30 March 2011

Gardening Tips From Frank Ferragine

Yesterday's post contained notes from Frank Ferragine's workshop "Gardening 101" as presented at Edmonton Home and Garden Show.  Today I am focusing on Frank's tips - ideas to fulfill the goals and ideals discussed in his "Gardening 101" workshop.  Some of this information is supplemented with hardiness maps and related information that I researched for this post.

Know Your Soil

  1. To roughly determine the composition of your soil without sending it off to a soil analysis expert you might try this.  Go to the middle of your garden plot and remove enough soil to fill a mason jar 3/4 full with soil.  Next add water and dishwashing liquid.  Shake.  Allow to sit at least overnight.  You will find the soil will have separated into layers. You might see sand, loam, clay in the jar.  This will give you an idea of what types of soil amendments you should consider to make the best of your garden plot. 
  2. Amend your soil in the fall.  Why?  The freeze and thaw cycle through fall, winter and early spring will work in the amendments and loosen your soil to make it easier in the spring to finish the amendment in preparation for planting.
  3. If you get manure from a friend who is a farmer, get aged manure and ask that it be dug out from the center of the pile.  The center of the pile heats a great deal thus killing any weed seeds that may be present.  Also, Frank likes to use sheep manure as it has fewer weed seeds to begin with.  There's something about the sheep's digestive system that makes it so.
  4. Frank loves to plant in raised beds.  He has tried and currently uses 4' x 8' boxes constructed from plywood.  Don't use pressure treated lumber nor treated railway ties as toxins in these woods will leach into the soil and, subsequently, your vegetables growing there.
Know your location. 
  1. Frank says the higher the elevation, the lower the zone.  For example, a balcony on a high rise, say 14 floors up, will be a lower zone than the ground floor.  The ground floor might be a zone 3 but the balcony 14 floors up will likely be lower, zone 2 for example.  Interesting.  The closer you are to sea level, the milder the climate, thus the higher number zone.  ie.  Vancouver is zone 8, Edmonton is zone 3b.
  2. http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/ushzmap.html
  3. Canada's hardiness map zones and USA's hardiness map zones are different.  According to the  USDA Edmonton is zone 3b while the Canadian hardiness map indicates it is zone 3a.  The USDA hardiness zones are informative: the extremes of winter cold are a major determinant of whether a plant species can be cultivated outdoors at a particular location.  Canada's map takes into account other variables such as median highs and moisture. 
For more information see plant variables.

Most plant labels are printed in the states, thus they indicate the USDA zones rather than Environment Canada's zones and the information comes from the US.  The gardener needs to be aware of the differences. 

Check this comparison model and find your particular zone to make proper selections.

Many gardens have micro-climates.  Take note where the snow melts first in your garden.  This is a warmer micro-climate.  Consider planting crocus in that spot for early bloom.  Frank plants crocus bulbs right in his lawn.  Once the bulbs quit blooming the grass is growing and all can be mowed as you mow the lawn.  At least that is what he has done and has mesmerized neighbours and visitors alike when they see the crocus blooming in what was and will be the lawn!

In these micro-climates, you can plant, experimentally, those less hardy perennials and shrubs.  I have a micro-climate near my deck where I grow a rhododendron (zone 4) and it seems perfectly happy there.  Try experimenting with hydrangeas, magnolia shrubs, perennials and such.  It is advised to try only one zone above yours for best results.  In Edmonton (zone 3a/b) I have not had success with any zone 5 plants.  That being said, Lois Hole said many plants that indicate one zone do so simply because they weren't tried in a lower zone.  She was a big proponent of experimenting with zones in her own garden. 

Tomorrow's post will include some design disasters, Frankie's favourite tips, and some little tidbit factoids.  Come back to green up your figurative green thumb!

Gardening 101 With Frank Ferragine (Edmonton Home and Garden Show)

The Realities
  1. There are no no-maintenance gardens.
  2. Some plants will die.
  3. Gardening is not rocket science.
  4. Gardening is trial and error.
Ultimate Goals
  1. All year interest.  Include evergreens, grasses, weeping trees and statuary/hard structure.
  2. Your garden needs to fit you and your lifestyle.
  3. Find the right plant for the right place.
The Keys
  1. Know your soil. ie. clay, sand, loam
  2. Know your light. ie. full sun, part sun, shade
  3. Know your zone ie. USDA/Canada zone, microclimates
  4. Know your limits ie. slopes, winds, high traffic, children, pets, your physical limits
Next post goes into more detail in the above.  Be sure to stop by tomorrow.

29 March 2011

Edmonton Home and Garden Show Photo Mosaic 2011

This mosaic is compiled of some of the best of this year's Edmonton Home and Garden Show which I attended March 25, 2011.

 Things to note: 
The center photo represents one of the newest trends in gardens - a vertical garden.  This one was made with faux plants but imagine it as a privacy barrier complete with rock garden plants, for example.  Out of necessity, it would be best suited to plants with a shallow root system and preferably those that can withstand drier conditions.  A watering system can be improvised to provide for the needs of the plants in this vertical garden.

Note the camouflaged air conditioning unit!  I took this photo especially for my husband who likes all things "camouflage". 

Wrought iron fencing and gates were showcased in a couple booths.  I liked this one in particular.

Second from the left in the top row is a new design in modular homes.  This is complete with a steel beam structure and is completely built in factory.  A model of this sort can be ready within two months!  The water gardens in front were a nice touch too.  It was so crowded inside so I remained out in front to take photos.

Third from the top, far left:  Greenland Garden Stage.  This is where my daughter and I met and attended the workshop by Frank Ferragine.

Don't you love this kitchen?  You have to see this in real to appreciate the attention to detail which includes built in drawer organizers, spice racks and architectural detail to the facade of each cabinet. 

What I didn't like about the show:  Not enough about gardens!  Where was the representation from the major garden centers?  No booths from Greenland, Salisbury, Kuhlmann's, Whitemud, Wellington..... Cannor nurseries had a small booth and one other nursery supposedly had a booth but I couldn't find it.  No representation from gardening magazines!  Previous years had booths by Gardens West and the Alberta Gardener Magazine.  Aside from a few water garden displays, and the garden which Nait students of landscape architecture (all the plant photos above were from this display) designed and constructed, there was minimal emphasis on gardening!  It is a Home and Garden Show, right?  Too many booths with people selling non-essential items like mops, food choppers, and the like.  Sure we use them but I'd rather go to a store.

One display that I enjoyed was that of a night garden scene complete with exterior lighting around a pond and waterfall.  This booth was enclosed and darkened so the only light visible was that from the strategically placed garden fixtures and the entrance.  Two chairs were placed beyond the foot end of the pond so one could sit and "soak" in the experience.  "Mists" arose near the top of the falls and were lit with coloured lights.  It was a satisfying and memorable visit.  I'm sure their extra efforts will bring them more business.  I neglected to write down the name of the company, though.  Here's a photo from within the booth:

There was some attention to home security, thus these two suits of armor:

Exterior Living Spaces and Planters photos:

Bamboo was used within the garden and in planters.

This grow system is a good innovative idea for a small space.

Come back tomorrow for notes from the workshop presented by Frank Ferragine (Frankie Flowers).

Linking with Mary from Little Red House for Mosaic Monday.

26 March 2011

Meeting Frank Ferragine

Yesterday I attended the Home and Garden Show and got to meet Frank Ferragine!!  Before he did his presentation, my daughter and I were in the area and he came out and greeted us.  We talked about weather and gardening a bit before the show.   He is just as charming and funny as on tv!   Sad thing, my batteries for my camera were dead and I didn't get a photo with Frank.  I had to go to the mall and buy some more.  Oh well, I did get some good photos at the show and will post them later.

I wonder if the coordinators ever attended Canada Blooms?  If not, they should.  The Home and Garden Show here seems more like the renovation show!  Very little to do with gardening.  Kudos to the Nait landscape architecture students who made a stunning garden display complete with flowering shrubs, pathways, and a little patio area.  It was the best thing there!!

25 March 2011

Going to the Home and Garden Show

Good morning everyone!  I'm up bright and early!  I'm headed to the Edmonton Home and Garden Show today!  I promise to be back here tomorrow or maybe later with photos!  Have a great day!

24 March 2011

Healthy Bottom, Healthy Top

This morning on the local edition of Breakfast Television (btedmonton.ca) Frank Ferragine (a.k.a. Frankie Flowers), a Canadian gardening expert, put in a guest appearance, the focus being flowers, of course.  Among the topics discussed were sowing seeds now for spring planting.  Frank mentioned that in Edmonton, Environment Canada says our last expected day of frost is May 8.  But we all know how Edmonton can be and Frank reiterated what is common knowledge here.  We can get snow until the end of May sometimes.  I know!  It sucks, really!

Good advice from Frank:  if you are a family of four, don't plant a whole tray of tomato seeds!  Plant what you will eat!  One plant can yield several tomatoes, depending on the variety.  Also, if you don't have room or proper lighting, don't sow seeds indoors.  Rather, buy started plants at the beginning of the season.

Which brings us to "healthy bottom, healthy top."  When selecting your plants, whether flowers or vegetables, check the roots!  Gently pull the plant from the pot and inspect the roots.  The roots should be visible and plenty.  Fleshy white roots indicate good health.  Brown mushy roots indicate root rot.  Smell is also a good indicator.  If the soil and roots smell foul, don't purchase the plant.

For more of Frank's insight into gardening, check out the Edmonton Home and Garden Show where he will put in guest appearances today at 5 and 7pm and tomorrow at 1pm.  More information below:

Frank's new book Get Growing hit store shelves Feb. 15, 2011.  (I saw it in Costco)

Frankie Flowers reaches over 1 million Canadians each week as the gardening expert for BTToronto, CityLine and City TV News, and also writes a column for Canadian Living. His family business, Bradford Greenhouses, is one of Canadas largest combined greenhouse/garden businesses. He lives with his family in Innisfil, Ontario.

Frankie @ Edmonton Home & Garden Show

Greenland Garden Stage
Thursday, March 24 -Opening Night Party
5:00pm & 7:00pm

Friday, March 25

Home & Garden Show scheduling and other information can be checked online at: http://www.edmontonhomeshow.com/

Frankie's personal website is: http://www.frankieflowers.com/

See my previous post about the Edmonton Home And Garden Show for more information about this must attend event!

20 March 2011

Earth Day - Because Our Future Depends on It!

What are you doing for Earth Day?  People all across Canada are encouraged to turn off their lights for one hour beginning at 8:30 pm. It's just a small thing, really, but if everyone across our fine nation turn off the lights at the same time for one hour, we will be helping our world!  As we unite to support solutions for clean energy, we should question what practices we engage in that contribute to problems in the environment.  What can we do to make a difference?
  • shut off lights when not in use
  • use efficient appliances
  • when shopping for new appliances, check the labels for energy wise consumption
  • refrain from using electricity needlessly during peak hours in the early evening
  • recycle, reuse, reduce
  • take the transit instead of your car every day
  • walk, ride your bike
  • purchase vehicles with better fuel economy
  • don't run the water while brushing your teeth
  • turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater
What ideas do you have to reduce your carbon footprint?  What practices do you follow now that make a positive impact on the environment?  Do you set goals to live green?  Will you be joining the hundreds of thousands of people across the land on March 26 to turn off the lights?  For those in the USA, do you celebrate earth day?  How?

For more information see WWF site:  http://wwf.ca/earthhour/

19 March 2011

Prelude to Super Moon

This photo was taken Thursday night in Coaldale, Alberta.  Take a look at the moon.  It'll be a sight to see Saturday as it will be a full moon, 30% brighter than normal and will appear 14% larger. 

The world will welcome a Supermoon on Saturday, after 18 years - 680News

The world will welcome a Supermoon on Saturday, after 18 years - 680News
The moon will loom just a little larger and brighter tonight resulting in what people are calling a "super moon". The last time the moon appeared in this magnitude was 1993. Tonight the moon will appear to be 30% brighter and 14% larger than normal as it orbits 50,000 km from the earth. Some are concerned this "super moon" may be responsible for odd weather phenomenans but scientists say that is unlikely. The tides will be higher all over the world tonight but that is probably the extent of the physical effects we will witness. Check out the link above for more information.

14 March 2011

I believe that tomorrow is another day....A tribute to Audrey Hepburn

"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

— Audrey Hepburn

I was visiting a lovely little blog Soul Aperture the other day and Christine had featured this very quote from Audrey Hepburn which inspired this post.  Ms. Hepburn is an incredible actress with classic beauty, style, and grace who has left an indellible impression upon many, even since her passing. Since my daughter admires this actress so, I decided to take it one step further, to make a collage of pink.

Mosaic Monday is hosted by Mary at Dear Little Red House.  She's an incredible talent at stylizing and photography and she opens up her gorgeous blog to us, the world over, to share each Monday our mosaics.  Come have a look!

I am hosting a giveaway on my book blog, ending March 14 at midnight MST.  The winner will be selected by random.org on March 15.  Open to US and Canada.

13 March 2011

My Little Hydrangea is Blooming Again! Macro Monday

This little hydrangea was a gift last year at Easter.  It needs transplanting badly but it has decided to bloom regardless with a most lovely pale violet blossom.  Only one so far, but it's not Easter yet either!

Macro Monday is hosted by Lisa's Chaos.  Won't you pop over to see the macros featured there?

12 March 2011

Spring Ahead! DST or Daylight Shifting

Did you know Benjamin Franklin came up with the idea of daylight saving time?

Most areas of North America and Europe including Russia observe daylight saving time (DST), while most areas of Africa and Asia do not. South America is mixed, with Most countries in the warmer northern part of South America near the equator don't observe DST, while Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay and southern parts of Brazil do. New Zealand and parts of southern Australia observe DST, while most other areas in the Oceanic region do not.

For more information on which regions observe daylight saving(s) time (DST) see

For those of you who do observe daylight saving time, tonight is the night we set our clocks ahead one hour.  (2 am) Essentially we lose one hour of sleep time, but on the bright side, we gain one more awake hour of sunlight. In theory, at least. Does your province or state do daylight saving time?  What do you think of it?  Should we all be like Saskatchewan and not change at all?  Besides the supposed savings in energy costs, what are the benefits of daylight saving time?

*Remember change the batteries in your smoke detectors and test them.

11 March 2011

Edmonton Home and Garden Show Coming March 24!!!


Renew, Restore, Refresh

Northlands, Edmonton EXPO Centre
7515-118 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB

Thursday, March 24: 4pm - 9pm Friday, March 25: 12noon - 9pm Saturday, March 26: 10am - 9pm Sunday, March 27: 10am - 5pm

Celebrity guests include: 

Bryan Baeumler
Bryan was nominated for a Gemini Award for hosting Disaster DIY's first season, and won a Gemini Award for hosting season 2! Using his combined academic knowledge of business and his hands-on experience with home building, he started his own construction company, Baeumler Quality Construction, with the motto Design, Destroy, Rebuild.  His topic:  The Do's and Don'ts of Home Renovating

Rosalyn Lazaruk
Rosalyn has been working in design and decor for eight years, and established her own business, Wicket Blue Interiors, in 2004. She has a broad repertoire of experience both in designing personal spaces within the home, as well as in implementing intriguing space and design concepts within the commercial setting. Her website http://www.wicketblue.com/.

Alykhan Velji
Alykhan Velji is one of Canada's hottest young interior designers. In addition to his extensive commercial and residential clientele, Alykhan has been a television personality appearing on HGTV's "Designer Superstar Challenge" (where he placed in the top three), “The Style Department” and on CityTV's “My Rona Home.” Alykhan works extensively with the Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver Home + Interior Design Shows and has released a line of carpets for the Rug Shop called "Afera."  http://www.alyveljidesigns.com/

Susan Harbin
As a founding member of Tomboy Tools Canada, she envisions the Tomboy slogan, Learn Today, Teach Tomorrow and Build Forever as a mantra for life. She serves as Vice President of Sales and Consultant Development. Her personal mission is simple – have every woman in Canada using Tomboy Tools to create the space of their dreams.

Kerri Buksa
Kerri has an education in landscape architecture and several years in the garden industry while working in her own award-winning garden. Kerri is considered one of Edmonton's up and coming landscape experts. She worked with a team of students to design this year's innovative Nait Student Garden.

Deb Sirman
Deborah Sirman is a co-owner of Greenland Garden Centre in Sherwood Park. Since 1990, Greenland has received several prestigious awards for excellence in retailing. These include the Canadian Retailer of the Year and most recently, the Consumer's Choice Award for Garden Centres in the Edmonton area. Deborah has grown up in the horticulture industry, studied through the University of Guelph and is passionate about gardening. She is a weekly guest on the Stan Thompson gardening show.

Main Stage
From home organization to renovation, local experts and HGTV celebrities will offer insight and advice.
Home improvement and inspirational tips for all.

Garden Stage
Come prepared with garden gloves and get ready to get your hands dirty as you take part in the interactive sessions on the Garden Stage.
The Aquatic Escape presented by Babbling Brooks, Ponds and Waterfalls
Ticket Prices
Adults (online): $11.00
Adults (at door): $14.00
Seniors (online): $8.00
Seniors (at door): $11.00 Seniors Friday before 5pm: $5.00
Youths (online): 13-17: $8.00
Youths (at door): 13-17: $11.00
Children 12 & under: Free
Groups of 8 or more: $10.00 each

Edmonton Home and Garden Show 2011


08 March 2011

Watery Wednesday 3/9/11

This photo was taken in December 2010.  It overlooks the river valley and the Shaw Conference Center of which you can see a small portion on the left hand side.  The river is somewhat frozen and covered in snow though you can see where it runs through horizontally in this photo.

This is my Watery Wednesday photo.  Check out more from around the world here.

Gas Prices Are Going Up....

With the crisis in Libya, we are feeling the crunch here in North America.  I think I'll take the transit!

04 March 2011

Proven Winners Giveaway at Dusty Bay!!!

What would you do with $100 worth of spring annuals from Proven Winners? 

Heather, at Dusty Bay, is promoting a contest wherein you could be the lucky winner of $100 worth of Proven Winners Annuals!!  Contest is open to USA and Canada.  Quick, go to her blog and enter.  Contest ends tonight at midnight!!

03 March 2011

It's Official: I Am TIRED of Winter!!! My Little Rant.

I took the dogs to the groomers today.  Lilo had puppies eight weeks ago and was desperate for a trim.  It's amazing how the fur of a Maltese can get so tangled when subjected to three puppies!  Poor little mom.  So both she and the dad, Stitch, went in today.  Upon leaving, as the groomer and I are discussing the weather (we all discuss the weather.  It's a common grievance, right?), I was informed that Environment Canada stated that we will be in for an unusually cool March, April and May!  Well, if that didn't leave me a little disgruntled!  After dropping off the pooches, I ran a few errands and it's snowing.  Not just a light dusting either!  No.  Before leaving each place I had to clean the entire car of snow!  I'd finish the back and come around to the front and voila!  It looked as though I hadn't done anything at all!  Agh!!

Ok.  Dogs are home.  We are warm and we've decided to keep the dogs' jackets on them for a bit!  The sun has decided to come out!  Yay!  Then I remembered a cute photo I saw on the news this morning!  It cheered me and now, after perusing for more like-minded material, I can actually offer a grin!!  So here's some little pick-me-ups for you!  If your winter is at all like ours here in Edmonton, Alberta, you will appreciate these!

02 March 2011

Winner of CSN gift voucher!!


A giant heartfelt thank you to Catherine at A Gardener in Progress.  I am the lucky winner of a $55 CSN gift voucher!!  Woo hoo!!  Now I just have to decide what to get.  Hmmm....there's garden items, items for the kitchen, bath, decorating, and much more.

01 March 2011

"March"ing in Like a Lion

The lion is a majestic and proud creature.  He stands as monarch in his kingdom.  He roars like the great beast he is, bringing terror to those within hearing range.  Welcome to March!!  The bitter beginning of what should be the last month of winter.  It is brazeningly cold, biting stinging air takes your breath away and freezes your skin within minutes.  March is coming in like a lion.  In true form.

It's another cold, read -33C with the windchill, day here in Edmonton.  It snowed yesterday and has been cold for the last week with a miniscule break Friday and Saturday.  Today a ribbon of harsh cold creates a swath running horizontal through the province.  It's boundaries are Lac LaBiche in the north and Red Deer and surrounding area to the south.  Windchills are near -45 Celsius in Lloydminster.  Skin freezes within 5 minutes when exposed to temperatures in that range!  It shall remain in the frigid temperature range all week!!  The average high for Edmonton this time of year is -3 Celsius. 

So, on the bright side, when month end rolls around and the first official day of spring has come and gone,  March should go out like a lamb, as the saying goes.  Get this, Shreveport Louisiana is 40 degrees warmer than us today!!!  Get me a ticket on that airplane!!

That's My World, Tuesday  March 1, 2011.


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