“Let it snow” belongs in December, not March!

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Snow can be pretty and welcome in December, but in March it is a bit overdone!  It is snowing here in Ottawa, again!

I am so ready for spring, cannot wait to get out to my own gardens and the ones I look after.  Check out my website GARDENS4U  to read about my gardening business.  I just finished updating it with new pictures and information.

Snow day for Gardens4u

Today is a snow day for Gardens4u.  I tried hard to get all of my clients’ gardens ready for winter and bulbs planted this week before the snow hit, but will have to wait for better weather before I get them all done.  Fortunately, the weather forecast for the next two weeks is promising to be warmer and greener:

I have been hesitant to cut back most plants in their gardens (and mine too) because everything has looked so nice up until yesterday.  We have had a beautiful fall season with extended bloom on most perennials and annuals.  This snow will take its toll on these perennials and annuals, so they will be ready to be cut back when I get to them next week.

For those of you wondering if it is too late to plant bulbs, you can plant them until the ground freezes.  Plant them pointy side up, or if you are not sure which side is up, on their sides.  I sprinkle cayenne pepper in the holes with the bulbs and over the soil on top of the holes to deter the squirrels from digging up the bulbs.  Another trick is to plant daffodils in the same hole as the tulips.  Squirrels hate daffodils.  Someone told me to try putting banana peels in the hole with my tulip bulbs to deter squirrels.  I haven’t tried that trick yet, but it may be worth a try.  Don’t forget to water your newly planted bulbs.  If your hose has been disconnected and outside water turned off for the season, get some water from your kitchen sink to sprinkle over the planted bulbs.

The snow is pretty today, but I am glad it is not here to stay.  Yet…

 

July garden pictures

Welcome to my gardens:

 

As you go through the gate, my “ICU” is on the right side along the fence and beside the steps.  Any unwanted plants I rescue from clients’ gardens get potted up and live here until I can recycle them into other gardens.  My son built the shelving unit on the right to use as a potting bench as well as a spot to store my pots, soil, tools etc.

 

 

 

As my children grew, so did my gardens; there is very little lawn left these days.  Beyond the white arbor is my compost corner.  The fences are covered with vines and the beds chock full of perennials.  Two apple trees and a lilac on one side and two plum trees on the other add shady spots with dappled sun, while the center offers full sun conditions. This variation in growing conditions allows for a wide range of perennials…

 

The pond was put in years ago as a Mother’s Day gift.  The racoons came from my father’s garden and the frog is a new visitor.  Unfortunately, the real racoons that visit frequently like to knock over these guys; I often find one or all of them in the pond!…

 

The front yard has lots of sun, so it is great for roses, lilies and succulents.  The focus of the front garden is the “dwarf” blue spruce that was supposed to reach 5 feet.  It is currently at least 12 feet tall…

 

 

Various pots and containers offer added color throughout the gardens…

 

What I love most about the gardens is how they change from week to week from spring to fall.

 

 

Weeds continue to thrive

Why do the weeds in my gardens, sidewalks and lawn continue to thrive in this hot weather, when the grass and flowers struggle?  On close inspection, the only part of my lawn that looks green are weeds.

 

On principle, I refuse to get out there every morning or evening to waste water on my lawn in these drought conditions, so every year my south facing, front lawn looks pretty sad in July and August.  Unfortunately this year the parched, yellow, straw look started in mid-May!

Remember that grass is supposed to go dormant in these hot, dry conditions and will revive naturally with a few rainy days.  We did have a bit of rain last week so the grass did recover somewhat, but this week’s forecast is for more sun and heat, so the recovery won’t last.

After a heavy rainfall is the best time to pull WEEDS in your lawn or gardens out by hand so you get the whole root, otherwise the weeds keep coming back to haunt  you.  After the weeds are all pulled from your gardens, apply a thick layer of mulch to deter them from coming back too soon.  Weed seeds blowing around or carried around by birds will germinate in mulch too, but the mature weeds will be much easier to pull out when their roots are growing in mulch instead of soil.

 

Please be sure to visit my other blogs:

Laugh out loud (LOL) with me at YOUR DAILY CHUCKLE

and

be inspired and motivated by famous words of wisdom at WoW

My gardening website can be viewed at www.gardens4u.ca

 

Spring has sprung in Ottawa

In my visits to area gardens this week I am seeing lots of signs that spring has sprung here in Ottawa, finally…

I hope this spring weather lasts awhile; I have lots of work to do!

Please be sure to visit my other blogs:

Laugh out loud (LOL) with me at YOUR DAILY CHUCKLE

and

be inspired and motivated by famous words of wisdom at WoW

My gardening website can be viewed at www.gardens4u.ca

 

Texas gardens

I had the pleasure of planting a garden in TEXAS this past January, something totally different for my GARDENS4U business located here in Ottawa, Ontario.

Texas obviously has its own gardening issues, with extreme drought and heat at the top of the list.  I chose a variety of succulents and cacti for the focal points of this garden as well as the ground cover between the larger plants.  As the ground cover fills in, weeds are choked out and both the roots of the specimen plantings and the soil are protected from the extreme temperatures and drought conditions…

Ground covers also work well in containers for the same reasons.  Because soil in containers dries out faster than soil in a garden, the use of ground covers can reduce the amount of water your containers need to stay healthy looking.  Nutrients in the soil are depleted slower too when the soil is protected.  Planted just inside the rim of the container, the ground covers can “spill” over the edge and cascade down the side of the container, creating a beautiful focal point for your patio, deck or porch…

The best things about my Gardens4u offseason

Believe it or not there are good things about the offseason in a gardening business.  Gardens4u is no exception.  All season, when I am incredibly busy, I make lists of the things I will get done in the offseason.  Here are a few of the best things…

  • I don’t set the alarm clock.  When my husband rolls out of bed at 545am, he no longer asks me what time I want to get up so he can reset the clock for me.  I get up when I wake up; pure luxury!
  • my house gets a great cleaning.  Last winter I went through each and every closet in the house, decluttering and purging,a chore that was long overdue.  The kitchen and bathrooms cupboards, garage, laundry room and file cabinet are on the hit list this year.  The organizations that pick up used clothing and household items love me this time of year. I may even get adventurous and open a Kijijii (Canadian version of Ebay) account to sell some of the big things.  That is if I can convince my husband to part with them.
  • I spend more time reading books.  There are lots of interesting choices on my to read list this year, but I would love to hear your suggestions!
  • I spend lots of time updating my website.  Now, I know that doesn’t sound too exciting, but I love looking at the pictures I took this past season, especially the ones of gardens I planted in earlier seasons.  It’s almost like watching the gardens grow!  Be sure to check out the changes at GARDENS4U and send me your comments and suggestions.
  • I go out to lunch or coffee with friends that I have not seen much of through the gardening season.  Give me a shout if you are in the neighbourhood!  I plan to get back to my hometown sometime soon too to reconnect with some childhood friends.
  • I may even get to the scrapbooks I have been meaning to assemble.  Years ago I sorted “stuff” from my three sons’ childhoods into separate bins.  You know, stuff that mothers keep, like school and sports achievements, mementos, pictures etc.  It was a start, but the bins are still full and the scrapbooks empty.  The plan was to give the boys each a scrapbook on their 18th birthday.  Well, my eldest son is about to turn 26.  Time does fly doesn’t it?
  • I dream about spring while looking through my numerous garden books and magazines.
  • I hope to transfer all my old homemade VHS movies onto CDs.  I bought a device to do so, just have to figure out how it works.
  • I can write more often.  My best blog posts have been written in the winter months and I even published a book two winters ago.  I have an idea for a new book, but that project needs a lot of work, that may take a few offseasons.

Well, if I am going to get through this list, I had better get off the computer and get started!  Don’t worry Gardens4u fans, you can take the girl out of the garden, but you can’t take the garden out of the girl.  This list is only to keep me from losing my mind while my gardens are covered in snow.

please be sure to visit my slightly more humorous blog YOUR DAILY CHUCKLE  It is guaranteed to make you LOL.

Losing my gardening tools and my mind

As the end of my gardening season approaches here in Ontario, I have begun to clean out my van and perform an inventory on my gardening tools.  This is also the time of the year when I realize just how bad my memory is when the number of gardening tools has dwindled and I have no idea where the missing ones are.  I tend to misplace several pairs of calipers (or hand clippers) a season.  Even though their handles are usually a bright red or orange, I manage to lose them in the gardens I work in.  I’m sure I have accidentally thrown some out in lawn waste bags.  This year I am disappointed to find that I have also managed to misplace my favourite edger and a handy short shovel…

I will have to send out an email to my clients begging them to check their tool sheds and gardens to see if my tools are hanging out with theirs.

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…