Tag Archives: garden maintenance

May Garden Activities

 

saxifraga in bloom, Victoria BC garden
photo by SVSeekins

My morning coffee entertainment is watching the birds relay food to their voracious young back in the nest. If I’m lucky, one of these mornings I’ll get to watch the little ones fledge.

 

Planting

  • If you’re gung-ho about watering hanging baskets all summer,  basket-stuffers galore are at all the plant sales this month. When choosing plants, keep in mind whether the basket lives in a sunny or shady location. Another handy design strategy is providing some “thrill, spill & fill” in each container.
  • Plant summer flowering bulbs (dahlias, gladioli, canna lilies & such), Many folks grew them inside over the past month or two, and move them into the ground now. At the same time as planting the dahlias, put in the stakes.  They’re not needed right now, but they will be later, and then there’s a greater risk of damaging the roots.

Perennials

  • Begonias, geraniums, & other tender plants that have also been over-wintered inside can be set in the garden now. Even tropical house plants can go out to a dappled spot on the deck. It’s amazing how much faster they grow outside in the summer.
  • Even though they’re small now, pinch back snapdragons by 1/2… they’ll respond by growing bushier & produce more blooms.
  • Cut back the euphorbias after their big show.  Letting them go to seed in the garden is sheer folly.  These garden thugs spread easily enough through underground runners.
  • lilac, red hot pokers, irs, lupin, with the ceanothus just about to come into bloom too, Victoria BC garden
    photo by SVSeekins

    Dead-heading spent blooms can spur some plants into another flush of flowers

Weeding

  • Wander through the beds digging the weeds… This is also an opportunity to downsize populations of snails, slugs & tent caterpillars as you discover them
  • Unless you’re totally cool with widespread volunteers next year, cut back or pull out the centurea, forget me nots, cerinthe and other heavy seeders after their blooms are done.

    chestnut bloom
    photo by SVSeekins

Irrigation

  • Whether it’s garden hoses, or a fully automated system, it’s time to prep irrigation before it’s really needed.  Replacing rubber gaskets & rings reduces that nasty dribble at the hose connection.
  • When you water, water slowly and deeply in the early morning or evening when the air is cool and calm.

    early camas bloom Mt. Tolmie, garry oak meadow, garden Victoria BC
    photo by SVSeekins

Lawns

  • If there are bare patches that you’d like to seed over, go for it. Keep that area moist to give the seeds some support until established.
  • Keeping the mower blade above 2 inches will provide a lush lawn, and also enough leaf cover to give the grass’ roots a little shade (so they don’t dry out so quickly).
  • The meadow grasses on our rocky outcropping are ready to go to seed, so C heads out there with the whipper-snipper. That way the seed doesn’t spread into the beds
  • If the lawn gets 1 inch of water every two weeks, it’ll still will turn the color of straw in the heat of summer but will bounce back super quickly after temperatures cool in fall.

    spring blooming Daylily
    photo by SVSeekins

Veg & Berry Patch

  • As it’s warming up, give the ‘starts’ some outside time during the day to harden off… they’ll be ready to plant outside by the Victoria Day long weekend
  • herbs: Plant heat-loving seedlings of annual herbs like basil, cilantro, & parsley. Perennial herbs, like chives (blooming now), oregano, rosemary, and thyme find permanent homes in my borders. Take care with mints – they should go into containers to keep them from invading the world.
  • As the potatoes start to grow, ‘hilling up’ (adding extra soil around the stems) will help the plants produce more.
  • Enjoy the fresh rhubarb, but leave a few stems to help the plant feed the roots & produce a bigger crop next year.
  • starts:  Direct seed carrots, leeks, onions, spinach, swiss chard, beets, parsnips, broccoli, radishes, arugula, broad beans, corn salad, kale, chard, oriental greens, and peas outdoors.
gravenstein apple blooms in april garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins

Tools

  • It’s best to clean pruners between bushes. Spray with a solution of 10% bleach + water mix. This helps to prevent the spread of diseases through the garden.

Pruning

  • Forsythia & Other flowering shrubs should be pruned right after flowering so they have the full growing season to prepare for next year’s bloom

    wooly sunflower in bloom, oregon sunshine, Victoria BC garden
    photo by SVSeekins

Fertilizing

  • add compost or sea soil to areas of heavy feeding
  • fertilize spring bulbs after bloom so they can soak up nutrient & rebuild the bulbs for next year. Note: Let the leaves (solar panels) continue to grow, helping out with the bulb’s rebuild.

    laburnum tree in bloom, Victoria BC garden
    photo by SVSeekins

Seasonal Color
trees: apples… dogwood… magnolia… chestnuts… laburnum… hawthorn…
shrubs: camelia… heathers… pieris (lily of the valley shrub)… rhododendron & azalea… lilacs… weigelia… california lilac (ceanothus)… wisteria…
perennials: wild violets… trillium… bleeding hearts… erysimum (wall flower)… euphorbia… myosotis (forget me nots)… pulmonaria… vinca (periwinkle)… calla lily… oregon sunshineevergreen clematis & clematis montana… solomon’s seal…
ferns: sword… giant chain… deer… the full gamut…
bulbs: camas… blue bells… alium…

young tree peony in bloom cu, Joe Harvey, Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins

Planning & Events
Plant sale’s & garden tours abound. Whether I need anything or not, I’m sure to trip over a few.

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© SVSeekins, 2014

April Garden Activities

Fawn Lily bloom & leaf CU
photo by SVSeekins

The birds are waking me up with the sunrise at this time of year. They’re busy nesting & hooking up. The bird bath is occasionally dry now, so it’s good to give it a good cleaning & refill. Even birds need a nice spa treatment when things are hectic, right?

 

euphorbia in bloom Victoria BC garden
photo by SVSeekins

Tools

  • Keep the lawn mower blades sharpened & the proper bits lubricated as the machine is back in regular use now.
  • Give the garden hoses & sprinklers a good once over to be sure they’re in shape for the upcoming dry season.
  • Keep those pruners & clippers sharp, too!
  • It’s best to clean pruners between bushes. Spray with a 10% bleach + water mixture. This helps to prevent the spread of diseases through the garden.

 

heather path at Abkhazi Gardens
photo by SVSeekins

Pruning

  • Pinch back snapdragon & other summer bloomers to promote bushier plants & more blooms
  • Shear back winter heathers after blooms peter out.
  • Shear back rosemary.
  • Prune conifers when the bright new growth starts to darken to the matching shade of green (as needed to contain size)
  • Prune stone fruit trees while blooming (plum, peach, cherry, nectarine…)
  • Roses can be pruned when the forsythia is in bloom.
  • Prune back ornamental grasses 4-6 inches from the ground & compost clippings.
  • Once the Corsican Hellebore is finished blooming the whole stem can be cut to the ground.  New stems will bloom next year.
cu - forsythia in bloom
photo by SVSeekins

Forsythia & Other flowering shrubs should be pruned right after flowering so they have the full growing season to prepare for next year’s bloom

  • start with removing dead, diseased & damaged limbs
  • then take out crossing branches, & give the interior of the shrub some breathing space
  • take out some old branches to allow for fresh growth
  • try not to get too crazy… 1/3 of the living growth is plenty    🙂

 

Tulip buds that the deer haven't eaten... yet
photo by SVSeekins

Fertilizing

  • Add compost or sea soil to areas of heavy feeding
  • Sprinkle horticultural lime around clematis & scratch it into mulch
  • If you’re really wanting a lush lawn, now’s the optimum time to fertilize.
  • Fertilize spring bulbs after bloom so that they can soak up as many nutrients & rebuild the bulbs for next year.
    note: Let the leaves (solar panels) can soak up as much goodness from the sunshine to help out with the rebuild

 

Pacific Bleeding Heart in bloom
photo by SVSeekins

Planting

  • Plant summer flowering bulbs (dahlias, gladioli & lilies), depending on the soil conditions. They don’t like sitting in waterlogged soils.
  • Sow sweet peas and hardy annuals such as alyssum & marigolds.

New rhodos, camellias & other spring temptations are in the nurseries. Get newly acquired plants into ground ASAP

Camellia in full bloom
photo by SVSeekins
  • dig the hole just a bit wider & deeper than the pot leaving some loose soil in the bottom
  • add bone meal as a root booster & compost as a fertilizer… stir in some water
  • gently tap plant out of its container & set in hole so that it matches ground level… fill in hole with mix of compost & original soil … firm in
  • water well so air pockets bubble  out of any places around the roots

 

Basket of Gold (aurinia)
photo by SVSeekins

 Weeding

  • With the temperature increasing so is growth. Thank goodness for that January mulching! It helps keep moisture in the soil, but also really deters weeds. Wander through the beds digging the occasional perennial weed (dandelion) as well as any snails or slugs as you discover them.
  • If the mulching didn’t happen, keep a check on the carpet of young weeds and remove them before they take hold… Pop weed goes to seed quickly, so get rid of it fast!

 

grape hyacinth (muscari)
photo by SVSeekins

Perennials

  • Peonies are jumping out of the ground. Before the plants get so big that branches will break during support installation, get those peony rings in place. (I use tomato cages instead)
  • Overgrown clumps of snowdrops & winter aconite bulbs can be divided & moved to where ever you’d like more

Divide overgrown perennials astilbe, daylilies, hostas lamb’s ears…)

The Japanese Garden on Mayne Island
photo by SVSeekins
  • cut the tops back to a couple of inches.
  • lift the whole plant out with a fork.
  • look for a natural line across the plant and cut it with a sharp knife right through.
  • continue this until you have divided the plant up to suit your needs.
  • replant the pieces in groups of 3-5 to make an impact in ornamental borders from repeating color schemes.
  • pot up spares immediately.
  • water well.

 

aubretia at Camosun College Victoria Garden
photo by SVSeekins

Lawns

  • Edge the beds & lawns, slicing the grass runners and digging out any weeds while they’re still easy to manage.
  • The grass is prime now,
  • Re-seed any bare areas: scratch the surface with a lawn rake and sow.
viburnum at Camosun College Victoria Garden
photo by SVSeekins

Veg & Berry Patch

  • Plant the potatoes after they start to sprout.
  • It’s warm enough now to take the heavy winter protection off the asparagus & strawberry beds
  • Dig out the winter kale as it finishes up & goes to flower (unless you’re waiting to collect seed

Get into the raspberry patch (or loganberry, or blackberry…)

sea blush 2 victoria garden
photo by SVSeekins
  • take out the spent & spindly stems.
  • tie this year’s producers to the trellis.

starts
Direct seed carrots, leeks, onions, spinach, swiss chard, beets, parsnips, broccoli, radishes, arugula, broad beans, corn salad, kale, chard, spinach, oriental greens, and peas outdoors.

 

Doronicum, Caucasian Leopard's Bane, Great Leopard's Bane, Plantain Leopard's Bane, leopard's-bane, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Greenhouse & Cold Frames
Starts

  • tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers & eggplants if you haven’t already
  • move starts into larger pots as necessary

Watch for ‘damping off’ disease in seedlings in the greenhouse or indoors. This fungus causes the stems to collapse and the seedlings to fall over.

Pieris Japonica Mountain Fire Victoria garden
photo by SVSeekins
  • avoid over-crowding seeds & sprouts. It’s better to have a tray of fewer, healthy plants than to lose many to this disease
  • water often, but sparingly
  • give seedlings enough light to prevent them becoming ‘leggy’
  • turn seed trays daily to ensure even growth.

 

apple blossoms in May
photo by SVSeekins

Seasonal Color

trees: early apple… plum… cherries…. crabapple… pear… dogwood… magnolia…
shrubs: forsythia… flowering red currant… silk tassel bush… camellia… oregon grape… heathers… pieris (lily of the valley shrub)… heavenly bamboo… early rhododendron… early azalea…
perennials: aubretia… basket of gold (aurinia)… candy tuft… wild violets… trillium… pasque flower… bleeding hearts… erysimum (wall flower)… euphorbialeopard’s bane… myosotis (forget me nots)… pulmonaria… bergeniahellebore… primula… winter jasmine…  vinca (periwinkle)…
ferns: licorice…
bulbs: fawn lily… daffodils… tulips… grape hyacinth… chionodoxa (glory of snow)…

 

elephant ears (bergenia) in bloom Victoria garden
photo by SVSeekins

Planning & Events

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© SVSeekins, 2014

March Garden Activities

camellia, march, near the YM-YWCA, , ws
photo by SVSeekins

Birds are more plentiful this month. They’re singing, mating & nest-building. I like to clean & refill birdbaths for them. It’s also nice to provide some nesting materials seeing as how I’ve already composted much of the natural material over winter.

cherry blooms in Beacon Hill Park
photo by SVSeekins

Tools

  • Sharpen pruners, shears and hedge clippers and make sure they’re free from rust.
  • It’s best to clean pruners between each shrub. Spray with a solution of 10% bleach & water. This helps to prevent the spread of diseases through the garden.
Cyclamen coum
photo by SVSeekins

Spraying 

  • Fruit Trees – before the blooms open, apply dormant oil to control pests (unless it was done in February)

Pruning

  • mahonia bloom
    photo by SVSeekins

    Hydrangea should be pruned after the middle of March to avoid die back from freezing winds.

  • The common butterfly bush blooms only on new growth, so now’s a good time to prune it to the shape that suits
  • Roses can be pruned when the forsythia is in bloom.
  • Forsythia & other flowering shrubs can be pruned right after flowering.
photo by SVSeekins
bergenia – elephant ears

Fertilizing

  • Add compost or Sea Soil to areas of heavy feeding, like rhubarb, asparagus patch & veggie bed

Planting

  • Chionodoxa - Glory of Snow in rock crevice
    photo by SVSeekins

    Plant summer flowering bulbs (gladioli & lilies) towards the end of the month, depending on the soil conditions. They don’t like sitting in waterlogged soils.

  • Sow sweet peas and hardy annuals such as alyssum, & calendula.
early daffodils
photo by SVSeekins

Weeding

  • As the temperature increases so will growth. This is when that January mulching really starts to pay off.   Wander through the beds digging out the occasional perennial weeds (dandelions…)  If the mulching didn’t happen, keep a check on the carpet of young weeds & remove them before they take hold… Pop Weed goes to seed quickly, so get rid of it fast!
photo by SVSeekins
Donkey Tail Spurge

Perennials

  • The worst of the cold is past now & the birds have more choices for food. Now’s the time to cut back the perennials left standing for the birdseed… Tall sedums blooms are a good example.  Isn’t it nice to see the new growth at the base is already showing?
  • Divide Snowdrops & Winter Aconite (Eranthis) while ‘in the green’.
  • Pot up the Tuberous Begonias, Dahlias & Cannas that have wintered in their bare root storage… keeping them inside gives them a head start before moving them outside in May.
photo by SVSeekins
hellebore and; crocus

Now’s also the time to finish up dividing those overgrown hardy perennials:

  • Cut the tops back to a couple of inches.
  • Lift the whole plant out with a fork.
  • Look for a natural line across the plant and cut it right through with a sharp knife.
  • Continue this until you’ve divided the plant up to suit your needs.
  • Replant the pieces in groups of 3-5 to make an impact in ornamental borders from repeating colour schemes.
  • Pot up spares immediately.  (The garden club welcomes donations!)
  • Water well.
English Daisy meadow WSO
photo by SVSeekins

Lawns

  • Edge the beds & lawns now, slicing the grass runners that are invading the beds.

The grass is growing steadily now,
Make sure the mower is serviced and ready for the season.

aubrecia & candy tuft dangling over a short wall
photo by SVSeekins
  • Before mowing, remove thatch and moss by scarifying with a lawn rake.
  • Set the blades to a higher setting (3cm) for the first few cuts.
  • Stay off or try to minimise activity on the lawn if it’s wet. It will turn to mud very quickly in the wet.
  • Re-seed any bare areas: scratch the surface with a lawn rake and sow.

Veg & Berry Patch

red flowering currant ms
photo by SVSeekins
  • Get into the raspberry patch & take out the spent & spindly stems. Tidy up the bed & tie this year’s producers to the trellis.
  • Starts – Direct seed arugula, broad beans, corn salad, kale, chard, spinach, oriental greens, and peas outdoors.
early rhododendron
photo by SVSeekins

Greenhouse & Cold Frames

  • Buy seed potatoes now and store the tubers in a light, cool (10°C), frost-free spot and leave them to sprout. (This is called chitting.) Egg cartons make good chitting trays. Make sure to put the tubers with the ‘eye’ end (where the sprouts will grow from) upwards.
  • Starts – asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, lettuce, peppers, eggplants…  start tomatoes later in the month
species tulip
photo by SVSeekins

Watch for ‘damping off’ disease in seedlings in the greenhouse or indoors. This fungus causes the stems to collapse and the seedlings to fall over.

  • Avoid over-crowding seeds & sprouts. It’s better to have a tray of fewer, healthier plants than to lose many to this disease
  • Water often, but sparingly
  • Ensure that seedlings get enough light to prevent them from becoming ‘leggy’.
  • Turn seed trays daily to ensure even growth.
grape hyacinth
photo by SVSeekins

Ponds
Remove fallen leaves and other decaying plant debris from ponds. Frogs and other aquatic life will be emerging from winter hibernation so a good tidy up now prevents stagnation & algae build-up.

basket of gold, aurinia
photo by SVSeekins
Seasonal Color
trees: flowering plum… early cherries…
shrubs: forsythia… red flowering currant… silk tassel bush… camelliaviburnum spring dawnmahoniaheathers… Pieris (lily of the valley shrub)… sarcococca… heavenly bamboo… early rhodos… cotoneaster…
perennials: aubretia… basket of gold (Aurinia)… candy tuft… bergeniahellebore… primula… winter jasmine… donkey tail spurge (euphorbia)… vinca (periwinkle)…
ferns: licorice
bulbs: crocus… winter aconite (Eranthis)… Cyclamen coum… early daffodils… early species tulips… hyacinth… Chionodoxa (glory of snow)…
primula wanda
photo by SVSeekins

Planning & Events

  • The Victoria Orchid Club hosts its spring show (usually the first weekend in March)
  • Garden shops are opening up for the season, so it’s fun to cruise them for ideas, but most of their early starts aren’t ready to go out into the garden yet, so control yourself (unless you’re up for nursing those babies inside for another month or two).

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© SVSeekins, 2014