Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Coffee Grounds In Compost

I've been composting coffee grounds for a long time.

It takes me about 3 weeks to accumulate this much:

I'm sure there will be research indicating it's not the best thing to add to our gardens. Yet, I have not experienced anything other than rewards using it.

I use a Bodum/French Press and enjoy not impacting the heaps of waste when it comes to the recent use of coffee toss away pods. In my dual batch rolling composter, I get great compost after 6 weeks in the summer. Having a sniff of the finished compost, there's no trace of the coffee aroma left. My plants seem not to mind at all!

What I can't understand is why I've only seen one program which uses coffee grounds from big coffee shop chains.

I happened upon Grounds To Gardens at Cloverdale Mall this past April. Stopping to see bags of compost mixed with coffee grounds available for sale. My first reaction: "It's about time!"  Oddly enough, I can't seem to find it available since.

Can't see why?  Know of any?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Imposture: Chelidonium majus

I love social media for this alone: In my previous post of Native Wood Poppy, I got a heads up that I have an imposture, not the true Stylophorum diphyllum in the garden.

Slightly bummed, but now grateful to know the difference - I have it's Eurasian cousin: Chelidonium majus.

Oh, well. The bees don't seem to mind. I may lift out more of the seedlings I was going to nurture.

I've been told the Native Wood Poppy has larger flowers (this one is about the size of a twoonie).

The dead give-away, are it's seed pods. Stylophorum diphyllum have seed pods that droop and look similar to the flowering buds. Here, the Chelidonium majus have long bean pods that point upwards.

Thanks, Shawn! I appreciate the learning curve!

The good aspect: I can now dead head these seed pods to prevent them from seeding all over!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Stylophorum diphyllum AKA Wood Poppy

This past February, I was privileged to attend a pollinating seminar and native plant talk at the TBG.

Lorraine Johnson (notable author on Native Plants in Ontario) was one of the speakers at the seminar I attended and in her slideshow presentation, she had this plant depicted. I had come across this plant more than once before but knew very little about it. As soon as I saw the photo, I said "Yes!" out loud - delighted to get confirmation to my approach in keeping this "weed" in the garden.

Thankfully, I didn't yank them out last year. Ffffeeew! Lorraine spoke of Wood Poppies as being one of the first flowers in spring which native pollinators need to feed on. I've noticed many solitary bees feeding regularly.

Wood Poppies are a native perennial to southern Ontario, Canada.  Growing incredibly fast and full. In this spot, they have been flowering since the 1st week of May.

I was so pleased we didn't yank them out. They were much smaller and had one flower last year. Where they came from?...still is a mystery. Nonetheless, I am happy to situate them in the shaded part of the garden where they seem to thrive.

Wood Poppies are also known as Celandine Poppies. Flowering for some time now, their buds are just as beautiful as their flower. Hence, the name Poppy - those fuzzy buds are quite sweet.

So grateful to have this addition to the garden. Giving myself a pat on the back and thanking the heavens for dropping them in the garden for us to enjoy!

Having looked up more info at the Canadian Wildlife Federation site, I see they were listed as an endangered plant in 2000.  Here's hoping more will seed and propagate.


Please note:  See the Imposture Post I made after learning more about the above plant.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dead-heading Flowering Bulbs After Blooms Fade

I can't say enough about dead-heading bulbs after their flowers have faded.

Depicted below, are tulips that have lasted for years, simply because energy has been able to get back to the bulb below.

It can be tricky, but timing is key. Here, several varieties of tulips (the reds and whites have been around for over 5 years), all flowering at different stages. Get in there, as soon as you see petals falling off and remove those seed pods.

Once petals begin to fade in colour and begin falling off, the plant has already developed a large seed pod.

If you haven't got a pair of pruners handy, at least snapping them off at their base is good enough. I prefer to take the seed head with the stem - cutting back to the base where the stem originates.

With daffodils, hyacinths and other bulbs, the flower petals don't fall off, they just fade and go brown. They each have a bulbous base where seeds are developing. Again, if no pruners are handy, just use your thumb and nip off below the bulge.

It's amazing how much tissue and energy is produced when developing seeds, even before all the petals brown. All that energy needs to go back into the bulb for next year's bloom.

If you're interested in growing bulbs from seed, well...keep them until the seed head browns and dries on the stem.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

The Trouble With Heucheras

Heucheras have to be one of my favourite perennials. Except when they do this: Heave

My hand can wrap itself around the base of the Heuchera's crown. The crown has heaved that much!

If left like this, the Heuchera begins to fade and become weakened. I planted several cultivars: Caramel, Obsidian, Palace Purple....they all need help this year.

I find, heaving happens to heucheras when the soil they are planted in is not friable and loose. Compacted or sandy soil (like mine) or sometimes heaps of snow on top, cause this heaving and the end result showing in the above photo. It doesn't help that I have dappled shade all day. But there are ways to overcome this.

Don't be like me last year and wait too long - once the heat came in June, I lost two of my favourite cultivars. Today, it's time to pull them up.

Gently lift them and examine the crown. Like geraniums, they have a real fleshy, stalky crown which will have small mini plantlets which you can divide, as I did.

It's important to take off all the dead leaves. Heucheras are semi evergreen and like hellebores, they need to have many of their overwintering leaves removed to prevent decay of the stem/root mass. Pull them gently off the stem like you would lettuce leaves. Start at the bottom and work your way up. You'll see concentrated new growth and leaves emerging from the centre.

(The one great aspect when digging them up: you get to have more plants!)

Be thorough. With your fingers, remove any callused or flakey bits around the stem - by doing this, you'll reveal tender, fleshy white nodes that will produce new baby plantlets and roots.

Dig a bigger hole, more deeper and add organic matter, like compost or composted manure.  Water thoroughly to remove air pockets and wait a few weeks to see them bounce back.

In a week or two, this Heuchera will bounce back, doubling in size. Richer colour and a more robust habit will allow you to enjoy the plant for many years to come.

In my experience, other plants like Tiarellas and Heucherellas don't heave. But, I can't part with having Heucheras. They brighten and colour the garden like very few shade loving plants. They are the most disease and bug resistant of perennials. They may be a bit more work to take care of, yet totally worth it.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

How To Prune Roses

I prune A LOT of roses at work; I get asked how to go about pruning them properly. In the spring, it's important to prune to encourage good air circulation; to cut out any dead wood and remove any suckers or weak branches. Doing this will encourage new growth that will produce many flowers.

Use: sharp, clean tools:  like : Felco Pruners for thinner stems and Stihl Loppers  for hard wood, dead and branches from the ground level.

For the most part, roses flower on new growth. With the exception of climbing roses, be aggressive with pruning varieties like Hybrid T's, Grandifloras, Floribundas and Shrub roses. Especially after a winter like the last.

Don't prune back roses too early. Wait for buds that are robust. Cut the stem back to just above these buds.

At the base of the woody stems and the crown of roses, you may see new, tender shoots emerging in early May. If you have considerable dieback from winter damage, these shoots are crucial to examine. The above photo shows the new shoot is emerging from above the grafted crown of the rose. This growth is true to the cultivar that you want to see bear flowers. The photo below shows shoots coming from the soil...

In the above photo, shoots that are emerging from below the soil surface are not good. These are suckers emerging from the rootstock.

Let me explain: some of the most beautiful roses (Hybrid Teas, Grandifloras, Floribundas, David Austins...etc) are grafted plants. They have a rootstock grafted on scion stock. Scion stock bear the beautiful hybrids that wouldn't grow in cooler zone hardiness areas. The graft makes growing such beauties here in Ontario possible. When you see rootstock shoots emerging from the ground, they are a different rose than the growth above the graft. If left to grow, these shoots may take over, suppress the grafted stock and you will have a completely different rose bloom come June. Keep your eye on this throughout the growing season. Especially on older roses, where the grafted union of the crown may be heaving or sinking too deep into the soil.

I've pruned more than half of this grandiflora back. Having removed any overlapping, cross over stems, decayed, weak and dead branches.

Be sure to cut back to buds that are facing outwards - so that new growth will not be too concentrated in the centre of the plant. This keeps air flowing and gives it a more open habit.

Please don't leave stumpy, long ends to your cuts. Cut 1/2 inch above the bud (node). The is ample distance from the bud to prevent damage from cutting. Reducing the amount of stem between the buds will help engage the bud to produce more terminal growth.

In the above example, I didn't cut this rose back to the ground like some gardeners do as a general practice, as I prefer to have a taller habit and bigger show. Grandiflora roses have larger flowers. If left to flower on only tender, green pliable stems, the flowers can make these stems flop over from the weight.  Making for a weak, unattractive shape to the overall plant. Leaving woody stems with robust buds will give the rose strength and help boost flower production.

Be sure to remove all leafy debris from the base of the plant and give them a top cover of mulch or a perennial ground cover (like the Gallium plants above). This prevents the soil surface from drying out.

Come mid summer, I will post how to thin a rose bush; to create a better habit and increase bloom.
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