Iris was the renowned goddess of the rainbow in ancient Greece, so it makes sense that there are 200 species of colourful irises. They bloom in pink, purple, blue, yellow, orange, and white.
Each year they come back spectularly retaining their former glory. Their leaves create solid thin green swords adding architectural interest all summer long. They come in various heights from the sweet tiny blue Cantab Dwarf Dutch Iris (0.25 to 0.5 feet) to the tallest Spuria Iris which is yellow and 5 foot tall.
All irises have three upright petals and three graceful drooping petals. Some irises even have “beards” upon their three falling petals! Some do bloom again later in the season.
If you have a group of irises that has become too large and dense dig them up in the fall and divide them with a sharp shovel into manageable attractive clumps. Do not plant them too close to their neighbours as they need air circulation around them to grow to their finest capacity.
They enjoy being planted in sun or partial sun without mulch in order to thrive. Unfortunately mulch creates rot in their rhizomes. Check the tag when purchasing your new spring iris at your local garden centre to make sure you are buying the right iris for the correct area in your garden.
If you are lucky enough to have a surplus of irises remember that they make excellent cut flowers!
Fun Fact: The iris or the “fleur-de-lis” is a common symbol in French royalty on coats of arms as well as the Quebec flag.
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Do you want to live on the wild side? Poppies are a somewhat unusual addition to a garden – adding a dash of glamorous surprise to your boring beds. They will be worth the expense when you see their colourful blooms on fragile crepe paper petals atop hardy leaves.
They look fantastic in large groupings if you can afford this silky luxury. Depending on your location they can bloom anywhere in between May or July depending on the variety.
These opulent ladies prefer rich soil with good drainage. Space them at least a foot apart from the other plants as they prefer full or partial sunshine. In colder climates they do not mind a little cozying up in wintertime with mulch or straw to get them through those cold months – insulate just around and under the plant but not on top of the new growth.
Depending on where you live you can experiment with the many different varieties of poppies such as: Iceland, Alpine, Oriental, California, or Atlantic. Oriental poppies come in bright oranges, scarlets, pinks, plums, and whites. When their graceful blooms die back they can leave an awkward space in your garden so pick up some discounted annuals to fill up the hole with little or no effort.
Another idea is to plant perennials around your poppies such as Siberian Iris, Baby’s Breath or Peonies to fill in the gap after the blooms have died away.
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A while back we look at garden couture, but what is couture without some much needed practical accessories. Here are 3 items that I find integral to your work speed and health in the garden.
1. Fanny Pack
Fanny packs are a godsend for cell phones. If you need to have your cell phone on you at all times this will protect it from all sorts of mishaps in the garden. You can also stash a granola bar in here for later or some string to tie up plants with. Bandaids are another great thing to have in there too in case of a small accident.
2. Belt for Secateurs
A good quality leather belt can be found at most thrift stores that fits your body type. our secateur case makes you feel like a gunslinger when you whip it out to do the much needed pruning at any time while moving through the garden. I bought my leather belt almost 10 years ago now and I still wear it today. I can’t garden properly without it holding my secateurs as they are the most integral tool for a professional gardener.
We may be young now, but kneepads are integral for maintaining the health of garden lovers knees. If you kneel in the garden for too many years you may not be able to kneel later on in life. Take care of your body so you can garden to your heart’s content into your old age. There are all types of kneepads. Had down to your local garden centre and make the selection that is right for you. You can also find a wide variety online too. You don’t need ot get those expensive gel kneepads, just the simple foam ones do the trick for me.
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Spring is here and it’s time to celebrate with a few pots around your front entrance, backyard or balcony. Planting spring flowers is a ritual to shift the energy from the cold bleakness of winter into the hope for warmer days to come.
They symbolize the beginning of the growing season. If you want to invest some serious money you can also experiment with hydrangeas and azaleas in pots for springtime joy. Both of these can be planted in the ground once their blooms are spent. Purchase the daffodils and tulips in their tight buds so you can enjoy the unveiling of their vibrant colourful spring petals over time. Deadhead all your spring container flowers for more blooms in the future. Here is a list of flowers that you can mix and match to create a pleasing fresh display.
- Bleeding Hearts
- Creeping Phlox
Choose a sturdy ceramic pot with great glazing. These pots last an eternity if handled with care and brought into storage during the cold winter months if you live in northern climates. If you wish to get creative drill a few holes in an old wash bucket, wooden wine crate, or baby cradle. If you are using a wooden pot make sure to paint it with a wood seal. Choose the location for your pot in full or partial sun before filling with soil.
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Spring is here and it’s time to rethink your gardening clothes for the season. I find thrift stores hold a wealth of good quality gardening clothes. It is a good idea to have clothes specifically set aside for the garden so you don’t have to worry about them becoming grubby. Over the years I like to think I have perfected a practical yet stylish garden outfit. Sometimes it gets chilly or hot, depending on what tasks are at hand, so light layering works wonders, as comfort and ease is key for any gardener’s outfit. I like to mix darker colours such as brown and black, that don’t show dirt, with varying shades of green, but that is my personal preference.
1.Jeans: Jeans are superior to almost any lower body coverage. Shorts leave your knees open to extremely dirty knees and lightweight pants can get torn on bushes or roses. Jeans rarely tear and can stand up to the rough and tumble dirty garden lifestyle. Make sure your jeans are long enough to cover the tops of your footwear so dirt doesn’t jump in your shoes for a free ride. Stretch jeans are also a great idea as gardening is like yoga as us gardeners all know. Also the ever rugged cargo pants with their multiple pockets for tools are another option if you detest jeans.
2. T shirt/ tanktop: These must be 100% cotton so they are breathable. If you go the tank top route – make sure to apply ample sunscreen before you are covered in dirt!
3. Warmer Wear: Depending on your climate you may need to bulk these items up more, more I am a big believer in combining multiple thin layers. No matter how fresh and cool that early spring day is, when you are dividing perennials you work up a sweat, so it’s helpful to easily take off a zip off hoodie or vest and then put it back on when you have cooled down again. A woollen cap and a T shirt can sometime be the right combination in the garden. Every day is different and every hour is changes in terms of the weather and your body’s heat levels.
Image Credit from scazza_
There are two blue spring bulbs that give a little kick to the more traditional daffodils and tulips. One is scilla and the other is the undemanding grape hyacinth. They don’t need to be watered or fertilized making them a great low maintenance bulb option for spring gardens.
These sweet little blue purple flowers have a lovely fragrance if you stoop to their low level of 7 inches or pick a few for a tiny arrangement which can be quite pleasing on a bedside table or in the bathroom. Grape hyacinth flowers actually resemble miniature clustered groups of grapes.
There are many different varieties to experiment with as well – 30 in fact – which come in shades of blue, yellow or white. There are a couple of varieties that are even two toned as they bloom open to different colors such as Muscari latifolium or the wild Muscari comosum.
They are Mediterranean flowers with grass like leaves, so plant them in your garden in full sun for them to look their best.
They are a reliable option for a first bloomer in your spring garden, but pay attention to where you plant them as they their bulbs spread and multiply underneath the soil.
If you sow your bulbs in a wavy line they can resemble a stream! Plant in groups of ten or more for impact and twice as deep as the bulbs are big, with a couple inches between them for their fleshy green foliage.
Image Credit from Andrea_44
Fresh bright lupines are popping up into spring landscapes across the country in both private gardens and in the wild. Their large unique flowerheads fit perfectly into wildflower and meadow gardens.
This March try experimenting with the Lupines from your local garden centre and spruce up your yard with some cheerful colorful spires of purple, pink, red, white and yellow. Make sure you buy the perennial lupines to get better value for your money.
As well as being beautiful they also can fix the nitrogen in your soil as they belong to the pea family. If you look closely at their flowers you can see the resemblance. Due to the nitrogen effect they create in the soil, they can make excellent companion plants to crops like squash, broccoli and spinach. They can grow wild along country roads and train tracks, but some people see them as invasive. If you so feel like it you can scatter their seeds when you are out on walks or on train rides and one day you will see lupines alongside your daily commute.
To kickstart their growth you can nick their tough seed coat and then soak the seeds in water overnight. They sprout well a mere 1/4 inch under the earth’s surface and start emerging from the soil 15- 30 days later. Once they get established they can grow up to five feet tall and their showy flowers take up 18 inches of that space in May and June. Their foliage hints of the exotic – with palm like leaves that collect the dew in the morning. They do not thrive in over moist areas, but instead prefer sandier or rockier locals. They are not fussy as they do not need fertilization.
Their color and size make them an excellent border plant as well as being a great modern and long lasting cut flower in home arrangments. They grow best in places with cool summers and mild winters making them excellent for the states with those particular climates.
Image Credit from Mamboman1
The root of the word Columbine in Latin means dove because their exquisite petals look like five doves huddled together in a circle. The “doves” or flower petals come in a vast array of colors due to all the new experimentation in garden nurseries.
Columbines usually come in one color: red, yellow, white, blue, pink or purple, but if you want to get fancy you can also purchase the two color varieties. These delicate looking flowers are sturdier than you think and are a cinch to grow. They can become quite tall and never need staking for their strong 2 foot stems easily hold up their graceful flowers.
The Columbine foliage comes in an attractive blue green but it is sometimes is plagued with the trails of leaf miners. These intricate flowers enjoy some shade but can grow nicely in average soil in most climates. They do not mind rocky soils and are drought tolerant making them an excellent choice for xeriscaping (no water gardens). They are beginning to bloom all around us now and their merry flowers will flourish into the summer months.
It is fascinating to watch them self seed all over your garden and you can nurture these self starters into large healthy new columbine plants or pull them up if you like a tidy look. You can also collect the seeds from their dry spent flowers in fall and plant them next year or gift them to friends in the mail. Hikers sometimes spot wild varieties in the woods of eastern North America if they are lucky.
Image credit Cogdog
You can find many varieties of the fragrant honeysuckle vine at your local garden centre this spring. The 65 varieties of honeysuckle come in attractive tones of pink, white, orange, yellow and red. The Golden Flame Honeysuckle is one of the first bloomers in spring gardens and it continues to flourish into the fall making it an excellent value for money.
Plant your new purchase(s) after the fear of the last frost has passed to make sure they survive. Take care when planting and handling the vine as not to break its long cascading tentacles. Also pay close attention when tying it to your structure with to create natural looking growing routes that allow for space between each vine’s branches to mature and spread. The strongest tie for plants is a looped figure eight shape. Here are some interesting facts about honeysuckles as a species in general:
- The fruit they produce is loved by local songbirds.
- Their scent is intoxicating and their sweet edible nectar attracts wildlife such as butterflies and hummingbirds.
- These vines love the heat and are impossible to kill, but they also can tolerate partial shade.
- Honeysuckles are speedy vigorous growers that can beautifully cover fences, walls, or trellises growing up to 25 feet tall.
- These vines can be grown as a ground cover for erosion control.
- Many types of honeysuckle can thrive in container gardens.
- Honeysuckle only needs moderate but thorough watering.
- Never eat the berries as they can cause vomiting, even though they are fine for wildlife and pets.
- The flexible playful branches make excellent cat toys because cats love the smell.
- The leaves can be cooked and eaten as a vegetable if they are grown organically.
Image credit by andrew dossett
Around late March your eye might fall upon bright sprays of yellow surging up in our dull winter landscape throughout your area. This splashy deciduous shrub is called Forsythia and grows up to 10 feet but can be easily pruned down to the necessary size for your property.
This glorious shrub is an excellent choice for a new gardener, as they are extremely hardy and low maintenance. Their vibrancy brings cheer to gardens making them an excellent purchase for planting after the last frost. Forsythia also work well on slopes to prevent erosion. They are rapid growers spurting up around 2 feet every year.
If they are not pruned they take on a wild look – which according to your individual taste could suit the look and feel of your garden landscape. But with regular pruning you can shape them however you like. Their arching branches grow in an upright manner making them an excellent choice for a living wall of joy. The best time to prune forsythia is after their brilliant display of spring color. Please note that their flowers only bloom from old wood.
You can prune them down to 1/3 of their original shape without damaging them at all, in fact this will help them to grow more neatly and compactly. But pruning is not necessary – this is completely up to your discretion. Some people are happy to give their Forsythias a light pruning only every few years. Plant in full sun or partial shade but not in super moist soils.
Image credit golbenge