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Shauna's blog

Burning Bush Euonymus alatus 'Compactus'

Burning bush is simply spectacular when it turns colour in the fall and the glowing pinkish-red leaves give no doubt to why the name was chosen. The branches radiate in an upright to slightly arching form so that it's shape has beautiful symmetry 12 months of the year.

It has small yellow flowers in late Spring and red berries that open to show off small but interesting orange coated seeds in the fall. It can be used as a specimen plant, deciduous hedge or mass planted for it's dramatic fall show.

Campbell Riverites enjoy the fiery red colour of the burning bush mass planted at the Strathcona Pool/Arena. Although slightly stressed from hot summers and surrounded by hot pavement these plants are quite beautiful in early fall.

In the home garden you will find your plants to be a little bit more lush and although a little later to colour-up, the fall coloured leaves will hold a little longer before falling for winter.

Burning bush usually grow to about 5 feet tall and wide although we have a spectacular specimen at the Garden Centre that is about 5 foot tall and 8 feet across. Never fear, burning bush can be pruned although it is rarely necessary. Pruning (if necessary) would consist of trimming any growth that mars the plants symmetry or a light pruning over all to keep the size in balance with your garden.

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EVERGREEN CAMELLIA - Camellia Japonica

Camellias are definitely one of the most beautiful early blooming shrubs for the coastal garden. Like rhododendrons they prefer a lightly shaded or morning sun location and they are perfectly at home in our naturally acidic soil. Shiny dark green leaves adorn this plant year round creating a wonderful backdrop to the spectacular spring blooms. Pink, red, white, coral and yellow blooms surprise and delight many gardeners in the very early spring (March) with their truly gorgeous colours and forms.

Camellias like moist acidic soil and a position out of the hot afternoon sun. They usually grow 6-8 feet in height and 4-6 feet in width. They are easily pruned to maintain a smaller size by removing 1/3 of the height and width immediately after blooming.

Plant your new Camellia with a large handful of bonemeal, peat moss and steer manure right in the hole with your plant and then add a handful of rock phosphate on the ground surface after planting to encourage flower formation for the next season. Rock phosphate is also beneficial to mature Camellias that are setting too few blooms.

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Chitalpa Tashkentensis 'Pink Dawn'

When it comes to summer blooming trees, the Chitalpa, is in my opinion, one of the most beautiful! It is not a very well known tree, so it is a great time of year to come and see it in bloom at the Garden Centre.

We planted ours about 10 years ago. Like most of the other trees Nigel and I have added to our garden, it began as a bit of a misfit. It was a healthy tree, although not perfectly shaped, so Nigel and I decided we would give it a spot. It has repaid us by developing into a lovely shaped, rounded, multi-trunked tree of about 15 feet that may reach as tall as 25 feet in time.

The individual flowers of the tree are sometimes described as being like azalea, orchid or snapdragon flowers and indeed they do resemble all of these. These lovely flowers are the softest blush colour with rose markings and yellow throats and are loosely held in large panicles (cone-shaped bundles) above the branches. The slender leaves are about 4 inches long and medium green.

Chitalpa trees are a cross between a desert tree, Chilopsis linearis and the fairly well know large leaved Catalpa bignonioides. In fact the flowers are very similar to the Catalpa but they get their ruggedness from the Chilopsis. That being said it is understandable that they would need a sunny location and very good drainage. Once established they are very drought tolerant.

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Living Christmas Trees

If the idea of using a tree that you can plant in your garden later appeals to you, this is how I would do it. First, choose a tree that you would like to add to your garden. So it may not look exactly as what we have come to think of a traditional Christmas tree; however, it will be pleasing in your yard for many years to come
It is important to know that a living tree will only tolerate being in your home for a short period and will not like to be in a room with a wood stove or other extreme heat source. While your tree is indoors keep it well watered. Acclimatize it before putting it back out in the cold again by setting it in the garage or carport overnight.
As your tree will only be in the house a few days (about 7-10 at the very longest!), you may want to make a bit more of a fuss over it than usual. Make sure the whole family is home to set it up so that this new tradition appeals to all.
Make your family's favourite easy dinner or have an appie night, it feels like a family party! Get your kids to help with the traditions like lighting candles or choosing Christmas music. I think these are the specials times that your family will treasure. Read More

Autumn Crocus and Colchicum

Fall blooming bulbs are the tiny treasures of the autumn garden. As the days shorten and the shadows lengthen, the autumn crocus and colchicum make their début. As much as the spring crocus herald the coming of Spring and the end of winter, the autumn crocus announce fall is coming, it's almost time for warm sweaters, long walks, good books and homemade soup. It's time to gather your harvest in, and collect flowers to dry as airy keepsake of the glorious summer we've enjoyed.

These bulbs are planted in late summer to early fall with their blooming period to follow immediately afterwards. They should be planted with bonemeal to feed the bulb and encourage blooming in well drained soil. They look great tucked into rock gardens, around pavers and at path edges.

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Crocosmia x 'Lucifer'

The glorious blooms of Crocosmia brighten up the late summer garden with ease. This South African native is so happy in our Vancouver Island climate that one might wonder why it was not native here. Deer resistant, drought tolerant and winter hardy it out performs many other summer perennials.

On full display in Campbell River's, Discovery Harbour Mall, the blooms of the Crocosmia hybrid, Lucifer, are attracting a lot of attention. Growing three to four feet tall this perennials has fiery, scarlet-red flowers shaped like a delicate gladiolus, arching out from the grass like foliage. It is the perfect compliment to Perovskia (Russian Sage) or Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan).

Crocosmia is cold hardy to zone 5 (Campbell River is zone 7) and should be planted in a sunny location with good drainage. Plant with bonemeal for root growth and plenty of blooms and some good organic matter such as steer manure.


...Experience the Joy of Gardening!


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"If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?" Percy Bysshe Shelley

As this winter season blasts on and on with wind and storms and snow and yet even more snow; Shelley's quote reminds me that the "Joy of Spring" must surely be near. We are a bit spoilt, at times, on the coast when we have mild winters and spring comes early. Not so this year. Even now, in the early days of February, we cannot say how much longer winter will heft her weight around. I think this is not a year when gardeners will boast about geraniums and other non-hardy types wintering out of doors.

However, it is in a winter season such as this that I find gardeners look most forward to the tiny signs of spring approaching. Are any of the tips of their bulbs up? Are buds beginning to swell? We watch, and we wait, and then before we know it the early blooms of witch hazel (Hammemalis) amaze us with their tiny, fragrant, sort of crinkled, yet spiky flowers. Ah.some clock within nature has chimed and time has moved on from the dead of winter to foreshadow the coming of spring.

Then the next thing we know the forsythia has burst open to bathe us in it's golden splendour and it really does feel like the warmer days are coming. Many other bloomers will follow of course but these early ones, these are the ones that get us through the last that winter has to offer. These are the shrubs we love to cut to bring indoors and know that if winter is here, spring cannot be far behind.


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Ornamental Grasses

One of the growing trends in gardening is ornamental grasses. Either on their own or combined with perennials, heather and evergreen shrubs, grasses are really interesting. They promote a coastal look as well as adding the dimension of movement and sound to your garden. Here are a few of our favourites:

Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' A very upright grass that grows about 4 1/2' tall. I's flower plumes are slim beginning white and aging to tan. It stands up straight in my garden even through the windy days. It is fully winter hardy (Zone 4). Plant in full or part sun in average well drained soil.

Carex buchananii A wonderful grass that is copper coloured year round with and arching habit to 18 inches. I think it looks wonderful 12 months of the year but it is spectacular in the fall and winter when it combines with the fall and winter tones in the garden. Extremely effective surrounded by evergreens so that the coppery colour is shown off to the maximum. I must confess though when Nigel first wanted to add this plant to our garden I was less than impressed with the brown colour I first saw, now I see copper! Fully winter hardy (Zone 6). Plant in full sun or shade in average to moist soil.

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Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora' Pee Gee Hydrangea

Many gardeners love Hydrangeas! Just a few of the reasons why are because they love our climate, they look great in the garden and they make wonderful cut flowers both fresh and dried. I must confess I am not an indoor gardener so my home is filled with baskets and pots of dried blooms that keep the summer garden a lovely memory.

One of the most popular varieties of Hydrangea is the lovely P.G. Hydrangea. The blooms on these are very large cone shape blooms that begin white with a faint greenish ting, turning pure white next for most of the time and then aging to a dusky pink.

To grow P. G. Hydrangeas choose a site that is either half sun and shade or full sun. These hydrangeas can handle much more sun then the well know mop head (Hydrangea macrophylla) varieties. In fact because these are hardy to -30F/-34C these are often grown in the hot summer climates of the BC interior.

They can be grown as a shrub or a standard (single trunk tree with full top). P.G. Hydrangeas bloom on new wood so therefore are pruned in the early Spring because they will form their flower buds on the new growth (unlike many mophead types). They are not fussy for soil type but still add a bit of peat and manure with your bonemeal and water regularly especially when it is hot.

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CALIFORNIA LILAC - Ceanothus thyrsiflorus 'Victoria'

Ceanothus is a wonderful shrub for the summer garden. As the name eludes, ceanothus is native to California and the Pacific Coast, however it is not a true lilac.

Named for Victoria on Vancouver Island, this variety is the hardiest of the ceanothus family and in my mind, the prettiest. In early June buds are ready to burst into a nearly true blue haze of blooms backed up by deep, deep green glossy small leaves.

Ceanothus is fast growing, evergreen, deer resistant and drought tolerant so it is a welcome addition to many gardens. It can be added to the garden as a single shrub or it can be used as a hedge either formally clipped or left natural for a loose cottage garden look. Ceanothus grow quickly to 6 or 7 foot tall and wide so give yours plenty of space. After blooming they can be sheared by one third to keep the overall size smaller.

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