Glenda Bosley a.k.a. “groundhog” www.rootsandshootsdesign.ca
Starting plants from seed can be very rewarding, not only a great way to safe money, but also gives you the opportunity to add new and exciting plants to your garden.
Annual plants and vegetables are the easiest plants to grow from seed. Some perennials grow easily from seed, while others may require special treatment or a couple of years to reach mature size. When buying seeds read the package, which usually gives you the growing instructions such as when to sow seeds and planting depth. Some plants need to be started early indoors, while others are best sown outdoors later in the spring. The sowing date for seeds relates to the last frost date for your area. Below is a guide for when to sow seeds if you live in Zone 5 with an average last frost date near the end of May.
Sow Indoors early February: Begonia Broccoli Browallia Dusty Miller Geranium Larkspur Pansy Vinca
Sow Indoors early March: Datura Dianthus Impatiens Petunia Portulaca Snapdragon Stock Verbena
Sow Indoors mid March: Ageratum Alyssum Cabbage Cauliflower Celery Celosia Coleus Columbine Dahlia Nicotiana Onion Parsley Pepper Phlox Salvia
Sow Indoors late March: Aster Balsam Centurea
Sow Indoors early April: Eggplant Lettuce Marigold Tomato Zinnia
Sow Indoors mid April: Basil Cleome Collards Cosmos Cucumber Muskmelon Squash Swiss Chard Watermelon
Sow Indoors early May: Pumpkin Squash Sun Flower
Sow Outdoors early May: Beets Broccoli Cabbage Carrots Cauliflower Celery Centurea Collards Kale Kohlrabi Leeks Lettuce Onion Parsley Peas Potatoes Radish Spinach Sweet Peas Turnip Swiss Chard
Sow Outdoors late May: Alyssum Basil Beans Cleome Corn Cosmos Cucumber Eggplant Four-O-Clock Marigold Morning Glory Nasturtium Sweet Potato Pepper Portulaca Pumpkin Squash Tomato Zinnia
Helleborus orientalis (Lenten Rose) is a wonderful perennial that will add beauty to your garden in early spring. Gardeners are delighted to see such an exotic display of nodding, cup-shaped flowers blooming so early in the garden.
This perennial grows best in Zone 6 – 9, however they will grow in Zone 5 if given a protected location. These are an invaluable addition to the spring garden. Search your local garden center early to find this plant.
This is an easy care plant, growing in part or full shade. Helleborous requires a moist location early in the spring when it is in bloom, but later in the season will tolerate moderate summer drought. Prefers a rich, well-drained loamy soil. The soil should be well prepared before planting as this plant resents being disturbed once established.
Excellent for planting around the edge of trees or shrubs as they will tolerate root competition once established and blooms before the leaves of trees and shrubs develop, adding early spring colour where you probably never had colour before.
Growing to a height and spread of 16″ – 24″. Excellent for cut flowers, containers, borders, woodlands and as a specimen planting. Be sure to plant this up close in your garden.
The large, tough clumps of leathery, evergreen leaves are similar in appearance to the foliage of peonies. In late winter or early spring cut the old leaves off that are dead or discoloured before the new buds pop out of the ground. The foliage will grow throughout the garden season after blooming and add an interesting texture.
Propagation by division is costly and slow for most growers, so most growers offer strains produced by seed. The resulting plants vary in their bloom colour and foliage characteristics. If your Helleborus is happy in your garden it may reward you by self-seeding. If you are looking for a specific colour of bloom it is best to purchase your plants in the spring when they are in bloom.
In Zone 5 and cooler regions it is best to add a winter mulch of loose leaves or straw. If your site is an exposed windy location, winter mulch is a necessity.
Helleborous niger (Christmas Rose) is also tolerant of growing in colder regions of Zone 4 – 5. A smaller plant growing 10″ – 16″ and blooming earlier, even sometimes will bloom under the snow.
It was a lovely summer afternoon on the shores of Georgian Bay and I was in the middle of a garden renovation. I had been working at this project for a few days, the elder gentleman next door had been around, talking and watching the renovation take shape. I was digging in the garden bed removing weeds and grass roots when a soft spoken voice from behind said, “I’ve been watching you, your digging just like a groundhog.” And so I was… a.k.a. “groundhog”.
The groundhog (Marmota monax) is a cute brown fur-ball that is a member of the squirrel family and loves spending time in your garden. There are few plants in the landscape that the groundhog doesn’t like. Some of the favorites include clover, alfalfa, carrots, peas, pansies and strawberries. Although leafy plants are the main diet, they will also eat grubs, grasshopper, insects and snails. The groundhog has a feast or famine lifestyle. After hibernation they have lost a significant amount of body weight and need to feast to renew their energy, and then they need to feast all summer to have enough body weight to survive the next hibernation.
With short, but powerful limbs, the groundhog is most adapted to digging in the dirt. Able to move as much as 35 cubic feet of soil when digging their burrows, which can be as much as 45 feet long.
And so the similarities:
I love spending time in the garden.
There are few plants in the landscape I don’t like.
Carrots and strawberries are some of my favorites.
I know how to remove grubs and insects from the garden.
Feast or famine, I work like crazy in the gardens during the summer, and hibernate in the winter.
Powerful limbs and well adapted to digging is a trait for the gardener.
Groundhog Day is a special day for me.
It almost feels like my birthday.
Groundhogs are gardeners by nature!
“HAPPY GROUNDHOG DAY”
Glenda Bosley a.k.a “groundhog”
Amsonia hubrichtii is an underused, low maintenance perennial that is native to North America and was named Perennial Plant of the Year in 2011.
I have grown this wonderful perennial in a few gardens. Arkansas Blue Star adds interest and contrast to the garden from early spring until snowfall. This picture is shortly after planting in a garden that was requested to be created where 90% of the plant material was to be native or edible.
A little known perennial that is long-lived and can tolerate neglect once established.
The finely textured foliage, which is feathery in appearance, adds a unique contrast to the landscape during the spring and summer when bright green and then turns an outstanding bright yellow-golden colour in the fall.
- Grows as an upright bushy clump that is mound shaped. Similar appearance to a small shrub.
- Grows to a height and width of 36 inches.
- Grows best in full sun or partial shade. Stems may grow floppy if grown in too much shade.
- Prefers an average, well-drained, rich, moist soil, but becomes drought tolerant once established within a few years.
- From May to July this Amsonia produces wide clusters of small, light blue, star-shaped flowers above the foliage.
- The stems and foliage contain a milky sap, which makes it unappealing to deer.
- Combines well in the landscape with Echinacea, Liatris and Ornamental Grass.
By G. Bosley a.k.a. ‘groundhog’
Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ has been named Perennial Plant of the Year for 2012. This is truly a wonderful, carefree plant for a shady garden.
I have grown several of the different Brunnera varieties available. This is ‘Jack Frost’ in full bloom in late May. The flowers resemble that of the Forget-me-not (Myosotis). Clouds of sky-blue flowers on strong stems make a beautiful show for 4 – 6 weeks in the early spring.
Brunner ‘Jack Frost’ adds interest and contrast to the garden from very early in the spring until cold killing frosts in the fall.
- Low, clump forming plant that grows 12″ – 18″ high. The flower stems rise above the foliage 3″ – 6″ higher.
- Clumps will grow 12″ – 18″ wide. Side sprouts can be divided off and replanted.
- The foliage has a rough leaf texture which makes it less palatable to deer and other garden pests. These plants are virtually pest free.
- The leaves emerge early in the spring and open into a heart-shaped leaf.
- Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ has frosted silvery leaves that are veined in chalky mint-green, with a thin green margin. The bright foliage will light up dark, shady areas in the garden. Remains attractive all season. ‘Jack Frost’ will withstand more sun than many of the other varieties without the leaves becoming scorched. Brunnera ‘Hadspen Cream’ will scorch very easily if exposed to full sun.
- Brunnera are shade loving plants. Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ will tolerate full sun if the soil remains moist.
- Plant Brunnera in a rich soil with good moisture retention. These plants prefer a moist soil, but will tolerate some drought once established.
- Brunnera grows as a hardy perennial in hardiness zones 3 – 8. In more southern locations this plant should be protected from full sun. More tolerant of full sun in northern locations.
Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ can be planted in a woodland setting. Does well planted under trees. Is an excellent plant for a container, will survive winter if container can be protected, or dig the plant out in the late fall and plant in your garden for the winter. Makes a nice ground cover and combines well with Hosta, Ferns, Heuchera and many other shade loving plants. The attractive foliage makes this a show stopper any where in the shade garden.
This is a hardy perennial you can plant and almost forget about, almost maintenance free. After flowering it is best to remove the faded flower stems, and then the attractive foliage becomes clearly visible. If the faded flower stems are not removed the plant has a messy appearance for a while until the stems break off naturally on their own.
Looks great in combination with spring flowering bulbs.
Pictured in June after the flowers have faded. The stems remain green for a while and then brown as they dry out. Most flower stems will break off on their own. When deadheading or removing the stems by hand, it is advisable to wear gloves as the stems are covered in tiny hair and may irritate sensitive skin.
By G. Bosley a.k.a. “groundhog”
Since 1990 The Perennial Plant Association has been selecting a winning perennial for the award Perennial of the Year. http://www.perennialplant.org
Here is a list of 23 great perennials that are worth adding to your landscape.
2012 Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’
* Thrives in shade, but tolerates morning sun. Requires moist soil. Deer resistant.
2011 Amsonia hubrichtii
* Thrives in full sun, but tolerates partial shade. Requires well-drained soil. Drought tolerant. Deer resistant.
2010 Baptisia australis
* Thrives in full sun, but tolerates partial shade. Requires well-drained soil. Drought tolerant. Deer resistant.
2009 Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’
*Thrives in partial shade. Requires moist, humus rich, well-drained soil. Will not grow well in poor soil, heavy clay soil, or very dry soil.
2008 Geranium psilostemon ‘Rozanne’
*Thrives in full sun or partial shade. Requires moist, well-drained soil. Drought tolerant.
2007 Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’
*Thrives in full sun. Requires average, well-drained soil. Drought tolerant. Salt tolerant. Deer resistant.
2006 Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Feuerhexe’ (Firewitch)
*Thrives in full sun, but tolerates light shade. Requires well-drained soil that is neutral to slightly alkaline.
2005 Helleborus orientalis hybridus
* Thrives in light shade. Requires well-drained, humus-rich, fertile soil. Foliage remains evergreen in most areas.
2004 Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum’
*Thrives in partial or full shade. Requires well-drained, compost-rich, moist soil.
2003 Leucanthemum superbum ‘Becky’
*Thrives in full sun. Requires well-drained soil. Not tolerant of soils that are moist or wet during the winter.
2002 Phlox paniculata ‘David’
* Thrives in full sun or partial shade. Requires a moist but well-drained soil.
2001 Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’
*Thrives in full sun or partial shade. Requires well-drained, fertile soil with adequate moisture.
2000 Scabiosa columbaria ‘Butterfly Blue’
*Thrives in full sun, but tolerates light shade. Requires well-drained, rich soil that is neutral to slightly alkaline.
1999 Rudbeckia fulgida `Goldstrum’
* Thrives in full sun or partial shade. Requires well-drained, consistently moist soil for best growth. Long-lived, low maintenance, long-blooming perennial.
1998 Echinacea purpurea `Magnus’
*Thrives in full sun or partial shade. Requires well-drained soil. Not tolerant of moist or wet winter soils.
1997 Salvia sylvestris `Mainacht’ (May Night)
*Thrives in full sun. Requires well-drained soil, but tolerant of a wide range of soils. drought tolerant.
1996 Penstemon digitalis `Husker Red’
*Thrives in full sun. Requires well-drained, moist soil. Attractive rich, bronze-red foliage.
1995 Perovskia atriplicifolia
*Thrives in full sun. Requires well-drained soil. Heat and drought tolerant.
1994 Astilbe simplicifolia `Sprite’
*Thrives in shade, but tolerates full sun in northern gardens if kept moist. Requires moist, fertile, well-drained soil.
1993 Veronica `Sunny Border Blue’
* Thrives in full sun, but tolerates light shade. Requires well-drained soil, but tolerant of a wide range of soils.
1992 Coreopsis verticillata `Moonbeam’
* Thrives in full sun. Requires well-drained soil. Blooms reduced during long, hot, humid summers, will perform better in light shade under these conditions.
1991 Heuchera micrantha `Palace Purple’
*Thrives in partial shade in regions with hot, humid summers. In northern garden it grows well in full sun. Requires moist, well-drained soils. Will not thrive in heavy clay soils.
1990 Phlox stolonifera
* Thrives in partial or full shade. Requires moist, rich, well-drained soil.
This is a collection of some of the award winning perennials which I have add to a variety of gardens.
What is my favourite? It is really hard to pick one favourite, but I would have to say 2012 Winner Brunnera `Jack Frost’. Extremely easy to grow perennial for the shady spot in the landscape, and is attractive from very early in the spring with newly emerging shoots, until very late into the fall. The silvery foliage adds light and interest to a dark shade garden. The bright blue, forget-me-not flowers provide a mass of blooms for many weeks from early to late spring.
What is your favourite Perennial Plant of the Year?
Have A Great Day
By G. Bosley a.k.a. “groundhog”
The Perennial of the Year is a program where members of the Perennial Plant Association vote for the best perennial of the year. The program was started in 1990 with the yearly selection being made in late fall.
Perennials are nominated for Perennial Plant of the Year (POY) by members, and the selection is refined to 4 plants, from which the winner is selected. There may be as many as 400 different perennials nominated in any given year.
The voting members come from varied fields of horticulture where perennials are involved such as growers, landscapers, landscape designers, and gardeners.
Perennials nominated must satisfy selected criteria:
- Suitable for a wide range of climatic conditions
- Requires low maintenance
- Relatively pest and disease resistance
- Easily propagated
- Exhibit multiple seasonal interest
The 2012 POY selection is the 23rd winner of this award. If you use these highly rated perennials in your landscape you are virtually guaranteed success. Provide the plant with the required growing conditions such as, sun or shade location and moist or dry soil, and you will be adding foolproof performers.
In reviewing all the selected perennials since 1990, I have used all of the winners in various gardens over the years and agree these are definitely plants that can be used by all gardeners. Imagine creating a herbaceous border garden using all Award Winning Perennials.
When you are looking for perennials to add to your garden, ask for an Award Winner.
Have you grown any of the selected 23 Perennial Plant of the Year winners? I would like to hear from you. What is your favorite? It would be interesting to see which winner is the all round favorite.
In the upcoming weeks I will be adding a profile of each of the selected winners. Please check for updates.
Have A Great Day
By G. Bosley a.k.a. “groundhoggardener”
Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
The Poinsettia will display colourful leaf bracts from December thru to February if given the proper care.
The colourful leaf bracts are not actually the flower bloom of the plant, since the flower is very small and hidden within the large leaves, the plant has developed these colourful leaf bracts to attract pollinators.
* The Poinsettia requires a brightly lit location to maintain the attractive coloured leaf bracts. Place near a sunny window, but do not let the sun shine directly on the plant.
* The Poinsettia does not like extreme fluctuations in temperatures. Avoid locations where the plant may be subject to cold drafts from doors or windows, or hot drafts from heat sources such as heating ducts.
* The Poinsettia prefers daytime temperatures of 72 F (22 C) and night time temperatures of 60 F (15 C).
* The Poinsettia requires a moist growing medium, but does not like to sit in water. Water when the soil is dry to the touch. Place the pot on a saucer and water thoroughly until the water runs out the bottom of the pot. Discard any excess water in the saucer. Since the air tends to be dry in most homes during the winter heating season it may be necessary to water the plant daily.
* The Poinsettia will develop yellow coloured leaves and/or drop some leaves if it is not given the proper growing conditions.
The Poinsettia is often discarded after the colourful bracts fade. However, the plant can be cared for and brought back into bloom for December. The colourful bracts develop only after the plant is given a period of controlled light and total darkness.