Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Townhouse Garden - New Life For Old Red

It was and early Saturday morning, a few weekends ago, when I went to dig up two mature Rhododendrons that I found for sale on Craigslist. This is a great place to find and get a deal on established plants.

Here is old red, this 20+ year old Rhododendron was no longer valued by this homeowner in its current location. So rather that chop it down, like so many other people would, this homeowner posted it on Craigslist. Now, this benefits not only the seller but also the buyer, where else could I get mature plants at a reasonable cost, and where else would this homeowner pocket a few dollars and not have to dig up or dispose of this valuable plant material. What a beautiful arrangement

Rhododendrons are a relatively shallow rooted plant, so they are perfectly suited to being moved around at a mature age. Now there are varying degrees of maturity, one look at the trunk of this one and I new that I could dig it out by hand and haul it off. If it had been a really thick truck then some mechanical intervention would have been necessary. With two shovels, one hand pick, a pair of loppers and some sweat equity, my neighbour and I got busy digging up this gem.

45 minutes later, some pulling and tugging revealed this baby was ready to release it's self from it's current home.

There we go, with the root ball now free, two brawny women could now hoist this plant up out of its hole.

We also dug up another mature Rhodo, this one still had the original tag on it, meet "Alice" very pretty.

With both Rhodo's loaded and strapped into the utility trailer, off we leave Tsawwassen for Richmond.

2009, as our fence was being replaced,

Summer 2009, planting annual Dahlia tubers was something to fill the empty space until something more substantial could be acquired.

2010, something more substantial, with the newly acquired Rhododendron, I needed to find the perfect spot and angle to plant the bush.

In it's original location this plant was leaning a little to the right with one of it's branches rooting itself in the soil. When re-planting , I needed to tilt it a little to the left to balance out the over all look.

Viola, an instant mature look to the area.

Next up, planting Alice, the root ball on this one was a lot smaller and easier to dig up.

An empty spot just crying out for something mature to be planted there, "pick me, pick me" can you hear it?

It looks like it has always been there, don't you think. Now this bush really needs to be pruned back hard, I really had to tilt this one to get the main branches to look proper. Rhodo's are really resilient plants, they will generate new growth on old wood, it's really quite an amazing thing to watch, you just have to have a little patience and forgo some blooms for a year or two.

Back to old Red, with my pruners is hand, I needed to be brutal. I needed to really open up the plant, getting rid of the crossing, and the weak branches. Balancing up the bush, and allowing the light to shine on the remaining, exposed wood. This will stimulate the new growth.

Let the light shine in.

Brutal right, well not as drastic a pruning job as I have done to a Rhodo in the past. Years ago, I pruned back my mom mature Rhodo hard, I mean there was only a few green leaves left, but it had just finished blooming so the new growth was just coming out. I remember she was devastated, thinking that I had done irreparable damage, and surely killed her plant. Well, it's been a few years now and the bush has never look as good or blooms so profusely. Really, these are hardy plants people!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Townhouse Garden 2010 - Wonderful Wisteria

So flash back to last year, February, our townhouse complex was getting a new fence. I had a small brick planter at the base of the brick post, which was, along with the rest of the fence, up for demolition. I removed the bricks and any plants that would be damaged.

February 2009

March 2010

2009, this area was left unfinished for all of last year. Waiting for the right inspiration to finish off the spot.

Fast forward to 2010, now was the time to get this area finished.
After sorting through the bricks I had on hand from the previous planter, this new area is slightly larger from the last one. After purchasing some more bricks, I laid them out in the general area of the new planter.

Using the same method of instillation as the other brick work around the Townhouse, the planter was now ready for some soil.

Lots of fresh compost will be mixed in with the existing soil.

Unfortunately, when I began to dig down I only got so far as a spades depth before running into a cement pad which runs the length, plus, of the planter. Before this townhouse complex was built, there was a house in this location and they must have had a retaining wall of some sort right were I want to dig, arrg. It's a good thing that the new planter will raise the growing area up 3 or 4 inches. There is also, as I discovered, a 2 inches gap where the cement pad ends and the edge of the planter is where roots could go down deeper into the soil in search of moisture.

Ah, all done, and planted with my newly purchased Wisteria "Texas Purple" an early to flower variety. I've read somewhere, when purchasing a Wisteria, you should find one that is or has bloomed, if not, you could be waiting a few years to see flowers. Of course, I've also been told that once a Wisteria has become established, watch out, and have your pruners handy. It will need to be pruned a few times during the growing season to keep it in check or it might take over, destroying fence panels, ripping siding off housing, grabbing small children as they walk by, (kidding) ;)
I have secured some eye hooks into the fencing with wire running between them so the vines could attach themselves to that, and not my new fence.

Wire running the length of the top of the fence.

I really love the look of the flowers of Wisteria, like clusters of grapes, and the smell, like sweet peas. Once this vine is established and trailing along the top of the fence, it should be breath taking when in bloom.

I finished the planter off with some perennials, Geranium cinereum "Sateene" Grayleaf Geranium, Dianthus barbatus "Sooty" Sooty Sweet William, and Gaillardia "Scarlet Halo" Blanket flower. Now all I have to do is add water and watch it grow.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Townhouse Garden 2010 - Iris Came Back For Mothers Day

It's been a few years now but Iris is back, looking more beautiful that ever.

Iris on Mothers Day 2010

It was in the summer of 2007, when Iris, having been ripped from the only home she'd known and kicked to the curb, found her way to me. I welcomed her in, cleaned her up, and gave her some fresh soil. I didn't have a permanent spot for her to stay at the time, as her arrival was quite sudden.

In 2008, Iris was showing some recovery,with some new, healthy growth. Still in her temporary accommodation, news was that a more permanent home was just around the corner.

2009 brought some setbacks for Iris, a recent renovation left her a little worse for wear, being walked all over and garbage thrown at her.

Early Spring 2010, Iris is looking strong and healthy, in her 3rd year here, she's getting settled and really putting down her roots.

Mothers Day weekend, and Iris is back, a real star in my garden, and just to think only a few years ago she was unloved and unwanted, well I love you Iris, and you can stay as long as you want.

Time to make some Mothers Day flower arrangements, I went around the garden and cut some of the best flowers that were available today.

Lily of the Valley

Rhododendron "Jean Marie de Montague"


"Basket of Gold" Alyssum

Variegated Euonymus

Purple Columbine

Lilac "Mme Lemoine"

Curly Parsley

Arrangement for my Mother In Law

Arrangement for my Mom.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Richmond Garden Club Members Only Garden Tour 2009

Every year the Richmond Garden Club puts on it's Members Only Garden Tour. I always look forward to this event. Usually this is in July, my garden was is full bloom so I got a little creative and fashioned a flower hat for the occasion.
Here is my flower hat, a simple wicker hat with water spikes wired into the had, there are 3 types of roses, Abraham Darby (2 peach coloured ones on either side), Black Magic (3 to the centre, 2 to the upper, dark red) Double Delight (pink & white centre, what a wonderful scent) there is also Lady's Mantle (yellow flowers on green), lavender stems and Rhododendron. I kept the hat in the fridge to keep it fresh.
Here I am with my flower hat, taking the time to smell the roses. If any group of people would appreciate such a hat, it would be amongst my fellow gardeners.
A really neat potting shed. What a great use of doors and windows. If only I were that handy.
A little art in the garden. How every day items, new and old can be put on display and add a little cents of whimsy.
A nice place to sit a relax in the garden, but as any gardener will attest, it is a rare scene to see one resting in the garden, the moment you sit down to admire your efforts, you see something else that needs fussing with, and off you go again.
I really like the natural look of this fence around the vegetable garden.
Beautiful combination.
This was a neat little piece of garden art, a stone frog in the bird bath.
Enough said.
This goes to show you that container gardening can still offer up a lot of texture and colour to your outdoor space.
I really like the look of Geraniums in clay pots. It leaves me with an old English, glasshouse kind of feeling.
A sunny south facing wall is a perfect spot for tomatoes, they just need a big enough pot and lots of water.

To end the tour we visited a more natural garden, I saw so many dragon flies flying about. It was easy to capture a great shot of one, they are so pretty.

I like to visit as many gardens as I can, they are always filled with great idea's and such inspiration.