Rainy days mean more time to plan garden changes

Harrison's resident Green Thumb shares tips and answers garden questions

Since March had so many rainy days, there has been plenty of time to plan any garden changes that may be needed. Established gardens require changes as trees and shrubs become over-grown or die out. Many dwarf plants have been developed to accommodate balconies, townhouse patios and for smaller yards that are being requested today. For landscaping a new yard or rethinking an older one, check out Canadian Gardening magazine’s article “Garden Design 101,” on line, to learn the basics. I found the article easy to understand and to apply the information.

Gardening Questions and Answers

How do I prune my heathers once they stop flowering? Is it the same for Ericas and Calunas?

The Erica heaths, which are blooming now, can be pruned back, but only as far as there is  green growth. If the leafless old wood is exposed, it will not produce new shoots and will remain unattractive. The only solution then is to remove the plant and replace it. They grow fast and are economical to purchase. Never pruning a heath will eventually result in a plant that is bare and thinly developed in the center. Ericas are pruned around late April or after the flower color fades. Flower buds for winter blooming form in the fall, so no pruning should be done then. Whoever prunes the 25 heaths at our house, has definitely drawn the “short straw!”

Caluna, summer-blooming heathers, grow their flowers on a leafless stem. They should be pruned at the base of the flowers after blooming. Because the dried flower remains on the plant, it is difficult to determine when it is finished. It is time to prune when the flower crumbles to the touch. They can be pruned in the fall or early spring.

Should I order perennial plants from a catalog?

It depends on what is being ordered. If a plant is rare and difficult to find at a nursery, then go ahead. Most perennial plants in the catalog are sent “bare root” which means there are no small root hairs, therefore, they will take longer to establish. Usually, at least 3 bare roots will be needed to provide a nice full plant. Compare the price to an established plant at a nursery before ordering.

Which flowers attract wildlife to the home garden?

According to researchers, bees are more attracted to blue, yellow, and purple flowers. Some patterns on petals point the way to the nectar and of course, perfumed scents are not lost on bees. Hummingbirds are mostly attracted to red tubular blooms, but will also use other colors. Single blooms such as columbine, azalea, trumpet vine, fuchsia, crocosmia and nicotiana are easier to access.  Butterflies prefer composite type flowers, those with flat tops or clusters of small flowers, such as verbena, butterflyweed, butterfly bush and large flowering sedums. Plants that attract wildlife should be grown throughout the flowering season.

To maintain a healthy ecosystem in our gardens, we should create more habitat and use less pesticides.  For additional information about bee culture and keeping it in balance with nature, see “Queen of the Sun,” at the Agassiz United Church April 22, at 7p.m.

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