Planning Time

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side garden

I’m so thankful that I’ve finally a few days off to enjoy my own garden. Right now I’m sitting on the patio with my laptop in hand, feeling a gentle breeze on my skin as I enjoy the fragrance of a Minuet Lilac in full bloom, hear the buzz of bees as they visit the flowering shrubs and love the sight of my flowers looking so fresh after last nights rain! Add into the mix the fact that I enjoyed the taste of fresh basil I grew myself on pizza I made for lunch and I’m experiencing the growing season with all my senses. I hope you are too!

It’s at this time of year that I really get a chance to get into my gardens and really assess what needs to be done. The frantic pace of spring maintenance and planting is over, and my ‘puttering time’ has begun.

I’m a real planner. Yesterday as I got into my side garden for some much-needed weeding, I was observing some problem areas, thinking ahead to solutions that might work.

We original planted a grouping of three Diablo Ninebark shrubs to act as a wind buffer in an area that gets the brunt of storm winds. I chose that shrub because it would take the part-shade light condition and sandy soil there.

The size and bushiness of that particular shrub also suited the scale of the area. The dark leaves added a nice contrast to all the green grass and tree foliage too. Ninebark has the added benefit of not being a favourite food for deer that routinely browse all winter in our area.

All in all, it was a moderately successful plan. One of the three ninebarks has always struggled. It gets the least amount of sun and has the most competition from roots of a mature pine tree. The middle shrub looks a bit more robust. The last of the three, nearest the walkway, grows that best as it has the most sun. I do have to keep that ninebark cut back or it reaches right into our walking space.

However, gardens aren’t a static environment. Things are always changing. The barrel sauna my neighbour installed a few years ago is in the perfect position to act as a windbreak for that area.

Diablo Ninebark turned out to be prone to a leaf and stem mildew that is manageable but does return each season. It’s really bad this year after all the June rain.

One of the anchor shrubs further along in that garden has taken a real hit over the last two extremely cold winters. I pruned more dead out of it yesterday.

A Siberian Cypress that was one of the first shrubs I planted in that garden ten years ago now has the centre dying out although all the outer foliage still looks healthy.

When you take into account all those things going on, it’s time to say, “That garden is ready for an overhaul!”

 I’ll think on it some more as I putter around, finishing up this round of weeding. I’ll consider newer ninebark hybrids that are less disease prone and more compact.  I’ll jot down notes on a few new plants I’ve seen at the garden centre that just NEED to find a home in my garden, then see if any suit the growing conditions in that area.   

Once I have a plan fully formed, we can make time on our holidays to rip out plants that need to go, amend the garden soil with a generous application of compost and replant the area. I’m looking forward to the change.

Have you walked around your yard lately and really taken a thoughtful look at your gardens? Maybe they need some redesigning too. There are still lots of planting days left in this gardening season!

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About Me

I began my journey in horticulture in 1982 after graduating from the Humber College Landscape Technician program. At that time, I lead a talented crew of landscapers, taught evening courses in horticulture and had my own landscape design and consulting business. Then I ventured into the garden centre world. I’m lucky enough to be leading the friendly and knowledgeable team at New North Greenhouses. 

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New North Greenhouses

719 Airport Road

Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

P6A 5K6

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