Posts Tagged ‘low-maintenance’

Mid-Summer: Coneflowers Are Bursting Out All Over

Find the bee on the flower.

Find the bee on the flower.

In Mid-July the ‘butterfly magnet” pink coneflowers (echinacea purpurea) start to take centre stage in the summer garden, ready for the busy pollinators, the bees and butterflies. This perennial native is a must-have in any garden, especially for those who like low maintenance and lots of bloom. Although there are now many new cultivars of this native plant, including double forms, the original native form is extremely reliable and carefree. It even self seeds to give you more plants in unexpected places, always a plus in my book.

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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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Old Reliable: Hydrangeas

Two hydrangeas in full bloom flank an entrance .

Two hydrangeas in full bloom flanking an entrance .

We’ve had one of the strangest summers in Toronto. A cool wet spring followed by the driest July and August in decades. Those months gave us rain in the form of torrential downpours, but the problem with a hard rain is that doesn’t penetrate the soil, and much water tends to run off. Spring is a prime time to planting a tree as it gives the tree ample time to get properly established before the colder seasons. While many factors play into the overall health and prosperous life of trees, below are ones that can have a substantial impact on the survival of the tree you select to add to your property.

A couple of day-long gentle rains came as a relief in what was mostly a broiling September; however the rain wasn’t much of a consolation for the dead-looking brown sticks in the ground, aka the clump of Joe Pye Weed in my garden. (Surprisingly, my swamp milkweed fared better in the summer drought.)

Which garden plants can stand up to the feast and famine that drought and climate weirdness bring? Hydrangeas are one. My Limelight Hydrangea came through with flying colours. Hydrangeas prefer moist soil, however they are tough, once established. Mine has been in place for three years, and this summer has never looked better.

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The Un-Garden

paved front lawn

No, sadly this is not a parking pad.

If you have less-than-zero time to spend in the garden —yes, we know you’re out there— you may be tempted to do something like this: the front lawn version of “paving paradise and putting up a parking lot”. It’s obvious that this is not a green solution. When I see front yards like this my heart sinks. It’s tragic. The reasoning behind it is practical, and goes something like this: “I don’t have time. I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want weeds growing there. I don’t want the hassle of a lawn. Obvious choice? Bricks or concrete.” Lawns can be a pain, and many people are quite rightly choosing to get rid of them. Yet, if it’s not an actual parking pad in front of your house, don’t treat it like a parking pad. (Hey, even a parking pad doesn’t have to be an impermeable slab of concrete. More on that in another post.) Concrete, natural stone, and brick pavers are commonly used to create a more beautiful outdoor space. An increasing number of residential and commercial property owners are using pavers to construct driveways, patio spaces, and pathways in their yards. Read on to learn more about the paver materials and design considerations that are offered by most landscape design companies. Here is top patio paver installation service in jacksonville.

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Succulents Are Hot

Hens and Chicks Sempervivum

Hens and Chicks, or Sempervivum is one of the toughest succulent plants.

If you’ve got a full sun location, that also gets very hot in summer, planting succulent perennials can make your life easy: they can take all the hot you can throw at them. As low-maintenance as you can get—they store water in their tissues—succulents will even tolerate partial shade. Once planted, they look after themselves, needing no extra watering. They are the backbone of xeriscaping, and used in many roof gardens, like at Toronto’s City Hall.
The great thing about perennial succulents is how the varieties, colours and textures of the available plants has exploded in recent years. Colours range from bright greens, lime greens, like blue-greens, reds, pinkish and greys. Often a plant will have a two-tone look, like the above picture.One of the newest available types is called Angelina:

Angelina, a sedum hardy to 30 degrees below zero, whose whorls of needle-like leaves turn a fiery red-gold in the fall. These plants also cover themselves with blooms in the spring or summer

Margaret Roach, of A Way To Garden, asks if 2013 is the year of the succulent. It may well be. If you want to container garden, and will be away or busy, plant succulents. They can be every bit as attractive as flowers. Not only the colours are brilliant, but the shapes, and textures as well. Many perennial succulents do flower as well, but the flowers are not really the main point. When buying for the garden, make sure that you are buying hardy varieties, like Angelina, Autumn Joy Sedum, or Sempervivums. Less hardy succulents can summer outdoors in pots, and winter inside.