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Gardening Archive

Tuesday

14

March 2017

Outdoor Living | Birds of Winter

Written by , Posted in Gardening

bird feeders

While it’s no secret that Wes and I love birds (you’ll recall that last Spring we welcomed a family of robins to our patio) this winter we’ve had some issues attracting more feathered friends to our yard.

At first we thought maybe it was the feed, then we thought perhaps it could be our timing (we waited until well into December before we set up our winter feeders), and then we discovered it was really just the bird feeder placement.

We’ve got three bird feeders:

  • A tube feeder (metal, enclosed hanging feeder that feeds seed out at ports with perches) which is store-bought,
  • A suet feeder (metal/wood construction with spots to hold two suet cakes),
  • Our favourite is featured in today’s post. A handmade cedar tray feeder which we bought from one of our neighbours (he constructs them as a hobby).

bird feeder

We started our cedar tray bird feeder out on one of our stone benches, but found the only creatures it attracted were squirrels. Last weekend, Wes relocated the tray feeder so it now hangs outside one of our kitchen windows, and after repositioning the bird feeder to eye level, voila! We’ve got birds, people!

Likely a combination of the location of the feeder, as well as its proximity to the fence, our cedars, and our Japanese maple tree, we have a real community of birds visiting our bird feeder once again.

I’ve yet to capture some decent images, so for now you’ll have to enjoy these quick snaps. In the past few days, we’ve enjoyed watching cardinals (both male and female), dark-eyed juncos, slate-coloured juncos (according to our bird book, the slate-coloured junco is a rare variety), as well as house sparrows. (Wes is somewhat concerned with the territorial nature of the house sparrows, as they have been known to extremely aggressive against other birds.)

What birds are frequenting your feeder this winter?

bird feeder

 

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Thursday

23

February 2017

For the Home | 3 Outdoor Living Spaces to Make You Swoon

Written by , Posted in Gardening

There’s just something about an outdoor living space with comfortable, fluffy chairs, a welcoming layout, and a warm fireplace that I just LOVE. If you follow me on Pinterest, you’ve seen some of the inviting spaces that inspire me. Today, I’m sharing 3 outdoor living spaces to make you swoon. Complete with all the essentials — lots of cushions, covering, and greenery surrounding, — these outdoor spaces are sure to inspire your outdoor living area this spring and summer season.

 

1. Ode to tradition. There’s something about an outdoor living space that’s completely covered and yet completely open that is absolutely beautiful. I can picture summer Saturdays spent in this space reading and summer evenings spent lounging by candlelight with family and friends.

outdoor living spaces

img src athomearkansas.com

 

2. So many spots to sit. Especially when you’re looking to entertain outdoors, having more than one sitting area is an appealing (and functional!) idea. This space has a great layout: A fireplace at the helm, a casual lounge area under a shade pergola, and a more formal dining space.

outdoor living spaces

img src Architectural Digest

 

3. A firm foundation. While this look wouldn’t work in every yard, this outdoor living space is anchored by four strong, sturdy, white pillars that really complement the other elements of this set up. The fireplace in this space is equally as strong, and acts as a focal point in this gorgeous garden space.

outdoor living spaces

img src Traditional Living

Looking for more inspiration for your own outdoor living space? Be sure to follow my Outdoor Living board on Pinterest for fresh ideas!

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Tuesday

14

February 2017

Gardening | How to cut roses

Written by , Posted in Gardening

how to cut roses gardening

Singin’ in the Rain Floribunda rose | Img src Hope Reflected

There are thousands of rose varieties in the world. Some natural, some hybrids, roses can be separated into three groups: Species roses, old garden roses, and modern garden roses. Species roses are natural, old garden roses were cultivated before 1867, and modern garden roses were cultivated after 1867.

how to cut roses gardening

White Bolero Floribunda rose | Img src Hope Reflected

In our garden, Wes and I have started a collection of hybrid roses, each of a different colour and variety. A hybrid rose is created by the cross-breeding of two types of roses. While some hybrids are more hearty than others, hybrid roses make for a beautiful addition to any garden in full or partial sun.

how to cut roses gardening

White Bolero Floribunda roses | Img src Hope Reflected

If you’re looking to trim back your garden roses to enjoy indoors or to give away, there are some steps you’ll want to take to ensure you get the most out of your cut roses.

Tips for how to cut roses:

  1. Make sure your garden shears are clean. This can affect the quality of your cut roses. If you’ve been working with plants in your garden that have disease or bacteria, you don’t want that to spread to your rose bush (either the cut rose or the rose bush that remains in the ground).
  2. Cut the roses at the right stage. A good rule of thumb is to cut roses from your garden just after they’ve matured from a bud to a flower, when the petals are starting to blossom. This can vary depending what variety of rose you’re working with.
  3. Cut your roses first thing in the morning. If you can’t cut your roses before 9:00am, the second best time would be in the evening after the sun has gone down. You want to catch the rose bush when it’s still cool and holding water. This will not only make your cut roses last longer, it will also assist the remaining rose bush in recovery and regrowth.
  4. Cut your roses at the right angle and place. Don’t cut the rose stem straight across, you’ll want to trim the bush at a 45 degree angle. This will assist in drinking when you put the cut roses in a vase. Cut the stems as close to the base of the rose bush as possible.
  5. Remove any leaves that will fall below the water line. A good rule of thumb for any cut flower (not just roses) is to remove any leave that could potentially sit in the water of your vase. It’s important to leave some leaves higher up on the stem to assist the flower in drinking water, however any leaves that would fall below the water line should be removed before you put the roses in the vase.
how to cut roses gardening

Red Ten-Ten hybrid tea rose | Img src Hope Reflected

 

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Tuesday

7

February 2017

Best Perennials for your garden | Peonies

Written by , Posted in Gardening

peonies peony plants gardening

“A rare fusion of fluff and majesty, the peony is now coming into bloom.” {Henry Mitchell}

The peony has long been one of my favourite flowers; a relatively low maintenance perennial, peonies look pretty, emit a delicate fragrance, and require relatively little attention (unless you want to trim them and enjoy the peonies from your garden indoors, then you have to deal with ants, which we’ll get to later in this post).

peonies peony plants gardening

If you’re in the midst of planning your spring garden, peonies should definitely be on your list of perennials to include in your garden design.

Looking to include peonies in your garden this year? Here are some gardening tips to consider when planting peonies:

  • Your best bet is plant peonies in the fall. I know, I know, we’re coming in to spring, but this is a very important fact to consider. We transplanted a peony plant year before last in the spring, and it was basically a season behind the other peony plants already in the garden.

peonies peony plants gardening

  • Peonies love full sun. They also require regular watering.
  • Some magazines and websites will tell you that peonies should be planted on their own; we’ve got our cluster planted at the foot of a hybrid lilac tree, and they thrive. No competition there.

peonies peony plants gardening

  • If you’re looking to trim your peonies to enjoy indoors, but run into “ants” tucked away under the peony petals, don’t panic! The ants are actually eating the nectar and have been known to keep peony plants free from disease. A good rule of thumb if you’re looking to trim your peonies and bring them indoors is to prepare a bowl of warm water with Dawn soap (the blue works best) and then dunk each bloom. The ants should come right off in the water, and the Dawn soap won’t hurt your peonies.
  • Popular varieties of the peony plant include the firelight (pale pink blossoms that bloom relatively early), Karl Rosenfield (large dark pink or crimson blossoms that bloom later than the other varieties), and early scouts (magenta/bright red that bloom early in the season).

peonies peony plants gardening

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Tuesday

31

January 2017

Planning Your Spring Garden

Written by , Posted in Gardening

The middle of winter is a great time to get dreaming about your spring garden! Wes and I have already started planning our outdoor projects for the warmer weather, and we are so excited for gardening this year. You may be wondering how to start planning your spring garden, or where to start, so here are some tips to get a head start on planning your outdoor living oasis.

Planning your spring garden doesn’t have to be hard, in fact, quite the opposite! It should be a fun experience; a time to take note of the outdoor projects you want to complete, and narrow down a list of what’s actually realistic for one season.

Tips on planning your spring garden:

1. Take note of the perennials already in your garden. This will help you determine what (if any) new varieties you want to introduce in the spring. Keep in mind that some perennials — such as hostas or peonies — expand and grow year after year. Unless you catch the peonies before they go to seed, expect more peonies this spring (and that’s a beautiful thing)!

planning your spring garden

 

2. Determine what annuals you want to include in your garden. This can be as easy as looking online, browsing local seed catalogues, and figuring out what’s going to work for your outdoor space. Depending on the annual, you’ll want to get your seeds early, and possibly even start them indoors before the thaw. Last year, Wes and I tried our hand at a few different annuals. While our zinnias started out strong, in the end only the bachelor buttons survived. Prepare yourself by getting any potting supplies you’ll need for spring (we like to pot our annuals, as it makes for a portable garden).

planning your spring garden

 

3. Start preparing for any major outdoor projects now. Many people have a misconception that planning your spring garden involves solely plants. Not so! If you’ve got dreams of building an outdoor patio or outdoor living area, get your plans completed now so when the weather breaks you can start strong! Last summer, Wes built a few dry lay stone benches, and also completed a dry lay border around our gardens. We had the supplies in hand long before the outdoor work actually got started.

planning your spring garden

 

4. Cultivate what you already have. It can be tempting when spring rolls around to get all excited about new plants and making changes to your property, and rightfully so! However, keep in mind while planning your spring garden that you need to care for what you have already planted. Cultivating a full and lush garden involves a lot of manual work, and consistent maintenance makes that work a little easier to manage. Did you trim back any perennials in the fall and do a final weed? If not, get ready to weed your garden and trim back any old growth before your plants come out of dormancy.

planning your spring garden

If you’re looking for more tips on how to get planning your spring garden, head over to my Pinterest and check out my Gardening board.

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Tuesday

10

January 2017

Gardening: 5 Benefits of Evergreen Trees

Written by , Posted in Gardening, Hope Reflected

benefits of evergreen trees

By definition, an evergreen is a plant or tree that maintains its leaves throughout the year. Whatever the season, the leaves of an evergreen are always green (hence the name, ‘evergreen’). The opposite of an evergreen plant or tree is a deciduous plant or tree, which by definition is a plant that loses its foliage during the fall, winter, or dry months.

benefits of evergreen trees

Did you know that there are more than 100 species of evergreen conifers throughout North America? It’s true! While Wes and I only have four species in our yard, the possibilities and styles are endless if you’re looking to incorporate evergreens into your property landscape.

benefits of evergreen trees

While some prefer more challenging trees with which to landscape their property, Wes and I both are fans of easy-maintenance evergreen trees for several reasons:

  1. Evergreen trees provide colour and character year-round. While deciduous trees lose their leaves, evergreens maintain their green colour all year long. In the middle of winter, when everything else is looking dull, evergreens bring some much-needed colour and character to your property.
  2. Evergreen trees provide an excellent wind-break. While this fact may be of more interest if you live in an area of the country that experiences harsh winters, wind-breaks are not only effective in protecting your home from wind and snow, they can also help conserve energy. Alternatively, evergreens also provide shade in the summer, which again, can help conserve energy.
  3. Evergreen trees provide a home for birds and other wildlife. You may not be an avid birder, however there’s something so special about watching birds flit about your yard. If you’re looking to attract birds to your yard, evergreen trees are certainly a suggestion, and you should also have a feeder equipped with food for whatever variety of bird you’re looking to attract.
  4. Evergreen trees are low maintenance. I’m all about plants that look good but that don’t require a whole lot of maintenance. Wes and I have a few different varieties of cedars in our yard, and we love them. We love them not just because they look good, but because they don’t require a lot of maintenance.
  5. Evergreen trees are great for the environment. Not only does one acre of trees provide enough oxygen for up to 18 people, trees also clean the air, save water, and even prevent soil erosion.

benefits of evergreen trees

benefits of evergreen trees

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Tuesday

6

December 2016

Indoor Gardening: How to Care for Poinsettias

Written by , Posted in Gardening, Style at Home

poinsettias

If you live in North America, poinsettias are one of the sure signs of Christmas! If you’ve ever wondered why poinsettia plants are closely associated with Christmas, it all comes back to a Mexican folk tale. Legend has it that a poor girl who couldn’t afford a gift to offer to Christ on Christmas Eve, instead brought an offering of weeds. When brought in to the church, because it was given in love, the weeds bloomed into red and green flowers.

poinsettias

Poinsettias aren’t native to the U.S. or Canada, in fact, the poinsettia plant is native to southern Mexico and Central America. With blooms in red, burgundy, pink, peach, yellow, and cream, poinsettias (in their native land) can reach heights of up to sixteen feet tall!

The poinsettia plant is named after the former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Dr. Joel R. Poinsett; it was Poinsett who introduced poinsettias to the U.S.

As poinsettias are a popular Christmas plant, we’re getting into that season where the beautiful blooms are given as gifts, or you may be decorating with them throughout your home. Here are some helpful tips for poinsettia plant care, and how to care for poinsettias in your home this holiday season:

  • Poinsettias love sunlight, so try to position your poinsettia plant close to a sunny window; these plants love natural sunlight (hey, they’re native to Mexico and South America, so it only makes sense). Most poinsettias like at least five hours of sunlight each day.
  • Poinsettias love water. Water your poinsettia plants regularly and don’t let the pot dry out. This is a balancing act because while poinsettia plants love water, they don’t fare well if their pot is over-watered. Be sure whatever container you’re keeping the plant in is able to drain any excess water.
  • Poinsettias love maintenance. Be sure to keep the plant and the pot free from any excess leaves that may fall. If you find your poinsettia plant is losing a lot of leaves, that’s a sign the plant needs water, or is perhaps in a place with too much light. This may seem like a contradiction to the point above, but poinsettias can be picky.

poinsettias

Interesting fact: Did you know that December 12th is National Poinsettia Day? The day is recognized in honour of the passing of Dr. Joel R. Poinsett (after whom the poinsettia plant is named).

 

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Tuesday

15

November 2016

Gardening | How to Prepare Hostas for Winter

Written by , Posted in Gardening

This past weekend, Wes and I were finally (finally!) able to get out and complete some much-needed yard work in preparation for the cooler months ahead. Mainly, we (Wes) were able to clean up the blowing leaves, trim back the hostas, and trim back the peonies for winter.

how to prepare your hostas for winter

As you can see, we’ve got lots of hostas around our home. We love them; in the summer, hostas are one of the most easy, low-maintenance plants you can get. They require very little attention, and they look fantastic. All. Summer. Long. We’ve been fortunate this year in that our hostas looked good well into October. Each year, we take care to cut them back before the snow flies, and so far, our methodology of how to prepare our hostas for winter seems to work (each year they come back stronger).

how to prepare hostas for winter

If you’re wondering how to prepare hostas for winter, here are a few tips:

  1. Trim the hostas back after the first frost. Try to do this before the leaves of the hostas get too wet and start to rot. Using shears or scissors (I used scissors), cut the hostas back and remove the leaves. I usually leave a good 3 inches or so on the stem.
  2. Dispose of the old leaves. For some reason, hostas seem to be attractive to slugs and snails. By trimming back the leaves and properly disposing of them (don’t leave them laying in your garden), you remove any protection or ‘home’ for the slugs. I’ve also heard from several avid gardeners that leaving a small bowl of beer out in the garden around your hostas is a great way to rid the garden of slugs and snails.
  3. Make plans to divide your hostas. Typically, gardeners recommend dividing hostas every few years. I was extremely fortunate, as all our existing hostas were gifted by our generous neighbours. Our hostas are coming into year four, and Wes and I need to decide which varieties we’ll divide next Spring. Dividing hostas is best done in the Spring.

preparing hostas for winter

Some people may choose to cover their remaining hostas stems with mulch; I’ve read mixed reviews on this method of preparing your hostas winter. In the photo above, you can see how Wes and I leave our hostas for the winter. We don’t cover them with mulch, we don’t do anything other than trim them back and get rid of the old leaves, and so far we haven’t been disappointed.

Any other tips you use for preparing hostas for winter? I’m interested to know!

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Tuesday

8

November 2016

Gardening: How to Plant Garlic

Written by , Posted in Gardening

Last week, we shared some tips about when to plant garlic in your garden. We thought it would be neat to share our experience of planting our first garlic garden, and provide some tips on how to plant garlic (and then next Summer we’ll follow up and see if it worked).

how to plant garlic

First things first, we had to find the right spot in our yard. Good advice when you’re selecting a spot in your garden or yard to plant a garlic garden, choose a location that gets full sun. Wes removed the sod and worked the dirt, before adding black earth to the garden. You want your soil to be dug over. If you’re working with land that’s sandy or clay-like, that’s OK!

how to plant garlic

As we mentioned last week, garlic does best if you plant it in the Fall. In the garden, we created small pockets 4 to 6 inches apart. We also dedicated each row in the garden to a specific variety of garlic (more on that below).

how to plant garlic

Wes and I did some research before hand to see best practices on how to plant garlic. While some experts advise you should break your garlic cloves apart several days before planting, others advise that breaking the cloves apart too early will cause the cloves to dry out. Up to you, but we opted to wait until just before planting to break the cloves apart. Also, don’t peel the husk, leave the paper on the garlic cloves for planting.

how to plant garlic

When planting your garlic, place each clove about 2 to 4 inches deep in the ground. You’ll want to make sure the flat root is at the bottom, with the stem of the garlic clove facing up. Again, we planted our garlic, dedicating each row to a different variety. Rows should be about 6 inches apart, with about 4 to 6 inches between each clove.

how to plant garlic

Another important tip when considering how to plant garlic in your garden, is the fact that you shouldn’t plant just any garlic. We heard from several seasoned sources how garlic bought at the grocer’s doesn’t grow well (or sometimes at all) in the garden. The varieties of garlic that Wes and I planted this year were all purchased at the Stratford Garlic Festival.

Here’s some information about the different garlic varieties we planted:

  • Israeli garlic: A hard-neck garlic that harvests mid summer, Israeli garlic has white skin with purple flushes. Israeli garlic has up to 10 cloves per bulb.
  • Persian star garlic: A hard-neck garlic that harvests mid summer, Persian star garlic has purple-striped skin. Persian star garlic usually has about 8 cloves per bulb.
  • Sicilian garlic: A soft-neck garlic that harvests mid summer, Sicilian garlic has white skin. Sicilian garlic can have up to 14 cloves per bulb.

We documented which row each garlic variety is planted, and next Spring we’ll label the rows so we can keep track of which varieties thrive and grow best.

how to plant garlic

 

 

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Tuesday

1

November 2016

Gardening: When to Plant Garlic

Written by , Posted in Gardening

when to plant garlic

Wondering when to plant garlic in your garden? While garlic can be planted in spring or fall, traditionally in our neck of the woods fall is the time to get those bulbs in the ground. We’ve had such a mild fall so far, which is great for those of us who are late getting our garlic in the ground!

when to plant garlic

If you take the time to plant garlic in the fall, typically before the first hard frost, you’ll see the greatest reward next summer, as bulbs planted in the fall tend to grow larger and with more flavour when harvested the following summer.

Back in September, Wes and I attended the Stratford Garlic Festival, and it was an incredible way to learn from local farmers about their best practices, what to do and what not to do when planting garlic, and also what different varieties of garlic mean for growing.

when to plant garlic

Here are some tips if you’re planting garlic in your garden this fall:

  • Break the garlic cloves apart before you put them in the ground (don’t peel the cloves before you plant them);
  • Plant your garlic about one month before the ground freezes for winter;
  • Garlic grows well in the sun, so keep this in mind when selecting a location in your garden;
  • Cloves can be placed 4 to 6 inches apart, and about 2 inches in the ground;
  • Plant your garlic cloves with the pointed end facing up. The root should face the earth.

More to come as Wes and I plant our garlic and get it growing!

when to plant garlic

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