Ways to Keep Your Garden Looking Great

Steve Whysall (Vancouver Sun gardening columnist) wrote a great article in Friday’s paper entitled Six Ways To Keep Your Garden Looking Great.

He interviewed Egan Davis, the chief instructor of the Horticultural Training Program at the University of B.C. Botanical Garden, but formerly at Van Dusen Botanical Garden, and one of my Master Gardener instructors. So I’m really happy to report that all of Egan’s “six ways” have been previously addressed here in the pages of Real Life Garden Solutions!

Here’s a quick overview:

1. Mulch. And only use organic amendments to the soil, and only fertilizers that are actually needed. See here for LOTS more info.

It's about 5' high, 10'across. That means probably about 10 cubic yards.

Mountain of mulch. It’s about 5′ high, 10’across. That means probably about 10 cubic yards.

2. Make sure your soil is carrying enough moisture. Adding compost will help with that.

3. Leave your fall garden “unkempt” for the critters. Read more here.

Crocosmia seeds. Beautiful to look at, but I wonder what bird has a big enough beak to crush these. They're probably 3-4 mm diameter.

Crocosmia seeds. Beautiful to look at, but I wonder what bird has a big enough beak to crush these. They’re probably 3-4 mm diameter.

4. I love this one: Don’t be afraid to make changes. It’s one of my design mantras. A garden should be something that delights in changing over the years.

5. Grow some from seed. I haven’t written this post yet, but the pictures are all ready to go…

6. Become a backyard ecologist. Yes, I’ve written lots on this.

I think this might be a bumble bee. It's pretty fat and fuzzy.

I think this might be a bumble bee. It’s pretty fat and fuzzy.

Is This YOUR Time to Plant a Tree?

Is it time to plant a tree?

Treekeepers is a program established recently (2013) to encourage Vancouverites and locals to plant trees. And their strategy is to almost give them away ($10 each!). Go to the website for details.

According to  Steve Whysall in his column (Mar 24, 2014), the city of Vancouver planted 10,000 trees (just in Vancouver) in 2013, and the goal is 150,000 by 2020. That’s a lot of trees!

So I did my part (even tho’ I live in Burnaby) and ordered three of Treekeepers’ discounted trees.

Acer circinatum–Vine Maple. It’s a native tree, which is good for my wildlife garden, with a nice small multi-stemmed growth habit.

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Bee on Vine Maple

Next up is Oxydendron arboreum, commonly called Sourwood. Also suitable for smaller city yards, this one max’s out at about 20-25′, and half as wide. Fragrant summer flowers, amazing fall colour, and berries that hang on into winter–what more can you ask for?

Oxydendrum-arboreum-Sourwood2-241x300

Fall colour Photo Credit

Oxydendrum-arboreum-Sourwood1-225x300

Summer fragrant flowers Photo Credit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, I’m going to try a Ficus carica (fig) again. This will be my third try. First was in a container on my townhouse roof. It never did well, and I never knew why. It was a ‘Brown Turkey’, and my Persian friend complimented the flavour of the one fig I harvested! Next try was a rooted cutting I got at Garden Club–which apparently wasn’t actually rooted, just a stick.

This time it’s ‘Desert King’ (I could have hoped for ‘Dessert King’…), possibly the best variety for our region. Looking at the UBC garden forum, it’s definitely popular and dependable here.

Desert King fig tree. Photo Credit

Desert King fig tree. Photo Credit

Somehow I just can't imagine getting this many figs.

Somehow I just can’t imagine getting this many figs. But I’m very keen to try Fig and Ginger Jam!

So is it your turn to plant a tree? To give you shade, maybe fruit, wildlife habitat, air purification, never mind beauty!

Leave me comments with your thoughts, and definitely follow the Treekeepers link if you live in Metro Vancouver. I’ll post a up-date when I receive my trees (April 12).