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Archive for the ‘Flower Power’ Category

Whether you’re a novice gardener or have been gardening for years, it’s always amazing to wander around your garden at this time of year and watch your garden grow and multiply.

Follow these easy steps to grow your hostas or day lillies:

It’s best to split a hosta or day lilly in the fall after a full summer’s growth, BUT, if you have large, healthy plants that are already mature, you can do it in the spring as these plants have revealed their full season’s growth. Select one that is at least three years old or more.

  1. The next step is to take your mulch fork or shovel and shove it into the ground around the perimeter of the plant. Gently lift it up to uproot the plant until it is completely out of the ground. Both plant types can have large root balls up to 20 inches in diameter, so dig up about 12 inches away from the root of the plant.
  2. Once the plant is out of the ground, you will need to split it. Some gardeners prefer using a sharp straight blade shovel, place it at the centre of the plant and use your foot to make a quick slice through the centre of the plant, you now have two plants. If you have a good sized plant, you may be able to divide each half again for a total of four plants. As you divide just make sure that you have a good size root bulb for each plant, about a double handful.
  3. Prepare your planting holes for your new plants. Dig holes 2 to 4 times larger than the plant you are planting. If you have rich soil, amend it with slow realize fertilizer. Use a small handful and mix it well with the soil.
  4. Now, place the amended soil into the plant holes to bring the perennial crown slightly above the surrounding grade while holding the plant in place. Fill the sides of the hole with the amended soil. Pack the soil tightly to eliminate any air voids.
  5. Cover the planting area with 4 inches of mulch, and water thoroughly. If you transplant in the spring you may find your lilies may not flower until the following spring, you have to think of it as a long term investment. Day lilies can overrun your garden so it is wise to split them if this happens.

Hostas are very popular in a shady garden and can take up a lot of space if you need them to; they are known for their foliage in many different shades. You may have neighbors that want to split these with you, which is always ideal and will save you some money.

It’s a perfect thing to do this long weekend!

Nicola Bishop

bishop4086@rogers.com

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You have probably already noticed snow drops, crocuses and tulips starting to pop their little heads up this past week as you walk along the street and you are probably very eager to get started on your planters and urns. Keep in mind that it needs to be above 5 degrees Celsius overnight for your plants to survive.

With working in the garden centre I have been just as eager to get started as anyone, and have held myself back until this weekend to bring anything home. At the moment you are safe with pansies, primulars, and all the bulb stock which includes hyacinth, tulips, crocuses, mascara, daffodils, and grape hyacinth, and of course pussy willow, forsythia or blossom branches to finish it off. As it gets closer to Easter especially because it is later this year, you will probably be able to put in hydrangea. Watch the temperatures at night, and if you hear a frost warning, either bring them into your garage, or cover them up with a flannelette sheet for the night.

You may already have a container that you use.  If not, decide what sort of look you like for your style of home, whether it is something tall and modern, cast iron urns, wooden window boxes or a galvanized steel tub. Whatever you use make sure it has drainage holes in them so your plants don’t become water logged.

Keep in mind how it will be viewed. If you have it up against a wall, place taller plants at the back. If it is viewed all around, place them in the middle. Remember that tulips, hyacinth and daffodils grow tall, so try to get the miniature daffodils if this is not going to be your focal point. This way you will have plants growing at different heights to add some structure. Primula won’t grow tall but will spread out slightly and the pussy willow will give extra height. By adding ivy this will give you a nice trailing look, which can be left in to use for your summer urn. And of course, there are your pansies, which come in so many different color combinations, and will usually last well into the middle of summer.

You can add moss to keep in the moisture. Give it a good watering once it is all potted, and then checking it once a week or more if it warms up by digging your fingers right into the soil to check for dryness.

Once the blooms are past their prime you can always pop them out and replace them with new ones; just remember the height of the one you took out. Don’t discard them afterwards. Once you have taken them out of the display let the foliage die back and plant them in well-drained soil with a minimum of half a day sun. Most bulbs are good candidates for re-cycling, but there is a chance that they just might not bloom again, or it could be a couple of years before they rebloom again.

Here are a couple of ideas for different pots and looks:

Please contact me with any question about your garden.

Nicola Bishop

bishop4086@rogers.com

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There are a number of things you can do to get your garden ready for spring. A lot of people don’t even think about their lawn until well into spring or early summer, but if you start early it will be less work than it would be if you left it all to do later.

Here are the 3 steps you need to do first:

1. Maintenance – Clean up, check your weed trimmer and get the blades on your lawn mower sharpened. Most people wait until they are about to start the first cut of the season and realize the blades are dull from last year, this will cause uneven wear and tear on your grass.

2. Clean up – Get out early and start cleaning up your lawn and flowerbeds. Clean any dead limbs lying around from snowstorms.  Clean up any left over leaves and debris that has accumulated, that way when it is actually time to start planting, you will have it already to go, and the job won’t seem so big.

3. Shop – Buy a good grass seed and lawn fertilizer, choose a fertilizer that has slightly less nitrogen as you want to encourage root growth instead of top growth.  Time-release fertilizer is good in the spring because it will make sure that the grass gets nutrients each time it rains. Choose a grass seed that has qualities and color you want and is resilient against crabgrass and other weeds.

Once you have everything ready and after risk of snowfall or extreme low temperatures have passed, around late March to mid April, then you can re-seed. Make sure you scatter your seeds evenly. Try not to overwater your lawn; spring showers will take care of that.

Last summer when I decided to reseed my lawn, I used Scott’s grass seed for the first time and was amazed at the results; the cost is slightly higher than other brands but well worth it. The seeds themselves are weed free, provide great coverage, it helped grow a thick and very green lawn, it even had a cushiony feel when you walked on it. This seed can be found at most outdoor supply stores.

Now all we need is for the leftover snow to disappear this week and we can get started.

Good luck with your lawn!

Next time I will be talking about spring urns and containers to brighten up your front entrance for Easter.

Nicola Bishop

bishop4086@rogers.com

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Having recently heard the forecast that we are going to have a long cold spring I thought I would be proactive about spring and get started early by forcing some flowering branches.

Most spring flowering shrubs can be forced into bloom indoors by easing them out of dormancy over a period of one to four weeks, although sometimes it could take a couple of months so you have to be patient with them.

You can start now with cherry blossom, forsythia, and mock orange, the younger branches of woody plants or tree branches carry most of the buds. If you are unsure use a razor blade to cut a bud open and look for recognizable flower parts inside.

With a sharp knife or secateurs, cut a cross into the bottom inch of each stem to encourage water uptake. Put the branches into a basement utility sink or in a bathtub overnight, submerging them completely, if possible in cold water for 12 hours, then stand them in a bucket or vase containing water, and set them in a cool bright location, away from direct sunlight. Change the water every other day to keep it fresh and prevent bacteria from entering the stems. A floral preserver in the water will help prolong the display; you can also lightly mist the buds with water.

The buds will soon crack open, and moving them to a cool place at night will help the flowers last longer.Try not to cut these branches before the temperatures are above freezing, if they are frozen, you will have to soak them for a few hours longer.

If you don’t have access to any trees or shrubs in your garden or your neighbors, don’t fear, because these branches will soon be appearing in your local florists by the bunch.

Remember Canada Blooms starts today and runs to the 20th, hope to see you there!

Nicola Bishop

bishop4086@rogers.com


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Since we’ve been having warmer temperatures I started yearning for spring and pussy willows came to mind. They have started appearing in the stores already so I thought it would be a good time to take down my winter wreath and replace it with a pussy willow one.

This easy to make wreath is perfect for the door, they dry in place and won’t change color or drop off, so you could use it year after year if you store it properly.

What you need:

  • Branches of pussy willows ( 2 to 3 bunches)
  • Grapevine, or twig wreaths from Michaels or local craft store
  • Hot glue
  • Hand pruners or secateurs
  • 1 yard of ribbon for hanging  (optional)

1.  Cut the tips of the pussy willow branches so they’re 8 to 10 inches in length, making sure you have some at different lengths.

2.  Starting at the bottom centre of the grapevine wreath insert each end of the cut pussy willow stem with a little glue, work your way up on one side and repeat on the other side.

3.  Create a thin layer around the entire wreath, and then for more fullness, add the rest of the pussy willow stems into both sides of the wreath.

4.  When buying the stems look for some that already are in bloom so your wreath has some color to it.

5.  If you like, finish the wreath by looping ribbon over a section of the wreath form and tying a bow about 10 inches above the wreath. Hang the wreath at the bow.

Pussy willow also look great displayed in tall vases, you can add them to arrangements with flowers, put them on your window ledges or in dark corners of your house.

Looking forward to warmer weather and beautiful spring flowers. Canada Blooms is coming in March so I will keep you updated on new ideas for spring and summer!

Nicola Bishop

bishop4086@rogers.com


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Ever thought about having your own micro greens growing on your window ledge? Well now is the time to give it a try. I recently read an article on this and it brought back all sorts of childhood memories for me so I thought I would share these easy steps.

1. First go to your local garden center and pick up a package of mustard seed or watercress. I went to East End Garden Centre on Queen St. E. for mine. If this is not your taste you can purchase canola seeds, mung beans, alfalfa, chick pea or sunflowers seeds.

2. Take a tray, empty yogurt container or peat moss container, which you can find at the dollar store.  Line the tray with tissue or paper towel, top that with cotton wool and then another layer of paper towel. Wet them evenly. The tray or container must be clean to start with.

3. Sprinkle seeds onto the surface of the tissue quite thickly, staggering your seeds according to how you want them to grow. Mustard seeds germinate faster by four days than cress, so plant them first. This is only important if you are doing something artistic for hair, but if not don’t worry.

4. Within a few hours they will begin to germinate. Plant them in the morning and look at the shoots by nighttime.  By the next morning they will be quite even and pronounced.

5. Check the water level and mist to keep it damp. Don’t allow it to dry out at all, but be careful not to flood it either. It is best to check for dryness in the morning and evening.

6. Check for mold. Cress seedlings sometimes go moldy before they are ready to pick. This means your tray is not in a warm and light enough area. So throw these out and start again.

7. After a week you can snip the stems to harvest the cress and eat straight away.  Make more each day for an ongoing harvest. If you have a big enough tray with compartments you could get a variety of seeds and watch how they all sprout differently.

If you want to get the kids interested, just follow the same process by using washed out empty eggshells. Pop them into egg cups and decorate by drawing faces on the front and the cress will grow out the top to make hair.

These sprouts can be used in sandwiches, salads and as sprinklings on top of stir-fries. They are high in A, C, and B complex, and so much fun to watch them grow daily. Once they are snipped, use them straight away, as they don’t last long.

If this seems that it might be too much work with all the watering, you could always fill up your peat moss containers with good clean soil and sprinkle your seeds on the top and not have to pay so much attention to them.

Whichever way you decide to go, it’s a great winter project that you can enjoy for the rest of the season.

Nicola Bishop

bishop4086@rogers.com

 

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I have decided to choose three plants that I think would fit into most homes quite nicely depending of course on what type of light you have. The first one is actually one of my favorites and that is the pony tail palm. I acquired mine as a rescue plant and have had it for about four years now. When I first rescued it, it had about six to eight strands on it and looked very sad. I repotted it and placed it right in front of a bright window and slowly it came back to life and now sits very proudly with about sixty strands.

The Pony Tail Palm is not really a palm at all but known by a few names: “elephant foot”, which it is known for because of its bulbous base and thin trunk and some people call it “bottle palm”.

They are a native to dry Mexican climates which allows it to survive interior winter heat as long as it not watered too frequently. It only needs watering about once a month so it is great if you are a traveler or away at your cottage a lot during the summer. Try not to let water sit in a saucer, but let it dry well between watering and it will add a unique beauty to wherever you place it, especially in a nice bright window.

The second plant is a Jasmine. It is known for its unique fragrant flowers and shinny leaves. It blooms in January inside the home and in August when planted outside as a shrub. It likes a lot of bright light when it sits facing east or outside on a porch in the warmer months.

Jasmine does not tolerate watering lapses very well and the leaves discolor quickly if the plant dries out, so this plant needs a lot of attention. But if you have the time, it is well worth it. It likes about 4 to 6 hours of bright sunshine every day and if it is near a slightly open window with air flow it is even happier. It can be trained to creep around a window if tied at certain points. You can put your Jasmine out in the warmer months and bring it back in before the first frost.

A mild fertilizer high in phosphorous twice a year will be very beneficial as well.

Thirdly I have picked the Sansevieria plant even though it is not an unusual plant. It is one of the easiest plants to take care of especially for beginners. The other two plants need nice sunny windows but this beauty can tolerate low light and can even go for two months over the winter with no water.

The Sansevieria is also know as the “snake plant” or “mother in laws tongue” and has about 60 different species. The leaves are unique, the pattern on the leaves change for each new growth and can be speckled, or striped.

You need to be careful when watering, if you over-water the leaves they will fall off and produce root rot. If you underwater the leaves they will look wrinkled and the roots will be damaged. Let the soil dry out completely between watering and water less in the winter months. They will do well in a warm room and tolerate light and shade. I have mine sitting in a square glass vase in the bathroom window and has done well for years with virtually no care needed at all.

They can be divided easily. New shoots will emerge from the soil, and the spikes can be repotted and are rapid growers once they are established.

All three plants have very different looks and needs and once you have the watering under control it’s a piece of cake. The nice thing about the pony tail palm and the sansevieria is that you can just ignore them. In fact they even like that treatment.

Next time, I will talk about growing sprouts from seed on your window ledge. A great fun way to get kids involved. And sprouts can be enjoyed in a sandwich or salad.

Nicola Bishop

bishop4086@rogers.com

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