My name is Kathleen Rose and I am a landscape gardener on Vancouver Island. My natural love of gardening started in my twenties and has continued for over 30 years. I have now come to the realization that the more I learn about landscaping and gardening, the more there is to learn. See you in the garden or the garden centre!
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For those of you who garden regularly, you probably already know many of the benefits to your health. Studies have proven there are great benefits physically, spiritually and psychologically from just a couple hours a week of nature therapy.
Even just a few minutes a day in the garden or somewhere else in nature, whether you plants some bulbs, walk through a forest or walk through a park, your body and mind will thank you. This effect is called “Nature Therapy” and the benefits are countless.
A generation ago, most families had a backyard garden area where they grew seasonal fruits and vegetables. Often times, the children shared the responsibilities of weeding and harvesting the garden. Sometimes the family would preserve or can the fruits of their garden labour to enjoy during the winter months. This contributed to a healthy lifestyle, both physical and spiritually and saved money. All members of the family enjoyed increased activity and vitality from the healthy foods they grew and consumed.
How the world has changed. An article written several years ago, questioned a group of young Toronto students (age 5 & 6) about where their food comes from. Many were unaware that food is grown on farms. Several students told the interviewer that the food comes from the grocery store. Beyond that, they had no idea.
This is due in part to the transition of populations to live in cities rather than on farms and in smaller communities where there was still a connection to nature. Today, most of us could grow some of our own food and contribute to a healthier lifestyle. It is possible to grow practically anything in a pot…including fruit trees. If you have a patio or balcony, you can grow a tomato plant or some strawberries.
For those of you who would like to learn more about “Nature Therapy” here is a link to clinical trials that have been done with outstanding beneficial results. This link is updated regularly with new information from ongoing clinical trials.
One of the most beautiful places on the planet is the West Coast of Canada. Living in a temperate rain forest can be challenging if you do not like rain. But if you are a gardener you welcome the rainy seasons and so do your gardens. Creating gardens with native plant species correlates to healthy plants and new ecosystems, not to mention beautiful outdoor spaces to enjoy all year long. Native plants have evolved to thrive in this climate, regardless of the season. Keep your garden design low maintenance by incorporating native species and mulch your gardens to protect and feed their roots through all seasons.
Once your garden design is complete…sit back and enjoy for years to come. The only left to do is divide your grasses and other perennials every 2 to 3 years. You can pot the new plants and give away as gifts or start a new garden area to enjoy!
For those of you who are not on Vancouver Island reading this, here is an introduction to the area.
Ladysmith is located one hour north from Victoria…our beautiful capital and 30 minutes south of Nanaimo. We are a town located on the 49th parallel north on the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. We are a small tight knit community of about 9,000 within the town and have smaller hamlets scattered along the ocean highway with a few thousand more. We live in a temperate rain forest and enjoy mild weather and temperatures for much of the year. We do occasionally get snow fall…but never much and it does not stay.
That is until this year. We were sailing right through winter with lots of rain but little in the way of snow and definitely not winter conditions. Our business has continued to operate…albeit on a part time scale but never the less it was still running. Since Friday, February 8th, it has snowed and snowed and snowed some more. We took on winter contracts for 3 commercial clients and have now ramped up to full time trying to get through to all of our other customers as well. For those of you who have not gotten to yet or have not returned yet…we will be there. We are working 13 hour days trying desperately to keep up. I looked on the internet and was shocked to see no pictures of the Ladysmith storm online. Our snow accumulation is more then anywhere else on the island…not sure why…I guess it was our turn. It has hampered most people from traveling and working. School has been cancelled for the 3rd day in a row, although it has finally stopped snowing and the sun is actually shining. That is; until tomorrow night when we get another snow storm. We will have everyone up to date by end of day today so we can stay on top of the next storm. Here are some pics…for those of you in warmer climates…good for you…enjoy our pics!
We finished transforming a front garden design creating a beautiful Garden Oasis for our client who wanted to beautify her front garden area. The grass was non-existent and would not grow. Poor soil and rock were prevalent across the front lawn. The patio and gardens turned out beautiful and she is very happy with the end results.
To help our garden owners decide on the type of hedging that is best suited for their landscape situation we have put together this descriptive list of the best and most popular plants for this purpose. All of these choices are deer resistant. The california lilac (ceanothus) is a much smaller species in terms of size and would require less maintenance then the other choices. The lilac is also the only flowering species chosen here. It flowers in early summer for weeks and again late in the fall (much lighter flowering) Loved by bees and insects…a healthy addition to any garden. It is also native to Vancouver Island and is drought tolerant.
The laurel which have many different cultivar species to choose from: growing from 2ft to 20 ft tall. All of the cedars and junipers will grow to incredible heights left to nature. They must be pruned and trimmed at least once annually. There are many other plants, shrubs and trees that can be chosen for a hedge. Use your imagination and choose what you would like in your garden.
EVERGREEN HEDGING (needled conifers)
Foliage is a blue-green colour.
Very fast growing evergreens. These shrubs often grow 3 feet per year!
Good for where you need extra height and width to screen out other buildings or highway noise.
Plant 3 feet apart for hedge and 5 feet apart for natural effect.
We were contacted by a garden owner that wanted to create beauty along his driveway. The existing garden was actually empty of plants. A derelict fence needed to be removed first. We had the customer make a BC 1 call – which means he called the province to ensure there were no underground lines…and there is! There is a gas line that runs right down the middle of the garden bed. The gas company sent out an employee and he sprayed the garden with yellow paint outlining where the gas line is.
The garden owners wanted California Lilacs (Ceanothus) for their beauty and for the bees and butterflies to enjoy. It will grow into its space and will be easily managed as it will not grow to unmanageable heights. We suggested planting them 3 feet apart along the 60 foot expanse of garden. We also love the fact that it is deer resistant, native to Vancouver Island and drought tolerant.
After assessing the line in regards to its depth and size we agreed to move forward with the job. We were concerned that our estimate would be off so after discussion with the owners we were in agreement to go ahead. The line was actually buried deep enough that it did not interfere with the planting but we did excavate it by hand to ensure it was the same depth throughout the garden bed, which it is.
We dismantled the fence and disposed of it and it completely opened up the space, as well as allowing a beautiful view of the neighbours gardens. It is very visually appealing giving it continuity and flow. When the planting was complete we added mulch 4 inches thick to impede weeds, protect the plant roots from all types of weather as well as slowly break down and feed the plants.
So, here are the before and after pictures. The owners are very happy and so are we. As for the estimate…we still did it in the time we had originally estimated…making the customers even happier.
We have continued the work on the “Front Yard Oasis” this fall. The design is coming together and it is even more stunning then the computer generated design. We have continued excavation of the river bed. What we originally thought would be 3 to 4 more yards of waste has become 9 to 10 yards of excavation. Painstakingly done with shovels and wheel barrows. The yard is very rocky so we have sifted through much of the waste to keep the larger rocks to incorporate back into the dry river bed we will be creating.
The garden bed areas are now all installed and filled with organic soil, peat moss, bone meal and blood meal…and are ready to plant. A path way will be installed to run along the river bed to allow stepping access to the garden areas and to visually separate the patio from the river bed. The path will consist of 3 inches of rainbow rock that has been purchased at “Hillside Stone & Garden” near Duncan BC. We will be using low edging along the pathway that Beryl – our garden owner has purchased. It will help to define the edges of the river bed and the pathway as well as the patio and will keep the decorative rock from mixing with the river bed. We excavated the path down to approximately 3 1/2 inches to ensure the path will be slightly lower then the patio so the stone will not migrate onto the patio.
These are the original designs on paper. In a future post I will post the original designs with the actual designs to show the evolution of creating a garden space and how similar and also how different it becomes. There will be many areas that mirror the designs but also differences as there are always changes and challenges that come with such an undertaking.