Tag Archives: Landscaping in Saltair BC

We are Landscaper Gardeners in Saltair 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.

Garden Oasis

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.

Cleaning an overgrown garden bed

We do regular lawn maintenance for Teresa and Patty and were ask to clean the garden bed along the house.  It was a 2.5 hour job and had a truck load of waste to take away.  Happy planting Teresa 🙂

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! 🙂

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.

 

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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A diamond in the rough-clean up continues

Well we are now into several months of clean up and re-design on this diamond in the rough.  It is a big project and is turning out beautiful!  We work away part-time at it when the weather permits!  Fall rains arrived in October so it is a matter of working around the weather now.  We recently tackled the back path area and are very happy with the results.  The back garden area is planted with a cultivated broom and had been overgrown for years.  We did have to take out a few of the broom plants that were dead but the rest has shaped up very nicely!

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Before

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After

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Maintaining a Multi-Million Dollar Estate for sale

I was hired in May this year to maintain the gardens on a 10 acre wooded estate that is for sale.  This is where the great spotted owl lives that sometimes visits me while I work.  The property backs on to the ocean and has a private cove.  The gardens were all existing but needed to be trimmed,  pruned and cleaned up.  The lawn needed to be aerated, thatched and seeded.  I work there once per week to maintain everything. This includes cleaning out the garden beds, amending with soils and fertilizers, trimming a laurel hedge around the carriage house, trimming a cedar hedge along the driveway and cleaning the driveway each time I am there.  The garden owner is a great person to work for and has a fantastic sense of humor.  She is clear and concise on what she wants done and appreciates the work I do…and I am so very grateful to work for her.

The driveway runs through the entire property and opens up on the water with the main house and a carriage house overlooking the water.  So of course a fall clean up was required also.

 

 

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Growing tomatoes in December on Vancouver Island

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Yes folks, they are ripening outside in December.  For those of you who are not from Vancouver Island and many who are, it might come as a shock but this is growing right now.

I recently was hired by new clients to do a fall clean up in Saltair.  Stan and Doris are long time gardeners and lovely people and I am blessed to work for them.  On my first day at their house way back in September, I saw these incredibly healthy tomato plants they were growing in pots against their house.  Each visit, I have watched these plants and am amazed myself.  The plants are still flowering….almost 9 months after planting.  Yes the plant has slowed down with shortened days but it is still flowering and ripening.  Who would ever have thought this would be possible in December.  Stan said they are still eating ripe tomatoes a couple days a week and the plant was loaded with flowers when I was there on December 2nd.  Wow!!!

Happy Gardening…see you in the garden or the garden centre! 🙂

Cheers!

The cost of a landscape gardener

Recently, someone ask me about a garden clean up.  She has been on my website and loved the work I do.    I explained to her, I charge an hourly rate which includes one person and one truck.  I do not charge for taking garden waste away and do not charge for truck time for picking up materials or supplies.  I only charge for the hourly labour.   I provide the tools, lawn mowers, fuel and anything else required for the job at no extra fee or cost.

She said her concern was the length of time it would take.  She had been on my website and saw that some gardens seem to take months.  Then I realized that she thought the garden jobs on my site had taken months to complete and she thought I had been working full-time at them.    I said yes, some of them have taken months..but it is only part-time I work at them.  Depending on the garden owner and their budget, the weather and my time constraints, some of them I work at part-time.  If the garden owner has a large job and wants it done immediately, then I do try and accommodate that but usually a very large job is part-time and does take months.

I have regular clients that have me set days in their garden and I also take on what I call “one off” jobs where I am hired to plant or prune a hedge or re-design a small garden or do a one day clean up.

That being said I thought I should clarify for everyone on my site how my business operates.

Cheers!  See you in the garden or the garden centre! 🙂