aren’t right. For your planters, consider adding some fall flowers like Ornamental Cabbage & Kale or Garden Mums. While these varieties are not hardy for our winters, they’ll last well into the fall and even handle some light frosts. 

Consider adding some varieties of perennials that are fall or even late-fall blooming to support your backyard pollinator friends (like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds) so they have enough food for the upcoming winter season. Here are just a few great options that come to mind:

Sedum (Stonecrop), Aster (Michaelmas Daisy), Achillea (Yarrow), Agastache (Anise Hyssops), Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan), Echinacea (Coneflower), Echinops (Globe Thistle), Monarda (Bee-balm), Prevorskia (Russian Sage), Ascelpias (Butterfly Weed), Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed), Gaillardia (Blanket Flower), Helenium (Sneeze Weed), Helianthus (Perennial Sunflower), Heliopsis (False Sunflower), Calamintha (Catmint), Coreopsis (Tickseed), Salvia (Perennial Sage), and Lavendula (Lavender).

Browse through the Perennial Center to see what is blooming for inspiration OR I’m sure a wander through your neighborhood can also be a great inspiration!

Garlic is another fall task. Even though garlic can be planted in spring or fall, I find that when it’s planted in the fall it produces better heads with more intense flavour!‎ Start by picking a spot in your vegetable or herb garden, divide the head of garlic into cloves and plant them in a row about 3 inches deep. Harvest in mid to late summer and enjoy!

 

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The Benefits of Weeding!

What is a weed?

My definition of a weed is any plant that grows where you don’t want it to be! Read More

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Benefits of Mulching

      When it comes to mulching your garden, there’s really no downside! And with a wide range of mulching options to choose from, you can personalize the look of your gardens while giving your plants all the benefits that mulching can provide, including:

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Grow Your Own Cut Flowers!

What could be better than creating a stunning bouquet that you have grown yourself? Some of the most memorable bunches of flowers I have received are hand-picked by my children (true, at times they are mostly dandelions, but still!). My favourite hand-made bouquet has been a simple vase filled with Garlic Chives – they have white blooms that last for weeks!

Use bold blossoms like Peonies and Iris or tall spiky flowers like Delphiniums, Veronica and Lavender, then use delicate flowers like Scabiosa or Lady’s Mantle to fill in or frame your centrepieces. Create designer masterpieces with “in season” flowers inspired by an afternoon in your garden.

Try different textures like Rosemary, Lady’s Mantle, and Celosia. Remember that some of the standard plants in your garden can help fill in your creations as well, like adding a few Hosta leaves for a bold foliage feel. Herbs are also a fun addition – beyond adding just flowers and greenery you will also be adding delicious aromas!

But the absolute best part of having a cut flower garden is that you can share it with everyone! A beautiful vase filled with a home-grown, handmade bouquet would make a spectacular hostess gift.

Steps and Tips:

The best time to cut your flowers is either before the morning dew has dried or in the early evening.

Cut above a node or leaf to let even more blooms grow for future bouquets.

Place stems in lukewarm water as soon as you cut them.

Prior to placing your cut flowers in their arrangements, cut their stems on a slight angle and place in a vase of warm water.

Change the vase’s water every few days.

Take time to enjoy them!

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Adjusting Tropical Plants to the Outdoors

      To say that indoor gardening has become a trend over the past few years would be an understatement; obsession might be a better term for it! It seems that more and more Canadian homes are rejecting the cold, white landscapes that cover our winters for lush, tropical jungles that fill their living rooms (and every other room) with vibrant colours. We may not be able to ignore winter, but at least this way we can still get some clean air!

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How to Sucker Your Tomatoes

What is a Tomato Sucker? A “sucker” is an extra shoot or leaves growing between the main stalk of the tomato plant and an established branch, often growing at a 45° angle from the plant.

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Summer Growing Tips for Annuals

Summer is finally here, and we can all enjoy the bright sunshine and hot temperatures on our patios, balconies, pool decks, and backyards. It’s also a prime time to enjoy all our planters and garden spaces, though with the excess heat and humidity we will all have to add a few more items to our gardening “To Do” lists. Here are some of our top tips to keep those beautiful annuals hanging baskets and bedding plants looking their best throughout the summer!

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Seed Starting Part 5: Hardening Off and Planting Out

     Well, we’ve made it. It took a lot of hard work, planning, and table space, but we are finally ready to put all those adorable seedlings outside…almost. You’ve been so patient with them, they just need a little more time before they can grow big and strong outside (and you can reclaim your tables and shelves!).

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Seed Starting Part 4: Survival of the Fittest (Thinning)

Experienced gardeners know a simple truth: in order to have the best crop possible, you must choose which of your precious plants will live, and which have to be sacrificed for the greater good.

Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but you’ve been watching these adorable seedlings grow for a few weeks and you may now find yourself, well, a bit attached to them. However, sometimes you must be cruel to be kind. After all, this is the main reason you seeded extras of your varieties, knowing that some wouldn’t germinate at all and others would have to be thinned from the crop. Plus, some of your taller varieties may need to be “potted up” into slightly larger pots, which means less space on your seeding station which means less plants so…*sigh* it must be done.

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Spring/Summer Bulbs (Glads, not Daffs)

What do you think of when you hear “flower bulbs”? Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths, the usual. Now think of “Spring Bulbs” and what comes to mind? Tulips, Daffodils…well, yes, those all flower in spring, but they have to be planted in the fall. We’re talking about bulbs you plant in spring to get the gorgeous blooms anytime from spring through fall, depending on the variety. Yes, many are tubers, rhizomes, corms, and other non-bulbs; the point is that they’re all oh so pretty!
Tip: Some will need to keep their foliage after they’re done flowering to absorb enough energy for next year’s flowers. Oh, and they all need a sunny location, at least 4-6 hours, to generate those blooms, and their tubers/corms/etc will need to be dry before going into winter storage.

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Seed Starting Part 3: Planting, Finally! (10 Steps from Seed to Sprout)

At last! You have been so patient, getting all your supplies together, making sure you have the proper soil mix, and setting up your seeding station for all your future little sprouts. And now it’s time to put all that preparation to good use and get dirty!

Remember that mountain of information on your seed packets? Remember the all-important “Sowing/Start Indoors” date? No, no need to panic, you’ve still got plenty of time to double-check your dates. For vegetables, most of them want to be planted 4 – 8 weeks before the last frost, except for onions, leeks, and eggplants which take 10, and celery and celeriac prefer 12 weeks of cozy indoor growing. Flowering plants, both annual and perennial varieties, can vary but usually hit that 4 – 8 week window, as well.

Oh, one more thing! If you’ve got specific numbers in mind as to how many of each plant you want to end up with, make sure you sow a few extra of each variety just in case. This goes back to that tricky germination rate; some seeds just don’t take very well, no matter what you do to coax them out of hiding. So it’s better to have extra and then thin out the weaker ones later to get the best plants, but more on that in Part 4!

Ready to sow? Then let’s go!

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Blog-bounty on a budget

Bounty on a Budget: Making the Most of Your Grow-ceries!

Vegetable gardening can be a fun, healthy summer tradition – and it can also help take a bite out of your grocery bills! Planting thrifty, productive crops is a great way to supplement your family’s diet with delicious garden-fresh produce right from your own backyard, with no cashiers between harvest and table. There are a lot of great strategies for getting big yields on a shoestring budget. Try these simple tips to fill your plate with freshness and maximize your return on investment. Read More

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Planting a Bee-friendly Garden

Why plant a bee garden?

Bees help us, a lot! As much as 3/4 of the food we eat depends on bees for pollination. And now more than ever, our bee friends could use a hand in return. This can be as easy and fun as potting up a planter or two, or scattering a few wildflower seeds in an unused section of your yard. Whatever the scale of your garden, we gardeners can make a big difference for our little buzzing buddies! Read More

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Fall vs. Spring Garden Clean Up

For most perennials, whether you cut them back in the fall verses spring is completely up to you. Before you start, determine which season gives you more time for working in the garden. And consider what may provide winter interest: many taller grasses or perennials with seed heads atop sturdy stems can look very attractive with frost/snow on them, even providing a place for wildlife, like birds, to rest. Read More

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