Our members have shared gardening tips and ideas with each other. Here is what they have accomplished with their own gardens.
Plants which provide winter interest. These pictures were taken in January 2021.
Crocus, Italian Arum, Skimma Japonica, Big Leaf Varigated Periwinkle (Vinca Major)
Italian Arum (Italian Lords and Ladies) – Great for light shade. It needs moist soil with lots of rich organic matter. It is a rather low plant growing as high as 30 to 45 centimeters. It is a tubular plant so can easily spread and makes it difficult to get rid of once established so plant in an area you can control. It can also spread by its seeds. In spring, the leaves die back and berries appear. Note that this plant is poisonous, so not good to have around kids, but at least it doesn’t get bothered by critters.
Janpanese Sikmmia (Skimma Japonica) – shade loving evergreen shrub. The berries appear in the fall and last through the winter which are highly attractive to hungry songbirds. Cluster of flowers form in mid-spring. Grow up to 3-4 ft tall and 4-5 ft wide. Only female plants produce berries but the male plants have more fragrant flowers
Big Leaf Variegated Periwinkle (Vinca Major Variegate) - Great for partial shady areas. It is a very hardy plant so will grow in areas that other plants don’t like. It will spread quickly. Once established, it is drought tolerant and difficult to remove. Flowers in April to May.
Heather in full bloom
Early spring 2015 at the pond.
3 foreground plants were from a Garden Club meeting or the plant sale.
Yellow Butterfly Magnolia
My back garden is sunny part of the day. I aim for lots of colours and textures. I load it with perennials so there is little room for weeds. It has many perennials purchased from the garden club plant sales over the years. High density planting doesn’t allow much room for weeds. Pots can be moved to fill in where extra colour or texture is needed.
This is my back garden at our cottage in Hope. My aim is easy care plants that blend well with the woods behind our property. Back shade garden at our cottage in Hope. My aim is for a variety in colours and textures. This stumps garden is easy care and blends well with the woods behind.
When we moved into our house in 1991 the backyard consisted of 2 stumps (one so covered in ivy we didn’t know what was under it), 1 fern, 1 Aucuba, and a gazebo in the middle of a sand pit. The soil was so poor no grass could grow.
Our first task was getting rid of the stumps. The first one we dug out but then we got smart. Our brilliant idea was to set it on fire every evening at about dinner time hoping it would be assumed we were barbecuing. That did work for a number of days but we got a little too enthusiastic one day and the fire department arrived to ask my husband to please put a hose on it. So it was back to the chainsaw and digging method until that one was gone too.
I’d never gardened in my life, in fact, I’d never even lived in a detached house and so I set about buying every plant I saw and making many mistakes. (I’m still learning!) The concept of the right plant in the right place was totally foreign to me but it is now my mantra.
Here is what our backyard looks like now:
The cedar trees lining the back of the property produce a natural bed beneath them where the grass was constantly dying; so I followed the curve of dead grass to delineate the edge of the bed. Under the trees is a woodland style garden with bulbs and Rhodos for spring colour and fall anemones for later in the season. That area takes a back seat once the summer takes off and the beds in the sunny area put on some colour.
My aim is to have some colour all year and not all of it at once. I’d rather have one good focal point than a lot of disjointed activity.
Here is my view when I look out the front door.
The last couple of years my projects have included getting more perennials in pots, adding vertical interest and layers, and bringing in decorative objects. Future plans would be to add a water feature, some lighting, a watering system and rip out the aged concrete patio. Just need to talk Peter in to it.
Games for Gardeners - Answers
1. True - Note that there are bachelor's buttons (Centaura cyanus) and bachelor's buttons (Centaura montana). Montana is an aggressive root spreader viable to zone 2!. Cyanus is an annual that self-sows freely but is easy to rot out. West Coast Seeds sells cyanus seeds (blue boy cornflower). One of our members has montana in her garden. She controls it by ruthlessly deadheading as soon as blooms fade and the cutting the plant back hard when there are no further buds on the stem. This way she gets 3 bloom cycles through spring to fall. Bees love both plants.
“Grow Me Instead” brochure suggests these plants as substitutes for Bachelor’s Buttons:
Blue Flax (Linum lewisii)
Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum)
Showy Daisy (Erigeron speciosus)
Cupid’s Dart (Catananche caerulea)
We could also add Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa caucasica), which also has a pretty blue-lavender colour and was also a “Perennial of the Year” about 3 years ago, so it’s a proven winner. Read more about it in the Plant Finder section of the Missouri Botanical Garden www.missouribotanicalgarden.org
3. False - Northern Flickers, Downy Woodpeckers and American Robins are not generally attracted to niger seeds. Niger seed is one of the favorite seeds of goldfinches, Pine Siskins, Common Redpolls and other small-billed seed-eating birds. Niger seeds are oily. Once dried out, birds are usually no longer interested in them.
Photo of Blue Boy Cornflower from West Coast Seeds.