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The Accent Is On Grow - Grobe's Blog
The world of plants, gardening, horticulture and outdoor living as we experience it here at Grobe's is often filled with many interesting, offbeat, factual and beautiful things that we would like to share with you! However, don't be surprised to find a few things unrelated to plants that piqued our interest posted here too.
There has been much ado and inquiries regarding the use of common milkweed in local landscapes to help to support the migration of Monarch butterflies. As it is still deemed a noxious weed in Ontario, there isn't much chance that this plant will be available as a propagated species in the immediate future, as it can be a plant that will cause neighbourhood dissension rather than cohesion.
And speaking of cohesion, a recent jaunt near the garden centre found this little patch of milkweed along Greenhouse Road serving another purpose for these soldier beetles (which are sometimes also known as 'bonking beetles' ) as a firm foundation for their procreation.
Maybe David Suzuki forgot to mention this particular positive property enhancement?
Roses offer some of the most beautiful and longest lasting flower shows in the garden, with repeated (recurring) blossoms continuing to appear on the plants until well into the late fall.
While there is a confusing array of names to describe them (Grandiflora, Teas, Shrubs, etc.) there really is only two types to remember: Roses that require winter protection, and those that don't.
Now, those that do are STILL popular despite the additional work they entail largely because they generally produce the largest and most fragrant of blossoms. Their blossoms are what you are likely to receive when you buy roses from the florist. While not quite a bud rose, the Abraham Darby Austin English shrub rose (shown above) has a scent that is just heavenly!
Those that 'don't' can be used in the garden just like any other flowering shrub. If you would think to use a Weigela, you most likely could also use a shrub rose, as their requirements are very similar. They like as much sun as possible, on well-drained locations, and like the 'Queen' of the garden that they are... they like the best of everything (rich soil, ample moisture, regular feeding).
Coral Drift Rose
Over the last number of years great strides have been made in plant breeding to try to alleviate the most common scourge of roses grown in humid conditions like Southern Ontario - black spot and mildew diseases. Whether it is from Proven Winners, Drift, Knockout, Flower Carpet, Vigorosa or Easy Elegance.. all offer resistance unlike anything seen previously. Additionally, there is a tremendous variety of sizes, colours and combinations that can be made with them too.
Sweet Fragrance Easy Elegance Rose
Roses like those shown here are mostly grown on their own root. This means that they are exceptionally winter hardy and do not require any unusual care to maintain them looking great from year to year.
High Voltage Easy Elegance Rose
But what about insects? Yes.. it's true that these beauties can attract their admirers from the insect world too. Aphids, caterpillars, and even Japanese Beetle (although not that common yet in the K-W area) have been known to munch on leaves or suck on the buds. For most of these issues there exist control measures (in various degrees of strength of purpose) that can be used if necessary. If this isn't your nature, then roses in the long run might not be your cup of tea (although it should be noted that many of these pests affect other garden plants outside of roses too).
No matter what, a walk through the heady blossoms shown is a great way to spend a sunny summer outing.
With the lovely weather it's been hard to avoid all of the lovely things coming into bloom. These pictures were taken at random from just our perennial section, and how could you not feel the beauty of spring with these flowers to enliven it?
Perennials may not be the 'colour solution' for every problem - in fact there are those who think that they might be less work than annual flowers like petunias or other annual flowers. This is not necessarily so. While it's true that they do come back every year, as perennials mature they often require deadheading, staking, dividing and perhaps even thinning in order for them to retain their vigour and show. Additionally, it's important to remember that perennials often have their 'debutante' time (where they look stunning for a period) as their non-showy times might not be so nice to enjoy. With this in mind it's often a good idea to incorporate annuals, shrubs with interesting foliage or colour, and even the odd dwarf evergreen so that they can 'carry the load' between the perennials you love.
Clematis are lovely clinging vines that product loads of beautiful flowers in the summer as well as into the fall.
Here are just a few points to know about them:
1) They like to have their 'faces in the sun and their feet in the shade'. A sunny location works best, but mulching or placing a perennial or other plant to shade their base is a good idea.
2) They generally prefer an alkaline soil - so a little bit of lime or Parkwood 'Make It Pink' is a good soil amendment.
Additionally, they need something to wrap themselves around to hoist themselves up. A trellis or arbour is best for the purpose.
3) There are several 'classes' of clematis that determine the type of growing they do and how they are pruned. This can be very confusing for beginners, so we ensure that every plant has the pruning instructions for it on the plant label.
Alameda Homestead Nursery of Australia has excelllent pictures and descriptions of what to do when pruning your clematis - and the link to see that is here.
4) Clematis don't really like areas where the soil doesn't percolate away from the root system quickly. Be cautious when planting in a raised bed in heavy soil conditions not to water too heavily, as they can rot if they stay wet too long.
Clematis are wonderful flowering plants with a range of colour and blossom choices to pick from - and will help to give you lots of colour in your garden.
Spring has sprung.. and the Victoria Day Long Weekend is right around the corner.
Today is a pretty cool morning, and it gives one pause as to whether to plant your tender annuals, vegetable plants, and the like. It's a bit early for many things like peppers, tomatoes, basil, impatiens and such... but there are still folks who 'chance it' because they of the fact that it's a holiday, rather than prudent, for planting these things. The official last frost free day is usually May 24th, and we are still a goodly distance away from that yet still.
There are lots of beautiful plants blooming right now, and when folks wonder how everyone here can work such long hours .. well - there are lots of beautiful perks here to see to help keep us motivated. Of course, the gallons of coffee we consume also helps.
The picture at top is of Daybreak Magnolia - and the fragrance is quite something too. This one last tree is just stunning...
This dwarf growing (18" tall) Pink Elf hydrangea usually blooms later in the summer, but this crop was looking so good we had to show it off.
This is a somewhat unusual plant called Double Bridal Wreath Spirea. In fact it was the 'true' bridal wreath spirea originally (as it is easy to see that the flowers here would make for a stunning bouquet for a pioneer bride) but this name was later 'stolen' by Spirea Van Houttei' (which is now what is commonly known as Bridalwreath Spirea. Each blossom on this 'Double' variety is almost like a very large Babys Breath blossom.
These are the blossoms on Snow Day Surprise Pearl Bush. Pearl bushes are not that new (they get their name from the shape and colour of the blossoms before they open, which you can see in the picture) but this one from the Proven Winners breeders is noted for a more compact habit, larger blooms, and less 'rangy' growth. This plant blooms in early spring.
The latest trend in pansies is 'frilly', and these scented beauties also come in 'Grobe Orange'.
Finally, the last of our Japanese maple varieties have arrived, including the stunning gold leaves on this Full Moon Japanese Maple. This tree grows painfully slowly, and to see it in such a display is truly amazing.
Have you ever walked by something and had a remembrance of things of your youth?
This display of Thrills gum certainly did... we all remember the 'unique' taste and the colour it turned our teeth.
Talk about honesty in advertising... it says right on the package - 'It still tastes like soap'.
Or how about this one? What a treat it was to get this when we were young.. and of course the pink hands, teeth etc.
There was even Chiclet gum in the original size we remember.
All of this was seen at our friends the Doede's store - Ayres Baking and Nut Supplies - on a recent stop. We are grateful to them for being one of our Keytag Partners and for helping our Preferred Gardener customers enjoy turning the fruits of their labours into something special... and of course for this litte sidetrip down memory lane.
The long and bitterly cold winter has morphed into a colder and wetter spring, and of course everyone is anxious to get out to enjoy the yard.
It's important to note, however, that some things really should not be done just yet (even if you might have done it at the same time every other year).
Once the ground is walkable/workable here are some things that can be tackled:
1) Rake the lawn and feed the lawn - for with rain and food your lawn has a chance to 'grow out' any winter injury.
2) Plant any veggies that don't mind cool soil conditions like lettuce, peas, broccoli, kale, cabbages and the like.
3) Amend any areas you are planting with organic matter (like compost, peat, or coir) so that you are ready to plant.
4) If you had a lawn grub issue, it is possible to apply nematodes once the soil temperature is just a bit warmer. While not as effective as a fall application, it might be possible to reduce grub populations.
5) Feed your existing trees, shrubs and other plants - because they might be stressed/damaged too and could use the help.
6) You can plant almost any outdoor plant that is hardy. Late frosts and cold snaps might injure blossoms or fresh leaves, but it is rare that they would kill the plant outright. Ask here and we can assist with that readily.
7) You have probably the longest period to apply a dormant spray to plants requiring it that has been in recent memory. Once the rain stops, don't put it off!
Here are a few things that you might want to wait upon:
1) Hold off on planting many tender vegetable plants like tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers and peppers unti the soil temperature is much warmer even if there is no danger of frost! These plants don't like sitting in cold wet ground, and will not survive and thrive.
2) Many tender annuals will not like cool soil conditions either. When in doubt... wait (or ask for help).
3) While mulching is a very good thing, be careful as to how you apply it as if the mulch is right up to the bottom of the plant, it is possible that the crown/base of the plant will never fully 'dry out' and can lead to a situation of rot.
Sometimes we're asked why we grow so many tomato varieties. The answer is simple - I wanted an assortment in my own garden, and to get it I had to grow at least a flat of plants. Turns out the plants not allocated for my garden sold within minutes - so it sort of snowballed from there.
Like many of you I love the thought of what that unusual variety is going to taste like, and we go trial many tomatoes every year to see if they are 'better' than what we have to offer to add them to our mix.
But many times the discussion of what is 'better' seems to revolve around whether it is 'organic', 'hybrid', or not - and whether 'breeding' a seed might somehow entail 'genetically modifying' it. The negative association with this term, I believe, has more to do with the 'Frankenstein' scenario where the gene from a totally unrelated living thing is inserted into the gene profile of a plant. As this was not as nature had intended, the ramifications for such manipulations are not well understood and there are natural misgivings when meddling with the natural order of things.
As we individually are 'hybrids' of our parents (we often have traits from both parents), so too does this happen in the plant world. Hybridization for most seed breeders has more to do with having control of both parents so that the offspring 'hybrid' seed has a consistent set of traits from the parents - usually for the better.
This article from the Gardening Jones Blog seeks to offer a couple of reasons why you might re-think putting all your 'seeding' eggs into the heirloom basket - and it does it in a very concise manner.
Heirloom or hybrid... I think we all just want it to really taste good on that slice of toast.. don't we?
To 'espalier' (pronounced 'es pal yay') a tree refers to the practice of controlling woody plant growth for the production of fruit through pruning and tying branches to a frame or a wired support. It is often done in a formal style, and it is meant to be such that the tree would sit flat against a structure such as a wall, fence, or trellis.
In addition to their aesthetic appeal, they are also useful for gardens in which space is limited, or where they can be planted adjacent to a wall that can reflect more sunlight and retain heat overnight to allow the season to be extended and ultimately so that fruit has more time to mature. Having said that, there is a fair bit of pruning work involved in maintaining the form.
Recently we had been asked to source some of these rare and hard to find trees, and we thought you might like to see one. This large one that is being held by our lovely Linda Schlueter is of Lodi Apple, but smaller ones that are 'multi-grafts' (with more than one type of apple on one tree) are also available this year too. The best part of these trees is that the hardest part of espalier (getting the initial training done) has already been done.
Magnolias are lovely spring flowering trees that really are one of the harbingers of spring. The range of flower colour and form is quite extensive, ranging from clear white, to pink, to rose/purple and even yellow. These blossoms are found at the tips of the branches, and their striking show is even more apparent as the leaves will not appear until after the blooming period is just about done. This is a nice Royal Star Magnolia with double strap like petals.
Royal Star Magnolia
Breeders have been working hard to produce varieties that are more compact than the traditional and still very popular Saucer Magnolia. Marilyn Magnolia (at the top of this posting) is one such variety.
One little known fact about magnolias is that they have a tuberous root system that isn't very amenable to sitting in poorly drained soil conditions for long periods of time. Like a wet potato in the cold cellar, the result is a rotten root system that is unable to bush the tree into leaf or contribute much vigour. Magnolias also like a soil that is a wee bit acidic, but that is easily remedied with an amendment if the leaves tend to be more to the 'yellow' rather than medium green that they usually are.
Leonard Messel Magnolia
Magnolias are best site in locations where they can receive the maximum amount of sunshine. Their large blossoms are formed in the fall, so a somewhat protected location that without excessive cold northwest wind exposure would help to ensure that the blossoms survive the winter.