Garden Seminars & Workshops: Every Gardener’s Should-Do List

By Lee Edwards, Master Gardener

As Gardeners, we already know that gardening has many benefits including improving our health and connecting us with nature, to name just a few.  That said, did you know that attending gardening seminars and workshops can also improve your health- brain gain, ramp up your gardening skills, get you out meeting others with similar interests, and increase your communication abilities?  Even more, seminars and workshops add new ideas to your horticultural know-how, empower your confidence in gardening, and help to propel you to new gardening heights.

So, what does a gardening seminar or workshop look like?  Well, unlike lectures, they tend to be short, interesting, educational talks or demonstrations usually featuring a speaker engaged with a small group of attendees focused on garden topics of interest to the attendees.  During the event attendees typically get the opportunity to ask questions, participate in hands-on activities if any, learn something new, connect with speakers and increase their existing knowledge.

Indeed, during the cold winter as outdoor gardening slows down, attending a garden seminar or workshop is a great way to break up the long winter months away from the garden while remaining involved in garden goings-on and being amongst gardening enthusiasts.  The lively energy and creative atmosphere that permeates these events are infectious to everyone, worth the time and fee to attend, not to mention downright fun most-times.  Truly, garden seminars and workshops should be on every gardener’s yearly to-do list.  If you’ve never been to a garden seminar or workshop, now may be the time to try one, to investment in yourself, inspire your creative growth and add to your gardening knowledge.

Did you know that the Peterborough & Area Master Gardeners annually present a wonderfully fun and informative gardening seminar called “A Day for Gardeners?”

2019 Save the Date

A Day For Gardeners Seminars by Peterborough & Area Master Gardeners

A day of fun, friendship, food and learning.  Select 3 of 6 seminars presented by Master Gardeners and speakers on topics of interest to both new and experienced gardeners.

Date:   Saturday, March 2nd, 2019
Place:  Activity Haven Centre – 180 Barnardo Ave, Peterborough, ON K9H 5V3
Time:  10:00am – 3:00pm
Price:   $35 – EARLY BIRD (register and pay by February 2nd, 2019)
$40 – after February 2nd.
Includes lunch.  Walk-ins on day of seminars are welcome if room is available.

Have Fun Gardening!

 

Caring for your Poinsettia

By Mary-Jane Pilgrim, Master Gardener

Christmas Day is tomorrow (gasp!) and with that we have a few tips on how to care for your Christmas plant — the poinsettia. This plant came to Europe from Mexico. Because of its bright red colour, it became a popular Christmas decoration and nowadays it’s hard to imagine Christmas without it. You may not know this, but the colourful parts of the plant are actually leaves, and that all poinsettias have tiny yellow flowers.

Having a poinsettia is a great way to brighten up your house this winter and if you follow the tips, your plant may last even until Easter.

Water your plant when it feels dry to touch, but take care not to drown it by ensuring that adequate drainage is available. Place a layer of pebbles on a tray beneath the plant to keep it out of water and increase the humidity. Avoid letting it sit in a water-filled saucer as this can lead to root rot.IMG_4312

Place your plant in bright, but not direct sunlight; give it a minimum of six hours of light each day. South, east or west facing windows are preferable to a north window. Maintain Temperatures between 18 – 22C in the day, and cooler at night. Avoid extreme temperature changes by ensuring that it’s not near near fireplaces, drafts or ventilation ducts.

If you notice that the leaves are falling off, you can usually still save the plant. Environmental factors such as a room that is too warm or too dry is most often the reason. Keep the plant in a coolish, draft-free area and provide plenty of water.

Fertilizing a poinsettia is never recommended while it’s blooming — and you should fertilize only if you plan to keep it after the holiday season. If so, apply fertilizer every two weeks using a complete houseplant fertilizer. While it is possible to keep the plant from year to year, it is a very fussy exacting process. Since they are not that expensive, you might just choose to start fresh next year.

For years poinsettias have had the bad reputation of being poisonous. They certainly are not meant to be eaten by humans, pets, or livestock and ingesting poinsettias would probably cause some stomach upset, as would eating most any houseplant. However poinsettias have undergone extensive testing and there is no evidence that they are toxic or unsafe to have in the house. They are also safe to put into the compost.

If you are interested in keeping the plant after the holidays, here are some tips:
https://www.thespruce.com/poinsettias-keepers-or-compost-1403587
https://landscapeontario.com/home-care-tips-for-your-poinsettia
https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/poinsettia/poinsettia-care-how-do-you-take-care-of-poinsettias.htm

What to Get a Gardener who has Everything For Christmas

by Suzanne Seryck, Master Gardener

Generally on the whole gardeners are a pretty easy bunch of people to get Christmas presents for – who doesn’t love a good ‘garden themed’ mug or calendar?

But what do you get the gardener in your life who already has a dozen or so mugs and calendars, bookcases overflowing with garden design, plant identification books and Canadian Gardening magazines, a shed full of shovels, trowels, pruners and every imaginable weeding tool that has ever been created.

So to my husband and anyone else who is looking for something a little different, I have attached my Christmas list:

Gardening Gloves

I know, I know I have at least 10 different pairs in the shed, but I must lose at least half of those pairs in a single season in my own backyard. Not to mention the other pairs I lose whilst gardening for someone else, or just simply driving, I’m not sure if they jump out of the car by themselves or simply get lost between the seats.

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Gift Certificates

I’m pretty easy and flexible on these. Gift certificates for seed companies are always welcome, as is a gift certificate from Lee Valley, there has to be some tool I don’t already have. You can also purchase gift certificates from the many nurseries or garden decor/accessory shops in and around Peterborough, like those on the Peterborough and Area Garden Route. A gardener will always have room for one more plant, insect house or garden gnome.

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Advance Passes to a Garden Show

Canada Blooms in Toronto in 2019 is being held on March 8-17; advance tickets can be ordered here. And locally the Peterborough Garden Show is on April 26-28; advance tickets can be purchased at numerous physical locations plus online.

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Folding Garden Stool with Tools

We are all getting older and in my case also more forgetful. As well as losing gardening gloves, I also frequently lose my tools. My husband even tried painting the handles of my tools bright red so I would be able to find them easily, that did not work. Every summer I must find at least 1 pair of pruners and a hori hori knife (I currently have 3) from the previous year or two. So to save both my aching knees and not lose any more tools I am adding this stool to my list, which actually stores the tools under the stool.

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Seed Bombs

No other reason than I love the look of these. If you look at some of the websites out there you can find them in many different colors containing different types of plant seeds, for example seeds specifically for pollinators. They are also small enough to fit in a stocking, and if you like to make your own gifts this could be something you could do yourself.

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A Gardening Book

And finally, of course, a gardening book, but not just any gardening book. This book was listed in the Toronto Star as one if the ‘100 notable books of 2018’.
It is called ‘The Overstory’ by Richard Powers. I haven’t read this, hence it’s on my list, but I am intrigued by the description given in The Star: ‘The science of botany and the art of storytelling merge to ingenious effect in Power’s magisterial new novel – in which people are merely the underbrush and the real protagonists are the trees that the human characters encounter’.

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I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and hope you all receive what you wish for under your tree.

The 12 Plants of Christmas – Part 2

By Emma Murphy, Master Gardener

So in the spirit of the Christmas season, this week’s blog continues Part 2 of the 12 plants of Christmas—this one focuses on food and other traditions that are plant-related.

CHRISTMAS FOOD

sage

5. Sage

Not only is sage a vital ingredient of the Christmas classic, sage and onion stuffing, its fragrant, evergreen leaves are also a wonderful addition to a homemade Christmas wreath, a table centrepiece with candles, or simply stuck in a vase with some silvery eucalyptus leaves, bay branches and rosemary. Sage is reputed to have health-giving properties – it is said to be an excellent anti-inflammatory and helpful in reducing irritations of the stomach and intestines. Sage is also thought to be a great memory booster and is one of the most effective treatments for a sore throat. There is an Arab proverb that says “How can a man die who has sage in his garden?” If you are interested in its medicinal properties, this Herbal Academy site has some fascinating background.

In your garden, sage likes full sun and a well-drained soil. Be sure to prune it right back every spring to stimulate new growth. It doesn’t have to go into a dedicated herb bed—plant it under roses and with lavender.

rosemary

4. Rosemary

Its scientific name very charming – rosmarinus, which is from “dew” (ros) and “sea” (marinus) or “dew of the sea.” Rosemary is native to the rocky hills on the shores of the Mediterranean and loves a humid sea breeze. The ancients believed without a doubt that the sea air gave the tree its distinctive scent.

Rosemary was connected with the Virgin Mary (because it was thought to be Mary’s favorite plant) and people thought that it could protect you from evil spirits. It is also considered a plant of love, loyalty, and friendship and was the most common garnish put on the boar’s head that rich people ate at the main Christmas meal in the Middle Ages. Rosemary is also more commonly known as the remembrance herb, so it therefore used at Christmas to remember the birth of Jesus.

The English poet, Robert Herrick, who lived between 1591 and 1674 celebrated the holiday use of rosemary in this verse:

Down with the rosemary and so, Down with the baies and mistletoe, Down with the holly, ivie all Wherewith ye deck the Christmas hall.

Many people use (or give) a small, potted rosemary bush for a lovely little Christmas tree or fragrant centrepiece. If you need some tips on how to keep this humidity-loving plant alive after Christmas check out this blog.

CHRISTMAS TRADITION

wreath

3. Christmas Wreaths

Hanging a circular wreath of evergreens during mid-winter appears to have started back in Roman times when wreaths were hung on doors as a sign of victory and status. Rich Roman women also wore them as headdresses at special occasions (like weddings) and to show their wealth. The word ‘wreath’ comes from the Old English word ‘writhen’ which means to writhe or twist. Christmas wreaths as we know them today, might have started life as kissing boughs (a gesture of goodwill or to welcome guests) or come from the German and Eastern European custom of advent wreaths.

frankincense

2. Frankincense 

Frankincense derives from the tree Boswellia sacra. The frankincense tree grows in the Dhofar Fog Oasis, a remarkable area where three coastal mountain ranges of Oman and Yemen are cloaked in thick fog during the summer months. This species was a source of great wealth in centuries past. Frankincense from the Dhofar region (what is now Oman) provided much of the wealth through centuries of trade with Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Caravan routes carried the precious resource across the Arabian peninsula.

The BBC posted an amazing story about uses for both frankincense and myrrh in the modern age. Both frankincense and myrrh were widely available and would have been considered practical gifts with many uses. The expensive resins were symbolic as well. Frankincense, which was often burned, symbolized prayer rising to the heavens like smoke, while myrrh, which was often used in embalming, symbolized death.

myrrh

1. Myrrh

Myrrh is derived from the species Commiphora myrrha a small tree that exudes gum resin as a pale yellow liquid when the bark is cut. This dries into reddish-brown lumps the size of a walnut from which the oil is distilled. Native to Somalia, Ethiopia, and Yemen, myrrh was very popular in the ancient world and was used as a medicine by the Chinese and Egyptians. It was important for use in the Egyptian sun-worshipping ritual and mummification. If you are interested in more information about the botanical connections to the Christmas season, this article has lots of links.

Well there you have it. Some fun and interesting gardening connections to the Christmas season.

If you are up for another garden-related challenge, try this 50 question quiz. Tell us how you did!

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The 12 Plants of Christmas – Part 1

by Emma Murphy, Master Gardener

The snow is on the ground and the cold winds in the air. Canadian gardeners are reflecting on their gardening season (why does it always go by so fast?) and thinking about next year’s garden (has your first seed catalogue arrived yet?).

So in the spirit of the Christmas season, this week’s blog is about the 12 plants of Christmas—some decorative, some food, and some traditions! In Part 1 we’ll look at Christmas plants and one food; you’ll have to wait until next week for more food and other plant traditions.

CHRISTMAS PLANTS

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12. Holly

Decorative green plants like holly, ivy, and mistletoe originate in pre-Christian times and were associated with celebrating the Winter Solstice by warding off evil spirits and celebrating new growth (well the latter only in warmer climate). Many countries (especially the UK and Germany) still decorate their homes with these plants today, often in Christmas arrangements or wreaths. The beautiful berries of the Christmas holly are produced by some of the approximately 400 species of holly (Ilex) that growing wild around the world. Typically, holly trees and shrubs are smooth-barked and have small flowers, fleshy red or black berries, and leathery, shiny leaves.

In pagan times, Holly was thought to be a male plant and Ivy a female plant. An old tradition from the Midlands of England says that whatever one was brought into the house first over winter, tells you whether the man or woman of the house would rule that year! But it was unlucky to bring either into a house before Christmas Eve. For the Christian faith, the prickly leaves symbolize the crown of thorns that Jesus wore when he was crucified. The berries are the drops of blood that were shed by Jesus because of the thorns.

If you are interested in five fascinating facts about holly, check out this link.

mistletoe

11. Mistletoe

Mistletoe has long been a symbol of love, peace and goodwill. The custom of using mistletoe to decorate houses at Christmas is also pre-Christian and the habit of kissing under the mistletoe continues today in many countries. Mistletoe is the common name for obligate hemi-parasitic plants in several families in the order Santalales. The plants in question grow attached to and within the branches of a tree or shrub. In the past, mistletoe was often considered a pest that kills trees and devalues natural habitats, but has recently been recognized as an ecological keystone species. Studies have shown that rather than being a pest, mistletoe can have a positive effect on biodiversity, providing high quality food and habitat for a broad range of animals in forests and woodlands worldwide.

For a whole host of information on mistletoe myth and legend, plus practical details of how to grow it in your own garden, Jonathan Briggs’ Mistletoe Pages.

cactus

10. Christmas Cactus

The Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera xbuckleyi) is popular for its colourful flowers that appear during the Christmas season. It is native to the coastal mountains of south-east Brazil where it is found growing on trees and rocks.

However, if you have picked up a “Christmas cactus” in the past month or so that is now blooming beautifully it probably is a Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncate), which usually blooms about a month before Christmas cacti and has very cool flowers– I have heard them described as “leaping shrimps” or “lobster claws”. You can read more about the varieties, and how to tell them apart (hint it’s all in the leaf segments) here.

poinsettia

9. Poinsettia

Euphorbia pulcherrima is is a shrub native to Mexico where it is known as “Noche Buena”, meaning Christmas Eve. The Aztecs called it cuetlaxochitl (brilliant flower), and made a purple dye from its bracts and a fever medicine from its sap. The plant’s association with Christmas began in Mexico 400 years ago. According to legend a young girl who was too poor to provide a Christmas gift for the birth of Jesus was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them at the church altar. Crimson “blossoms” appeared from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias. The poinsettia plant was named after Joel Robert Poinsett, who was an American ambassador to Mexico around 1829. Poinsett was an amateur botanist and liked the plant so much that he sent several back to his home in South Carolina where he grew them in his greenhouse and introduced them in the US.

Poinsettias are popular Christmas decorations in North America and Europe, and the colours have expanded far beyond the traditional red to all shades of pink, salmon, apricot, yellow, cream, and white. While lovely at Christmas they are tough to keep as a houseplant given our dry indoor conditions. During the 1960s, plant breeders worked hard to make the poinsettia more colourful, compact and floriferous, which is what you see today. More information here.

paperwhites

8. Paperwhites

Tazetta daffodil types – usually the paperwhite narcissus N. ‘Ziva’ – is specially prepared to flower in time for December 25. Cultivars of N. tazetta include ‘Paperwhite’, ‘Grand Soleil d’Or’ and ‘Ziva’, which are popularly used for forcing indoors.

If you want to try them out and have flowers all winter, here’s some information about how to do it. More here. (One word of warning: not everyone loves the perfume of paperwhites. One component of the paperwhites’ unmistakable scent is indole, and some people’s noses find this adds a fetid edge that’s really rather unpleasant. So you may want to sniff before you try.)

Paperwhites may grow tall and leggy, flopping over just as they begin to bloom. Tie a ribbon around the stems, about two thirds of the way up. According to a professor at Cornell University if you grow paperwhites in a 4 to 5% solution of alcohol it helps regulate the growth. Given that most liquors are 40% alcohol, this would be 1 part alcohol to 9 parts water. Don’t use beer or wine (just hard liquor – gin/vodka/whiskey/rum/tequila).

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7. Amaryllis

Everyone I know loves the amaryllis, and we closely associate them with the festive season. While the popular name is “amaryllis”, hippeastrum is generally accepted as being the correct name. It usually blooms around Christmas or into January or February in the Northern Hemisphere, then produces long green leaves that allow it to store energy for the following year.

Native to Peru and South Africa, amaryllis comes from the Greek word amarysso, which means “to sparkle.” Bulbs were brought to Europe in the 1700s and have been known to bloom for up to 75 years. Amaryllis flowers range from 4 to 10 inches in size, and can be either single or double in form. While the most popular colours are red and white, flowers may also be pink, salmon, apricot, rose or deep burgundy. Some varieties are bicolour such as purple and green, or picotee (having petals with a different edge colour). Lots of information here.

You can buy bulbs on their own or potted up. Select the largest bulbs available as they will produce more stalks and blooms the first year. Bulbs should be firm and dry with no signs of mold, decay or injury. It is common to see new growth (leaves, buds) emerging from bare or planted bulbs. Want to get your amaryllis to rebloom? Here’s some great advice.

CHRISTMAS FOOD

6. Cranberry

The cranberry (Vaccinium spp.) has been a festive favourite for hundreds of years, ever since Native Americans mashed up the fruit and mixed it with dried deer meat and fat to make pemmican (a concentrated mixture of fat and protein used as a nutritious food). In 1816, Dutch and German settlers in the New World planted the first ever “crane berry” crop (so-called for their blossom’s resemblance to the head and bill of a crane) on Cape Cod, using the fruit as a natural dye for rugs, blankets and clothing.

It was probably inevitable that the cranberry became linked with Christmas. With their bright red colour, they reflect the season perfectly. As early as the 1840s, people were stringing them with popcorn to make festive garlands for the Christmas tree. At the same time, with their winter availability and the fact they were slow to spoil, cranberries represented one of the few fruits that could be served fresh during the holidays. To settlers’ delight, it was discovered very early that the tartness of cranberry sauce helps cut the far and richness of such traditional holiday fare as pork, goose, duck and turkey, making it a perfect complement to festive dishes. Check out lots of lovely ways to use cranberries here.

Hope you enjoyed part 1 of the 12 Plants of Christmas.
Stay tuned until next Monday for our second segment.

What’s that Rattling in the Trees?

By Pat Freistatter, Master Gardener

beech-10835_640Have you ever wandered through a forest or a neighbourhood in the winter and hear rattling in the trees and looked up to see brown leaves still in a few of the trees? Why did those leaves stay on when all of the other trees lost their leaves? We know that, by definition, deciduous trees drop their leaves in the fall. Coniferous trees, such as pine (Pinus) and spruce (Picea), keep most of their needle-like leaves all year round with some needles dropping throughout the year. There are also trees that are coniferous trees with deciduous characteristics as they lose their leaves in the fall (e.g. larch and tamarack Larix). So how do we explain deciduous trees that retain their dead and brown leaves?

Marcescence

The term developed by scientists that is applied to trees that retain dead and drying leaves in the fall and winter is “marcescence”. A typical deciduous tree has an area at the base of each leaf (petiole) that contains thin walled cells that break easily and allow the leaf to drop. A marcescence leaf does not have this area.

Why do some deciduous trees experience marcescence?

Deciduous trees are thought to lose their leaves in the fall in an effort to reduce water loss and frost damage. So why do some deciduous trees retain their dead leaves?

The scientific evidence available to explain this phenomenon is limited. However there are several theories as to why the dead leaves are retained. The dead leaves may hide the leaf buds from being eaten by browsing animals such as deer and moose. Leaves left on trees also trap snow which results in more moisture being available at the base of the tree. The leaf buds on the tree may be protected from frost damage and drying by the leaves. Also when the leaves do finally drop in the spring, they will provide a source of nutrients that can give the tree a competitive advantage.

What trees are most likely to have marcescence leaves?

acorn-leaf-3704584_640Marcescence is more often seen on young trees and may disappear as the tree matures. It may also be seen only on a few branches or on the lower branches of taller trees. If the retained leaves are on a conical-shaped tree with bleached, light tan leaves, it’s probably an American beech (Fagus grandiflora). There are also many species of oak (Quercus), witch hazel (Hamamelis), and hornbeam (Carpinus) that retain leaves in the winter.

What is really interesting is that beech and oak tree species are closely related. Also the beech family of trees includes many evergreen species that do not grow in our area (e.g. Tanoaks – Notholithocarpus densiflorus). It may be that the beech and oak trees are still evolving to becoming fully deciduous trees from their evergreen past. Humm… who said plants are not interesting. Enjoy the rattle in the trees in your area!

More information on this topic can be found at:
What is a TanOak Tree April 4, 2018
Why do Some Leaves Persist on Beech and Oak Trees? Nov 22, 2010
About Marcescence March 20, 2017
Leaves that Don’t Leave Feb 9 2016

Taking Care of House Plants

By Judy Bernard, Master Gardener

An interesting question came to me through our website about caring for houseplants. This person had A LOT!

Whether you have 3 or 4 or 3 or 4 dozen, my suggestions will apply. A little research is needed to identify all of your plants. Once that is done, group them as to light, moisture, and fertilizer needs. Then you can care for them in groups instead of individuals.

What I’ve done is to make plant labels for all of my plants. I’ve stuck the labels into each pot. On the labels I’ve written the plant name, water requirements, light requirements, and fertilizer schedule. Once that is done, it is easy to put the plants where they will get the best environment for their growth and health. Grouping them with plants of similar needs will make their care easier.mini-cactus-755542_640

You can then make a watering schedule for the different groupings of plants. Also check the pots to make sure you’re not overwatering. One of the most common things people do is overwater. The symptoms of too much water are very similar to too little. You have to check the soil.  If it’s damp to the touch, you likely don’t need to water!

Space them so that there is good air circulation around the pots.

Some of the plants will need to be in a more humid environment than others. You can put a tray filled with stones for the pot to sit on and add some water to the stones. They will provide moisture to the plant without the roots being in the water.

These suggestions should help you to have healthy plants for a very long time.

Butterfly Gardening – Monarch Waystation #204

by Mary Jane Parker, Master Gardener

Since 2008, my garden has been a monarch waystation.  In the beginning, when we purchased the property, we had to have a new septic system put in.  Because we are in a floodplain and the ground was saturated with water, we had to go up with the weeping tiles.  This meant that we had a berm at the front of the property and that was the beginning of my butterfly garden.

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Since then I have experimented with all kinds of native plants and wildflowers . The scope and layout of the property was such that formal gardens would have been impossible. Not all plants that I have tried have been successful but some have been my perennial favourites.

Monarda has self-sown over the years as has Phlox paniculata of which I probably have every colour available. Many plants have a personal history. Helianthus maximiliani came from Cathy Forget’s garden in Indian River and Glade Mallow (Napaea dioica) came from Mike and Sue Dolbey’s garden in Young’s Point. Many plants have come from gardens visited on horticultural trips near and far. I always leave room for native milkweed to grow. I have tried cultivated varieties of milkweed and unfortunately, they are not hardy here. The creek at the back of the property has an abundance of Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum) growing naturally and I can’t think of anything prettier than when they are in bloom with the different shades of pink dancing in the breeze. I have always left room for Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) which not only attracts monarchs but a variety of interesting bugs. In the spring the Korean Lilac (Syringa meyeri) blooms are always a butterfly magnet.

Being a waystation has been fun. There are over 20,000 registered waystations around the world, most in North America, and although there are guidelines to follow, it does not appear that there are any hard and fast rules. The whole point is simply to provide habitat for monarchs and in doing so, you have a place that also attracts other butterflies, birds, and pollinators. Visit www.monarchwatch.org for more info.

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Shady Gardens

by Sharleen Pratt, Master Gardener in Training

Now that the colder weather has arrived and the days are shorter, it’s time to dream about next year and possibly plan a new garden. Do you despair at the challenges surrounding a shade garden? We can enjoy the cooling effects of the shade and experience a garden that regales all of the senses. When choosing plants, consider interesting foliage and texture rather than solely depending on flower colour.

If you are planting under mature trees, especially non-native maples you must always remember that those vigorous, feeder roots quickly out-compete new transplants for water and nutrients. Every fall add several layers of shredded leaves as well as compost for additional nutrients. Remember to water often the first year.

There are many wonderful bulbs that would give you that burst of colour in the early spring before the trees get their leaves. The sun coming through the branches in early spring is perfect for encouraging Daffodil (Narcissus hybrids), Grape Hyacinth (Muscari botryoides) and Siberian Squill (Scilla Siberica) to flower before the tree canopy is in full leaf.

Hosta (Plantain Lily) are a must have in a shade garden and provides variations in leaf size, shape and colour. This perennial has hundreds of species and thousands of cultivars and they are tough, reliable plants. Along with the Hosta, you might consider Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis). Their flowers hang down like dangling hearts and are a real source of delight. The dryer soil under a canopy of trees would quicken their disappearance shortly after flowering and would work well under the emerging large leaves of the Hostas. Another old-fashioned perennial is the Heartleaf Bergenia (Bergenia cordifolia) that has large waxy, heart shaped leaves. It also has some fall interest when the leaves take on a reddish winter hue.IMG_4094

Lungwort (Pulmonaria) are also shade tolerant and their delicately patterned foliage draws the eye throughout the summer. There are several species, some of which are variegated which can add texture and colour to the shade garden. Another perennial to consider is the Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’. This plant was named as the Plant of the Year for 2012. It bears panicles of light blue flowers held above silver leaves with green veins and edges. Once established, they can be fairly drought tolerant. An overlooked plant is the Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia). It is a native groundcover and is happy in both full to light shade. It bears tall racemes of delicate white or pale pink flowers for six weeks in early summer. They grow best in moist, humus-rich woodland soil.

To give the shady garden some texture and shape, look at some of the broadleaf evergreen shrubs. The Oregon Grape Holly (Mahonia aquifolium) prefers moist, well-drained, acid soil. It produces very fragrant yellow racemes in mid-spring, followed by globose, dark blue fruit. Another broadleaf evergreen for shade is the Rainbow Leucothoe (Leucothoe fontanesiana ‘Rainbow’) a member of the Heath family with white urn-shaped flowers.

Take a close look at your growing conditions and plant accordingly. Put a bench under a tree and once established, the shade garden will be a wonderful oasis to roam and sit with a cup of tea and take in all the many senses surrounding you.

A good article that lists many perennials and groundcovers for a shade garden can be found at Landscape Ontario.

My Orchid Had a Baby!

by Judy Bernard, Master Gardener

A year ago last summer I bought a new phalaenopsis orchid to go in my renovated kitchen. It had 2 stems of beautiful white flowers with a fuchsia centre. Eventually the flowers dropped off, but the stems remained green and healthy. Knowing there was good potential for the nodes remaining on the stem to start to produce another scape of flowers, I checked it carefully and was rewarded with a node budding out. It had leaves!judy's orchid

Looking up on Google, I learned that one of the ways an orchid will propagate is by producing a baby in its stem. These babies are called Kiekis. I had to wait for several months until the baby grew 3 or 4 roots and they were 8-10cm long before I could remove it and plant it.

Although it may be a sign that the mother orchid plant is under stress, this mother always looked healthy with dark glossy leaves. While it was nurturing its baby, the mother produced another scape on the other stem with a spray of 9 flowers.

Finally the day had come. I also learned that the best way to help the baby along was to plant it with the mother. The mother will regulate the growing medium around their roots and help the baby along. The mother’s pot was too small. So I purchased fresh bark for the orchids and a larger container. Planted them. Watered them.

They seem to be thriving!

Link:  All about Keikis