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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.


Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Posted By: Marian Vaughan in Recipes

In July and August, all the stone fruits begin to ripen - there is an abundance of plums, apricots & peaches.  Sometimes the sheer amount can be over whelming and, in any case, what cook doesn't want to take advantage of these fruits while they are at their best? Here is a recipe I have been making for so many years I had to look up where it came from!

This recipe comes from "California Culinary Cuisine" a collection of thin little books I bought when I was quite young; they were at the bottom of in a bin at a hardware store that is no longer in business. I remember buying them quite well, I could only afford one a week and would return to the store anxiously hoping they weren't all gone yet. I think they were about $5. I've been using them for about 35 years now. What an investment!


 

Spiced Stone Fruit Chutney  


1 Cup
1½ Cups
2 Lb
2½ Lb
1 Lb
2 Tsp
2 Tsp
1½ Tsp
½ Tsp
1
2

White Baslsamic Vinegar
Sugar
Peaches, Nectarines
Apricots, Plums or Pluots
Cherries (pitted and halved)
Whole Cloves
Cardamom Pods
Black Peppercorns (crushed)
Anise Seeds
Organic Orange (for zest)
Cinnamon Sticks
 


Let’s Get Started!

Blanch & peel the peaches, then pit & slice thickly all the large stone fruits, halve the cherries. Crush or grind the peppercorns. Strip off 4 strips of zest from the orange, each about 1 inch wide and 2 inches long


In a large nonreactive saucepan, stir together the vinegar and sugar.  Add all the fruit to the pan and stir to coat with the vinegar-sugar mixture. Place the cloves, cardamom pods, peppercorns and anise seeds on a square of cheesecloth. Tie the corners together with kitchen string and add to the pan along with the orange zest and cinnamon sticks. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and almost jamlike, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Discard the cloth bag and cinnamon sticks.

This can be refrigerated and kept for a month at least.  I like to make it ahead for festive dinners.  Great with duck, turkey, ham or roast pork! I have also served it over icecream, or with cream as a dessert.  In my opinion, this refrigerated chutney preserves the fresh taste of the fruit best.



Alternatively, If You Like Canning: 
Have ready 7 hot, clean half-pint jars and their lids.  Ladle the hot chutney into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and adjust the headspace, if necessary. Wipe the rims clean and seal tightly with the lids.

Process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes. The sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. If a seal has failed, store the jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. Makes 7 half-pint jars.

Note: Non-reactive means does not react to citric acid.  Stainless steel is fine, enamel coated pans too, also glass.  No aluminum, no uncoated copper.

 
 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Posted By: Marian Vaughan in Pollinators

 

Summer

is finally here, and the garden is in full bloom and the weeds have settled to a dull roar. One of the delights of the summer garden is watching hummingbirds & butterflies while listening to the humming of bees. These creatures perform an essential role in the garden as pollinators and many people have begun to deliberately create pollinator friendly gardens. Here are a few of the many plants that can and do attract pollinators for the summer season, as well as tips to make the garden more inviting to them.


 

Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds love red & if it’s red & tubular even more. Crocosmia, fuchsia, the huge tubes of lilies & the tiny ones of centranthus (Jupiter's Beard) as well as honeysuckle & penstemon. They also enjoy albizzia (the tree) and such annuals/tender perennials as firecracker plant, petunias & callibrachoe. While they don't only feed from red flowers, an abundance of red or deep pink in the garden will keep them coming back; they then zip around the garden seeing if there is anything for a second course. Hummingbirds serve double duty in our gardens, they also catch insects on the wing: flies, gnats & mosquitoes; their favourites being spiders and daddy long legs.  


 

Bees

Bees, on the other hand, are colour blind to red & zero in on the blue side of the spectrum: earlier in the year, lilacs & ceanothus & early campanulas. Now, in full summer, buddleia is always swarming with bees as are subshrubs such as rosemary, lavender, sage & thyme. Perennials such as veronica, delphinium & hardy geraniums are good bee plants, as are the scented verbena, agastache and anchusa. Bees don't shun plants just because they aren't blue: both monarda (bee balm) and asclepias (butterfly weed) can & do attract lots of bees, as does eryngium (sea holly) and many annuals & biennials: cleome, cornflowers, snapdragons & foxglove are good examples.

Butterflies

Butterflies happily trip back & forth between the two colours, adding yellow & white to the mix. They prefer flat flowers: achillea, eryngium, echinacea & rudbeckia; but still they share with hummingbirds a love of centranthus & with bees a love of buddleia & lavender. Such strong scented plants as nepeta (catmint) lemon balm, mint, monarda & hyssop attract not only bees & butterflies but many of the lesser pollinators & helpful insects such as parasitic wasps.  If you plant a few night blooming plants: evening primrose, phlox or cardinal flower, you will also be providing food for nocturnal moths; some of these are incredibly lovely.

In considering how to bring butterflies to your garden, it is important to care for them in their larval stage. The caterpillars of the gorgeous Western Tiger Swallowtail, for example, live & feed on poplars, willow, birch & bitter cherry, while the Pale Swallowtail prefers alder. Stinging nettle is home to many baby butterflies as are native thistles. If possible, a small "wild" section at the edge of the garden will ensure an abundance of butterflies. Leaving garden cleanup til spring also means that overwintering chrysalises will not be destroyed

Water & Other Needs

Similarly, bees need more than just nectar: the right housing can increase the number of kinds of bees that come to the garden: in BC our gardens can attract honeybees, mason bees, leaf cutter bees as well as bumble bees to mention just a few.   Some of these are ground nesting and are very important pollinators.  They are not aggressive, stinging only in self defense.   For these bees it is good to leave a bare (uncultivated) area of soil, which remains fairly dry.  Some hornets & wasps also nest in the ground, and they DO sting!!!  Its important to learn to tell the difference between a bee and a wasp before leaving or destroying that nest.

All bees also need a source water: any shallow container with pebbles or twigs as landing sites (changed daily) will keep the entire hive healthy. Butterflies will also take advantage of this "pool".  Hummingbirds prefer to fly through a daytime sprinkler for a bath, or else sit in the rain with their wings open "bathing"' They drink dew in the morning but will drink from a shallow birdbath with a very narrow rim.
 

What Not to Do

It goes without saying, I hope, that the primary way to keep your garden attractive to pollinators is to refrain from using pesticides which are not natural in origin. Pesticides are the worst enemies of butterflies, and if they must be applied, even organic pesticides should be applied in the evening when butterflies are mostly inactive.
 

By Design

Plants that attract the various pollinators vary greatly in appearance. This variation of colour & form can make for a very satisfying garden in summer. Most experts suggest a minimum of ten types of plants to keep pollinators coming back, but in honest anything we do in our gardens is a bonus for these small but very essential creatures.

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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!

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