Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

garden Archive

Tuesday

19

September 2017

Hope’s How-To | Dry Lay Stone Border

Written by , Posted in Gardening, Hope's How-To

Share Button

Several of you have asked why we haven’t shared any photos of what we’ve been working on in our garden and yard so far this year. Well, friends, it’s been a full summer! Wes and I have both commented to each other several times that we feel that we’ve hardly had any time to be at home this summer and just… be. Anyone else with us?!

How to build a stone border | See our latest garden stone border at hopereflected.com

This past weekend, we were able to enjoy a brief respite from the world and spend some time outside in the garden and yard. Wes was able to get started on the next stone border in our garden, and I must say, it’s looking so beautiful I just had to share some pictures. Check out the “before” photo below.

Our latest garden stone border is on the blog! | See more at hopereflected.com

If you’ve been following along with our blog, you’ve already seen photos of the garden stone border that Wes completed last summer. Well, this summer, between concentrating on our hedge and planting more cedars, we’ve had little time to dedicate to finishing the dry lay stone border on the south side of our garden.

This past weekend, Wes went to work sorting stones and carving out the foundation for our latest dry lay stone border around the garden.

Our latest garden stone border is on the blog! | See more at hopereflected.com

Our latest garden stone border is on the blog! | See more at hopereflected.com

Wes started by cutting back the dirt bank about 10 inches to accommodate for the dry lay stone border. He dug out at an angle so there was positive slope towards the flower bed, which ensures that the stone actually sits into the bed rather than leaning out from the flower bed.

He placed the larger stones after taking a full inventory of the stones he had to work with (see photo above), and went to great lengths to place them evenly throughout the border wall. There was definitely some trial and error involved with creating the dry lay stone border. As Wes noted, the nice thing about this kind of application is that it does not have to be permanent; stones can be adjusted and moved if you get looking at them and feel you don’t that you don’t like the placement. In fact, areas can be entirely dismantled and reassembled to your liking. That’s the beauty of creating a dry lay stone bench or stone border for your garden! Wes says to think of the stones that you already have in your possession as pieces to your puzzle. There will be stones that sit better together; you just have to take the time to find them and to make the pieces work.

Our latest garden stone border. | See more at hopereflected.com

Our latest garden stone border. | See more at hopereflected.com

For us, this latest garden stone border project already makes a beautiful addition to our yard. Our latest border helps balance out the rest of the border around the garden. I love how Wes placed some of the larger stones evenly throughout the first level, and how he was so careful with the colour placement of the stones as well. I can’t wait to see the finished product!

Check out more photos of our DIY stone projects, stone garden benches, and stone borders and let us know what you think!

 

Share Button

Thursday

22

June 2017

Gardening | Peonies

Written by , Posted in Gardening

Share Button

Gardening | Beautiful peonies | Best perennials | Hope Reflected

Our peonies have officially been in bloom for one week! This year, Wes and I really wanted to document the full process of the various plants in our garden and keep a photo journal so we can look back year after year and enjoy our progress.

We’ve got three peony plants in our front yard, and throughout the fleeting weeks of June, we love watching our peony plants grow and blossom.

Gardening | Beautiful peonies | Best perennials | Hope Reflected

For the first time, we opted to use tomato cages around our peony plants to ensure that once at their full maturity for the season, the heavy balls of fluff didn’t just flop over due to their weight. The cages have been relatively successful, however we know for next year that the light pink peonies require the cage to come up just a bit higher (as you can see from these photos).

Gardening | Beautiful peonies | Best perennials | Hope Reflected

Do you have peonies planted in your garden? If so, what are your tips for best practices for the colourful perennials?

Some of our tips for keeping peonies:

  • Early on in the season, use tomato cages to provide support around your peony plants. This will encourage the plants long, thin stems to grow straight, and also provide support for when the peony petals bloom (they’re a top-heavy plant).
  • Let the peony seeds drop if you want a fuller plant year after year. Many people opt to collect their peony seeds before they drop, however if you want your plant to continue to thicken, let the seeds fall naturally.
  • Plant any seeds you do collect in the fall. If you plant peony seeds in the spring, chances are your peonies will not grow and bloom until the following spring. Like garlic, peonies do best if they’re planted in the fall.
  • Don’t forget to enjoy your blooms! The season for peonies is a short one, so don’t forget to cut some of your peony blooms and enjoy them; they work wonders in brightening up a table setting — or someone’s day!

Gardening | Beautiful peonies | Best perennials | Hope Reflected

If you’d like to see pictures of our peonies from last year, check out this post about why I think peonies are some of the best perennials for your garden.

Gardening | Beautiful peonies | Best perennials | Hope Reflected

Gardening | Beautiful peonies | Best perennials | Hope Reflected

 

Share Button

Tuesday

16

May 2017

Gardening: How to grow garlic

Written by , Posted in Gardening

Share Button

how to grow garlic growing garlic

Last fall, we shared some tips about when to plant garlic in your garden as well as how to plant garlic. Now that the winter is over and we’re well into spring, we’d like to share some helpful and realistic tips on how to grow garlic.

This is the first year that Wes and I are attempting to grow our own garlic. We planted the cloves last fall in an area of our yard that gets full sun. Now that warmer weather is upon us, we’re seeing the garlic shoots grow more and more each day. The photos shared in today’s post were taken about three weeks ago.

The varieties of garlic that we planted last fall will all harvest mid-summer, and we’re looking forward to enjoying the fruits of our labour later this season!

how to grow garlic growing garlic

Today, I’d like to share some practical advice with you when it comes to growing your own garlic. If you’re contemplating how to grow garlic, here’s what we’ve learned so far:

  • Record which variety of garlic is planted in which row of your garlic garden. I told you last fall that we were keeping track and were going to label each row of garlic in the spring, and do you think I can find our list anywhere?! The consolation is that we only planted four garlic varieties, and Wes and I are both confident the garlic is planted alphabetically (Israeli, Persian star, Sicilian, with a row of elephant garlic at the end) so we have that going for us.
  • Make sure you leave enough space between each clove of garlic. We heard from a seasoned source that if you plant your garlic cloves too close together, they can cluster. Wes and I spaced our rows of garlic about 6 inches apart, with about 4 to 6 inches between each clove. As you can see from the photos in today’s post, the shoots aren’t necessarily growing up evenly.
  • Depending on your taste preferences, you will want to water your garlic garden regularly. The more you water your garlic as it grows, the more mellow it will taste when you harvest it. On the other hand, the drier the season or the less you water your garlic, the more potent it will taste when you harvest it.

More to come as the season moves along! If you’re a seasoned gardener, what are your best practices for growing garlic?

how to grow garlic growing garlic

Share Button

Tuesday

7

February 2017

Best Perennials for your garden | Peonies

Written by , Posted in Gardening

Share Button

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

Share Button

Tuesday

10

January 2017

Gardening: 5 Benefits of Evergreen Trees

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Gardening

Share Button

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

Share Button

Tuesday

15

November 2016

Gardening | How to Prepare Hostas for Winter

Written by , Posted in Gardening

Share Button

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!

Share Button

Tuesday

8

November 2016

Gardening: How to Plant Garlic

Written by , Posted in Gardening

Share Button

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

 

 

Share Button

Tuesday

1

November 2016

Gardening: When to Plant Garlic

Written by , Posted in Gardening

Share Button

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

Share Button

Tuesday

25

October 2016

Gardening: How to Grow Cockscomb

Written by , Posted in Gardening

Share Button

cockscomb

Low maintenance, fragrant, and absolutely vibrant, cockscomb are a flower oft-overlooked and taken for granted. Cockscomb, also known as Wool Flowers, or even Brain Celosia (because that sounds appealing), are beautiful blooming annuals that grow to be 12-30 inches in height.

Wes and I first came across these beauties at Stratford’s Garlic Festival this past September, and, you guessed it; we’re growing cockscomb next year!

While Stratford’s Garlic Festival is most widely known for its garlic (obviously), one of the booths we passed by was selling cockscomb stems for $1.00 each. Needless to say, after hearing a bit about the blooms and how you can save the seeds and plant the following seeding season, we purchased two with the intent of including them in our Spring 2017 garden.

Since mid-September, we’ve had our cockscomb blooms hanging upside down in a dry place, with a bowl beneath. After drying, the seeds fall from the cockscomb bloom, and can be planted the following season.

cockscomb

As you can see from the photo above, after a month and a half of drying, the cockscomb drops its seeds (the seeds come from the part of the plant beneath the coloured bloom but before the stem).

Cockscomb flowers usually come in four colour varieties: Yellow, pink, orange, and white. Interestingly, the name cockscomb comes from the similarity to a cock’s comb on a rooster’s head.

cockscomb

Aspiring gardener tip: When you’re drying your cockscomb, make sure you place a bowl beneath the plant in which to let the seeds fall. As you can see from the photo above, after about a month and a half, there are plenty of seeds collected or our garden next Spring. (Note: The seeds are the round black pieces, the lighter pieces are the seed casing or shells.)

cockscomb

I am very excited to see what happens next Spring when we plant the seeds rom our first-ever cockscomb plants. Cockscomb flowers are beautiful annuals, and it will be interesting to see how our latest gardening experiment turns out!

If you’re planning to plant your own cockscomb seeds next Spring, here are some tips:

  • Plant your cockscomb flower seedlings into moist soil in late spring.
  • You may opt to start your seedlings indoors about 6 to 8 weeks before your region’s last frost.
  • Outdoors, plant your seedlings about 8 inches apart.
  • Cockscomb seedlings grow best in full sun.
Share Button

Tuesday

18

October 2016

Gardening: Preparing Roses for Winter

Written by , Posted in Gardening

Share Button

If you’ve been following along on the blog, you know that earlier this summer, Wes and I planted four different roses bushes in our front garden. Our roses this year have been a huge success, and now we’re getting ready for our first winter with these beautiful bushes!

Although we’re well into fall, our roses are still producing new blooms, and we want to make sure the roses are protected throughout the winter months.

Here are some helpful tips if you’ve got rose bushes of your own and are preparing roses for winter:

1. Keep roses watered. Fall usually brings with it plenty of rain (depending where you live), however it’s a good idea to continue to water your rose bushes and keep them hydrated. You can continue to water even after the first frost, but stop before the ground freezes for the season.

preparing roses for winter

2. Stop cutting the roses. Yes, it may be tempting, especially if you’re still seeing new growth, but in order to properly prepare roses for winter, you should stop cutting back your roses in early to mid-fall. This will allow the roses to form rose hips (rose seed pods). Done right, you can actually collect the seed pods to plant more roses for next season.

preparing roses for winter

3. Stop fertilizing roses before the first frost. Like watering, fertilizer is an essential tool for healthy roses during the warmer months, however you should stop fertilizing before the first frost. This will prevent growth from spreading too long into the fall season, and will encourage the roses to prepare for winter.

4. Protect the base of the rose bush. Cover the base of your rose bush with soil or mulch, to cover above the bud union. You’ll still have the stems (or canes) of the roses sticking out. Also take this opportunity to pull off any old leaves from the roses (leaves can contain disease, as you may have seen with one of our rose bushes this year). Rather than just covering the base of the rose bush, some people actually form a base (of mesh or plastic or another material) and fill it with soil or mulch.

5. Tie the stems (canes) together with string. Winter can be windy (and snowy!) so hold your rose bush together by tying the canes together with spring, and then in the spring cut back the old stems to promote new growth.

preparing roses for winter

Share Button