Easy Garden Design in Colour: Big Blue Pots

blue ceramic pot in the garden

The contrast of blue amongst green is an analogous contrast, making it pleasing and easy on the eyes.

One of the quickest ways I know to make a design statement in a garden, without having to try very hard, is to find the biggest, honkin’ blue ceramic pot you can find, and set it somewhere in your garden. Important: Don’t put it right in the middle, but rather place it off-centre; to the left or right, and toward the front or back of your garden space.
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Yes, You Can Grow Figs in a Cold Climate

Steven-Biggs-Grow-Figs

Steven Biggs is the man to talk to about figs. He is growing over twenty-five varieties of figs in pots in his back yard in Toronto. I spent some time talking to him recently about how he handles growing this normally warm climate plant. He’s just written a book on his fig growing secrets this year, How To Grow Figs Where You Think You Can’t that is chock-full of technical growing info to help any gardener that wants to grow their own figs. I’m told a fresh fig right off the tree tastes like nothing else.

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Hints for Harvesting Basil

cleaning basil leaves

Basil gives and gives.

When harvesting basil, don’t leave your herb harvest on the counter to wilt. Even storing your herbs in the fridge isn’t the best idea. For even more basil, make sure you stand the stems in water while you have time to make your pesto. If you don’t get around to getting that food processor out for a few days, you’ll have a happy surprise, like I did. I wasn’t planning to root my cuttings, but root they did!

Basil stems rooted in water

Basil stems rooted in water

Basil stems root quite easily in water, and you can pot the rooted stems into fresh soil mix, giving you a new refreshed basil plant and more harvests down the road.

Put each cutting into a 4″ pot, in loose soil mix. Water thoroughly, then leave in bright light, but out of direct sun for a week. Then you’ll have your original plant along with new refreshed plants to take you through the rest of the basil season.



Minimalist Gardens

mowing lawn

There’s so many things you’d rather be doing on the weekend.

You are busy, but you’re tired of a grass lawn on your front yard. You are bored by grass, and spending weekends mowing? Forget it. Can you get rid of grass and still have an easy-care front yard? Yes, you can. You can achieve the Holy Grail of the practically no-maintenance garden by making the right plant choices, and planting multiples of a few plant varieties that work.

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Hydrangeas Aren’t Always That Ballsy

"Quickfire" Hydrangea, is a lacecap type with pink and cream coloured flowers.

‘Quickfire’ Hydrangea, is a lacecap type with pink and cream coloured flowers.

It still kind of bugs me that Madonna hates hydrangeas. Hydrangeas, fall into the Rodney Dangerfield category of plants, in that they “don’t get no respect” in certain circles. A recent garden tour I was on, had garden designers—English gardeners, especially—pooh poohing the ubiquitous pink and blue balls that were everywhere. Do they hate them because they are all too familiar, and familiarity breeds contempt? It’s often so, in the plant world.

I happen to love hydrangeas, but can imagine a time where coming across yet another flush of blue mop head flowers could grow tiresome. While I’m still not tired of white Annabelle—the flowers are so fresh and perky, and you can’t go wrong with lime green—I am rather more in love with the lace cap form of the hydrangea. The lace cap flower is flattened, and a little bit open, well, like lace. And there are some wonderful new varieties, like ‘Quickfire’ above, which blooms before other hydrangeas by about a month. The creamy-white flowers open first, then change to pink, becoming deeper pink as the season progresses. The make flowers on new wood grown that season, so a reliable bloomers, and good for cut flowers. What’s not to like?