Garden Makeover in the Rain

Rainy days are good for a garden makeover, except for the mess that is inevitable. Today was such a day. Gardens4u got this project going early this morning before the rain started, but a drizzle started a few hours in, followed by a torrential downpour. Downpours to me mean lunch time, sitting in my van. Luckily, the rain subsided enough for me to continue until the job was complete. Well, except for the cleanup. Trying to sweep up my mess on the wet stone was not very effective. Nothing a hose down won’t fix though, a job I left for the homeowner when the rain stopped, long after I left.

These are the “before” pictures. The tree is a dead maple that was removed with the stump ground down before I started the makeover.

The burning bush (far right in third pic), lilac (center in center pic) and hydrangea (right corner in center pic) were salvaged, with the lilac getting a good pruning to whip it into shape. Everything else was removed. New shrubs and perennials were strategically planted and composted manure, my new favourite soil amendment, was added.

Here are the “after” pictures…

New plantings in this garden makeover include a pink magnolia (center of bed), a “Wine & Roses” weigela, several ornamental grasses, coneflowers, pink and purple sages and lavender, as well as several varieties of sedum and stonecrop to spill over the edges of this sunny garden. Once the new plants are established and well watered, I will add mulch to complete the job.

A second bed, between the sidewalk and the garage, is next up on my garden makeover list. Stay tuned for more before and after pictures.

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Rain drops keep falling on my head

Gardening in the rain is usually not a problem for me, in fact I prefer a light drizzle to the intense heat we have been experiencing lately.  A light rain keeps me cool and keeps the bugs away. It also cuts down on the amount of sunscreen I use.  I do draw the line however at thunderstorms or torrential downpours.

Today started off great.  A light rain was falling so I headed to one of my favourite gardens, located in the exclusive and very private setting of the Kanata Rockeries which were designed by one of the founding fathers of Kanata Bill Teron.

 

 

Then the dark(er) clouds rolled in bringing heavier rainfall and distant thunder…

 

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That was my cue to head (run) to my van.  When the downpour did not let up after five minutes and the thunder got closer, I headed home.

Freeze/thaw cycles

Many people do not mind rain in winter, as they look forward to spring.  The problem is the freeze/thaw cycles that go with the rain can be very destructive to your plants and their containers.  I leave many container plants out on my back deck for a few reasons.

  • I love the look of plants blowing in the wind, especially the ornamental grasses.
  • Most of the containers are too large (heavy) to move inside
  • I have lots of them so would need a good chunk of time to move them.
  • For some reason time always gets away from me in the fall, so the snow arrives before I get around to moving the planters.

Whatever the reason you have left your planters outside for the winter, you can ensure they survive.  When it rains a lot (as it has been here for the past few days) or a thaw melts snow on top of the pots, be sure to dump out the excess water before it freezes again. If you cannot dump out the excess water, bail it out.   If you do not remove it, the excess water will freeze and your pots will crack.  I guarantee this will happen if the containers do not have drainage holes in the bottom.  If they do have drainage holes the pots may still crack when excessive rain turns to ice.  This happens often here in Ottawa.  One day it is raining and almost balmy, the next freezing cold.

 

Another trick to protect your plants over the winter is to ensure the plants stay snow covered.  Snow acts as an insulator, protecting plants from freeze/thaw cycles.  I always shovel snow onto my roses growing beside my garage at my front door.  This spot is sunny and warmer than the rest of my gardens because the brick wall retains the heat absorbed from the sun.  This extra heat means the snow melts faster there, so I have to keep shovelling more on.  If you do this, be sure to use snow that does not have salt (from your sidewalk or driveway) in it.

 

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Is it raining where you live?  If it is, make sure it does not collect on your planters if freezing temperatures are coming next.  Freeze/thaw cycles are brutal on your plants and their containers.

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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 gardens4u.ca

Today was a good day

Today was a good day for applying a fall fertilizer to lawns.  Why?  Because it is still not too cold out, the grass is no longer growing but still green, and it was drizzling.  At least it was as I finished the five lawns I had to fertilize.  It’s raining harder now, which is also ideal because the rain helps water the fertilizer in.  However, try to avoid fertilizing before a downpour, so your hard work is not washed away.

Today’s conditions were ideal for fall lawn fertilizing.  Most experts will tell you that fall is the most important time to fertilize your lawns.  Fertilizer applied at this time of the year is to strengthen (deepen) the roots, repair the lawn from summer drought/stresses and prepare the lawn for winter, so it is important to get the right product.  These are two I frequently use for fertilizing lawns in the fall…

 

 

Both are pet and kid friendly, safe to walk on immediately after application.  They can be purchased at your local garden centers or DIY (Home Depot, Lowes etc) stores.

Apply the fertilizer as instructed on the bags.  I use a push spreader and apply the fertilizer in two directions to avoid patchiness (as pictured below).  For irregularly shaped lawns, block off the lawn (visually) in squares or rectangles to ensure even distribution of the fertilizer.

 

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Remember, a great looking lawn enhances the appearance of your garden.  We all know I appreciate beautiful gardens.  If you miss/forget any fertilizer applications, don’t miss the fall one!

 

Thunderstorm season

The weather here in Ottawa has only seen a few hot sunny days typical of our usual summer season.  Thunderstorm season would be a much more accurate description of what we have seen.

 

Once again I was chased from a client’s garden due to a thunderstorm today.  I am averaging at least one thunderstorm per week this summer.  There has been a lot more than that, but I am only counting the ones during the day when I am out and about visiting gardens.

I do not mind working in the rain, in fact, rain helps keep me cool and keeps the mosquitoes away from me.  Wet gardens are also easier to remove weeds from.  If it rains too hard, I seek shelter under an overhang until the rain subsides enough to work in…

 

Thunderstorms, however, make me nervous when I get caught outside in one.   I am always worried that if I get struck by lightning, no one would notice or find me since I usually work in gardens where no one is home.

I do love to watch and listen to thunderstorms, but from the safety of my home though!

Great weather for ducks, or for overseeding and fertilizing your lawn and trees

This rainy weather is good for ducks, as my mother used to say, or for overseeding your lawn.  Weed and feed is also best applied in cool, wet weather, but not at the same time as the seed.

There are a few new products on the market to fix bare patches too.  They are 3 in 1 or 4 in 1 mixtures of composed/amended soil, seed and fertilizer.  If your lawn is patchy with bare, grassy, and weedy spots, try one of the mixed products. I have had success with both of these.  They do not contain a weed-killing ingredient, so you will have to treat the weeds six weeks later.

 

There are several “weed and feed” products out there.  On established (not patchy) lawns I prefer to weed first, then feed.  Otherwise, I tend to feed the weeds.

 

Another job for cool, wet, spring weather is fertilizing your trees.  I have three evergreen trees I planted as tiny seedlings when each of my three sons was born.  They were originally planted in my backyard.  As they reached about four feet in height, I asked the owner of the building behind us if I could plant them in his yard.  He agreed, so now I get the privacy, but still have space for a garden in my yard…

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To fertilize my trees I use spikes that get pounded into the ground around the tree’s dripline.  One spike contains enough fertilizer for each 2 inch of tree diameter.   There are many varieties on the market. Be sure to choose the proper spike for the tree(s) you want to feed.

 

The weather here is going be cool and rainy for a few more days. With it too muddy for work in my clients’ gardens, I will get these chores done at home.  If it is cool and rainy where you are, use this weather to get your overseeding and fertilizing done.

Lots of April showers to bring May flowers

Hopefully, April showers do bring May flowers.  This week with all the rain we have received here in Ottawa, I am reminded of a verse I heard somewhere…

“When life seems grey,
Just think again,
No flowers bloom,
Without the rain.” 🌷

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picture from Pixabay

Patricia visits Eastern Ontario

Tropical storm Patricia is visiting Eastern Ontario tonight, but she is not a welcome guest.  Of course I would pick today to drive from Ottawa to Kingston and back.  As my son and I left Ottawa this morning the skies were gray, but the storm had not hit here yet.  As we drove south and west toward Kingston, the rain started and the wind picked up, making the drive a slow one…

Although the Kingston radio stations were saying the worst of storm Patricia had not hit yet when we left there for the drive back home to Ottawa, the wind and rain had increased considerably.  Darkness had settled in as well, so the drive was not a boring one.

Although we are now home safe and sound, Patricia is still wreaking havoc outside my window. Hopefully when I get up tomorrow morning she will have left the area without leaving too many reminders of her visit.

Rain delay at Gardens4u

Normally I don’t mind working in the rain, but all my equipment including gloves, boots and raincoat, are still soaked from yesterday…

this first picture was a “selfie”  I was concentrating so hard on taking the picture, that I forgot to smile…

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This next picture was taken by my son when I picked him up from school on my way home from the garden I worked in for 5 hours.  Note the plastic protecting the seats of my van…

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I have every kids dream job; I get paid to play in the mud!

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.