It’s not the temperature

“It’s not the temperature” is a common Canadian phrase, followed by either “it’s the windchill” in the winter, or “it’s the humidity” in the summer.  We Canadians tend to be very weather obsessed.

In this case,  however, I am talking about why I cover the base (crown) of my roses in my gardens…

It’s not just the cold, although it is advisable to choose plants hardy to your area, that affects (kills) the roses. It’s the freeze and thaw cycles very common to Ontario weather that do them in.  The mounded earth helps prevent the rose crowns from heaving out of the ground in these freeze/thaw cycles.  Be sure to use clean soil for this purpose.  I purchase plain garden soil in easy to manage bags to avoid introducing mold, mildew, bacteria or insects and their eggs to the roses.

I counted twenty-two rose crowns to cover in my own gardens, with lots more in my GARDENS4U gardens.

Final garden chores

Well, our beautiful fall weather has come to an end here in Ottawa, so I am closing out my GARDENS4U season with some final garden chores:

  • cut back any perennials that get mushy or moldy (hostas, peonies, tall phlox)  Leave the rest for the birds, rabbits, squirrels etc.
  • mound clean soil (just plain, new soil,  no fertilizer) around the crowns of roses and any other less hardy plants.
  • mulch leaves and spread them around the plants in my gardens.  I will probably have to borrow some leaves from my neighbours or clients to do this as the trees in my yard are predominantly evergreens.
  • take any frost tender potted plants indoors (there are a few I overwinter)
  • put containers that are not cold hardy into the garage (those without drainage holes are especially susceptible to cracking) Store them on a shelf or other spot off the floor.
  • remove any cold sensitive decorations from the garden and store them (not on the floor) in the garage
  • pick any blooms still thriving; the frosty nights will kill them fast

 

 

 

That will probably end my garden posts for a while, I will have to look elsewhere for inspiration…

 

Which plants you should prune back in the fall

 

For some reason, the fall season is when many gardeners get the itch to prune back plants in their gardens.  The guidelines are as follows, at least for our zone 4 to 5 gardens here in Ottawa, Ontario:

  • if a shrub blooms early (before June) wait until after flowering to prune.  Some examples of early bloomers that need that old wood to bloom on are lilacs, forsythia, bridal wreath spireas, sand cherries, weigela, ninebarks, rhododendrons, viburnum, cranberry bushes, flowering dogwoods and magnolias.
  • if the shrub blooms after June, it can be pruned back in the fall or in the early spring when new growth is visible.  Examples include Snowball and PeeGee Hydrangeas, spireas (except for bridal wreath), Butterfly bush, smoke tree, hibiscus (rose of Sharon), and red stemmed dogwoods.
  • woody shrubs like boxwoods, junipers and cedars can be trimmed back in the fall too, but also throughout the growing season (spring and summer)
  • some shrubs are best pruned while dormant. (late fall to very early spring, late February to early March)  These include barberries, smoke bush, crepe myrtles, spireas (except bridal wreath variety), dogwoods, and cotoneasters.
  • to rejuvenate shrubs that flower poorly, are overgrown or straggly, cut them back to just above the first bud above the soil while the plant is still dormant.  Shrubs that do well with this drastic treatment include spireas, lilacs, ninebarks, forsythias, barberry, weigela, blue mist, forsythia, honeysuckle, and potentilla (cinquefoil).  You may sacrifice the flowers the first season after this rejuvenation, but the plant will be healthier.
  • deciduous (non-evergreen) trees are best pruned when dormant (late winter) as well.  It is much easier to see the structure of the tree before the leaves come out.  Winter pruning also prevents the formation of bacteria and disease in the cuts. The wounds will heal quickly as new growth starts shortly after pruning.
  • dead branches can be cut off any time in the season.
  • after the first frost, remove any leaves from roses and apply mulch to the crowns. This prevents the plants from heaving from the ground during freeze/thaw cycles. You can cut the longs stems of the most tender floribundas, hyrdrid teas and grandifloras back to 20 inches before winter too to prevent them from breaking off under a heavy snowfall.  Another tip for tender roses is to apply a collar around the bush and fill it (loosely) with leaves.  Wait to prune others back until daffodils start to bloom in the spring to ensure the ground temperature is sufficiently warm.  Dead or broken branches can be cut off in the fall or any other time of the season.  Suckers can also be removed in the fall, cutting them out as close to the base of the plant as possible.

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Perennials can be, but do not have to be, deadheaded (remove dead blossoms) and cut back in the fall.  Remove sturdy flower stalks (coneflowers etc) right back to the foliage at the base of the plant.  Some gardeners like to leave these stalks on the plants over the winter for birds and their snow-covered beauty.  On softer plants simply remove the browned and dead looking, limp or soggy foliage (daylilies, peonies, bleeding hearts etc) and cut back their stems to six or eight inches from the ground.  I like to do everything I can in the fall because spring seems to be so short lived these days and I run out of springtime hours in the gardens.  Whenever you clean up your gardens, remember to harvest the seeds for future (freebie) plants as I did for my cottage garden.

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pictures from Pexels and Pixabay

In bloom this third week of August in my zone 4 to 5 Ottawa gardens

There is not much new in bloom in my zone 4 to 5 Ottawa gardens this third week of August.   A new orange color of coneflower, pink garden phlox and a fresh flush of roses prevail…

 

 

 

The pink and red coneflowers are still quite striking. They were a little beat down by the storm we had just before I took their picture.  The yellow pom poms of the false sunflowers are still brightening up the back of a bed…

 

 

This week in my clients’ gardens I took some pictures of some awesome containers of annuals.  Annuals are always great this time of year to fill in with their pops of color.  The shades of purple in the last ones really caught my eye…

 

 

 

End of July blooms in zone 4 to 5

In bloom the end of July here in my Ottawa zone 4 to 5 gardens are more lilies, more roses, more of everything that was in bloom last week.

The lily trees are absolutely spectacular. There must be close to thirty blossoms on the three plants at my front lamp post and more in my back garden. I have also planted some of these lily trees in my clients’ gardens.

 

My favourite rose this end of July is a pale, blush pink:

end of July
palest pink rose

 

As I was walking around my backyard, a pair of cardinals were flitting through my plum tree watching me. The red male really stood out against the green of the leaves, he came to within a few feet of me…

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Perennials in bloom mid July

Perennials blooming mid July in my zone 4 to 5 gardens are these showoffs:

 

 

In addition to the beauties above, more roses are in bloom this week in mid July:

Roses and storm clouds

I must have at least twenty rose plants in my gardens. I love perennial roses in the form of climbers, bushes, shrubs and miniatures in my gardens and in containers on my deck.  Most of them are in bloom right now.  Some continue to bloom all summer, while others are repeaters meaning they bloom for a bit now, drop their blossoms, and rebloom again later in the season.  My camera does not do justice to their colors that range from the palest of pink to hot pink to deep red, soft buttery yellow to dark lemon yellow,  pale mauve or lilac shades of purple to almost wine in color. No captions are necessary.

 

 

 

These storm clouds showed up suddenly today while I was out admiring, deadheading and photographing the roses…

 

 

I barely had time to get me and my camera in the house and close all the windows before the big black clouds burst and the rain came pouring down.  We did not get hail here, but friends and family just a few minutes north of me and an hour south did.