Thursday, October 15, 2015

Gardening Geeks

I spent a few hours in Marion Jarvie's garden, along with 12 others who had signed up for this TBG class. The gardening guru used her own backyard as a demo site for pruning, transplanting and other fall chores.

The lesson was timely, as I had plans for weekend gardening projects like transplanting some of the purple cone flowers and black-eyed Susans (best to wait until Spring), as well as turning over soil to expand a new garden bed (don't bother, just place the dirt directly over the grass).

It was a beautiful, warm and sunny morning. Hard to believe our first frost is expected this weekend.



Fall chores
  • Buy garden supplies now because they are often cheaper
  • Lawns can be refreshed by topdressing with good soil and then seeding (don't forget to water twice a day)
  • Transplant spring and early summer bloomers in the fall; leave transplanting late bloomers to the spring
  • Expanding a garden? Lay good soil down now in area, right over the grass you want to replace, and let the grass compost
  • Make soil mix:  peat moss + several cups of boiling water + perlite, cover with plastic and then use the next day to dress/amend soil
  • Divide perennials (hostas, day lilies)
  • Water trees and garden well through to November, their roots will appreciate it 
  • Mulch this time of year, and leave a well around base of trees to capture water
  • Branches on deciduous trees can be removed, but DON'T prune conifers in the fall, they will burn over winter
  • Cheaper to hire arborist in winter months
  • Before frost, bring in dahlias, callas & other annuals if overwintering 

The Right Tools
  • Garden forks should be used to dig up plants for transplanting as they are less likely to damage plants than shovels. Use the shovel for putting the plant into the ground.
  • Light, aluminum shears are useful for pruning cedars, tall grasses and thinner branches (Lee Valley has great ones)
  • A good Division Knife can be used under ground for dividing mature perennials. 
  • Gardena sprinklers are a great make, with a reach of 30 feet on either side, but take them in over the winter (available at Canadian Tire)

Plants
  • Itoh peonies have an extended growing period and are well worth the extra expense
  • Culchicum is a pretty fall bloomer, with bulbs available in August from nurseries.
  • Fall crocus can bloom now through to December, many are a beautiful blue.
  • Pretty asters: Little Carlow (pale blue) and Monte Casino (white)
  • It is hard to find many of the trees and bushes at Sheridan or other chain nurseries, so it is best to pre-order from specialty nurseries (this includes dwarf dogwood, hinoki cypress, dwarf Japanese pine, and other specimens I've chased past springs).   
  • 7 Son Flower tree is hardy, salt and drought resistant, and grows about 15' - 20'; very delicate with exfoliating white bark
  • Check out Whistling Gardens (a bit far away but worth the visit).
  • Plant World has great perennials and knowledgeable staff
  • Plants with Latin names Koreana will survive temperatures to -40 
  • Culchicum
  • Nana as part of the proper name indicates a dwarf variety

Good to Know
  • Slow release fertilizer pellets are great & available in 90 or 120 day formulas. (use the 90 day no later than May and 120 day in April... don't want to fertilize too late in the season)
  • Squirrels don't like narcissus, allium, snowdrops, fritilaria or Culchicum bulbs and generally leave them alone. When planting other bulbs, like tulips, to help keep squirrels away, just lay prickly branches of barberry criss-crossed over the spot to deter access.
  • These garden guys are hard to book as they are so busy, but David Leeman (647-701-9101)  is great for Landscape Services and Trevor Ash for tree trimming

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