Cranesbills, now more commonly referred to by their genus name Geranium, have played an important, albeit supporting, role in my gardens for many years. There are a huge number of perennial geranium species and cultivars — short or tall, compact or sprawling, for sun or shade, native or non-native, groundcover or specimen plant, adamant about good drainage or tolerant of heavy clay, etc.
I’ve declared Spiraea thunbergii ‘Fujino Pink’ to be my favourite spirea at one point, but I’ve changed my mind; Glow Girl birchleaf spirea (S. betulifolia Glow Girl) is my new favourite.
To grow healthy rhododendrons, location is key. They need some sun and don’t do well in exposed locations (winter winds desiccate the foliage and kill flower buds). I have two rosy red blooms on ‘Haaga’, a University of Helsinki hybrid I planted two years ago, and I’m thrilled.
May and June are prime time to shop for vegetables and annuals, because nurseries are well-stocked with these seasonal offerings. Here are some annuals I’ll be trying in containers this year.
I have a couple of formally clipped myrtle standards in terra-cotta pots I’ve had for a few years. They started as small plants, and have been pruned and repotted as needed; they spend winters indoors in a sunny window. Currently, I’m in the process of hardening them off so they can summer outdoors.
Many seeds stay viable for a year or more, especially with careful storage. (Protect them from moisture, heat and light.) If you’re wondering if some of last year’s — or older — seeds are still viable, here’s how to test them.
Early spring is arguably the best time to renovate a lawn. Fresh lawn seed is available, temperatures are cool and you can usually count on spring showers to help germination. Early fall is the next best time.
After nearly 20 years of letting things be in our lawn, we decided early last spring to give the lawn a makeover. Early spring, when temperatures are cool and rain is expected, is an excellent time to renovate turfgrass. Fall is good, too. Summer is not recommended.
Before the leaf canopy fully opens to shade the forest floor in woodland gardens, perennial spring ephemerals put on their show of delicate blooms. They’re called “ephemeral” because their presence above ground is fleeting — they bloom quickly, produce seed and then disappear, leaving only their roots to carry on underground.
It was the 1990s when kale began its meteoric rise from merely a decorative annual used in fall containers to a nurient-rich superfood with recipes for kale chips, smoothies, salads and stir-fries everywhere. Kale continues to be popular, and fortunately it’s an easy crop.
Small early bulbs — crocus, species tulips, puschkinia and others — in bloom are an encouraging sight for they are the opening hinting at for the bigger bulb show to come. They’re also the easiest of the fall-planted bulbs to incorporate into a garden because of their small size; they can be tucked in almost anywhere there’s a square inch of bare soil.
Starting a new garden from scratch can be intimidating. First piece of advice: go slow. Here are tips on how to prioritize your decision making when creating your dream garden from scratch.
Whether you’re starting a new garden or renovating an overgrown mix of plants, some advance planning and soil preparation as well as careful plant selection will help you create a cohesive picture with well-chosen and sited perennials, trees and shrubs.
If you celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by purchasing a shamrock plant (Oxalis regnelli), here’s suggestions how to keep it thriving, as well as describing several varieties to look for to grow outdoors, either as a pretty edging in the garden or as a container plant.
Purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) and their cultivars are exceedingly popular perennials. They’re easy to grow, relatively hardy, pest-free, drought-tolerant and provide a source of nectar and pollen for insects.
I’m a sucker for variegated foliage, so much so that I need to stop myself from adding more fancy patterned leaves to the garden to avoid creating a muddled mess. One of my current favourites is a rex begonia (Begonia rex).
Rex begonia (Rex begonia) foliage comes in all sorts of whirly patterns and shapes; some leaves are variegated, highly textured or wavy. They make wonderful container plants in the shade and can be wintered over indoors in front of a sunny window.
Having a few small pots of flowering plants in the house is a mood brightener. Cheerful primroses (Primula vulgaris), readily available at most grocery stores and florists at this time of year, are an inexpensive treat. They may not bloom as long as other flowering plants indoors, but they can be saved and planted out in the garden later in spring.
As winter drags on, older gardening books can be inspirational and offer a valuable link to our gardening past, such as one of Canada’s early gardening books, Canadian Wild Flowers, written by Catharine Parr Traill and illustrated by her niece Agnes Dunbar FitzGibbon.
Richly fragrant winter daphne (Daphne mezereum) are native to China and Japan with clusters of small lilac or white flowers. They make a wonderful specimen plant (meaning just one will make an impact) next to a path or near the front door where their scent can be appreciated.