Author Archives: Oakridge Lifestyle

How to Plant a Container Garden

How to Plant a Container Garden

By Erna

Container gardens have taken a steady climb into popularity recently. While they had their humble beginnings in 1950’s suburbia, the trends of that time look particularly uninspired compared to some of the wild creativity these days. Traditional containers were about stuffing as many of the same dozen popular plants into a pot as possible to make a single-tone assault of colour. Whether you’re looking at magazines, online, or even just have container-envy peeking over at your neighbours’ yards, it’s clear that today’s containers have kicked it up a notch.

So you want to plant your own containers? It can be pretty intimidating with all the polished designs and exotic plants in containers these days. Stop being intimidated – you can make your own container gardens and they are going to be absolutely awesome.

Find a Method – Getting Started

We love container gardens because they are so flexible. You can find so many fun varieties to fall in love with at your local garden centres these days. With those, you can make a creation based on whatever your heart sets itself on in the store. 

Containers are also really freeing – there aren’t a lot of rules, so there aren’t many wrong choices! We have some suggestions to help you create the best container you can with plants that look and grow together well. In the end, though, it really comes down to what you want. And at the end of the season, when your annuals are finished growing, you get to reset back to the beginning in the spring to make something new. Containers aren’t about commitment, so it’s easier to take the first step in making something creative that you love.

Of course, when you put together your container, you’ll want to set yourself up for success by pairing plants that have similar needs together. They’ll all be sharing one tiny root system so matching needs will give you healthier and more vibrant plants. Past that, the garden centre is your oyster! Explore and fall in love with new plants to bring home. Depending on how free-spirited and artistic you feel, there are a few approaches (ranging from “boldly artistic” to “structured and safe”) to exploring the world of plants out there. Here are a couple ways you can piece your container together. Have fun, get creative, and get ready to fall in love with plants and colours while you’re shopping:

Easy Beginnings – The Recipe Method

If you’re still a bit intimidated about starting, or are a bit of a perfectionist that doesn’t want to leave anything to chance, or want a big and showy container without the fuss, go ahead and grab a container recipe. Look anywhere online for something that catches your eye, but we’ve found lots of ones we like on ProvenWinners.com and Better Homes and Gardens.  These sites (and many others) give you a planogram to lay out your planting and a glossy picture to show you your impressive container before you even start.

If this sounds a little too good to be true, it’s because it is. Container recipes are still a great starting point and can definitely give great results. Keep in mind while browsing, however, that most online gardening material caters to the Eastern and Southern States, where more of their customers are. The plants suggested in many recipes might be best suited for those more temperate climates and may struggle this far north. It doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, but you’ll want to double-check their ingredients to make sure they’ll last outside up here.

Another thing to keep in mind is that many of these recipes are built in order to sell their own plants, and some popular or spectacular recipes might include new or rarer plants to encourage people to buy. You’ll often struggle to find one or two items in a recipe. This isn’t the end of the world, but if you have your heart set on a look, we recommend trying to find something that looks and grows similar instead of embarking on a wild goose chase.

For the Moderates – Napkin Planning

Using a recipe gives predictable and planned results, but can be a little less fun for the creatively inclined. If you don’t want to be chained to a plan, but also aren’t ready to walk into the garden centre cold turkey, try sketching out your ideas first! Have a look at where you want your container, and think about what you’ve liked (and disliked!) in other containers you’ve seen. Build from there to create a container you love.

For the Ambitious – Go Commando

We always encourage this one! You’ll need all your creative forces to walk into the garden centre and let your heart guide you. A container and gardening are all about expressing yourself, so the most beautiful container for your home will be filled with plants that speak to you. Your best container will be centred around plants that make you smile, and that beauty is sure to show when you put them together.

To get started, find something that you love. It’ll probably call to you like a little puppy at the pound, waiting to be taken home. Once you ’ve found “The One,” you can build the rest of your container around it. It doesn’t even need to be the biggest or showiest part of your container, but you’ll know you love it when you see it.

Take this plant with you, and start to pair others with it that you think blend and match well. You might not think that you’re very artistic, but many people are surprised at what they find when they’re shopping! If it looks good to you, it’ll probably look great to others, too (and if it doesn’t, you still love it and that’s the important part). Pair together plants that will play well with each other and look good together to create a container until you have something the same size as your pot’s diameter. You’ll only need to find about 3-5 different plants to make a totally original container.

When it comes down to it, planting a “successful” container garden is much more about finding plants that make you happy than matching what you see in other people’s yards or online. Your container garden is a part of your home and outdoor space and is a fun way to experiment and enjoy gardening for our short summer season. No matter what method you use to create your container garden, we hope to help you put together something that makes you smile every day of the summer!

Our Top 3 New Edibles

Our Top 3 New Edibles

By Erna

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

– Michael Pollan

One of the greatest joys of the gardening season is enjoying your hard work! Nothing quite beats the taste of garden-fresh veggies in the summer. Eating well is so much easier when it’s this tasty and nutritious. Whether they make it all the way to your table, or you just can’t resist snacking as you pick, we have some exciting new edibles for your garden this year.

Dragon Roll Pepper

These peppers are an absolute delight. We love them because they have a smoky and sweet flavour with just enough kick. A hybrid of the popular Shishito Pepper, younger Dragon Roll peppers pack a little punch but will grow in spice with time. At maturity you’ll have a pepper that is only about 1/10 as spicy as jalapenos – which is the perfect flavour for summer snacking. Try them roasted, sprinkled with salt or sesame seeds for a delicious treat. They are the perfect pairing with an ice cold beverage on your deck or patio this summer.

To grow these fun peppers at home, make sure that you choose a spot in your garden with as much sunshine and heat as possible. They’ll prefer moist and warm soil to grow, so mulching will be a big help in getting the tastiest peppers. Fertilize these plants with an all-purpose vegetable mix to give them a boost, but keep in mind that plants grown in drier and less fertilized conditions will give you much more spice – if you like to kick it up a notch. 

Try to catch your peppers while they are still a little immature and green. Always cut (rather than pulling or tearing) when you pick them, leaving part of the stem on the pepper. Your Dragon Roll Peppers will develop a little more after you pick them, turning an enticing shade of red that is full of flavour. Watch your peppers transform after they are picked and enjoy them in as many ways as you can imagine.

Steak Sandwich Tomato

Tomatoes are the garden veggie that always tastes better fresh. With tomatoes straight from your garden you can almost taste the sunshine in them! Steak Sandwich Tomatoes are no exception. These tomatoes are the perfect balance of everything. They’ve got the classic, sweet tomato flavour in a perfect, bright red package. They will stay firm when ripe, making them easy to slice onto sandwiches and burgers, but you won’t need to worry about cracking with moisture changes.

When you’re growing your own Steak Sandwich Tomatoes, find a spot for them that has good drainage and lots of sun. While they like well-draining soil, they will certainly be very thirsty plants, so keep them well-watered and use mulch to help keep that moisture at the roots where it is needed. While your tomatoes won’t be prone to cracking like some other varieties, they are vulnerable to root damage, which can cause rot. Keeping your plants healthy will help to avoid disappointment when it comes time to pick and eat your harvest! For smaller but plentiful harvests, you can plant without a stake and they will sprawl across your garden. For a larger tomato with a cleaner appearance, plant a stake to support the vines as they grow.

Pick your tomatoes when they are at their ripest! They are perfect for picking just when they look the most tempting – fully red and firm to a light squeeze. Harvesting will let more tomatoes grow, too! We probably don’t have to tell you to, but enjoy your tomatoes as quickly after picking as you can for the best flavour – but we bet you’ll be too excited to eat them for them to last very long.

Patio Snacker Cucumbers

The perfect pairing with the juicy taste of garden tomatoes, we also love light and crispy cucumbers from our gardens. The Patio Snacker really lives up to its name with the sweetest little cukes that are the perfect size for snacking. These little veggies are 3-bite size and a great choice for a patio planter, where you can keep them within arm’s reach all summer. If you can resist temptation long enough to get them from your garden to the kitchen, they are also a hit in crispy cucumber salads.

Cucumbers are a heat-loving vegetable and will soak up as much sun as you can give them. They like moist soil but hate wet feet, so make sure they are planted in soil with good drainage. Frequent but shallow watering will keep them happy, and a trellis or hanging basket will give you the best fruit. Despite their light flavour, these veggies are heavy feeders and will need plenty of all-purpose fertilizer as they grow.

Be sure to harvest these sweet little cukes often, before they get too big. If your cucumbers over-ripen on the vine, your plant might prematurely stop producing fruits. Also, your cucumbers taste their best when you pick them young. But remember, they won’t store very well because of their high water content. Don’t worry though, it’s amazing how fast they disappear into hungry mouths once they’re picked.

Summer is full of fresh, green growth and sunshine, and we are lucky to get to bring some of that freshness from our gardens right to our tables! Our weather is fantastic for growing some really great and tasty summer vegetables and this year’s newest edibles are no exception. These selections offer delicious flavours and remixes of old-fashioned classics, making your dinner table the community favourite this year. Happy harvesting!

The Colours of Spring

The Colours of Spring

By Erna

The Cast:

According to Shakespeare, all the world’s a stage and we all play our unique parts. The same idea holds true in our own backyards, hundreds of years later. Our gardens are an eager, but empty, stage in the spring and every colour has its own personality and role to play. The colours of our garden are dynamic and lively. They’re fascinating as solo acts or playing with each other. We, as gardeners, can take advantage of their harmony and contrast to paint what we want. Our gardens can be our art – however perfect or imperfect we want to make them.

Many of us shy away from colour. With our modern world so full of off-whites, greys, and beige, it’s normal to be a little intimidated by the full saturation of our gardens. Our own backyards are a great place for a refresher on colour. Here’s how to use your own garden to celebrate vibrancy at home:

Yellow: Pure Joy

Yellow is light and bubbly, emulating joy that can’t keep a secret. It’s no wonder it is a favourite colour for so many gardeners – not to mention famous artists, like Van Gogh! Yellow adds beauty to your garden and will bring with it a sense of satisfaction and happiness. As a symmetrical beauty, like the sunflower or the happy-go-lucky glow of a lantana, yellow is warm and exciting for your garden.

When we use yellow in the garden, we throw subtlety out the window. There’s no hiding its beautiful hues, and we can’t help wanting to bring home the brightest shade we can find. We love pairing yellow with other warm plants in a container to create a harmonious image. When you’re looking at your garden as a whole, though, plan to use yellow sparingly. The places you choose to add it will add a pop of celebratory colour! Rationing your yellow will make your spotlights of joy more special without being overbearing.

Blue: Mystery

Picture an oceanic expanse, with water and sky as far as the horizon stretches. This moody scene is complete with thousands of shades and layers of blue: full of life, complexity, and mystery. In your garden, blue can be just as varied. It can be precocious and carefree, or it can draw your eye into intoxicating depths of shadows and muted tones. While the light blues of your garden are refreshing and invigorating, the darker hues take on a thick richness that your eye lingers on to take in.

We don’t think a garden is quite complete without a little bit of blue. It would hardly be fair to have a celebration of colours in your yard without paying some tribute to the sky above. Blue is a cool colour, but its range is very diverse. Whether you prefer intense deep hues, light and icy tones, or any shades in between, blue is a great choice for the part of your yard that you want to relax in. Despite its many shades, it always seems to inspire relaxation and contemplation, perfect for a little quiet at the end of a long day. Our warmer-coloured plants might call us to play and explore, but blues are what invite us to close our eyes and enjoy a moment in our own gardens.

Red: Intensity, Passion, and Danger

If yellow is unfiltered joy, red is much more focused. It is a colour that can be full of boldness and passion, or even tension and alertness. It’s a very flexible colour that can take on many different meanings, but each meaning seems to be full and intense. Red wakes up your senses and invites them to come play and adventure in your garden. You can practically feel the power when looking into a bright, red flower as it seems to be moving towards you!

We love red, but be careful with it in your garden. It’s so bold and fierce that it could easily overwhelm the rest of your colours! It’s an excellent tool to make a container really stand out. Mixing it with other warm colours, like oranges and yellow, will make it practically glow as a centrepiece!

The beauty of gardening is that you have the opportunity to explore any number of your favourite shades and plants in your garden at home. These are all intense and wonderful colours that have inspired gardeners (and artists!) before you, and they are all ready for you to bring home and play with this year.

Our Top New Annuals 2018

Our Top New Annuals 2018

By Erna

This year is full of innovation and excitement, and the gardening world is no exception. In 2018, we are ushering in some beautiful new annuals to start the gardening season off right. Here are some of our top choices:

“Bumblebee Pink” Calibrachoa:

As busy and buzzing as a bee, the “Bumblebee Pink” Calibrachoa is a myriad of colour and excitement. With a star of yellow, bright as a bumblebee, and a gradient of pinks, this flower is a work of art.

Calibrachoas love the sun, and may stunt if planted in colder ground soil. A container or hanging basket will be best for this annual to keep their roots warm. Plant it with other sun-loving annuals of similar colours, like pinks and yellows. Tall grasses will add texture and purple will add contrast. Whatever you choose to plant it with make sure it’s hardy. “Bumblebees” are aggressive and will do anything to trail their blooms.

Stronger than average flowers, “Bumblebee Pinks” can stand up to wind better than most! Keep them strong with regular use of an all-purpose fertilizer with a high last number. With these guidelines, these trendy blooms will make a great addition to your 2018 garden

“Wild Romance” Impatiens

As much as we have been impatient waiting for spring, Impatiens are probably more eager than any of us. These biting-at-the-bit plants are likely dying to show off their newest variety. The “Wild Romance” is an amazing new impatiens with full, rose-like double blooms. The delicate annuals come in 2 colours – blush pink and white – both of which we’ll carry at the Garden Centre this season.

An individual Impatiens will only grow as tall as 6”. However, the more plants you have closer together, the taller they will grow – up to 5x larger. For a larger, fuller container, plant them only a couple of inches apart. For planting in the bed, plant your impatiens anywhere from 8-12’’, for a more spread out appearance.

Like petunias, delicate impatiens will need shelter from the wind. Plant with hardier companions that will offer protection from any threatening gusts, and choose your locations carefully. To help keep them strong, add compost or a slow-release-fertilizer to your soil. Keep the soil moist, and you’ll have gorgeous double-blooms all season.

“Solar Tower” Ipomoea:

These striking vines, with a self-climbing nature and heart-shaped leaves are a marvelous addition to any garden in 2018. The “Solar Tower” Ipomea is a deep, moody variety with contrasting colours of Lime and Black. The bright Lime colour is so bright it almost appears to glow, where the drama of the black is as dark as an oil slick. Together or separate, these Ipomeas are a perfect addition to any fashionable garden.

Unlike our other top annuals this year, that would love a container, this annual will want space to grow. Due to their climbing nature, the “Solar Tower” Ipomea will want to be near something they can grab onto as they make their journey upward.

Adding a trellis to your garden bed or planting near a wall is a great way to give them what they need in a stylish way.As the name implies, the “Solar Tower” will need lots of sun so planting where they will have a nice, full exposure is key. Water moderately and fertilize monthly to have a beautiful vine that you’ll love for the whole season.

From containers, to beds, to trellises there is a fashion-forward annual for all your gardening needs this year. Offering colours and excitement like never before, come into the Garden Centre today and take a look at some new favourites to take home this year.

Fashion Update 2018

Fashion Update 2018

By Megan

Every year comes with new fashion trends, and with 2018 in full swing, this year’s trends are confidently making an appearance. Feminine yet practical, this year is all about a beautiful, earthy style. Here’s what to look for this season, from colours to style.

Pastels:

This year’s top colour trend is both pretty and perfect for spring: pastels. Defined as a soft and delicate shade of a colour, pastels are bright and bold, without being too loud. The paleness in colouring makes them an excellent choice for mixing and matching. Pair them with other pastel shades, or experiment with darker tones, too.

Pastels pair seamlessly with a gorgeous floral pattern – like our stunning Soya Concept Rose Printed Blouse ($64.99) – and will look amazing with a light-coloured jean – like these beautiful, grey Jag Girlfriend Jeans ($99.99). Keeping it cheerful, colourful, and just a little feminine, pastels make for the perfect springtime start to the year.

Patterns:

While the colour palette of pastels offers subtle style looks, this year’s fashion gets bold with patterns. From polka dots to stripes, gingham to checkers, the selection is endless and finding one that speaks to you is easier than ever!

For a soft and feminine touch, choose a floral pattern, like our rose blouse featured above. For a bolder, statement-making outfit, choose a more contrasting pattern and pair it with a brightly coloured accessory. A perfect example is this black and white Papillon Gingham Ruffle Dress ($74.99) with our gorgeous, fuschia Joy Accessories Nicole Crossbody bag ($44.99). Finish off your outfit with the perfect spring jacket – like our Tribal Grey Denim Jacket ($99.99) – and you’re set to take on 2018 in style.

Mixing Patterns:

As anyone knows, patterns themselves are not a new trend, but 2018 adds a twist on patterns by mixing them. Fashion has traditionally limited outfits to a single pattern. This year, however, is all about breaking those rules. This season we get to have fun making a statement by mixing what we have always been told “didn’t match”.

Mixing patterns may seem difficult, but you can be the master of this loud, bold trend with these simple tips and tricks:

  • Pick a Statement Pattern – this will be most heavily featured pattern and will draw the eye.
  • Keep Colours Alike – by using similar colours, or varying shades of the same colour, you will create a conversation between the patterns.
  • Have a Palette Cleanser – have a neutral piece that will balance out the patterns, like jeans.
  • Texturize – Textures add as much variety as a print, in a more subtle way, that is just as fun.

Feminine Utilitarian :

Along with colours and statement-makers, with each new year comes a new style inspiration. This year’s inspiration is perfect for the gardeners and the florists. Feminine Utilitarian is all about a working-class lady who is ready for a date night, but isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty.

Comfort and practicality paired with pretty, delicate features makes this a look that both tomboys and women will love. Ruffles and lace contrast with denims and khakis, while still complimenting them and effortlessly blending relaxation with beauty.

Creating this stylish and functional look is as simple as mixing and matching. Find your favourite, feminine top – we love this delicate, ivory Dex Crochet Halter ($49.99) – and pair it with the perfect, practical pants – like these oh-so-comfortable, charcoal Dex Cargo Pants ($59.99). Add a pretty, patterned accessory – like a Pretty Persuasions Zippered Clutch Purse ($49.99) – and you have the perfect, casual look for 2018.

With ruffles and florals, jeans and joggers, this year’s style trends are sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Stop by our boutique today to see more of these styles, and start spring off right with your new 2018 look.

Container Gardening Trends

Container Gardening Trends

By Erna

“The earth laughs in flowers.“  
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Container gardening is one of the dominant styles of gardening we use in our own yards and see on the covers of magazines. There’s good reason that this art form is so popular – there are so many different ways you can make something unique and personal with your container.

Additionally, you can feel free to change your style with the seasons, as each new one brings another new container.  There are a few leading trends in the container gardening world this season that are ready to be explored. Here are some new ideas for you to create your own living artwork in your backyard:

Colour of the Year:

Each year we’re told which colour will be the leading trendsetter in that season’s styles. These selections come straight from Pantone, the undisputed expert of colour in design. While previous year’s selections left a little to be desired, this season’s pick of Ultraviolet (18-3838 to be precise) is full of possibility. Each year we’re told which colour will be the leading trendsetter in that season’s styles. These selections come straight from Pantone, the undisputed expert of colour in design. While previous year’s selections left a little to be desired, this season’s pick of Ultraviolet (18-3838 to be precise) is full of possibility. 

Ultraviolet is one of the most complex colours on the spectrum and brings all that nuance to your garden. In a container, it can be downright moody. What can be vibrant and lively under the bright daylight sun, can almost seem to transform to brooding into the evening. 

The beauty of this colour comes down to science. It sits right on the edge of the spectrum of light that our eyes can see. When you look at a rich, ultraviolet flower, your brain is busy giving you the closest estimate of a colour it can’t fully see. While insects, like a bee or butterfly, are getting the full ultraviolet show in their visible colour spectrum, our human eyes get the treat of a colour that is half real and half imagined. 

Ultraviolet in Containers:

Want to use colour science to make your containers special this summer? Here’s how to bring some of this season’s pick to your yard:

Violet and Yellow are opposites of each other, so they provide brilliant contrast. Add a cheerful sunny yellow next to your violet flowers to make your container come to life.
The depth of ultraviolet can make it get lost in the shade. Pairing it with a brighter companion, like a chartreuse foliage, will keep it in the spotlight.

Don’t be afraid of the seasons changing. Your purples will take on a new quality as the sun gets lower in the sky, towards autumn.

Water Garden Containers:

Many of us are in envy of the tranquil and unique aesthetic of backyard pond gardening. This trend is for the smart gardener that wants all the rewards with less work. Anyone can have their own backyard pond, without the commitment of digging up any of their yard. It’s as easy as taking a pot without drainage, filling it with water, and placing your pond plants inside. 

You’ll be doing similar steps to those that install a more permanent pond into their yard. You’ll need a little heavy clay soil for your plants, and specific water plants from our greenhouse.

The basics are so simple to set up that it’s easy for anyone to get a little ambitious with this project, with a few extra steps. Consider adding a pump to reap the benefits of tranquil, bubbling sounds and discouraging mosquitoes. The boosted ambient humidity will be a treat for you and any tropical containers surrounding your water feature. 

Some details to watch for:

You’ll need to scrub away algae every once in a while. Consider emptying your container once or twice a year for cleaning – if you don’t have fish, you’ll have far less algae.

If you still have mosquitoes after installing a pump, consider using a dash of organic larvicide as a safe way to get rid of them before they become irritating biters.

As water evaporates you’ll need to add water. If you’re using tap water let it sit a couple days to let some of the chlorine evaporate before adding it to your container. As beautiful as they are, avoid half whiskey barrels. Toxins from these can leach from the wood into the water, harming your plants and fish. Only use containers that are made with safe materials.

Succulent Treats:

Succulents are the focus of house plant trends and won’t be moving from the spotlight for a while. They are not only very easy to care for, but also full of contemporary charm and designer aesthetic.

While they are the clear winners of indoor design, our temperate summers are the perfect time to feature them in our yards. Your plants will thank you for the fresh air and sunlight, while you’ll get a striking container. 

While they are the clear winners of indoor design, our temperate summers are the perfect time to feature them in our yards. Your plants will thank you for the fresh air and sunlight, while you’ll get a striking container.

The best containers are shallow and have lots of drainage. Terra-cotta containers are good options. Go to your local Garden Centre and get choosing from all the delightful succulent varieties. For the best container, choose lots of different shapes and colours to mix with some of your favourites you fall in love with. Pot your succulents in a mix of cactus and a peat moss-based potting mixes. If your container has the room, consider lining the bottom with a layer of pebbles to improve drainage. 

 

This is a perfect opportunity to give a hip upgrade to an old container that is too ornate or vintage for your annuals. For the crafty and DIY, head to the Antique Mall and dig out something fun, like a bird cage, to make a planter from.

Succulents can be expensive to fill a container with. Here’s a few hints on how to trim costs and have a better looking planter:

Choose a few favourites to bring indoors in the fall. Keep these succulents in their pots when you plant your container so you can easily move them indoors when the seasons change. By nurturing them with lots of light over the winter, these will become impressive specimens over the years.

Alternatively, you can bring your entire container indoors, if you have the space. Spray a few times to get rid of bugs and pests before you bring it inside.Mix your succulents with some less expensive bedding plants in your container. Most of the costly designer annuals will overwhelm your succulents, but classics, like marigolds, zinnias, and portulaca, will be great accents to your container.

Containers are a fun way to explore the latest trends without having to make any long commitments to your designs. They are the best way to take advantage of new styles that you fall in love with and to give a fun new upgrade to your yard and home each year.      

Getting Your Garden Ready for Spring

Getting Your Garden Ready for Spring

By Erna

April is one of our favourite months for its idealism: with dreams of freshly ripened garden vegetables on our tables and colourful flower blooms dancing in our heads. Funnily enough, it’s also the ugliest month – a muddy brown stretch between winter and the fresh green of spring. The warm days tease us, but the cold snaps prevent us from planting away.

The receding snow can be brutal. We wish for it to reveal rich, black garden beds that are ready for spring crops to be sown into. More often, however, the snow melts to unveil soil that is either too muddy or too dusty for the veggies we’ve been dreaming of. But with the right tips and tricks, none of this is to fear!

Drainage:

Healthy dirt is the most important foundation for a healthy garden, but it’s not as popular a topic as the hottest new plant trends in the glossy magazines. A healthy root system needs healthy soil, and it will be impossible to have the blooming, fruiting garden you want without good roots to back it up.

Good drainage is about creating a healthy balance between managing water levels and keeping enough nutrients at root level. You’ll want water to move through your soil to avoid drowning your roots, but still need your medium to be rich with nutrients.

The science to testing drainage is actually in the palm of your hand: Grab a handful of moist soil from your garden and squeeze it tight. If the clump holds together as you open your hand, but falls apart with any poking or prodding, you are lucky to have great soil – not too little or too much of anything.

Soil That’s Too Sandy:

If your soil falls apart as soon as you open your hand, it’s probably too sandy. It’ll have excellent drainage, but could be lacking in some nutrients. Even a healthy garden plot can eventually turn dusty after years of growing. All your garden plants, but especially your edibles, greedily devour nutrients like nitrogen and potassium, which also drain away naturally over time in your water.

Fixing your sandy soil is simple. Start by measuring your garden space to get an idea of how many square meters it is. Get a 40 litre bag of compost, or Sea Soil, for every square meter of ground. This will give you a 4-5 cm layer that is ideal for an annual touch-up. If your garden looks like a dust-bowl and needs more than just a little boost of nutrients, double up to an 8-10 cm layer.

Blend your layers in evenly with a shovel or a pitch fork. If you use a rototiller, make sure your blades are going deep enough to mix your soil properly.

Soil With Too Much Clay:

If your clump of soil looks more like a golf ball when you open your hand, you’ve got an abundance of clay in your garden. Clay retains tons of nutrients to feed your plants, which is awesome, but is not very good at draining. Your soil could become waterlogged, and young, fibrous roots will have a hard time growing in it.

Amending sandy soil is all about adding nutrient retention, but amending clay is about opening up the pores so your roots can breathe. You’ll want to pick up some peat moss from your Garden Centre. These bags come compressed, so one bag will go a long way – it’s the most affordable garden amendment. Adding it to your soil will improve your drainage immensely but, unless your clay-heavy garden also has lots of black loam, you’ll also want to add some compost into the mix to feed your garden.

Having garden soil that isn’t perfect is far from the end of the world. With just an afternoon of work, you can easily give your plants the nutrition or drainage boost they need to be blooming and growing their best this season.

Snow Mould and Spring Lawn Care

Snow Mould and Spring Lawn Care

By Pierre

Our lawns take up the majority of our yard space. Even with popular tastes favouring perennial beds and edible gardens, turf care is still important to care for our yards as a whole. With winter fading, and a new season of growth approaching, here are some tips to have a lush and healthy turf.

Waiting Game

It’s easy for the temptation to set in as soon as the snow starts to recede and you can see your lawn peak out! For a lot of us eager gardeners, our first instinct is to grab a rake and leap into action – sometimes even when our yards are still caked in ice.

You must resist this instinct. Working your lawn while it’s still wet and recovering from the winter can do much more harm than good. Heavy feet can compact the soil or break emerging shoots. All of your early work could end up being for nothing if you damage your grass and give the weeds a head start.

Snow mould (typhula blight) is very common for us, thanks to our long, snowy winters. It can be ugly to look at – fungus forming silvery-grey patches on the lawn – and it can be tough on seasonal allergies, but, thankfully, it goes away as your lawn dries off. Unless it’s thick enough to choke your grass or cause you discomfort, don’t even bother raking it off, let time work its magic.

If you’re itching for something to do as the lawn dries, consider sharpening your mower blades. Waiting while your lawn is in plain sight can be tough, but improving the condition of your mower will set you up for a summer with a healthy lawn. Sharp blades will shear the grass instead of tearing it, resulting in healthier turf. While you’re working, remember to change the oil, spark plug, and filters regularly, too.

For the most impatient and keen gardeners among us, the waiting can be hurried by spreading out leftover snow from the shady spots of your lawn. Your lawn will dry sooner, more evenly, and you’ll be left with less snow mould in the most protected areas of your lawn.

Raking and Top-Dressing

Once the thatch is dried, your lawn is ready for you to “spring” into action! Give everything a good rake, especially with older lawns or those that have a half inch or more of thatch. You don’t need to clear all the thatch, but excessive amounts can be a breeding ground for pests and mildew.

Once you’ve got your thatch down to a healthy quarter inch or so, you can work on nurturing your lawn. Top dress any sparse areas right away so your lawn still has a chance to beat out the weed seeds that are swiftly germinating.

Top Dressing How-To:

Start by throwing a quarter or half inch of potting soil across sparse patches. The organic nutrients in the soil will help feed your lawn for the upcoming growing season. Top seed over your new soil – if your area has a lot of hungry birds, dusting some more soil over your new seed will disguise their lunch.

Fertilizing and Aerating

Spring is all about giving your lawn what it needs to be healthy and lush all summer! Aerating your lawn pulls plugs out to give your lawn’s cramped root system some air. Whether you rent a machine yourself or hire a company, this is great for the long-term health of your turf. Aeration is an especially important step in lawn care for older lawns or those that have been compacted by high traffic.

Fertilizing gives your grass the fuel it needs to grow healthy and strong. Your grass won’t be awake and hungry as soon as the snow melts. Fertilizing your dormant lawn is not only a waste of time, effort, and money, but it could end up giving fuel to weeds that wake up quicker in the spring.

You’ll have the best results if you wait to fertilize when your grass is green and growing. If you’re an eager gardener, this could be a tough task for your patience, as it won’t be for a while after the snow melts.

Thankfully, the days of blasting your lawn with a high-nitrogen mix and a hose are over. Most lawn fertilizers are now slow release, so they will feed your lawn steadily over weeks and months, and you won’t have to worry about burning your roots.

Behind the Scenes at Oakridge, March 2018

Behind the Scenes at Oakridge, March 2018

Spring is here, and the greenhouse is bustling with activity as pots get potted, and sprouts start sprouting! Our team has been working hard to ensure that this year’s plants are looking (and growing!) their best.

It’s the perfect time of year to come in and get your green ‘fix’. Come in and be surrounded by the oasis of tropical plants! Grab a latte, take a walk around, and start choosing your seeds for your vegetable and flowering gardens. Need help? Our knowledgeable staff is always available to discuss all things germination. 

Easter Decorating Tips

Easter Decorating Tips

By Megan

Easter is about the beginning of spring and the season of rebirth. In addition to getting hopeful about all our gardening dreams to come, it’s a time to freshen up the house. Flush away the last bits of a dark, cold, and gloomy winter with a bit of indoor life. Here are our favourite easy and kid-friendly ways to bring a little bit of spring inside:

Wheatgrass:

This is the easiest way to get some vibrant and freshness in your home! If you have kids, they’ll love to help with this one. Wheatgrass is a breath of life that is so green it can’t help but make you smile as you wait for spring to arrive.

All you will need is a container, some normal potting soil, and some wheatgrass seed. If you can’t find any wheatgrass, and don’t plan to eat your harvest, catgrass might be easier to find and grows the same. Here’s how to grow your own:

  • Soak your seeds in water for 12-24 hours. You’ll want a generous amount of seeds to have lush grass. Soaking your seeds will soften them and speed up their growth.
  • Add a few inches of soil to your container. If your container is deep, feel free to fill the bottom with rocks or almost anything to take up space.
  • Moisten the soil and plant your seeds. You should layer the seeds thick enough that you can’t see any soil underneath. The more seeds, the fuller your grass will grow!
  • Place your container by a window and enjoy your beautiful grass in just a few days!

Eggshell Succulents:

This craft takes advantage of the constant popularity of succulents and adapts it to an Easter theme. This spring, use succulents to take your Easter Eggs to the next level:

  • Start with some eggs – we would recommend 6 to 12, so you can use the carton – and some succulents. You’ll be looking for tiny succulents, the 2” seedling plugs work very well, and Oakridge carries many varieties in that size. Pick whatever type of succulent catches your eye. Anything that will fit in your egg works perfectly.
  • Use a dull knife to notch and cut the top off the pointy end of the egg. Try to take just enough off that you can pour out the egg (optional: pouring eggs on to a hot frying pan for breakfast is recommended).
  • Wash out the egg and let it sit for a day to dry.
  • Carefully take your chosen succulents out of their pots.
  • Remove as much soil as you need and gently put it into the egg. Our recommendation is to use a cactus or succulent blend, but any well-draining potting mix will work. We also found that chopsticks were a great tool to carefully push soil into every air pocket.
  • Water your eggshell succulents sparingly, only until the top of the soil is moistened. The end result is some adorably Easter-themed succulents!

Enjoy your calcium-munching, miniature plants for a breath of spring all year, with just a sprinkle of water occasionally.

Fresh Air:

Spring is the season when we can finally open the windows and sample the fresh air. You can bring freshness inside with some houseplants that clean your air by getting rid of stale water and toxins.

Houseplants have enjoyed a surge of popularity focused on their air cleaning abilities. All plants do a little to freshen the air, but some have been found to be toxin-screening powerhouses.

Try making a garden of these air cleaning specialists – even if it’s just a little garden of small plants – to bring the spring indoors. Here are our favourites:

  • Spider plant
  • Peace Lily
  • Gerbera Daisy
  • Ferns (we love Boston, Plumosa, and Maidenhair)
  • Palms (especially Parlour palms)
  • English Ivy
  • Mum (pot mum is best)

This Easter, enjoy the freshness of spring with your family by freshening your indoor living space. All that new green inside will make the anticipation for the first glimpse of spring outdoors even better. We all love the bright, fresh green of spring, so why not have a little of that at home all year?