Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Breathtaking Butchart Gardens, Too Beautiful to Ignore

I got the chance to finally visit the world famous Butchart Gardens...I would say this was a wonderful reward after taking charge of a job as a wedding photographer to my friend's wedding. Telling you about one of the gorgeous gardens in the world is an understatement. You can only fully experience the treasures that the Gardens hold once you visit the place.. The moment you step inside the 'Waterwheel Square' entrance, there are already tons of flowers showing off their blooms to any visitor. It is like a parade of petunias, peonies, and tulips as you saunter through the 'Top Walk' zone. As you walk further, see hanging baskets filled with fuchsias and bleeding hearts, its leaves lightly caressing your head as you go under it.

Moving along...as you walk past under the canopy of towering cedars and some dense foliage, at the end of the short walk, the 'Sunken Garden' welcomes you. Each season, one will get to witness various displays of blooms that captivate the eyes with their explosion of colors, fragrances that linger and an unusual feeling of relaxation and at the same time....excitement.

Anyway, my words are not enough to make you see what I want you to see. So here are some of the photos I took of the Gardens. Enjoy!

The image on the left is the 'Sunken Garden.' I took this photo from the Sunken Garden lookout. It is like into Wonderland...
Star Pond of Italian Gardens area
The gardens at Butchart were created from the ideas of the late Jenny Butchart. She began to transform the 55-acre gardens in 1904. The Gardens consist of 5 other gardens.

1) Jenny's private garden
2) Sunken Garden
3) Rose Garden
4) Bog Garden
5) Japanese Garden

one of the pink peonies visited by a bumblebee
double petaled tuberous Begonias

The magnificent pond in the Italian Gardens. A statue of Mercury is perched on a pedestal in front of the hedge.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Materials Used for Composting

Contrary to the thought that composting is hard, it's as easy as 1,2,3.....You just need to have the right ingredients in order to have the right nutrients for the plants to grow.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kitchen Items You can Use to Kill Weeds Organically

You will be surprised that vinegar has tons of other uses besides dressing salads, disinfecting, and as a tonic to losing weight. When it comes to gardening,

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Weeds Week: The "Unfriendly" Morning Glory Weed

photo from shutterstock.com
You see those morning glory vines trailing so freely up on trellises or pergolas? Beautiful aren't they? But what I am about to tackle this time is not the type of morning glory vine that brightens up anyone's day upon seeing its blooms open up at sunrise. It is its nasty vine weed cousin- the bindweed or the morning glory weed. 

photo from soilcropandmore.info
Living in Victoria has made me notice this handful of a weed. After cutting its stem and its roots, just after a few days you will find them growing back again- and spreading! They are just as menacing as the dandelions in the prairies. You will have to weed them out over and over again until you finally manage to greatly reduce their numbers.

But is there another way of getting rid of the morning glory weed? Yes there is!

For the morning glory weed to flourish, it has to have an unrestricted area to grow and spread. This is where the morning glory weed's weakness lies- it despises crowd.

Therefore, if you find the morning glory weed creeping along a bald patch of soil, fill that area up with plants that are suited for the location.If the area is somewhere in the lawn, cover it with landscaping grass of your choice. You have to literally be on top of the competition. Once the morning glory weed is overcrowded, it loses its capacity to outgrow every plant that gets in its way.

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Mulching a bald area will work the same way as filling it in with ornamental plants. Mulch will restrict the sunlight from shining on exposed weed seeds and deprive it of sunshine as well as moisture. Pretty soon, it will rot and die. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Weeds Week: Eliminate Dandelions the Organic Way

Dandelions like to grow in acidic soil, a pH of around 6.9 and lower. Once this nuisance of a plant will find a home in your lovely garden, it means war!
photo from naturewatch.ca

When I worked for a few months in the city of Regina, Saskatchewan, during summer time I noticed the huge dandelion blooms and 'seed heads' everywhere floating in the summer breeze. I once visited a friend who was busying herself with a dandelion remover. I told her that it is impossible to control the dandelions from invading her pretty little lawn for there were an 'umpteen' of the pesky puffballs already thriving in her garden. Plus, I observed her neighbor's lawn to be occupied with dandelions as well. You know what they say about dandelions, "if your neighbor has it, then expect it will come to you too." Luckily for me that time, I rented an apartment at a tenth floor so I just had a small container garden then and "0" dandelions.

Enough chit-chat, let's get to the nitty gritty details, how do we eradicate dandelions?

First and foremost, one should be aware that this weed has a strong taproot system (with several secondary roots branching out). The roots help the entire plant to anchor firmly in the ground. Once the weed is established in the soil, it then rapidly grows and flowers in early summer to late summer, and then produce seeds come fall. Unlike other plants, dandelions do not need the help of pollination to reproduce seeds. In fact, a dandelion reproduce through asexual means which explains why it spreads like wildfire.The seeds are attached to a parachute tail which assists in propagation.

TIP 1 - Controlling in Numbers

If your lawn is infested with dandelions, then I suggest you should secure:

photo from coolpics1234.blogspot.com
1) a dark colored tarp
2) heavy stones
3) hot, boiling water

Pour boiling, hot water over the weeds and it will eradicate all parts of the dandelion down to its root level. Be careful not to pour the water on nearby plants or it will be damaged as well.

Cover the area with your dark tarp and secure the edges with the rocks. Lack of sunshine will disrupt the photosynthesis of the dandelion and will eventually kill it.

TIP 2 - Mowing Away

When dandelions are competing against your turf grasses and you want to eradicate them, use a lawnmower. Mow at the time when dandelions have not yet started to produce flower buds. Set your lawnmower at high to exclude cutting the grasses. Constant cutting of the leaves of this weed will also hamper its ability to make food and thus inevitably eliminate it from your garden. Dispose all the clippings in a sealed plastic bag before dumping it a compost bin to prevent the weed from reproducing.

TIP 3 - Dig Out

Do this tip only if the soil is moist and there are a few dandelions in your garden. Using a shovel or a garden knife, dig out the dandelion all the way to its roots. Use the tool as a lever to uproot the whole plant system.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Prepare for Spring and your Garden will Thank you


As I start to see a snowdrop popping out from anyone’s garden and even on boulevards, I know that spring time will be here soon. Living in Victoria, British Columbia has its rewards. While the rest of the prairies and the maritime areas continue to wallow in chilly winter weather, around here rhododendrons and pansies are already showing off their pretty colors. Although spring is starting to release its blessings over the garden, there is still much to do before anyone is fully ready to welcome spring in the garden.

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When all the snow has melted, this is actually the perfect time when you can see the whole outline of your garden since there are areas that are almost devoid of plants. This is the right time to remodel your patio or maybe brighten up one small corner in the yard.

Some people dig through their garden tools and equipment and check on every piece which needed to be polished or sharpened. In wintertime metal tools can collect dust and rust rendering it inefficient when being used for gardening. One can maintain the sharpness and the polished look of his tools by mixing any motor oil with equal parts of builder’s sand. Rub this on the tools and then wipe it with a dry cloth. It’s that easy.

Lawnmowers also benefit from regular upkeep like inspection of its oil level and the sharpness and overall condition of its blades. Also check your irrigation systems (garden hose, fountains etcetera) for they may contain any insects inside which sought shelter from the cold. Check if there are holes that might cause leakages in the future which results to an increase in your water bill.

Once all signs of winter are gone, you can now till the soil and perform amendments to enrich it. Cultivating the soil enables air to go into it and circulate it around the plants’ roots which is beneficial for their growth. Fertilize your shrubs and trees with slow-release fertilizers. As the ground further warms up, the fertilizers will also continue to provide food for your plants for a bountiful blooming season in spring.

Adding compost to the garden is even a clever idea. It fattens up the soil with already dead organic matter making the garden more rich and further promotes plants’ health.

Grab your handy shears and cut back on any dead branches and leaves present in your plants. Be careful not to cut all the plant parts, stem, roots and everything especially if you are in doubt if the one plant you are cutting is a perennial or annual. You might end up losing one of your prized flowers!

Rake up any spent leaves and other debris collected during the winter months and do some weeding. Keep in mind that weeding is not a one-time task but doing it when the ground is bare will easily help you spot the weeds from the plants. Weeding this early will also make your lawn and gardens alive with healthy plants and soil.

Unless there are many dead stems and damaged branches because of the previous frost, it is not advisable to prune certain shrubs and trees as this may affect their blooming or fruiting come middle of spring to summer. Most fruit trees usually need pruning before any new shoot emerges.

As your garden slowly awakens from its winter slumber, check for obvious bleak spaces that need filling up with colorful annuals or hardy fall bulbs to spark things up the coming year.

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