Daughter from another mother


I am devastated this week after hearing of the sudden and unexpected death of a dear friend.  The initial shock is fading, but I am still having difficulty believing that she is gone from my life.

Although she started out as a client in my gardening business, ….. Continue reading

November roses

Most of the roses in my gardens and my clients’ gardens are still looking lovely, thanks to the beautiful autumn weather we have had:


These gorgeous blooms are like a farewell to the gardening season as Gardens4u winds down for 2016 here in Ottawa…


Safety glasses for gardening

Today while gardening, I stopped to shed a sweater as it got warmer.  To do so, I removed my safety sunglasses.  After removing my sweater, I slammed the door to the trunk of my van, forgetting to replace the sunglasses on my head first.   As I had left them on the bumper of the van, they flew across the yard and a few swear words flew out of my mouth…


The good news is, as they are incredibly durable, they did not shatter as I feared they would.  One lens popped out, but other than that, they were no worse for wear, not even scratched!   I was easily able to put the lens back in…


I would not recommend testing your glasses this way, but I was impressed.  My safety sunglasses survived an incredible safety test.  I have no doubt that they would protect my eyes from a flying object other than the glasses themselves!

The glasses were purchased at OTTAWA FASTENER SUPPLY INC    I found them while wandering through the store as my husband shopped for a tool he needed for a project.  As they were inexpensive and  fashionable,  I tried them on.  I loved the fact that they cover the sides of my eyes and that the nose grip prevents them from falling off when I bend over.  I decided they would be perfect to wear while gardening…

Good decision!

November weather is not usually ideal for gardening in Ottawa

November usually brings cold, damp weather to our Ottawa area with my gardening business put to bed for the winter.  This week however, the weather forecast is awesome…


I will have to find something to do outdoors as the temperature is forecasted to reach a balmy 17 degrees Celsius (63 for you Fahrenheit fans)  This is a perfect temperature for puttering around in the garden, with no bugs to annoy me. Raking, mulching, bulb (more, because you can never have too many) planting…hmmm, where do I start?  The more I get done this week while the weather is nice, the less there will be to do in the spring.

The WOW factor in gardening

What is the WOW factor in gardening, and how do you achieve it?   I call the WOW factor a feature that literally makes me stop in my tracks (or my car)  to admire a plant or group of plants, then dash for my camera.  Wow factors are achieved by choosing what I call a specimen plant (unique or different, and planted singly) as opposed to a common plant (one that everyone else has in their garden, planted in multiple spots throughout the garden)  Choose a plant hardy to your garden zone and give it the conditions and space it requires to achieve greatness.  It may take a few years after planting, but patience will reward you!

I have seen two of these WOW factors recently, one driving from a client’s garden and the second in a client’s garden…

joe pye weed

I had to stop my car and take a picture of this first one on my way home one day.  Although it is called Joe Pye weed, it is a spectacular perennial garden plant and not a weed in my opinion.  It measures approximately 7 feet in height here, but can get to 12 feet in ideal conditions and looks best as featured here, in a large clump at the back of a border.  Joe Pye weed likes moist soil of average to rich conditions.  It will tolerate wet soil, but not overly dry soil.  It is hardy in zones 4 through 9 and prefers full sun to part shade.  Joe Pye weed will attract butterflies to your garden too.  Joe Pye weed requires very little maintenance.  It dies to the ground in the late fall and can be divided in the spring if the clump gets too large.  Be sure to give it lots of space in your garden!

This second WOW moment happened this week in a client’s garden.  This ornamental fountain grass peaks this time of year, producing large bottlebrush like pinkish plumes that glisten early in the morning when still coated with dew or after a rain…

I have one of these grasses in my own garden, (third picture) but it is no way near the size of the one I planted in this client’s garden.  Although I thought I gave it plenty of room to spread out when planted three years ago, it is crowding a magnolia tree on the left and a shrub rose on the right, both of which can be pruned to accommodate the grass.  This plant is a fountain grass, preferring hot dry sunny locations, hardy from zones 4 through 9.  It should be cut down to the ground after the ground freezes or first thing in the spring before new growth appears.

Create your own WOW factor in your garden and send me some pictures!

September weather is perfect for gardening in Ottawa, Ontario

24h Rain3mm
24h Rain0.2mm
24h Rain0.6mm
24h Rain0.2mm
24h Rain25.4mm
24h Rain19.4mm
24h Rain1.4mm
Feels like34
Feels like32
Feels like33
24h Rain0.3mm
Feels like28
24h Rain10.2mm
Feels like21
Feels like23
Feels like25
Feels like26
Feels like25
Feels like24
24h Rain0.9mm
Feels like24
24h Rain1.9mm
Feels like24
Feels like24
Feels like26
Feels like27
24h Rain3.7mm

This is a weather calendar for the month of September here in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  You can’t ask for any better weather for gardening.  New perennials and shrubs can be planted now ensuring their roots have six weeks to get established before the ground freezes.  Garden clean up can get started, but leave some for the cooler days to come.  It is still a bit early to plant bulbs too; they are best planted just before the ground freezes.

I am heading out now to work in a client’s garden before it gets too hot LOL, never thought I would be saying that mid September.  No complaints here!

Experiment with perennial succulents for containers in full sun garden locations

This year I am experimenting with perennial succulents in my urns that are located in full sun.  I had two coco liners filled with soil left from last summer’s hanging baskets.  I turned them upside down over my cast iron urns, tucking the fiber into the edge of the urns to make them fit and to prevent soil and water from leaking out.  I then cut slits in the fiber and tucked slips of succulents (sedum and stonecrop) into the slits.  For the top, I used a large sermpervivum rosette (the hen part of the hen and chicks succulent plant).   I am hoping the succulent slips will cascade over the sides of the urns as they grow.  I will rotate the urns occasionally as the sedums grow towards the sun, so they will cascade evenly around the perimeter of the urns.

Perennial succulents are an excellent choice for a hot, dry location in your garden.  There are many varieties to choose from; sedums and stonecrop are two of my favourites.  Choose a variation in color for a spectacular display. Once established succulents require very little water, and in fact too much water will cause them to rot.  These urns of mine sit in front of my garage with a hot, dry, full sun, southern exposure. Over the years I have not had much luck with any other plants growing there.  They all start off well, but quickly lose their appeal as they get leggy and dry out.  Hopefully the succulents will do the trick to keep my urns looking great all summer.

I also use succulents such as sedum and stonecrop as groundcovers in hot, dry, full sun locations in my garden.  They make beautiful edging plants in the perennial garden.

Gardening in the rain leaves a good impression!

dirty gloves

A few days ago it rained all day making gardening a dirty process.  When I came home all of my equipment and clothing were filthy dirty, caked with mud.  I left my gloves on the driveway, hoping the rain would wash away the dirt.  In the morning, these muddy impressions were left on the driveway.

Winter Gardening c/o Home Depot

The latest Home Depot newsletter for garden club members has some great indoor gardening ideas for these cold winter months…

The first project is a garden dish, or a mini garden, suitable for any room in your home:

for this project you will need the following items:

  • horticultural charcoal to keep the soil smelling fresh
  • gravel for drainage
  • a shallow, low sided, heavy (ceramic is good) dish, with no drainage hole in the bottom.  You can use your imagination here to repurpose an old  container.  Any shape or depth will work with similar instructions, just use thicker layers of charcoal, gravel and soil.
  • plants, such as coleus, succulents and cacti
  • potting soil
  • moss or sand to cover the soil
  • decorative items such as shells, pretty stones, pine cones etc


  1. Sprinkle less than an inch of gravel and charcoal over the bottom of container. (thicker if container is deeper than a shallow dish)
  2. Un-pot your plants, and position them as desired, keeping in mind that you are trying to create a miniature landscape. Be sure to use plants with the same light and water requirements in one container. For example, succulents and cacti like bright light, but require very little water.  In fact they will rot if watered too frequently.
  3. Surround the root-balls with soil, including a thinner layer over the non-planted gravel areas.
  4. Add a thin layer of moss or sand to ensure soil is covered.
  5. Tuck decorative items into moss or sand.
  6. Moisten your garden with a watering can or in the sink. Let it soak for a few minutes, then carefully tip out the excess water while holding the arrangement in place with your other hand. Repeat this procedure once a week or when the soil feels dry. Make sure your garden never sits in excess water.
  7. Given bright but indirect sunlight, most houseplants will thrive for months or even years in containers. Replace any overgrown or sickly plants as needed.

The next idea is for the transformation of a sunny window into a mini greenhouse that can showcase herbs and houseplants:

You will need the following items:

  • measuring tape, ruler, electric drill, level, pencil, hand saw
  • sand paper, wood putty, paint, moulding
  • 1/2 inch thick piece of glass
  • felt dots or plastic slide


1.  Measure the depth and width of the window frame, and subtract half an inch from the width to determine      the dimensions of the shelves.

2. Have a glazier cut a 1/2”-thick piece of glass to size for each shelf. For a more finished look, have the edges sanded. Using a level and a ruler for precision, make pencil marks where each shelf support should go, starting from the top of the window frame.

3. Make supports out of moulding by cutting two lengths of moulding for each shelf (the moulding length should equal the depth of the frame). Sand the ends smooth.

4. Drill three evenly spaced holes (just bigger than the head of a wood screw) in each support. Hold a support against the appropriate mark on the window frame, insert the bit of an electric drill through one of the holes, and drill a starter spot into the frame. Repeat for the other holes, and then countersink screws so the heads don’t show. Repeat for remaining supports. Fill holes with wood putty, sand smooth, and paint supports. Once paint dries, attach a felt dot or plastic glide to each support end, and set glass shelves in place.

Filling your home with houseplants, tropicals or locally grown, is a great way to detoxify the air in your home, especially in the winter when windows and doors are shut tight against the cold.  Read this previous post to see how this works.  To increase your collection of tropical houseplants, take advantage of Home Depot’s current offer:

home depot tropicals pic

Click on this link to download and print the coupon Home depot tropicals    

There are many varieties of tropical houseplants to choose from, including the ever popular orchids.  Orchids are easy to care for, providing colorful and long-lasting blooms.  They are ideal for the indoor environment of your home and are sure to brighten up the dreary winter months.  The biggest challenge when buying orchids is what color to choose as they are all beautiful!

orchids copy

My New Favourite Gardening Tool is a Swoe


My new favourite gardening tool is a swoe, a hoe with a sharp cutting edge.  My swoe is used in a push/pull motion to slice through the stems of weeds, just below the surface of the soil, much like a hoe.  The swoe works great in large beds in between plants, along edges and in tight spaces, especially after a rain when the soil is easily cultivated.  The lightweight handle of the swoe is about 5 feet long and the blade about 5 inches long, making it easy to use, carry and store.