Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Dead of Winter - Part One

Dead? Not so much. 

Winter interest in the garden is key to keep it "alive" during the bleakness of dormancy. Fruit, seed-pods, evergreen foliage, texture and movement is what helps to keep the garden interesting during the cold days of winter.

This is the time of year to take a long look, to ponder what can fill some holes and offer some ideas for your garden.

Here is part one of some of my favourite choices to help keep winter interest alive.

Cornus serica "Flaviramea" - Yellow Twig Dogwood  
I tend to enjoy seeing this in gardens more than the average red twig dogwoods. Grouped side by side would make a huge impact. Their yellow/green stems just say 'I'm alive', when all else is brown.

Lavendula augustifolia - Mundstead Lavender
I love silver foliage in all seasons. The silver covering of lavender is commonly mistaken for ground cover junipers. It drapes rockery really well and helps attract snow - making softer edges. You can still cut sprigs of lavender and use for pot-puree even in winter.  Bonus!

Callicarpa dichotoma - Purple Beautyberry Bush 
You don't see these coloured berries every day. What a delightful bush to plant next to an evergreen. The purple/pink berries against a back drop of green just says - "look my direction!"

Rudbeckia Goldstrum
Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm' -Black Eyed Susan
 Nearly every garden has them. Why not! They are such a versatile perennial. One of my pet peeves however, is many whack them down to the ground in late fall. I see no sense in doing that, when against snow, they offer such texture and dark contrasts with their seed heads. Not only that, but they provide a wonderful food source for various birds. I've witnessed Chickadees, Warblers, Juncos, and Finch feed off them in my backyard! 

Berberis thunbergii - Barberry
Given the height and its grouping, I gather this Barberry is "Ruby Carousel". Used often now for contrast colour in summer months and great red leaf fall demonstration - yet most folks don't realize the great red berries on Barberries. When they are healthy and happy, they produce and retain red berries throughout the winter.

Sedum x "Autumn Joy" - Stone Crop
Like the Hydrangea below, the umbrella, mushroom flower head holds just enough snow to make this perennial a keeper for winter interest. The seed heads and rigid stems stand a lot of wind and make the garden still seem to bloom in the middle of winter.

Ilex meserveae - Blue Holly  
Holly has some troubles growing in Ontario, but as our zones seem to become warmer, I find more and more areas where holly thrive. Plant a male and female holly together and not only do you get rich dark green foliage (most evergreens turn bronze in winter), but you'll get a great display of red berries too.

Calamagrostis Karl Forester - Karl Forester Feather Reed Grass
I love this grass for its vertical growth habit. Karl Forester grass remains rigid and upright in the most exposed areas. I took this picture down by  Lake Ontario, a stones throw away from the water. Winds and traffic have whipped this grass about, and yet it remains standing tall. Grasses add such great texture and provide visual interest when other vertical elements just stand there.

Hydrangea paniculata  - Conical Flowering Hydrangea
Not sure which variety of Hydrangea paniculata, but its dried flower heads make a great display, even in winter. Don't cut them back in the fall, let the snow and the birds make use of their dried flowers. Beats looking at sticks all winter.

More to come in part two!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Potting Up Amaryllis Bulb

A new year brings new experiences and a new job opportunity for me. I've been so busy! So many changes going on has made me lag behind in blog posts. For that I apologize.

Here is my amaryllis bulb that I saved from last years post. Unfortunately, I grossly delayed in getting it potted up for it to flower during the Christmas season. However, the bulb is still viable and will demonstrate how to get it growing again.

It's best to select a pot that is only an inch or so wider in diameter than the bulb itself. You don't want the bulb to swim in a lot of growing compound.

This Amaryllis bulb has atrophied quite a bit due to my neglect. But it's still firm and has green colouration on the collar and bulb bulge.  Here I removed as much dry skin and dry roots as possible. Removing that prevents rot and it also allows more light to hit the bulb, helping to initiate growth again.

Add just a bit of potting soil at the base of the pot. Here I only added about an inch and a half worth. Tuck roots nicely underneath the bulb. Make sure the bulb stands tall in the pot, so that its collar and the top of the bulb remains exposed.

Add enough potting soil to reach the crest at the top of the bulb and tamp down.

Water enough to just dampen the soil at first. In a day or two, test the soil to see how dry/moist it is and water until just moist to the touch. You just want enough moisture, not too much watering at this stage.

Place in a sunny window and wait about a week before you start to see a leaf emerge. As it begins to grow and send out leaves, water more generously. Remove it from the decorative pot to see if it sits in water. If so, drain excess water so it won't rot out. Enjoy!
Here are other Heidihorticulture posts regarding the care of Amaryllis bulbs.
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