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Saturday, October 26, 2013
Posted By: Laurelle Olfdord-Down in Fall Gardening

Halloween is just around the corner and if you are feeling in the mood to design up a ghostly garden or a petrifying planter here are some of my favorites…bwhahaha.

happy halloween sign

whipcord cedar

Whipcord Cedar

Thuja plicata ‘Whipchord’

Just look at this thing, if this little guy doesn’t remind you of Cousin Itt from the Addam’s Family and cry out for a pair of glasses and a beret then I am a monkey’s uncle…or aunt. When it is a young plant it looks vaguely spidery...well not even vaguely. Let’s just say when it was covered in dew the other day and misted in the fog I gave it a wide berth just to be safe. It is a hardy little guy growing well in Zones 5-7 in moist well drained loamy soil in sun to part shade. It is a slow growing little waterfall of a plant eventually reaching 5 feet by 5 feet. In the winter it takes on a coppery green tone.

twisty baby robinia

Twisty Baby Robinia

Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Lace Lady’

Delicate and artsy in the spring and summer with its soft green leaflets but by Halloween…its naked and twisty stems bring to mind Macbeth’s witches for some reason. The branches are great for cutting and sticking in your planters for Halloween to dangle spiders and other creepys from and then do double duty when you spray them with glitter to create some eye catching Christmas and winter interest. This contorted small tree or large shrub, depending on how you want to look at it, is hardy from Zones 4 to 9. It prefers average well drained soil in sun or part shade. It grows 15 feet tall and wide, though you can keep it a bit smaller if you regularly use the branches for arrangements.

cobweb hens n chicks

 

Cobweb Hens and Chicks

Sempervivum arachnoidum ‘Cebenese’

Think of the savings…you won’t even need to buy that spiderweb stuff and get all tangled up in it so it looks like damp clumps of snow hanging from your Japanese maple (sorry flashback of Halloween decorating from last year). I love these little cobwebby guys, just look at them!! Hardy from Zones 4-6, this clumping evergreen grows only 3 to 6 inches tall. A full sun position in well draining soil will set this little guy off nicely and it will thrive even with indifferent watering. Great for pots and xeriscaping.

Rhodo makinoi

Rhododendron makinoi

The last place you would think I’d find a spooky plant is the Rhododendron house right? Wrong! The long (sometimes up to 7 inches!!) slender recurved leaves with brown indumentum (that’s fuzz for newbies) on the underside and white fuzzy new leaves just screams out witches fingers to me…though possibly I’d just eaten too much candy corn at that point. Granted the cheerful soft pink trusses of flower bells, slightly spotted with red (could be blood) might ruin the spooky effect in spring and make this plant…gasp…look charming, we won’t worry about that right now. This evergreen rhododendron from the Yakushimanum family is hardy in Zones 5b to 8 and thrives in a moist, loamy, well drained slightly acidic soil in part to dappled shade and can even tolerate full sun. Notice I said tolerate, kind of like a teenager tolerates Big Band music. It is a slow grower to 4-6 feet high and wide. This lovely….er spooky shrub has also won an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural society so there.

Corokia cotoneaster

Corokia cotoneaster

If I had a nickel for every time a customer asked me –“Hey, is that plant dead?” - I’d be a very rich lady. This kind of got me thinking about…Zombies!!! This plant wins the zombie plant award with its silvery and gunmetal grey zigzagging branches and its tiny grey green leaves (total zombie colours I might add) it looks somehow not really alive, almost artificial. One of its other names is Wire Netting plant and in the winter it sure does look like that. It is a borderline hardy plant at zone 8-10 and it seems like our wet knocks it out rather that our cold weather. If you have a spot against your house or can keep in in a pot and bring it in to a greenhouse, cold frame or a garage with a window it should do just fine. It needs well drained soil and full to part sun. Now it does get clusters of butter yellow tiny flowers in the spring and they are fragrant and…well…dainty and cheerful…but like the Rhodo makinoi, we won’t worry about that right now. A little dry ice and Walking Dead theme music and you have yourself a zombie plant.

Black Mondo Grass

Black Mondo Grass

And then there is the Bleakly Black Ophiopogon planescapus ‘Nigrescens’ or Black Mondo Grass. Yes, purple black grass and its ALIVE bwahaha!!! It actually looks cool against orange and white pumpkins in a pot. This creeping ever-black perennial produces small purple flowers in spring and purple black berries (zombie eyeballs) in fall. Makes great ‘Pumpkin Hair’ if you decide to plant up your pumpkins after carving…special note, pumpkins start to decay once your carve them so carving them up closer to Halloween is best…unless you want them all mushy which is extra scary. This wicked perennial is hardy in Zones 5 to 10 and can take full to part sun in a moist well drained humic soil. If you want this plant to really show, under-plant with a light leaved ground cover.

Have a great Halloween and don’t eat too much candy corn…you never know what creepy plant you’ll run into!


Monday, October 22, 2012
Posted By: Laurelle Olfdord-Down in Gardening

appleThus far a pretty darn good front half of October. I’m almost ready to call it even for the soupy June and July!

My apples are doing well and I’m steeling myself for a marathon applesauce making session shortly.

Not that I can’t make other things with all of the heritage varieties that are ripening on my little trees but the family loves sauce!

Where else can you turn a full day of peeling and chopping and canning into litre containers that the walking stomachs (13 year old twins) consume in a matter of days unless I hide some…which I do and no I’m not telling…they have eyes and ears everywhere!

Here is the list and even though you might be raring to go and move stuff in the garden before the real cold hits you might want to take your time and let the ground absorb some of this long awaited rain for a week or two at least!

Leaves and lawnsLawns – Rake the leaves off the grass or you will have dead patches where they’ve smothered out the lawn. You can add the leaves as mulch to the garden beds or keep as a brown layer for the compost or even use if you are creating a new garden bed using the lasagna gardening technique.

Get that last mow in when you can or if you’ve irrigated and your lawn is actively growing. If your lawn is green and not dormant you can still add a fall fertilizer.

You can also aerate, top dress and lime at this time of year if you’ve missed out in the spring or you are taking the war of attrition approach on your lawn as I am.

Trees and shrubs – You can add new ones to your garden any time the ground is not frozen solid. If you want to move existing ones in the garden I’d hold off until the ground absorbs some more moisture and they become dormant if they are deciduous shrubs. If they are evergreens I would still wait until the ground is more saturated.

As for pruning, that is best left until January/February, though you can remove dead, damaged or diseased branches at any time. You can do a bit of a clean up on your roses and hydrangeas and other flowering shrubs if they are flopping over.

Heuchera Frosted VioletGarden beds – You can add new hardy perennials but the same goes for moving perennials as for shrubs…wait until the ground has absorbed some rain before dividing and moving and yes, I know it’s getting late but Mother Nature has decided to throw us a curve ball by shifting the techniques using all of those leaves you’ve just raked to make some new garden beds.

I know you’ve heard me prattle on about it but don’t make your garden beds too tidy, our ground dwelling pollinators rely on those left over stems and perennials to make their winter homes.

Dahlias
If you haven’t already done so, pull the dahlias once they’ve been knocked back by a hard frost. Cut off all the greenery and inspect. Toss any that don’t meet muster and allow the rest of them to dry out in say a garage or a carport. Store in paper bags in peatmoss or in mesh bags. Ditto goes for Cannas.

Water Gardens – continue to clean out the pond from leaves and oxygenators, blow out hose lines etc. Thin out underwater lily leaves and remove other debris which form toxic gasses. Let your fish guide you for the feeding. If they are active and eating the food, continue. As it gets colder and they become more sluggish, taper off the food.

fritillaria bulbsBulbs bulbs bulbs. Time to plant your spring blooming bulbs! If you have a squirrel problem…the ones in my neighbourhood have very expensive tastes, you can try placing a Frittilaria bulb among your tastier bulbs such as crocus and tulips.

The Fritillaria bulbs smell a bit like skunk and will mask the scent of the other tasties. In my garden about 1 Fritillaria per 2 square feet seems to work dandy.

Not to worry, the flowers of the Fritillaria bulbs smell nothing like the bulbs!

Pots – Come on, you can do it…pull out those annuals!! Add winter colour like Wintergreen, Carex, baby Yews and winter pansies etc. Don’t forget to layer bulbs in for early spring or winter colour.

Plants for winter planters

That’s about all I can think of for now! Time to tuck in to a good book and snuggle in to my favorite dog furry cosy chair with a cuppa joe on this dreary but much needed rainy day!


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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!

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