Short tips on this 'n that, from keeping your soil healthy to
garden design ideas or pest / disease control tips.
Hope some of this helps your gardening adventures go more smoothly!
For more in-depth information, go to the "Articles & Tips" pages.
Links to some highlights -
~ on slugs ~ on Lily Beetle ~ plants for Autumn ~ weed early! ~ forcing branches ~ worms ~
Experiment with some of the many of the different Euphorbias in your planting design. (This one is E. amygdaloides Purpurea) There's nothing like them for rich foliage colour and a perfectly neat plant shape to contrast other frilly or upright forms. Their early spring chrome yellow flowers are just a welcome bonus! The most common one, E. polychroma (a.k.a. cushion spurge), has plain green-ish grey foliage but with fabulous fall colour. Evelyn
Choose and position plants for their
contribution to the
A new favourite plant I use a lot now for it's contribution to the fall garden is Amsonia hubrechtii. Fine green feathery foliage for most of the season that contributes strongly contrasting texture to any group of plants, but in Autumn turns a stunning gold and really shines!
Partner it together with a Euphorbia that turns red in fall for a fabulous contrast of all the design feature elements - shape, texture and colour. When positioning any new perennial, think first about it's non-flower attributes to find it's ideal partner for all season interest.
Worms. The essential ingredient for good soil.
Look closely at the ground in early spring where last year's leaves fell. Are there any pieces half in and half out of the ground? That's worms at work, pulling down organic debris into the soil ecosystem where there's a whole other living world ticking away! Don't rake away all this "mess" - leave it right where it is for the worms to feed on and thereby enrich your soil. A lot easier and cheaper than buying compost or other raw material each year! Clean away the most unsightly stuff, but leave as much as you can on the soil surface.
SLUGS are a huge problem in shady gardens where most of us grow Hosta. Here's a tip that appears to work. Mix a solution no stronger than 10 parts water to 1 part household ammonia. In spring when Hostas are putting up their noses but not unfurled yet, drench crowns and a few inches around them with this solution. Ammonia's high alkalinity "burns" the adult slugs that overwintered and the young babies hatching, to keep your slug population under control. (I was worried that this treatment would damage soil pH though, so I called the CBC phone-in show last year to ask! Ed Lawrence said it wouldn't ... that it's just too small an area being treated to make a difference.) A word of caution though - it appears to also harm your garden's best friends - worms. Don't go overboard and treat a larger area with a "more is better" attitude. Stick to just the crown area of their favourite plants where most of them likely are.
Here's my very best tip ever! Tune
in each Monday at 12:30 to CBC
Radio's gardening phone-in show with Ed
Lawrence. He's a wealth of sound, sane,
friendly, knowledgeable, experienced, and most importantly -
unbiased, advice. So much of the info on the web, TV, or
radio, reflect the needs of show sponsors to sell one product or the
other, it's good to hear from someone who's only goal is to inform
correctly! (he's not connected to any retail
operation.) I've learned a ton of things over the years
from just tuning in each week. His explanations are always as
thorough as time allows and he doesn't dummy down the
information, making it possible for further research. (That's where I
picked up many of these bits of "Collected Wisdom" here on this
(I'm thoroughly updating this web-site and would appreciate hearing from you on any links that don't work or weird things happening as you browse around. :) Evelyn )
Beetle - Yikes! (full article below).
Lily Beetle, left unchecked, will disfigure, seriously weaken, and eventually kill members of the Liliacae family - Oriental Lilies and Fritillary being the most popular. Both their larvae and adults munch through leaves so fast, that the plant ends up with very little foliage to feed on the sun's rays.
Lily beetle feeds pretty much only on plants in this genus, so you can focus on monitoring these plants only with the following control measures. (note: Daylily is the common name for Hemerocallis - nothing at all to do with true lilies other than the resemblance of their flowers.).
I've been experimenting with a homemade NEEM OIL spray with some success, but running after pest problems with sprays and potions is never a good answer to a garden pest problem since it's bound to affect other insects in your garden - most of which are beneficial.
Not an easy garden pest to control if you grow Oriental Lilies.
Here's your battle plan!
This devastating garden pest attacks and lays its eggs on leaf undersides, starting almost as soon as ... (READ full article...)
Rewards from Winter Pruning! Forcing
spring shrubs into early blooming indoors.
I love spending February in the garden pruning. I could do it in March, but it's hard to wait that long before getting up close and personal with my plants again!
February pruning not only breaks the winter blahs, but it's also the time when you can really see the structural framework of your trees or shrubs and prune for repair and improvement. (see pruning advise on "Our services" page). With a few exceptions, this is the best time for general maintenance pruning.
If the plants you're pruning are spring bloomers, there's a bonus to be had! Early blooming indoors. Putting the cut branches through a simple treatment to trick them into blooming early indoors is another wonderful way to get a gardening fix in winter.
Here's what to do -
Forsythia, Magnolia, Cherry, Crab apple, Lilac, Pussywillow, Witch Hazel, Dogwood, Apple, etc. - any tree or shrub whose natural flowering time is early to late spring is a candidate for forcing. It's a pretty straightforward procedure ...
Start weeding as
soon as the snow melts! The very definition of
a"weed" is a plant that knows how to outwit more well-behaved plants
in one way or the other. Many annual weeds germinate seed in
the very cool temps of early spring, and some perennial weeds 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! (Chickweed is often already in
bloom amid the last bits of snow melting in early April).
As soon as you can after snow melt in spring, get out there and dig up all the evergreen weeds you probably didn't even notice were there last fall, and hunt down even the smallest new seedling before it has a chance to get going and flower. These cool season weeds are easy to find in very early spring- they're often the only thing in a garden that's green! In just a couple of weeks though they'll go unnoticed among your perennials that start to emerge. Get them before they drop seed which may only be just a week or two away. ... again - chickweed as an example needs just a week after flowering to drop a few dozen seeds that will ALL germinate later in the season.
Just one day's effort in the VERY early spring before this early seed drop time will save you at least a week's work later in the season.
lots more coming soon! We're revamping the entire web site after many years of neglect :) E.