Our Garden Services
Who We Are
Shop York Region
"Dirty Knees" newsletter
Classes & Workshops
Articles & Tips
Drought Tolerant Gardens
Designing with Perennials
Email anytime for more
information on our services and gardening classes -
Evelyn @ GardenPossibilities. com
Some helpful articles to explore -
Coping with the
dastardly Lily beetle.
Shrub Pruning Tips
Black Walnut allelopathy
and the toxin, Juglone
Winter Garden Protection
Correct planting of
new trees & shrubs
Increasing Drought Tolerance.
classes and workshops with a difference!
teaching not just the when and how, but WHY.
is an endlessly
rewarding craft that brings together old and
young, rich and poor,
philosopher and farmer,
old world and new. Few leisure pursuits bridge as many
divides or has the potential for richer pleasures.
A gardener's education never ends - there are new
curiosities and creative possibilities to
explore with every turn of the season and year.
The gardening lessons I've developed have the
goal of helping gardeners integrate the art of garden design
with the science at work in the plants
and the soil that supports them, without
forgetting that gardening can be - and should be
tons of inspiring and creative fun, not "work"!
Using a common-sense, creative, and no-dummies approach, I strive to help gardeners finish each lesson
with a "now-I-get-it" moment that leads to
confident practical decisions and inspired design
ideas to take home to their own garden.
The underlying fact that even the smallest garden
should be a private playground, where
endless creative possibilities and natural
curiosities can be explored in real time, is the overall spirit of
my gardening philosophy and guides all of my
Gardening isn't just about an
end goal, but
is an on-going process
feeds the creative spirit,
- engages a
curious mind, -
and nurtures the soul.
possibilities and rewards are endless!
Join us for
Gardening classes since 1995, where my passion for
plants, gardens, and the joy they can bring to
our lives is always evident.
2018 dates for our
Perennial Gardening Essentials course,
"THINK LIKE A PLANT!"
(Dates Times Cost)
covering all the
essentials for garden success.
classes take place at our display garden in
Queensville (East Gwillimbury),
on the corner of Leslie St & Queensville Sdrd,
just north of Newmarket.
COURSES integrated series
2½ hr lessons
combining - instruction, discussion, demos, slide show, outdoor hands-on
experience when possible, and detailed lesson notes to take home.
Maximum 8 participants. Course run in late winter / early spring, before
the active gardening season.
In-depth 3 hr demonstrations and lesson focused on hands-on
learning, with detailed take-home notes . Maximum 6 participants.
Workshops run through the active gardening season May to Oct, outdoors,
at my display garden in Queensville, just North of Newmarket.
to inquire about customized lessons or seminars geared to landscape crew
training, email anytime.
a series of integrated 2½
hr lessons combining - instruction, discussion, demos, and slide show,
plus a detailed printed lesson handout to take
home. Lessons are designed to build on each other rather than stand alone.
The result is a more in-depth learning experience that ties together the
many elements constantly working together for a happy healthy
garden and gardener.
Perennial Gardening Essentials or "THINK LIKE A
A comprehensive course on Perennial and Shrub
gardening that will have you gardening with
lesson course. Feb - Apr 2018 $360.00
(15% off for early
registration ends Feb 14th 2018)
Gardening involves thousands of details
and choices, but there are basic rules in the natural world which everything follows from. This course covers
these essentials thoroughly, with an entire lesson devoted to each important
topic, and lots of out-in-the-garden
is our comprehensive course we've been
running for many years that takes participants
from soil preparation to garden design through
an integrated series of lessons, complete with
hand out notes and follow up. FULL
GET GROWING! Gardening
Basics for complete beginners.
3 lesson course.
If you're a complete newcomer to gardening, perennial
garden plants, and the language of gardening,
you may find our main Essentials course just too
follow. By popular demand, we've now
developed a beginner's
course to get you started down the exciting and
creative path of gardening with perennials. The cost of the course
will be quickly recouped by avoiding even just one of the many
common beginner's mistakes.
SUMMER MAINTENANCE CREW
CRASH COURSE TRAINING.
3 lesson course. (time and
dates customized to suit, and can take place at
my location or yours. Price negotiated.). Similar
to my course "Gardening for Beginners" above, but focusing less on
learning the horticultural details and more on general
rules of thumb on what to
do when, and the general essentials of garden care. The emphasis is on learning about
the different types of plants and how/where/when to
- pinch for fullness and height control; deadhead
for continuing bloom; basics of correct shrub
pruning; types of mulch and applying correctly; identifying
different types of weeds and which ones pose the worst
control problems; when and if fertilizer is
needed; etc. The focus will be on learning
the basic how-to skills necessary to care for a mixed
perennial and shrub garden with some annuals and
THE FRONT LAWN
3 week course.
Keeping a nice lawn means engaging in a costly, tedious,
and environmentally un-friendly battle with grubs,
fertilizers, lawnmowers, noise, and a weekly maintenance
Why not reduce or eliminate that high cost
green carpet and catch the popular wave of establishing
a full front garden instead!
Think outside the garden box and learn
how to apply basic design rules and how to prepare a
garden that's lower-maintenance with lower water needs. In step-by-step lessons
we’ll first showcase the many possibilities through a slide show and
deconstruction of different looks and styles; review some of the
reasons a full front garden is a desirable option over turf; and
cover all the practical matters of creating your full front
yard garden such as soil & site analysis, bed preparation, design
rules to follow, planning for
reduced water needs, low-maintenance / low water plant choices, etc. -
all with earth friendly methods as a focus.
This short course is
the first step down the path of a garden that virtually looks after
itself in comparison to turf!
lessons & hands-on learning, with demos & take home notes - your
location or ours. Designed for a maximum of 6 participants.
These run outdoors through the active gardening season at our display
garden in Queensville.
(Dates not set yet for summer 2018)
& Young Tree Pruning.
3hr slide show / demo / hands-on.
to prune completely depends on why you’re
pruning, and why you’re pruning leads to when
All these how’s, why’s and when’s are
covered in this essential workshop.
One of the true arts of gardening, correct
pruning is a rewarding and creative investment in time with
results that can't be bought at any price -
beautiful, healthy, mature
plants strutting their very best stuff.
Pruning is probably the most misunderstood, and
usually incorrectly executed garden task.
The haircut trim that all too often passes
for pruning is exactly the wrong way to prune
and leads to weak, twiggy, non-flowering, plants
with “bare legs”, and often a long slow diseased
death. AND, For most shrubs the
traditional fall timing of this haircut trim is
exactly the worst time for any pruning -
correctly done or not! The “haircut” is literally plant
Through hands-on demos and a 24pg lesson
manual, you’ll learn how to prevent structural
tree defects, maintain a shrub's blooming power,
rejuvenate an old hedge, maintain a large plant
at a small size, or even create your own
topiary or outdoor bonsai.
Creating GREAT PLANT COMBINATIONS
partnerships for fabulous all
season interest and a "wow" factor whether plants are in bloom or not.
3hr slide show / demo / hands-on.
The huge assortment of plants available today is
overwhelming and it's easy to end up with a cluttered mess
instead of the beautiful spring-to-fall garden you
envisioned. Designing a planting that has
something of interest happening in all seasons, including
winter, while balancing your favourite's list and your site
conditions, can be a brain numbing exercise, but there's
a formula to follow that will help you to create
partnerships that work.
In this workshop you'll learn how to think of your plants in
complimentary partnerships through
a hands-on mix 'n match demo, a slide show of plant combinations that work well,
and a fun bit of audience participation! Most importantly, you'll learn WHY
particular partnerships work so you can duplicate
the ideas using your own favourite plants, in
your own sun/shade, dry/wet, clay/sand, site conditions
by applying a few rules.
After an initial design theory lesson and slide show of
the many possibilities,
we'll get out into the garden and put into action
the learned rules of thumb and create complimentary
groups using potted perennials. I'll have a wide assortment of plants
on hand for each participant to join in and put the
learned design rules into a practical exercise. We'll then
critique each, and learn together just how widely
these plant partnership rules can stretch. Should be
tons of fun!
Space is always limited to 6 people
and "first come, first served" is the operating rule!
Email to get on the list for the 2018
run of these workshops.
Rules of Thumb for
A WELL DESIGNED
This workshop will give you the creative tools for
outside the box thinking to apply to the development of
your own unique landscape design and garden beds.
We’ll go step-by-step through the process of learning,
and then applying, some fundamental rules that go into
the creation of a landscape that comes together as a unified whole
instead of individual attractive elements. Through a slide show and
themes and styles we’ll talk about each element that
goes into the planning of
any good design and see how it was applied, then “create” a
garden design plan of your own.
How to go about sketching a rough plan and
understanding the role of mass, balance,
hardscape choices; and more.
Bring your pictures and basic yard measurements
to use in a hands-on landscape design exercise as we
work together on applying design rules to shape and
expand on your own ideas and
LIFTING & DIVIDING
3hr, hands-on demo, with lots of take home starter bits!
Whether you’re rejuvenating an old Iris or simply want to
multiply favourite plants to spread around a larger area or
share with friends, dividing perennials gives them renewed vigor and is an inexpensive way to expand your garden.
this workshop we’ll go through an overview of the different
types of root systems and where to look for new growth
points, how to determine the best timing for
particular plants, and a hands-on demonstrations of
different perennials to show exactly what you’re looking for
when dividing their roots. You’d be amazed at just how many
divisions can be made from just one overgrown patch of
daylily, hosta, coral bell, Iris, Dahlia, or ornamental
grass! You’ll take home dozens of new starter sized plants from the plant
divisions I'll be creating in the demonstrations, and
gain the know-how you need to create hundreds of dollars
worth of new plants from the ones you already have.
a 3 hour workshop
. Most garden problems are rooted
in incorrect soil preparation, neglected soil
health, or lack of attention to the effects of many
garden products we routinely apply. Learn more about the fascinating
world that is life underground in your garden, and how to maintain soil health
in both the short and long term.
approaches to starting a new bed;
different mulches and when to choose which;
weed/pest control; fertilizing;
compost, triple mix, top soil, loam ... what's
difference and why it matters to choose
determining your soil type and how to improve it;
If you have time for no other
class, this one is a must. Everything
starts with the soil and mistakes or neglect
here can at best cause a garden to be much
higher maintenance than necessary, and at worst
cause costly plant stress and death.
Gardening Essentials, 7 week course.
Our comprehensive course that will lead you to
growing with confidence.
" Think Like a
course (2 1/2 hrs each lesson) that takes us through
all of the what's, why's and how's of
establishing and caring for a mixed perennials &
In-depth, integrated lessons,
with plenty of time worked in for lots of Q&A,
plus take home notes with deeper detail.
The goal is to have you gardening with
confidence as you work through the ups, downs,
and the many choices of - design, maintenance
and troubleshooting, whether you're gardening
with perennials, shrubs, trees, or just a fresh
planting of annuals each spring.
2018 Dates and
Gardening involves thousands of
details and choices, but there are basic rules in the natural world which everything follows from. This class covers
these essentials thoroughly, with an entire lesson devoted to each important
topic. By the end of the course you’ll understand
why such and such is done in the garden, not just when and how. Armed with this background knowledge, you'll have the confidence to make the
thousands of individual decisions on products, plants, and methods that go into
creating a healthy beautiful garden that satisfies both the eye and soul.
(... and the budget too!) EVERYTHING you do in
a garden is interconnected. once
you've completed this comprehensive course, you'll understand how one
action leads to another, and how one choice dictates the next.
running this course for over 15 years and have
received many accolades on my approach to
teaching what can sometime seem like a
complicated topic. Underlying each
lesson is not just horticultural knowledge but
my own decades worth of experience in my
own gardens. I caught the gardening
bug while in my 20's and, (at the risk of dating
myself), it's now a few decades later yet my
enthusiasm for the possibilities of plants and gardens,
and learning more about how they grow,
continues. No formal training is
under my tool belt, but over the years an
incessantly curious nature led me to research
and explore every success and failure to learn
Then came operating a garden specialty bookstore
where each curiosity could be thoroughly
researched. More hands on experience came
my way over the past 10 years through
my garden design and maintenance service where I've
been exposed to different garden conditions
and design tastes that help me clearly
understand just how much all the variables of
sun, soil and a gardener's wish list dictates an
outcome. In a nutshell, I'm a
plant nerd! That's really the only way
to say it. To this
day, I still get a rush of excitement when
meeting a new plant to play with, or a new
garden to play in. My approach to
teaching new gardeners is just as much about
instilling an excitement over the gardening
experience as much as it is about teaching
ABOUT THE COURSE:
I've developed a non-dummies approach
integrated lessons that focus on
helping gardeners really understand some of the
basic plant science at work, so common-sense decisions
come naturally. There's lots
of conflicting advice and information out there
in the gardening marketplace and this course
helps cut through the jargon and enables you to
make the right choices for you and your own
garden's site conditions. Once you're at the
end of the course and out in your own garden
this season, you'll be able to juggle all the
facts and variables yourself and have all the
ammunition to feel confident about what to do. An
agenda of topics covered is below.
Understanding plants' seasonal
life cycles ... developing maintenance routines
... designing great plant combinations ...
seeing your own garden site's limitations and
strengths ... tweaking zone hardiness ...
correct shrub pruning ... dividing perennials
for either health or sharing ... lowering
maintenance and water input ... organic soil
care ... starting a new garden ... general
organic choices ... appropriate plant
selection ... organic pest control ... landscape
design rules ... mulching choices ... weeds
control ... and more.
beginners learn how to avoid common mistakes,
2018 Dates and
average skilled gardeners leap to a whole new
level of expertise and enjoyment, and
even veteran gardeners report they’ve filled in many
(Email anytime if you have questions about whether the course is right
Feb 28th - Apr 11th afternoon 12:00 - 2:30
condensed version (see note*) March 29 - April
19 evenings 6:00 - 9:00
I've added this condensed version to accommodate
travelers who may be away in March. The
Design portion of the course will be minimized
and other topics shortened a bit to squish them
into a single 3 hour lesson.)
Class size is limited on
only 8 people so register soon! Email to
reserve your spot.
early registration discount! (Cheque or cash
received by Feb.14th)
lesson has its own detailed take-home
notes offering additional information) -
Language of Plants.
exactly is a Perennial, Annual, Bulb, Shrub, etc.
and why it matters to know. This may sound
like a somewhat irrelevant and boring topic, but
without at least a basic understanding of plant
and gardening terminology, no one
would ever be able to build on their knowledge,
so this is the lesson that starts us off right. Understanding
how the plant groups differ determines
everything that follows for their best care,
what to expect from them, how far you can push
them, when and how to propagate, essential
zones and what determines a plant's hardiness ... what
it means to plant selection,
handling and how to push the boundaries.
Like a Plant. Plant
life cycles and how each plant’s personal
growth/dormancy routine dictates the ebb and flow
of energy, nutrition needs, and maintenance.
This lesson provides many "ah ha" moments where
participants begin to understand what's behind
some of the occurrences in their garden.
Successful gardening is 100% about advance
planning and this lesson makes clear all the
natural forces we're working together with to
achieve our end goal.
Living Earth. A
thorough look at the underground ecosystem and it's
importance to a healthy garden ... repairing
or working with the soil you have ... long term soil
care that offers plants what they need, when they
need it ... compost, organic matter and composting
... understanding pH (soil
acidity or alkalinity) and what it means to the availability
of nutrients ... mulching choices ... fertilizers.
maintenance, and organic methods for weed
control and general health.
Stop the Torture! Shrub & small tree pruning.
lesson in the botany of woody plants and how
they react to pruning ... how to make healthy
cuts ... working together with their instinctive
response to pruning to achieve particular goals
such as size reduction or topiary ... when and how to prune
a shrub completely depends on why it is being done
in the first place ...
Principles of Design and
Creating Great Plant
is a topic that could take all 6 evenings in
itself, but we'll discuss some basic design rules to
guide your creative explorations. Working with
your site conditions ... form & texture ... balance and scale in
overall landscape design ... creating fabulous
all-season plant combinations ...
& Diseases. Good
guys and bad guys—achieving pest control,
not elimination is the goal. Organic protection
and prevention techniques.
Spring / Late Fall to-do list.
protection... when and how to keep a garden
clean of debris ... when, why and how to use
mulch ... realities of our climate ...
A walk through the season and all the different
things that should be on your to-do list to keep
ahead of problems.
wish-list factors that determine how much work you
need to do—low-maintenance/natural? manicured
perfection? ... different types of care and their
goals or end results ... manipulating
perennials - shorten floppy plants,
deadheading, stagger or
delay bloom, prompt repeat bloom, preventing late
foliage decline, weed control, lawn maintenance.
together all the pieces and learning how to apply
learned to some real world scenarios through
exercises, lots of Q & A, and some hands-on
work out in the garden. Your
questions, photos, and particular problems
addressed. General discussion where I’ll
follow where your questions lead with detailed
explanations and take home notes.
Dividing, or buying Plants.
types of root systems, how they’re best divided, and
when ... demonstrations of a few different types
... new perennials can cost anywhere from
$5.00 to $20.00 or more—which ones are worth it
and why such a difference ... how to select a healthy
plant at the garden center ... best moving or dividing time...
More details on some of the workshops
SHRUB PRUNING - STOP THE TORTURE!
3 hour hands-on
workshop, lesson, & take-home 24pg lesson
essential pruning in youth to establish a
strong framework, to rejuvenating that overgrown lilac or
sculpting a topiary, all pruning situations are
covered in this in-depth workshop.
Pruning is probably the most misunderstood and usually incorrectly executed
garden task. The haircut trim that often passes for “pruning” is the best
example I can think of exactly
how NOT to prune. At best it leads to weak, twiggy,
non-flowering plants with “bare legs” and, at worst leads to a long slow
death. The “haircut” trim method is literally plant torture! After this
workshop you'll clearly see why.
Most of the damage bad pruning leads to, stems
misunderstanding about what happens inside the branch that has been cut. Pruning stimulates
growth in the exact spot where the pruning cut is made, when most often the
gardener is attempting to reduce growth. The more you prune the stronger
the plant will respond at the pruned spot, most often at the expense of
growth elsewhere on the plant. The result?
Weak twiggy tips with bare worn out branches at
Quality trees and shrubs can cost a lot of money, but it's skillful training and
knowledgeable pruning that makes the investment worthwhile by keeping them
strong, healthy, and sculpted. Only with either a
stroke of very good luck or through proper pruning,
will ordinary trees and shrubs become beautiful specimens.
An expensive Japanese Maple will be a pretty, red leaved, addition to your garden
but with skillful pruning it can become that gorgeous layered sculpture you see
This workshop helps gardeners understand what is going on when woody plants are pruned.
Learning to work together with the plants' predictable natural response is key. Anything
is then possible - espalier, topiary, a trained rather than grafted standard,
maximum blooming each season, healthy full hedges without bare legs, trees with billowing grace rather than a
dense mop top, a rejuvenated old shrub with dignity and maturity rather than having
to rip it out for something new.
workshop focuses on shrubs but also covers the training of a young
trees, and basic do's and don'ts when pruning larger trees. Hands-on
demonstrations and training videos are used whether we're indoors or out and a
detailed 24 page lesson manual to take home will ensure that you'll have the
information to review when you need it.
year I had a beautiful large Maple cut down for a
A split had developed, caused by a major
that had been allowed to develop with very poor
structure ("included" bark) and it was now threatening to break off and crash
into the house.
If early in the tree’s life the owner had
known what to look for and made just one small pruning snip, the tree could
have lived a long life.
What is “included” bark you ask? Just
one of the valuable details you’ll learn in this
LIFTING AND DIVIDING PERENNIALS
A 3 hour workshop
Whether you’re rejuvenating an overgrown Iris
or want to multiply what you have to spread around a larger area or share with a
friend, dividing perennials gives them renewed vigor and is an inexpensive way to expand your garden.
In this workshop we’ll go through an overview of the different types of root
systems, how to determine the best times for particular plants, and hands-on demonstrations of
different perennials to show exactly what you’re looking for when dividing
their roots. You’d be amazed at just how many divisions can be made from just
one overgrown patch of
daylily, hosta, coral bell, Iris, Dahlia, or ornamental grass. You’ll take
home a few starter plants of your own from the demonstration plants, and
gain the know-how you need to create hundreds of dollars worth of new plants
from the ones you already have.
GREAT PLANT COMBINATIONS
A 3 hour workshop on designing complimentary plant
partners and trios for all
The huge assortment of plants available today is overwhelming
and its easy to end up with a cluttered mess instead of the beautiful garden you
envisioned. In this workshop we’ll talk about how to think of your plants in partnerships or trios and
demonstrate some classic examples of plant combinations that work well in any
setting. Learn how to take your garden from spring to autumn with
something blooming or contributing at all times through creating good
Seeing a plant’s shape and form, not just
staging on slopes;
colour combinations that sing;
creating vignettes with something for each season;