An article just popped up on my news feed regarding the ongoing litigation in the United States about the herbicide glyphosate. This is something I use and recommend for aggressive perennial weeds in the garden. Unfortunately, there is some hysteria over the use of this product, which to date has not been backed by objective data. I direct you to the article I'm referring to as published in the Financial Post.
Frequently I have clients that have decided there is something wrong with their soil and we should dig it up and replace it or at least remove several inches of soil and add something to it to make it better. In Calgary, our soil is clay rich, which helps it retain moisture as well as nutrients. I usually recommend adding one inch of compost to flower beds if the soil is particularly heavy as compost can improve soil structure, drainage, and add nutrients.
Unfortunately there is now a lot of information/misinformation available to consumers about gardening practices. Some of these ideas are not based on science and frustrate me to no end. One of my favorite sources for information is The Garden Professors. Their mandate is to provide research-based information on creating and sustaining gardens and landscapes to the general public. I will direct you to their blog on amending soil for more information on this topic.
Amending Soils - Why??
Have I mentioned I love roses? Luckily enough, there are some cultivars that can grow well in Calgary. The Canadian Hardy National Rose Program develops winter hardy, disease resistant, low maintenance roses that have a long bloom period.
For further details and photos of the Canadian Shield, Chinook Sunrise, and Aurora Borealis roses , click here.
Many gardens have areas of shade. Don't consider these areas to be wasted parts of the yard to be filled with gravel. There are many lovely ideas to brighten up these darker areas of the landscape. Here is an inspiring article from Better Homes and Gardens complete with gorgeous pictures! Contact me to help you implement these exciting plans.
Many gardens I visit in Calgary have become invaded by creeping bellflower. In Alberta, this is classified as a Noxious weed which are regulated under the Alberta Weed Control Act. This pest is quite difficult to control and can quickly overtake your gardens and lawns. Vigilance is key.
For more information on how to identify and eradicate this thug, here is a fact sheet from the Alberta Invasive Species Council:
Homeowners often want to know how much should they be spending to landscape their property. A tough question to give a one word answer. I usually find that people that don't garden have unrealistic expectations of cost. For example, people with 2500 s.f. homes can't realistically landscape their property for $500 (and yes I've had people call me up with this expectation).
Think of your yard as a room of your house. It's probably going to be the largest room you have. How much are you willing to spend to renovate a room in your house? Not everyone gets invited into your home, but everyone has the opportunity to see your front yard without invitation. First impressions are important and lasting.
According to Better Homes and Gardens, real estate studies show that property values can increase by 5-15% with improved landscaping. Therefore a budget of 5-10% of your homes value on landscaping could be recouped immediately. As trees and shrubs grow larger they increase in value over time; so will the value of your landscape.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Last September we were in Ireland celebrating our wedding anniversary. Even though it was getting late in the season for flowers, dahlias were still in bloom and looking lovely. I've never planted dahlias before as they need to be lifted from the ground in the fall here and stored over winter to be replanted in the spring. It seemed like too much work for me but now I think it may be worth it. Fall gardens in Calgary can start to look lackluster, and who doesn't want colorful blooms all the way up to frost?
This morning I went shopping and bought a couple of dahlias - Thomas Edison and Lavender Perfection. I'm going to grow them in large pots as I've run out of room in the garden and it will make it easier to lift in the fall. I'll start them off in the house near a sunny window and will move the pots outside when there are no more frosts. If we have any surprise snow storms in August or nasty hail storms throughout the summer, I can always bring them inside and protect them until fair weather returns.
Here's a photo I took of dahlias at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin.
I was delighted to be asked to provide a guest blog for one of my favorite websites - Gardening Know How. After some consideration, I decided that the most important aspect of gardening is soil. Therefore without further delay, here is a link to my guest blog!
It All Starts With Soil
Now that we've enjoyed a few warm days, one starts dreaming of spring and gardening of course. I always look forward to perusing plant catalogs to see if there are any new and exciting varieties available as well as heirloom favorites. This is eye candy for me!
Follow this link to the 2017 Perennial Guide from Van Noort Bulb Company Ltd. for a comprehensive catalog of perennials, shrubs, vines, and summer flowering bulbs. Remember that Calgary is zone 3/4 as there are some plants listed in the catalog that are not winter hardy here.
Ask me about designing and installing a garden customized for your landscape. Spring is just around the corner.
As my back yard has many trees, certain sections of lawn do not receive enough sunlight to thrive. Over time the lawn has become pale, grass blades have thinned, and the area has become overgrown with weeds. I didn't feel like turning the patch into a shade garden, but wanted to have some sort of "lawn". After some experimentation, I have succeeded in finding a ground cover that grows happily in this space - Dutch White Clover.
My first attempt for this area was to add dense shade tolerant grass seed. The product is marketed as able to grow in areas of dense shade with as little as 3 hours of sunlight per day. As you can see in my photo, there is some dappled sunlight in the area so I thought this would be a suitable choice. Results were disappointing so I moved onto Plan B.
My second attempt involved planting sheep's fescue grass seed. Sheep's fescue grass is a fantastic choice for lawns for several reasons:
My third attempt was to add Dutch White Clover (Trifolium repens) seeds to the existing lawn. I sprinkled it all around the grass and watered daily for about two weeks. Look at the results! A deep green lawn with flowers that have overgrown the existing grass and is absolutely low maintenance. It can be mowed but I choose not to mow it. I leave the flowers for the pollinators to enjoy. I do provide water when required and that's really it.
Dutch White Clover is a legume which is a group of plants that have the ability to utilize atmospheric nitrogen and convert it into a usable form through a process called nitrogen fixation. Therefore, the addition of nitrogen fertilizer is not required as the plant produces it's own. It has a build in food factory.
It's always interesting to experiment with your garden as some ideas don't always work out, and some are better than expected. I consider my white clover lawn a success and encourage others to consider this groundcover as a lawn alternative, especially in areas too shady to support the growth of other plants.