Tag Archives: island scapes

We are Landscaper Gardeners in Ladysmith on Vancouver Island on the Pacific West Coast of Canada. Our motto is…”when you do what you love and you love what you do…you are one with the landscape. Creating a perfect garden paradise. We will create a landscape (an area) or garden space in a style which requires little or no irrigation.

A front yard clean-up!

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.

Before ↑ & After↓

Before ↑ & After ↓

                                                                    Before ↑ & After ↓

 

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!

 

 

 

 

Enlarging a Garden for spring bulbs!

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! 🙂

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Planting a Cedar Hedge

Recently we were hired to plant a privacy hedge in Ladysmith.  The weather is perfect for planting trees…for the trees…not so much for people who don’t like the rain.    The trees were purchased at Dinter’s and are very healthy and full.  The root balls were packed in clay and wrapped in burlap.  This ensures the roots stay moist.  The trees were 8 to 10 feet tall and weighed about 120 lbs each.

Preparation for planting.

  1. We measured the entire length of the planting area.
  2. We divided the number of trees by the length so we knew how far apart to space the trees.
  3. We set a couple of trees in place to see how they looked against the fence and to decide how far from the fence to plant them.
  4. We calculated how much soil we would require for the planting.  In order for the trees to thrive we mixed 1 part organic garden soil with the original garden soil.
  5. We knocked off half of the clay off of the roots of the trees to ready them for planting.  You can plant them with the clay and the burlap on them but we chose not to.  The roots must work that much harder to grow through the clay and burlap to get to the soil nutrients.  Since the clay and the burlap are designed to protect the root ball against dry conditions and we are in rainy season, we knew they would not be at risk.
  6. We picked up 1.5 yards of soil ( You can find a soil calculator on line or ask your local soil retailer to calculate how much soil you will need depending on the area you are planting.) and 2 bales of coconut peat along with 2 pails of bone meal and 2 pails of blood meal. This helps to minimize the transplant shock as the nutrients feed the tree a balance of what it requires.  The coconut peat is sustainable unlike regular peat moss that comes from bogs and is not sustainable.  Both lighten the soil, hold moisture and improve soil structure.
  7. We took all of the sod out and started digging holes.  We dug the hole 2 times bigger then the root ball and 2 times deeper.  This allows the roots an easier time spreading out and growing.  We placed the first tree in the hole and measured from the centre of the root ball to the centre of the next root ball to ensure they were equally spaced apart.
  8. We mixed our soils together and added 2 cups of bone meal and 2 cups of blood meal to each wheel barrow of soil.  Then we placed the soil in the bottom of the hole, placed the tree and packed soil around it until it was just above the ground level.  This ensures as it settles it will be flush with the ground.
  9. We picked up 1 1/2 yards of mulch and top dressed the trees after planting as it holds moisture during dry seasons, helps to control weeds and for its pleasing aesthetics.  Happy Planting!  See you in the garden or the garden centre! 🙂

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hedge-plantedplanting-in-progress

Weeding-Getting to the Root of the Problem!

Maintaining a healthy garden is important throughout the entire year.  There is never ever a time when we gardeners can become complacent in our thinking…oh its fall season now, things will slow down growing so I don’t have to worry so much about weeds or about weeding now, or the winter weather will kill them off.  Wrong…wrong…wrong!

Recently, in two different gardens I found striking examples of why we need to stay vigilant to control unhealthy plants…yes they are plants although the term to us is weeds.  The next most important information for us to remember is that they are native to our garden.  Which means they WILL survive and thrive even before our beloved cultivated beauties in the garden.  They will fight for the nutrients and the water, they will invade our landscaped space and will destroy or weaken our plants in order to survive.  Yes folks, it is a battle field in the garden both above and below ground.

Living and gardening on Vancouver Island Canada definitely has its challenges and this is one of them.  We have a temperate climate all year.  We live in a rain forest so everything grows 365 days a year. EVERY YEAR! 

That being said, it is imperative when you weed that you weed from the ground up, not from the ground down.  In other words, don’t just cut off  or pull out the weeds at ground level.  For if you do then you are leaving the weed to thrive.  When you trim a shrub or bush, it stimulates growth and the same goes for the weeds. When you cut it or pull it at ground level and it breaks off…it leaves the root to survive and grow again.

wild-morning-glory-roots weed-roots-in-the-garden grass-weed-roots

Some of these weed roots were over 6 feet long.  Each root is called a tuber.  It throws a tube out from the main root which not only takes in nutrients, minerals and water but also throws a shoot to surface level which grows and multiplies.  It also has evolved to survive our climatic seasonal changes.  In hot dry drought weather that tuber will shrivel up and look like it is dead.  But it is not…it is in hibernation mode…a survival strategy designed to conserve energy when conditions are harsh.  The root will lay dormant until the rains come again and then it will grow.  The water will travel through the dried tuber and it will activate growth.

When you weed, use a pitch fork or a shovel and turn the soil at least 6 inches deep to get the weed root and destroy it.  Leaving one inch of root means it will grow again.  Do not despair if it breaks off and you cannot get all of it.  I have learned for example with dandelions…they always break off…their root is so deep and so fibrous that it almost never releases all of the root the 1st time…ahh but by the 3rd time you weed that area again, the plant is so weakened the entire root will release.  The most important thing to remember with these weeds that are so invasive is…Do not let them go to seed, so pinch off the flowers every time you see them.  The last thing you want is 10000 weed seeds floating around in your garden!

Cleaning a vacant lot!

This lot is in Ladysmith and has a million dollar view!  It has been overgrown for some time and of course the black berries and scottish broom had invaded the vacant space.  It took quite a while and 4 dump loads but it is now clean and beautiful once again.  Four of us tackled it with weed eaters, loppers, trimmers and a pole pruner not to mention blades on our weed eaters for efficiency.  So very happy with the end result.  It took 23 hours to clear and it rained the entire time.  A nice soft rain…in mild temperatures…just enough to thoroughly soak everything including us! 🙂

Before

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In Progress

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Complete

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Creating a Pond – Update

I started creating this new garden 2 seasons ago and highlighted it in a previous post on Island Garden Scapes website.  The pond progress is coming along quite nicely.  It is a large project with 2 ponds…one draining into the other via a small stream.  The pond liner was purchased at Dinter’s Nursery and the pump purchased in Victoria.  The first pond is now complete and the 2nd is a work in progress.  The pump will not be installed until the 2nd pond is complete and the stream bed finished.

The liner is actually a two part job.  There is a cushioned liner laid over the bottom and then the actual liner is laid on top of this.  This two part insert is to protect the liner from any upheaval of rocks coming through the liner and causing leakage.  Once the liner was laid then stones were laid around the pond to hold the liner in place and to enhance the pond/s beauty.  The natural stonework around the pond was created from stones on the property.  Laying the stones was similar to a jigsaw puzzle fitting the stones together so they would lay flat.  One side of the pond’s stones has cement between them to ensure they are stable.  The garden owner wanted to be able to walk between the ponds so adding cement stabilizes the walkway.

It is definitely a work in progress.  It is coming together beautifully and I am so excited to see this project completed!

See you in the garden or the garden centre! 🙂Franks Garden 031…in the beginning!

IMAG0731 800x452…;ast summer

pond update 2 pond update…this summer

Creating a new garden

A current picture of the garden shows the changing colours of the flowers and their growth. 🙂

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We have completely transformed the back yard.  Last year the neighbour took down a large cedar tree in their back yard.  It was along the fence so it opened up the back yard to sunshine and to rain.  This year the garden owner wanted a flower garden along the fence line so we rolled up our sleeves and went to work.  The beauty of it is that there is wonderful view from the deck as well as the rest of the yard.  We started by clearing the sod. One end of the new garden area had previously been a compost area so the soil was nutrient rich.  We brought in fresh organic soil from Cinnabar Valley farms and amended it with dolmite lime, peat moss and bone meal.  The entire garden was top dressed with about 3 to 4 inches of soil and worked in about 3 to 4 inches deep.  Then we planted perennials and interspersed them with annuals to fill in the empty spaces to add colour and depth to the garden area.  Throughout the entire season we now have themes of yellow, red, orange and white at different times.  The garden is forever changing as the plants come into bloom.   The Garden Owner is very happy with the new garden and I too love what we have created!  The picutres were taked over a period of 3 months to show how the garden fills out during the growing season.

Happy Gardening…see you in the Garden or the Garden Centre!

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