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Shauna's blog

Welcome to a Brand New Year in the Garden!

As the beginning of a new year unfolds it is a great time to both reflect on last year and make plans for the New Year.  Sure there is plenty to do in the garden, to get ready and cleaned up for Spring, but spending some time reflecting and planning is also very important and quite satisfying and it may save you time in the long run.

My favourite way to start is to bundle up, grab an empty notebook and your favourite warm drink and wander through your yard.  Try to look at your garden with fresh eyes.  You might need to walk down the street and then approach your yard to try to see it "fresh". Don't overwhelm yourself.  You might only look at one part of your garden today so start by picking one that is the most important to you.

Most gardeners know which areas need some work but here are some areas you might think about:-

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November in the Garden

Bring the beauty of gardening indoors with amaryllis bulbs and paperwhites. Both of these are easy to grow and will add a fresh feeling of something new and something growing to your living space. Potting up either of these will take you little time but for weeks to come you will be rewarded with a satisfied feeling of being the gardener extraordinaire!

Light up your garden with Christmas lights. When it comes time to put up your Christmas lights instead of lighting up your house (or as wells as) how about lighting up your trees. I always love when the Christmas lights on Shoppers Row go up. One of the things I love about winter is seeing the outline of magnificent trees. There is much to be learned about growing and pruning trees from standing back and observing the form of mature trees.

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Fall is the Time to Plant Spring Blooming Bulbs!

Fall seems to have come early this year and all our customers are telling us they aren't ready for it.  It feels like it just got nice and now it is all over.  I'm gonna say, Summer was like a bad boyfriend; arriving late, having a few short, warm, lovely, weeks of fun and then he left early and we were ditched, left with nothing but a cold fall shoulder to cry on.

And winter...Oh my gosh, winter is coming and there is not even the prospect of another Summer until JUNE.  How will we get through the dark, dank, wet, wild, windy winter?

Spring will come...and planting spring blooming bulbs is a great way to brighten your garden to welcome Spring.  Planting bulbs is one of the easiest forms of gardening.  In fact there is a huge North America-wide campaign called "Dig, Drop, Done" aimed at teaching the younger generation how easy bulb planting is and how simple it is to add beautiful flowers to your tubs and/or gardens.  Many of us already know the simple joy of planting Spring Bulbs.  

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My New Greenhouse


Last year for Mother's Day Nigel promised to build me my very own eight by twelve foot greenhouse.  I have often lamented the loss of the little potting shed I left behind when we moved up to the Garden Centre, 17 years ago.   It's a funny thing; I have two fairly large greenhouses at the Garden Centre, right? But it's not the same as a wee place of your own, where you can go and poke about.  A personal greenhouse is an amazing place. 

So early this Spring my greenhouse was ready to go.  If there was ever a year when you wanted a greenhouse, this cool (the coldest in 50 years) Spring was the year to get it!  I'm so happy.  I told Nigel that he is good on Mother's Day gifts for many years.   We have already eaten 20 or more salads with greens from my greenhouse and the taste of home-grown greens is incomparable.  It's easy to forget how good home-grown tastes.  Soon it will be time to re-seed for later harvests but that I will do in the veggie patch now that we are into June.

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Deciduous Azaleas

Most gardeners are very well acquainted with evergreen Azaleas and they are truly beautiful however, it is the deciduous varieties (bare stems in winter) that I would like to share with you today.

Deciduous Azalea shrubs grows about 4-7' tall but can easily be trained to stay at about 4' in height. Their shape is vase like at the base with the top filling out with asymmetrical layers that are very picturesque. This artistic shape lends itself well to being planted behind low growing shrubs that reach only 2 or 3 feet in height.

The flowers of the deciduous azalea are similar in shape to the more common evergreen varieties but they tend to be slightly larger, often beautifully fragrant and glowing in colour rather than deep coloured. They are available in colours ranging from pure white, through yellow, peach, orange, red and pink. The sweet scent of the plant near my front door engulfs the entranceway and wafts into any nearby open windows.

Perhaps the best part of these wonderful plants is how they attract butterflies. It is the only shrub in my garden that the swallowtail and monarch butterflies visit every year. It is wonderful to sit and watch them light and set onto the flowers while they are in bloom.

Plant these easy to grow shrubs in sun or shade, with bonemeal, peatmoss, and manure. Water well until established.


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How to Start Tuberous Begonias

Well, it's February and at this time of year a lot of gardeners are just itching to get going in their gardens. There is a lot that can be done at this time, some pruning and tidying your garden, but what about the desire to get growing flowers for this summer garden?

Luckily, now is exactly the right time to start Tuberous Begonias! Tuberous Begonias are by far the longest blooming of the summer flowering bulbs. Truly gorgeous, large vibrant blooms on top of plants that grow about 10-15 inches in height. They bloom from June until frost and if you have a good location for them they are fairly easy to grow.

They need a shady, morning sun or filtered sun location that is not cold and wet. They can be grown in containers or in the garden and are equally beautiful either way. Start Tuberous Begonias in February. They are the first bulbs to come into garden centers in the new year and are almost all gone before the lilies, gladiolus and other summer flowering bulbs are available.

Choose from colours such as white, yellow, orange, red and pink; trailing which are great for hanging baskets or upright plants. The tubers are disc-like in shape with a concave side and a rounded side.

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Berried Treasure

One of the most delightful additions to the autumn garden are shrubs that produce an abundance of ornamental berries. These berries are often loved by birds as well as humans and therefore bring nature a step closer to our homes as well as being colourful. Garden shrubs have berries in a full range of colours such as red, black, white, pink and purple. Some of our favourite berried treasures are as follows:-

Aronia melicarpa 'Autumn Magic'

This plant is very much loved by birds! Tiny bright white flowers turn to large shiny black berries in fall while glossy green leaves in fall turn brilliant red. Grows easily in sun or part sun to 5 or 6 feet tall. Zone 3

Callicarpa bodinieri 'Profusion' ~ Beauty Berry

Callicarpa is probably the berried shrub that gets the most fuss when it is discovered by gardeners. The berries are really purple! Small polished purple berries in large clusters adorn the bare branches of callicarpa. Callicarpa is easy to grow. Plant it in part to full sun. Grows 6-8 feet tall. Zone 5


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Summer Flowering Bulbs

Spring is in the air and gardeners all around town are planning out their summer gardens. Glossy magazines showcase all the beautiful summer flowering bulbs that you can add to your garden in the Spring and enjoy not only all summer but for many years.

This is the time to choose your summer flowering bulbs! Corms of Gladiolus, roots of Hosta, Hardy Geraniums, Day lilies Alstroemeria, tubers of Peonies and Dahlias, and true bulbs of Dutch Iris and Lilies are all in your garden centre for you to choose from now.

Not only is your garden well planned by choosing now, but you will get the best selection now and packaged bulbs and roots are much cheaper than buying the potted plants later on. The choice is nearly endless and the possibilities amazing.

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Deer Resistant Spring Bulbs

Deer in the garden is about as hot a topic as it gets! While many gardeners still hold to the gentle nature of gardening; willing to give a bit for Bambi and a bit for ourselves, others have been pushed very close to the edge. I have to admit 'a bit for Bambi' should be only a light nibble before first light but when he or she is back for midnight snacks, every night doing the block, it gets pretty annoying.

For some gardeners it is the fact that Bambi never comes to visit you until your favourite rose is about to bloom, and the next morning you stand in disbelief staring at the gaping hoof prints and whatever sad, torn up canes remain. The odd, small bud left on the ground as the proverbial call sign, Uncle Buck was here! As if you needed any proof. This is usually when it gets ugly. Spouses rush off to work, after all, they've heard it all before and they know nothing can relieve your anguish.

This is when you need the ear of a fellow gardener. Only then will you be heard as a balanced nature lover whose only wish is for nature to fit into your overall garden plan and not the other way around.

How about a list of deer resistant bulbs to get you started. Most gardeners know that the deer generally leave daffodils alone but here are some other bulbs that are quite resistant to midnight raids.

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