I've been almost hesitant to say anything for fear of jinxing it - but this has been an usually mild March! Usually it is the month we get the most snow, which is hard to believe considering the weather we've had lately!
Remember the beautiful September we had as well? And the sudden freeze in early October when the trees hadn't even had a chance to change their leaf colour and store energy in their roots for the winter? This means they're probably going to be a wee bit stressed this spring - it'll be a good idea to make sure they've got some water as soon as they start to awaken. i.e. water now.
What's the best way to do that? With a soaker hose around the drip line (directly under the outermost branches of the tree). Turn it on and leave it for around 12 hours so the water soaks slowly into the soil and doesn't run off. Your trees will thank you!
I certainly wasn't counting on getting started so early in the year, but who knew March was going to be so nice? With the help of some friends, we got a good start on removing the ugly "greenhouse" this week-end. Something I've wanted to do for several years now. Hooray!
"Spring is a great time to rejuvenate your lawn. Start by raking and aerating after the frost is out of the ground and your lawn is dried out enough to work. Then add 1–2.5 cm of rich loam. Scatter grass seed over top. Of course, you will need consistent moisture for the grass seed to germinate, so water at least once per day for the first two weeks. Then water twice per week until the grass is well established."
- Hole's Greenhouses, Jim's Notebook March 25 2010
Actually, I would add one more thing to this procedure and a comment: If your lawn is old and especially if it gets high traffic, then the soil is probably quite compacted. Get it aerated after raking and before adding the loam. And don't bother getting the power raking that many lawn service companies offer!
This just in from the Calgary Horticultural Society:
"The Alberta Perennial Trials results from 1999-2001, 2002-2004, 2005-2007 and 2006-2008 are now available on Alberta Agriculture's website 'Ropin' the Web'. The easiest way to find them is to go to the Alberta Perennial Trials blog site at:
I am starting to work on that presentation I mentioned a few weeks ago. What do you think?
Tickets Now On Sale!
Early Bird Pricing - Save $2 by purchasing your tickets on-line or visit Greengate Garden Centre @ 1411 MacLeod Trail South. All guests will receive a 15% discount coupon for Greengate.
New for 2010: Weekend Pass only $18! See all the speakers (over 20!) and Jim Hole is back! Participate in many activities all weekend long!
Visit the Membership booth at the Garden Show (front entrance of Equi-plex) and enter your name in one of our membership draws and pick up a free bag of soil, compliments of Miracle Grow. Over 600 1L bags available to members ONLY. First-come-first serve. One bag per member please.
Get your hands in the soil early!
Garden Show Workshops - 9 exciting projects to choose from.
Register today! Forward this on and share with your gardening friends.
Plants that Bite Back!
Fun, family activity with Greengate's greenhouse manager, John Duncan.
Learn all about the Venus Fly Trap. Build a Terrarium with the carnivorous plant to take home.
Registration required. Only $12, includes instruction, terrarium and plant.
Fun, friendly, container garden competitions!
Start gardening early and showcase your talents! 2 Competitions to choose from: Adult and Children's categories. Get your kids involved in gardening early!
Voted by People Choice. Cash prizes begin at $250! Ribbons too! Join the fun, register now!
Garden Show Raffle
You could visit Butchart Gardens this summer. Or be sitting in a beautiful hand-crafted gazebo. These are just 2 of the 5 prizes available. Purchase your raffle tickets at the garden show or visit the Society office, 208 - 50 Ave SW.
We could use your help selling raffle tickets, stop by the office and sign out some booklets and invite your friends and family to purchase raffle tickets. All proceeds support the Society's year round activities. Our goal is to raise $10,000. If you would like to help us reach our goal please stop by and pick up some tickets. Thank you!
New for 2010 - New building added! More Food! New Food Menu in Congress Hall! More Parking! New Container Competitions! New Speakers! Outside Exhibits! Children's Activities! More Garden Workshops! Something to see, do and learn all weekend long. April 10 & 11, 9 am to 6 pm each day.
Thank you for your support.
2010 Garden Show Committee
It's Seedy Saturday today but I never get a chance to go to this event because I'm always frantically getting ready at the last minute for my daughter's birthday party. I did however, take some time this morning to start some more seeds (priorities!):
The seeds I started 2 weeks ago are all up and doing well - except the potentilla, of which only one germinated. Those seeds were also from an exchange and were labelled 2006, so I didn't have huge expectations for them anyway. As soon as there's room on my heat mat (probably about a week or so) I'll be starting some tomatoes - yee ha! It feels like spring!
To see some of the annuals I started from seed last year, check here. I notice I was complaining last August that I planted too many big annuals and should plant less in the future... yeah, that was the wisdom of mid-summer talking. Currently I'm in the middle of spring deprivation and my spring self is not listening to my summer-self... the more seeds the better! I can always give some plants away if necessary.
Now excuse me, I've got a birthday party to get ready for...
Is it more spring fever? Or am I not the only selfish, flower-deprived gardener who buys flowers for her four-year-old for her birthday? (I did buy her something else, too!)
Can you guess which arrangement she did herself?
... and nobody can say I don't plan ahead! While we've got a playhouse in the works for this year, I want to have hubby build the playhouse in such a way that when the kids are older, we can turn the frame into a pergola.
What I like in this picture is the small stone wall that provides an extra place to sit if necessary. I also like the little rectangular garden on the outside of the stone wall.
This little wall is an extra touch that would be so easy to build, would lend a sense of permanence to the structure, and would also reflect some heat to the garden in front of it, creating a little micro-climate for heat-loving plants. The spot where I have in mind for this idea would also benefit visually because the small garden would break up a large expanse of patio. I am definitely keeping this idea for when my pergola gets built, someday in the far distance future...This picture is also taken from "Garden Magic; Inspired Garden Design" by Gisela Keil and Gary Rogers.
After the "greenhouse" comes down, we're planning to build a playhouse for the kids. Personally, I love this one, although there's probably a few too many pots scattered around to be considered safe...
This picture came from a book entitled "Garden Magic, Inspired Garden Design" by Gisela Keil and Gary Rogers. It's definitely inspiring!
As I mentioned previously, I'm supposed to make a presentation in a couple of weeks about edible gardening in Calgary. While there are some specific things people need to know that are very unique to Calgary, the basics of starting a vegetable garden don't change, and the Renegade Gardener just posted an excellent article. Do you read the Renegade Gardener? I can't remember when I first discovered him, but I've been reading him for years. He knows his stuff and he tells it like it is!
Now, back to preparing that presentation...
‘As an activity, gardening is a combination of immediacy and imaginative production. Perhaps that is why it is so satisfying – a fusion of physical endeavor with a dream of things to come. A garden is perilously unstable. A few decades of neglect and it melts into the landscape, its existence to be read only by the perceptive. It becomes archaeology, with some tenacious growths hinting at what once was there.
‘Gardeners know this; the fragility of the present is set against the robustness of digging and planting, the emphatic qualities of earth and roots and stems.
‘To garden is to seize the day.’—Penelope Lively, “A House Unlocked”
Did you get outside this past week-end? My hubby took the two older kids out Sunday afternoon and while the youngest had a nap, I suddenly found myself all alone in my own house in the middle of the day for the first time in I-don't-know-how-long! Excitement!
Of course, I had to get outside and do something. Since the pruning is already done. I decided to take a peek under the "greenhouse" to see what's under there. I've been talking for years about taking this ugly, rotten, behemoth down. It only gets about 2 hours of direct sunlight.
It doesn't look pretty. Besides the ant, wasp and mouse nests that I have already seen evidence of, it looks like there are cement piles that the corners of the structure are resting on. This will be no small job. But with our retaining wall project melting into the forgotten recesses of our memories, hubby is committed to getting rid of this thing; this will be the first project of spring.
I don't know why I didn't think of this years ago! I like to leave a few pots outside to look at in the winter, but I never get around to those fancy winter displays of evergreen branches and berries that look so great. But here's a pot in my backyard that had a carex (sedge) planted in it last summer. Carex is not hardy here but treated as an annual it looks great in containers all year long! This year I'm planning to put sedges in more of my pots - especially the ones that I can see from the house during the winter. Here it was in summer with a geranium and something else that I can't remember right now:
Everyone's talking about spring. It was gorgeous in Calgary this past week-end! Well, gorgeous weather-wise, not gorgeous garden-wise. Personally I'd rather have snow than the brown dirty mess we have right now.
But to get me through these last few weeks until spring without spending too much more money, I've finally got around to starting some seeds. No veggies yet, too early. Just a couple of easy-to-grow perennials and some slow-growing snapdragons (which, actually, I should have started a couple of weeks ago). But for the record, here's what's going so far:
For a straightforward article about starting seeds, click here.
This weather must be getting to me. I keep saying that you shouldn't even dream about gardening in Calgary until at least mid-April (when it's time to put pansies outside) - that way you don't set yourself up for inevitable disappointment and frustration when the snow storms of March and April (and probably May) blow through...
I have nothing more than a vague idea of where I'm going to put all of these ornamental grasses! So much for garden planning and design...
What are you doing to stay sane until spring arrives?
Here's a notice I received recently from the Calgary Horticultural Society. This is a great event.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.Montgomery Community Centre, 5003 - 16 Ave. N.W.
Dreaming about the changes you're going to make to the garden this year? I am - the ideas have been on the backburner of my brain for a few months, but I planned what I wanted to get done in the garden this year way back last fall!
And I don't have to apologize for being a crazy, obsessed gardener because having a creative hobby is good for my brain and my health! (Maybe I just feel a little defensive...) I could have told you this all along, but it is validating when Psychology Today says:
"evidence increases that the arts, crafts and other recreational activities we pursue for pure fun may have significant, if hidden, impact on our professional skills and accomplishments as well as other areas of our lives."
In short, this article reports that creative hobbies reduce stress, exercise imaginative skills that come in handy in the workplace, provide a learning benefit and help cultivate our personal creativity. And most importantly perhaps, they take us out of the "passive role of receivers" of art and put us in the active role of contributing to the "creative capital of society at large."
Welcome, March! I love this time of year - the quiet anticipation. It is time to start dreaming of possibilities and what changes/additions I'm going to make in the garden this year, but it is still too early to act on those dreams.
It is, however, time to start posting monthly to-do lists again. But if you're in zone 3, and in Calgary especially, don't get too excited. Enjoy the quiet anticipation just a little longer...
My March garden to-do list
Other posts you may want to read: