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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Summer Garden

The Summer Garden

Posted By: Marian Vaughan in Gardening

There is a myth, probably born in heat & nurtured in the longing for shade & leisure, that there “isn’t much to do” in the garden in the heat of summer. There is another, born more respectably of summer’s flat light, that the garden itself is dull.

Alas (in one case) and fortunately (in another) both are myths: the summer garden has much to offer in way of work and beauty. Let’s start with chores. Do them early in the day, promising yourself some time in the shade, with your beverage of choice to follow as a reward for your hard work.


Generally, you have still got to keep weeding, but it’s time to stop feeding. By the end of the month, you don’t want to encourage new sappy growth. Winter is not coming soon, but it is coming. You want all your plants to be aware of this change: allow berries to form, allow growth to harden. In each department specifically:

Trees

Keep well hydrated, but intelligently. When you water a plant that has good drainage, and it has dried out 4 inches below the surface, water it well around the dripline and you will be carrying oxygen to the roots along with water. If drainage is bad, the roots sit in water and the plant drowns.  If you water too briefly, the plant maintains a shallow root system and the need for water is increased.  Trees with shallow roots are also more vulnerable to wind.  So, in sum: ensure good drainage from the beginning, then water infrequently but deeply (at least 8-12" into the ground).

Mid Summer is also a good time to prune several fruit and ornamental trees.  There is a kind of secondary dormancy that sets in during the heat, and difficult trees like Japanese maples can be thinned and shaped without difficulty as long as the temperature is not above 27C.  

Shrubs

In the shrub garden, roses should be pruned for the last time in August to encourage new growth.  After this pruning, you must leave them alone to form hips. Rosehips are nature's way of saying to the plant: winter is coming, enough with the new growth. A rose hardened off in this way will survive much better than one that keeps trying to throw out sappy growth.


Hydrangeas will be performing their yearly colour change. Some people like to nip the top flowers to encourage more shoots from the sides on the “repeat” varieties. On the other hand, the maturation of that flower urges the plant to form strong growth for the coming year.


In general, it is better to leave shrubs alone at this time, the urge to be too tidy can lead to winter death.

However, yew and boxwood hedges should be trimmed now to encourage the formation of dense growth. It is also a good idea to do a good shearing of cedar hedges at this time.

Perennials

In the perennial garden, it is time to divide iris and peonies to share.  They too enter a dormant period in July and August, and it is not difficult to lift them and break off pieces of rhizome or root to create new plants for your friends. Broken roots of poppies will also regenerate surprisingly quickly if planted at one.

It is also a good thing to deadhead or shear back perennials. You will often get a small rebloom in the summer, but don't go crazy, cutting them back to nothing: remember here too that sappy growth is dangerous when the cold comes in fall.  Luckily here in the lower mainland, the real cold doesn't typically arrive until December and January, so these cautions only apply in October or so.

Bulbs

It is the time when many bulbs come on sale at local nurseries. Plants such as daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, crocus and many more. Try to get to them, and get them planted, as soon as possible. Some bulbs (notoriously snowdrops) really loathe being dried out, and the sooner you can get them in the ground, the better.

Lawn

In drought & heat, reserve water for gardens. Lawns cope with heat by going brown & rebound as soon as rains start. Heaven knows we have a LOT of rain.  Once it starts, you can mow, but leave lawn clippings on surface to nourish the growing grass.

 

On the bright side - Hardy fuchsias are still going strong, hibiscus & buddleia are holding their own, and of course, there are roses, whose wonderful fragrance we can enjoy. It is a long time before autumn will start to turn the colour of the leaves and lay a frigid hand on the garden.  

Having done your self-assigned chores in the morning, you now have a chance to sit on the deck, gaze upon with pleasure and enjoy the fruits of your labour.


Friday, May 20, 2016
Posted By: Suvan Breen in Shrubs

 

Oh the fabulous hydrangea! Of all the flowering shrubs this one has always been a show stopper but in 2016 this is not just your grandmas pink or blue hydrangea anymore.

Blue Hydrangea Flowers

I am not sure what I am more excited about, the ever blooming varieties that just go all summer or the new multi coloured flowers that change colour over their bloom time, Hydrangeas are blowing me away right now.

There are so many new varieties and colours that will make you stop in your tracks, come on into the nursery to see what we have for you.

As you may have guessed from their name, Hydrangeas love water, plant in a moist but well drained space, spring is a great time for planting, water the roots deep down to help them to establish in the garden. Once again I highly recommend soaker hoses if you do not have irrigation, this is a great way to reduce your water bill and still deep water your plants.

 

Having said that there are certain things to know about the Hydrangeas we love. Here are the top Hydrangea questions I have had over the years.

Hydrangea Types

Are There Different Types of Hydrangeas?

Yes, there are several types of Hydrangeas with flower colours ranging from white to shades of pink to blue. The classic variety is called Hydrangea macrophylla and can have either the big Mophead type flower or a flattened lacecap-like bloom. Lace cap varieties are great for attracting butterflies, hummingbirds and bees. The Mountain Hydrangea, or Hydrangea serrata typically has a white lacecap-like flower. Pannicle Hydrangeas, or Hydrangea paniculata has large white to creamy white flowers in conical shapes. Hydrangea arborescens or Smooth Hydrangeas typically have large white blooms. Finally, the Oakleaf Hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia has attractive white flowers but also offers stunning fall foliage colour.

Endless Summer Hydrangeas

What Is An Endless Summer Hydrangea?

Most Hydrangeas bloom on old wood. In recent years, plant breeders have introduced new varieties that bloom on both new and old wood. They are often called “ReBloomers”. The end result is a plant the produces more flowers and blooms for longer through the season. It also makes them less vulnerable to late winter, flower bud damaging frosts. Endless Summer was the first of the group but new ones like Twist and Shout, Let's Dance Moonlight and Blushing Bride are also available. More information is available on the Endless Summer Hydrangea Website

Should I Fertilize My Hydrangea?

In most cases, yes. For established plants, feed your plant a fertilizer with a high middle number in early spring just as new growth begins. This will create larger and bigger flowers. For new plants, apply a Bonemeal into the planting hole or use a liquid transplant fertilizer when you water.

Changing Hydrangea Flower Colour

How Do I Change The Colour of My Hydrangea?

Hydrangeas react to the availability of aluminum in your soil. If you want pink flowers, add lime to your soil once a year, the lime blocks the plant from absorbing aluminum. Looking for blue flowers? Add Aluminum Sulphate in water and water the soil around your Hydrangea. Be patient, this process will take 2-3 seasons to achieve the colour switch. White flowering types do not change colour.

Where Can I Plant My Hydrangea?

Most Hydrangeas want morning sun and afternoon shade, with the exception of Peegees which benefit from full sun. Late afternoon sun is too strong for many Hydrangeas and can burn both the leaves and flowers. Full shade may result in a lack of blooms, make sure your hydrangea gets at least 4 hours of morning light to grow strong. A location with part sun to part shade is ideal.

Pink Hydrangea Blooms

Why Is My Hydrangea Not Blooming?

Back away from the pruners! The most common reason for no blooms is over pruning or pruning at the wrong time of year. Some Hydrangeas bloom on new growth and some bloom on old growth, if your Hydrangea is not blooming, you may have pruned the flower buds. Hydrangeas really do not require a great deal of pruning but if you are pruning there are guidelines depending on the variety you choose. Deadhead your Hydrangea to encourage repeat blooming.

Another common cause of poor blooms is an early spring cold snap. As many varieties bloom on old wood, a late frost can damage the flower buds.

Your Hydrangea will also produce more and better blooms with a yearly application of fertilizer with a higher middle number

Hydrangea Cityline Rio

How Do I Prune My Hydrangea?

The correct method to prune Hydrangeas depends on which type you have.

ReBlooming Varieties

The Hydrangeas require very little pruning and will keep you in blooms all season long. You should only prune to remove dead wood.

Hydrangeas That Bloom On Old Wood

These shrubs should only be pruned to remove dead wood or to manage size. As they bloom on old wood, a severe pruning can remove next years flower buds. If you must prune, do so after flowering. Hydrangeas that bloom on old wood include:

  • Big Leaf Hydrangea - Hydrangea macrophylla
  • Mountain Hydrangea - Hydrangea serrata
  • Oakleaf Hydrangea - Hydrangea quercifolia

Hydrangeas That Bloom On New Wood

For these varieties, prune in late winter or early spring. Varieties blooming on new wood include:

  • Pannicle Hydrangea- Hydrangea paniculata
  • Smooth Hydrangea - Hydrangea arboresens

If you have any other questions about hydrangeas, please feel free to drop by Arts Nursery and ask! We'd be happy to help!


Thursday, March 19, 2015
Posted By: Rebecca van der Zalm in Perennials

Also known as Lenten Roses and Christmas Roses, Hellebores are wonderful winter and spring blooming perennials that feature elegant flowers and attractive foliage for shady areas. They are typically evergreen to semi-evergreen with attractive foliage with flowers in a range of colours and as either single or double flowered varieties.

Most have flowers that nod or droop, but many newer varieties stand more erect. Christmas Roses, also known as Helleborus niger get their name from the fact that given the right conditions, they will bloom right around Christmas time. Lenten Roses, or Helleborus orientalis generally bloom later in the winter or early spring.

Some of our favourite varieties this year include:

Hellebores 2015

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Peppermint Ice’

This striking hellebore hybrid features large, double flowers that are light pink with a rim of darker pink edging. Its dark pink on the backs for added appeal. A delight for the winter garden. Shade tolerant and deer resistant. Grows to a height of 14 inches and spreads to 2ft.

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Berry Swirl’

Berry Swirl Hellebore is another double flowering variety with orchid colours, some with a creamy-white centre kissed with orchid shade edging. Grows to 14 inches in height and 24 inches across.

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Rose Quartz’

Rose Quartz Hellebore is a double flowering variety that has every white petal edged in rose. It’s a taller variety that grows to 24 inches in height with a 12 inch spread. A delight in the winter garden that is both shade tolerant and deer resistant.

Helleborus x hybridus Spring Promise ‘Mary Lou’

One of the Spring Promise Hellebore series, Mary Lou features single, soft pink blooms with red spots on each petal atop of evergreen, leathery foliage. These blooms appear in late winter to early spring. A great addition to a shady, high profile area.

Hellebores 2015

Helleborus Winter Jewels Golden Lotus Strain

This charming hellebore features golden, lotus-like flowers. Many of these double yellows will have red edges and some will have red streaking on the backs as well. A wonderful part of the shade garden where the yellow flowers will lighten up otherwise dark areas.

Helleborus ‘Silver Dollar’

This Hellebore offers silvery, holly-like evergreen foliage with creamy green blooms. Petal backs are mauve with a rosy pink blush. Ideal for shady areas and woodland gardens. Grows 24-30 inches in height and up to 24 inches across.

Helleborus Winter Jewels ‘Harlequin Gem’

This variety represents a whole group of double flowered plants with very complex colours; the inside colour contrasting with the outside. Can be streaked with red, green or yellow, the outside is black, purple or red.

Helleborus Frost Kiss ‘Penny’s Pink’

This hellebore is a beautiful selection with fantastic foliage that heralds spring with hot pink veined leaves held on purple petioles. Purple buds open to pink and chartreuse flowers that deepen as they mature. Summer foliage has bright, emerald green veining. Exceptionally long blooming. Naturalizes beautifully in woodland gardens. Grows 18-24 inches high and wide. Spreads slowly forming a nice clump.

How to Grow Hellebores

Hellebores prefer shady areas with rich, moist, but well-drained soil. They dislike the extremes of very dry or waterlogged soil. Some shelter from the cold winter winds is also recommended. Apply a layer of mulch each year to add further protection and preserve moisture. They are light feeders and don’t need much in the way of extra fertilizer, but a dose of all purpose fertilizer in early spring never hurts. To encourage more blooms, choose a fertilizer with a high middle number.

Caring For Hellebores

Hellebores benefit from a yearly pruning and cleanup. For most varieties, simply deadhead (remove) spent flowers after they bloom and trim away any foliage that is dead, damaged or diseased. Doing this is particularly important for diseased foliage as Hellebores sometimes suffer from leaf spot and the foliage can serve as protection for unwanted overwintering insects. For Hellebore foetidus and H. argutifolius you may also want to cut off the flowered stems at the ground level.

We recommend that you avoid moving Hellebores once planted as they resent root disturbance and tend to sulk. If you move them or damage the roots, expect it to sit there and do little for the next several months.

Note About Hellebore Availability

Please note that quantities of specialty Hellebores like the ones mentioned are limited. If you are seeking a specific variety, please call ahead, 604.882.1201, to confirm availability. At the time this article was written (mid-March), many varieties have already finished blooming; so while this years show may be over, it is still an excellent time to plant them for next year.


Friday, August 16, 2013
Posted By: Rebecca van der Zalm in Edibles

Fig trees are large rambling deciduous plants with lush tropical looking leaves and sweet, highly sought after fruit. While heat loving, fig trees can grow exceptionally well in the Pacific Northwest. All varieties love warm summer climates and full sun, but I have even seen them growing well and producing fruit even near the seaside. With that said, a sheltered, south facing location is ideal.

Fig tree with fruit

 

When left alone, fig trees form a large, spreading, multi-branched shrub or tree. However, it will often produce leaves and branches at the expense of fruit. We recommend containing the roots either in the garden or a large pot. When the roots are constrained, the plant puts more energy into fruiting – which I think is what we all want!

When the fig is grown in a constrained location, it is essential to pay attention to its watering needs and fertilizer. This is especially true in the summer when fruit is swelling and the moisture is needed. I have mine in a large pot and I have been watering at least once every two-three days during the heat of the summer.

fig fruit

 

Fig fruit is incredibly sweet and somewhat ‘space-alien’ looking on the inside. Maybe it’s a great way to get kids to try it… hmmm. Figs require pollination in order for fruit to develop. This is where things get really interesting. Simplified, fig pollination occurs when tiny little wasps enter the base of the fruit and work their magic. You can find out more about this from sites like this.

Feeding Figs

Fig trees should be fertilized with a high potash fertilizer when the fruits begin to swell. You can use a liquid product for a quick feeding or a slow-release if you are more the leisurely type. Our Garden Pro Liquid Transplant fertilizer, Fruit tree and berry food or our Tomato fertilizer are ideal. Figs can be heavy feeders so multiple applications may be necessary depending on the product. Don’t feed after August as you do not want to encourage a lot of growth going into fall.

fig harvestMost figs begin small, green and solid. As they mature, they may change colour depending on the variety, soften and begin to droop at the neck. At this point they are ready for harvest. If the skin cracks open the fruit is completely ripe. You may find the birds in your neighborhood volunteering to help harvest your crop. Cover your fig tree with a garden net to save some of the fruit for yourself.

Figs are supposed to produce two crops of fruit per year. One in the late spring or early summer (called the Breba crop), and the second in the late summer or early fall. However, unless we have an exceptionally warm summer, the second crop often does not ripen before fall rains and winter frosts set in.

Pruning & Caring for Figs

Fig foliage and leavesEstablished fig trees should be pruned in late spring or early summer. Shorten side shoots and deal with the 3 D’s – dead, damaged and diseased wood. To keep a clean and tidy tree, you may also want to remove branches that cross or generally grow in the wrong direction.

Remove leaf debris to reduce the likelihood of pests and disease. To increase next years crop, remove any fruit larger than pea-size in September. The remaining embryonic fruits should over-winter and given some protection over winter, will ripen the following year.

 

This is always a gamble as you are sacrificing a potential fall crop for the promise of a larger spring crop … it’s your choice…

Winter Protection

As some winter protection is recommended, apply a 2-3 inch layer of mulch in the fall to provide extra comfort for the plant. This will serve to moderate temperature and protect the roots. Fig trees will usually survive our winters, but may die back to the ground level. If this occurs, new shoots will often emerge from the base.

Common Fig Varieties

While there are many varieties of figs available, these four are generally available at Art’s Nursery.

black jack fig

'Black Jack' Fig

Ficus carica 'Black Jack'

A handsome heat loving deciduous tree that produces a heavy crop of tasty brownish-purple fruit twice a year – in late spring and late summer, weather permitting. Its medium size works well for screening or background use. Prune lightly once a year to showcase its attractive structural form. Grows to a moderate size, 15-25ft tall and wide.

brown turkey fig

'Black Jack' Fig

Ficus carica 'Brown Turkey'

Brown Turkey is a cold hardy fig variety with attractive light-green leaves, smooth gray bark and a delicious edible purple-brown fruit that ripens in late August. Flesh is red when ripe. Grows 10-25 tall. Like other figs it is best grown in full sun in rich, well drained soils. Hardy in zones 6-9.

peters honey fig

'Peter's Honey' Fig

Ficus carica 'Peters Honey'

Peters Honey produces sweet greenish-yellow fruit with wonderful dark amber flecks in summer for extra interest. It’s a mid-sized variety that needs a hot, south facing exposure for fruit to ripen in coastal or temperate areas. Grows 15-25ft in size. Originally from Sicily and is a must-have for Mediterranean style gardens.

mission fig

'Mission' Fig

Ficus carica 'Mission'

Also sometimes called ‘Black Mission’, this fig is one of the most popular in California. This is a large tree that bears especially sweet purplish-black fruit in summer. Mission adapts well to all areas but is best suited for a hot and dry, inland region. Grows 20-25ft tall and wide, but benefits from a light annual pruning. Deciduous. Hardy in zones 7-9

We've also found this helpful video from one of our fig suppliers that gives you even more information about growing figs.

 

Art’s Nursery carries a large and diverse selection of fig trees for your garden. As our selection is always changing, please call 604.882.1201 to confirm availability of specific varieties. If you have any questions about figs, talk to one of our expert horticulturists in-store or on the phone.


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Art's Nursery is a 10+ acre retail and wholesale garden centre located in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We've been in business at this same location since 1973 and we're proud to serve you today!

We carry an incredible selection of plants, shrubs, trees, annuals, perennials, vines, groundcovers, roses and much more. Soils, bulk materials, pottery and a variety of garden accents are also available.

Our plant selection is so large that you can actually drive a golf cart while you shop!

We pride ourselves on providing high quality plant, expert advice and an exceptional gardening experience.


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