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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.

Website problems…technology is great when it works!

Hello everyone, for anyone who has been on my site recently and noticed I have not posted…here is why!  My website has not been working properly for several weeks…4 weeks of which I could not even get on the site as admin.  So sorry about that…they are still working on it but at least I can now post.  I do post alot less during my busy season but never this long without sharing something about gardening.  For those of you who have visited or joined my site…thank you for your loyalty and patience…it is greatly appreciated…happy gardening…spring is finally here!

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! 🙂

Putting a Garden in Order

Yes, it is another garden clean up.  One that was intense but so satisfying.  Thank you Pinky for hiring Island Garden Scapes.  We were tired when it was finished but so happy with the end result.  Spring has sprung !  It is a very busy season already.  The fence is lined with beautiful flowering spring forsythia so we were careful not to cut all of the buds as it is just starting to flower.  Below the forsythia, there are dozens and dozens of spring bulbs that were just waiting for a chance at some sunshine and rain so they too could flower.  near the back of the house is a beautiful Japanese maple tree which shades a small pond.  So we trimmed the tree, a very small trim…just enough to stimulate its growth and we cleaned out the pond, which you could not see prior to the clean up.  Now it is a beautiful outdoor space.

Before

After

 

Before

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!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Winter damage tree repair

In an earlier post I showed winter damage to a tree in my back yard.  Here is the update, after carefully cutting the branch off at the base, I will leave the tree to heal.  I will not treat it unless there is a problem with it healing.  In the weeks to come, I will check on it continually to ensure that it has become diseased or infested with insects.  Although the damage is considerable to the branch, it is actually a good time for it to heal, since there are few insects around at this time of year and the thaw has not happened so the sap has not started running.  I would be much more concerned if it was later in the season and the sap was running and the insects were out as it could easily draw insects to its wound.

And although this is quite a big wound, the tree will be none the worse for wear if I have to cut the entire branch off.  The most important thing to do is to keep checking the tree as it heals.  The branch actually has two other healthy branches forking off of it, so I really would like to give the branch a chance to heal.  The other branches that were broken were much smaller so it was just a matter of cutting them off.

Children in the Garden

If we are to enjoy, protect and benefit from the earth and all that it creates, then it is necessary to engage children…the younger the better to teach them the joy of gardening, the sacredness of the earth and all that it offers.  For they will grow just as plants do and they will become caretakers of earth, for we are all part of something so much greater then our own individuality.

There is nothing more satisfying then growing your own flowers, trees, plants,  fruits and vegetables with a child and experience their joy, enthusiasm and wonder…so incredibly precious through the eyes of a child.  Gardening is magical, we have only to experience children in the garden with us to see and feel the magic of being part of the ecosystem of the earth.  These two little girls are my beautiful granddaughters.  They are almost 2 & 4 and are the perfect age to garden.  My oldest granddaughter has been gardening with mommy since she could walk so she is well versed with watering…it is her favourite activity besides making mud pies for daddy!

It is important to be safe in the garden.  So we purchased childrens’ garden gloves at the local store.  We put on our gum boots and we only have organic soils to use.  Which is important since my youngest granddaughter, Ashlyn decided she needed to taste the soil to see if it passed inspection.   And of course safety also means never leaving them unattended or unsupervised.

Gardening with them was an incredibly satisfying and fun adventure, watching them laugh and learn about all living things.

Each of the girls helped to plant a cedar tree in a pot to put on daddy’s deck.  Ryla who is almost four ask if the tree would grow today.  I explained to her that it grows like she does from the food and water we feed it and the sunshine it receives…slowly but surely getting bigger and bigger…just like her.

Then we watered the strawberries making a liquid organic fertilizer from the organic soil and water and added it to the strawberries which have not woken up for the season.

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.

 

Being a Landscape Gardener!

work-play

A Diamond in the rough!

I took on this garden clean up in Saltair BC in July 2016.  It is an ongoing job and is really shaping up nicely.  When first I walked through this garden I realized its potential.  I did not create this garden…it is 5 years old.  I am blessed to work in such a beautiful place with so much potential.  It is definitely a diamond in the rough!  Everything was overgrown and needed pruning and trimming.  Many of the ornamental grasses needed to be divided and moved.  I am so happy with the progress so far and so are the garden owners!

 

 

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