Save your banana peels for bulb planting

Yes, you read that right.  Now is the time to save your banana peels for bulb planting.  Over the years I have tried many things to deter squirrels from digging up the bulbs I plant in my GARDENS4U clients’ gardens as well as my own.

Placing a few strips of banana peel over the bulbs (or wrap each bulb in a piece of peel) in the hole you have dug seems to be the best method I have found, especially for single (and expensive!) bulbs like Lily trees …

 

 

Another trick is to plant daffodils and tulips in the same hole as that seems to deter squirrels too because they do not like daffodils…

We eat lots of bananas in my home.  I tear the peel from each banana into 6 pieces and store them in a plastic baggie in my freezer.  When I am ready to plant the bulbs, I have lots of banana peels to keep the squirrels away.

 

Try my banana peel trick and let me know if it works for you.  Now is the perfect time here in zone 4 to 5 for planting bulbs!

 

Never have I ever

Never have I ever seen lavender or clematis blooming in late October!  At least not in our zone 4 to 5 gardens here in Ottawa.   I have cut back June lavender blossoms before resulting in late August, even early September reblooming, and have seen spring blooming clematis rebloom in August, but never late October…

 

 

Ornamental grasses are at their peak, waving in the breeze.  Other perennials still in bloom or reblooming include clematis, lots of roses,  phlox, butterfly bush, Russian sage, periwinkle and more.

 

 

I am supposed to be doing fall cleanups on my GARDENS4U clients’ gardens this week, but their gardens are still so nice I hesitate to cut anything down.  I did get covered in burs and seed heads removing some weeds though; a peril of the job…

never
seed heads and weeds

 

Even the butterflies and bees are loving this warm fall weather; this butterfly bush was covered with both…

 

I am in no hurry for frost to send these beautiful perennials into dormancy.

Which plants you should prune back in the fall

 

For some reason, the fall season is when many gardeners get the itch to prune back plants in their gardens.  The guidelines are as follows, at least for our zone 4 to 5 gardens here in Ottawa, Ontario:

  • if a shrub blooms early (before June) wait until after flowering to prune.  Some examples of early bloomers that need that old wood to bloom on are lilacs, forsythia, bridal wreath spireas, sand cherries, weigela, ninebarks, rhododendrons, viburnum, cranberry bushes, flowering dogwoods and magnolias.
  • if the shrub blooms after June, it can be pruned back in the fall or in the early spring when new growth is visible.  Examples include Snowball and PeeGee Hydrangeas, spireas (except for bridal wreath), Butterfly bush, smoke tree, hibiscus (rose of Sharon), and red stemmed dogwoods.
  • woody shrubs like boxwoods, junipers and cedars can be trimmed back in the fall too, but also throughout the growing season (spring and summer)
  • some shrubs are best pruned while dormant. (late fall to very early spring, late February to early March)  These include barberries, smoke bush, crepe myrtles, spireas (except bridal wreath variety), dogwoods, and cotoneasters.
  • to rejuvenate shrubs that flower poorly, are overgrown or straggly, cut them back to just above the first bud above the soil while the plant is still dormant.  Shrubs that do well with this drastic treatment include spireas, lilacs, ninebarks, forsythias, barberry, weigela, blue mist, forsythia, honeysuckle, and potentilla (cinquefoil).  You may sacrifice the flowers the first season after this rejuvenation, but the plant will be healthier.
  • deciduous (non-evergreen) trees are best pruned when dormant (late winter) as well.  It is much easier to see the structure of the tree before the leaves come out.  Winter pruning also prevents the formation of bacteria and disease in the cuts. The wounds will heal quickly as new growth starts shortly after pruning.
  • dead branches can be cut off any time in the season.
  • after the first frost, remove any leaves from roses and apply mulch to the crowns. This prevents the plants from heaving from the ground during freeze/thaw cycles. You can cut the longs stems of the most tender floribundas, hyrdrid teas and grandifloras back to 20 inches before winter too to prevent them from breaking off under a heavy snowfall.  Another tip for tender roses is to apply a collar around the bush and fill it (loosely) with leaves.  Wait to prune others back until daffodils start to bloom in the spring to ensure the ground temperature is sufficiently warm.  Dead or broken branches can be cut off in the fall or any other time of the season.  Suckers can also be removed in the fall, cutting them out as close to the base of the plant as possible.

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Perennials can be, but do not have to be, deadheaded (remove dead blossoms) and cut back in the fall.  Remove sturdy flower stalks (coneflowers etc) right back to the foliage at the base of the plant.  Some gardeners like to leave these stalks on the plants over the winter for birds and their snow-covered beauty.  On softer plants simply remove the browned and dead looking, limp or soggy foliage (daylilies, peonies, bleeding hearts etc) and cut back their stems to six or eight inches from the ground.  I like to do everything I can in the fall because spring seems to be so short lived these days and I run out of springtime hours in the gardens.  Whenever you clean up your gardens, remember to harvest the seeds for future (freebie) plants as I did for my cottage garden.

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pictures from Pexels and Pixabay

October blooms

I love this fall (summer like) weather we are having here in Ottawa.  We have had nicer weather after September than throughout June, July or August combined.  Many of the perennials in my own and my GARDENS4U clients’ zone 4 to 5 gardens are still in bloom even though the calendar says October. The ornamental grasses are usually still nice this time of year.  In addition to them though, I have numerous roses, lavender and several clematis reblooming.  Simply beautiful!

 

 

I cannot ever remember a clematis reblooming in October as this beautiful pale purple one has.

October blooming clematis

 

The thermometer does not feel like it, nor do my gardens do not look like October!

Favourite and least favourite perennials

With all the gardens I visit in a season with my BUSINESS I am bound to have my favorite and least favorite perennials.  I always choose to plant the favourite and avoid the least favourite perennials.

Spiderwort, AKA tradescantia or widow’s tears are my least favorite this year.  They spread like crazy throughout gardens, flop onto other plants and turn slimy as soon as the weather gets cool.  One good thing about them is their pretty purple color.  The fact that they rebloom if cut back after the first bloom is a bonus too.

My favourite perennials this season have been coneflowers, especially the newer colors available.  Due to the cool summer we experienced, the coneflowers have been blooming pretty much all summer.  I have peachy orange, red and a few shades of pink coneflowers that are still stunning in my gardens.

 

 

I am still in love with all of the ornamental grasses and there seem to be more beautiful varieties every year.  Blue oat grass is my favourite this year in my zone 4 to 5 gardens because I love its steel blue coloring. The fact that it is much hardier, larger and sturdier than the blue fescue I have tried previously works too…

favourite perennials
blue oat grass

What are your favourite and least favourite perennials of the season?  Please let me know in the comment section below.

In bloom this third week of August in my zone 4 to 5 Ottawa gardens

There is not much new in bloom in my zone 4 to 5 Ottawa gardens this third week of August.   A new orange color of coneflower, pink garden phlox and a fresh flush of roses prevail…

 

 

 

The pink and red coneflowers are still quite striking. They were a little beat down by the storm we had just before I took their picture.  The yellow pom poms of the false sunflowers are still brightening up the back of a bed…

 

 

This week in my clients’ gardens I took some pictures of some awesome containers of annuals.  Annuals are always great this time of year to fill in with their pops of color.  The shades of purple in the last ones really caught my eye…

 

 

 

In bloom this second week of August in my Ottawa zone 4 to 5 gardens

Here are the newest perennial blooms in my own zone 4 to 5 gardens this second week of August;

 

This ornamental grass is my favourite although it is only an annual here in zone 4 or 5.  It makes a beautiful centerpiece for a container or it can be planted right in the garden!

August
annual ornamental grass

 

Still strutting their stuff, these perennials are still looking great:

 

On their way out (unfortunately) are my gorgeous lilies.  They will return bigger and better than ever next year though!  Every client I have planted some of these lily trees for have commented on how spectacular they are, well worth the price.

 

I hope you are enjoying these weekly walks through my gardens…

whole garden