31 March 2010

April To Do List

  • Start annual seeds indoors such as marigold and lavatera.
  • Thin seedlings previously started.
  • To induce branching on seedlings, pinch seedlings above the first pair of true leaves (the second pair) thus removing the uppermost portion.
  • Using a 20-20-20 fertilizer diluted to half strength, feed seedling regularly.
  • If using grow lights, raise them to accommodate growth but no more than three inches above the top leaves.
  • Transplant branched seedlings into cell-packs, one per cell.
  • Finish pruning shrubs and trees (except birches and maples). Birches and maples are best pruned in January or July.
  • Gently pull back mulch  from crowns of growing perennials.
  • Cut down all clematis vines EXCEPT spring-flowering types.
  • Using a fan-shaped rake, remove leaves and other debris from lawns when dry enough to walk on.
  • Once garden beds are dry, remove dead plant material.  Amend beds at this time with compost.
  • While working in beds, watch for early tulips, crocus, puschkinia, squill and hepatica flowers.
  • Check eavestroughs and downspouts for proper drainage.  Set up rain barrels, clean and maintain as necessary.
  • If you still have snow in your yard, shovel some onto your garden beds and around trees. 
  • You may need to water, especially your trees and shrubs.  DO NOT allow them to dry out as they will soon be budding and the sap running.  Check your soil to the depth of the blade on your garden spade (careful of roots), if it is dry, water.

23 March 2010

twincitieslive.com - Bailey Nursery

twincitieslive.com - Bailey Nursery

Do you love hydrangeas but think you can't grow them here in zone 3? Think again! Bailey's Nursery in Minnesota holds the patent on the Endless Summer Hydrangea of which there are currently three varieties available. There's the original Endless Summer which blooms either pink or blue depending on the ph of your soil. If your soil is acidic, the blooms will be blue. If your soil is alkaline, the blooms will be pink. Also in the series is the Blushing Bride which starts white and as the flower matures it becomes pink. Both these introductions are mophead varieties in that the blossoms are clustered into a ball shape. The newest variety available is called Twist 'n Shout. I am excited about this one because it is the first in this series with a lacecap flower! To date, it is difficult to find a lacecap hydrangea that will tolerate the cold winters here but this one is promising. A lacecap has a flatter flower head of clustered blossoms. I have the original Endless Summer hydrangea and now I have got to try Twist 'n Shout!

Take a look at this video clip from Twin Cities Live news program featuring a tour of Bailey's Nursery.
twincitieslive.com - Bailey Nursery

19 March 2010

Canadian Gardening Ezine Blogging Contest

I recently entered a contest with Canadian Gardening to blog on their site.  Here is my entry:

My husband loves to remind me that when we were first married I killed all the plants he gave me! That is until he bought me a philodendron called the sweetheart plant! It grew to monstrous proportions, cascading down the wall, across and beyond! It and my sanseviera rewarded my tenacity despite my toddler's attempts, either accidentally or on purpose, to bring it to its demise by repeatedly dumping it from its pot! I am convinced the sanseviera is foolproof!

Years later; with a home gardening course, my own joys and experiences in my gardens and a job at a local greenhouse; I am much better equipped as I expand my horizons and the beds in my garden. Who said you need grass afterall? When I come across a plant that calls out to me to come home, I just remove a little more sod and widen the beds to accommodate the willing. Aren't you the same?

I yearn for spring to feel the coolness of soil under my hands as I weed and widen the everchanging landscape. Introducing new specimens and coaxing the less willing along. Will my Endless Summer Hydrangea actually bloom this year in my zone 3 garden? Tomato fertilizer, soil acidifier and patience in hand, I hope to coax those blossoms to fruition. Will I succeed? You will have to read my blog to find out. I love the challenge of pushing the boundaries in the garden. Trying tender perennials. Introducing new specimens. I love my rare three-flowered maple! A slow-grower, its branches cascade over the garden pond shading the fish within. Hydrangeas, topiaries, rare plants, roses and new introductions all abound within. I'd love the opportunity to share with you, my fellow enthusiasts, the joy, the serenity and accomplishments and, well, mistakes (we all have them) with you. Won't you join me here in Western Canada? Come sit awhile and we will learn and grow together here on my blog. Furry friends welcome!

Your fellow garden addict,

Comments are welcome on their contest site.  The link is:

UBC Botanical Gardens

UBC Botanical Gardens located in Vancouver, British Columbia has a new virtual newsletter of which I am a happy recipient.  Though we are not their zone, I find the photos inspirational.  I have always enjoyed seeing either in person or through photography, the beauty across our glorious country.  Vancouver is in full bloom right now.  The rhododendrons, azaleas, purple plums and magnolias are in full blossom as they are loving the early spring.  Thanks to the cool weather, the magnolias will probably bloom for a month!  Oh, how I'd love to see that in person!!!  I couldn't resist sharing the link!  Enjoy!!


01 March 2010

Life Springs Eternal

I love March.  Spring is coming and so is my birthday (rats!).  Towards the end of the month early tulips, snowdrops and crocuses will be coming up. For the green thumbs out there dying to do some gardening, there are a few things you can get a headstart on.   If you have an apple tree, March is the time to prune it.  It is imperative that this is completed before the tree starts leafing out, notwithstanding the occasional need to remove a broken branch, suckers and such but the formative pruning needs to be done in early spring before the sap begins to run and the tree forms its flowers.  Remember to never prune more than a third of the overall growth of a tree each year, to do so could seriously set back your tree.  Remove crossing branches, diseased growth, overcrowded branching in the centre of the tree.  I found an excellent site with detailed information and diagrams illustrating the correct method for pruning a young apple tree and a mature tree.  Follow this link: http://www.weekendgardener.net/how-to/prune-apple-trees.htm.  You may train it to grow with a central lead or eliminate a central lead for a rounded canopy which is the most popular style, especially in orchards.

You may continue to plant indoors some of your vegetables and annual flowers   I like to use peat pots and pellets for seeding.  Place these in a tray with a clear plastic dome lid (available at your local greenhouse), plant the seed and water.  Watch carefully over the next few weeks for signs of damping off.   Fungi such as Phtophtora and Pythium cause this condition. Living at the soil line where air meets the moist soil surface, these fungi take advantage of overwatering and attack your seedlings.  To avoid this problem, allow the surface of the soil to dry out between waterings.  Should your soiless mix remain moist for an extended period you may prevent problems with damping off by sprinkling an anti-fungal agent such as Damp-Off on the seedlings and soil or use ground cinnamon.  It is a natural fungicide.

If you see blackened constricted stems with collapse of the stem, you will likely have to discard those plants and take measures to protect the rest.  If you see a grayish mold on the stems of the seedlings, you will have to discard these as well.  It too can be caused by an overly wet medium and high humidity.  The key to growing healthy seedlings is to keep in a bright location, under grow lights if you have them, and water when the soiless mix is dry to the touch.  Don't allow the area to be exposed to drafts.

Follow the instructions on the seed packet for seeding times.  Start seeds requiring dark to germinate in an appropriately dark place and those needing light to germinate in good light. 

Some plants to start now:
marigolds, sunflowers, verbena, matthiola (night-scented stock), cabbage, herbs.

Gardening Calendar 


Prune apple trees
Continue sowing seeds based on plant and area specific information provided on seed packages
Wash leaves of houseplants
Transplant rootbound houseplants


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