Tips for planning a perennial border

Beckie Fox

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perennial garden border

Whether you’re starting a new garden or renovating an overgrown mix of plants, Six steps to a beautiful perennial border will help you create a cohesive picture with well-chosen and sited perennials, trees and shrubs. I’ve made (and remade) several perennial borders over the years and I’m still learning.

For example, this year I’m renovating a bed that’s now in far more shade than it was when first planted more than 12 years ago. Last year, the peonies were moved up to the front edge for more light and the self-seeding spring vetchling (Lathyrus vernus) and columbines (Aquilegia cvs.) were thinned out. The bed is relatively narrow, which means choosing spire-shaped perennials rather than mounding plants will offer more impact. Time to make lists.

Perennial border
Perennial borders benefit from a mix of plant textures, heights and shapes.

Early days for garden cleanup

We’ve enjoyed several days of unseasonably warm days this March, but I’ve resisted cleaning up the garden other than dislodging thick mats of leaves resting on top of emerging bulbs, removing twigs from the lawn and arranging empty pots on the patio. Rushing the season could mean exposing native bees and other insects now at rest in the leaf litter to fluctuating temperatures, possibly snow. Birds use small twigs and stems for nest building, too. Usually, the soil is quite soggy in early spring (not this year, though), and walking on it only compacts it.

However, “Early spring garden cleanup” shares some advice on what can be done in the garden in a few weeks’ time and how to put to use all that goodness you rake up.

Year of the garden in 2022

The Canadian Garden Council has proclaimed 2022 will be the year of the garden to honour both the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association and to acknowledge how gardens and gardening have helped us face the challenges of the pandemic and feel optimistic about the future.

Planning is underway for the year-long celebration, which will include planting more school gardens, ways to learn more about the First Nations’ garden traditions, and special events at botanical and public gardens across the county.

The council is also seeking nominations for community garden heroes; people who have inspired a love of gardening or lead volunteers in planting gardens.

For more information about next year’s celebration, visit Gardens Canada/Jardins du Canada.

Brussels sprouts 2.0

I’ve never grown brussels sprouts, but do enjoy eating them these days. I couldn’t abide them as a child, and later figured the prolonged boiling of them by mother was to blame. In fact, today’s sprouts likely taste better because of recent breeding efforts rather than improved sprout recipes.

In the 1990s, Dutch scientists began crossing varieties found to have lower levels of glucosinolates (the compound that gives them their bitterness) with high-yielding, disease-resistant varieties to create today’s modern cultivars that produce less bitter sprouts.

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