Wednesday, June 7, 2017

When to buy versus when not to buy.

There's been no real not to move from where I am. We've put our house up on sale and as such, I've let my neighbors come over and dig out what they want in the plant collection that I've attained over the years. My neighbors know my babies are rarities, specialty plants that haven't gotten the chance to bloom because I keep moving them around every year, not happy with the way my garden is growing. I thought I would start from scratch at the new house, build up what I want in the garden with actual goals. In the city, it's a little harder to do. I find I fuss a lot. I'm not sure how I'll deal with so much open space. So with the move comes the drudgery of digging up what I have (that's green right now) and giving it to my neighbors, who are more than happy to take my plants off my hands.

When to buy versus when not to buy; that is the question to which there is an actual answer. This is the time of year when people plant. They want to get out of the house, into the garden center and they plant flowers. Now here's the real catch; if you walk in the perennial sections (plants that come back every year), you'll find a lot of spring bloomers up and going. That's from April to June. And then those flowering suckers drop off, remaining green for the rest of the season. Everyone's routine problem is going into the greenhouse and buying magically what looks like it might remain for the rest of the year. What you see blooming now when you walk into the greenhouse is what is flowering now, not later.

If you are out in the garden late July, early August, and I mean sitting and enjoying the garden, you want to buy during that time with the bloomers of that period (which is late summer, early fall). There's June/July bloomers, some of August, but I find those have a short life of a month before they drop off, become green. Sometimes like the  Salvia 'may nights' (commonly known as Sage/ the one in the picture is caradonna I think?), you can lope off the blooms when they're finished and by the end of the season, they'll give you another flowering. But most aren't so generous with a double flowering season. Just be aware of that when you walk into the greenhouse, of the time of year you're buying and that perennials are seasonal bloomers that revolve around a 2 month period. That means you need to go to the garden center during the time that you want to sit outside and stare at your flowers blooming. Not at greenery.

Personally, I like my end of season bloomers. I get more out of them in the July/August/September period and that's when I shop. Outside of my Peonies, my garden is usually the ugliest in the earlier spring. Well, outside of this poppy that I had, which I happily gave to my neighbor upon the announcement that I was moving, I tend not to have any spring bloomers. And honestly, Garden Centers could use a little help during the July/August/September period when Clientele drop off and all they see is the landscapers picking up orders. It's nice to give them something to do and make their days interesting, other than moving plants around, unloading trucks and otherwise, picking the ever loving weeds out of plant pots. Support your local garden centers. By doing that, you're supporting your local growers and they have it tough. If you don't support them, who will and where will our growing industry be in ten years? It's that much of a precarious balance.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tulips . bulbs, big holes and the lazy gardener.

Now here's something no one will tell you. That the ever loving secret to having a great bulb spring garden is to dig big holes around your plants in the fall and dump a huge box of fifty bulbs into it. This hole has to be deep enough that you could bury your pet hamster in a shoe box and still have some substantial room around it. You don't want the squirrels to get these bulbs, they'll just make a meal plan out of your entire garden and you'll have three times more squirrels than you did last year (man those buggers can breed).  Take big chunks of colour, solid ones and throw them together, don't mix the colours in the holes. when you spread out the colour, it gets messy and you want that big bang for your buck kind of deal. Big colours bring big impacts and it looks really sharp when you cluster it all together.
 No whites. White washes everything out, even when it's put along side vibrant colour. Do it in big splashes of colour but add no white because then all you'll see is white and green. And unless you have some sensational ever green garden with hedges and deep dark greens bouncing off the lighter ones of the tulips, all you're going to see is a blah of white on green, which plays a huge disappearing act in the spring. After looking at white snow all winter, do you really want to wash your garden out with white?
Don't bother soldiering your bulbs. Dump those suckers in. I take great satisfaction in knowing I angrily dumped the box into the ground and still had them all come up the same direction. The bulbs will right themselves. They almost never ever need help to grow. A plant will find the surface.

In another subject of bulbs, Daffodils are a nice bright contrast against your pinks (ick, not against reds, bleh) AND DON'T USE THE WHITE ONES. The squirrels don't like them and leave them alone so if you have a huge problem with the animals getting happy, you're either not digging them deep enough or leaving traces of bulbs on the surface. That's like marking treasure with a massive X. DIG HERE FOR FOOD.
 Source your bulbs. Buy from a garden center. Generally, they sell better quality bulbs but you can buy online in bulk. Bulk is good, bigger is better, especially late in the season, where you're pushing November and the garden centers need to get rid of their bulbs. They often put them on sale once they start pushing into the Christmas junk/tree push and once that starts, the bulbs quickly go on sale. Don't buy Alliums. unless you couple them with some interesting early spring plants, they're generally over priced bulbs that have a real threat of not coming up at all.

 Have one cool looking bulb in your garden. Plant it in one cluster amongst your generics. These stand out more if they're around more solid colours. If you put more of a mess of different colours, your eye visually cannot pick out the coolness of these bulbs and they get lost in the masses. Also, (lots of don'ts here), don't go beyond three colours. Do things in odd numbers in the garden. Threes are a good bunch to plant in. Threes or groups of fives (I'm talking holes here). And make your holes interesting. Make them long, angle them. Make three diagonal holes that are long, space them up but make them parallel. Have your holes curb around your garden, accent the shape of the garden they are sitting in. There's nothing more boring than having a circular bulb pile come up in the garden. Be interesting, be different. Get creative with your shovel and hole digging skills.
Take pictures. Choose your angles. Bulbs are incredibly boring to photograph and they almost always make the picture incredibly boring because their colours are so vibrant, that you can't pick up anything like high lights and shadow. So get down in the dirt, point your camera angle up and make the sun an aid in high lighting that colour by being able to see through it. Bounce it against the background of your blue skies, accenting the bulb colour in a good way to give it a nice back drop. There's nothing worse than (like above picture) the house is the backdrop. Stick to these easy suggestions and you'll have big bang for your bucks. Bulbs like this stay for a long time and keep on giving, long after they're gone. Oh, and on a final note, cut those stems once the peddles drop. No point in seeing those ugly stems anymore. Spring is offically over. bring on the summer.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The great destruction of our trees

With winter comes snow and with snow, came freezing rain and layers upon layers of ice. It was dangerous just to walk outside your door. There was no where you could buy salt and power was lost all around Toronto and the area surrounding it. A quarter of a million people lost power, including us. It came to a point where the ice was so heavy on the trees that you couldnt' stand outside without hearing the fall of a tree somewhere in the surrounding area. Powerlines fell, century old trees fell and with it, our wildlife starving due to the inability to access food because ice covered most of it. Trees covered the roads, power lines did to (live ones!) and basically those who had power housed those who didn't. So we took pictures. Our willows are dead, broken, cherry trees are dead too. Most of our surrounding trees are broken like a hurricane hit and left just the trunks. It's been a few days but clean up will go well into February, you can be sure of that. My own trees survived it but they were really weighted down by the ice. My next door neighbor's tree seemed to have just survived it but I can't say the same for the ones across the street, trees that collapsed and broken under the weight and taking the powerlines with them.


Friday, December 6, 2013

At some point

It's been awhile right? Right.

So let's just talk bulbs, since I'm on this fun filled blog of mine that I never quite came back to. Everyone's got a hobby right? Mine is writing and gardening. Though over at my writing blog, I try not to put too much down. I'm always afraid someone will rip off my ideas and write it before I can get to it. Here is my writer's blog. It's where I spend some of my time but not tons of it. I manage through my twitter and my daily account, roll through my tumblr when I'm looking for ideas. I don't spend piles of time on any of my one account, mostly because I spend all my time writing and off in another world creatively. I can't help the ideas that flow into me nor can I stop them when they become so distracting that I can't get what I wanted to do, done. These places are where I am when I'm not writing. That is really to say, all this media is very distracting so I spend as little time on it as I can.

I'm reading "Awaken the Giant within" and I find that the book is very fascinating. It talks about spreading yourself too thin and if I could recommend a book that will give you focus and a good direction to gain that focus, this would be the book for you. I'm always too aware of how much I spread myself out, my media outlets should be proof of that. But how to narrow it all down to one thing? I don't have an answer for you, except close things. Close them and focus. Delete them if you have to and focus. Master your energy into one thing and greatness will come.

But back to my original focus; bulbs. My sister showed up the other day and brought me over a hundred bulbs of Queen of Night, which is my absolute favorite. If there is anything to know me, I'm a black gardener. That means (before your mind jumps to some racial misunderstandings) that I love black flowers, black leaves, black trees. I have a very healthy black weeping Beech in the back of my house. It's my favorite tree and it's also taking over my back yard. I have black bugal weed (Ajuga) in the back yard, a black iris, which I think has died. Ive even had black roses (which also have died). I've done black pansies, black heuchera, and black upon black of everything. I try my hardest to find true blacks and not variations of purple in my yard. I've even gone to have the beautiful black Mondo grass, which seems to do better in acidic gardens than my overly nutritious garden all together. Could be all that shade though, even though they like a half day. But I'm far from winning the black title for gothic gardener. But I have my bulbs, coupled with Red which is morbid and some purple with another colour, I didn't spare my garden anything short of a mix up.

I dug the holes, dumped them in and covered them up. About a foot deep. Bulbs will come up on their own, even at a foot deep. I feel that soemtimes if you put them any less than that, like most people hit the 6 inches or 4 inches into the ground, one at a time, you're going to have that awful squirrel dig up all your hard work. I like to just dig around the plants, making the hole as big as possible. Much like burying a body (boy I'm on a morbid track here). Don't just dig a hole, dig a kidney shaped hole, dig a circle around the tree, or dig at the edge of your garden, around a bend. Make it interesting. Make it scattered. And make your neighbors laugh this year, jealous the next when everything comes up. I know I have a jealous neighbor. I just have to look over into her garden to see that she's gone out and bought the exact same plants that I have in mine.  I know they also watch me digging in muck, mid December and wonder what the hell I'm doing. Actually, I think most of my neighbors think that because I spend very little time fussing over my garden. I usually just have a shovel, a plant and jam it in. That's about the extent of my garden time. Or I'm turning over soil. My planter is a big collection of birch sticks. Seriously, I'm the epitome of greenhouse gardeners, meaning we don't spend a lot of time making immaculate things. We do it in one shot, we're no fuss but I enjoy later what I stow.

I cut a new garden at the front. It's about 6 feet away from the curb, which still makes it city grounds, but I still did it even with the fear that the city will come along one day and dig it all up. I've seen them do it. I made it roughly ten feet in diameter, give or take and eight feet wide. Its kidney shaped, wraps around the front but I used a garden hose to work out how I wanted it to look. What was the best angle from the street where everyone would see it. What is the best angle from the house, where I would have to live with what I cut? I wrapped it around my growing Japanese bloodgood, with grasses on either end. I love my grasses but I don't have enough yet to go under my window and I'll probably splurge and buy twelve once I'm ready to do that. But for now, I chopped up everything that I had in my garden; that's three years of perennial growth that I let go wild until I was ready to make a statement. All my hostas were split three times, grasses were moved to bigger spots and I basically cultivated all of my garden to make this moment a big one for me next year when everything comes to flower. It'll either be beautiful or it'll be a mess, but I do know one thing; I've got too many hostas for my own garden. If it's not a specialty hosta, I don't really care for it. Except Francee. I have a special annoying place in my heart for that landscapish type of hosta. Must be all the dark green on white edges.

Needless to say, it took me two days to cut the garden. That's cutting into the ground, turning it over on top and churning it once into the clay. In our area, we're made up of clay, so if things get wet, they generally stay wet. Now I added no soil to my garden. I didn't need to. I had the grass that I turned over. It's the best kind of nutrition and no, I don't have a grass problem because I'd just go out there in phases and turn it over again and again. This helps break down the grass into soil. It's a poor man's garden, with a little hard work and a lot of patience. You have to wait for it to break down but once it does, you have a good loose soiled garden to play around with. Well, that's if you tossed out those rocks you dug up to the side. They still sit next to the hedge.

Ohhh and they say, what doesn't kill ya makes you stronger. And it just about did; kill me that is. 

I fixed that small dent in the left later on. So it's not there now. But this is what I call a good shape and i'll have to edge it a hundred times for the edge to stay where I need it. Edging is what cleans up the garden, keeps it all in so you can run over the edge with a weed whacker or a lawn mower and won't lose any plants in the process. but see how much soil I had. The darker (second) picture is when we finished it. I had help with my husband, my niece and my bestfriend, who all took turns doing it over the course of two days. The First picture (above/sunny) is after a few weeks, edging it again and turning over the soil so that nothing grows from the grass. No soil was added from anywhere else. What you see is what was turned over and that's that. 

I don't like space in my garden because the more room between plants you have, the more you're inviting weeds to grow in-between. You can see in the background of the darker foggier picture that my garden is over grown there by the door. eventually these gardens are going to connect, with a few more trees and a couple of other things too. but for now, they're separate. Because more garden means more work. And more work means having more time for it. Which I don't. Getting there but not there yet. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

 This is someone's house that I went to. It has a HUGE greenhouse in the back and pretty much all types of plants that are basically tropicals. It's a tropical paradise and it's a really nice greenhouse. I, personally, would love to own something like this. you can't even tell that it has a greenhouse from the front. Unbelievable.

It's been awhile.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Just in for a long winter's nap

It might have seemed like I died. I actually didn't. I just had to set aside a full year for a recovery for spinal surgery. I had to put in a resignation to my beloved job, not because I wanted to, not because they wouldn't have modified the job for me, but because it's just one of those signs in life where your body says stop and you need to listen. I've done my garden center work since I was sixteen years old. I have extensive knowledge in perennials and annuals (especially the quirks of growing and maintaining annuals, who to buy from and who does the best). Does this mean I'm out of the garden center retail life for good? No way jose! I may not be able to be the greenhouse's worker anymore, but those bloodlines are still coursing through my veins with a passion.

Currently, I'm going back to school. I have my diploma for highschool and I'm going to bring up my grades in all the sciences, refresh my mind and dive into University for a degree that I've always wanted. There's always an intense hunger for knowledge and learning and though the changes are drastic over here, it's never been the type of drastic that I can't handle. I've always been the look before I leap type of person and while I might not have the body to leap, I certainly have the passion for it and the drive to take the change and mold it into nothing but a positive experience. Can you tell I'm chomping at the bit?

Spring is upon us. After long days of extensive cold, we're finally having a break with predictions of rain, warmer weather and the promise to melt away all those high snow banks we've build up on either side of our driveways. I know I look outside right now, out my front window and take in my beautiful weird looking beech tree that all my neighbors seem to loath. They don't understand why I planted this ugly weeping beech on the front of my property and I've said to them a hundred times, Justttttt wait. Wait and you'll be eating those words in five years. The birds certainly love this beech, because its the wirey type. One summer, the branches are going one way and then, before you've realized it, that branch has flipped over and gone the other direction. It's weird and I love it. I loved it so much I twisted christmas lights all over it. I didn't love doing that so much. Now I'm impatient to get them off. Much like the same way I'm impatient to see what survived last years drought. Now I say drought because we had a dry fall and it was slightly unforgiving. I remember this because I was turning my sprinkler on in November for my other very ugly looking beech that is also on the front of my property.

With that being said, the sun has been making sporatic appearances but I foresee this soon being a regular thing. The moon was out last night and it's a good sign.

Let's hope for a wet spring people!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil...

We, the unknowing....
...led by the unprepared....

....are doing the impossible....

...for the ungrateful .

I, Andrea Scott, dug to china (with my husband and baby) as threatened and woe to discover more clay! (And interlocking underneath). While I was sick, I thought it would be a good idea to move the soil pile to the garden. Good idea? Wrong!

I'm paying for it now by being sicker and sore. Amen to Nyquill.

Friday, August 28, 2009

New Layout, new boots and TGIF

We're enjoying our Friday. TGIF.

Simply put, I hate my new boots. Maybe hate is a harsh word because I don't usually say it and yet when I do, I usually reserve it for the latest 80's song I've heard on the radio, or asking myself how many times Pitbull tells me I should know he wants me. My other coworker has them and though I know she got blisters countless times, I thought that I could pass this unfortunate rubbing by wearing two pairs of socks. Now given, I always wear two pairs of socks, even on the hottest days of the year. It keeps my feet nice and cool.
Side note here: if you work outside or in any kind of heat, wool socks over sweat socks is the way to go. Sweat socks absorb the sweat and the wool pull that sweat away from your feet, keeping you cooler. In all my years (since I was 16, I'm 29 now), I've never once had a foot problem, nor do my feet EVER stink (nor my footwear either). Try it. It's a beautiful thing.

Carrying on, these new boots rub the top of my foot and it rubs the back of my heel, wearing down my sock in almost one week. I think Im going to end up taking them backand you may see a new website thinger up above, replaced.

Originally I tried hydrangeas (City Line Venice) in my picture but it looked funny. I tried our spot, the duck pond and it looked busy. This one also looks awful but I dont' have another picture, that or I'm too lazy to go and find one. Either way, I don't particularly like my layout or the pictures or the colours but Im making due with what I have at the moment until I do something better.

Right now I'mtrying to write something up for a grant and its going very slowly, if not happening at all.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wow Factor lacking

It's wedding season so I thought I would do up two wedding planters. Pictures never do them justice and at first, I hated these but I got the flowers down right and now they look okay. This is the second one.

The first one didn't turn out as well obviously....

A bit boring but that's what wedding planters are. Wow Whites without the WOW factor. Boring.....