"Dirty Knees" newsletter





Classes  &  Workshops
"Dirty Knees" newsletter
Shop York Region
Our Garden Services
Who We Are
Articles & Tips
Drought Tolerant Gardens
Seedy thoughts




EmailEvelyn @



Some helpful articles scattered around the 40 or so pages here -

Coping with the 
dastardly Lily beetle.

Shrub Pruning Tips

Winter Garden Protection

Correct planting of 
new trees & shrubs

Increasing Drought Tolerance.

"Low"maintenance gardening?

Spring Early Summer High Summer Autumn Winter


I no longer send an email newsletter, but here's some from the past you may like to browse.


A Newsletter for
York Region Gardeners
May 2014

 Garden Possibilities Services

In this crazy busy month of the gardening season, I’ll have to make this a relatively short newsletter.  If it wasn’t for all the rain, I may not have gotten around to a May newsletter at all!  

As anyone who has ever attended my “Think Like a Plant” gardening lesson knows, this is the time of year I simply call “zoom zoom”!   Maximum green growth in the race for precious sunlight and maximum photosynthesis potential is the only thing on your plants’ mind in these opening days of their growing season.  They are growing so fast that from morning to evening of the same day there’s a visible difference in the perennial garden.  Was it really only a few weeks ago that the view out the window was solid mud brown?  Hard to believe!  

The dandelions have certainly been doing a lot of zoom zooming in this wet cool spring we’re having too!   I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many!  Spread some corn gluten in the lawn before all those dandelion flowers turn into thousands of dandelion seeds!  For up to 6 weeks, corn gluten will kill any seeds as they try to germinate. 

There’s so many “to-do’s” for this time of year that it’s hard to know where to start, but here are a few to keep your gardening hours productively filled –

“To-Do’s” for May  ~ Sedum Autumn Joy, at bloom time after receiving early summer tip pruning.

~ Sedum spectabile.  (Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’).  Prune off the top 2” of each stem. This will stimulate branching for fuller flowering and less flopping open later in the season.  (for a picture of the beautiful results of the tip pruning regimen, click here., or scroll down.)

~ Monarda didyma (Bee Balm).  If you have a large stand of tall Bee Balm, cut the front ˝ of the stems down by approx. 1/3.  This will stimulate branching to give the plant stand a more rounded look, and since the pruned stems will bloom later than the unpruned ones, you’ll prolong the bloom time of the patch.

~ Euphorbias of all types are in bloom now.  I love their chromeEuphorbia polychroma with Phlox and Sedum kamchatcum yellow flower cushion to partner with tulips at this time of year.  If they are left to drop seed though you’ll have a few too many seedling volunteers to weed out later in the season.  Euphorbia myrsinities (Donkey’s tail spurge), and Euphorbia polychroma (Cushion Spurge) in particular are prolific reseeders and many people avoid these plants for this reason, but they are very valuable plants for an all season design because of their other merits of good foliage colour and plant form.  To solve the reseeding problem, cut all the stems back, at least by half, after the best of the flowering is done later this month and before seed has a chance to ripen. Discard the trimmings in a yard waste bag rather than your compost bin.  New growth will quickly fill in for a lovely foliage contributor to your perennial garden design for the rest of the season.

~ Forget-me-nots are a delightful partner to so many other things comingA sea of Forget-me-nots just before pulling them out to make way for main season perennials.  up in the garden at this time of year, but too much of a good thing is just a season away if you let too much seed drop.  Forgets are biennials, which means each plant blooms only once.  They’ll appear again next year from seed that drops and grows the green phase only later in summer, to be the blooming plants for next spring.  This means that after the best of this year’s bloom phase is over, the entire plant can be just pulled out of the ground, roots ‘n all, given a gentle shake to drop a few seeds, and then the garden space can be given over to your summer perennials.  No need to suffer through the tail end of their blooming time when they stretch out and get mildewy – just yank them out once the best of the bloom is finished, or you’ll have too much seed dropping. 

~ The “secret” to a low-maintenance garden?  Any plant can become a “weed” if allowed to go to seed in your garden.  Making sure to deadhead or cut back plants down to basal foliage immediately after their blooms start to fade to prevent seed from ripening, is one of the biggest “secrets” to low maintenance gardening.  You’ll often get the bonus of a second blooming on many plants, but the main benefit to keeping your spring and early summer blooming plants trimmed and clean of faded blooms is to prevent excessive seed drop that leads to extra weeding and flopping plants later in the season. Along the same lines, it’s important to recognize that just one lonely weed that’s allowed to flower and drop seed guarantees that you’ll have many dozens more of the same weed later in the season.

~ Oriental Lilies and their arch enemy!  The hugely destructive LilyLily Beetle - a very destructive garden pest.  The attack oriental bulb lilies and other plants in the family.  Daylilies are a completely different family and are safe from the beetles harm. Beetle is busy mating and laying eggs right now.  Inspect your emerging plants daily and kill any you find.  Also inspect the back of the leaves for a bright orange line of eggs and wipe them away with a gloved hand.  Here’s a link to a detailed Lily Beetle battle plan on my web site.   

This long cool and wet spring is exactly what perennial plants love.  I sense in my capital “G” gardener’s bones that it’s a great gardening season ahead!  Happy 2011 gardening season, and remember to keep it fun - If a plant dies, don’t despair – now there’s room for that great new plant you had your eye on! 

Evelyn Wolf
                    Perennial Garden Consultant  





Gardening Quotes

This is the time of year I get lots of requests for tips on achieving the elusive “low maintenance” garden.  This month’s quote reveals the secret! 

"A callused palm and dirty fingernails precede a green thumb."
 Mike Garofalo 

That’s right – there’s no magic bullet!  A “low” maintenance garden comes with a bit of down-in-the-dirt elbow grease and dirty knees, guided by lots of common sense and advance planning.









A Newsletter for
York Region Gardeners
March 18th , 2011

Evelyn Wolf, Perennial Garden Consultant

This is the time of the garden season when weather forecast watching becomes a bit of an obsession in itself for avid gardeners.  Will winter come for a day or two again and frost bite emerging plants?  Will spring rush to summer’s warmth too quickly for a good Tulip show?   Here in Southern Ontario it’s very frustrating to make plans for a spring garden since “spring” is so different from one year to the next. 

At this point “They” are calling for a long cool spring.  While this sounds discouraging for cottagers, campers, and the winter hibernators among us (like me!), this is good news for gardens.  Long and cool is what all spring blooming plants need for a good long show.  (I planted tons of tulips last year and can’t wait to see how many the squirrels left for me!) 

In my own garden I love to include some plants that bloom in very early spring.  Seeing flower buds opening amid the last of the melting snow is more heartening for a winter weary gardener than any good weather forecast could be.  The last of the lingering snow cover in my garden just melted off yesterday to reveal Hellebore flower buds just days away from opening and the first few flowers opening on my Witchhazel ‘Diane’ in a rich deep red.   I like to think of these super early signs of flowers to come as Mother Nature declaring her superior weather forecasting skills – if She says it’s OK to start the growing season, then it must be spring! 

(Hellebore is the very earliest perennial to bloom – well worth their high price tag!  The snow melted earlier this week to expose buds, and I’m just a few days away from seeing blooms!)

Late March To-Do list –

 ~ try not to let spring fever get the better of you!   In the middle of March while watching early spring flowers come along, it’s hard to remember that we’re still a full 8 weeks away from our climate zone’s last frost date, and that it’s very likely we’ll still get lots of below zero nights.  (click here for a look at plants enduring a late May snowfall!  Very normal situation in our zone.)   Don’t uncover any broadleaved evergreens protected from winter damage with burlap or pine boughs yet – Rhododendrons for example.  Their flower buds are very sensitive to damage from late spring frosts in the intense sunshine of spring that is fooling them into blooming too early.

 ~ Start weeding!  The very definition of a “weed” is a plant that knows how to outwit more well-behaved plants by germinating seed extremely early, or are evergreen and ready to zoom into flower and drop seed before being bullied out by main season plants.  We haven’t even had a chance to dust off gardening tools for the new season yet before chickweed, for example, is blooming and dropping seed!   As soon as you can, get out there and dig up all the evergreen weeds you probably didn’t even notice were there last fall.  Easy to find at this time of year – they’re often the only thing in a garden that’s green!  Get them before they drop seed which may only be a couple of weeks from now.

~ make a plan for your lawn’s Corn Gluten application to prevent this year’s crop of weeds in your lawn.  Overwintered weed seeds will be germinating over the next few weeks and corn gluten will kill them before they have a chance to open and develop roots.  Overseeding with new grass seed in spring is also a good standard practice, but corn gluten will kill those seeds as they germinate too!  Corn gluten is effective at killing newly germinating seed of any kind, for up to 6 weeks.  These two good natural lawn care tasks should be well timed each spring for best results.  Either apply corn gluten now and wait 6 weeks before overseeding with grass seed, or spread the grass seed now and wait for at least 4 weeks to allow the grass seed to germinate and grow some roots before spreading corn gluten.  Once the new grass plants have put down some roots, corn gluten won’t harm them at all – in fact corn gluten is a natural source of nitrogen and will feed the developing grass plants.  Corn gluten used correctly is very effective - an all natural weed ‘n feed!  Getting the timing right though is important.  (To learn more about corn gluten and other effective natural lawn care methods, register for my April 4th class – EARTH FRIENDLY LAWN CARE.  Follow the link for information.)

                                     Happy Spring!

                                               Evelyn Wolf




Gardener's Quote
for March '11

 "It's spring fever.
That is what the name of it is.  And when you've got it, you want … oh, you don't quite know what it is you want … but it
just fairly makes
your heart ache, you want it so!" 

Mark Twain






A Look on the Bright Side of -  Dandelions
This spring, when digging up the mature roots that overwintered, here’s a great way to see these tenacious weeds in a brighter light!  Not necessarily the best tasting brew, but a tea made from dandelion roots is full of strength building and liver cleansing, vitamins and minerals.  Very gently simmer 2 tbsp of chopped fresh root in 2 cups of water for 10 minutes, strain, and drink hot or cold. Add a bit of honey if you like.  A great spring pick-me-up that’s full of the vibrancy of spring!   You can also dry and roast them for future use.









Home | Classes  &  Workshops | "Dirty Knees" newsletter | Shop York Region | Our Garden Services | Who We Are | Articles & Tips | Drought Tolerant Gardens | Seedy thoughts

consultations - design & planting - expert shrub pruning - garden maintenance - workshops and classes. 
Over 25 years experience designing, creating, maintaining, teaching and writing about, perennial plants and gardens!

Garden Possibilities.  Your Perennial Garden Expert.  Serving gardens and gardeners from Georgina and Newmarket to King City. Email:   Evelyn@GardenPossibilities.com  (copy / paste)

GARDEN POSSIBILITIES  Perennial Garden Services
Evelyn Wolf, garden consultant,  905 478-7395 or cell 289-716-1408
                               your perennial garden expert

20507 Leslie St.  (NE corner of Leslie & Queensville Sdrd.  By appt. only please.).   
Queensville (East Gwillimbury), Ontario, L0G 1R0  

All photos and articles © Evelyn Wolf, 2019.  Please email for permission to use.