Adventures in gardening: Our favourite things
By the time you read this it will officially be summer, with the summer solstice marked at 0104 EDT this morning. Bring it on, I say! Since the beginning of May I’ve been publishing this gardening column on theweathernetwork.com. Generally speaking, growing zones across Canada are starting to catch up to each other. I wanted to find out more about your garden and gardening adventures – so we posted questions via social media, asking about some of your favourite plants. Thanks to your enthusiasm and passion for gardening I got an overwhelming number of responses! It’s been very interesting to see your choices and reasons. Perhaps they are particularly fitting as they come on the heels of Canada’s inaugural 'Garden Day' last Friday (see last week’s column). This annual event is planned for the Friday before Father’s Day – and family, heritage and nostalgia show up strongly in many of your garden choices. Here’s a lovely exchange I’d like to share, which started with @WeatherNetwork asking viewers to name the most fragrant flower in their gardens:
Sitting on the porch on a summer night with Dad, watching for meteors – evokes a beautiful image doesn’t it? You posted many more thoughtful and touching comments on Facebook, here’s a selection:
- Mildred Lodge: “Lily of the Valley because it reminds me of my Mother, full of grace with an abundance of patience."
- Jef-something Brian Thomas Ormston: “Lilacs of any colour. The smell is nostalgic for me and pleasantly intoxicating.”
- Annie Duchemin: “Double pink Japanese Cherry Blossom because it flowers on Mother’s Day, and my white French Lilac because it comes from my Great-Great-Grandmother from Europe.”
- Mary Murr Stevens: “Pansy – first flower I remember as a child.”
- Linda Walker: “Pansy because they were my Dad’s favourite. My garden is full of them and as I develop my garden there will be more.”
In the nostalgia category one of my perennial favourites is Cheddar Pinks, it’s from the Dianthus family, which includes many varieties of Carnations as well as Sweet William. I love its sweet fragrance – but the main reason I grow it in my garden is because my Dad and Grandad Leonard always had it in theirs. Happy memories – and may their gardening gifts transfer to me. In a final nod to all those we think of when we garden, I hope you enjoy this week’s closing quote which appears at the end of the column.
Some of you picked Daffodils, Sweet Peas or Daisies as your favourite flower. A number of others picked Lilies - and some of you said “there are just too many to pick favourites, I love them all.”
Here are some more of your posts:
- Marcie Tompkins: “Echinacea – gives a great show of blooms every year, attracts butterflies and finches love the seeds.”
- Chantal Wilcox: “Sunflowers! They look really really happy, I like that they follow the sun.”
- Bassam Sherisse Alsabeh: “Lily of the Valley because it’s delicate yet beautiful with an amazing fragrance.”
- Pete Gabrys: “I like Morning Glories because it’s like a fresh bouquet every morning and they climb everywhere so it looks like a waterfall of flowers.”
- Joanna Omeljaniuk: “Peonies! They are glorious when in bloom and smell heavenly! Make awesome cut flowers that last long and can be used as natural air freshener in any room.”
- Steve E. Stamp: “Orchids because they are so fragile and delicate.”
- Angela Robinson: “I like Impatiens in the shade and Petunias in the sun, they last long and are very resilient in this climate, and are so colourful.”
- Joan Massey: “Lilacs, Lavender, Hyacinths, Violets, Jasmine, Gardenia, Petunia, Roses. Why? Their amazingly delightful fragrance and their delicate beauty.”
Some great suggestions here for hardy perennials, ‘happy’ perennials and fragrant perennials. One more favourite to add – Marmalade Heuchera or Coral Bells, as featured in the main photo above. I love its foliage, a striking blend of reddish pink, orange and lime green. It’s very eye-catching in a part sun/part shade border.
Early summer ‘to do list’
- Perennials often need to be divided as they grow, either because they’re getting too big, too crowded or often because it helps them stay healthy and performing at their peak. Dividing also give you new plants to fill in empty spots in your garden. It’s like ‘free’ plants!
- One of the great things about gardening is sharing your plants with other people. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to experiment. This sprawling Ligularia came from a neighbour, striking foliage on red stems in a shady woodland setting. More ‘free’ plants!
- The ‘bad’ bugs are happily munching their way through our gardens. My current problems are earwigs, especially on my Butterfly Bushes with Shasta Daisies their next likely target – and slugs on the Ligularia with Hostas as their next target. I’m also treating my Roses for spider mites and aphids. The pink ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ is showing its first buds, but notice the aphids have already moved in. There’s not a lot of damage yet but the key with all pest control is to inspect plants regularly, especially vulnerable ones, and treat immediately. I use a product containing diatomaceous earth for earwig control, natural slug bait pellets for the slugs, and an insecticidal soap spray that’s suitable for Roses.
- Consider getting ladybugs from your local nursery. This ‘good’ bug consumes about 5000 aphids (‘bad’ bug) in their lifetime. See “Adventures in gardening – ‘mini gardens’ and bug watch” for more information.
- Deadhead, snip or pinch off dead flower heads. Depending on the perennial this will encourage repeat blooms and new growth, and prevent self-seeding.
- Keep on top of weeding – do it properly and thoroughly now and you won’t have many to deal with in July and August.
- Prune or cut back certain summer perennials by one third to one half, if desired.
- Prune or cut back certain autumn perennials mid/late June (depending on your zone) for height control, once they reach 12-16”/30-40cm in height.
I look forward to hearing your gardening stories and suggestions and will be incorporating them into future columns. So please be sure to add your comments below, upload your photos to our website, or tweet me an update and photo of your garden at @SuzanneTWN. Join me on TV weekday afternoons and early evenings for the latest weather news and forecast so you’ll know the best time to work and play in your garden.
With the passing of the summer solstice last night at 2204 PDT/this morning at 0104 EDT, summer is ‘officially’ here and the outdoors is always beckoning - what are you waiting for?
Happy gardening adventures!
“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”
- Umberto Eco