Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Fresh Crop of Books (Plus another Book Giveaway)

Some of us are still waiting impatiently for Spring to arrive. Believe it or not, there was a light dusting of snow on the ground this morning!

I can't think of a better of a better way to laze-away a wintery evening than sipping a cup of coffee and thumbing through a spring catalogue of gardening books. Here are just a few of the books that caught my eye:

Small Green Roofs
By Nigel Dunnett, Dusty Gedge, John Little & Edmund C. Snodgrass
Paperback 256 pages; full color throughout
American Horticultural Society Book Award winner

We need to replace our garden shed and so this book cover grabbed my attention. I'd love to have a similar green roof on our new shed.

This book contains 40 illustrated profiles of small green roof designs with details on design, construction, installation, care and maintenance.

Cultivating Garden Style
Inspired ideas and practical advice to unleash your garden personality
By Rochelle Greayer
Paper over board
320 pages; full color throughout
Selection of the Homestyle Book Club

This guide to outdoor design by the editor of Pith + Vigor features 23 unique garden styles intended to help you find your personal garden style. There are lessons and tips in gardening and design, as well as step-by-step projects.

Worthy of note: this book contains over 1,500 photographs to inspire you.

This is a series of books covering: Asters, Epimediums, Ferns, Sedums, Snowdrops and Tulips. Carolyn of Carolyn's Shade Gardens, who is a snowdrop expert among other things, did a very favourable review of The Plant Lover's Guide of Snowdrops. The New York Times describes the series as "lavishly illustrated."

A Beginners Guide to Preserving Food at Home
By Janet Chadwick
240 pages; a mix of two-color and illustrations

This bestseller promises to take the fear out of canning, which is reassuring to people like me who are novice canners. The book covers best techniques for canning popular fruits and veggies.

Drink the Harvest
By Nan K. Chase & DeNeice C. Guest
Paperback 232 pages; Full color with photographs & illustrations

I like the idea that preserving summer's harvest extends beyond jams and pickles.

This book covers juices, ciders, wines, teas and syrups. There are also tips and growing and harvesting the necessary ingredients.

Rainbow of Foliage for Containers and Gardens
By Ray Rogers
Hardcover, 228 pages; full color throughout

Did you know that 2015 has been named as the Year of the Coleus by the National Garden Bureau (USA)?

With 225 varieties of Coleus featured in its pages and tips of propagation, care and use, this book covers just about everything you might want to know about the plant of the year.

Planting the Dry Shade Garden
By Graham Rice
Paperback, 192 pages; full color throughout

Moist shade, is one thing. Dry shade is double the challenge. A good chunk of my back garden is dry and shady, so a guide that highlights 130 plants that do well with reduced light and moisture, would be a handy reference.

Epic Tomatoes
By Craig Lehoullier
Paperback, 256 pages; full color photographs & illustrations

This book explains how to plant and grow tomatoes, as well as offers tips on how to control pests and diseases. Author Craig Lehoullier has spent over 30 years trialing tomatoes and highlights his top 10 tomato varieties.

Mosaic Garden Projects
By Mark Brody
Paperback 256 pages; full color throughout

For those of us still waiting for Spring, a garden art project might help keep us sane!
This book covers the basics of making a mosaic and has 25 projects with step-by-step instructions.


A few older Books you might want to look out for:

The Collector's Garden
By Ken Druse
Paperback 256 pages; full color throughout
American Horticultural Society Book Award winner

In The Collector's Garden author Ken Druse studies 28 gardens throughout the world that have a plant driven focus.

Natural Companions, The Garden Lover's Guide to Plant Combinations is second book by Ken Druse. It features stunning photographs by Ellen Hoverkamp.

The Layered Garden
By David L. Culp
Paperback 312 pages; full color throughout

This book, which I reviewed back in 2012, went on to be a bestseller and won a gold award from the Garden Writers Association. The Layered Garden shows gardeners how to layer plants with beautiful photographs of Culp's Brandywine Cottage Garden as illustration of the concept.

Below is an image of Brandywine Cottage's walled garden.
Image from The Layered Garden © David l. Culp & Timber Press, 2012. Used with kind permission from Timber Press.
Coming Soon:

The Magical World of Moss Gardening
By Annie Martin 
Paperback 264 pages; full color throughout
For Release July 2015

Two years ago I started growing some moss and was surprised and pleased by the results. Now I'd like to learn more about growing moss.

This book, by expert Annie Martin, covers the basics: tips on designing with moss, as well as planting and maintenance.

The Indestructible Houseplant
By Tovah Martin with Photography by Kindra Clineff
Paperback 328 pages; full color throughout
For Release June 2015

During the late fall and winter I lavish attention on my houseplants, but by summertime, they are looking forlorn and neglected, baking in the sun of my dinning room window. "Indestructible" could prove useful adjective in coping with my seasonal neglect!

In this book author Tovah Martin highlights indoor plants that are tough, beautiful, and readily available. In addition to plant profiles there are there are tips on care, maintenance and creating eye-catching indoor displays.

Disclaimer: This selection of books is entirely of my own choosing. I did receive a copy of Epic Tomatoes: How to Select & Grow the Best Varieties of All Time by Craig Lehoullier at the Garden Writers Association (Chapter 7) annual lunch that I am going to give away to one lucky reader.

If you would like to be entered in the draw to win Epic Tomatoes please leave a comment below. 

If you are a non-blogger and would like to enter please leave a comment on the Three Dogs in a Garden Facebook page (link to Facebook in the right sidebar).

Please make sure there is a way for me to get hold of you by Facebook or email! I am still struggling to contact Bonnie Johnson who won Grow Gardeners in my last book draw.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Garden of Donna & Duff Evers, Part 1: The Lakefront Terrace Garden

Donna and Duff Evers have the enviable view of a lake which sparkles through evergreen trees at the back of their home near Halifax, Nova Scotia. There is a short plateau of land with a deck and then the property rolls down in a gentle incline to the lake. 

Is it harder to garden on a slope than a flat piece of land? 

"There are days my aching bones make me wish I was gardening on a flat plot of land, but on the whole, the positives out weigh the negatives. And we don't have to go to the gym to work out," Donna laughs.

To ease the incline the Ever's have terraced the slope with a low stone wall that runs most of the width of the property. As you can imagine, this was no small undertaking.

Donna: "The stone work came first and we learned the hard way. Several walls did not come through the first winter and had to be rebuilt. We did things right the second time around. It helps to have a husband who likes working with stone. We handpicked the stone from a local quarry and trucked it home. The walls began with a three to four inch tamped base of crushed gravel. Fitting the stones together was a bit like working a jigsaw puzzle."

Marking the outer perimeter of the terraced garden is a square lattice fence.

Donna: "The fence in this garden serves several purposes. It defines the garden and separates it from the expanse of grass that is the septic field. It breaks up the wind from the lake and provides support for all the climbing vines."

"When making this garden we had to work around a massive stump that was impossible to move. We planted a climbing hydrangea and a clematis at the base of the stump. It took a while, but the hydrangea completely covers up the stump and the clematis now weaves its way through the hydrangea."

Donna: "Gardening on a sloping property definitely has it challenges. The biggest one is erosion. The terraces and stone work, combined with my obsession for over-planting has taken care of that problem. The stone walls with their excellent drainage have provided unique planting sites for lewesia, saxifraga and hens and chicks."

Donna: "The walls are a great place to sit with a coffee in the spring sunshine."

Lewisia cotyledon 

Donna: "I'd like to think that this plant was evidence of my gardening skill, but the truth is, it's dumb luck. Lewisia needs excellent drainage around the crowns to prevent rot in winter."

"I am never certain it will make it through the winter. Fingers crossed! It never seems to be happy on our rock walls. I must give it a little fertilizer this spring."

Bellflower, Campanula chamissonishas compact green leaves which grow not more than two to six inches high. Light purple, bell-shaped flowers with a white throat appear in mid-spring. Again, good drainage is essential. This campanula is not invasive. Full sun. Height: 5-15 cm ( 2-6 inches), Spread: 15-20 cm (6-8 inches). USDA Zones 4-7.

Donna: "The geum is the one everyone grows. It does really well in our dampish soil and it often has a few blooms again in fall. I love it planted with anything blue."

Geum borisii: Forms a low growing clump with sprays of bright orange flowers from early spring into summer. As Donna notes, it may even re-bloom in fall. Part shade and moist soil are best. Height: 30-45cm (12- 18 inches), Spread: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches)
USDA Zones: 5-7. Note: Geum borisii struggles with heat and humidity south of zone 7. 

Jacob's Ladder, Polemonium ( left) and Veronica gentianoides (right)

Two blue options from Donna's garden that might be planted with Geum:

Donna: "Jacob's Ladder, Polemonium (seen above on the right) likes dampish spots in our garden and it has become well enough established that I have been able to divide it and spread it about. It blooms earlier than other varieties of Polemonium and the foliage seems to be a little more delicate."

"Veronica gentianoides (seen above on the left) is another spring favourite. I love it planted with orange and yellow geum in the front border.  The leaves form a ground-hugging rosette and the spikes of flowers are the loveliest blue."

Donna: "The terrace wall needed to be backfilled with crushed stone to provide drainage. The crushed stone also helps with freeze/thaw winter conditions here in Nova Scotia. Most years the wall requires a bit of spring maintenance in the way of repositioning a stone or two."

"When completed we back filled the walls with quality garden soil and compost. Then the fun began. The area gets full sin all day long and we filled it with sun loving plants." 

Donna: "Duff chose a relatively flat spot and made a level pad of crusher dust. Over the winter it formed into a relatively solid base. The shed is a board and batten construction with a cedar shingled roof. The windows were recycled. I only wish it were bigger because it is filled to the rafters."

Rosa 'Father Hugo'

Donna: "Rosa 'Father Hugo' is an early bloomer and it does not repeat bloom. It is disease-free and low maintenance. I just have to cut it back from time to time so we can get to the shed. It has attractive reddish stems and great fall color. I have never seen it for sale in local garden centres. Ours came from a cutting taken from a friend's garden. Roses do not do well in our garden and so I am happy to have the lovely Father Hugo."

Father Hugo Rose or Golden Rose of China, Rosa hugonis 
Species rose (1899)
Is a vase shaped rose that can reach up to 9 feet tall. It is a very hardy (to Zone 5) and drought tolerant rose. It has attractive ferny foliage and single yellow roses in spring. ARS Rating: 8.7

More posts on Donna and Duff's garden up soon. 
Featured are the gardens to the front and right of the house.

And the Winner is...

All the "count me ins" went into my little floral draw box and hubby fished out the name of a lucky reader. I am happy to announce that the winner of a copy of Grow Gardeners is....drumroll please....

Bonnie Johnson 

Congratulations Bonnie! I will be in touch shortly by email to get your home address. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

10+ Favourite Shrubs

There were moments during the bleak, cold days of early April when I thought that spring would never arrive, but daffodils are poking up out of the ground and blooms are surely only days away. At last long last, spring is here! 

Shrubs have been on my mind as a prune away any dead, diseased or crossing branches in the garden. Here is just a sampling of what I think are the prettiest shrubs available:

Double Flowering Almond, Prunus triloba:
Is a member of the Rosaceae family and is actually a small deciduous tree. It has a vase shape and double pink flowers in early spring. Note: branches are good for forcing indoors.
Height: up to 12' Spread: 12' USDA Zones: 4-8

Double Flowering Almonds can be planted in a range of soils in sun, part-shade and shade. (Mine is in part-shade.)

Care and Pruning: 
Borers can be a problem, so keep your tree healthy and strong to resist attack from these pests. Make sure your Double Flowering Almond has a regular application of some fertilizer and is watered during periods of extended drought. Other pests and problems include Black knot which can cause black swelling of the branches. Foliage is susceptible to powdery mildew, so locate your tree in a area with good air circulation. Do any pruning after your shrub flowers in late spring.

Deutzia x lemoinei 'Compacta': has an upright habit and white flowers in spring. Plant it in sun to part-shade in average garden soil. It likes growing conditions to be on the moist side. Height: 4-6', Spread: the same. USDA Zones: 4-8. No serious diseases or problems. Prune in spring after flowering.

A Lilac in a private garden in Georgetown, ON

What's a garden without at least one lilac bush? I inherited several lilac bushes when we bought the house and have added more. The one I want to highlight today is a Dwarf Korean Lilac. Why? The fragrance of the flowers is simply amazing!
Dwarf Korean Lilac bloom in late spring with showy clusters of pale lavender flowers. The one I have in the front garden is almost ten years old and is just under 5'. Dwarf Korean Lilac can also be found as grafted standards. 
Height: 4-5', Spread: 4-5'. USDA Zones: 4-8.

Planting a Lilac: 
Plant a Dwarf Korean Lilac in early spring in well-drained soil. They do not like wet feet. Choose a sunny location that gets at least 4 to 6 hours of sun.

Pruning & Care:
A Dwarf Korean Lilac should only require watering during periods of drought. Lilacs are susceptible to powdery mildew, but I haven't had a big problem with powdery mildew so far.

I find my Dwarf Korean Lilacs requires less pruning than traditional lilacs. They bloom on growth from the previous year, so do any pruning after they flower in spring. Remove dead flowers and any diseased or crossing branches. After that, do a little pruning so the shrub keeps a nice shape.

A Fothergilla from the Toronto Botanical Gardens

Dwarf Fothergilla: A big reason this shrub makes it onto my list of favourites is that it provides 3 seasons of interest: white bottle-brush blooms in spring, green leaves in summer and orange leaves in fall. And it's also fragrant. Height: 2-6' depending on the cultivar. Spread: 4'-6'. USDA Zones: 5-8

Plant a Dwarf Fothergilla in early spring in moist, well-drained slightly acidic soil. Sun or light shade.

Pruning & Care:
Prune primarily to maintain a nice shape after it flowers in spring.

My garden in June.

Weigela: is a classic shrub. My Mom had an old fashioned pink Weigela that was as dependable as you could ever wish for. The height may vary according to the cultivar you chose. Some Weigela can reach as high as 10' and spread about the same. They like full sun and will grow in a range of soil types, but like so many plants, they prefer well-drained conditions. Prune them after they flower in spring. USDA Zones: 4-8.

Potentilla: Like Spirea, Potentilla have a bad rap from their overuse in commercial landscaping, where they can look a bit dusty and forlorn. One of the reasons they are used in this type of setting is because they are tough as old boots. They can handle heat, drought and poor soil.

I have a white Potentilla and it is just the loveliest shrub. It starts blooming in June and continues to bloom into early fall. Think past the familiar yellow potentilla you see everywhere because, they also come in: white, pink, orange and red. Potentilla like poor soil and full sun. They flower on new wood, so I prune mine after the first flush of flowers in spring. Height and spread depend on the cultivar. My white Potentilla is about 3.5' x 4' and is vase shaped. USDA Zones: 2-7.

My garden in June.

Beauty Bush, Kolkwitzia: This is a really pretty shrub. A Beauty Bush has a fountain shape with branches that hang in long, sweeping arcs. Height: 8-10', Spread: 8-10' USDA Zones: 5-9.

Plant a Beauty Bush in full sun in average garden soil.

Pruning and Care: 
A Beauty Bush has no major pests or diseases. This shrub blooms on old wood so prune in spring after it flowers. Cut old canes to the ground to renew the shrub.

Golden Mock Orange, Philadelphus coronarius 'Aureus' is a compact shrub with fragrant white flowers. The foliage starts off quite yellow and becomes greener over the summer. This shrub has an upright spreading habit and can be grown in moderately fertile, well-drained soil. Full sun to light shade. Prune after flowering as necessary and mature branches by one-third on older shrubs. Height: 6-10' Spread: 6-10' USDA Zones: 3b-8.

Golden Mock Orange has wonderfully fragrant flowers.

Hydrangea paniculata 'Quick Fire': The thing I like best about this hydrangea cultivar is its amazing transitions in color. The buds and first flowers are white. Then they blush into a deep rose.

Finally the rose fades into a warm beige in fall. Height: 4-5', Spread: the same. USDA Zones: 4-8.

Planting: Hydrangea paniculata 'Quick Fire' likes full sun and good loamy soil, but it will happily put up with average garden soil.  This cultivar is not as water dependant as some hydrangeas and will tolerate some drought.

Pruning:  Flowers are produced on new wood. Prune 'Quick Fire' in late winter or early spring.

Rose of Sharon, Althea
Despite being a magnet for Japanese Beetles, I can't imagine being without a Rose of Sharon. They begin to flower in the heat of summer long after most other shrubs have packed it in. 
Flower colors include blue, pink, lavender, and white. Bees and hummingbirds love Rose of Sharon. One drawback is their tendency to self-seed prolifically. 
Height: 8'-12', Spread: 6'-12'. USDA Zones: 5-11

A long view just to give you an idea of shape and size.

My Rose of Sharon
Plant them in rich, well-drained soil in sun or very light shade. Rose of Sharon like the soil to be somewhat moist. Too little water may cause buds to drop.

Pruning & Care:
Add a layer of compost in spring and cover it with mulch to help the soil retain its moisture. Water your Rose of Sharon if there is less than an inch of rainfall in a given week. Rose of Sharon shouldn't require much pruning. They flower on the current year's growth, so prune for shape in early spring before leaf buds open.


Ninebark, Physocarpus opulifolius 'Dart's Gold': Most often these days you see Ninebark with dark burgundy or copper foliage being featured, so I thought I would highlight a golden-green Ninebark instead. 'Dart's Gold' has maple leaf-like foliage that start off in spring as a golden yellow and then ages into a deep lime-green over the summer. This shrub has small white flowers in clusters.
Height: 5-6', Spread: about the same. USDA Zones: 3-8.

Planting: Golden Ninebark needs full sun to very light shade (at least 6 hours of sun). Average garden soil is fine. Water regularly until your shrub is established.

Pruning: Reinvigorate the shrub each spring by removing some of the older branches at the base. Other than that, prune it after its flowers to maintain its shape.

What do you think? Are there any other shrubs that should have been added to my list?