30 April 2011

Did You Know? 4/30/11

Did You Know?

Few plants are salt-tolerant but beets and squash are two of the most salt-tolerant vegetables.

Beans and carrots are two vegetables that are salt-sensitive.

27 April 2011

Pruning Hydrangeas

Are you afraid to prune your Endless Summer Hydrangea? This video addresses spring pruning for Endless Summer Hydrangeas. A must see for northern gardeners who grow these gorgeous hydrangeas. But, it is not limited to the northern green thumbs. If your Endless Summer Hydrangea died back over the winter, just follow these simple instructions and you'll be on your way to a full and healthy plant, ready for summer blooms.

Uncovering Your Hydrangea in the Spring

If you are unsure about when you should uncover your hydrangea in the spring, this video is what you need. It was prepared by Endless Summer Blooms, and provides specific guidelines for spring to yield the best results with your Endless Summer Hydrangeas.

26 April 2011

Growing Sprouts at Home - the Cheaper and Healthy Alternative

This brief video makes growing sprouts easy to accomplish with the most simple of ingredients.  Sprouts are excellent in stir fry dishes and in sandwiches.  Imagine a ciabatta sandwich with your favourite meat and cheese, and sprouts sprinkled over top of the filling.  Delicious!

Here's a sandwich recipe I found on Good Sprout News:
Sprout Mountain Sandwich
Sprout Mountain Sandwich

3 slices cooked bacon
1/4 tsp. horseradish
1 tsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp. relish
dash of paprika

Crumble bacon and mix with remaining ingredients. Spread the mixture on an open croissant. Then add in layers:

alfalfa sprouts
cucumber, thinly sliced
green onions, chopped


23 April 2011

Happy Easter!

Wishing you a Happy Easter!

from The Gardening Life

Community Gardens

The cost of produce has increased by 12% here in Alberta, perhaps country wide.  So what does one do?  Do we dig a bit deeper into our pockets, eat fewer fresh vegetables and fruits, or do we become pro-active and grow our own?

If you live in an apartment with a balcony, you can grow a great myriad of vegetables and herbs in containers with the right light.  But for those without the right conditions or a yard, there are community gardens like the one in the photo above. 

More and more people are turning to community gardens to compensate for the lack of their own personal garden and it saves money too.  Growing your own vegetables can save a lot of the grocery budget.  I was watching a Global Edmonton news segment about community gardens wherein one interviewee said she saved $500 last year by growing her own produce.  That's significant! 

Some community gardens offer raised bed gardening, which is ideal for those with physical limitations, and/or in ground gardening plots.  Check with your local community to see if there is one near you.

Failing that, one can grow in containers too.  Most vegetables require about 6 hours of direct sunlight a day.  Check with your local garden center for advice on growing in containers.  This blog will also run a feature on container gardening and I am teaching a class on the same in mid-May.  Check back here for more soon.

22 April 2011

Hanging Basket Basics

Rob Sproule, of Salisbury Greenhouse, discusses some hanging plant basics including plant selection and fertilizer.

21 April 2011

Time To Grow - CityLine

Time To Grow - CityLine

Click on the link to read an interview between Tracey Moore and Frank Ferragine, author of Get Growing.

Annuals in Containers - Rob Sproule

Rob Sproule, of Salisbury Greenhouse, discusses in this brief video annuals to grow in containers.

20 April 2011

Containers for Gardening

Rob Sproule, of Salisbury Greenhouse in Sherwood Park, discusses in this brief video the selection of pots available to start your own container garden.

Keeping Your Poinsettia Year-Round

Have you tried to keep your poinsettias year-round?  I haven't yet but have kept two that I intend to keep for next Christmas.  I found a good instuctive video with details on the care and fertilization regime required to keep a poinsettia after the season.  Don't mind the voice on the video, which sounds somewhat automated and computerized.  The instruction is excellent!

19 April 2011

Easter Hydrangeas

Vegetable Gardening in Containers

There's a huge trend towards vegetable gardening this year.  Not everyone has the yard to do it so why not try it in containers?  Rob Sproule, Salisbury Greenhouse, discusses in this video how you can grow vegetables, even zucchini, in containers in full sun.

Pruning Your Fruit Trees in the Dormant Season

The above video is a good guide about pruning practices for fruit trees.

*One thing this video does not mention is to never remove more than 1/3 of the overall growth during a growing season, to do so causes stress to the tree leaving it susceptible to disease, insect problems and deline in health. 

16 April 2011

Tired of Wintery Spring Days? Blog Spotlight: The Galloping Gardener

I was just visiting a marvelous little blog that helped to lift my winter doldrums.  I know it is officially spring but if one were to look out at the garden, still hidden beneath snow and recall that the weather forecaster said we are expecting more snow tomorrow, you really would find it hard to believe.  Next week promises to be warmer and sunny and by week's end the snow should be all but melted.  Ahem, that's according to the forecaster. 

So, rather than sulk in the dreary mood that hits when I look outside, contemplating the true arrival of the warm sunny days of spring, I went blog surfing!  I am so grateful there are so many gorgeous garden blogs out there.  Superb photography aside, we all share a kinship, an undying love for all that blooms and is green and alive! 

Here's one incredible little site I came across and wanted to share with you.  Come join me as I stroll with The Galloping Gardener. (just click on link)

14 April 2011

New Introductions at Canada Blooms

New Introductions at Canada Blooms Click the link above to read of new plant introductions at Canada Blooms this year in Toronto. Here Jim Hole highlights some introductions that are hardy for zone 3 gardens. Definitely worth checking out folks!

Automated Tomato Seeding - Holes Greenhouse

Holes Video courtesy of YouTube

13 April 2011

Medicine Hat Under State of Emergency

 The city of Medicine Hat, Alberta. is under a voluntary evacuation alert today following a state of emergency declaration Tuesday evening.  Rising water levels in the Seven Persons reservoir threaten to breach a critical dam. Some homes were under a mandatory evacuation order while others were within the voluntary evacuation area.  Many homeowners didn't evacuate however, not wanting to leave their homes stating a desire to protect their property.

Though an emergency centre was set up in the Grand Ballroom at the city's Stampede Grandstand, noone chose to spend the night there, according to reporters in the area.  After a winter with double the typical seasonal snowfall for the area, water in creeks and rivers across southern Alberta have been close to critical levels in the past week, driven by melt run-off.

The critical phase has not yet been reached with the increased potential for property damage including sewer backup.  Some homes have already seen water at their doorsteps. 

2010 saw extensive flood damage due to elevated levels in the creek which eroded creek banks and caused over $50 million in damage.  The province of Alberta has allotted more than $1 million for emergency flood measures.


Spring Blooms in Vancouver

Oh the beauty you will see in Vancouver this time of year!  My son took these photos while on his lunch break.  Can you imagine free flowing fountains, trees in full bloom and green grass?  Well, some of you can, I'm sure.  But here in Edmonton it's a whole other story. 
My son sent these photos the other day.  Further proof of the benefits of living in his favourite city.  Here in Edmonton, we still have snow.  It has been melting but it is a slow process.  If you can recall the size of our snowbanks, you'll understand.  (See my post We're in Deep, Snow That Is to get an idea of just how much snow we had in January.) Better slow, though, than a fast melt which could lead to flooding. 

 Time to get our eyes wet, as the saying goes over at Watery Wednesday.  Each Wednesday people from across the world link their photos of gorgeous watery oases.  Stop by, won't you?

What's the weather like where you live?  Does it look like the above photos or more like our Edmonton with snow still prevalent.  By the way, we are forecasted to receive more snow overnight tonight with that system leaving us sometime Friday.  Did I mention how we are all yearning for spring?

12 April 2011

Introducing Phantom Hydrangea!

Here's exciting news for the zone 3 gardener!  A new variety of hydrangea with panicle flowers and sturdy stems has been developed and has proven hardy in zone 3 gardens.  It is fresh on the market this year and is called the Phantom Hydrangea.  Similar to Limelight but on steroids!  The flower panicles can reach lengths of 15 " according to one grower.  The Phantom Hydrangea flowers in July with white blossoms that fade to pink as the weather cools.  Height 6-8' Width 5-6'.  Requires 4-6 hours sun.

Check out the video in the link below for more information on hydrangeas including when to prune, why some hydrangeas colour is influenced by soil acidity and much more.


10 April 2011

Mosaic Monday in My Garden Early April

I took these photos Friday, April 8, 2011.  Yes, we still have snow!!  It is slowly melting and I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to see the greenery that was buried not so long ago!!!  Cheers to sunny days, warm weather and melting snow!

I am joining Mary at Little Red House for Mosaic Monday.  Mary hosts this weekly meme on her beautiful blog.  Drop by and see for yourself.

08 April 2011

Getting Ready For Spring Video


Click on the video tag link above to be taken directly to the site to read tips and watch the video!

05 April 2011

Gardening Book: Get Growing by Frank Ferragine

Get Growing
Author:  Frank Ferragine (aka Frankie Flowers)
Available February 2011 at local bookstores, Costco,
Shop Online at: Amazon.com, Indigo

Book Description:

"Have you ever looked enviously at a neighbour’s garden and wished you had a green thumb? Have you ever gone to the garden centre full of enthusiasm, only to find yourself confused and defeated? Have you ever wished that somehow gardening could just be, well, easy? If so, it’s time to Get Growing with Frankie Flowers. In 352 pages packed with inspiring yet instructional photos, Frankie coaches gardeners of all levels through the basics of getting a garden growing. Broken down into seasonal chapters that give the reader concise, clear instructions on what you need to do now and why, it provides a solid foundation for building a beautiful ornamental garden, a healthy, natural lawn and a bountiful vegetable garden. With tons of step-by-step detail—in words and photos -- this book includes everything from planning and planting to pruning and fine tuning. It’ll also help gardeners of all levels troubleshoot problems like weeds and slugs and rodents (oh my!). Gardening shouldn’t be complicated or overwhelming -- it should be fun. The secret is just to get outside and Get Growing!"

04 April 2011

Flamenco Dancer Container Design by Proven Winners - full sun

Flamenco Dancer

Foliage can be every bit as colorful as flowers as shown by this vibrant combination.

The recipe:
A. Graceful Grasses® Purple Fountain Grass Pennisetum (Fountain Grass)
Qty: 1

B. Dwarf Garters Phalaris (Dwarf Ribbon Grass)
Qty: 1

C. Dappled Apple™ Solenostemon (Coleus)
Qty: 1

D. Religious Radish Solenostemon (Coleus)
Qty: 1

Container Recipe Details:
Exposure: Sun
Pot Size: 14 inches
Pot Style Shown: Upright Container
This design can be adapted for:  Window Box, Wall Sconce, Upright Container
Color Scheme: Tropical

This recipe assumes that 4.5" plants are being used. To make the recipe work using larger plants, you will need to choose a pot that is larger than our suggested size or use fewer plants of each variety in the recipe.

02 April 2011

Design Faux Pas and Favourite Tips

Design Disasters!
  • One season interest.  Plan your garden for year round interest.  Spring bulbs, forsythia, double flowering plum, bridal wreath spirea, rhododendrons and azaleas are all good examples of plants to include for spring colour.  Summer colour might include Schubert chokecherry (flowers and leaf colour), summer flowering bulbs such as dahlias or calla lilies, clematis, honeysuckle, mock orange, viburnum and more add colour to the summer garden.  Fall colour is often overlooked when planning for the garden.  Try maples, dwarf burning bush, barberries, spirea and more offer great leaf colour while mums brighten the garden with vibrant colour.  Winter interest is often forgotten.  Here are some ways to keep the garden interesting during the long cold winters.  Add evergreens, grasses like miscanthus, plants with unique branching like Harry Lauder's Walking Stick, trees with colourful bark or interesting texture like European mountain ash, Amur chokecherry, Russian Olive, maples and more.
  • It's just too much.  The gardens that are overflowing with statuary, or overgrown plants, or overplanting.  Too much of a good thing is still too much.
  • Scale.  Plant to scale.  Don't use diminutive plants in a foundation planting for a two-story house or towering trees in front of a small home.  For planters remember the rule:  Height of plants should be 1 1/2 to 2 times the height of the container for correct visual balance.
  • The Christmas tree.  The new homeowner decides he/she wants an evergreen right out front that they can decorate with lights for Christmas every year.  Initially this looks fine but over the years the tree outgrows its site, dwarfing the house behind it.  See above photo.  Remember, selecting a plant today can impact you in the future.

Sissinghurst White Garden - note how the white pops in the shade but washes out in the sun.

Frank Ferragine's Favourite Tips:
  • Sunny days are the worst garden days.  It's so much harder on the plant to plant it on a sunny hot day.  Wait for a cooler overcast day to plant and your garden will thank you.
  • Prune after blooming.  Prune lilacs after they bloom.  Same goes for any flowering shrubs.  Deadhead annuals and perennials (unless you plan to save seeds) to encourage flower formation.
  • Weed after it rains.  Have you ever tried to pull weeds when the soil is dry?  It's not an easy task.  Wait until after it rains, or after watering, and you will find they come out so much easier.
  • Fertilize after watering.  This allows the fertilizer to be absorbed more readily.  Frank's favourite is still water-soluble 20-20-20 diluted at half-strength applied weekly.
  • Soap in the fingernails.  After gardening, when your nails are dirty, run your nails over a bar of soap.  You will find it easier to remove the dirt embedded there.  Wash your hands in cold water after gardening as it removes dirt easier.
  • Weight tall garden containers to prevent blowing over in the wind.  Place something heavy in the very bottom and then add soil.
  • Correct height for plants in a container is 1 1/2 to 2 times the overall height of the container.
  • Small properties look best planted with pastel flowers as it makes the area appear larger.  Large properties look great planted in a vibrant colour palette.
  • Plant colourful flowers in full sun and white and pastel colours in shady areas.  White washes out easily in the sun while bright colours remain vibrant.  Light colours make shady areas pop.
  • When transplanting flowers from the pot to the garden, pinch any flowers and remove them (ie. marigolds).  This may seem cruel but the plant will establish itself faster and easier and reward you with more abundant flowers later.

Factoids and Tidbits

This post was supposed to be filled with factoids and tidbits but upon looking over my last few posts, it seems I have already included most of them.  However, I do have a few that were discussed during the workshop at the Home and Garden Show:

As you know, the tomato is actually a fruit, not a vegetable but do you know why it was once considered a vegetable?  I would have thought it had something to do with the fact that we grow it in our vegetable gardens.  No, wrong.  In the 1800's growers sold tomatoes as vegetables to avoid the taxing on fruit!

Easter lilies and diefenbachia are just a couple poisonous plants out of many.  Poisonous plants contain substances that, when ingested, cause illness or death.  This is a defense against predators!

Vegetable gardens require at least 6 hours of full direct sun each day.

Poinsettias need 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of total dark from September to December to allow the bracts to change colour.

Tulips are originally from Turkey.  When selecting your tulip bulbs in the fall, look for "perenialized" on the packaging.  Perenialized bulbs have been grown/developed to bloom year after year.  Not all tulips will.

Ipomaeia (sweet potato vine) hates cold winds.

Which of these did you already know?

01 April 2011

Garden Trends 2011

I was watching Cityline the other day, well actually it was like 3am and I was awake, TV on, and Frank Ferragine was on talking about the garden trends for 2011.  Looks like a good idea for a post, I thought, so I quickly grabbed my scribbler, which sits by my bedside, to record it all.  Some of these were discussed at the workshop I attended at the Home and Garden Show here in Edmonton too.

Vegetable Gardening.
If we had told our grandparents years ago that vegetable gardening was going to be a trend in 2011, I am sure they would have laughed at us.  Not a trend, they would have said, but a means to an end...a necessity.  It was for many.  It wasn't that long ago that vegetable gardens were the norm but now it is a trend.  Go figure!  Vegetable gardening is taking on a new look too.  Raised beds (like BUFCO below), designs including flowers or including colourful vegetables in the flower bed are on the rise.  Imagine a colourful kale, purple cauliflower, swiss chard, amongst your flowers.

BUFCO debuted at  Canada Blooms 2011.The BUFCO Raised-Raised Bed, made from eastern white cedar logs, features hip-high (3 feet tall) gardening. The growing area is large enough to accommodate a good variety of vegetables and holds up to 10 inches of soil. The pedestal of red cedar can hold lots of storage for your gardening tools and supplies. http://bufco.ca/index.php/products-a-services/the-bufco-raised-raised-bed.html

Great for balconies, decks and patios, the Raised Raised Bed can be a  productive food producer while making gardening accessible for those in wheelchairs or for those who don't like to bend while gardening.  A real back saver.

Purple/Black Foliage, Grasses and Flowers
Purple and black will be all the rage this season as gardeners look for something original to plant in their beds and containers.  Think Black Velvet Petunia, purple carrots, Black Mondo Grass, Pennisetum Purpureum Prince Purple Fountain Grass- in a black/purple colour, Pennisetum Glaucum Purple Majesty, Pennisetum Glaucum Purple Baron, Pinstripe Petunia, Black Dragon Coleus, Calibrachoa Blackberry Punch (Superbells),  Coleus Chocolate Mint.
Seriously?!  Thanks in part to the new release of "Gnomeo and Juliet", garden gnomes statuary is a growing trend for 2011.  Gnome sales have increased 20% since this movie came out.  Personally I don't like statuary/accessories of this type, preferring fountains, wrought iron, and such.  Doesn't everybody's grandma have these hidden in their gardens?

Black and White Colour Schemes
White is great in the night garden but don't put it in full sun as it will appear faded and washed out rather than the accent you desire.  A shade garden is perfect for those punches of white too.  Imagine, if you will, a planter that receives shade in the hottest part of the day planted with "Prince" pennisetum purpeum in the center, chocolate mint coleus, white impatiens, and a lime green sweet potato vine, or three if you have a large container, perhaps a trailing aparagus vine. One could go with a dark colour scheme and accent with lime green or white to achieve this effect.  Pump up the colour!  Consider grouping planters together where each planter focuses on a different aspect of the black and white scheme.  One could be dark accented with lime green, another light colours accented with dark.  Use your imagination and make it your own.

Incorporate Nature
Bring in bird feeders and water features to attract birds to your garden.  Plant flowers that butterflies love such as bee balm (monarda), columbine, hollyhock, butterfly bush (hardy to zone 5, mostly).  Plant flowering shrubs that will attract hummingbirds such as rhododendron (if it will flower in your area when hummingbirds migrate there) or weigela, and flowers such as petunias, calibrachoa, trumpet vine.  Hummingbirds are partial to red.

These are the top five gardening trends as mentioned by Frank Ferragine on Cityline. Have fun with something new this year and remember to Punch Up the Colour!


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