Category Archives: Controling Weeds in the garden

Island Garden Scapes-a family business!

To all of our clients…thank you for giving us the opportunity to show you what we can do for you!  Cheers!

Call us for all your lawn and landscape needs… thank you from Tim, Trevor, Mike, Miss Ryla, Kathleen and baby Ashlyn.

Clean-up and Re-design of a patio garden space

In October last year, a lovely senior lady contacted me in regards to cleaning and re-designing her small patio garden.  She loves gardening but found she could not do the manual labour of weeding, digging and replanting some of her potted plants and some of the plants that were already in her garden.

Small garden spaces are a challenge and take some getting used to…not to mention they try your patience at the worst of times.  Such small spaces make for cramped quarters for the gardener and can cause cramped muscles, short fuses and damaged areas if not careful from miss-steps in the garden area itself.  After many many small garden projects for many garden owners (as well as my own small garden space) I have discovered that often times these small spaces can take as much time and sometimes more then a larger space, due to the confined quarters.  What I truly love is the final display of the garden owners design.  Sometimes, the design is left up to me and sometimes (most times) Mother Nature shows you how the garden should look…if we really open our visual telepathy we will see the plants characteristics…in terms of colour, size, growing patterns, leaf patterns and flowering times…then the design picture comes to light…such was this garden…it really just unfolded as I weeded and cleaned the area.

Eva is a lovely lady who waited since last October as it froze up before I could get to her garden and was kind and patient enough to wait for me to get to her re-design this spring.  A sincere thank you Eva for giving me the opportunity to beautify your outdoor space…it really was a pleasure for me and I am so very please that you are happy with the end result…hope you enjoy your patio all season long!  Cheers Eva !

Total length of time was 5 hours…which included weeding and mulching her front gardens as well, although I did not include before and after pics as I forgot to take them. Total cost to her was $175.00 which included the mulch costs.  The plants that were in pots she had me plant into the ground.  With the exception of her mint…because if you have ever grown mint you know how invasive it is.  In a small garden like Eva’s, the mint would have spread to every area of her garden by fall.  So we agreed that I should heal in the entire pot with the mint in it.  I dug the hole 3\4 the depth of the pot and placed the pot in the hole and filled in around it.  The pot will maintain the mint in the pot and not allow it to travel throughout the garden area.  It will go to seed and spread that way but it will be much slower and easier to manage…just by pulling out the seedlings as they sprout.

 

 

My Garden Labyrinth

In an earlier post, I uploaded a garden labyrinth design for my own back yard.  The challenge is to create privacy and grow all of my own food this year.  Each year I grow more of my own food and this year I would like to grow 100% of it organically.  I have purchased all organic seed.  This is important as seed that is not organic has residual chemicals which would be left in the soil.  I have purchased organic soil from Milan on Brenton-Page road-250-667-1029     https://www.facebook.com/highlineenvironmental/

The first two garden boxes took 2 yards of soil to fill.  Each box measures 4 foot x 8 foot and are 12 inches high.  I placed them parallel along the south side of my driveway with enough space between them to get a lawn mower or a wheel barrow between them.  This area of the yard is very wet due to the gray water from the laundry room being drained here, so it should be a perfect place for a growing medium.  I have added bone meal and blood meal to the boxes and worked it in.  I will test the soil today and see how high the nutrient level is and if anything more is required.   In a few days I will plant some early vegetables.  It is a busy season already so I will have to fit my garden time in after work as I did the last two nights.  When buying seeds it is important to verify they are organic non-GMO seeds.  West Coast seeds are offered for sale at almost every garden centre and many other retail outlets.  They also offer mail order for convenience.  They are high quality certified organic seeds and their website is a wealth of information on gardening.

Cheer!

See you in the garden or the garden centre! 🙂

Creating A Spring Flower Garden

Originally this job was supposed to be completed before Christmas.  There were 300 plus bulbs that needed to be planted once the garden was built.  However, Mother Nature disagreed and so the bulbs had to wait.  There was also a boxwood hedge to plant along a newly installed walkway.  That is if Mother Nature could ever release her icy grip!

The spring garden design was a simple one.  Clean the garden area along the driveway, install garden ties, amend the soil and plant the spring bulbs.  Simple right?  Wrong!  Previously there were coniferous trees growing on that side of the property and had been taken down long before my arrival.  Their stumps were in the garden bed area and the roots were everywhere.  Some had traveled underneath the paved driveway bulging the tarmac upwards.  Intertwined with the tree roots grew english ivy…everywhere.  I never ever thought there would be something more difficult to remove then english ivy.  But I was wrong again.  When I originally looked at the job last fall the ground was covered in leaves and did not give a clear picture of the labour that would be involved to beautify the area.  And so the work begins.  A pic axe was purchased to chop the roots out and a chain saw was used to cut the roots off at the driveway edge.  The easiest part of the job was planting the boxwood hedge.

Organic soil was purchased from Milan at HighLine 250-667-1029 located on Brenton-Page Road near Ladysmith.    You won’t find a better soil.  Milan creates the soil himself from organic matter.  The soil is well balanced with sand and rich organic compost.  I added bone and blood meal, peat moss to retain moisture and triple steer manure to enhance the growing medium.  However, this soil is so rich that you could just plant and grow.  I amended it to minimize the work for the garden owner.  She is not an avid gardener so this will allow her to have a no fuss garden for a couple years.  She will not have to add anything.   I planted over 300 bulbs of daffodils, tulips, narcissus and crocus’.  I am looking forward to seeing this garden in full bloom this spring.  stay tuned for the update in a couple of months.

Warning: If you are using a pic axe or any other equipment for digging or cutting, make sure you know if there are water lines, hydro lines, gas lines or telephone lines in the area! 

 

 

 

A small front yard clean up

The winter has been very long here and much work is needed in the gardens for spring clean up.  This small front yard took 6 hours from start to finish.  the yard was raked, the tree was trimmed and a new garden created along the house.  The clean up included putting wood chips around the plants and along the new garden bed.  The lilac bush was trimmed and the english ivy cut back also.

Front yard before

Front yard after

My Back Yard

Last year I posted pictures of my back yard with a design that I had in mind.  Due to unforeseen circumstances I had to move a couple of months ago and my yard design was not completed.

So now, I have a new yard…which is…well the pictures speak for themselves.  There is nothing that motivates me more then landscaping…I love to create beauty through design with alot of help from mother nature.  This yard is like a blank slate just waiting to be designed.

Here are the challenges: Privacy, Privacy & Privacy

Privacy    Our home is in town and has a walking path along the back (east) of the lot and up along the south side of the property.  Our neighbour is the local dog park so you can imagine the traffic around our house.  I love dogs and humans…don’t get me wrong…but I love my privacy more.

Weeds/Overgrown Lot

The entire lot is fenced in and has great potential but has not had any type of landscaping or gardening done in many years.  The only neighbours on the north side had a beautiful cedar fence installed some years ago and it has stood up to the test of time.  The fence does give us some privacy.  However, our yard runs on a gradual slope downhill so there is next to no privacy in the entire back yard.  We live downstairs in a suite and there is also a suite above us.  Thankfully, (for now) my son rents the upstairs suite so privacy is a non-issue.

Backyard swampafter moving in November, we discovered the back yard was like a swamp.  The ground was so waterlogged that we could not walk through most of it without getting soaking wet feet.  To our surprise we found out that the former owner had pumped all of the gray water from the house into the back yard via an underground hose that she had buried.  So all of the water from the laundry room and all of the water from the kitchen sink travels to the back yard.  It is also obvious that there is poor drainage in the back yard.   We already use all natural “green” products…phosphate free, so this is one less thing to worry about.

Cedar Hedge – Many years have passed since the previous owner planted a cedar hedge at the back of the lot.  They are slow growing cedars so they are small and there are holes in the hedge.  Not sure if some died or if there were not enough planted.  In any case, it is going to be one of the biggest challenges landscaping and I am so looking forward to it.

Rocks Rock & More Rocks  The entire yard has rocks everywhere.  The neighbour told me the previous owner brought in truck loads of rocks of all shapes and sizes.  Oh my, I have never ever seen so many rocks on such a small property.  So  I will incorporate what rocks I can  and the rest I am taking to two different clients who are in need of rocks….oh my goodness I hope they want lots!!!!  As you can see from the picture, I already pulled some rocks from around the tree in the picture below.  I planted strawberries under the tree in November when I moved in, so its a very small start. 

Oh, I almost forgot, we inherited a fish pond, in the forefront of the bottom left picture.   It is beautiful and has great potential as a focal point in the gardens.  So here we go with a new project!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Complimentary Landscaping for a Country Wedding

Last year an unfortunate accident took place that I am sure many of you have experienced.  I dropped my phone in water and had to have it replaced.  Lost were many garden photos…563 to be exact.  I replaced my phone the next day and left the old one sitting in rice.  After a few days I put it in my desk drawer and forgot about it.  Moving in the fall, the old phone stayed in a box until yesterday.  I charged it and like magic it took the charge and I accessed all of the 563 pictures.

Each year I volunteer landscaping hours…sometimes I advertise free landscaping for seniors and other times the job just seems to appear.  I believe it is important to give something back.  In my lifetime so many many people have helped me on my journey; I certainly wouldn’t be the person I am today without all of those helping hands and hearts that have reached out to me.  I believe one of the reasons we are on this earth is to help each other out along the way.  The intrinsic rewards are priceless for me.  For me no amount of money can replace the feeling of helping others.

A few years ago while gardening for one of my regular customers I was introduced to Les.  He was a very kind man as is his wife Lorraine.  He owned a small farm near Cedar BC where he grew garlic for the local health food store.  He offered me some work, helping him with his garlic crop.  Which I was happy to oblige, not only for the work, but the knowledge I would gain.

I was very blessed to meet him and his lovely wife Lorraine.  Wonderful people…so caring and so down to earth.  That first garden season after meeting them, they offered to let me grow a garden along side the garlic.  It was a God send to me as I was living in a suite with no garden area.  That season was so busy I had to rely on Les to let me know when my garden needed watering.  We watered my garden and the garlic regularly.  I grew many vegetables and herbs that year…eating and canning everything I could.  There is such a sense of accomplishment that comes with eating an entire meal from your own garden, which I did enjoy many times that summer!  Thank you Les & Lorraine 🙂

Tragedy struck 1 1/2 years ago when Les passed away from an unfortunate accident; leaving his wife and a daughter who was engaged to be married.  The bride, Heather had her heart set on a country wedding.

So we set to work.  The property is a beautiful farm over looking the Nanaimo River.  It is a place where time seems to stand still.  The farm is 10 acres,  complete with a large home, detached garage, detached shop and a barn overlooking a meadow.

I was so busy last summer that I did not even get to the farm to work until 3 weeks before the wedding so it was a stretch…one that I was not sure I could fulfill.  Lorraine had worked tirelessly year after year gardening and had beautiful gardens everywhere.  There were beautiful rhododendron gardens surrounding the house where she had incorporated peach trees, raspberries and other edibles into the garden space.  The gardens just needed some elbow grease to get things in order.

The driveway was a winding lane over a 1/4 mile long from the road to the house with fruit trees on one side and a fenced pasture lined with black berry brambles on the other.  Years previous had seen the addition of a rock garden along the driveway closer to the house.  It was beautiful but overgrown with weeds and grass.

The bride had her heart set on getting married on the lawn and then having her wedding photos taken near the barn and pasture.  There was a considerable amount of work to be done.  The area where the guests would park was overgrown with weeds and grass also.  And work we did.  There were dozens of volunteers that helped every step of the way.  The landscaping was my expertise and thankfully I met the challenge and finished two days before the wedding.

Driveway before

 

Driveway after

Lorraine seeded the lawn area where Heather wanted the ceremony and watered daily for the lawn to thrive.  I added my landscaping touches weeding and mulching everything in sight.

Even Sheeba, the family pet helped by chasing the rabbits away!

The pasture needed to be cut down around the barn and beyond for the wedding photos.  I used a weed eater to get it down to about 8 inches…cleaned the area of all rocks, trees and branches, then I took the lawnmower to it twice…the last time two days before the wedding.  I also trimmed and pruned all shrubs and trees giving each a hair cut to tidy things up.

The three weeks flew by…I cleared my calendar of other jobs to finish this one…at the exasperation of some of my customers…it wasn’t that their gardens weren’t important to me…it was that this was something I had to do…and the wedding turned out beautiful.  A gorgeous summer day for a beautiful bride & groom!  In total I put in 49.5 hours and am so very grateful that I could do something nice for this family!

Congratulations Heather & Ray!  Have a wonderful life!

 

 

 

 

A Country Garden Clean up

We have been working on this property for some time now.  Although the new snow fall has halted work, it will continue this week once the snow is gone.  It is a beautiful country property with stunning garden designs that really shine with effort and hard work. 

 

A Spring Garden clean up

Clean up in the gardens on Vancouver Island has begun.  The winter has been harsh here on the Island.  Snow, ice and frosty temperatures have kept the island in a deep freeze for more then two months.  Finally the snow and ice melted and the ground…frozen but dry has allowed clean up to start.

This is the first year that it has been this cold since I started my landscape business.  Normal weather patterns have always been rain and cool temperatures but never this cold.  After one day working in the garden I realized that I much prefer the ground frozen.  With the ground frozen, I stayed dry and the clean up was actually easier.  Raking the leaves, branches and twigs was a snap.  With the ground frozen I didn’t have to worry about taking the soil or the mulch with the garden waste.

This garden has been over grown for some years and needed a sprucing up…pruning, trimming and cleaning the Rhododendrons,  Hydrangeas and Azaleas was first in order.

Pruning & Trimming Rhododendrons

I always start from the base of the plant and work my way up.  I take off all the suckers that are growing straight up…cutting them right at the trunk (or collar) where it attaches to the plant.  I dead head any flowers from last year.   I also take out any branches that grow inward and of course any dead branches.  Thinning the perennials this way helps to keep the plant healthy, allowing air flow through the plant, and allows the buds that have set to flower.  The only branches I trim that have buds on them are the ones that are long and leggy sticking out much farther then the rest of the plant.  I like to give it a nice balanced look and am very careful not to trim too much off.  It is best to trim them right after they flower as they  set next years flowers on the prior years wood.  So pruning out of season, I always start from the bottom and work my way up.

Pruning & Trimming Hydrangea

The Hydrangea in this garden are mopheads.  They flower in summer and should be trimmed and pruned right after flowering as next years flowers set on old wood.  However, because they were so over grown and had much dead wood, they had to be trimmed.  I started at the base and took out all the dead, damaged and diseased wood.  I then took out the unhealthy and spindly growth as they will not produce healthy flowers.  I trimmed the dead flowers off being careful to make angle cuts above the new growth.  Trimming and pruning out of season will probably affect the flowers this season but there wasn’t another choice.  In order for the plants to be healthy they needed to be trimmed and pruned.  It will stimulate growth this season and what flowers will be there this summer will be more robust then if I had not trimmed.  The plants themselves are healthy and will recover but might take till next year to have the showy display they are capable of.

If you have fall flowering Hydrangea then they should be trimmed now, during the winter months while their roots are in hybernation.

Pruning & Trimming Azaleas

There were five Azaleas in this garden.  Two of them had to be taken out as they were so unhealthy they would not have recovered.  There were several branches on top that had growth but none at the base of the plant.  The bottom two thirds of the plant was dead with no growth at all.  Think of a bouquet of flowers how long it will live in water.  The top branches are similar to that.  They get just enough nutrients to stay alive longer then the rest.  However, they too will die just as the rest of the shrub has.  It is uncertain why they died…every plant has a life span just like humans, they could have been damaged in the winter cold, they could have gotten an insect infection or a disease or fungus.  Both of the Azaleas that died were the same kind and I suspect they were both planted at the same time, years before.  I was careful to get all of the root out in case it was diseased or infested with insects.  Ideally Azaleas should be trimmed right after flowering in early summer as the plant sets its new buds right after flowering.  However, I was left no choice as the plant required a heavy pruning to get it healthy again.  Although the heavy pruning might affect the flowering this season, it will recover and be more robust and have its showy flowers return by next year.  These Azaleas are a type of  Satsuki Hybrids such as ‘Gumpo’ grow only about 3 feet tall, while Southern Indica Hybrids such as ‘George Lindley Taber’ and ‘Mrs. G.G. Gerbing’ can grow 10 feet tall.

The final step in this garden after the clean up was to add fresh mulch.  This keeps the weeds down, helps to maintain moisture, adds nutrients as it slowly breaks down and of course for its aesthetic value is priceless to the eye.

 

Spring is on its way!

For many who do not live on Vancouver Island it is a shock for them to find out that although we live in Canada, we don’t (as a rule) get snow…or at least not the kind that hangs around for days…never mind months.  Well this year has been much different.  In December of 2016, the 3rd of December to be exact, was my last day working for the rest of the month.  Winter came and stayed and stayed and stayed.  We were in a deep freeze for over a month and the snow that came…STAYED!  So much for living in a rain forest!  When the snow finally melted (most of it) two weeks ago, it was only because we received so much rain.  It washed away the snow and melted the ice.  I have now been back to work for the last two weeks.

Since it was so cold and frozen, I had to lay the staff off and am now back to work, but working alone for the time being.  Springs clean up has already started in many gardens and I am hard at work.   Many shrubs and trees have winter damage from carrying the weight of the snow and ice for so long.  Many branches are broken or damaged which means a larger clean up then normal.  I have also started trimming and pruning, as well as weeding.  It is a perfect time to weed as the ground has so much moisture many of the weeds pull right out.  Which is great because saving time on weeding helps to off set the extra time required for the extra clean up and the extra pruning necessary to keep the gardens healthy and vibrant.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the palms that have been planted in so many gardens.  The research I have done says that the palms can withstand temperatures dipping to -10 C.  However, we had extended periods of days where it stayed that cold.  It is true that mother nature can be cruel and it will be sad if many of the palms do not survive.  They add a new texture and vibrancy to the landscape here on the island and I shall be sad if their survival is threatened.   As the temperatures warm up we will see what has been damaged.  Only time will tell.

For those gardeners who are unsure of when to prune or trim.  There are basic rules that I follow.

  1.  Any plant or tree that has damaged limbs…prune immediately.
  2. Pruning and trimming in the fall/winter will slow down growth as the plants are moving towards dormancy.
  3. Pruning and trimming in the spring stimulates growth as the plants are becoming active again.
  4. Never ever take more then 1/3 off of any plant or shrub as it could kill it.  The more you prune or trim the more likely it is that the plant will become stressed.  When a plant is stressed it can bring many problems.  It sends a message to insects, diseases, fungus, etc…”I am not well so come and eat me.”  Plants are similar to humans…stress can be a killer.