Dog strangling vine prevalent in Kanata, Ontario

This dog strangling vine is one of the vines I was telling you about in a recent post that are very invasive, but also dangerous…

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I have seen lots of these vines in my fall cleanups of gardens here in Kanata, Ontario.  The leaves of the dog strangling vine are unremarkable, blending in with others in your gardens.  The seed pods are more distinctive; they look like yellow string beans, making it easy to recognize the vine this time of year.  If you encounter this vine in your gardens, pull out the vine by the roots before the seed pods burst spreading seeds everywhere.  Be sure to discard the vine, its roots and seed pods into your yard waste; do not add them to your compost bin.

I haven’t seen or heard of this vine strangling any dogs, but I have seen it strangle the life out of a fully mature tree, so beware!

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Include vines in your gardens for colourful vertical drama

Vines make wonderful additions to gardens, providing colourful 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 five

These are my favourites for this week…

Traditional perennials: hostas

hostas are great at the front of a border or bed and thrive in deep shade through part sun.  Most hostas prefer shade, but those with yellow leaves or fragrant flowers prefer more sun.  They come in many colours and sizes these days from miniature to huge.  If you do plant the large ones, be sure to give them lots of space as they do not look their best when crowded.

Modern perennials:  geraniums, not the red annual type your grandmother planted, but the perennial variety

Perennial geraniums also look great at the front of borders or beds.  They tolerate shade and part sun.  I love them because they are the first to green up in the spring, offer some colour with the blooms, but look great even when not in bloom.  They come in many colors and sizes.  Some of the larger ones can tend to be floppy, so I stick to the smaller ones.

Shrubs: Black Lace Elderberry

The deep wine colour of Black Lace Elderberries look wonderful mixed with all of the shades of green in your gardens.  They die down to the ground each winter in my area, and are often slow to come back in the spring, but can grow to heights of six feet or more. This spring was so late and the winter so cold, I thought my black lace had died.  Thankfully I decided to give it another week, and sure enough, one week later it was one foot tall!  The pale pink flowers are pretty but I consider them a bonus as they don’t last long.  The dark coloured lacy foliage is the reason I love this shrub.  This season it is a great backdrop for my lily trees featured in the third picture.

Vines:  Silver Lace

Although the Silver Lace vine blooms in the fall and so not blooming this week, I am always suggesting it to my clients.  It is quick growing, covering any structure very fast with white lace like flowers, a beautiful sight in September through November.  Unfortunately I lost mine this past winter due to the severe cold weather we experienced.  It is only hardy to zone 5 which is pushing the envelope for my Ottawa garden.

Annuals: Coleus

Coleus are great for filling in blank spots and contributing splashes of colour in shady spots of your gardens.  I never used to like them, but after seeing them tucked in among perennials in a client’s garden, I’ve changed my mind and added some to my own gardens this year.  Coleus come in many combinations and shades of pink, red and green; all make vibrant additions to a garden or container.

Stay tuned for next week’s choices…

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…

 

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…

Plants of the week from Gardens4u

One of the best things about working in other people’s gardens is that I get to admire many different plants.  Many times I take time to snap a few pictures of my favourites, so I thought I would share them with you…

traditional perennials:  peonies

peonies come in white and many shades of pink, with single or double blossoms.  They are beautiful in bloom, but get pummelled by rain,  turning them into a soggy mess, so often we only get to enjoy their beauty for a short period.

modern perennials:  salvia

Salvias come in pink and all shades of purple.  My favourite is called purple rain (third picture)  Planted in a large group it makes an impressive statement in your garden.  Both pink and purple varieties contrast well with bright green or chartreuse foliage like the golden elderberry in the second picture.

shrubs:  ninebarks

Ninebarks make striking shrubs at the back of a border, in a row for a unique hedge, or planted in a container.  They too come in many varieties, with foliage ranging from golden green to a deep wine color. Some have small pom-pom like, pale pink or white flowers.  If you plant one in a container, be sure to choose one two zones lower than what is hardy in your garden.

vines:  golden hops

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Vines make great privacy screens.  Many are fast growing, able to cover a bare spot on your fence in just one season.  The golden hops vine dies back to the ground each winter, but quickly greens up in the spring to a bright chartreuse green color, a perfect background for other plantings.  It is self adhesive, not requiring any staking or tying, but it can be invasive.  Simply pull out new shoots from areas you do not want them to spread to.

Those are my favourites this week, stay tuned for next week’s selections and more…