Articles

WHAT IS A WEATHER RESILIENT GARDEN?
The Webster dictionary describes resiliency as the act of rebounding; that is compressed and then allowed to resume its former shape; hum, resiliency in the garden would be wonderful with the severe and damaging weather we have had over the last few years.

But I like the Greek word praus (pronounced PRAH-os) a term that is usually used to describe people. The word has two meanings; gentleness, as in a gentle breeze and;  to have unbending power or strength of steel. So, the term praus, means to be gentle, but also resilient and strong.  A weather resilient garden with its’ beautiful inviting appearance of plants, soil, hardscape and design also has a strength that resists and endures the severe damaging weather that can visit every garden.

The first step is to get to know your garden, I have met gardeners who have owned a garden for many years and do not really see it. Many of us have tunnel vision, focusing intently on something, but missing how that thing fits into everything else. So take a piece of paper and pencil and go out into the garden and really look at it. As you wonder around, notice which way the wind blows? When it does, what does it hit, what is sheltered, what is not? Ask these questions for all the different types of weather that can cause problems, heat, humidity, cold, ice and snow, flooding, drought, fire, hail or lightning. Note all this on the paper and what is most problematic for you.

Now we can approach the problems in the garden that need attention and prioritize those problems. The windy area might need a windbreak, but if nothing is planted in the area, there is not a pressing need. But if there are plants such as hollyhocks or delphiniums then the windbreak jumps to the head of the list.

There can be many variables to some problems. For example if the windy area is lower, the soil will hold the moisture longer, making it a great place to grow plants that like their feet wet. But you may also discover that the lower area receives frost before other areas in the garden. Now the plants you need must be resilient to both of these conditions. When looking for plants you must consider how the plant grows under different types of stress and which ones will thrive in the conditions of your garden as well as looking at their colour, shape and form.

A weather resilient garden is more than a collection of tough plants that can tolerate a wide range of damaging conditions. It also depends on such elements as soil, overall climate, microclimates, topography and the amount of rainfall. Together they influence the health and strength of any garden plant as well as its’ own vigor and strength to the severe weather that it may encounter.

Once your garden can survive weather extremes gardening is that much more rewarding and fun.

Reference: The Weather-Resilient Garden                              
 By Charles W. G. Smith

TOP TEN HUMMINGBIRD PLANTS FOR NORTHERN GARDENS
Weigela – One of the longest blooming shrubs with the main flush of blooms lasting 6 weeks with sporadic flowers all summer. Plant in full sun to partial shade in fertile, well drained soil. (Shrub)

Lonicera sempervirens – Coral or Trumpet Honeysuckle grows in full sun to partial shade. The vine prefers a moist, humus-rich soil. (Vine)

Monarda didyma – Bee Balm will grow in full sun to partial sun. They prefer a moist, rich soil and full sun, but will tolerate drier conditions (Perennial)

Campsis radicans – Trumpet Vine. These heat-tolerant plants will grow in full sun, partial shade or light shade but flowers best in full sun. Any soil is fine. (Vine)

Lobelia cardinalis – Cardinal Flower likes a rich moist, well-drained soil alongside streams and ponds. Full sun to partial shade is fine. (Perennial)

Lathyrus latifoluis - Perennial Sweet Pea is a favorite in my garden. Prefers full sun, but I have it on the north side of a wooden fence. (Vine)

Salvia – All plants prefer full sun but will tolerate light shade. The soil should be moist and well drained with lots of organic matter. (Annual)

Cana – These plants like lots of sun and are not fussy about soil conditions, but moist, well drained will produce the tallest plants. (Annual)

Fuchsia – Fuchsias are grown in partial or light shade. They are not tolerant of summer heat so full sun can be too hot for them. The hummingbirds prefer the long tubular shape flowers such as ‘Deep Purple’ (Annual)

Calibrachoa ‘Trailing Pink’ - Million Bells prefer full sun to partial shade, and are fairly drought resistant, blooming well into fall. (Annual)

Hummingbirds prefer flowers that are red or orange and are tubular in shape, but they will visit flowers that are purple and mauve. Since the small insects that visit these flowers are as important to hummingbirds as nectar, be sure to avoid the use of pesticides in your garden.

To entice hummingbirds to nest in the garden, provide a diversity of leafy trees and large shrubs; they have been known to nest in ironweed, beech, yellow birch and maples among other species. You can provide nesting material by planting fireweed, milkweed, thistle and other down producing plants.

I hope planting some of these plants will entice a hummingbird to visit or nest in your garden.


SPRING CLEAN UP
With the cold weather behind us there is no point pretending that you are not anxious to be out in your garden the first warm day that spring has to offer. A good spring cleanup will have your plants primed for success and their surroundings will be a beautiful testament to your love of gardening. While there is no harm in cleaning up fallen branches and debris around your yard, it is wise to be patient before actually touching the gardens. Wait until the soil can be worked and the lawn is dry enough to walk on.

Spring clean up is a great time to get reacquainted with the garden. Evaluate and record successes and failures, not to mention the few unfortunate losses that may have occurred during the winter months, allowing you to try something new and different. Keeping a simple record will provide a great resource for seasons to come.

Next assess the perennials. Now is the perfect time to divide those overgrown perennials and decide if they can be used elsewhere in your gardens. This is also a good time to add a layer of compost around perennials and shrubs – but never over the crowns - as the nutrients in the compost will be slowly released, giving your plants a steady supply of food. Trim perennials to a few inches above the ground and if you have not done so already, last year’s annuals can be disposed of or composted.

Weeding is easier in early spring, so pull those weeds now before they have a chance to take hold and go to seed. Of course, weeding time can also present a bit of a dilemma. Last year you likely planted several new types of plants and now you have no idea what they look like as infants. Is this small green plant friend or foe? If you’re unsure, the best solution is to wait and see. And don’t worry, there’s plenty more to occupy your time.

Spring clean up is a good time to put a sharp clean edge between flower beds and lawn. The ground is still moist from the spring thaw making it easier to work. Using an edger –a half moon shaped, long handle shovel – dig a shallow trough a couple of inches wide along the length of the garden. Don’t forget to inspect fences, garden structures and house foundations for repairs before your beautiful plants are up and growing.

A thorough spring clean up will take some time on your part but is well worth the effort and will put your planting and garden beds in great shape for the entire growing season. Even gardeners lead busy lives so please remember that gardening in the spring should be pleasurable and these tasks do not need to be accomplished all in one day. But if you do attempt a marathon cleanup may I suggest a nice hot bath with Epsom salts to ease those aching muscles?

BULBS FOR THE SUMMER GARDEN
Bulbs are not for the spring garden alone, there is a vast selection of fascinating bulbs that bloom during our Canadian summer. The term bulb loosely covers a range of plants with enlarged, underground storage systems that enable them to survive a dormant season. True bulbs, corms, tubers, tuberous roots and rhizomes are included in this group.

In general, summer flowering bulbs grow taller than their spring counterparts, mixing well with early flowering perennials and shrubs in the middle or back of the border. These bulbs require moisture to develop vegetation and flowers, whereas spring bulbs need dry summer weather for ripening.

Summer bulbs are divided into two distinct groups: bulbs that are hardy in our climate and tender bulbs that do not over winter here. The hardy group includes Allium, Iris (Tall Bearded), Peony, Lily, Daylily, Gloxinia, Cyclamen and Liatrus. The tender bulb group includes Amaryllis, Agapanthus, Galtonia (Summer hyacinth), Gladiolus, Ixia, Caladium, Tuberous begonis, Dahlia, Gloriosa, Calla and Canna.

Alliums, Iris, Lilies and Liatrus can be dug and divided from late summer to early fall when blooming has finished, although new purchases are available in the spring. Bearded Iris can be divided every three to five years from July to August, discard older, central and diseased portions and replant the younger sections.

The Peony, a long lived perennial, should be allowed to die down in the fall, then dig and divide, use divisions with three to five eyes and never plant deeper than 2.5 cm below the soil surface.

Often included in the herbaceous perennial classification, the Daylily has a tuberous type root and is probably the longest living perennial of all. They tolerance dry conditions, making them a natural as a ground cover in droughty situations.

Tender summer bulbs will not tolerate frost and must be treated differently. Their planting is delayed until the danger of frost is over. Many gardeners will start these bulbs in pots, where there is good light and a frost free location. When the temperature is consistently above 10 degrees they can be taken out of the pot and placed in their final location.

Begonias and Dahlias prefer cooler, moister conditions. Begonias, Caladium and Amaryllis will successfully grow in partial sun to full shade, Dahlias and Callas prefer partial sun. The newer dwarf cultivars of Dahlias, as well as Galtonia, Agapanthus and Glorisosa will tolerate more sunlight.

Sun lovers like Cannas, thrive in full sun and often provide a foliage contrast loved by foliage enthusiasts. Gladiolus will withstand hot, dry location and grow best in sandy, well drained soils, provided moisture and nutrients are available during the growth period. Plant gladiolus when native trees leaf out.

In the fall, after the first killing frost has blackened their foliage, dig tender bulbs, remove the soil and allow them to dry in the sun for a few hours. Store them in a frost free, cool area over winter. Gladiolus corms are stored somewhat differently, dig them on a dry day, remove stems and allow them to thoroughly dry in the sun. Place them in flats with wire mesh bottoms to allow adequate air circulation and to keep the corms dry.

Tender summer bulbs make great potted perennials. Grown in pots they can be brought, pot and all, indoors for their winter rest. Given fresh soil each spring, sun, the occasional feeding and watering, they can last for many years.

There are not many plants you can put in your garden that are as easy to grow as summer flowering bulbs and not many will continue to perform so reliably for such a long time. Why not try some in the garden this year.

Bulbs are not for the spring garden alone, there is a vast selection of fascinating bulbs that bloom during our Canadian summer. The term bulb loosely covers a range of plants with enlarged, underground storage systems that enable them to survive a dormant season. True bulbs, corms, tubers, tuberous roots and rhizomes are included in this group.

In general, summer flowering bulbs grow taller than their spring counterparts, mixing well with early flowering perennials and shrubs in the middle or back of the border. These bulbs require moisture to develop vegetation and flowers, whereas spring bulbs need dry summer weather for ripening.

Summer bulbs are divided into two distinct groups: bulbs that are hardy in our climate and tender bulbs that do not over winter here. The hardy group includes Allium, Iris (Tall Bearded), Peony, Lily, Daylily, Gloxinia, Cyclamen and Liatrus. The tender bulb group includes Amaryllis, Agapanthus, Galtonia (Summer hyacinth), Gladiolus, Ixia, Caladium, Tuberous begonis, Dahlia, Gloriosa, Calla and Canna.

Alliums, Iris, Lilies and Liatrus can be dug and divided from late summer to early fall when blooming has finished, although new purchases are available in the spring. Bearded Iris can be divided every three to five years from July to August, discard older, central and diseased portions and replant the younger sections.

The Peony, a long lived perennial, should be allowed to die down in the fall, then dig and divide, use divisions with three to five eyes and never plant deeper than 2.5 cm below the soil surface.

Often included in the herbaceous perennial classification, the Daylily has a tuberous type root and is probably the longest living perennial of all. They tolerance dry conditions, making them a natural as a ground cover in droughty situations.

Tender summer bulbs will not tolerate frost and must be treated differently. Their planting is delayed until the danger of frost is over. Many gardeners will start these bulbs in pots, where there is good light and a frost free location. When the temperature is consistently above 10 degrees they can be taken out of the pot and placed in their final location.

Begonias and Dahlias prefer cooler, moister conditions. Begonias, Caladium and Amaryllis will successfully grow in partial sun to full shade, Dahlias and Callas prefer partial sun. The newer dwarf cultivars of Dahlias, as well as Galtonia, Agapanthus and Glorisosa will tolerate more sunlight.

Sun lovers like Cannas, thrive in full sun and often provide a foliage contrast loved by foliage enthusiasts. Gladiolus will withstand hot, dry location and grow best in sandy, well drained soils, provided moisture and nutrients are available during the growth period. Plant gladiolus when native trees leaf out.

In the fall, after the first killing frost has blackened their foliage, dig tender bulbs, remove the soil and allow them to dry in the sun for a few hours. Store them in a frost free, cool area over winter. Gladiolus corms are stored somewhat differently, dig them on a dry day, remove stems and allow them to thoroughly dry in the sun. Place them in flats with wire mesh bottoms to allow adequate air circulation and to keep the corms dry.

Tender summer bulbs make great potted perennials. Grown in pots they can be brought, pot and all, indoors for their winter rest. Given fresh soil each spring, sun, the occasional feeding and watering, they can last for many years.

There are not many plants you can put in your garden that are as easy to grow as summer flowering bulbs and not many will continue to perform so reliably for such a long time. Why not try some in the garden this year.

CONTAINER TIPS
Imagine a garden, terrace, patio or deck without containers. A number of them strategically located can provide design solutions within various spaces in the garden. But they can require maintenance, so here are a few tips to maximize your enjoyment while minimizing the care.


Clean pots well with dish soap and hot water to deter disease. Then sterilize them with a mixture of two parts white vinegar and one part water. Or sterilize with a 10 percent bleach solution.

Water the soil, not the plant. Many plants especially those with fuzzy leaves, resent having their foliage wet so water the soil directly also check the moisture level daily, at the pot’s edges and near the center.

In summer, water everyday. Let the water soak in till it drains, and then refill the pot. If a dry plant wilts, immerse the entire pot in tepid water until no air bubbles appear, then place the pot in a shady spot until the plant revives. In spring and fall, let plants nearly dry out before watering again.

Ensure good drainage, to prevent roots from rotting:

- Use an electric drill with a masonry bit to make more drainage holes

- Avoid placing outdoor containers in sauces because stagnant water encourages pests and promotes root rot

Adding mulch, such as cedar bark chips, moss or washed pebbles to the soil surface, helps to retain moisture, keeping roots cool and prevents splashing of foliage while watering.

Lush, dramatic displays can be made using large pots. They need less water and allow for more root growth. Placing the pots on dollies allows for easy movement around the garden. Arrange then into focal points by placing pots where several sight lines or pathways converge, drawing the eye forward and encouraging a stroll into the garden.

Give plants air circulation by arranging pots with at least two inches between them and into groups. When arranged in this fashion, the moisture in the soil is more constant.

Fertilize, after watering, early in the morning every 7 to 10 days during the growing season. To intensify bloom and fragrance, use a solution of ½ cup of Epsom salts per gallon of tepid water once a month. A 22-inch diameter pot needs 1 quart of this mixture.

Deadhead and prune by trimming excess growth and prune diseased, dead or weak growth. Daily removing faded blooms will encourage more flowers, just cut or pinch below the faded bloom.

Containers placed in the garden add height or color where these elements could be missing. This allows for versatility, enabling you to switch pots in and out of the beds thereby changing the mood of the garden by manipulating small vignettes at a moments notice.