Mahogany Splendor Hibiscus, poor man’s Japanese Maple

These spectacular Mahogany Splendor Hibiscus are annuals in my zone 4 to 5 area of Ottawa, but wow, are they gorgeous.  Unlike the colorful hibiscus I posted about recently, these do not have spectacular flowers, but their foliage makes up for that fact.  A few Mahogany Splendor hibiscus were added to the gardens at the hospice I helped plant recently to fill in the bare spots and add color between the immature perennials.  As a result of the diligent watering by the hospice garden team throughout our extremely hot summer these hibiscus (and the rest of the gardens) look spectacular.

mahogany splendor hibiscusmahogany splendor hibiscusmahogany splendor hibiscus

They look much like a Japanese Maple, but are shorter, with the same deep burgundy color and same maple leaf shaped leaves.  Japanese Maples are notoriously expense around here, so these Mahogany Splendor hibiscus have been nicknamed “the poor man’s Japanese Maple”

They are so gorgeous in fact, that I plan to dig them up and bring them inside for the winter so I can put them back in the garden next spring.

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Asters, butterflies and bees, oh my!

Tis the season for asters, butterflies and bees in our zone 4 gardens here in Ottawa.  I am seeing lots in my GARDENS4U clients’ as well as my own gardens. These perennials make a beautiful splash of color in the fall when others have finished showing off.  Growing up to five feet tall, and preferring full sun conditions, their upright, strong stalks are covered in bright green foliage and small pink or purple flowers that the butterflies and bees just love…

 

Asters, butterflies and bees asters, butterflies and bees asters, butterflies and bees

 

Asters are easy to grow, and require little to no maintenance. I cut mine back after flowering, but this is not necessary. They also seem immune to bugs and disease.  If your gardens are lacking color this time of year, consider adding some asters.  The butterflies and bees will thank you!

Hardy Hibiscus Show Stoppers

Hardy hibiscus are my show stoppers in my GARDENS4U gardens this August and September.  Their unbelievably vibrant blooms, often the size of a dinner plate, will literally make you stop and gawk at their incredible beauty…

 

I love the hibiscus so much this season that I tried some in containers and fertilized them heavily to keep them blooming all summer…

As with any plants you expect to be perennial (they come back each year) read the labels before you purchase them!  These hibiscus are called hardy because they are considered perennials in more (colder) areas than their less hardy cousins.  These are hardy to USA zone 4, which are perfect for my Ottawa gardens.  Just be careful and patient in the spring, as they are slow to recover from their winter hibernation.  Because they die back to the ground in winter here, I put a marker near mine so I don’t inadvertently disturb or throw it out during spring cleanup.

Another important fact to consider is that perennials planted in containers are less hardy (2 zones) than when they are planted in the garden.  For example, although these hibiscus are hardy to zone 4 when planted in gardens, they would only be hardy to zone 6 in containers.  That means I will be moving these gorgeous containers inside before the first frost.

Gut health, what, why and how

Recently, a video I saw on social media caught my attention.  I had a few minutes to spare, so listened to Dr. Amy Lee explain why gut health is so important to achieve and how to achieve it.  Dr. Lee specializes in internal medicine as well as wellness, nutrition and obesity.  Listen to the video and make up your own mind if it makes sense to you.

It made complete sense to me as I have battled with my gut health for years and finally feel that I am in control.  I learned the hard way what works for me and what does not.  This information may educate you and steer you in the right direction if you too suffer from poor gut health that presents itself in numerous symptoms. Keep an open mind, you may not even realize your gut health is so crucial.

gut health

The video did turn out to be an infomercial for a specific product that Dr. Lee is selling, but the information she shared throughout the commercial was interesting.  I can attest to the fact that she is bang on about the foods that are bad for your general health.  If you have followed any of my previous posts, especially my very earliest ones, you will know that I have suffered for years with the pain resulting from food sensitivities and poor gut health.

An Avocado a Day keeps the Doctor away

Move over apples, the new health axiom is “an avocado a day keeps the doctor away.”

avocado
pictures courtesy of Pexels

Even though a medium sized avocado adds around 250 calories to your daily intake and 24 grams of fat, the fat is predominantly the “good for your heart” monounsaturated variety.  Avocados also lower our “bad cholesterol” or LDL (low density lipoproteins) because they contain high amounts of plant based phytosterols.

avocado

Start by incorporating avocadoes into your daily meals.  Chopped, pureed, or mashed, use your imagination and avocados for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Just be careful what you eat them with (skip the chips).  Keeping in mind that a healthy allotment of fat is 65 grams within a daily diet of 2000 calories, simply replace the fats you have been eating for years with avocado.  Eliminate the “not so good for you” fats  like margarine or butter, peanut butter, oils, and mayonnaise.  As well as the heart healthy fat, you will be adding vitamins, minerals and fiber with this substitution.

 

Extreme summer breaking records

No doubt we have had an extreme summer this year in Ontario.  Extremely high temperatures and accompanying drought conditions were followed by an extreme amount of rainfall over a very short time period, then topped off with an over abundance of annoying, hungry mosquitoes.

extreme summer

We should be moving up this list as our daytime temperatures are still soaring high.  The good news is our evening/night temperatures are currently cooler, much better for sleeping.  Most people will agree, moderate is much more tolerable than extreme.

Despite the extreme weather we have experienced, after last summer’s lack of sunshine and heat, no one can complain we did not get enough of either this summer.  I must admit thought, this extreme summer has limited my time in my gardens!

 

Home improvement in south-western Ontario

One of the (many) joys of parenthood is seeing your children evolve into successful, hardworking adults.  This also applies to the children of close friends, so whenever I can I like to share and promote their adventures and endeavors.  One such longtime friend of my husband is proud to announce that his son has started a new home improvement business with his girlfriend….
home improvment

This young couple is based in Aylmer, Ontario (west of Toronto) but will travel as far as London, Mississauga and Barrie to help you upgrade your home.  Their business is called Paint by Mimi, but they are experienced in many other types of residential upgrades too.  For affordable, reliable, and excellent home improvement services such as painting, landscaping, roofing or irrigation installations, be sure to give them a try.

Call soon for your free quote: (905)703-0047

 

Recent lung study no surprise to me

A recent lung study on the dangers of cleaning supplies came as no surprise to me.  You can read it here.  Years ago I realized that many common household cleaners bothered my lungs so I quit using them and switched to Melaleuca products.

Melaleuca products are created with plant based (natural) ingredients including tea tree oil (melaleuca)  Hence, the name of the product line.  Contact me if you want to know more about this wonderful group of products that includes a beauty line, essential oils, bath and body care, nutrition and weight loss.  Oh, and cleaning products.

lung study
Melaleuca plant


lung study

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Blue grass beauties

My new favourite ornamental grasses these days are the blue tinged beauties.  Every year there are more and more ornamental grasses available to choose from in the garden nurseries, but my eyes seem to be increasingly drawn to the blue grass varieties.  I love the way the soft, steely, blue hue compliments the color of other perennials.  While other ornamental grasses are grown for their attractive seed heads, the blue versions are chosen more for their attractive coloring.

These are blue oat grass, one of my favourites…

 

This is a newer variety, called Blue Lyme Grass…

blue lyme grass

Most ornamental grasses like full sun, but there are a few that tolerate some shade.  Be sure to check the labels before purchasing for sun requirements and hardiness zones.

 

 

 

 

Boomerang Lilac adds bonus blooms in mid to late summer

Everyone loves lilacs and their beautiful, unique spring blooms.  Unless you are allergic to their powerful fragrance.  Did you know there is a variety that reblooms?  It is appropriately called the Boomerang Lilac.  You can order one here or check out your local nursery.

Like their name implies, the new blooms arrive on new growth that occurs after the first bloom is over. This is my boomerang lilac.  There are a few new blooms that have arrived with our recent rainy spell.

You can barely see the promise of new blooms today, but by next week the tree should be full of their stunning color and fragrance, creating a late summer focal point in my garden.