Garden 101

Deadheading Dahlias

Old dahlia bloom

If you grow dahlias (and I recommend you do, if you have a sunny spot available), the best way to keep them blooming is to continually cut the flowers.   Either pick them for cut flower arrangements, or leave them on the plant to enjoy in the garden but then remove the flowers as soon…

Read More

Lessons From The Garden of 2020

Jennifer in a mask, pole beans, hand holding a dahlia flower

The one real blessing of the last year was being home enough to spend at least a little bit of time in my garden every day during the growing season. I loved being in the garden and the garden grew better because I was out there, seeing what was going on, and intervening—with water, staking,…

Read More

Deadhead Cosmos for More Blooms

I grew an orange variety of Cosmos flowers, called ‘Bright Lights’, and I’ve been loving their vibrant blooms! I had only grown the white ones up until a couple years ago. I didn’t know that there was an exciting cosmos world beyond the white and the pale varieties, but then I saw ‘Bright Lights’ and…

Read More

Making a Coco Liner Fit an Oblong Planter Basket

I have a long rectangular planter basket on the side of my house. Pre-shaped liners (like these ones*) don’t seem to come in the right size for it, so I buy coco fibre fabric by the sheet and cut it to size. It’s available from some of the big box stores, from Amazon*, and my…

Read More

Is It Ok to Braid Daffodil Leaves?

About this time of year I start getting questions along the line of “My daffodils are finished blooming. Is it ok if I braid the leaves to make them look tidier while they die down?”     The short answer is no, not if you want them to bloom again next year.   Daffodils, need…

Read More

How to Easily Remove the Hangers From a Plastic Hanging Basket

I’ve purchased many beautiful plants that came in those ubiquitous plastic planters with the plastic hangers on them. I’m not fond of the look of these hangers, so even if I do plan to hang the plant up, I always take it out and repot it into a nicer hanging basket. Often though, I want…

Read More

How to Grow Tomatoes From Seed – Part 3

So, you’ve planted tomato seeds (Part 1) and are nurturing them along with appropriate levels of light and water (Part 2).  If you followed my advice and planted two or three seeds in each growing cell, you will likely have two or more seedlings coming up in each cell.   You may have to brace…

Read More

How to Grow Tomatoes From Seed – Part 2

If you’ve followed all of the steps in part one of this tutorial, you will now have baby tomato plants, each with two little leaves:   Sometimes the seed will still be stuck on the leaf, but don’t worry about it. These aren’t true leaves, but cotyledons, and they help to feed the plant until…

Read More

How to Grow Tomatoes From Seed – Part 1

I don’t believe that growing tomato plants from seeds is the best way for new gardeners to get into gardening (read my plea for new gardeners to buy seedlings for first year or two here). But, once you’ve mastered starting with sturdy seedlings and growing the plants on to full maturity, it’s a lot of…

Read More

How Much Soil Should You Put in a Pot?

Everyone knows that plants need soil to survive and thrive, but I’ve recently realized that some people have questions about how far up the side of the pot that soil should go. The short answer to the question is that pots should have enough soil in them to support the plants growing in them, and…

Read More

Notes on Pruning Climbing Roses

With gardening, there is always more to learn. I’ve written previously about spring pruning roses, and I stand by the tips and techniques in that article for most roses.   But I’ve learned more about climbing roses and realize that I was cutting back most of them too harshly. They still grew well, but I…

Read More

How to Prepare a Large Planter Pot for Planting

Large planters provide room for lots of creativity, and add more impact to a garden than you can achieve through a collection of small pots, when planted up well. I’ve gardened a pair of large planters for a client for more than a decade, and had an idea that I’d like a substantial pot of…

Read More

What do you do with hostas in the fall?

That’s the question a new homeowner asked me last week. “I just bought a house and the yard is full of hostas. What do I do with them?”     Good question. And I think I had an answer that made her happy.   In the fall, most hosta leaves turn lovely shades of yellow…

Read More

How to Get A Small Pond Ready for Winter

How to get your small pond ready for winter

I’ve written previously about how I created my little pond (aka my pond-in-a-bucket) out of a hard sided pond liner. Because it’s made out of hard plastic I believe it could crack over the winter if I were to leave it full of water that would then freeze.     So in late fall every…

Read More

Gardening Is Paying Attention

Gardening is paying attention

While I was driving to work this morning I noticed that someone had wrapped all of the young deciduous trees and small shrubs in their yard with burlap, to protect them from the coming winter winds. In general, I’m not a fan of shrouding plants in burlap after their first winter (that first year they’re…

Read More

Do I Really Need to Clean the Mud Off My Tools?

I understand the temptation to just stash your tools away, mud and all, after a hard day’s work of gardening. Why bother to clean them off if they’re just going to get dirty again? I’ve felt this way too, but if you want your tools to last, you need to keep them clean. And once…

Read More

How to Divide Hostas

Hostas are problem solver plants–they tolerate a lot of shade so perform well in areas where other plants often don’t, they emerge from the earth in spring with big leaves that can hide the dying foliage from spring blooming bulbs, and they are so cold tolerant that they survive over the winter in pots in…

Read More

How to Have Full, Lush Garden Beds

For the style of gardening I like most and try to maintain, the goal is to have garden beds that are packed full of plants to the point that it looks they’re bubbling out. They’re densely packed in, but each plant has sufficient room to do its thing, and there’s a variety of height, texture…

Read More

How to Have More Big Begonia Blooms

Begonias have amazing flowers. Vibrant colours and so many petals; each one is a little masterpiece!     But have you noticed that some flowers are a little less showy than others? Some are packed full of petals but others are a lot simpler, with maybe four petals?   This is because begonias have some…

Read More

How to Tell When a Hanging Basket Needs Watering

I believe that watering is the most important factor in determining whether or not you’ll have success growing plants in a hanging basket. Water them too much and they’ll die. Water them too little and they’ll get crispy and die.   This is true for plants growing in the ground as well (which is why…

Read More

How to Harvest Rhubarb

One of the first edible things you can pick in the garden each year is rhubarb. I usually start harvesting mine in late May or early June and, if I keep picking so that the stems don’t get too big and woody, continue into August. I never pick all of the stalks–I’ve read that you…

Read More

How to Rescue a Root Bound Seedling

How to Rescue a Root Bound Seedling

The scene repeats itself again and again, in gardens around the world, every year. The story goes like this; you’ve purchased your seedlings and you’re ready to plant them in the garden.     You pop one out of the cell pack and…   …discover that its roots are wound around and around the little…

Read More

What I Look For When Shopping For a Watering Can

What To Look For In A Watering Can

Really, anything that holds water and can be carried can function as a watering can. But if you use your watering can a lot, it’s nice to buy one that is designed well. I do a lot of gardening in containers in a city that gets very hot in summer, so I use my watering…

Read More

How to Prune Barberry (Berberis)

How to Prune a Barberry

Berberis thunbergii, known as Japanese Barberry, has become a very common shrub in my area. Cultivars with dark burgundy leaves (like Berberis thunbergii ‘Royal Burgundy’) were very popular when I was starting my garden, but more cultivars have been introduced over the years, including those with rosey or gold leaves.   I’m not sure that…

Read More

How to Prune Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are a fabulous shrub for the garden. Plant breeders have done some great work over the last decade or so to improve some of the tried and true varieties (e.g. Hydrangea arborescens ‘Abetwo’ Incrediball™ is a much improved form of Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’, with the same large flowers, but on sturdy stems that don’t drop…

Read More

How to Divide and Multiply Primulas

How to divide and multiply spring blooming primula

Primula, commonly called primroses, are among the earliest perennial flowers to bloom in my garden. Their leaves are almost evergreen, although by spring they’re looking pretty tattered and fresh ones appear.   You might think that primulas only come in shockingly bright colours, with simple blooms like the one pictured above, as these are the…

Read More

Compost for the Garden (for Urban Gardeners)

Compost for the garden: how savvy urban gardeners feed their gardens

If I lived on a larger property, I’d have a proper compost pile, or rather piles. Compost needs to be turned (stirred) periodically, and the way to do that with a mass of it, is to shovel it from one bin to another. My parents have a large lot in a semi-rural area, and my…

Read More

Dividing Alpine Strawberries

How to multiply your patch of Alpine Strawberries (Fragaria vesca)

Strawberries are a great plant to grow, as there’s nothing quite like a truly ripe (not picked sort of ripe so they ship well) strawberry from your own garden. When most people think of strawberry plants, they think of what I’ll call “regular” strawberries–they grow big berries and send out lots and lots of runners,…

Read More

How to change the blade on a pair of secateurs

How to change the blade on a pair of secateurs

First off, why would you need to change the blade on your secateurs? And the answer is if the blade has been damaged to the point that just sharpening it or cleaning it won’t solve the problem. If you do those two things regularly, and only use your secateurs to cut the things they were…

Read More

How to clean secateurs

How to clean your secateurs in order to make them last and work better

I’ve written several posts about secateurs (sometimes called pruners, even though technically a pruner is a person who is pruning–the tool used to prune is often a pair of secateurs), how to choose a good pair, how to sharpen them, and today, how to clean them. I talk about them so much because I use…

Read More

Two Ways to Prune Cedars

I have lots of cedars and a pretty small plot of land, so I’ve had to learn how to prune them. I have so many because they stay green all year, they’re easy to care for, and they create much-needed privacy in my urban garden. I believe all of my cedars are Emerald Cedars (Thuja…

Read More

To Rake or Not to Rake – The Truth About Leaves and Lawns

Do you really need to rake the leaves off your lawn? Find out...

Raking leaves is as much a part of our collective idea of “fall” as drinking hot chocolate is part of our idea of what’s supposed to happen in winter. Stories have been popping up in my social media feeds proclaiming that experts say you no longer need to rake the leaves off your lawn! Is…

Read More

Fall is the time to move peonies in the garden

Fall is the time to move peony plants--learn how in this post

I like to move and/or divide most perennial plants in early spring, as close to when they emerge from the ground as possible, as I find I get the highest success rate. Fall is the second best time to plant or divide most perennials. But peonies are different—they are best divided or moved in the…

Read More

How to root succulents

How to multiply succulent plants by rooting pieces of them

Succulent plants, especially members of the echeveria family, have become hugely popular the last few years, as well they should. They grow with next to no water, and can be manipulated in all sorts of ways, and even grown vertically, in growing medium and mesh, so that they be can hung like a wreath.  …

Read More

Container plants come in for the winter

How to save plants from your containers over the winter

I’ve been checking the weather forecast several times a day lately as I’m on the lookout for frost. I have my old sheets and burlap ready to cover some plants if frost is threatened, but I know this is only a temporary measure to postpone the inevitable.   This weekend I started taking apart some…

Read More

How to tie back ornamental grasses without ruining the look of them

How to tie back ornamental grasses without ruining the look of them

I love the look of ornamental grasses, especially in late summer and into fall when the plumes develop. When the sun hits them the right way they’re glorious! However, most ornamental grasses with lovely plumes are quite large. My garden is small. This means that the Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ growing in my front yard…

Read More

Cedar Trees Create Privacy and Erase Ugly Views

What can you grow near cedar trees?

One of the few regrets I have about my garden is that I didn’t plant cedars (thuja) along the back fence years earlier. Instead, I let my garden view end with a chain link fence and the rear neighbour’s garage wall of solid cement block, capped by a deteriorating roof. In summer the view was…

Read More

Saving the Seeds of Night Blooming Primrose

How to save seeds from Oenothera flava, Night Blooming Primrose

One of the most popular posts on my blog has been the profile I wrote of Night Blooming Primrose (latin: Oenothera flava). It seems like a lot of people want this crazy plant that blooms before your eyes, but the plants and even seeds seem to be hard to find. Someone asked if I could…

Read More

What to do with a leaking hose

How to fix a leaking hose

My friend’s garden hose sprung a leak just before I was to house sit for her. No problem, I thought, I’ll fix it for her while she’s gone. The process is the same as for replacing the end of a hose, which I’ve done before.   My first challenge came at the hardware store, where…

Read More

Plant profile: Heuchera

How to grow Heuchera (aka Coral Bells)

I have a problem with Heuchera (aka Coral Bells). My problem is that plant breeders keep coming out with amazing new varieties in a stunning assortment of colours, and I don’t have enough room to grow them all. Somehow, I seem to forget about my lack of space to grow them when I’m in the…

Read More

Plant profile: Alliums

Alliums and why you need to snip the seedheads off

If you’ve ever wondered at the purple lollipop-like flowers, blooming amongst roses and peonies, you’re not alone. Every time I see someone encountering these flowers for the first time, they’re fascinated at their vibrant colour and perfectly round shape. These plants are alliums, commonly known as ornamental onions. They are part of the onion family,…

Read More

The Magic of Mulch

The magic of mulch

Mulch can instantly transform the look of your garden and provides real benefits in terms of maintenance and moisture retention. I am a big believer in mulch for the health of my garden, but I will admit that it was purely aesthetics that drove me to mulch the bed along my front sidewalk during the…

Read More

How to Get Your Tulips to Bloom Again Next Year

How to get your tulips to bloom again

Tulips are the tempermental stars of the spring garden. They put on a gorgeous show but then, if you don’t treat them just right, they disappear and you’ll never see them again. Treat them right and they’ll probably, but not always, bloom again next year. And maybe for years to come. I’ve had some tulips…

Read More

How to Plant Tomatoes

How to Plant Tomatoes

Tomatoes are often the very first vegetable most gardeners try to grow, and who can blame them—there’s nothing like the taste of a freshly grown, ripe tomato from your own garden. While there can be challenges, overall, tomatoes are a pretty easy plant to grow—they’re a good (and tasty!) choice for new gardeners of all…

Read More

The Container Garden Guide

Learn about the Container Garden Shopping Guide

Containers, urns, pots and hanging baskets are a lot of fun to put together and they can add a lot of pizzazz to your garden.     Planters are a big deal for me. I create a lot of container plantings for my own garden every year, along with a few for clients. On my…

Read More

How to Photograph Plants for Identification

How to photograph plants for identification

Whether you’ve just moved into a new garden where everything’s a mystery, or see something unfamiliar sprouting in a garden you’ve had for years, a good way to figure out its name is by taking a photo and sharing it with knowledgeable friends and acquaintances. However, your success at this depends not just on your…

Read More

How to Divide a Bleeding Heart

How to divide Bleeding Hearts and other perennial plants

Although you might mistake the title of this post for an 80’s rock ballad, I’m referring to a plant with the common name of “Bleeding Heart”. The flowers do look like little dropping hearts.   The method I’m going to show you of creating multiple plants out of one, works not only for Bleeding Hearts…

Read More

Two Recommended Tools to Sharpen Secateurs

Two methods for sharpening your secateurs (aka pruners)

It is infinitely more enjoyable, and better for your plants, to use sharp secateurs than dull ones. I’ve written elsewhere about how to choose a good pair of secateurs. In this post I’m going to show you how to keep your secateurs sharp so that you can enjoy pruning.   I have a pretty big…

Read More

How to figure out your zone

Figure out your growing zone

Has a gardening friend or nursery salesperson ever asked you if you “know your zone?” It’s not a pick-up line (well, it’s usually not a pick-up line. I suppose someone might try…) or a way to ask your astrological sign. They’re trying to talk about your growing zone. “Growing zone” is gardener shorthand for what…

Read More

Storing Tubers Over The Winter

Storing Tubers For The Winter

I wrote previously about how to dig up tender tubers–the roots of dahlias, cannas, and begonias–to store them over the winter. I know that a picture tells a thousand words but moving pictures with talking are even better, so I’ve done a short video to walk you step-by-step through the process of packing up your…

Read More

Preventing Snow & Ice Damage to Cedars

Prevent snow and ice damage to cedars without turning them into burlap mummies

When winter storms come and pile on heavy snow and ice, it can spell disaster for some trees, especially evergreens, which have needles that hold a lot of snow and ice.   Evergreens with a strong main trunk, like pines, are best suited to weather this type of weather. But evergreens that grow with many…

Read More

Fuss less in the fall

Fuss less in fall--focus on essential garden tasks

Every year at this time articles about “putting your garden to bed” seem to pop up like dandelions. Worried new gardeners stop me to ask “do I need to put my garden to bed?” “what does it mean to put your garden to bed?” and “what am I supposed to be doing now?”  The underlying…

Read More

Frost protection

How to protect your plants against early fall or late spring frosts

When you live in a climate with real winter, frost is a fact of life. But when frost comes too early, a gardener has to take action!   What’s too early? Well, I’ve been hearing from gardening friends slightly north of me who had frost warnings in August. They were posting photos of what looked…

Read More

Tomato problems. But are they really a problem?

Tomato leaf problems aren't cause for panic

In an ideal world, our plants would never have a blemish and would produce bumper crops continuously.   I do my best to practice good garden hygiene, taking any dying or diseased leaves and stems out of my garden throughout the season, and for tomatoes, being sure to remove the old plants at the end…

Read More

How to save your coleus for next year

Coleus can be rooted from cuttings

I’ve written before about how much I love coleus and how I’ve had a hard time finding my favourite variety at any of my local nurseries.   To keep growing this plant, I’ve been growing cuttings, starting with my original plant, season after season. In this post I’ll show you how I make cuttings and…

Read More

Rain barrels and why gardeners should have one

Rain barrels and why every gardener should have one

I think everyone who has a garden would benefit from having a rain barrel–I have four in my yard (three catching rain off the house and one from the garage). There are two main reasons I think everyone should have at least one; the first is that rainwater is free and tap water isn’t. Why…

Read More

Do you know the dry spots in your garden?

water doesn't fall evenly over the entire garden

Rain doesn’t fall the same everywhere.   I’m not just talking about the difference in rainfall between one side of town and another, I’m talking about within your own garden. Even in my tiny city garden some spots get more rain than others. The cause isn’t some magic invisible shield–it’s the fact that I have…

Read More

Deadheading makes a difference

From the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the NYBG

Deadheading is the process of removing spent flowers from a plant—in plain language that means cutting off the dead flowers. There are two main reasons to do this. The first is aesthetic—dead flowers just don’t look good. Take a look at these geraniums before they were deadheaded:   And then take a look a few…

Read More

Pruning tomatoes

I manage the growth of my tomato plants in order to keep them growing on one or two main stems. Left to their own devices, tomato plants will produce many branches, flop over, and become a tangled mess. This isn’t good for the condition of the fruit–it will rot more easily on the ground, and…

Read More

Sedums grow better if you pinch them back

Sedums, sometimes known as Stonecrops, are great plants–they have nice flowers, they’re drought and heat tolerant, and they are beloved by bees and other pollinators.   The only downfall with them, in my opinion, is their tendency to flop over late in the season. One day you have a nicely rounded mound of plant and…

Read More

Supporting heirloom tomatoes

I really enjoy growing tomatoes, especially somewhat unusual heirloom varieties. By nature, these tend to be very tall plants, growing 8 to 10’ tall in a season, so figuring out how to support them has been part of my learning on how to grow tomatoes well. One of the first things I figured out was…

Read More

Support structures to keep your plants from flopping over

Supporting plants so they don't flop over

Have you ever admired the beautiful blooms on a peony but lamented that they were at ground level, possibly splattered with mud, because the flowers were so heavy? It doesn’t have to be that way and the time to act is now. If you wait until they start to topple over it’s very difficult to…

Read More

Lavender needs a spring haircut

Lavender with new growth, ready to be pruned

Lavender, latin name Lavandula, is a heat and drought tolerant woody plant. Its native climate is the Mediterranean, so it grows well in fast-draining soil (i.e. dry spots) where it will receive direct sun for at least 6 hours a day.   There are many varieties of lavender, not all of which will grow well…

Read More

Dividing rhubarb

Rhubarb is one of the earliest foods you can harvest from the garden. Other than a spot to grow with full sun and an annual feeding of compost or manure, it’s not a demanding plant. But it is a big plant–a mature plant can be 1.5 metres (almost 5′) across.   It is good for…

Read More

Tree peonies – how do you prune them?

Peony plants that die back to the ground each winter and then send up new shoots each spring are known as herbaceous peonies–the term herbaceous means that they don’t have a woody stem. I think it’s safe to say they’re the most common type of peony grown in North American gardens–they’ve been around a long…

Read More

How to prune roses

Roses should be pruned each spring. Cutting back rose canes (i.e. the stems/branches) every year helps to foster healthy, good-looking plants and encourage more blooms. The time to prune is in the spring, once you start to see buds emerging.   If you didn’t protect your roses for the winter, and you live in a…

Read More

Easy care hellebores

Hellebores seem to be getting a lot of attention these days–they’re a great looking, easy care plant that blooms in late winter to early spring. Chosen as the Perennial Plant Association’s Perennial Plant of the Year in 2005, more and more bloom colours have become available, due to the diligent work of breeders.   I…

Read More

It’s time to unleash the roses!

It's important to protect roses for winter, but also important to remove that winter protection at the right time

One of the first spring tasks in the garden is to remove the winter protection off of roses. As I explained in my post on how to protect roses in winter, the recommended way to ensure that your roses make it through the winter intact (and note that I’m writing this for those of you…

Read More

7 Garden Tasks for the Pre-Season

Seven Pre Season Garden Tasks - including cutting back ornamental grasses

You can’t really get out in your garden and do a lot until the weather warms up and the ground dries out a bit. That happens for me sometime in late April—we’ll still have frost for another month after that, but by late April I can start dividing and moving perennials and really “gardening”. However,…

Read More

Dahlias are easy to grow and now is the time plant them!

Dahlias have spectacular blooms but are very easy to grow. You can buy plants already started from the nursery in late spring, but for the best selection I recommend buying the tubers (i.e. the fleshy roots of dahlia plants–they’re like tulip bulbs) now and starting them growing indoors so that they are ready to bloom…

Read More

Will late snow and ice harm my spring bulbs?

It’s every gardener’s nightmare: spring seems to have arrived, tulips, daffodils and other spring bulbs are emerging and WHAM! an unexpected snow/ice storm accompanied by plunging temperatures blows in from out of nowhere, engulfing everything in an ice blanket. Will your bulbs be ok? What do you do? The good news is that spring-blooming bulbs…

Read More

Do I need to use potting soil in my pots?

When I first started growing plants in pots I wondered if I really needed to buy “potting soil” (called “potting compost” in the UK), or if I could use something cheaper, like topsoil or regular garden soil. I read a few articles that said you really should use it, but aside from potting soil being…

Read More

Birdfeeders: what gardeners need to know

Cardinals love backyard bird feeders

I spend a lot of winter hours staring out the windows at my sleeping garden so the concept of having something of “winter interest” in the garden is pretty important to me. When you read about creating winter interest the discussion usually centres on making sure you plant some evergreens, ornamental grasses, and trees and…

Read More

What is that giant green thing on my tomato plant?

Manduca sexta tobacco hornworm on tomato

Last summer I was in my tomato patch, admiring the ripening tomatoes and pruning off excess growth, when something caught my eye. Now I should pause and explain that I grow a lot of tomatoes; 17 plants last season, in fact. And they aren’t little tomato plants—I love to grow heirloom tomatoes, many of which…

Read More

Plant profile: Nigella

Nigella (Nigella damascene) is a beautiful and easy to grow flower for your summer garden. Nigella blooms are unlike anything else—to me, they look a bit like a firecracker or a sea creature. They come in a few colours, including white and soft pink, but it’s the blue varieties that I think really stand out…

Read More

Protecting roses in winter

Rose bush in rose cone on post about winterizing roses

One of the last tasks of the garden season is to protect roses for winter. And by last tasks, I mean you need to wait to do this until winter sets in–the ground is frozen (or in the process of freezing) and no more balmy days are forecast. I won’t lie, this can be a…

Read More

Saving begonias, dahlias and cannas for next year

The tubers to grow dahlias can be lifted and stored for the winter

I’m always sad to see my beautiful flowers freeze and die in the fall. However, I am heartened to know that my begonias, dahlias and cannas will live again the next year, as long as I lift and store their fleshy root systems, called tubers and rhizomes. (If you want to get technical, begonias and…

Read More

Why you need to empty your pots for the winter

I grow a LOT of plants in pots. A lot. I love their versatility and the way they can add height and colour to any spot. The only thing I don’t enjoy about growing plants in pots is having to empty the soil out of them in the fall. And because I live in a…

Read More

How to plant garlic

How to plant garlic - image of trowel and clove of garlic

Garlic is one of the easiest foods to grow. Just drop a clove in the ground, provide minimal care, and some time later—out comes a full head of garlic. In this post, I’ll take you step by step through the process. Or, for the quick version, watch this video: Still with me? Great–read on! Garlic…

Read More

Early fall garden tasks

Fallen leaves mean it's time for fall garden cleanup

As frost hits and the growing season winds down there are some things that need to be done to keep your garden fabulous:   Annuals Remove and compost annual plants once they die. A bed full of wilty dead coleus is not attractive.   Vegetables Most of your vegetable plants are annuals, so should be…

Read More

How to plant bulbs

Planting Bulbs with The Fabulous Garden

Spring flowering bulbs are one of the easiest things to grow in your garden. Plant them in the fall, protect them from squirrels, and they’ll reward you with lots of colourful blooms in the spring—a welcome relief after a colour-deprived winter. Squirrels really are the only significant obstacle that I’ve found when growing bulbs. They’re…

Read More

It’s time to buy bulbs!

Assorted packages of spring blooming bulbs

If you want to have a fabulous garden next spring now is the time to go out and buy bulbs. I was in two nurseries this weekend and both of them had just received the bulk of their spring blooming bulbs, which means the best selection is to be had right now. I would imagine…

Read More

Dealing with weeds

Dealing with weeds

Weeding is an inescapable part of gardening. You can minimize the amount of it you have to do by using mulch and planting intensively (less space between plants means less space for weeds) but you’re always going to have some weeds to deal with. Ignoring them just leads to more weeds, so it’s a battle…

Read More

A quick & easy upgrade for hanging baskets

hanging basket of geraniums

Hanging baskets are a must have in my garden. In particular, I love to have a big basket of bright red geraniums hanging on the front of my garage. They’re easy to find at a good price and they pack a lot of oomph. What I don’t love is the cheap plastic hanger and basket…

Read More

5 Rules for Watering Your Garden

water spray from hose on Japanese forest grass

Watering plants is really straightforward in many ways. We learn early on in science class that plants need soil, light, air and water to grow. But how to water and when are the questions that generate answers that begin with “It depends on…” and then follow with qualifiers about temperature, type of plant, whether it’s…

Read More

The (not so secret) secret to growing great garlic

garlic scapes

Garlic is really easy to grow—you plant it in the fall and then just keep it watered and weeded until harvest, except you do have one task to complete right about now. And that’s chopping off those curly things that have formed at the top of the garlic plants. Those are called scapes. Essentially, they’re…

Read More

Coleus, the most useful plant

several varieties of brightly coloured coleus

I noticed an empty open spot at the front of our garden, near the sidewalk. Bare soil (or bare mulch) is a rarity in my garden, by design. Actually, saying it’s by design sounds like have a plan—if there’s an empty space I see an opportunity to cram in another plant! I still have a…

Read More

How do I prune my lilacs?

Lilacs in bloom

I have a friend with a beautiful garden, designed and installed by professional landscapers. She loved it, but her one complaint was that her lilacs had bloomed the first year and then never really put on much of a show after that. When I visited her lovely garden my one question, that revealed the problem,…

Read More

Is your garden hungry?

sign saying Gardeners tend to soil their plants

Do your roses lack vigor? Your shrubs seem sparse? Your tomato plants puny? It may be that they’re hungry!  Plants take nutrients from the soil and, over time, if the soil is not replenished, will exhaust the supply available. It’s just like if you or I were to keep taking food out of the refrigerator…

Read More

The gardener’s shadow

dragonfly on bright green leaf

One key to a fabulous garden is being aware of what’s going on in your garden. My garden mentor often quotes the old adage “The best fertilizer is the gardener’s shadow.” That phrase went through my head often this week as I was doing rounds early in the morning; I still have a lot of…

Read More

What’s coming up in my garden?

Monarda plants emerging in spring

Or how to make sure your garden gets better every year. Walking through my garden in spring is like meeting up with a bunch of friends I haven’t seen in months—it’s a series of happy surprises and reunions as I reflect on the good times we had together—the stunning bloom on this particular tulip, the…

Read More

What grows in shade?

assortment of shade tolerant plants

“What do I plant in the shady areas of my garden?” is one of questions I’m asked most frequently. All plants need light, water and soil in order to grow, but the amount of each varies from plant to plant. Plants that tolerate less light are often called shade plants, although shade-tolerant plants is probably…

Read More

What’s the difference between an annual and a perennial?

annual and perennial flowers with The Fabulous Garden watermark

“Are you looking for annuals or perennials?” is often the first question you’re asked when you go to a garden centre. “Erm…I’m not sure” can be uncomfortable to say–perennial and annual are terms you’ve heard before but just haven’t quite remembered the definitions of as they only tend to come up occasionally–like right now, in…

Read More

How do I take care of my lawn?

close up of grass lawn

“Jen, when should I fertilize my lawn?” “Should I just put some topsoil on my lawn now?” “Hey, Jennifer, is this the right time to overseed?” These are the questions often directed at me by friends and colleagues when they find out that I know a bit about gardening. This happens even with friends who…

Read More

Which seeds should I plant right in the ground?

In a previous post I talked about how new vegetable gardeners can feel pressured to start their plants inside, from seeds, when really, they would be much better off buying baby plants (seedlings) from the nursery. This is true for plants that need to be started ahead of time, inside, in order to reach maturity…

Read More

How do you find gardening advice you can trust?

mosaiculture gardener planting a tree

There are all sorts of website, people, and businesses willing to provide advice to gardeners, but the question, especially for the new gardener, is whose advice do you trust? I’ve seen a “gardening magazine” publish advice that’s just plain wrong and refuse to correct it. Irresponsible? Yes. Surprising? No. Gardening is big business, editorial teams…

Read More

What new gardeners need to hear about starting seeds

Basil seedlings

I believe a lot of new gardeners are being set up for failure. They’re told from multiple sources that growing their own plants from seed is a great way, in fact, the only way, to really start gardening. When a new gardener tries to grow something and has a bad experience right off the bat,…

Read More
This website is using Google Analytics. Please click here if you want to opt-out. Click here to opt-out.
error: Content is protected and cannot be copied