Let’s play find the crocus

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crocus in snowYesterday I pruned the roses and cleared away the old leaves around the clumps of crocuses in my front-yard garden, which were finally blooming bright gold and purple. They were three weeks later than usual, but the air was warm,  the cardinals were giving forth their long, liquid calls and the robins were cheerily chirping. I was happy to be outside, doing garden chores.  It looked like spring was at last here, after a long, brutal winter. Continue reading

So what is an heirloom seed, anyway?

edible flowers etc

Hybrid and heirloom chards, beets,and marigolds and dill, all edible, grow at Vesey’s Seeds near St. Catharines, ON

Even though a cold wind is howling around my office window and I can’t see the ground for the snow, I’m thinking of the seeds I will be starting soon. I don’t plant many–a half dozen tomato varieties, skinny French beans, a few greens, lots of basil.  This year, I’ll be doing more varieties of zinnias, Continue reading

Give your garden new life with a plant haircut

I feel bad about my hair the day before I go to my stylist. A trim, little or big, does wonders for my looks as well as my spirit.

This is also true of the garden in midsummer. Cutting out faded leaves, dead flowers and leggy greenery, sometimes even removing unwanted plants, gives your garden new life.

Deadheading is a tried and true gardening practise, and while it’s primarily used to promote more flowering, especially with annuals (and sometimes to encourage a second flush of smaller flowers on perennials) snipping off dead and dying flowers improves the looks of most plants. But when plants are really over, it’s time for sterner measures.

By mid-August my daylilies, which have done yeoman service for many weeks, look like roadside weeds, with stiff stalks where the flowers one bloomed and sadly yellowing foliage. As you can see by the before and after shots below, I cut them back heavily. I snip the stiff stalks into short lengths and toss them on the compost along with the yellowing leaves, which usually pull out fairly easily.

daylily before Continue reading

Pruning ‘The Fairy’ rose a prickly affair

Pruning the ‘The Fairy’ roses in my front yard garden is no fun. By July I’ll love them again, but in early April those seven little devils are no friends of mine. In fact, I grit my teeth and prepare with deep breaths and a good draught of a warm beverage before I head out to do battle, wearing elbow-length leather gauntlets–which don’t, by the way, deter those lethal little thorns from having a piece of me.

Dealing with ‘The Fairy’, a polyantha rose, is one of the first jobs I undertake in spring, partly because they’re looking ragged after a long winter and partly because I know I shouldn’t put it off.  Y’know, get the worst out of the way first. Continue reading