Susan Wheeler is an award winning Garden Designer in the White Rock - South Surrey area. She has her own garden design business and a website, www.greendesign-gardenstolivein.com which gives her potential clients an opportunity to see her “Before and After” portfolio. She has a garden Blog, www.greengardeningtips.net where she writes about what is happening in her own gardens, as the season progresses. As one of the area’s first qualified Garden Coaches, Susan will be pleased to come to your home to discuss your garden “wishes’. Her consultation fee is $150 +HST and she can be reached at 604-542-1960.”
This is the second article in the series called,
“One Designer’s Garden”.
My Woodland Garden is definitely my favourite spot, as it is the coolest, most peaceful garden to work or rest in, especially when the temperatures climb. I am going to show you a few of the many plants that make up this garden, starting with the spring plants, and then a few that fill the space in the summer, as well.
This garden was not really much of a garden at all to start with, as it was mostly just a bit of grass that got a few hours of the hottest sun at noon hour, and then was in shade the rest of the time. What to plant here? Sun lovers would not have enough light and the shade lovers definitely would ‘crisp’! Well, I could see that a pergola would be the perfect solution! I designed it to go up and down, in height, and then, narrower to wide in the middle, thus creating a sense of ‘garden rooms’. This pergola provided a lovely dappled shade for all my special shade-loving favourites. In late winter the Hellebores begin to unfold. Below, see two of my favourites, a white and a ‘black’.
Very soon after the Hellebores have opened up, I watch for the unfolding of my Trilliums. Of course, white is always a good choice in the shade. It becomes a little ‘light’, almost.
Other whites that bloom in this garden are the double flowers of the Rhododendron ‘Creamy Chiffon’, and very nearby, the somewhat rare plant, the Arisaema tryphyllum begins to emerge. As kids, we would call this ‘Jack-in-the-Pulpit’ The reflective leaves of Brunnera macrophylla ‘Looking Glass’, (Siberian bugloss) contrast very nicely with the shiny green of Asarum europaeum (European ginger) which is a shade-loving evergreen. It is slow-growing and makes a very beautiful focal point, at ground level, or in a large planter, as it is, here. I have added a few white tulips which bring your ‘eye’ right into this little group.
My colour scheme for most of this garden is lime greens, purple/magentas/pale pinks, and white. In the spots that get a bit more sun, I like to place some purple/blue pansies. My Gardening Tip, today, is to add large planters to your gardens, as it allows you to enjoy the flowers closer to eye level, as well as making them much easier to dead-head and groom. It also gives some height in the planting design.
Of course, the pergola is perfect for growing vines. I prefer Clematis. This beautiful double white one is a Raymond Evison Clematis, ‘Arctic Queen’. The purple one is Clematis ‘Daniel Deronda’. It has a semi-double flower, but later flowers are just singles. The purple/magenta one is much smaller, but very pretty, as well. Unfortunately, I have lost track of its name......
And, now, we will look at this garden in the summertime....
Looking at the entrance to the Woodland Garden in summer, we see a large Pee Gee Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata grandiflora ‘Limelight’). I have several of this same variety throughout all of my gardens, as they are such low-care, undemanding plants, but give a huge return for little effort – one of my favourites, for sure! As noted above, I often suggest putting large pots or planters right into the actual garden, as I think it provides an opportunity to get even more plants into a small space. Below, I have left one small pot unplanted, just for decoration.
And now, more fresh whites, starting with this stunning Hosta flower. Usually, I cut off the Hosta flowers because I think that they are just too messy, but this large white one I always leave.
In this very large planter, below, I have added some simple green and white combinations – white begonias, green/white Diffenbachia, a large fern and some smaller fillers, the Vinca ‘Wojo’s Gem’. And, then, near to that large planter, I have added this hand-made pot with a pure white Begonia and the mossy green Selaginella. The pot sits on a round tray, on a metal stand, and the Selaginella are planted in the tray.
My spring pansies last a very long time, well into summer, here, in my cool Woodland Garden. I love the colour lime with these purple/blues. In one stone pot is a small Campanula. It flowers blue and looks very nice with the lime-y Coleus. Another lime favourite is this very big Hosta in a pot, set on a stand, tucked back into the garden. Notice how the large leaves contrast so well with the very tiny leaves of a small Viburnum opulus, on the right.
Even after the Hellebores have finished blooming, I have continued to appreciate the bold leaves, lightened by a bright lime Hakonechloa macrophylla ‘Aureola’.
If your space permits, try adding some interesting hard-goods, such as this small terrarium, below. It is planted with greenery that has different textures.
I love the soft pink of the Begonias. I have grown Begonias forever..... and I never tire of them. They do need some care, however. They need to be staked, kept well-fertilized and sprayed with a fungicide, once the nights become cool.
I love the look of stone, especially in a shade garden. Below, you will see the landing and rock edging that I designed for the top of my staircase which leads out of the Woodland Garden, to the terraces. Stone, water and ferns – a perfect combination, I would say..... This huge white flower is from my Hydrangea quercifolia (Oak leaf Hydrangea) that is more than a double. It is really quite unique.
And, don’t forget to check out my garden website at
www.greendesign-gardenstolivein.com , if you would like to see a preview of my book, “The Best Trees, Shrubs and Perennials” for the gardens of the Pacific Northwest. Cheers, and Happy Gardening! Susan Wheeler
‘Close your eyes and see the beauty’- Author Unknown
If you would like to receive notice when Susan posts a new article, Sign Up Here!
Fine Landscaping Tips
It’s that time of the year when many of us will begin to realize that we need to invest a little effort into cleaning up the yard before summer arrives. Maybe it’s the warm weather that has been the inspiration or maybe you’ve noticed the neighbour next door raking, liming, adding moss killer, fertilizing, cutting the lawn and so on. Suddenly, you feel the need to “keep up” ( sigh ). For some people, their yard has been let go over a few seasons and now the task seems overwhelming. Not everyone is a natural gardener and not everyone likes to garden. For those people that can garden and like to garden, many simply don’t have the time. Gardens grow, even while we sleep, so they need attention on a regular basis……kind of like our kids really. Regardless of your particular circumstances, below are a few landscaping maintenance and yard clean-up tips to help you and your family maximize the enjoyment of your property while protecting your investment.
The Top 10 Landscaping Maintenance & Yard Clean-Up Tips
1. Having the right soil and proper drainage under your lawn and in your flower beds is one of the secrets to reducing long term landscaping maintenance. The right soil along with proper drainage promotes plant health but it also significantly reduces the amount of time required for activities such as weeding. If less time and effort is required then the process of weeding will become more enjoyable, which will increase the chance that it will happen more frequently, but with less effort and time spent each time.
2. Learn how to weed correctly. Pulling weeds by their tops will sometimes cause the weed to multiply and become more aggressive. Try to dig out the entire weed inclusive of the root structure without disturbing too much of the soil. Avoid landscaping cloth as this will only create a larger problem down the road when you begin to rake the flower bed and find that the corner of the rake catches an edge of the landscaping cloth causing it to lift up. Please be aware that once you lift up landscaping cloth, you will find it virtually impossible to return it to its’ original position.
3. Install bark mulch to help keep the weeds down in the first place. Using composted bark mulch ( dark brown / black in colour ) will look the best but it will have more weed content than hemlock / fir bark mulch which is more orange / brown in colour.
4. A fall yard clean-up is just as important as a spring yard clean up. Leaving leaves and needles on the lawn and in the flower beds over the fall, winter and spring can often promote disease and allow pests to become established on your property. This type of debris will often promote moss growth and it can also change the acidity of the soil causing it to be unfavourable for the grass, plants and trees that may be growing in these areas. Separately, putting effort into cleaning up your yard in the fall will reduce the chances of having problems in the spring and summer and your motivation to start a spring yard clean-up will be higher because you will have less work to do.
5. In addition to the spring and fall clean-ups, try to do a little landscaping maintenance each week so that you never find yourself in the position of having to spend a few days in a row to get things back into shape.
6. Try to clean up your yard in the spring before the temperature reaches a consistent 12 degrees ( C ). Do the same in the fall after all the leaves have fallen and before the snow arrives. Working in cooler temperatures is sometimes more favourable especially if you are negatively affected by heat ( and spiders J ).
7. In the spring, rake your lawn then edge the lawn with a half-moon edger to re-define the area that separates the lawn from the flower bed. Edging this way once a year, in addition to properly edging your lawn weekly with a trimmer, will result in eye catching lawn edging that will help to maximize the street appeal of your home. Don’t forget to take a soil test and from this test, determine the amount of lime, then moss killer ( rake out the dead moss ), then fertilizer to apply to your lawn.
8. Avoid over installing a collection of plants into your flower beds, especially perennials, if you are looking to achieve a low maintenance flower bed. Ideally, you should have an adequate amount of soil between each plant so that there is room to weed as the plant continues to grow and mature. This is the number one issue that I see with most landscape installations and it can really create a problem, especially 3 to 5 years down the road when everything has become overgrown. I’m generally a fan of annuals over perennials because they produce striking colour in the summer and overall, they require less maintenance, provided that you have an adequate irrigation system to keep them hydrated.
9. Find an experienced gardener that will teach you the basics by showing you the ropes. Choose them wisely and make sure their philosophy toward gardening is in harmony with your own. Be prepared to pay for their services as they will save you a lot of money in the long run.
10. Know when you’re in over your head by seeking help from a landscaping maintenance professional when life is too busy or when you are no longer physically able to care for your property. The longer you delay this decision, the more expensive it will be to get things back into shape. If left too long, there is a point when a total landscaping makeover is the most cost effective solution to return your landscaping back to normal.
For a mere $95 plus HST, Fabulous Flower Beds will come to your home for a 1 hour consultation to help you make the best decisions on these issues and many more. In addition, their informative landscaping consultations will leave you with a variety of creative landscape design ideas to help you achieve what you’ve always wanted for your yard.
Count on Fabulous Flower Beds to handle everything from concept to completion when it comes to landscape design, installation, renovation and outside home staging. For those clients wishing to participate in the process as a means to reduce cost or to simply learn more about landscaping, Fabulous Flower Beds offers a landscaping coach program where the homeowner is welcome to complete certain parts of the project on their own, depending on their available time and level of interest. The website contains various before and after portfolio pictures and landscaping makeover pictures along with a variety of testimonials from satisfied clients.
You can contact Fabulous Flower Beds by calling 604-614-3530 or by viewing their website at www.fabulousflowerbeds.com.
Fabulous Flower Beds is based in Ocean Park, South Surrey near White Rock, BC, Canada.
Art Knapp Plantland
Nursery and Garden Centre
4391 King George Bld.
More than your usual garden supply store. Art Knapp Plantland in South Surrey is an amazing place to shop, usually thought of as a nursery/garden centre but now it is so much more. Not only the best plants, but everything else you need – from landscaping equipment, pots, model trains, giftware, jewelry, imported snack foods, seasonal decor, sturdy antique furniture, hot tub products and more! Art Knapp Plantland also boasts an 18-hole miniature golf course, an adventure playground, and train ride.