Author Archives: Oakridge Lifestyle

The Gardener’s Book List

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The Gardener’s Book List

In Manitoba, it can be tough to feel cheerful in February early March. The short days, bone-chilling temperatures, and snow-clogged roads all remind us how long it will be before we’ll see any signs of life outside. But during this time of year, the best thing we can do is embrace it!

The days may be short, but perhaps that can motivate us to find creative ways of bringing light into our spirits. The roads may not always be clear, but maybe we can use the time indoors to start dreaming up our master plan for this year’s annuals and edibles. The mercury may be plunging, but perhaps that means it’s the perfect time to curl up and ‘plunge’ into a good book in front of the fireplace. And perhaps we can do all three of these things at once. Here are some fabulous gardening books to pick up this month.

Colour Your Garden: Exciting Mixtures of Bulbs and Perennials by Jacqueline van der Kloet

Fans of bulbs and perennials will love this guide for capturing and enhancing the colours and shapes of these magnificent plants. Author Jacqueline van der Kloet offers practical tips and guides for creating stunning combinations for gardens of all

oakridge winter porch pot

sizes – from airy landscapes to balcony-sized container gardens. This is a must-read for those of us who get a rush from watching our spring tulips bloom!

Escape to Reality: How the World is Changing Gardening, and Gardening is Changing the World by Mark Cullen

For those who crave the soul-nourishing pleasures of gardening, Canadian gardening guru Mark Cullen’s recent release is the gardener’s very own Chicken Soup for the Soul. With beautiful design, touching

winter porch pot in urn

narratives, and practical tips, Cullen’s collaborative work – co-written with his son, Ben – explores not just how we garden, but why.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Christopher Silas Neal and Kate Messner

You’d have to dig deep to find a better way to introduce young people to gardening than Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt. For parents and grandparents who wish to spark a curiosity about gardening in young readers, this book is equally filled with adorable illustrations, bedtime-worthy lyricism, and teachable information about the garden ecosystem. It’s the perfect way to share our love of the garden with our little ones and get them itching to explore the outdoors in the springtime.

Vegetables, Chickens & Bees: An Honest Guide to Growing Your Own Food Anywhere by Carson Arthur

You might recognize Carson Arthur as the host and garden expert on shows like Better Homes and Gardens’ Home, First Home, Global’s Room to Grow, and HGTV’s Green

closeup of holiday decorated porch pot with berries, lights and pinecones

Force. If you’ve been a fan of his, you’ll be excited to hear of the upcoming release of his first book. In Vegetables, Chickens & Bees, Arthur imparts the wisdom he’s gained over his 20-year career with an unconventional gardening book – to be released on February 26, 2019 – that speaks to a younger crowd of homeowners.

Prairie Garden 2019 Growing Food by the Prairie Garden Committee

Guest-edited by urban farming and gardening expert Tiffany Grenkow, the latest edition of the Prairie Garden Committee’s Prairie Garden guide is set to be released on February 24, 2019! This issue will be

wooden sleigh with winter porch pots

focusing on the edible gardening trend, but will cover so much more. Look forward to over 50 articles produced by local gardening experts, all with invaluable advice for growing gardens of all kinds in our region. If you’ll be in the Winnipeg area on the 24th, you can even attend the book launch at the Grant Park location of McNally Robinson at 2:00 pm.

closeup of red berries in winter porch pot

During these bleary days when the snow won’t let you into your garden, let your imagination take you there instead. We hope you find some inspiration in these titles, and maybe a new perspective to serve you well when the snow melts!

New Years Planning: Our Seed Reference Guide

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Beautiful Garden Flowers

New Years Planning: Our Seed Reference Guide

By Erna

While we’ve all flirted with the usual New Year’s resolutions – shed a few pounds, be more productive, and so on – that early January goal-setting mindset is an especially significant event for those of us who spend most of our summers in our gardens.

With a whole year ahead of us to take on a new gardenscaping project, it’s the perfect time of year to let our excitement for a new year kickstart our planning process. To help light the fire in your belly, we’ve put together a seed reference guide to our favourite annual and perennial varieties to help you visualize your spring garden layout!

Seed Reference for New Years Garden Planning

From bold colours to ground covers, you can find these varieties at Oakridge Garden Centre. For detailed information about our entire selection, our catalog is available in-store.

Our Favourite Annuals for Beds & Borders

  • Marigold Durango – These bushy, bright marigolds make a statement in your garden while attracting beneficial insects to your beds and borders. Prefers full sun.
  • Gazania New Day – These mounding blooms come in a wide range of stunning deep jewel tones. These gazanias are easy to care for and perform just as well in containers. Prefers full sun.
  • Hibiscus Little Zin – The deep burgundy foliage of Hibiscus Little Zin makes it a fantastic accent plant to complement bronze leaf begonias and deep red-toned blooms. Thrives in full sun.
Marigold Durango
Salvia Victoria Blue
  • Plectranthus Nicolletta – These soft and silvery spreading annuals make excellent ground cover. Their muted green foliage pairs well with neutral-coloured blooms and paler colour palette and will fare well anywhere from sun to shade.
  • Salvia Victoria Blue – Add height to borders and beds with these fragrant sky-blue flower spikes. Their long-lasting flowers bloom from late spring until the frost. Prefers full sun.

Annuals for Containers and Baskets

  • Lantana Cherry Sunrise – Show-stopping bursts of sunrise-toned blooms make these lantanas the star of any container garden. The delicate-looking, but surprisingly low-maintenance, flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and double-takes! Thrives in full sun.
  • Solenia Begonia– The delicate flowers of these brightly-coloured begonias bring cheer and sunshine to hanging baskets and container gardens. As delicate as they look, these bushy begonias are pretty tough – standing up to wind, disease, and intense sun.
Latana Cherry Sunrise
Zinnia Double Strawberry
  • Nemesia Angelart Peach – By the time these compact plants finish, their dark green foliage is covered with a dense blanket of blooms that look just like peaches! Containers with Nemesia Angelart Peach will overflow with flowers all season long, with fragrant blooms in shades of soft gold, pink and orange. Performs best in semi-shade.
  • Verbena Lascar White – These early-blooming plants boast clusters of bright-white flowers on deep green foliage. Their trailing habit looks positively elegant in containers and hanging planters. Prefers full sun.
  • Zinnia Double Strawberry – If you love zinnias, the punchy colour of Double Strawberry will steal your heart. Incredibly easy to grow, these sturdy magenta flowers perform wonderfully in drought conditions. Thrives in full sun.

Perfect Perennials with Beautiful Blooms

  • Aquilegia Songbird Cardinal – With stunning bi-colour, trumpeting flowers, these cardinals bring colours and shapes worth looking forward to year after year. Plant in part-shade in well-drained soil.
  • Echinacea Hot Coral – Feeling a little weary of standard purple coneflowers? Their neon-red cousins will revitalize borders and beds with scads of bold blooms. Talk about making your New Year’s firework show last! Plant in full sun or light shade, into well-drained soil.
  • Lily Tiny Double You – A true double flower, these gorgeous blooms have a dwarf habit that works equally well in containers as they do in beds and borders. However, the real “WOW” factor comes from their versatility in soil tolerance. Plant in full sun or light shade into any soil type from normal, to sandy, to clay – even rock gardens.
Aquilegia Songbird Cardinal
Perennial Phlox
  • Hemerocallis Fooled Me – These sunny daylilies bloom like nobody’s business, with over 500 blooms per year! Fooled Me is exceptionally hardy with excellent drought and disease tolerance, making them a perfect choice for standing the time in our Manitoba climate. Plant in a sunny or part-in area in moist, well-drained soils, ideally loam.
  • Perennial Phlox – When perennial phlox blooms, the foliage is nearly hidden from view under a soft blanket of rich, uniformly-coloured blossoms available in bold shades of white, pink, purple, and red. Plant in full sun, into moist, rich soil.

Perennials for Ground Cover and Foliage

  • Aralia Sun King – These bright green foliage plants look almost tropical, yet complement woodland foliage beautifully. They form a large flowering clump that attracts honeybees and dissuades deer. Plant in part shade in fertile, good-quality soil.
  • Hosta Rainforest Sunrise – These hostas start out deep green, and ultimately develop a chartreuse-to-gold toned centre. They also eventually produce a flower spike of lavender-toned blossoms. Plant in part-to-full shade in good-quality, neutral-to-acidic soil.
  • Heuchera Peach Crisp – These ruffled collectors plants produce foliage in an interesting peachy-gold shade. Plant in full sun in well-drained soil.
Hosta Rainforest Sunshine
Heuchera Peach Crisp
  • Astilbe Colorflash – These colour-changing astilbes are almost like mood rings in their variations of shades through the year, with foliage ranging from green to burgundy to purple. They produce light pink flower spikes which create interesting visual contrast during their flowering period. Plant in part shade in well-drained soil.
  • Panicum Hot Rod – This perennial grass makes an interesting accent in beds and borders, and develops burgundy tips early in the summer. Plant in part sun in good-quality soil, and water frequently.

Like a painter at their canvas, proper planning is essential for creating a masterpiece of colour, scale, and shapes in our gardens. The process of preparing for a new year of gardening can quickly become overwhelming, especially if you anticipate trying something new this year with your layout or variety choices. Even the best artists can occasionally benefit from a fresh pair of eyes! Speak to one of our garden experts for ideas, inspiration, and information about what’s new to in-store for 2019.

Charcuterie Board Plating

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Charcuterie Board Plating

Charcuterie Board Plating

After a long season of leaning over hot stoves and meticulously decorating cookies, we’re ready for a little break. As much joy as we might get from entertaining, we only have so much time and energy. On those occasions when we’re running low on both, we’re especially thankful for every great host’s secret weapon – the charcuterie board.

Charcuterie Board 101

Charcuterie boards are, traditionally, platters of all our favorite cold cured meats, but these days have grown to include samplings of meats, cheeses, and more – often served with condiments, bread, and crackers. What separates a charcuterie board from the simpler, straight-from-the-store meat and cheese platters commonly found at your typical social is a focus on quality ingredients and presentation.

Plating a charcuterie board is not unlike arranging a bouquet of flowers. You want to make sure that all your high-quality ingredients are displayed beautifully and in a way that every piece compliments its neighbour. A beautifully-presented charcuterie board should consider:

oakridge winter porch pot

Scale – A variety of heights on your charcuterie board gives the presentation appealing dimension. Try cutting firm cheeses and placing them on their side, or serving meats or condiments on risers for a tiered effect. Stacking and well-planned slicing not only give your platter more visual appeal, but the flexibility to fit more crowd-pleasers on a single tray.

Colour – An interesting combination of shades makes your charcuterie look much more appetizing. Try combining very different-looking cheeses with dried fruit, pickled vegetables, and fine condiments to add pops of colour, while matching their exciting flavours.

Flow – A charcuterie board is made for sharing, mingling, and experimenting. Create space between each element so guests can feast without being in the way of others. Encourage guests to try certain combinations by arranging specific complementary ingredients closer together. People tend to scan from left to right, so give some thought to which order you want people to explore the selection and place them accordingly.

Charcuterie Board Accessories

Chacuterie Board with apples, bread slices, nuts, cheese, salami

Beautiful accessories go a long way in making the presentation look picture-perfect. For starters, a set of cheese knives is a must-have for serving charcuterie, pairing function with grace. Opt for a dedicated surface, like a raw-edge wooden serving tray, which sets the stage for a gorgeous arrangement. Cute, tiny vessels for condiments will keep the area neat while adding visual appeal. And, of course, make sure any packaging you leave on the board is beautiful – keep any shrink wrap or price tags hidden away!

What to Put on a Charcuterie Board

The best part about charcuterie is it requires no heat, minimal prep, and you can usually get everything you need at the specialty foods shop. Really the only downside is how overwhelming it can be to choose from a hundred cheeses and meats! As a rule of thumb, we recommend each charcuterie board contain:

Charcuterie Board with condiments and meat
  • At least three types of cheese – Ideally something soft, something firm, and something a little daring.
  • At least three types of meat – Always try to have something mild and approachable, something a little more robust, and something spicy.
  • Condiments – At least one savoury and at least one sweet, but a little kick of spice is always good, too.
  • Carbohydrates for serving – Typically crackers or a selection of breads.

Foolproof Charcuterie Board Ideas

There are thousands of to-die-for combinations and options, but these boards are guaranteed to send the compliments rolling in. Try one of these serving suggestions at your next function, or use them as a starting point to inspire your own:

For Low-Key Gatherings

Cheeses:

Boursin – Soft, spreadable, mild yet addictive
Applewood – smoked cheddar – Firm, sharp, and smoky
Shropshire bleu – Has the savoury qualities of cheddar with the tang of a milder bleu cheese

Meats:

Genoa salami – A mild, easy-to-eat classic
Dry-aged prosciutto – Salty with a dry, jerky-like texture
Hot capicola  – Tender and very spicy
Condiments: Olive tapenade and liquid honey
Serve with: French bread and Ritz crackers

For Intimate Special Occasions

Cheeses:

– Baked brie – Try it seasoned with lemon zest and fresh herbs!
– Gorgonzola – A strong, soft-textured bleu
– Aged Irish cheddar – Sharp, delicious flavour with a unique texture

Meats:
– Prosciutto – A chewy Italian ham with an earthy flavour
– Chorizo – A boldly spicy dry sausage
– Soppressata – A full-flavoured dry salami with a kick
Condiments: Honey, fig preserves
Serve with: Pear slices, bias-cut discs of baguette


For Black-Tie Soirees

Cheeses:

– Délice de Bourgogne – Can be hard to find, but has an unforgettable buttery flavour and texture. Substitute – with Saint-André if unavailable.
– Castello Blue – A bold Danish bleu
– Manchego Viejo – Aged Spanish cheese with a slightly sweet flavour and crumbly texture

Meats:
– Jamón – A well-cured ham with a distinctive flavour
– Foie gras – A true delicacy. Substitute pâté if foie gras is not available.
– Hot Coppa – A spicy, dry salami similar in texture to aged prosciutto
– Condiments: Dried fruit, agave syrup
– Serve with: Water crackers, cream crackers, assorted bread, and dry toasts

Serving delicious foods to our guests doesn’t always mean hours of prepping, cooking, and plating. For a sophisticated serving that will be the hit of any soiree, these charcuterie boards will be a surefire success!

charcuterie board filled with meats, cheese, olives and a glass of wine

Poinsettias

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christmas poinsettias

The holiday season is upon us, and the hustle and bustle of gift shopping, meal planning and tree decorating is in full swing. In most households this season, there will be only one other plant in the house that competes with the Christmas tree for attention – the classic poinsettia.

There’s no mistaking the red and green foliage of a poinsettia. Not only are their festive and flashy colours a perfect compliment to any holiday decor, but they also make perfect hostess gifts at Christmas parties. They’ve become exceptionally affiliated with our holiday season, which is interesting considering the poinsettia isn’t native to Canada at all!

The Poinsettia Story

The myth that sparked the popularity of poinsettias was born in Mexico. According to legend, a young girl was on her way to church on Christmas Day when she noticed people walking past with elaborate gifts to offer at the altar.

standing water

The girl was poor, and when she reached the church and saw the bounty the townspeople had brought, she began to cry in shame. Another young girl saw this happening and consoled her, saying that Jesus cared little for expensive gifts. What really mattered was that the gift was given with love.

Heartened by her friend’s words, the poor girl searched and searched for something to bring to the church. All she could find was a patch of green weeds, so she picked them gently into a bouquet and carried them to the altar. As she passed, the wealthier townspeople snickered at her humble offering, but as she laid them down, something incredible happened.

The weeds transformed into vibrant and beautiful red flowers as everyone in the church stared in disbelief! The little girl’s love was rewarded with a miracle. From then on, every Christmas the poinsettias – or ‘Flores de Noche Buena’ (Flower of the Holy Night) – would bloom at the edge of every road in Mexico to commemorate the little girl’s gift.

Poinsettia Care

While the story of the poinsettia is a myth, it’s true that poinsettias hail from Mexico, and as common as they are to see in the middle of our frigid Manitoba winters, they are tropical plants that need a little warmth to stay healthy. Display poinsettias away from windows to protect them from cold drafts. They don’t need to be in a hot area, but the leaves are particularly vulnerable to the chilly weather.

Taking Care of your Poinsettias

By the same token, keep poinsettias away from hot air vents, which can dry them out. An area in your home with a comfortable climate and good air circulation will keep them happiest.

Poinsettias are sensitive to overwatering, which makes them a lovely low-maintenance plant at this time of year. We could all use more time for our endless to-do lists during this season, so take daily watering out of the equation!

Let the soil dry out before watering your poinsettia again. They thrive in the drought-prone regions of Mexico, and are well-adapted to going a little extra time between “rains”.

Picking a Poinsettia

To make sure your poinsettia lasts through the Christmas season, it’s important to be selective when visiting the garden centre! Deep, rich colour and expansive foliage are good signs that the poinsettia plant is healthy. Avoid choosing plants with discoloured leaves.

white Christmas poinsettia
pink christmas poinsettia

If purchasing in early-to-mid November, choose a poinsettia with buds. This is a younger plant that will continue to bloom over the longest period.

In late November to early December, look for poinsettias that are still yellow in the middle. This indicates a recent bloom, which will last several weeks.

Unless Christmas is just around the corner, avoid purchasing poinsettias with dark-coloured centres. These are older blooms which will lose their colour soon.

Poinsettias are a beloved tradition that add a dose of colour and a touch of tradition to any household. They may not be native to our wintery climate, but with a little care, they make an excellent Christmas companion regardless of geography. If you’re giving the gift of a poinsettia this year, just remember to give it with love!

Multi-colored Christmas Poinsettias

Unique Houseplants to Love

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Unique Houseplants to Love

unique houseplants decorated in house

Each of us is a unique strand in the intricate web of life and here to make a contribution.

  – Deepak Chopra

Plants, like people, are unique living things. No two plants are exactly alike, even within the same species. However, some plants truly stand out from the crowd. They’re the ones that make you stop and take a closer look, the ones that make you wonder how they came to be the way they are. If you’ve had the good fortune to bring home such a plant, you may find that its strangest qualities are what you find the most endearing. Perhaps there’s a lesson in humility there!

Here are some of the more unusual houseplants we’ve grown especially fond of this year.

Goldfish Plant (Columnea gloriosa)

While real goldfish most likely appreciate a little live vegetation in their tanks, that’s not what we’re referring to when we talk about these plants! Goldfish plants are unique houseplants that are both cute and whimsical in equal measure. With their bright orange, fish-shaped blooms, they look just like a bowl of goldfish swimming happily around a cluster of foliage. They have become quite popular lately, as they add a little fun and movement to a room. Keep goldfish plants in bright indirect sunlight and let the soil dry between waterings.

Green and Red Goldfish Plant (Columnea Gloriosa)

Goldfish Plant by Kevan, Source: Flickr.com

Snake Plant (Sansevieria)

These unique indoor plants are known by many names, and not all of them are especially flattering! Despite their more disparaging monikers, snake plants have beautifully patterned leaves and are very robust. They are famously low-maintenance and add nice dimension to any space. Snake plants are sold as small as a few inches and as tall as 3’ high, with slender, snake-like leaves. They’re often found in waiting rooms, living rooms, and other spaces filled with low chairs and stout furniture, as their lanky shape balances those low silhouettes. Snake plants like to live in indirect sunlight and shouldn’t be watered too often.

snake plant (Sansevieria)

Monstera (Monstera deliciosa)

These strange indoor plants have exploded in popularity in the past year, showing up everywhere from art prints to fabrics. Their unusual leaves – which have earned them their other name, the ‘Swiss cheese plant’ – have captivated the attention of plant lovers everywhere for their bold, sculptural appearance. While monsteras are among

Monstera Plant

the most beautiful houseplants in the public eye right now, they’re also among the wildest (at least for us here in Manitoba!). The leaves and stems are toxic to people and pets, and they are capable of becoming invasive climbing plants if brought outdoors. However, if well-cared-for in a sunny indoor spot, and kept in peaty soil with good drainage, they behave just fine.

Closeup of Bright Green Ficus Houseplant

Ficus (Ficus benjamina)

Another one of the more beautiful houseplants on the list, ficuses are slender trees with a shock of shiny, bright-green leaves. However, the most striking feature of the ficus is their flexible trunks, which are often braided before being sold. The braid adds an unexpected texture to the plant that is both subtle and elegant. Ficus do best with a thorough weekly watering in a spot with bright sunlight. To keep the symmetry of the leaves, it’s best to rotate them when watering.

It’s truly amazing how nature’s creations come in shapes, sizes, and colours beyond our wildest imaginations. No matter where you live or who you are, there’s a houseplant just as unique as you are!

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.