And the Winner is…

 White Rock used to participate in the national Communities in Bloom program, but as far as I can see they haven’t done so for a number of years. It’s a shame because there are so many lovely gardens in our pretty little City by the Sea.

The long growing season, the lovely sunshine, the (normally) ample moisture all contribute to copious blooms and rich green foliage. Not everybody knows how to harness and choreograph all those elements, it’s a true art and takes lots of time, energy and patience. 

If I was awarding the prize for the best condo garden display in White Rock, hands down it would go to this building on Merklin. Bold color, changes of height, and the use of texture all convene to make one of the finest displays in town. With both staple perennials and the addition of carefully placed annuals this wall of blooms has been flowering incessantly for the past two months. I love to walk by and see what’s new every week.

   

  

 Whomever is responsible should be proud of what s/he has accomplished. You get five stars from me.

   
   
   
 

Thriller, Fillers and Spillers: The Formula for a Fabulous Planter

 
The good, the bad and the ugly; that’s what comes to mind as I wander the streets of White Rock looking at planters. Another staple of condo buildings, planters are often used to flank the entranceway or add drama to the landscape. 
Some buildings have take time to either plan their containers well or they’ve hired a person with some know how. Other condos have taken the “Marge always does it” approach. Poor Marge, someone should speak to her about the marigolds.

I have no desire to “planter shame” any buildings in White Rock, so I’m just going to stick to posting some of the fabulous ones I’ve seen within a few blocks of my place. 
Containers should be made up of “thrillers” (plants that stand high and perhaps have a strong color or presence), “fillers” (the soil level plants that anchor the display) and “spillers” (the leggy ones that hang over the side). Sometimes not all three are necessary as you’ll see from these photos I took, but you’ll notice that the most interesting planters are those that have all these elements. Here are some good examples:
   
  

Personally I also like some stark contrast in color like in this one filled with purple and lime:  

This one has a tall central plant but looks a bit unfinished:  

And here’s an example of large planter with a tree as its main element, and it’s finished nicely with some anchoring foliage beneath:   
Ivy is great for a spiller:  

Love this ornamental grass:

  

Pretty colors: 
  There are lots of planter “recipes” on the Internet and ones for your specific zone can be found. Personally I enjoy wandering through the garden center and imagining how things will look together in a group. It’s a lot like painting with plants.

Gardening on a Smaller Scale

White rock balcony

White rock balcony

There is no way that you can compare gardening in a full size zone 3 yard and gardening on a balcony in zone 8. In Edmonton I had a 60 x 120 foot lot and I took advantage of most of the property for my hobby. By the time I sold my house I had seven composters, several raised beds for vegetables and I’d converted half the front lawn to garden. Much to my (late) mother’s chagrin I even grew corn in my front yard.
I had gogi berries, raspberries and haskap (honey berries). I ate Carmine Jewel cherries from my tree in the backyard while waiting for dozens of tomato plants to produce their yearly bounty of juicy plum tomatoes for canning. I’ve grown tomatillos for salsa verde, I’ve had a spaghetti squash plant produce so many squash that I had to take them to the food bank, and I’ve eaten carefully stored carrots and potatoes well in to January.

Those days are over but not forgotten.

A balcony can support all sorts of plants, including fruit and veggies. Breeding has produced a bounty of fauna that is satisfied with life in a container, although container living means much more attention to their care.

Container plants need a good quality soil that retains moisture. They need regular watering and fertilizing – everything they need will have to be provided at regular intervals. Two hot days in a row with a moderate wind and balcony plants can be baked in situ.

My balcony is east-facing so it gets a strong morning sun which abates at around 11 am and by 4 pm it becomes a cool place to sit and enjoy the sound of birds and a gentle breeze. So far all of my herbs and flowers are doing spectacularly and I’ve potted two tomatoes, a Hungarian pepper and a cucumber. I’ve got two different climbers – a black-eyed susan vine and a specially bred clematis which is going like crazy (I’ll blog about that another day).

So although I can’t garden on the same scale as I have in the past, I can still enjoy my hobby. And hopefully I can enjoy some fresh tomatoes in a couple of months.

The Roses of White Rock

So…I’ve not posted anything for a long time and it’s time to fess up. I’m not in Edmonton anymore, I’ve moved to White Rock, BC. 

It’s been a busy spring for gardeninggrrl, having sold my house packed up and moved all over the past three months. I stayed in four different homes while waiting to take occupancy of my condo on the west coast. I’m finally (more or less) settled and ready to post to the blog again. My apologies for the absence.

Now that I’m in zone 8 my posts will undoubtedly take a different course. I’ve never lived anywhere but zone 2/3 so this is an entirely new experience for me. 

I thought I’d start by sharing photos of some of the lovely roses I’ve seen while walking the streets of White Rock. Because roses grow much more readily here than they do on the prairies there are many more varieties on display. I don’t know much about roses, having only been exposed to the most hardy of specimens (thinking of John Cabot or the Morden series for example).

So for my first post of 2015, my first post from BC, here are some photos I took this morning.

   
                     

Fall Clean-up: Mulch and Protect

Fall is arguably Edmonton’s most beautiful season. No mosquitoes, lovely warm afternoons and calm evenings with spectacular sunsets. The foliage changes to shades of red, yellow and orange, and the air is crisp and fresh.

It’s also the time of year when we have to put down our spades and pick up our rakes, cleaning up the garden beds and protecting them for the upcoming cold winter months.

It can get as cold as -40C in Edmonton during the most frigid nights of winter, so having a good protective mulch over the hibernating plants is a must.

I take a simple approach, first slaying the perennial foliage with my clippers, then pulling all the annuals that won’t survive the winter. Once I’ve done that, I collect the leaves and mess on the lawn and run it down with a mower. I’ll do the same with the leaves from my trees as soon as they’ve come down, and sometimes I’ll borrow from neighbors if I feel I need even more browns.

The resulting mulch is returned to the garden to cover the plants with a 10-12″ airy quilt which will provide that extra layer of warmth they’ll need to get through the coming months.

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Perfect Roma Tomatoes. Every Time.

I have to give a shout out to T&T Seeds of Winnipeg for their amazing Roma tomato called Momma Mia. It’s been a staple in my garden for years, producing beautiful paste tomatoes that I love to make into sauce for those bland winter months. The quantity of fruit can’t be beaten, and I’ve never had any issues with the health and virility of the plants. Highly recommended.

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