Sunday, February 23, 2014

Get the Jump on Spring

I could have sworn that last year at this time there were crocus. Maybe so, but if there were, they were under snow. Impatient for spring, I'm bringing the garden in with cut flowers and plants in pots.

Therese brought tulips when she came for dinner and the flowers lasted a full week.

Spent Saturday at the Toronto Botanical Garden's annual Get the Jump On Spring.  Just what I needed! I came home with visions of lavender farms and entertaining thoughts of taking up beekeeping as a hobby.

Ran around the garden with Paul Zammit as he took a group of us along snowy paths to admire some winter-hardy specimens, like paperbark maple, tamarisk, and midwinter flame dogwood.

We stopped to look at a few Japanese maples and talked about pruning. Now is a good time to scrutinize where boughs may be rubbing or crossing over... tie off where the cuts should be made with green gardening tape and prune in early spring. Imagine making space for butterflies to pass. Also in early spring, give browned cedars a light shave. Prune dogwoods in spring, too, and remember the new growth generated will be more colourful than older stalks.

A final reminder, not to go into the garden too soon after the melt. Compacting the soil can have a negative impact on new shoots making their way. (hmmm, now I think I know what happened to some of my other specimens).

Picked up a few tips at a flower design demo with MaryAnn Vercammen, Floral Designer and Judge:
  • Accessorize containers by using putty or glue to adhere glass chips or stone to make them feel less stark and draw the line into the base... for that purpose, any material could do the trick (a flower, leaf, feather etc.)
  • Consider containers or bases that are less traditional, like a strip of sturdy bark
  • Oasis has fallen out of favour but is essential for some designs, like this prize-winning piece of cake done pave style... When using an oasis, you can also use a straw in the bottom, to draw from a water sourc.
  • Dry artichokes for use in arrangements... their great shape can add interest when you stick them in with houseplants or cut flowers. Barbecue skewers can be stuck right into the bottom stem when the artichokes are still fresh, which can give extra height and versatility. 
The seminar on Growing Lavender caught my attention - and my imagination! Christine Moore presented information about the types that are most winter hardy (lavendula angustifolia and L x intermedia). Outside of Provence, there other destination-worthy places to visit, including Sequim, Washington, just south of Juan de Fuca, Blue Lavande in Montreal, Beach Lane Lavender Farm in Nova Scotia. Closer to home: Prince Edward County Lavender, Weirs Lane Lavender (near Hamilton), Terre Bleu (Cambellville). has a full list of farms. Flowers bloom in early July and are harvested mid-summer.

Stopped by the beekeepers association booth. Legally, my backyard is too small and close to neighbours to have a working hive. Maybe I can join some kind of co-op? Or just visit, to catch the buzz of the bees. These pollinators are in serious jeopardy, so choosing the right flowers and plants can really help them on their way. Luckily, Taming Wildflowers just happened to be on the day's agenda, with a full list of wildflowers beautifully suitable for the purpose.

Speaking of bees, I ended up bringing home a beautiful little honeypot, made by a local potter with a nearby studio.

Also renewed my East York Gardeners membership, and picked up some plants on my way out the door. Now I have some hellebores and a weeping pussy willow wintering indoors that will find their way into my garden come spring.

Can't wait for gardening season to begin! Luckily, Canada Blooms is just around the corner....

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