Happy Fall!

Wildflowers blooming like crazy on a curbside hellstrip.

Wildflowers blooming like crazy on a curbside hellstrip.

It’s the fall solstice, with the day and night having exactly the same number of hours. Also known as the Equinox, it’s all longer nights from here on in, but the process is gradual, and there are many more days for fitting in some important gardening.

Yes, it’s technically the end of summer, but who’s counting? For gardeners, fall is a great season for getting things done. Digging new beds, planting bulbs, planting new perennials, shrubs,trees, clean-up and raking are all waiting to be done. And, let’s face it, doing all these things in cooler weather is a blessing. So don’t put away those tools yet.



Are Your Hostas Sunburned?

sunburn on hosta leaves

sunburn on hosta leaves

Have you noticed your hostas looking a little pale and papery in spots this summer? It’s the effect of the intense hot summer we’ve had, which is having a severe impact on our lush, leafy perennials, especially hostas.  Hostas, grown primarily for their foliage, are basically all leaves, and their huge amount of leaf surface makes them very vulnerable to sun damage. A hosta’s neat rosette of attractive leaves, facing upward towards the sun, just like a person lying on the beach, is almost asking for a sunburn.

But it’s not only the heat. Another unfortunate feature of our drought is endless days of cloudless skies, great for golfers, but not for leafy plants. The sun has been unrelenting. The lack of any cloud cover has been a huge factor in causing the sunburn damage.

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Filling in the Cracks with Hardy Sedums

Sedums can fill unusual spaces in the garden, like this V-shaped gap in the garden.

Sedums can fill unusual spaces in the garden, like this V-shaped gap in the garden.

Perennial Sedums, the winter hardy version of succulents, are tough. Remember, if you like succulents, there are two kinds, the tender ones that can’t survive freezing temperatures—like echeveria, jade plants, burro’s tail—and these, commonly called Hens and Chicks or stonecrop, which are perfectly able to withstand Canadian winters. There is always a space where you can fit a few in your garden. And there are so many named varieties of hardy sedum to choose from. Colours range from green, blue-green, and pink all the way to deep purple. One of my favourite new varieties that does well in dry shade is bright yellow-green ‘Angelina’, which turns orange in the fall.

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‘Angelina’ sedum turning orange in September.

 

The sustainable approach to gardening is to make sure you have growing plants covering soil, rather than on relying on mulch. Avoid bare soil at any cost. Instead, use low ground covers for any garden bare spots. Sedums work especially well in garden crevices, as seen in the picture above. They are true ground huggers and help to stop erosion on slopes. This sedum patch above, is growing on a slope, where even mulch would be regularly washed away.

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Heucheras Aplenty

Heuchera 'Caramel'

Heuchera ‘Caramel’

Heucheras have taken off with a bang of late, due to clever plant breeders. In the old days heuchera, (Coral Bells) were “dependable yet boring workhouse plants” with green leaves and red flowers that were thought ‘insignificant’. That’s all changed with the explosion of new varieties. It’s almost impossible to keep track of them all, as they now rival the numbers we see in hostas and daylilies: a collectors dream.

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A Jubilee of Cherries!

 

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We here in Ontario are in the latter stages of cherry season. Have you indulged yet? Whether you opt for the large sweet plump cherries –perfect for eating fresh, and wonderful in fresh fruit salad- or the smaller, tart Sour Cherries that are great for baking and making jam, Ontario cherries are one of summer’s true delights.No county fair would be complete without a cherry pie competition, and is there anything better on a sultry night than cherries jubilee? Continue »