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Gardening-with-nature

Want to add colour to your garden? Think pink.

Pretty in pink

If pink is your colour, we have multiple options for purchase at our upcoming plant sale.

I recently discussed my new-found appreciation for this colour while gardening with my master gardener mentor and she joked it was a reflection of ageing, a suggestion which, of course, I vehemently disputed.

Even as a young girl I was not partial to pink, but maybe it’s a holdover from the depression and isolation of COVID, I’m now willing to include pink in my landscapes. It’s a colour I associated during the pandemic with hope, joy and renewal.

If those of you out there share either a new-found appreciation or a traditional love for this hue, you will find much of interest available at our upcoming Okanagan Xeriscape Association Spring plant sale. We will have plants in a variety of shades of pink to include in your spring, summer and fall garden.

One of the early stars of the spring garden is Phlox hybrida ‘Woodlander Pink’. This hybrid between Phlox subulata and Phlox stolonifera produces an exceptionally-colourful ground cover after months of dreary grey.

The flower production is large and abundant and although it is an excellent source of early nectar for pollinators it is seldom bothered by deer.

Phlox hybrida (“Woodlander Pink”) is hardy in zones four to eight, so it is reliably winter-hardy even given our last two years of extreme winter weather events. This perennial is ideal for use in the front of a mixed border or cascading over a rock wall where it prefers a partial shade location.

Scabiosa columbaria (“Flutter Rose Pink”) is one of those perennials that appeals to those of us who aren’t bothered by a bit of unruliness as the blooms have a tendency to choose their own direction. Also known as “Pincushion Flower,” this perennial blooms non-stop from spring through late summer on compact plants reaching a foot high by an equal spread.

The flowers, as the common name suggests, resemble pincushions and bloom in a delicate shade of pink with a tidy habit and refined leaf texture, even when this perennial isn’t in bloom. These are best sited in a full-sun location for optimal bloom production and work wonderfully in the front of either perennial beds or rock gardens.

Continuing with the pink theme, and blooming from summer and well into fall, is Echinacea purpurea (“PowWow Wild Berry”).

The Echinacea hybridizers have been going crazy producing new Echinacea cultivars and this is one you will certainly want to include in your garden. PowWow Wild Berry was an all-American gold medal winner for good reason. It thrives in full-sun locations and is drought-tolerant once established, featuring magenta blooms above sturdy two-foot tall stems.

The exceptional branching habit of this cultivar results in more blooms per plant and these blooms do not fade but retain their brilliant colour as they mature. It makes a beautiful cut flower and is favoured by a large variety of pollinators but not grazing deer.

Plant sale date set

We’ve set May 11 as the date for our annual spring plant sale to be held at Wild Bloom Nursery, 840 Old Vernon Road in Kelowna.

As in previous years, we will have a members-only pre-sale on the day prior to the sale. Consider becoming an OXA member for this benefit and many others listed on our website at www.okanaganxeriscape.org. Stay tuned to our social media accounts for all the upcoming details.

The Okanagan Xeriscape Association is grateful for the ongoing financial support of the Okanagan Basin Water Board and is proud to be collaborating on the Make Water Work campaign.

Sigrie Kendrick is a master gardener and executive-director of the non-profit Okanagan Xeriscape Association.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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Cheery, easy-to-grow plants for your garden

Colourful garden plants

Well, it’s that exciting time of year again when we begin to get ready for our Okanagan Xeriscape Association spring plant sale.

Last week, I picked up the first set of plant plugs from the wholesaler. Plugs are essentially baby plants that we then pot up to grow larger, in preparation for you to buy them at the sale. Depending on the size and strength of the plugs they are either potted up into four-inch pots or gallons.

This year we have three different types of Coreopsis available. Coreopsis, also known as Tickseed, is a genus of herbaceous perennials in the Asteraceae family.

Asteraceae or Compositae is the largest family of flowering plants and includes the daisy, sunflower, and aster families.

The genus name originated from the Greek words for ‘bug-like’ and refers to the seed heads which resemble a bug or tick.

Coreopsis is a stunning addition to your summer perennial border as they require little but provide a lot. Their reliable, long-blooming daisy-like flowers are produced from early summer through to fall if deadheaded after their initial bloom.

Coreopsis will provide the best show when sited in full sun, so at least six hours of direct sun, but they can tolerate partial sun but you’ll simply see fewer blooms.

These perennials are not fussy about soil and will tolerate both poor and rocky soils. Coreopsis will welcome bees, butterflies and birds to your garden and over time will naturalize to provide you with years of beauty.

They do not suffer any serious pest or disease issues but may develop crown rot when over-irrigated in heavy clay soils.

It is increasingly difficult to label anything in the garden “deer-resistant” but generally Coreopsis is ignored by deer. All of the Coreopsis mentioned below will normally survive Okanagan winters.

• Coreopsis pubescens “Sunshine Superman” or Star Tickseed is a clump-forming perennial native wildflower in the Central and South Eastern U.S. where it is found in areas with rocky, dry soil.

Sunshine Superman is more compact and floriferous than the species Coreopsis, reaching a height of one foot and growing to eight inches wide. This herbaceous perennial features a profusion of one-inch golden yellow flowers with notched petals and an orange central disk. Sunshine Superman is ideal in a meadow planting or naturalized area.

• Coreopsis hybrida “Uptick Cream and Red” wows with an impressive display of large pale cream blooms with a deep burgundy central patch and a yellow eye. These pollen-rich flowers attract a wide variety of beneficial insects with the plant reaching the height and width of one foot. ‘Uptick Cream and Red’ is ideally situated at the front of your perennial border.

Over the past few years the Uptick series has won an impressive list of landscape industry awards.

• Due to my love of all shades of red, my personal favourite is Coreopsis verticillata “Sizzle and Spice Hot Paprika.” Coreopsis verticillata or Threadleaf Coreopsis is native to Eastern North America and features thread-like, dainty foliage which provides a nice contrast to plants with heavier foliage even when not in bloom. The cultivar Sizzle and Spice Hot Paprika is diminutive enough to fit into smaller gardens reaching a height of 18 inches with a width of two feet with eye-catching 1.5-inch blooms of a rich deep red.

Date set for plant sale

We’ve set May 11th as the date for our annual spring plant sale to be held at Wild Bloom Nursery located at 840 Old Vernon Road. Membership to OXA has many benefits and as in years past we will be having a member-only presale on the Friday afternoon prior to the sale. Stay tuned to our social media accounts for all the upcoming details.

The Okanagan Xeriscape Association is grateful for the ongoing financial support of the Okanagan Basin Water Board and is proud to be collaborating with them on their Make Water Work campaign.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



Another successful Seedy Sunday event

Seed fair for gardeners

Hundreds of gardeners and the curious streamed through the doors of Parkinson Recreation Centre this past Sunday for yet another successful master gardener-sponsored Seedy Sunday.

I have had the pleasure of volunteering at the event for the last nine years and the magic never seems to dull.

Historically, Seedy Sunday is the unofficial kick off of the garden season as everyone gets together for the first time since the hiatus for winter and the mood is joyous. Basically, it’s a coming together of plant geeks who are just a bit winter stir-crazy and can’t wait to get their hands in the dirt and start growing things.

The enthusiasm is palpable as gardeners share seeds, plants and tubers, and perhaps more importantly, stories of successes and failures.

There were tables offering gardening advice and seed swaps as well as seeds by donation and for purchase

At the Okanagan Xeriscape Association (OXA) booth we had a wide variety of both perennial and annual seeds which had been harvested from our two demonstration gardens. They were available by donation.

I was fascinated to speak with one of the new vendors who specializes in carnivorous plants, something I knew little about.

Throughout the day there were presentations by experts on vegetable and container gardening and on the benefits of biochar to improve soil health.

Never disappointing is the children’s activity area where children and the young at heart could pot up plants to take away and delight in cuddling adorable day-old chicks. I had one fall soundly asleep in the warmth of my hands and it could have stayed there all day.

The OXA booth was extremely busy with volunteers fielding questions about xeriscape, a concept in which interest has ballooned following recent unprecedented fire seasons, heat domes, and drought.

The volunteers signed up a large number of new OXA members, in part because of the benefits from a newly-formed relationship between OXA and SiteOne Landscape Supply. SiteOne is now offering OXA members 10% off their contractor pricing at sites across the Okanagan and Canada. This is huge. Other benefits of membership include:

• Discounts at most Okanagan nurseries (list on website)

• Early admission to OXA plant sales

• Free admission to members-only OXA events

• A 10 per cent discount on OXA classes, workshops and seminars

• Members-only tours of facilities of interest

• Access to the member area page on the OXA website

• Membership in Mediterranean Gardening International (mediterraneangardeninginternational.org)

• Notifications about gardening news and events

• Opportunities to learn from xeriscape garden experts while volunteering

So, what are you waiting for? If you are doing any sort of gardening at all, the member benefits will easily pay for the price of the membership and if you are planning on a project, an OXA membership could save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

To purchase your 2024 OXA membership, go to okanaganxeriscape.org and click on the yellow box labelled Join OXA.

OXA has moved to digital membership cards, but you may print the digital card when you receive it by email, or just show it on your phone at nurseries and events. Membership fees for OXA will increase on March 15, 2024 after remaining unchanged since the organization was founded in 2009. Until March 15, the cost is $25 for individuals, $40 for families and $20 for students. As of March 15, those costs will rise to $35 for individuals and $55 for families, with the cost for students remaining unchanged.

We’ve set May 11th as the date for our annual OXA Spring Plant Sale to be held at Wild Bloom Nursery located at 840 Old Vernon Rd. Stay tuned for more information on the wide variety of xeric plants which will be available for purchase at the sale, many of which I will be featuring in upcoming columns and on our social media accounts.

The Okanagan Xeriscape Association is grateful for the ongoing financial support of the Okanagan Basin Water Board and is proud to be collaborating with them on their Make Water Work campaign.

Sigrie Kendrick is a master gardener and executive-director of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association and can be reached by email at [email protected].

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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Top three questions about xeriscape

Area appropriate plants

A great deal has changed in the gardening world in the last century in the Okanagan, so it’s appropriate the Kelowna Garden Club celebrated its 100th birthday with a day-long event with the theme Gardening into the Future, reflecting some of those changes.

Last weekend’s event was a day packed with valuable gardening information and tons of fun for gardeners.

There were five speakers and lots of vendors, all making the day feel like the kick-off for the upcoming gardening season.

My presentation was on the sustainable beauty that is xeriscape, after which I helped out people who visited the Okanagan Xeriscape Association’s booth with questions about xeriscape.

The event was extremely well-attended and we had people lined up waiting with questions. The three topics top of mind for those I spoke with were:

1. How to lose the lawn

2. Alternatives for cedar hedges

3. Gardening with native plants

Overwhelmingly, individuals were interested in either eliminating their turf grass altogether or significantly reducing the area of turf planted—and with good reason. People are embracing the idea that thirsty turf grass is not where we should be using our precious water. Turf offers few benefits but exacts a huge price in terms of water use, fertilizer, time and maintenance.

Head over to our blog, On the Dry Side, at www.okanaganxeriscape.org to read about the many options for turf removal and the pros and cons of each. If total removal seems daunting, consider expanding perennial beds or choosing xeric ground cover alternatives.

As previously discussed in this column, cedar hedges are an extremely thirsty choice for use as a privacy screen and not well-suited to our semi-arid environment. When, not if, more-stringent water restrictions occur, these hedges will die and then present a significant fire hazard.

Visit our our xeriscape demonstration garden at 4075 Gordon Drive to see first-hand some of the alternatives planted there.

You’ll see both evergreen and deciduous options such as Pinus flexilis (Limber Pine) and Ligustrum vulgare (European Privet), but there are any more hedging choices available on our plant database.

A few years ago, I planted the columnar Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon) for a client and after a few years for it to settle in, it has grown to form a stunning hedge.

Initially the client was reluctant to choose a deciduous option but after realizing they were snowbirds and away most of the winter, decided on the hibiscus. Now they are delighted by all of the pollinators visiting the pure white flowers well into the fall.

Today, there is a better appreciation of, and more interest in, gardening with plants native to the Okanagan.

An easy start to gardening with native plants is to plant them on the edges of your property and realize if you coddle them with water and fertilizer as you may do with your non-native pants, they will have a tendency to out-compete the non-native ones.

Though native plants will require supplementary irrigation to establish a strong root system, after that additional water may lead to root rot. They are happiest planted in lean soil with no amendments.

Native plants support native pollinators as they have evolved together over centuries, so consider finding space for them in your garden.

•••

One of the many benefits of a membership in Okanagan Xeriscape Association is the opportunity to purchase plants from XEN, the wholesale native nursery in West Kelowna.

Master Gardeners will host the always-popular Seedy Sunday on March 10 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Parkinson Recreation Centre. Admission to the event is $2 for adults, and children attend free of charge.

•••

We’ve set May 11 as the date for our xeriscape spring plant sale, so stay tuned to our social media accounts for all the upcoming details.

The Okanagan Xeriscape Association is grateful for the ongoing financial support of the Okanagan Basin Water Board and is proud to be collaborating with them on their Make Water Work campaign.

Sigrie Kendrick is a master gardener and executive-director of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association and can be reached at 778-363-8360 or by email at [email protected].

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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About the Author

I inherited my passion for gardening from my Australian grandfather, a renowned rose breeder in New South Wales. My interest in water conservation started early after a childhood spent growing up in the desert of Saudi Arabia, when a day of rain was cause for a national holiday.

After meeting Gwen Steele, co-founder of the OXA through the master gardener program, I became passionate about promoting xeriscape. I joined the OXA board as a director in 2015 and became executive director in 2019.

When not promoting the principles of xeriscape and gardening for clients throughout the valley, I can be found on a rural property outside of Kelowna where I harvest thousands of litres of rainwater with which to water my own xeriscape gardens.

Connect with me at [email protected].

Visit the website at: www.okanaganxeriscape.org

 



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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