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Thursday, August 20, 2015
Posted By: Laurelle Olfdord-Down in Gardening

After surveying the casualties of my water restricted garden I have decided to rethink my design. The Pacific Temperate Rainforest lately rains mostly in winter and early spring. The last few summers have wreaked havoc on a number of plantings. During my recent walks in the forest I’ve noticed some of our West Coast natives are taking a big hit.

Windmill Palms

I don’t even have to look up to know that I am walking under a Hemlock, the short green needles that should be on the tree carpet the ground below them. In my own garden, many of my plants are taking a hit. I don’t have time to water everything and my priorities for hand watering are the 200 newly grafted apple whips in my backyard. If this is the kind of weather that we will continue to have, I am going to have to be smarter with my garden design! If it is going to be rainforest weather in the winter and California weather in the summer, I will have to be a bit cunning with plant choice and location!

Types of Soil

Know Thy Soil

I wish I had not slept through a great deal of my soils class in college!! My current clay soil creates a soggy layer in the winter and then draws the moisture back in towards it in summer. A sandy soil will be lovely in the winter and then a nightmare in the summer. Different sections of my yard have different soil compositions as I’m sure yours does. The areas around mature trees are very difficult to keep in groundcovers. A thorough soil assessment with a bit of digging and experimenting with drainage (keep a bucket of water with you) now comes closer to the top of the list when it comes to garden design. Know thy soil and work within the limitations or be prepared to dish out a great deal of moolah on replacement plants.

light and Exposure

Light / Exposure

Light requirements should also help steer your garden design. You cannot imagine the number of folks that race into the nursery to buy a beautiful flowering plant for their garden bed and when I ask what the light conditions are, they have absolutely no idea. I wish it were not so, but choosing a plant for a garden design is not like choosing paint colours.

It has never been so important as now to put the right plant in the right place. Map out the area, it doesn’t have to be pretty and then mark where the sun is especially during the hottest hours of the day between 10 and 3. Where once you could have gotten away with shade lovers in a sunnier position just by watering more or putting on the sprinklers a couple of times to mist the area, we are now down to hand watering. Once you have mapped out the area do some research in-store and not just on google

Plants

Take a look at the plants we offer. Choose for the different seasons if you can…google will help but Art's is somewhat more effective at pointing out the plants that work in sun and those that are best in the shade and those that work in your particular climate. Where once I scoffed at Xeriscaping, (we live in a Rainforest don’t we?) I will be now taking another look.

Ornamental Grasses

Grasses are tough and forgiving. Many can take the wet of our winter as long as they aren’t sitting in water and yet still handle drought like conditions. Hardy succulents will play a greater role in my design but I will place them where there is better drainage in the yard. I will create more shade with larger trees and the amount of hand watering will be repaid with decreasing the temperature by a number of degrees in the yard. I will also give my larger trees and shrubs a bit more elbow room in my design. I will create groupings of plants that require more water and groupings for those that require less and this will take some trial and error.

I do love hanging baskets but rather than having them on either side of my garage and by the door in the blazing hot sun I will bring them onto my deck in groupings on low ground hangers. More attractive as I am not waiting for a month looking at the bottom of the pots while they fill in and having them in groupings increases not only their visual impact but makes the watering easier.

Mulch

Mulch Is Not Optional!

Mulch is key. I will religiously mulch my garden each spring with no more than 4 inches of mulch around trees and much less around shrubs and perennials. In times of drought I will add some temporary mulch such as leaves, straw, clean disease free clippings. Even a living mulch such as perennial geraniums around my apple trees do wonders to hold in the moisture. Bare soil loses a tremendous amount of moisture.

Lawns

I will decrease the amount of lawn I have…I liked it originally for the lush green colour, a colour that is absent in my current lawn from July onward. I will take a look at an eco-lawn blend of clover and yarrow and will use different surfacing materials like gravel and mulch and stepping stones in between my plantings.

Attracting Wildlife

Judging from the high number of visitors to my current low tech water bowls and birdbath, I am going to seriously consider a small pond just to help them out…also because it is pretty interesting to watch. A customer that came in to the nursery said they made a fantastic water feature using a rain chain hung on the corner of their pergola and a waterbowl. The number and variety of small birds including hummingbirds that perched, drank and bathed was really quite amazing.

Pergolas and Hardscape

Hardscaping

Which brings me to my final category…hard features such as pergolas, benches and the like. I will be adding a pergola or two to create some shade and structure for vines to climb on. The vines are not as deeply rooted as say trees (with the exception of the Godzillas like Wisteria) and you can create a living shade canopy for your shade lovers without dealing with a large root system.

Our environmental challenges here on the now Not-So-Wet coast does not prevent us from gardening, rather it forces us to become more aware of our surroundings and makes us stronger and smarter gardeners. It will take a bit of trial and error but if we plan, research and plan some more we might just be able to knock one out of the park as far as designs go AND have it survive the summer!!


Thursday, July 9, 2015
Posted By: Rebecca van der Zalm in Gardening

Weeks without rain, smaller than average winter snow packs, higher than normal summer temperatures and more people than ever before have put an undue strain on Metro Vancouver’s water supply.

We all have to do what we can to preserve our water resources. Lawn watering is one of the biggest consumers of fresh water and that’s why summer watering restrictions have become the norm. At time of writing, Metro Vancouver is at Stage 2, meaning you can only water your lawn once per week, and only in the morning. You are still allowed to hand water your flower beds, vegetable gardens and containers as necessary. With that said, it is important to plan our gardens to minimize our water use. The easiest way to do this is by making sure we simply put the right plant in the right place. You can also water effectively. Check out this Youtube Video on Summer Watering Techniques

While many plants are drought tolerant once established, they still need ample moisture until their roots grow and become established. The plants mentioned in this post need less water than others. So without further ado, here is a collection of great drought tolerant plants for your garden.

Drought Tolerant Perennials

Sedums

Sedum

An often underused perennial group, Sedums are a succulent that stores water in its leaves. They available in upright and spreading varieties in a number of different colours. Flowers appear in late summer in shades of white, yellow, pink or near red depending on the variety. Tough and dependable. Prefers full sun and well drained soil. Growth can be up to 1-2ft in height and spread.

Lavender | Lavandula

Lavender

Lavandula

Lavender is one of the most popular perennials for the summer garden. Thin green-gray stems give way to violet-lavender coloured blooms. Both foliage and flowers are fragrant. Great drought tolerance make it ideal for hot and dry areas. It can also be used as a cut flower. Full sun and well drained soils are recommended. Use as a specimen, an informal low edge, in rock gardens or in containers.

Echincea | Coneflower

Coneflower

Echinacea

Echinaceas or Coneflowers are popular summer blooming perennials that grow in attractive clumps. Growers have spent countless hours hybridizing Echinaceas to create dozens of new varieties. The classic Echinacea is light pink to purple in colour. Newer varieties are available in a multitude of colours including yellow, orange, red, white and even green. These drought tolerant perennials prefer full sun and well drained soils.

Kniphofia | Red Hot Poker Plant

Red Hot Poker

Kniphofia

Red Hot Poker plants have grass-like green foliage and tall flower spikes in shades of yellow, orange and red. Flowers are often described as ‘torch-like’. Prefers sun and well drained soil.

Euphorbia

Euphorbia

A large group of semi-evergreen perennials originally from the Mediterranean. Euphorbias feature vertical or arching stems that are borne from a single crown. Stems tend to be bare at the base and leafy near the top. Flower heads are attractively unique and eye-catching. May need the occasional hard prune to keep it looking nice. Available in many varieties and colours. Gives a great hot climate look to the garden. Prefers full sun and well drained soils. Size and spread differ by variety.

Perovskia | Russian Sage

Russian Sage

Perovskia atriplicifolia

Long upright light coloured stems and flowers in shades of purplish blue give Russian Sage a boost in the drought tolerant garden. This attractive, yet tough plant tolerates cold, poor soil and drought! Needs full sun and a well drained soil.

Artemisia

Tough, hardy and reliable Artemisia is a great perennial for the drought tolerant garden. White to silvery gray foliage gives a clue to its drought tolerance. Foliage can be either finely delicate to coarse. A trouble free, low maintenance plant for the full sun and well drained soil.

Catmint

Nepeta x faassenii

A perfect perennial for rock gardens, containers and borders. Aromatic foliage and flowers attract butterflies and bees. Catmint blooms from early summer to early fall. Grows 1-3ft high and wide, depending on the variety.

Rosemary | Rosmarinus

Rosemary

Rosmarinus officinalis

This popular edible is often used as a kitchen herb more than an ornamental plant. Pine needle-like foliage is highly aromatic and can grow up to 5ft tall depending on variety. Needs full sun and well drained soil. Can be grown in the garden or in a pot. Harvest as needed for the kitchen! May need some winter protection if the temperatures get low or too wet.

Sempervivum | Hens and Chicks

Hens n Chicks

Sempervivum

Low growing, rosette forming evergreen perennials ideal for use as groundcovers, in rock gardens on vertical walls. Single hens give birth to chicks allowing the plant to grow into clumps 1-2ft wide over time. Plant in groups for great effect. Likes full sun and well drained soils.

Drought Tolerant Ornamental Grasses

While many ornamental grasses are low maintenance and waterwise, these four are some of our favourites.

Mexican Feather Grass | Stipa | Nassella

Mexican Feather Grass

Stipa tenuissima

Wispy thin green blades give way to golden tan, almost blonde summer flower heads. This lovely warm season grass forms clumps 1-2ft tall and wide. Very drought tolerant and beautiful when planted in groups.

Helictotrichon | Blue Oat Grass

Blue Oat Grass

Helictotrichon sempervirens

Blue Oat Grass is an upright growing, clump forming grass with stiff blue-gray blades. Blonde flower clusters form above the foliage. Clumps can grow 2-3ft tall and wide. Very commonly used in boulevards and low maintenance landscapes. Prefers full sun and well drained soils.

Festuca | Fescue

Fescue

Festuca

Fescues are a large group of low growing, clumping forming, drought tolerant grasses with silvery, blue-gray foliage. Great when planted in groups in rock gardens or when used as an accent plant. As a warm season grass, it can be cut back in spring. Tolerates sun or part sun.

Pampas Grass | Cortaderia

Pampas Grass

Cortaderia selloana

An ever popular clump forming plant, Pampas Grass is a native of South America and features stiff, sharp blades with clumps of feathery white to pink flowers held on top of tall spikes. Grows quickly and can reach 8ft tall depending on variety. Prefers sun to part shade and well drained soil.

Other Drought Tolerant Plants

California Lilac | Ceanothus

California Lilac

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus

This attractive and popular evergreen features glossy, dark green foliage and blue bottle-brush like flowers in late spring through early summer. Loves the sun and well drained soil. Needs very little water once established. Grows to form a mid-sized shrub 6-12ft tall and wide. Looks good all year round and does well in seaside locations too. May need from winter protection if it gets cold. A sheltered location away from wind and wet weather is ideal.

Juniper | Juniperus

Junipers

Juniperus

While we can’t honestly say they are our favourite conifers, Junipers are particularly well suited to dry environments. They are available in many types, ranging from large upright growing trees to ground-hugging, spreading varieties. Colour is typically green to blue-gray depending on the variety

Yucca

Yuccas

These desert plants have spiky, pointed leaves and do well with very little water. They grow a long taproot and can usually find the water they need on their own. Large white flower spikes add interest when they bloom in early summer. Several varieties are commonly available including ones with variegated foliage. Full sun and well-drained soil are necessary. While they can tolerate our winter temperatures, it is often too wet for them – make sure they do not sit in wet soil during the cooler months.

Agave

Agave

Another plant from the desert, Agaves are succulents with beautiful, structural shapes that make them ideal for modern gardens. Wicked spikes and thorns force people and pets to keep their distance from these plants. Needs exceptionally well drained soils in our climate. It’s probably best planted in containers that can be protected during the winter. Many varieties and sizes of Agave are available.

Bougainvillea Vine

Bougainvillea

This vibrant, twining vine has beautifully coloured, papery flowers in summer. Flower colour ranges peachy-yellow through red , all the way to purple. Nasty thorns on the vine make it an ideal barrier plant. Needs full sun and dry, well drained soil. Does exceptionally well in desert locations. We find that it thrives on neglect and may survive our mild winters when given shelter and good drainage.

While there are many other drought tolerant plants available at Art’s Nursery, these selections give you a sense of the variety and options that are available for your garden. If you have any questions about being water-wise, give us a call or drop by and visit us in person. As always, call ahead to confirm availability as our selection is always changing.


Friday, August 15, 2014
Posted By: Laurelle Olfdord-Down in Succulents

Succulents are some of the most versatile and easy plants to care for in the garden. They require little water and average to sandy soil. If given the right amount of light they pretty much take care of themselves!

They can be planted up to fill an old leaky birdbath to create a riot of texture and colour. They can be used vertically in a frame to create living art. They can grace the gravelly, dry soil at the end of your driveway and they can more than hold their own in a perennial bed!

Sensational Succulents in Bird Bath

The flowers of many sedums are well loved by pollinators and you will often find butterflies and native bee species hovering around the flowers. Succulents are some of my favorite go-to plants for garden design. Here is my list of fun and easy go to succulents… or as I like to call them, the illustrious eleven!

Chinese Dunce Cap

Chinese Dunce Cap

Orostachys iwarenge

This entertaining little succulent grows to about 5-6 inches in height and about 10 inches wide. The little rosettes begin to flower and form little caps. It is a lovely blue-ish grey with some pink overtones. Each rosette that flowers dies back but other non-flowering rosettes will become next year’s crop. Can be hardy to zone 6 with very well- draining and almost dry conditions but I think it might get too wet here in the winter as I haven’t had much luck overwintering it. It’s a lot of fun especially in planters or planted in broken halves of pottery and mixed with other succulents. Even if it is too wet here to overwinter it (I’ll try it this time under an overhang), will definitely add it again next spring!

Cebenese Cobweb Houseleek

Cebenese Cobweb Houseleek

Sempervivum arachnoidium ‘Cebenese’

THIS is a hardy must have…especially for any upcoming Halloween planters!! This Hen and Chick plant looks like it is covered in cobwebs. It is AWESOME paired with Dragon’s Blood Sedum! It has been gracing the nooks and crannies by my steps for a few years now. When you get the odd baby hen and chick, I just stick the little rosette onto the ground and away it grows. Hardy to zone 4, Sempervivum arachniodium loves a dry, average, neutral to slightly alkaline soil in a sunny spot for best colour. It grows 3-6 inches in height and about 12 inches wide. Evergreen.

Dragons Blood Sedum

Dragon’s Blood Sedum

Sedum spurium ‘Dragon’s Blood’

This is a tough-as-nails sedum that forms a low dense mat in poor and dry soil. The bright red flowers and the greenish with purple red edging of the leaves add a fantastic colour contrast against the other lighter coloured succulents. This plant is hardy to zone 4, for infertile, dry sites in the sun.Evergreen.

Babys Tears Sedum

Baby’s Tears Sedum

Sedum album chloroticum 'Babys Tears'

Not only does this plant have an awesome name but it is amazingly cool. It has attractive little round leaves in a fresh glossy green that will form a dense carpet and drape down over the sides of the pot. There are more than enough of these little ball-like leaves which are as addictively fun to squish as bubble wrap! It is hardy to zone 4 and has delicate little white flowers in late spring to summer. I love using this little sedum in a container mixed with other plants and grasses at the containers edge to highlight the cascading effect or in rockeries or stepped gardens. It grows in full sun and grows to about 3-4 inches in height and about 12 inches wide. Evergreen.

Lime Zinger Sedum

Sedum ‘Lime Zinger’

This is an attractive floriferous new sedum with a compact habit and great fresh lime coloured green leaves edged in burgundy. It forms almost a mat of pinky white flowers later summer. It grows to about 6 inches high and forms clumps approximately 18 inches wide. Grow in full sun, in average, well draining soil. Hardy to zone 4.

Black Hen n Chick

Sempervivum 'black'

Another favourite hen and chick selection with a rich burgundy red edging, to complete burgundy in the sun. So don’t ask me why it is called 'black' hens and chicks. Maybe they named it at night. If you want to make a sempervivum quilt groundcover in your garden it is a lot of fun to mix it with the cobweb hens and chicks. Hardy to zone 4. Plant in full sun in average well drained to dry soil. Evergreen.

Angelina Sedum

Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’

Another fantastically coloured succulent to mix in a succulent planter is Sedum 'Angelina'. Also awesome if you have a face container…it kind of looks like golden medusa hair. In early summer it is a bright lime chartreuse and then with more sun it becomes a golden yellow and then golden yellow with red edging at the end of summer and into fall. If you thought that was enough, you thought wrong…it also has clusters of starry yellow flowers in summer too! This clumping groundcover sedum grows to about 4-6 inches in height and will spread to about 18 inches. It is hardy to zone 5 and will grow in full to part sun in well-draining average soil. Evergreen.

Autumn Joy Sedum

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

This lovely, taller growing sedum graces my perennial garden. I actually do a little pinching back of this succulent in late spring when it is about 6 inches tall, that way I get a more compact floriferous plant. If you want taller you can skip this step. Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is a reliable and beautiful later summer and fall bloomer. The blooms are held above the plant like broccoli and are a dusky pink. They work well with the gentle grey green of the leaves and are absolutely spectacular when paired with Rudbeckia and Perovskia for a fall display. Plant in full sun in an average well drained soil. It will grow to about 2 feet tall and wide and is hardy to zone 3.

Red Cauli Sedum

Sedum ‘Red Cauli’

This lovely sedum variety forms mounds of silvery olive-grey leaves which give rise to pink-red clusters of flowers in late summer. Flowers are held above the foliage on slender burgundy stems. A breathtaking flower display! It grows to about 12 inches high and about 2 feet wide. It is hardy to zone 4. Plant in sun in well drained soil.

Sedum Cape Blanco

Sedum spathulifolium ‘Cape Blanco’

This sedum makes a pretty awesome startlingly powdery grey-green mat of tiny leaves which create amazing contrast against the starry sunshine-yellow flowers in later summer. This evergreen succulent needs a very well draining site in the winter. It grows to about 2-3 inches high and forms a mat about 18 inches wide. It is hardy to zone 6. Evergreen.

Blue Spruce Sedum

Sedum reflexum ‘Blue Spruce’

Another great Medusa-haired specimen. This sedum forms little succulent ‘branches’ that look like small evergreens. It forms a mat of blue-green leaves with yellow flowers held above the leaves in later summer. The blue leaves become tinged with red in cooler weather. A great groundcover sedum or lovely hanging over the side of a planter! Hardy to zone 4. Plant in sun in a very well drained average soil. Evergreen.

These are just a few of the many great sedums and succulent available at Art's Nursery. Drop by today and check them out. Our selection is always changing so call ahead, 604.882.1201, if you are looking for a specific variety.


Friday, August 16, 2013
Posted By: Lyle Courtice A.H. in Gardening

Last month I wrote about perennials that would be good for those hot, dry locations. This month I will touch on a few woody plants that can exist comfortably in those same conditions.

Read Part 1

Many woody plants once well established can handle short periods of drier weather and extreme heat, however they may show signs of stress like wilted or scorched foliage and in extreme cases small portions of the plant may die back.

Keep in mind that during periods of drought or longer than normal periods without rain, your plants must be given supplemental water to keep them healthy and in some cases alive. This summer is a prime example of an extended dry period. Are these unusual weather conditions perhaps a glimpse of future weather patterns?

Who knows BC may look like this in 20 years...

bc future

As you read about the plants mentioned please take note as to where they are native to, this gives you an indication as to what conditions they are normally subject to and what they will tolerate.

choisya - mexican mock orange

MEXICAN ORANGE

Choisya spp

A group of evergreen shrubs native to southern North America (Arizona, Texas, Mexico), grown primarily for their abundant and fragrant flowers which resemble orange blossoms. Their glossy leaves makes them attractive shrubs in their own right with some forms having finger-like (C. x 'Aztec Pearl') or golden foliage (C. ternata 'Sundance'). Plant in very well-drained sites in full sun to light shade. Being broad-leaf evergreens they will benefit by being planted in a sheltered location which will protect them from winter winds.
Height: 1-3m Spread: 1-3m Zone: 7

Hibiscus - Rose of Sharon

 

ROSE OF SHARON

Hibiscus syriacus

Native to much of Asia and often planted in areas where the summers are hot, they have become a staple in many gardens around the world. Plants grow in an upright vase-shape and have dark green foliage, flowering lasts from mid-summer through early fall. Flowers are single or double and can be solid or a combination of white, red, pink, purple or lavender. Hibiscus do best in full sun and will tolerate a wide range of soil types as long as they have good drainage.
Height: 2-3m Spread: 2m Zone: 5

Daphne

DAPHNE

Daphne spp.

Native to Asia, Europe and north Africa this group of shrubs contains both deciduous and evergreen forms. Mainly grown for their scented flowers some cultivars like Daphne odora 'Rebecca' (what a great name!!!) have very attractive foliage as well. Many of the smaller forms like D. x m. 'Lawrence Crocker' make excellent rock garden specimens and Daphne tangutica has beautiful orange-red berries from summer into fall. All Daphne must have excellent drainage and prefer full sun to light shade. In general the larger the leaf the more shade tolerant the plant (but the least tolerant of drought).

Cistus Mickie - Rock Rose

ROCKROSE

Cistus spp

Evergreen shrubs native to dry, rocky soils of the Mediterranean with attractive single flowers in white, purple and pink. We are lucky that our BC climate is mild enough to grow these wonderful plants but to thrive they must have sharply drained, rocky soil (hence the common name) in a sunny location that offers some shelter or winter protection. A recent introduction C. x hybridus 'Mickie' gives that added feature of very attractive dark green leaves heavily edged in bright gold; 'Mickie' has single white flowers. Zone: 7

Here are a few more heat lovers:

  • Albizia julibrissin (tender)
  • Berberis
  • Buddleia
  • Carpenteria californica
  • Corokia (tender)
  • Cotoneaster
  • Crinodendron (tender)
  • Elaeagnus
  • Eucalyptus (tender)
  • Grevillea (tender)
  • Hebe (tender)
  • Mahonia
  • Nandina d. 'Filamentosa'
  • Osmanthus
  • Phormium (tender)
  • Phylliopsis
  • Podocarpus
  • Prunus lusitanica
  • Pyracantha
  • Rhus typhina
  • Ruscus
  • Sophora prostrata
  • Yucca

If you want more information or are interested in adding some of these heat-loving plants to your garden give us a call at 604.882.1201 or visit Art's Nursery in person. We're open year round and carry a great selection of plants. Please call ahead to confirm availability if you are looking for specific varieties.


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Art's Nursery is a 10+ acre retail and wholesale garden centre located in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We've been in business at this same location since 1973 and we're proud to serve you today!

We carry an incredible selection of plants, shrubs, trees, annuals, perennials, vines, groundcovers, roses and much more. Soils, bulk materials, pottery and a variety of garden accents are also available.

Our plant selection is so large that you can actually drive a golf cart while you shop!

We pride ourselves on providing high quality plant, expert advice and an exceptional gardening experience.

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