Common Gardening Mistakes
Adrian Lee, greenhouse manager at Van Belle Flowers in Whitby, says there are certain mistakes people make over and over again in their gardens. Take heed and follow his advice to avoid those slipups for a smooth sail into the gardening season.
Water in the Evening: Lee says that most people do this because it’s convenient. They get home from work, have dinner and water the garden before bed. But plants don’t like being watered in the evening – it can lead to mold and mildew in the cooler nighttime temperatures. Watering your garden in the morning leaves the soil time to dry out before the evening.
Buy Plants According to Their Current Size: Many people look at the size of the plant they’re purchasing without checking how large the plant will grow. This will cause the plant to be squished into a too-small space where it won’t flourish. Always check the tags in the soil of the plants you purchase, and if you’re unsure, ask an attendant in the garden centre.
Prune at the Wrong Time: Lee sees people every spring who have a lilac bush that isn’t flowering. Most people don’t realize that the lilac sets its buds in July, so if you prune in the fall, you’ll miss out on those gorgeous, fragrant blooms the following spring. Prune lilacs after all the flowers have dried up in late spring. Before you start cutting, check the appropriate time to prune for the plant you want to cut back, and prune no more than 30 per cent of any plant. If you have a herb garden, use the herbs regularly – the equivalent of pruning – for bushy, abundant herbs.
Choose any of your favourite herbs for a garden that will be a culinary treat until the frost hits. Basil, rosemary, thyme and dill all like sunny spots. In Durham Region, tender herbs need to be planted after the risk of frost has passed, usually near the end of May. Keep your herb garden close to your kitchen door for convenience and to enjoy those wonderful fragrances when you brush the plants as you walk by! And here’s a tip so you can learn from my mistake: plant fast-growing oregano and mint in a container so they don’t end up taking over your garden!
The best time to harvest fresh herbs is in the morning. Wrap them in a damp paper towel and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to use them. And remember to continually harvest herbs.
Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden
It’s not difficult to attract gorgeous hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden. Plant flowers in a sunny spot, and on days when the wind is calm, you’re bound to have a few visitors. Adding a hummingbird feeder filled with a sugar and water mixture (red food colouring is not necessary) will provide welcome nutrients. Just be sure to change the sugar mixture every day or two, especially in hot weather.
Hummingbirds are attracted to any brightly coloured (especially red) flower that has nectar and has a tubular, funnel or bell shape. If you have fruit trees or lilacs in spring, you will see hummingbirds on warm days. In summer, they will hover around phlox, fuchsia, morning glories, petunias and snapdragons.
Butterflies are attracted to the aptly named butterfly bush, along with herbs like sage and thyme, and flowers like buddleia and any member of the daisy family.
Lots of people grow many of the toppings for pizza in their gardens, but they rarely put them all together in one spot. Just for fun, shape this garden into a circle using store-bought garden edging, and use straight pieces to divide the garden into “slices.” Plant any of your favourite pizza toppings such as tomatoes, peppers (hot ones like jalapenos, too!), onions and a variety of Italian herbs, such as basil, oregano and rosemary.
Before the summer is over, the inspiration for fresh pizza night will be right outside your door.
While butterflies and hummingbirds may seem like nature’s versions of fairies, you can easily create a garden for the magical fairies that live in any child’s imagination. Start with a tucked away small part of the garden, preferably with some sun and shade. Dig out an area that is partially obscured so people have to stumble upon your fairy garden and discover its magic themselves!
For the plants in your fairy garden, choose low-growing plants that do well in the shade, such as hens and chicks and club moss. If you have a sunnier spot, try creeping thyme (it has lovely tiny flowers) and sedums, a type of succulent.
The final step: purchase or make fairy figurines, small furniture, houses etc. Make fences or bridges with wooden stir sticks, and a little pathway with small pebbles. Colourful plastic mushrooms add whimsy and a small bowl buried in the ground makes a perfect fairy pond. All that’s left is the delight of those who discover your magical world.