September 24, 2012

The topic of drying hydrangea’s came up today so I thought I would reshare this post.

Ottawa Garden Design

Drying flowers for dummies is what drying hydrangea’s should be called.  It is so easy that I can even do it…trust me, other than smucking daisies between the pages of heavy phone books, I have no luck in that department.  Hydrangeas are different though…easy peesy.

Cut the flowers when they are slightly dry.  This is when they start to look paper white.  I find September to October is good for this.  After cutting the stems and removing leaves, place the stems in a vase in a few inches of water.  Put the vase of hydrangeas out of direct light and let them be.  The stems will suck up the water or the water will evaporate.  By the time that is finished the hydrangeas should be dry.

Nothing left to do but enjoy them.

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CHEO dream home 2012

September 18, 2012

It has been an incredibly busy spring and summer for the gang at CMLD.  Garden installs have been non stop and we have been transforming one yard at a time.  What a joy and what a thrill to see completed project and clients enjoying their outdoor spaces.

One of our most recent projects was the CHEO dream home 2012.  We had the pleasure of working with Jason Smalley who created a stunning landscape design for the project.  I encourage everyone to go out and purchase their tickets and support our Children’s hospital.  We had an opportunity to see the home completed and it truly is a dream home.

CHEO DREAM home 2012 garden install

Japanese beetles

August 3, 2012

This year seems to be a horrible year for Japanese beetles.  They are munching on everything from hibiscus to Virginia creeper.  There does not seem to be an easy solution to getting them under control.  The problem is they have a hard shell, they fly and birds are not interested in having them for a snack.  What does this mean for Ottawa home owners?  GRUBS!  You can expect lots of them.  Japanese beetles are the adult white grub that is found in our lawns in spring.  The beetle usually comes out of the ground during the last week of June, first week of July. 

How to control them?  This is a bug not native to Canada and they do not have any predators here that help with the control.  They can be picked off and dropped into a container of soapy water.  The problem is that they do fly though and you can expect new ones to continue to come.  Insecticidal soap is only successful if you can get it directly sprayed onto the beetle but because of its hard shell it is fairly resistant. There are other controls available outside of Ontario. 

Traps:  There are beetle traps on the market.  Beware of these because they will actually attract more Japanese beetles to the area. 

My take on the situation is that with all our restrictions on pesticides we will be getting more and more issues with bugs especially ones that are not native to our area.  We  are in for some real destruction.  For those of us that have invested time and money into our landscapes we can expect to be very upset.  I would imagine this will impact farmers and crops as well.  I live in a home where the neighbours have all treated their lawn for grubs but the beetles are still here in full force.  This is a battle we are loosing and it is only going to get worse.


Designing your front entrance way

July 7, 2012

I have the pleasure of designing outdoor spaces for clients in the Ottawa area.  One of the areas that I am often asked to design is the front arrival area of the home.  What I try to  do is  create a welcoming and pleasant arrival space from the road to the front door.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when designing the front arrival area:

  • Create a walkway that is a clear visible path that can be used day or night.  No one should have to guess how to get to your front door.
  • The walkway should be designed so two people can walk side by side to your home without banging into each other or having to follow single file.  Ideally the walkway should not be smaller than 4′ in width.  I recommend between 4′ and 6′ wide.  If you have the room for 6’…go for it.
  • The walkway should not be built with a surface that is slippery when wet.  I have seen paths made out of polished granite, beautiful but VERY dangerous when wet.
  • It should also be created with a surface that can be shoveled in the winter without getting the shovel constantly stuck.  I have seen front walkways in Ottawa created with pea stone.  Not a good idea for an area that has to stay clear from the snow.
  • The entryway should also complement the home.  It is a nice idea if it can show or mirror some of the character or personality of the house.  This can be achieved by adding furnishings, potted plants or sculptures that show a personal side.  It can also be achieved by creating paths or walkways that visibly work with the house and suit the style of the home.  For example a Victorian style home might be suited to an English style garden and cobblestone style path.
  • One important thing to remember is to make sure that there is adequate room to enter the house keeping in mind the swing of the front door.  This is a very common problem in older homes where the arrival point outside the door is very small.  It is difficult to open the door without having to step back and down….not good especially in our slippery winter conditions.  This space should function similar to the indoor foyer of your home.  Preferably it should be large enough to allow for people to gather outside your front door without being knocked over by an opening door (it happens).
  • When choosing plantings for your home, keep in mind that the focal point at the front of your home should be the front door.  Plantings can be designed to lead the eye to the door.  Keep in mind the four seasons when choosing your plants and remember to add some evergreens to your mix to cover winter.

How to get your mind designing?  Working with the points above with help.  I also suggest checking out reputable company websites for ideas and flipping through Home and Garden magazines.  Have fun with the outside and enjoy the process.

Pictures below are from Mallette Landscaping.

What is in my tool collection

June 30, 2012

Over the years I have collected lot’s of gardening tools.  There are a few of those tools  that I use constantly and some that stay on the shelf unused.

My gardening tool collection includes a very simple tool box from Canadian tire.  I chose a plastic tool box in order to keep it light and easy to carry around.  In that tool box I keep hand pruners, a kneeling pad, garden trowel, weeder, string and gardening gloves, Japanese garden knife and a folding pruning saw.

My favourite weeder and garden trowel come from Lee Valley.  They are part of the “Radius Ergonomic Hand Tool” collection. (Pictured as D-weeder and A-trowel)

I should mention here that I have NO BUSINESS ties with Lee Valley.  I enjoy their tools and have had great experience with their service. I can be very rough on tools so quality is very important to me.  For those reasons I feel confidant recommending their products.

My loose tools include an edger which is a MUST for clean cut edges.  This one is also from the Lee Valley “Radius Ergonomic” collection.

I also use on a regular basis a stainless steel shovel, leaf rake and a thicker firmer rake for spreading soil and mulch.

One of my favourite tools for transplanting is a transplant shovel.  I use this constantly.  It is thinner than a regular shovel so it is easier to get in between plants when you need to transplant.

I do believe it is worth it to spend the extra money and buy quality pieces.  Gardening can be a rough sport and good gear on your side when you are fighting a stubborn root or weed is well worth the extra cash.

New addition to the family

June 27, 2012

We paid a visit to Peter Knippel nursery recently to purchase some stock for a garden installation.  It was a Saturday (day off) visit so my hubby and son joined me.  We spotted this guy and felt the urge to bring him home.  He has now found a special place in our garden.  No name yet, we are still working on that.

The Ottawa Citizen

June 24, 2012

I am not gonna lie, I enjoy the press.  It is a thrill to be doing a job I love and have it recognized.  Here is the latest local news.

After waiting two years it has FINALLY bloomed

June 24, 2012

Yes!! I am a happy gardener.  My prized yellow peony FINALLY bloomed.  I purchased my ‘Bartzella’ peony a couple of years ago.  No blooms last year and this year one beautiful bloom.  STUNNING! Well worth the wait.


First peony of the year 2012

May 21, 2012

WooHOO! I always LOVE when my peonies start to bloom in the garden.  It is definately my favourite time of year.  Here is the first to show this year.

‘Firelight’ peony



Peonies not blooming

May 12, 2012

My favourite time of year in the garden is when my peonies are blooming.  I keep a close eye on my plants waiting for signs that they are creating buds and planning on putting on a show when early summer arrives.  For me it is a sad day if I discover this is not going to happen with one of my plants.  Here are some problems that could be causing that lack of blooms:

  • Roots are too deep.   If this is the case I suggest waiting till late September and lifting the plant and re-planting it at the proper level.
  • Too much shade.  Peonies have a tendency to flower very little in the shade.  They prefer the sun.
  • Not enough moisture.  If it has been a very dry spring, the buds may shrivel up and not bloom.
  • Old age.  Peonies usually last 20 years or more but sometimes the roots can get too crowded.  Lift the plant in fall and divide.
  • Division too small.  Make sure when you do divide your peonies that they have more than one eye.  If they are very small in may take several years for them to bloom.
  • Too much root competition from large trees.

I enjoy peonies so much because when they are planted correctly they give YEARS and years of stunning blooms.  The colours are vibrant and the flowers are large.  The smell is delightful.  There are lot’s of peonies available that don’t require staking so that puts them in the low maintenance category for me.  Win Win!