Sunday, June 14, 2009


Some tips for novice gardeners

Choosing the right plant for the right spot is important if you want your plants to thrive. Here are some "staples" of easy-to-grow perennials and shrubs in gardening zone 4 and 5 (Eastern Ontario):

Plants for Shade:


Plant in spring or fall in a partly shady site with moist, well-drained soil and amend with well-rotted manure or compost. Monitor soil moisture all season. In dry periods, hydrangea leaves become distinctly wilted; water immediately when this happens. In spring and after flowering, feed with compost or a balanced fertilizer, following label directions. To increase the size of the decorative flowers, cut back the previous year's growth to 3-5 buds in spring.In early spring, remove any dead branches or, if necessary, old growth, making cuts at the base of the plant for best growing habit.

The most beautiful for me is Hosta Sieboldiana with its blue-green foliage. It requires shade and well drained soil. Large mound size at maturity.Like other hostas, it is easy to care for and will continue to flourish year after year. Hosta sieboldiana's heart-shaped foliage looks its best when grown in a shady spot.

WHITE BLEEDING HEART (Dicentra spectabilis)
Dicentra spectabilis "Alba" has two distinguishing features that set it apart from the regular pink form of the species. The most obvious feature is its white heart-locket flowers. But additionally the leaves are lime-green rather than green. It can easily grow to two feet high & fountaining outward to two feet.

Shade to sunshine. The trick to growing this plant is to ensure it has adequate moisture. This is not a plant for dry soils. It will spread from 12-inches to as large as you want to allow it to grow. This means of course that you can propagate it by dividing it in the spring or fall. Compost added in the spring is all the fertilizing it requires. Varieties: Too many to list all of them, colors from white to pink, salmon and burgundy red.

CORAL BELLS (Heuchera)
These Heuchera are a terrific choice for adding a touch of colour towards the front of border. The maple-shaped leaves vary in all shades. Taller sprays of flowers appear in late spring. This lovely perennial came originally from the Rocky Mountains. Then the hybridizers went to work to add a touch of their magic here and there. Hardy to zone 4, but in milder areas the foliage colour can often be maintained through the winter. Heuchera is one of those very accommodating plants that will adapt to most any situation provided it is given a moist, well-drained location.Trim off any withered or tired-looking leaves in spring.

This fern grows around twelve to eighteen inches tall and slowly multiplies to form a large clump. The fronds are approximately eighteen inches long and are a soft-grey metallic colour with hints of red and blue. The centre stem is red so the contrast is excellent. It is a lovely plant preferring partial shade rather than deep shade; grow it under the soft shade of a tree. If grown in a good soil, it will hold its colouring all summer long, from the earliest spring fronds right through late fall.

MOCK ORANGE (Philadelphus)
These shrubs flower on the previous year’s growth, so to keep them abundant, you need to remove all the branches which have flowered in the current year. If you do this in September, you can simply stick the old branches in the ground and most of them will break into leaf the next spring. Mock-oranges are very easy to propagate, take softwood cuttings in summer or hardwood cuttings in autumn or winter.The large, white, deliciously fragrant flowers from early to mid-summer are what earns mock orange a place in the garden. To keep plants in shape, cut back shoots to a strong buds every year after flowering. On older plants, also remove roughly a quarter of the oldest branches each year to encourage new growth.

This rose was not widely grown in gardens until the end of the 19th century, when its refined wildness and beauty out of the flowering season first began to be appreciated. It has cinnamon-coloured arching canes 1.5-3 m tall. The most distinctive feature is its leaves, which are glaucous blue-green to coppery or purplish. The fragile, clear pink flowers are produced in clusters of two to five. The fruit is a dark red hip. Mature size: Height: 6 feet (2 m). Width: 5 feet (1.5 m). Flowering period: June, Rosa Glauca likes half shade, lightly prune immediately after flowering.

These are just a few of thousends of shade loving plants thriving in my garden.