Forsythia Means Planting Time 

forsythia in bloom

Even before most trees leaf out, forsythia flowers emerge.

Forsythia means planting time.

When the forsythia is blooming it’s the “all clear” sign: a bright yellow beacon telling us that the soil and daytime temperatures have warmed up enough for us to start planting our gardens. Not everything, mind you, but we can plant a lot:

Plant when Forsythia blooms
  • Hardy perennials, shrubs, trees and roses.
  • Annual sweet peas. Annual pansies, violas.
  • Edibles: peas, spinach and cool vegetable crops.
  • Berry bushes and perennial vegetables like rhubarb and asparagus.
  • Hardy bulbs. Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, grape hyacinths, in a container for a seasonal display.
  • Pre-planted pots of flowering bulbs can be planted right into your garden. They’ll put down roots and come up again next season. It’s a good trick for those who didn’t get a chance to plant bulbs in the fall. (Like me!)
  • Perennial Herbs: sage, thyme, oregano
Wait for May 24th, or later
  • Heat-loving annual vegetables like tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, eggplant cucumbers and melons.
  • Tender herbs like basil


Rooting Your Own Mint

Rooting mint

Rooting mint in a small decorative vase.

There’s nothing like having fresh mint on hand, and I don’t know about you, but when I buy a bunch of mint, I tend use it a couple of times for a specific recipe, or to add to the best gin and tonic recipe anywhere.

Best Gin & Tonic Anywhere

Mix up whatever ratio of gin and tonic you prefer, with ice cubes.

Add to it, a generous squeeze of fresh lime, a couple of slices of cucumber, and a mint leaf or two. Swirl. Enjoy the taste of summer.

But after making my gin and tonic or whatever, I generally toss the remaining mint bunch into the fridge where it often dies because I forget it’s there. Pulling a squishy bunch of decaying mint out of the fridge is always sadness-inducing. And the last thing we need is more sadness in January, the month that contains the most depressing day of the year, Blue Monday.

Fresh mint showing root development.

Fresh mint showing root development.

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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.


‘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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