Mirror mirror on the wall…

Instead of “mirror, mirror on the wall”, I should say “gardens, gardens on my route,  who’s the fairest of them all?”  I know that “all” does not rhyme with “route”, but let me ensure you get the picture, literally…. Continue reading

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Awesome autumn

The best part of autumn is the awesome display of color in the trees and gardens.  Our weather here in Ottawa has been spectacular, in fact so spectacular that I have put off preparing garden beds for the winter.  All of my clients’ gardens are looking great with their late season displays…

…annuals are still going strong, in containers:

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and in the gardens:

 

late blooming perennials are still glorious:

 

and ornamental grasses are at their showiest:

 

I hope we have a few more weeks of this awesome weather to enjoy the gardens before the cold weather hits.

Coleus in annual planters provide colour highlights in shade gardens

When planting containers of annuals in the spring, I try to choose annuals that will look good for a long time. These coleus certainly fit the bill in the shade of this garden.  They are still going strong after a few light frosts.  I didn’t have the heart to disturb them while performing a fall cleanup in a client’s garden last week. Recently I wrote a post about the wonders of COLEUS and how adding them to your gardens can provide pops of colour, especially in shady areas.  These planters provide that burst of colour all summer long under the shade of several large trees.

Spectacular coleus for your gardens

These pictures of various coleus plants were taken in a client’s garden.  They were planted to fill in bare spots between perennials and are quite striking at this time of year, brightening up shady spots in gardens.  Their leaves look like red velvet with splashes of green  The coleus are annuals that will die off when frost hits so new ones must be planted each season.  Coleus prefer shade, but will tolerate some, but not full sun.

I do not usually plant annuals to my gardens each season, preferring to use them in containers only.  After seeing the display these coleus put on each season however, I decided to try some in my garden this season.  They do not look as beautiful as these ones do, but are still nice pops of colour in my garden.  Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

Plants of the week from Gardens4u, take five

These are my favourites for this week…

Traditional perennials: hostas

hostas are great at the front of a border or bed and thrive in deep shade through part sun.  Most hostas prefer shade, but those with yellow leaves or fragrant flowers prefer more sun.  They come in many colours and sizes these days from miniature to huge.  If you do plant the large ones, be sure to give them lots of space as they do not look their best when crowded.

Modern perennials:  geraniums, not the red annual type your grandmother planted, but the perennial variety

Perennial geraniums also look great at the front of borders or beds.  They tolerate shade and part sun.  I love them because they are the first to green up in the spring, offer some colour with the blooms, but look great even when not in bloom.  They come in many colors and sizes.  Some of the larger ones can tend to be floppy, so I stick to the smaller ones.

Shrubs: Black Lace Elderberry

The deep wine colour of Black Lace Elderberries look wonderful mixed with all of the shades of green in your gardens.  They die down to the ground each winter in my area, and are often slow to come back in the spring, but can grow to heights of six feet or more. This spring was so late and the winter so cold, I thought my black lace had died.  Thankfully I decided to give it another week, and sure enough, one week later it was one foot tall!  The pale pink flowers are pretty but I consider them a bonus as they don’t last long.  The dark coloured lacy foliage is the reason I love this shrub.  This season it is a great backdrop for my lily trees featured in the third picture.

Vines:  Silver Lace

Although the Silver Lace vine blooms in the fall and so not blooming this week, I am always suggesting it to my clients.  It is quick growing, covering any structure very fast with white lace like flowers, a beautiful sight in September through November.  Unfortunately I lost mine this past winter due to the severe cold weather we experienced.  It is only hardy to zone 5 which is pushing the envelope for my Ottawa garden.

Annuals: Coleus

Coleus are great for filling in blank spots and contributing splashes of colour in shady spots of your gardens.  I never used to like them, but after seeing them tucked in among perennials in a client’s garden, I’ve changed my mind and added some to my own gardens this year.  Coleus come in many combinations and shades of pink, red and green; all make vibrant additions to a garden or container.

Stay tuned for next week’s choices…

Plants of the week from Gardens4u, take four

Here are my picks for this week…

Traditional perennials: daylilies

daylily blooms are long lasting with a wide variety of colours available ranging from lemon to golden yellow, peach to pink and purple to red.  They are also available in a variety of height to suit all your needs.

Modern perennials: Ornamental grasses

Ornamental grasses are my “go to perennial” for hot dry areas in gardens.  With many heights, colors and seed heads to choose from, you can plant several varieties.  Just be sure to choose those that are suitable fir your garden’s hardiness zone or they will not survive the winter.

Shrubs:  Purple smoke tree

Vines:  climbing hydrangea

Hydrangea vines are slow growing, but once established look beautiful on a wall or fence.  Just do not let it get into your soffits or eavestroughing as it can cause damage.

Annuals: Cleome or spiderflower

I love Cleomes (AKA spiderflowers)  They come in white and several shades of pink.  They look great planted in a container or in the garden in a hot dry spot.

Stay tuned for next week’s picks…

Plants of the week from Gardens4u, take three…

Here are my favourite plants this week…

Traditional Perennials: Asiatic Lilies

Asiatic lilies (also known as tiger lilies) come in many colours and heights.  Unfortunately I had to give up on them years ago as japanese beetles demolished them every season.  I now plant the lily trees featured below, same beautiful bloom, just sturdier and taller stems.

 

Modern Perennials:  Lily Trees

Similar to the more traditional asiatic lilies in appearance and bloom time, lily trees have much stronger stems which makes them more resistant to the japanese beetles that devour the former plant.  Lily trees grow to six feet in height by their third season and boast impressive blooms. Every years more and more color variations are available.

Shrubs:  Hydrangea

Hydrangea bushes have beautiful bloom in white, pink, blue and even mauve.  There are several varieties to choose from.  The most common is the “snowball” or Annabell type with round blooms that start off pale green in color and change to white.

The pale pink, blue and mauve flower heads belong to the mophead variety, with the color depending on the acidity of the soil it is planted in.  For blue blooms slightly acidic soil is required to allow aluminum in the soil to make the blooms blue.  Aluminum sulphate can be added to the soil for this purpose.  Fertilizer low in phosphorus (middle number on fertilizer packages) and high in potassium (last number on packages) will ensure blooms are blue.  For pink blooms slightly alkaline soil is required to prevent any aluminum from making the blooms blue.  Adding lime to the soil will increase the pH (make it alkaline) to prevent the soil from absorbing aluminum.  Adding fertilizer high in phosphorus (the middle number) also prevents aluminum absorption.    If you have trouble making your soil the right pH for the color of blooms you desire, consider planting the hydrangea in a pot where the soil pH is easier to control.

PeeGees or paniculatas have cone shaped, pale pink flower heads and come in tree form as well as bush form. Oakleafs have leaves shaped like those on an oak tree and have cone shaped white blooms that turn to pale pink.

Vines: Ivy

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There are many types of ivy to grow; my favourite is the Boston ivy that covers my back deck, creating my “green room”

 

Annuals: Million Bells

 

My favourite cascading annual for containers is called Million Bells.  They come in many colors, be sure to choose contrasting colours for your containers like the orange and purple above.

 

Stay tuned for next week’s picks…