October blooms

I love this fall (summer like) weather we are having here in Ottawa.  Many of the perennials in my own and my clients’ zone 4 to 5 gardens are still in bloom even though the calendar says October…

 

 

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

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Gardens4u season opener

Today was a beautiful sunny day here in Ottawa Ontario, a perfect day to start my GARDENS4U season.  Although 6C (43F) is still a bit cool and the ground is still frozen in some spots, I was able to get some things done.  Here is a list of garden chores that can be done as soon as the snow is gone:

  • cut back ornamental grasses to a few inches from the ground
  • cut off any broken, misshapen or unwanted branches on trees and shrubs.  Before the leaves come out on the trees the shape or framework of the branches is easier to see.
  • cut back any overgrown shrubs that flower in summer.  Even if you do not want to reduce the size of the shrub, old wood that no longer flowers can be removed now
  • cut out old wood that no longer flowers on early spring blooming shrubs back to the ground.  You can tell the old wood from the new wood by its color.  The old wood is usually duller in color and thicker in diameter
  • trim, shape or prune evergreen shrubs
  • cut back group 3 (summer or fall blooming) clematis to 1 foot from ground
  • rake leaves out of garden
  • remove winter covers from shrubs and trees
  • treat lawns with a fertilizer and pre-emergent weed preventer combination
  • rake lawn hard, but be sure to wait until it is no longer spongy to walk on

 

Happy gardening!

 

 

 

 

Include vines in your gardens for vertical drama

Vines make wonderful additions to gardens, providing vertical drama to otherwise horizontal landscapes.  They can be used to cover unsightly fences, utility boxes or pipes, storage areas and more.  They make great privacy screens too, shielding your yard from neighbours’ views.  There are many things to consider when choosing a vine for any of these functions…

  • size matters: consider the coverage you need.  Some vines cover a small space, others need lots of room to sprawl
  • invasive:  some vines can be invasive and very hard to remove from places you don’t want them to grow
  • damage:  some vines can cause incredible damage, destroying eavestroughing, fences and even brick!
  • color: some vines change colour in the fall, an added bonus to landscapes.  Others are a bright, chartreuse green contrasting with other green plants in your yard.  Some have flowers, others are grown just for the foliage.
  • pruning/cutting back: some vines require more maintenance than others.  Many die back to the ground when frost hits them making cleanup easy.  Some have to severely cut back in the spring to prevent them from taking over your yard.
  • annual or perennial:  the vines I use are perennial meaning they come back each year on their own.  Included in the perennial category are clematis, ivy, golden hops, hydrangea, bittersweet, honeysuckle and silver lace. There are also many annual varieties available such as morning glories, sweet peas, black-eyed susans and more.
  • Here are a few I have in my gardens…

Choose a few vines to add vertical drama to your landscaping, just do your homework first so you will be pleased with the result.  As always, if you have any questions, please contact me, I would be happy to research the perfect vine for your garden.

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…

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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…

What blooms in June in your garden?

Everything is blooming a bit later this season due to the long, hard winter we experienced here in the Ottawa area of Canada, but there is still lots of color this June.

The first clematis bloom has arrived, with many more to come on the six vines I have throughout my gardens.  The lilacs are just about done.  They are the late blooming variety, later than most lilacs.  We pruned them back hard this spring as they were growing sideways due to the overgrown apple trees beside them.  The pruning did not affect the blooms, probably because they are a late blooming variety.

The general rule of thumb for pruning flowering shrubs is:

  • if it blooms before June, wait until after blooming to prune
  • if it blooms after June, prune in early spring

Missing this June are the many roses usually in bloom.  Four of my roses did not survive the winter, so will have to be replaced.  The ones that did not survive are planted in front of the brick wall of our garage.  The snow melts first in this area, and the bed is under an overhang, so with the many freeze and thaw cycles (mostly freeze) we experienced, the roses were often exposed to the cold without the insulation of snow.  I tried to shovel snow on them from other areas of the yard as it melted from the rose bed, but to no avail.   I have a few other roses planted elsewhere in my gardens that survived, but the blooms are still in bud phase.