237978
238275
Gardening-with-nature

Annuals provide a splash of colour to your garden

Colourful plantings

Bring on the show. These annual blooms are indispensable for garden colour.

Spring is in the air and these longer days are perfect for planting annuals for that glorious pop of colour in your garden. Whether planting in pots, baskets, window boxes or adding annuals to a perennial flower bed, there is little doubt these “one-hit wonders” really pack a punch.

True annuals are plants that complete their life cycle in one season and then die at season’s end, such as Zinnias and Cosmos. There are also perennials which are not winter hardy here in our growing zone, which we treat as annuals because they will not survive our winter temperatures. They include Verbena bonariensis and Osteospermums. There are literally thousands of annuals that can be used to brighten your garden areas in either sun or shade and are indispensable for giving newly-planted gardens that “full” look which is such demand.

For lots of great options with annuals, head to okanaganxeriscape.org and search our plant database for xeriscape options chosen for both their aesthetic and water conservation benefits.

Coming up in the Okanagan Xeriscape Association’s UnH2O garden right now are baby Tagetes tenuifolia, which successfully self-seed year after year. Also known as “Signet Marigolds,” this variety produces masses of simple yellow, orange and occasionally red blooms, a far-cry from its “pompom” cousin. These mounding plants reach a height of 18 inches and are therefore a perfect addition to the front of a border or for edging a walkway.

We also grow two Cosmos varieties in the garden, Cosmo bipinnatus and Cosmos sulphureus. Both are native to Mexico and Central America, where they thrive in arid conditions under full sun. Cosmos bipinnatus blooms in shades of white, pink, rose and bi-colour, reaching up to four feet high. Cosmos sulphureus flowers in warm shades of yellow and orange and can reach heights of six feet. Both Cosmos are drought-tolerant and are not fussy about soil. In fact, a rich soil may produce more vegetative growth at the expense of blooms, so do not fertilize Cosmos. The seeds of Cosmos can be sown directly into the garden after the threat of frost has passed or can be started indoors four to six weeks prior to last frost for earlier blooms.

One of my all-time favourite annuals is Verbena bonariensis or “Brazilian vervain.” Verbena bonariensis reach up to four feet in height with a width of two feet and blooms in lavender-purple flowers held on top of wiry stems. This annual is an excellent addition to mixed borders, cottage gardens and meadows where the slim stems give the effect that the flowers are floating on thin air similar to the effect of Gaura.

All of the annuals grown in both of our demonstration gardens are chosen to benefit bees, butterflies and all sorts of other pollinators. Visit either, or both, gardens to see their beauty for yourself.

I will be touring Okanagan nurseries and garden centres this spring supporting the many benefits of the Make Water Work plant list and campaign. Keep an eye on our social media for my schedule and stop in to say hi and to talk all things xeriscape.

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 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.



224643


Give your new plants their best start to life

Tips for planting in garden

Chances are many of you have done some plant shopping this spring, or gave a plant as a gift for Mother’s Day.

It is my hope you resisted the temptation to do any planting the previous weekend in the midst of that heat wave. It is extremely difficult for newly planted plants to begin to establish a healthy root system while they are being simultaneously subjected to scorching temperatures and they may be go into transplant shock. Often, that combined stress is too much for young plants and they either fail to thrive or die

If, due to weather or other circumstances, you must wait to plant your new purchases, put them in a shaded area and water them frequently. In hot or windy weather, plants may need watering twice a day.

When planting, always space your plants for their mature size. I can’t tell you the number of times I have seen a plant that will ultimately reach a height and width of four feet sited two feet away from another plant which will reach the same size.

Over-planting gives your garden that “full” look, but will ultimately lead to maintenance headaches in the future as you prune to reduce the size of your plants rather than for the health of the plants.

If you are unable to conceptualize the ultimate size your new plant will reach, I find it handy to use a tape measure and spray paint to accurately map the mature size.

To make sure the root ball is soaked, submerge each pot in a bucket of water until all the air bubbles cease. If the root ball is dry when you plant, the roots may stay dry regardless of how much you water the surrounding soil. Your plant may die from lack of water.

Dig a hole twice the width of the pot and slightly deeper than the pot and fill it with water. Wait until the water has soaked into the soil before planting. It is extremely important to loosen the root ball to encourage the roots to move into the new soil where they are being replanted. This may be achieved by gently teasing the roots outwards with your fingers or in the case of a pot-bound plant you may need a knife to cut shallow vertical incisions along the sides of the plant and across the bottom to encourage outward growth.

Although nurseries often encourage the use of bone meal at planting time, it is of negligible benefit in our primarily alkaline soil and can serve as an attractant to animals, such as dogs and bears, who may be encouraged to dig up your freshly-planted garden.

Place the plant in the hole, make sure it is slightly below the top of the hole and fill in the hole with soil, ensuring all surface roots are covered.

Press down firmly on the soil around the stem so the plant is in a slight depression, allowing water to soak down into the roots rather than running off.

So many of us garden in the Okanagan on some sort of slope. I suggest making a dike of soil around your new plant so rain or irrigation water will properly soak the root area.

Water in your new planting and apply a layer of mulch which will retain moisture and act as a weed suppressant.

•••

A huge shout out to our volunteers and partners who made our recent spring plant sale the most successful one to date.

The funds raised from the sale will continue to support the Okanagan Xeriscape Association as we focus on water conservation and education.

I recently spent an enjoyable day in Osoyoos at Sandhu Nursery speaking about the many benefits of the Make Water Work campaign and will do so throughout the Okanagan Valley in the coming months. Keep an eye on our social media for my schedule and stop in to say ‘hi’ and to talk all things xeriscape.

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 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.



Choose native plants to combat extreme weather

Climate appropriate plants

One sensible method of adding climate resilience to your garden, and combatting the effects of the extreme weather conditions we’ve experienced the past couple of years, is to choose plants native to the area.

One of the most significant benefits of plants native to the Okanagan, is their adaptability to the local climate and soil conditions. Thriving in the environment where they evolved, these plants require minimal maintenance once established, reducing the need for excessive watering, fertilizers and pesticides.

This resilience is especially vital in the face of climate change, where erratic weather patterns demand plants withstand extreme fluctuations in temperature and precipitation. Native plants are vital for maintaining biodiversity as these species provide essential food and habitat for local wildlife, from pollinators like bees and butterflies to birds and small mammals. They also play a crucial role in water conservation, adapted as they are to our semi-arid environment.

With their deep, extensive root systems, native plants successfully reduce runoff and effectively prevent soil erosion.

If you are searching specifically for native plants, or their cousins that have been hybridized, look no further than the annual Okanagan Xeriscape Association’s Spring Plant Sale this weekend, where we will have a large variety available. It wil be held May 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Wild Bloom Nursery, 840 Old Vernon Road in Kelowna.

As in previous years there will be a member-only pre-sale at the same location from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. fFriday evening (May 10) with a Happy Hour welcome table.

Consider becoming an OXA member for this benefit and many others listed on our website at www.okanaganxeriscape.org. We will have hundreds of xeric plants available for purchase and experts in xeriscape on hand to answer all your questions.

Both XEN and Wild Bloom nurseries will be in attendance as will the master gardeners, who can answer all your questions about gardening and plants. For those looking for a Mother’s Day gift, visit the OXA table where we will have a membership package, including gifts as well as a membership in OXA.

A few of my favourite native perennials which will be available are Allium cernuum, Aster conspicuus, and Geum triflorum.

Allium cernuum or “Nodding Onion” is easily grown in dry, well-draining soil in full sun or part-sun.It features grass-like foliage to a foot high with nodding clusters of lilac blooms appearing through the summer. Allium cernuum does not suffer from any serious pest or disease and its oniony fragrance acts as a deer deterrent.

Aster conspicuus, known commonly as “Showy Aster,” features blue-purple flowers reaching two feet high with a width of up to three feet. This aster is extremely long-blooming, beginning in June, (earlier than many asters) and continuing well into fall.

The common name for this aster indicates just how much value it gives both to you, and the many species of pollinators attracted to its flowers.

Geum triflorum, commonly referred to as “Prairie smoke” or “old man’s whiskers,” is a spring-blooming herbaceous perennial bearing clusters of nodding reddish-pink flowers on stems reaching 12 to 18 inches high. Almost more interesting than the blooms are the silvery seed heads which follow, resembling puffs of smoke and leading to its common name. Its fern-like foliage remains attractive all season and turns deep red as temperatures drop in the fall.

We will have a complete list of all the plants available at our sale on the website at okanaganxeriscape.org.

Consider setting aside a portion of your garden in which to include and appreciate the beauty of Aster conspicuus, Allium cernuum, and Geum triflorum, which extends far beyond mere aesthetics. These native plants are integral to our local ecosystem and in embracing them we foster a deeper appreciation for our beautiful Okanagan Valley and a sustainable approach to gardening.

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.

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



230857


Glorious ground covers for your Xeriscape garden

Covering garden ground

It has been said nature abhors a vacuum, and I have often reflected on this old adage when planning and planting gardens.

If you have a plant there, chances are, you won’t have a weed. This is especially true when considering ground covers, which act as an organic, living mulch and don’t need to be constantly topped up, as you would with a composted mulch such as Glengrow or Nature’s Gold.

These living mulches mimic what happens naturally on the forest floor and include all the benefits we associate with mulch, in that they act as a weed suppressant, they moderate soil temperature, and they conserve soil moisture.

We will have a variety of ground covers available for purchase at the Okanagan Xeriscape Association’s Spring Plant Sale on May 11. If you have either a baking, hot, sunny location or a spot with deep shade, we will have a ground cover to meet your needs.

For instance, the Moroccan Pincushion Flower, or Pterocephalus depressus, is a fantastic choice for those hot, sunny areas in your garden. This distinctive ground cover features greyish-green crinkled leaves which are tolerant of light foot traffic such as when used in-between flagstones.

Pterocephalus depressus is hardy in Zones 4 to 8, where it will form an evergreen mat a few inches high with a spread of 18 inches.

This ground cover flowers in late spring to summer with silvery-pink blooms similar to Scabiosa, which then transition into attractive silver seed heads. The blooms of Pterocephalus depressus are a magnet for a large variety of butterflies.

One of my favourite ground covers for a sunny to part-shade location is Persicaria affinis Dimity.

Also known as Himalayan Knotweed or Fleece Flower, this ground cover is as the common name suggests, native to the Himalayas, where it is found at altitudes up to 15,000 feet.

In our hot Okanagan summers, this Persicaria benefits from some afternoon shade where it will put on a display of rose-red blooms, ageing to pale pink, from July to October.

Ultimately, the flowers turn brown and remain on the plant, offering winter interest as well.

Persicaria affinis reaches a height of six to eight inches and a width of two feet. The leaves of this perennial turn brilliant bronzy-red as the temperature falls in the autumn, further adding to its value.

Lamium maculatum, known commonly as Spotted Dead Nettle, is an extremely versatile and easy-to-grow ground cover for a partial or full-shade location. This herbaceous perennial is hardy in growing Zones 4 to 8, completely appropriate for gardens in the Okanagan, where it will brighten a shady area with its heart-shaped variegated leaves even when not in bloom.

The cultivar “White Nancy” features silvery green leaves with a thin dark green margin and small white, hooded flowers. Lamium maculatum is extremely long blooming, beginning in late spring and continuing for months with some re-bloom in the fall. This ground cover is virtually disease and pest-free and is not favoured by deer.

It is extremely easy to propagate Lamium maculatum by stem layering. Simply push a stem, which is still attached to the mother plant, into the ground and cover it with soil, leaving only the tip visible. This tip will soon form a new plant.

•••

We’ve set May 11 as the date for our annual spring plant sale, to be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Wild Bloom Nursery, 840 Old Vernon Rd., Kelowna.

As in previous years, we will hold a members-only sale with refreshments on the day prior. Consider becoming an OXA member for this benefit and many others listed on our website at 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 with them on their 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.



More Gardening with nature articles



237922
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

 



239333
The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories



236311
238484


225779