Thursday, November 19, 2015

5 More Ways to Dress Up a Basic Evergreen Wreath

Last holiday season I gave myself a challenge: take a basic evergreen wreath and personalize it. I had so much fun with this project, I thought I would do it again this year.

In case you missed it, here's a quick snapshot of I came up with:

Based on page views, your favourites were the Lady Bug Wreath and the Blue Jay Wreath

I also did a Partridge and Pear Wreath, A White Rose & Berry Wreath and a Fruit & Berry Wreath (the links will lead you to the how-to's).

This year, the challenge again began with a very basic evergreen wreath, which I purchased at the grocery store for $10.99. 

My wreath came with a rather sad, crumpled bow and a few token pinecones. But the hard work was done for me, so I am not complaining. All I had to do was to dress it up and make it pretty!

So what did I come up with for the 2015 holiday season?

A Snowy Owl Holiday Wreath

A Holiday Bell Wreath

An Antique Rose Holiday Wreath

A Butterfly Holiday Wreath

And finally, a Teddy Bears and Toys Holiday Wreath.
This one is for the children or grandchildren in your life!

So what's your favourite?

And the Winner Is...

My son Daniel again agreed to draw the winning entry for a copy of The Art of Gardening: Design Inspiration and Innovative Planting Techniques from Chanticleer.

There were names entered in the draw box from the comments and the Three Dogs in a Garden Facebook page. In addition, I had a one entry submitted by email.

Without further ado, the the winner is....

Pauline! Pauline is an artist who carves in wood, so there couldn't be a more perfect winner for The Art of Gardening.

Congratulations Pauline! I will be in touch shortly to get your home mailing address.

If you are not a winner this time take heart, there will be one more chance to win a book before Christmas! 

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Holdouts

Today I am looking back on the golden days of autumn with an eye to fabulous foliage and perennials that continued to bloom well into the season.

 Fantastic Autumn Foliage:

Caryopteris divaricata 'Snow Fairy' is a plant that I always looks spring-fresh in late summer and fall. Full sun to light shade. Height: 60 cm and Spread: 60cm (very similar in size and shape to a small Spirea).

I have a number of Ninebark all of which look terrific in autumn.

Delicate looking Switch Grass, Panicum Virgatum 'Northwind' is one of my favourite grasses. It forms a neat, upright clump of blue-green foliage and tolerates a range of soils and moisture levels. This grass's best feature is the cloud of beige panicles that in appear in late summer. Full sun. Height: 120-150 cm (47-59 inches), Spread:60-90 cm (23-35 inches). USDA Zones: 4-9.

Evening Primrose, Oenothera tetragona is a bit of a nuisance because it spreads a bit to aggressively, but it redeems itself a little each fall when it turns a brilliant red. Height: 30-50 cm, Spread: 30-40 cm. Sun or part shade. USDA Zones: 3-9.

Euphorbia 'First Blush' likes dry, sunny conditions. It has light green foliage with cream margins and a blush of rose. In spring, it has yellow flowers, but the true beauty of this plant is in the foliage. Warning: this plant has a milky sap that is irritating to skin. It's a good idea to wear gloves when you are doing any pruning. Height: 25-30 cm ( 10-12 inches), Spread: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches). USDA Zones: 5-9.

Euphorbia polychroma 'Bonfire' has foliage that emerges as green and then quickly becomes a mix of maroon and green. It also has bright yellow bracts in June. In fall, the color seems to intensify and the plant becomes magical when covered with frost crystals. Full sun and normal or sandy, dry soil. Warning: this plant also has a milky sap that is irritating to skin. Again, it's a good idea to wear gloves when you are doing any pruning. Height: 25-30 cm ( 10-12 inches), Spread: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches). USDA Zones: 5-9.

Frost always does them in, but up until that point, Coleus looks terrific in conjunction 
with other autumn foliage.

One of my birdbath planters. The ceramic mushrooms are from the Dollar Store.

Fabulous Autumn Flowers:

My picture does not do this plant justice. It is a great perennial to have for fall color.

Turtlehead, Chelone lyonii 'Hot Lips' has pink hooded flowers from August into September. Turtlehead prefers moist soil, but does fine enough in my garden. Full sun or light shade. Height:60-90 cm (18-23 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm. USDA Zones: 3-9.

Agastache 'Blue Fortune: I have featured this perennial any number of times, so I'll keep it short and sweet here. I love the frosty blue flowers and the pinkish cast the leaves take on as the temperatures drop. 'Blue Fortune' always looks great well into October.

Dwarf Calamint, Calamintha nepeta ssp. nepeta

 It's a bit of a shaggy dog, but the warm blue flowers are a nice color infusion to my fall garden.

Anise Hyssop, Agastache 'Little Adder' is a new introduction that is much shorter than Agastache 'Black Adder'. It blooms from late spring into fall. 'Little Adder' is only hardy to zone 5, so fingers crossed it makes it through an Ontario winter. Full sun and average growing conditions. Height: 40-45 cm (15-18 inches), Spread: 50-60 cm ( 20-24 inches). USDA Zones: 5-9.

Wild Bergamont or Monarda fistulosa

Wild Bergamont,  Monarda fistulosa is a skyscraper that can reach up to 5 feet. It started blooming in August and continued to flower into late September. Unlike modern hybrids, it can be prone to outbreaks of powdery mildew. Even so, it is well worth having in your garden. Bees and butterflies love it. Full sun to light shade. Average soil. USDA Zones: 3-9.

Two very similar Phlox. Both bloom a bit later than most of the other common varieties of Phlox.

Phlox paniculata Nora Leigh has white flowers with a magenta-colored eyes. The leaves are green with a narrow cream-colored margins. Full sun or light shade. Height: 70-75 cm (27-29 inches), Spread: 60-75 cm (23-29 inches). USDA Zones: 4-9.

Phlox paniculata 'Creme de Menthe' has wonderful green leaves with large, cream-colored margins. The flowers are also white with a magenta-colored eye. Full sun or light shade. Height: 90-120 cm (36-48 inches), Spread: 60-90 cm (24-36 inches). USDA Zones: 4-9.

I'll announce the winner of the latest book draw shortly.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Book Review & Giveaway:The Art of Gardening

Pause for a second and think: when are you at your most creative in the garden?

R. William Thomas, director and head gardener at Chanticleer, begins each day with a walk around the gardens accompanied by his corgi Jesse. It is on these morning strolls that he takes a critical look at what is working in the garden and what needs to be changed or moved. Could a particular flowerbed be better? Perhaps it is time to try something new? While he considers questions like this; he pauses to pull the odd weed, prune the occasional branch.

In his travels, Bill Thomas meets with the garden's staff and listens to their latest ideas. Most of these creative discussions are accompanied by plenty of excited hand waving. Design is often a solitary creative act, but at Chanticleer it is a collaborative exercise.

When I read the passage in the book The Art of Gardening in which Bill Thomas describes his daily wander through the garden, I could absolutely relate to his experience. Before I begin any work, I take a turn around the garden with my two dogs in tow. I admire what's blooming and make mental notes on what chores need to be done. Almost always I get distracted by some problem or surprise.

For me, this is when I am the most creative in the garden. I dream. I ponder. I plan.

Though I sometimes tire of the hard physical work that gardening entails, but I never ever tire of the the creative process I think of as the "art of gardening".

Taken from The Art of Gardening © Copyright 2015 by the Chanticleer Foundation. All rights reserved. 
Published by Timber Press, Portland OR. Used by permission of the publisher.

Let me tell you a bit more about Chanticleer.

Located just outside of Philadelphia, Chanticleer is was originally built as a summer home for the wealthy Rosengarten family. As a bit of humour, the estate was named after the grand, yet heavily mortgaged Chanticlere in Thackeray's 1855 novel  The Newcomes. Today the entire property is managed by the Chanticleer Foundation and the garden is open for the education and enjoyment of the public. 

In the years since becoming a "pleasure garden" much has changed at Chanticleer. It has evolved from a country estate to a dynamic, contemporary garden that has garnished an international reputation for its innovative plantings.

Chanticleer's design, and even the furniture, gates and bridges arise from the combined efforts of the gardening staff. Because the gardeners are encouraged to be inventive, the garden changes dynamically from year to year and even season to season.

Taken from The Art of Gardening © Copyright 2015 by the Chanticleer Foundation. All rights reserved. 
Published by Timber Press, Portland OR. Used by permission of the publisher.

It seems only fitting that an innovative garden would spawn a novel gardening book.

Most books are written by one or maybe two people. The Art of Gardening however, is written by the large team of horticulturalists responsible for making Chanticleer the groundbreaking garden that it has become.

The result is a refreshing mix of voices and blend of viewpoints on a wide range of gardening related topics. By way of example, here are three distinct and interesting perspectives on color from the book:

Doug Croft: "I think of using color in the garden like I approach investing- diversification is the key."*

Emma Seniuk"I delight in combining colors that others might consider discordant, like orange and magenta. Color is, after all, not just color. There are hues, tones, and saturations to consider... Color like many other things in life is complicated."*

Joe Henderson: " I am dazzled by color and want it bright, searing, and unencumbered by fashionable trends."*

* Excerpted from The Art of Gardening © Copyright 2015 by the Chanticleer Foundation. All rights reserved. Published by Timber Press, Portland OR.  Pg. 156-7.

Taken from The Art of Gardening © Copyright 2015 by the Chanticleer Foundation. All rights reserved. 
Published by Timber Press, Portland OR. Used by permission of the publisher.

What does a book on a large public garden have for you the home gardener? 

Well, the book offers the reader a nice blend of inspiration and practical craft that can easily be transferred to the smaller space. While it is a sizeable public garden, Chanticleer is made up of a series of smaller garden "rooms" that have a scale similar to most residential gardens. 

Taken from The Art of Gardening © Copyright 2015 by the Chanticleer Foundation. All rights reserved. 
Published by Timber Press, Portland OR. Used by permission of the publisher.

In gardening as in design, there is no right and wrong. Rules are only made to be broken. Though it isn't always regarded as such, I do believe gardening is an art form. It takes artistry to combine colors, textures, scents and sounds in a way that is pleasing to the senses. 

While it involves a lot of hard, but satisfying physical work, I think it is the creative challenges that make gardening so appealing. 

Taken from The Art of Gardening © Copyright 2015 by the Chanticleer Foundation. All rights reserved. Published by Timber Press, Portland OR. Used by permission of the publisher.

The Art of Gardening is a book you might want to consider adding to your Christmas wish list. Filled with gorgeous photography, it will see you through the bleak winter months with lots of inspiration for your garden next spring.

The Art of Gardening at a Glance:
Book Authors: R William Thomas and the Chanticleer Gardeners
Photographer: Rob Cardillo
Publisher: Timber Press
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 338 pp.
Images: 276 color photos

Thomas Allen & Sons has given me a review copy of the new book: The Art of Chanticleer. I am going to give it away to one lucky reader.

Leave a comment if you would like to be included in the book draw. The draw will remain open for the next 7 days. If you are not a blogger, you can enter to win on the Three Dogs in a Garden Facebook page. Please make sure there is a way for me to track down your email address should your name be drawn.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Gardeners Beware! Poisonous Plants & Berries

"Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake"
                                              William Shakespeare from Macbeth

In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I would do a post on poisonous plants and berries. 

Foxgloves and Monkshood are very often singled out as poisonous garden plants. In fact, one of the first things you are likely to read about Monkshood, Aconitum is that it is poisonous. Certainly Monkshood should be handled with caution, but it is also a really nice flower to grow in moist, part shade. 

Foxgloves, Digitalis contain cardia glycoside toxins which can effect the heart muscle in both humans and pets. It is also the source of a heart medication that has saved may lives. 

Foxglove, Digitalis (left) and Bi-color Monkshood, Aconitum (right)

Foxgloves and Monkshood may be among the best known poisonous plants, but there is actually a long list of plants that are poisonous to both humans and pets. 

When dealing with poisonous garden plants some good common sense goes a long way:

• Avoid eating, drinking or smoking when around plants that are known to be poisonous. 

• Dispose of toxic plant material carefully making sure they are out of reach of children and pets. 

• Wash your hands after handling poisonous plants, or even better, wear garden gloves. 

• Do not assume a plant is non-toxic because birds or wild animals eat them.

• If you think that a child has eaten a doubtful plant, seek medical advice immediately. Take a sample of the plant with you to the emergency department to aid the plant's identification.

• If you think your pet has ingested a poisonous plant, call your vet right away. Again, take a sample of the plant with you to the vet's office to aid with identification.

In the late summer and fall the garden often is filled with shiny, ripe berries that might appear tempting to a young child. 

• You may want to consider avoiding plants with toxic berries until your toddler is old enough to understand they are not to be eaten.

• It's a good idea to teach young children never to put mushrooms, berries or any part of a plant in their mouth.

• It's always wise to supervise a young child in the garden.

Starting from the left: Yew berries, Pokeweed berries, Cotoneaster berries, Blue Colash berries

Here are just a few common berries that are poisonous:

Yew, Pokeweed, Bittersweet, Belladonna, Ivy, Mistletoe, Poison Ivy, Holly berries, Jerusalem Cherry, Doll's Eyes and Cotoneaster berries.

I consider myself lucky. My dogs don't like to dig and aren't interested in eating bulbs or plants. The only thing they have ever eaten is the odd cherry tomato. 

Here are some common plants poisonous to pets:

Autumn Crocus: Fall blooming crocus contain colchicine which is toxic to pets and may result in respiratory failure, liver and kidney damage, vomiting and gastrointestinal bleeding. (Spring crocus may cause vomiting and diarrhea, but aren't as harmful).

Azalea: Ingestion of an azalea's leaves may cause vomiting, diarrhea and drooling. Without quick veterinary attention, a pet may fall into a coma and possibly die.

Cyclamen: Ingestion of the roots of a cyclamen may cause vomiting and even death.

Lilies: Tiger, Daylilies, Asiatic and Easter lilies are particularly toxic for cats. Even the ingestion of a few petals or leaves can cause kidney failure and death.

Daffodils: Ingestion of the bulb, plant or flower can cause vomiting, diarrhea, slowed breathing and even cardiac arrhythmia.

Lily of the Valley: Like foxgloves, Lily of the Valley contains cardiac glycosides. When ingested Lily of the Valley can cause vomiting, a drop in heart rate or cardiac arrhythmia and seizures.

Tulips & Hyacinths: When any parts of these plants are ingested they can cause drooling, vomiting and diarrhea.

This is a short list. If you have a pet that likes to snack in the garden, do your research before you bring a plant home for your garden. 

Sadly, there is quite the long list of plants you may have to avoid.

White Amaryllis

Houseplants can also be a concern for pets. Here is a list of just a few of the common houseplants that are poisonous for pets:

Amaryllis, Asparagus Fern, Azaleas, Chrysanthemum, Poinsettia, Pot Mum and Spider Mum

Bottom Line: If you think your pet has eaten something and is showing any signs of poisoning, consult a veterinary immediately.

Ways to deter pets from nibbling on houseplants:

• Put the houseplant up out of reach on a shelf or plant stand. You can also put houseplants in a hanger.

• Spray houseplants with diluted lemon juice (one part juice to two parts water) or bitter apple.

• Put plants in a glass terrarium.

• Offer an alternative. Buy kitty grass for your cat.

• Boredom is one of the major causes of bad behaviour. Offer chew toys and other safe forms of entertainment.

A few ways to deter pets from eating garden plants:

• Build raised flower and vegetable beds.

• If you have a large yard, consider creating a fenced pet friendly area and restrict them to it.

• Alternately, enclose your garden with a fence that will keep pets at a safe distance. A friend of mine has a lovely formal garden that is fenced and gated in her large open backyard.

• Consider netting or chicken wire to keep your pet away from problem plants.

• Train your dog. Praise him or her when he or she responds to firm correction.

The boys and I hope you are having a spooktacular Halloween!

More Information and Links:

Government of Canada List of Poisonous Plants
Canadian Child Care Federation list of toxic plants.

Article: "Will a Poisonous Plant Really kill your Pet" by Meredith Swinehart for Gardenista.