Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Busy time of year!!!

The garden centers are certainly busy, people having their lists out as they are getting everything needed to plant. This time of year also brings out people who may have just bought their first home and are eager to add beauty to their yards. Just be prepared to stand in line!! Venture out if you are free during the week as one doesn't feel rushed and can ask for help if needed.

When buying perennials:

1. Labels with photos, how to grow instructions, expected width and height is important.
2. Look for balanced, healthy-looking leaves (new growth means vigorous plant).
3. Short and sturdy versus tall and spindly.
4. Healthy roots, if moss and weeds cover the soil surface usually indicates plant has been in its container too long and could be pot bound (meaning the roots have grown to compact in the container for air to circulate) .

The first three suggestions also apply when you are looking to buy annuals as well. This is a general rule to help you get off on the right start.

Wow... If I was just starting to plant and walk into a nursery, just where do I start! What would I buy? Here are some basic easy care perennials:

For Sun: Daylily(Hemerocallis), Siberian Iris(Iris sibirica), Peony(Paeonia cvs), Liatris, "Goldstrum" Coneflower(Rudbeckia var. sullivantii)
For Shade: Ferns, Hostas

So start a list as you would do for grocery shopping this way you can budget and know exactly what you came for. Good luck to all!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Can't miss the Tulip Festival...

For those who are not familiar with the Tulip Festival I though I would give some information on how it all began:

The Canadian Tulip Festival has grown into the largest Tulip Festival in the world from a gift of International Friendship given six decades ago.

In the fall of 1945, Princess Juliana of the Netherlands presented Ottawa with 100,000 tulip bulbs. The gift was given in appreciation of the safe haven that members of Holland's exiled royal family received during the Second World War in Ottawa and in recognition of the role which Canadian troops played in the liberation of the Netherlands.

The first Canadian Tulip Festival was held in 1953. The Ottawa Board of Trade, at the suggestion of world-renowned photographer Malak Karsh whose photographs have immortalized the tulip, formalized the Canadian Tulip Festival to coincide with the tulip's annual bloom. In the next 10 years the Festival grew in size, with a staggering display of over two million flowers.

I spent walking around yesterday as it seemed to be a great day to view what was in bloom. There are still many that are yet to open, but I thought I would share some of my photos with you.

For more Tulip photographs go to Michael's Photography website. The address is

Monday, April 28, 2008

I can hardly wait....worse than a kid in the candy shop

Seeing all the garden starting to transform one can't help but start checking out some nurseries. I always like to have some herbs and tomotoes every year so thus my mission. I have always enjoyed the yellow tomotoes as they are less acidic. Of course I have to have Sweet Millions (Cherry Tomatoes) to pop in your mouth as a snack. Tomatoes like to be planted in the same spot year after year and I have had great success in doing that.

Different soil types will behave differently so one vital tool for the serious gardener is a tester for acidity levels. You can also judge the acidity of the soil by the types of weeds that grow and their behavior.

I like to use Dolomite Lime to bring the soil pH up closer to neutral. This can be purchased from most nurseries. Dolomite Lime naturalizes the condition of the soil, neutralizes acid soils and provides available calcium and magnesium. This is good for not only tomatoes, but also for lawns and garden vegetables.

My mom used to do alot of companion planting so in turn I have always planted basil, any kind will do, as they seem to thrive off each other. Planting garlic in between the plants protects them from red spider mites as well. Companion planting is another interesting topic to cover and I would love to give more information on it in another blog entry.

If you smoke, it is a good thing to wash your hands before gardening. Tomatoes and many other plants are susceptible to diseases transmitted through tobacco (ex. Tobacco Mosaic Virus).

Well I have my tomato plants just waiting for better weather...... yes I know patience is a virtue.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Those little red devils

Well spring has finally arrived here in Ottawa. Lilies and daylilies are popping up or shooting up all over the place. It's almost like they were anxious to get going after the long sleep they had this winter. We did not break the record for snow created in the winter of 1970-1971 but we came very close with the 436 cms we got this season. But thats over and spring is here finally and for Lily growers that means the dreaded Scarlet Lily Beetle. This year in my garden and a friend of mine they seem to be out in huge numbers.

What I do and recommend to other gardeners that want to grow lilies is to do daily "bug hunts" in your garden. I do at least two per day. First thing in the morning and then again after I get home from work. In the morning the weather is still cool so the Beetles are cold and slow. I seem to get more in the morning. In the afternoon when the temperature rises they are more active and quite often either drop from the plant or fly away as you approach. If they do drop off the plant they have a tendency to fall on their backs. They are black on their underside which makes it tough to see them against the darker ground. Be patient as they will turn around in a short period of time and then you will see their red shells.

While they do not eat daylilies, irises and echinacea, I quite often find them on these plants. So if you have them in your garden take a look there for them as well. They especially like to be in the deep fold of the daylily plants.

At this time of year they are mating so you will often find two or more together. This makes it harder for them to fall off the plant. But now you have to start checking for their eggs. These will appear as a single line of red spots on the underside of the lily leaf. Try to crush these and eliminate part of the problem in the future. The more eggs you find the less larvae will be around to chew on your lilies. They will go through this mating cycle a couple of times during the season so keep a close eyes on your plants. Larvae will be found under the leaves and look like a glop of black sludge. This is because they cover themselves with their own feces to protect themselves from predators. Which unfortunately in North America they do not have any natural predators as they are an introduced species.

Now how to eliminate them. Well Lily Beetle are resistant to most insecticides. I have not really heard of any true and tried insecticide that will positively work on them. Neem oil is said to have some effect on them. You could try insecticidal soaps but I have not had much success with them. Basically I just do the crushing method. It is messy and I try to be quick about it so they are killed as fast as possible. If your squeamish about crushing them then collecting them up in a ziplock bag and then stepping on the bag works as well. What ever way you find works for you then use it.

Unfortunately this is one pest you cannot ignore. The adults and larvae can strip your lily bare of leaves and flower in a very short period of time, this does not kill the bulb but will gradually weaken it until it cannot survive. This then adds to the problem for others as the population on this side of the ocean will continue to grow and spread. There are still some areas not affected by then but thats getting smaller each growing season. We all have a part to play in controlling these insects until a predator is found.

Monday, April 21, 2008

New Year ....fresh start

A Happy New Gardening Year to ALL!!! I figured that the blog needed a women's twist .. lol My name is Tracey and have taken over the blog for Michael as he is busy with the photography site. I hope that you walk thru the garden site and enjoy the new additions. We have been combining gardens ... mine mostly comprise of daylilies and roses. So it is becoming one very full garden strategically placing our precious plants. Looking at the garden these past few days I think even they are ready to start growing. Ok I am off to polish my shovels ... happy growing!!!!

Warning for all!!!

Oh yes just to let everyone know we have been finding LILY BEETLES already!!!!!!! Keep a close watch in your gardens.. if you are not sure what they look like, Michael has some pictures on his Lily Pest page in the website.