We were hired by Pinky to do a complete clean up of her rental property in Ladysmith BC. We finished the back yard the first day and moved to the front yard. The Rose bush in the front yard is the largest I have ever seen. It is a very old Rose and is thriving here. We also trimmed and pruned her deciduous hedge that runs parallel to the sidewalk. There were shrubs that were overgrown as well. However, they too were very mature healthy plants. I am always amazed at the end of a clean up just how beautiful the garden design is, as sometimes it gets lost in the overgrowth. Living in a rainforest has its challenges…everything grows 365 days a year as nothing really goes dormant due to our mild temperatures.
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.
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!
The garden owner wanted her garden enlarged to be able to plant spring bulbs. Her challenge is to have colour all year long in the garden. Her back yard is fenced so deer are not a problem. She also has a beautiful cat who helps to keep the squirrels and other critters from digging and feasting on anything she plants. The existing garden gets plenty of sun fall to spring so it is a perfect location for her to extend. She also has a problem with her grass…a serious lack of top soil limits the grass from growing but allows the weeds to multiply exponentially. A common problem with lawns today.
I brought in 1/2 yard of organic garden soil, 1 bale of coconut peat, 1 pail of bone meal and 1 pail of blood meal. It is important to amend any soil added so there is a balance of nutrients for an optimum growing medium. The soil was unloaded one wheelbarrow at a time. As mentioned her entire yard is fenced so the soil must be brought in one wheelbarrow at a time from her driveway. Each wheelbarrow was mixed with the soil amendments using a pitch fork then added to the existing garden. Remember to add enough soil so that it is approximately 2 inches higher then what you require. The soil will settle considerably over time once you have added it.
For a small garden extension like this one, I use an edger to cut through the sod for a guide to follow the edge of the new garden area. For a larger area or a new garden, I often use a garden hose to lay out for a guide. A garden hose is perfect as you can adjust or rearrange it for the curves you want. Then I use the edger to cut through the soil or sod to follow as a guide.
I took all of the sod out first and then used a pitch fork (my favorite tool) to work up the existing soil to about 4 to 6 inches. Then I added the new amendment of soil and worked it into the existing soil making sure it was well blended. Carrollyne is very happy with her new garden. She loves how rich the soil is and said it was a pleasure to plant with bulbs. Her only challenge was her beautiful kitty…who thought the new garden was for her, so Carrollnye used chicken wire over the top to keep her kitty out!
Cheers! See you in the garden or the garden centre! 🙂
I often call myself the extreme landscaper. I love taking on BIG landscape or garden clean up jobs! Not only because I love the challenge but because I am a visual person and love the garden restoration after it is complete! The work is often tedious and painstaking and often times at the end of a work period it seems I have made no headway! But then almost magically, the garden comes to life and is revitalized. Many, many times after a garden is complete and I download the final photos and compare them with the before photos…I am amazed and energized by the garden work I have completed! This clean up was one such challenge. The pond and walkway had been overgrown for some years and it often times seems endless as it was a very detailed labour intensive job. I worked it that garden yesterday and walked the steps up past the pond and it has held up to the test of time. I completed this job a few seasons ago and still it is clean and beautiful! So very happy with the end result…and MOST importantly so are the Garden Owners! 🙂
One of the culprits in my garden stealing bulbs! Squirrels have to eat too…just not my bulbs! 🙂
In total now, we have spent 20 hours doing clean up and planting some spring bulbs. I still have over 100 bulbs to plant which I will get done this week. The snow last week put a temporary hold on planting but I will go forward this week and continue on the clean up and the planting. As I mentioned earlier in a post when you plant bulbs (especially tulips) cover with chicken wire to protect from the critters….squirrels, deer, raccoon, etc… I did not heed my own advice and the robbers came in the night and helped themselves. 🙁 Note to myself to take my own advice. My gardens are up high surrounded by a retaining wall but that did not stop the thieves from coming. So be aware that barriers such as mine are not thief proof!
Even though it is mid December it is still not too late to plant spring bulbs. A trip to Dinter’s Nursery on Saturday…always fun and informative! The sales staff there not only know their stuff but they love gardening too, so it is a chance to share knowledge and learn! I wasn’t disappointed. The purpose was to purchase spring bulbs for planting and to check out what’s new!
Dinter’s still has a large selection of bulbs to choose from as you can see. Although they have lots and lots of tulip bulbs I did not purchase any because the garden owner doesn’t like them. A conversation with the sales lady was golden! She told me that she did not plant her spring bulbs last year until March and all of them bloomed. I was surprised seeing that it was so late in the season. Even though I would not suggest this to you, it is good to know. The bulbs must be in the ground and require a cold snap in order for them to begin their growth. Many bulbs and seeds require a dormancy period (cold weather) before they will begin growing. The sales lady told me that there was a cold snap right after she planted them. I planted the bulbs for my garden owner right away but am happy to know that Mother Nature is negotiable to a point!
When planting bulbs, I often fill in where annuals were the previous season. I purchased several different kinds of bulbs that flower from early (as in February) to late spring (May-June). My goal is to have colour in the garden all year long. I also walk the garden and try to fill in any other areas that are lacking plants or colour. Putting some bulbs in each garden you have will balance out your gardens and you will have more continuity with the flow of colours.
I always amend the soil as I am planting the bulbs. The better food and protection the plant has the better bloomer! So, I dig the hole for each bulb…keeping in mind it should be approximately 3x as deep as the bulb is wide…I also make sure the hole is 2 to 3 x bigger around then the bulb to allow it to sprout when it is ready. The soil I am planting in is clay so I have made it slightly less deep to ensure the soil depth and weight will not impede the growth. Remember…when in doubt, there are basic instructions on each package and you can always ask the sales person where you purchase if you have specific questions. It really is as easy as 1-2-3.
You can be creative and plant in mass or singles. I find it is more pleasing to the eye to plant in threes, fives, or sevens…but that is just me. For colour I chose bulbs shades of yellow – white and purples because I find it is such a visual delight seeing so much colour as the earth is sprouting green.
I always have organic soil, peat moss and mulch on hand in every garden I work in. So, I mix the organic soil and peat moss together. Usually mixing 2 parts peat moss to 4 parts soil. Remember…I am planting in clay so amending the soil is a must for healthy long lasting blooms. Once I have the holes dug, (dig them deeper then you need) I add some amended soil where the bulb will sit and then I place the bulb in the hole, add more soil and top it with mulch. (Patting it down lightly after each addition. The soil will start feeding the bulb almost immediately, the peat moss will help it maintain moisture all year long and the mulch will protect it from the elements, as well as slowly break down and feed the bulb all year long. Then just wait until spring and enjoy the lovely blooms! Happy Planting 🙂
It is time to think about planting your spring flowering bulbs now. There are many types and colours to choose from. Just remember to purchase your bulbs at a reputable garden centre or nursery or even a catalog. Remember you get what you pay for. The bulbs must be from good stock in order to have the showy blooms and healthy plants you are looking for. When planting remember to amend the soil and add compost…it will continually feed your plants all year long as it composts down and creates the food for the plants. Plant your bulbs soon after you purchase to ensure the best growth and blooms. Work organic compost and mulch a few inches into the soil before placing your bulbs. I love mass planting of bulbs because they are such show stoppers in the spring. However if you have limited space try and plant in groups of 3 or 5 bulbs. Remember to plant at a depth of approximately 3 x the bulb width. In sandy soils plant slightly deeper and in clay soils plant not quite so deep. Add mulch to the top layer of soil to maintain moisture and control weeds. If you have critters in or around your garden such as squirrels or voles it is a good idea to add a chicken wire cage across the top of the planting area and stake it down with 4 or 5 inch metal stakes that you can purchase at your local garden centre or hardware store. Once you are done planting remember to give the area a good watering and then just wait for spring and let mother nature do her magic! In the spring, once the bulbs have sprouted up, remove the chicken wire cage to allow the plants to grow freely and enjoy!