groundhog on December 11th, 2011

A Few Great Ideas for Gifts For A Gardener







                Birdhouses          Birdfeeders          Birdbaths 

Include some Birdseed

Include a Book on identifying birds

Include a pair of Binoculars 



Hand Pruners                                                Pruning Loppers                                                               

Pruning Hand Saw                                                    Tool Tote Bag

Boot Brush                                                                     Garden Buckets

Plant Markers                                                               Garden Wash Basket

Garden Kneelers                                                         Rain Boots

Gloves                                                                               Sun Hat



Garden String or Velcro Ties                      Gardeners Journal Book

Planter Sets                                                              Gardeners Gift Basket

Garden Books and Garden Magazines

Membership for Local Garden Clubs, Conservation Clubs, Local Botanical Gardens

Gift Certificates for Local Garden Centres 



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groundhog on November 18th, 2011

By G. Bosley a.k.a. “groundhog”

A Golden View


What to do with all those fall leaves? Enjoy all their beauty that Mother Nature gives us.  While the leaves are green and lush on the trees we love the shade they provide.  When fall arrives we walk or drive for miles to see the beautiful scenery.  When the leaves begin to fall we collect them for creating crafts and art, children and pets enjoy frolicking in the piles.





Those fallen leaves are Mother Natures way of helping you improve your gardens.  Rich in nutrients and a great source of organic matter for improving your soil and as a mulch to protect your garden plants.  Decomposing leaves produce a chemical called phenols which inhibit the growth of seedlings, so those fall leaves become natures own weed control.





Shredded leaves decompose much faster.  Shred the leaves with your lawn mower.  Begin mulching as the leaves fall, if left until after the leaves have all fallen there will probably be too much of an accumulation for the lawn mower to effectively shred.  With the leaves finely shred they can be left on the lawn to a depth of 3/4″.  New research is showing that shredded Maple leaves actually reduce weeds in turf.  The shredded leaves add lots of organic matter to the soil of your lawn, improving aeration, moisture retention and the life of organisms below the soil, thus improving the health of your turf.

You can use a weed trimmer to shred piles of leaves.  I find when using the trimmer it is much easier if the leaves are slightly moist to wet.  Dry leaves just seem to float away.

Pile the leaves in a back corner of your property and let them decompose there.  A pile of leaves may take 2 years to compost.  The rate of decomposition can be increased by adding layers of manure, soil, weeds or grass clippings.

Create a large cage with chicken wire and fill with your leaves to allow them to decompose.  Plant vines to climb on the wire cages and disguise them within your landscape.

Use the leaves as a protective mulch for tender plants in the garden.  Use dry leaves as a mulch.  Wet leaves will compact and could smother your plants and cause rot.  Keep leaves away from the stems of trees and shrubs.

Leaves work as a great mulch for cold-hardy vegetables and can extend your harvest season. Cover the bare soil of your gardens with a layer of leaves and let them decompose for the winter, then work them into the soil in the spring.  Leaves work great to improve heavy clay soils.

If you have areas with large trees where grass and weed growth underneath is a problem in the summer, add a thick layer of leaves under the trees in the fall to control the unwanted growth.

Let your moist leaves decompose in plastic bags for the winter.  In the spring open the bags and add the composted matter to your gardens.

Fallen leaves provide winter protection and homes for many insects, including the larva of butterflies.  If you clear all the fallen leaves from your property you may also be removing the tiny wonders of nature.

If you don’t have a lot of leaves on your property ask neighbours and friends, I am sure they would probably be glad to give you some.

And if your property doesn’t provide a spot for decomposing your leaves and you have them picked up by your municipality, then you can contact your municipality in the spring to see if they offer compost for sale.

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groundhog on November 12th, 2011

By G. Bosley  a.k.a. “groundhog”

White Baneberry in a natural setting

         Actaea pachypoda

White Baneberry also known as White Cohosh and Doll’s Eyes is a native plant to eastern North America.

This is a great woodland plant that may be growing naturally in your forest, or it would be a great plant to add to your shade garden.  Please source your plants from Native Plant Nurseries.

White Baneberry is closely related to Cimicifuga and Aconitum and therefore needs similar growing conditions.  These three plants combined in a planting in a hardwood or mixed forest setting would provide a stunning fall display.

A clump forming plant growing to an average height and spread of 2′, they may grow to 3′ in height. Prefer to grow in a soil which is clay to coarse loam in a hardwood or mixed forest setting.  If you are adding this plant to your garden be sure to provide a moist and fertile soil with lots of organic matter.  These plants will require regular watering and good drainage in full to part shade.

 With attractive leaves and dainty white flowers in May/June this plant produces bright red flower  stalks with white berries in the fall.  The berries are very attractive and have a black tip.

Baneberry contains an irritant oil which is poisonous.  All parts of the plant contain cardiogenic  toxins which cause an immediate sedative effect.  The roots and berries contain the highest  concentration. The berries are eaten by birds, but this plant is poisonous to rabbits.

Use caution  when handling or working around this plant.


White Baneberry Flower

White Baneberry Fruit

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groundhog on October 25th, 2011

Tulip Mix in May

By G. Bosley

Dreams of a beautiful spring garden full of Crocus, Tulips, Daffodils and Hyacinth?  Now is the time to start planning.  These bulbs have to be planted in the fall for blooms in the spring.  The bulbs are available in garden centres and on-line suppliers beginning in September.

These bulbs require soil with good drainage that is fairly open and loamy.  If the soil is poorly drained and moisture saturated in the winter or spring, the bulbs will likely rot and not develop into beautiful spring blooms.  Any average garden soil from light sandy loam to moderately heavy clay will work well.  if the soil has a high clay content it is best to put some sand in the bottom of the planting hole.  To lighten heavy clay soil add sand or organic matter.  To keep light sandy soil from drying out too quickly add leaf mold or manure.  Bulbs prefer a neutral to slightly alkaline soil, so if the soil is very acidic add lime to neutralize.

After flowering in the spring, these bulbs need to take up nutrients from the soil for the following year before the foliage dies back in the early summer.  When planting these bulbs in the fall they do not require extra nutrients for the upcoming spring growth, however, it is important that the soil has a supply of nutrients latter in the spring as the blooms are fading.  When planting bulbs add fertilizer high n phosphorous and potash, such as Bone Meal, and reapply a second application in the spring.  Supplementing the nutrients in the soil will allow the bulbs to continue blooming for many years to come.

When planning a spring garden select a variety of bulbs that bloom at varied times of the season to extend the length of bloom time in the garden.  As the snow begins to melt some of the earliest bulbs to bloom include Snowdrops, Eranthis, Crocus, Early Iris, Chionodoxa, Scilla and Muscari.  Daffodils, Anemones, Hyacinths and Fritillarias show their colours next.  Beginning in May the Tulips begin to bloom, and by selecting different varieties the blooms can continue for the whole month.  Late May will bring blooms of Hyacinthoides and Peonies.  Various varieties of Allium will bloom from May into June.  Lilium bulbs planted in the fall will bloom at varied times from late May through to September, depending on the variety.

Planting bulbs in groups of 3 or more bulbs of the same colour and variety throughout the garden will give a greater show and impact than planting a single bulb.  Each species of bulb has a specific planting depth required, ranging from 3″ for Muscari to 9″ for some Daffodils.  Some bulbs such a Crocus and Tulips are forgiving and if not planted at the proper depth they will move themselves to the perfect location.  Aside from planting bulbs at the proper depth it is just as important to space each bulb the proper distance from one another to allow room to grow.

After the bulbs have bloomed in the spring, allow the foliage to ripen and die before removing it from the garden.  This allows the bulbs to store nutrients for next years blooms.  Most spring bulbs can remain in the garden for many years, and do not need to be dug up and stored for the summer.  If after several years the blooms are becoming less, then the bulbs should be dug up and divided.

One of the biggest problems facing gardeners who plant spring flowering bulbs is the Squirrel, who without fail will almost always dig up your lovely bulbs.  When planting your bulbs place a barrier just under the soil surface such as screening , chicken wire or plastic mesh berry baskets to protect the bulbs.  Another option is to sprinkle Blood Meal in the planting hole and on the soil surface.  Narcissus and Daffodils are poisonous to squirrels so I like to plant these amongst all the other bulbs to keep the squirrels away.

When purchasing bulbs, buy the best.  It is a lot of work to plant the bulbs and very discouraging if the bulbs do not develop and bloom.  The size of the bulb does not mean a better quality or value.  Firmness, weight and general condition of the bulb are the determining factors when selecting your bulbs.  The layers or scales should be firmly joined, so there is no feeling of looseness or squashiness.  The flesh should be plump and firm.  Good bulbs are heavier.  If you select two bulbs of the same size and one is heavier, that is your best choice, inferior bulbs are lighter.  Check the condition of the skin, it should be smooth, bright and free of cuts or bruises.  check the disk at the base of the bulb, this is where the roots develop, if it is injured or shows signs of disease the bulb will probably rot.

If you haven’t planted your spring flowering bulbs yet, there is still time until the ground freezes.  Several years ago I was unable to get all the bulbs planted before the ground froze, so I stored them in a cardboard box in a dark, cool, dry location in the basement.  As soon as I could dig in the soil in the spring I was planting.  They bloomed that spring, although the blooms were small, but the show was fantastic the next season.

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groundhog on October 19th, 2011

By G. Bosley  a.k.a “groundhog”

My apologies for my absence over the past few months, I have been on the move.  It has been a lot of work moving my business, leaving behind my last garden masterpiece and settling in to a new home in the bush.  Now I have to find time to create another garden masterpiece with the challenge of lots of shade and rocks in the Moonstone, Ontario area.  This will definitely be very interesting.

Thanks for all your wonderful comments.  I started this site to pass along my compassion and knowledge for landscaping with nature.  In 1985 I started a small landscape business with emphasis on personal service without the use of chemicals, and from there my knowledge and experience has grown for the past 26 years.

“Groundhog” was a nick name given to me many years ago by a neighbour to one of my clients.  I had spent a couple of days digging, weeding and cleaning out some existing gardens in preparation for a garden makeover.  On my hands and knees in the dirt, pulling weeds, the neighbour approaches from behind… “You look just like a Groundhog digging in the dirt.” And that is when “The Groundhog Gardener” came to be.

I have created some wonderful gardens in Orillia, Barrie, Toronto and along the shores of Southern Georgian Bay and into Muskoka.  Low maintenance, butterfly gardens, cutting gardens, vegetable gardens, shade gardens, water gardens and more, solving problems and creating solutions that satisfy the needs of the property owner.  My years of experience has provided a great knowledge for identifying plant material in the home landscape and nature.

Now we are into the last few weeks of October and it is time to prepare the gardens for winter and begin dreaming of the gardens of the spring.

"Groundhog Gardener"

Couchiching Conservancy 2007


groundhog on July 19th, 2011

By G. Bosley  a.k.a. “groundhog”

I have been planning and planting a very interesting garden.  This garden is in a partial sun, partial shade location on the shores of Georgian Bay, where the weather and wind exposure is the primary consideration for choosing any plant, along with the presence of groundhogs.

What makes this garden so interesting?  It is created with a mix of shrubs, perennials, annuals and ornamental grasses and has an animal theme.

  • Digitalis – Foxglove
  • Chelone – Turtleshead
  • Cleome – Spiderflower
  • Tricyrtis – Toadlily
  • Monarda – Beebalm
  • Miscanthus – Zebra Grass
  • Chasmanthium – Northern Sea Oats
  • Cotoneaster – Reminds me of the Easter Bunny
  • Antirrhinum – Snapdragon
  • Buddleia – Butterfly Bush
  • Gaura – Whirling Butterflies

This is a great idea for creating a garden to interest children.  All of these plants are relatively easy to look after.

I have had a few problems with my computer and don’t have any pictures available right now, but I will add some at a later date.  Please check back in for updates.

I welcome your comments.


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groundhog on July 4th, 2011

By G. Bosley  a.k.a. “groundhog”

Here is a collection of some great plants that bloomed in my garden in June.

Hope you enjoy these blooms of June and perhaps it will inspire you to add some extra blooms to your garden.

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groundhog on June 28th, 2011

By G. Bosley  a.k.a.  “groundhog”

In 25 years of landscaping and gardening I have never had to deal with planting near a Black Walnut tree, but today I was asked the question.

Most plants of the Walnut family produce a chemical called “juglone” which occurs naturally in all parts of the plant, but can be especially high in the roots and hulls.  Black Walnut and Butternut produce the largest quantity of this chemical which can be toxic to many plants.  The highest concentration in the soil is directly under the canopy of the tree, but can be present anywhere there are roots.  The roots of a mature Walnut tree may reach 50 to 60 feet away from the trunk.  Young Walnut trees do not seem to be toxic until they are 7 to 8 years old.

Sandy well-drained soils tend to have a reduced concentration of juglone and some sensitive plants may not be affected unless their roots make direct contact.  Poorly drained soils tend to have a higher concnetrations of juglone and many plants are sensitive to the toxins.  Plants with shallow roots tend to tolerate being companions with these trees better than plants with deep roots.

Symptoms of toxicity range from stunting of growth, wilting, yellow leaves and death.  The toxic reaction often occurs quickly within one or two days and is irreversible.

To reduce the amount of juglone in the soil keep all debris from the trees cleaned up, especially the fallen leaves and fruit.  Do not compost any of this material.

Maintain high levels of organic mater in the soil by using lots of compost, leaf mould or manure.  This encourages beneficial soil microbes which help neutralize the toxins.

Plants which may tolerate Juglone –  Ajuga, Anemone, Burning Bush, Catalpa, Clematis, Shasta Daisy, Daylily, Forsythia, Hemlock, Honeysuckle, Hosta, Hydrangea, Iris, Juniper, Lilac, most Maples(including Japanese Maple), Meadow Rue, Mock Orange, Pachysnadra, Periwinkle, Phlox, Primrose, Quince, Viburnum, Virginia Creeper, Zinnia

Plants more susceptible to Juglone – Apple, Crabapple, Azalea, Birch, Chrysanthemum, Cotoneaster, Linden, Magnolia, Kalmia, Peony, Pine, Potentilla, Privet, Rhododendron, Norway Spruce

If you have Walnut trees the best solution is to build raised beds with a lining of plastic or fabric to prevent the tree roots from growing into the soil of the raised bed.

I welcome your comments.

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groundhog on June 23rd, 2011

By G. Bosley  a.k.a.  “groundhog”

Everyone with a Clematis growing and blooming in their garden charish the blooms.  Many have tried growing Clematis and have been unsuccessful.  This is not a difficult plant to grow, but it is very particular to where it calls home.

If you have heavy clay soil they won’t grow, unless you improve the soil.  If you have heavy shade they won’t bloom. Although there are a few varieties that will tolerate a bit  of shade.

Clematis is generally grown as a climbing vine on a trellis, however it can also be grown as a groundcover or allowed to sprawl around and over shrubs.

Clematis requires a rich well-drained soil.  Dig out a large planting area to a depth and width of at least 18″.  Cover the bottom of the planting hole with well-rotted manure or compost mixed with a handful of bonemeal.  Cover the compost with good topsoil so that the roots won’t be in direct contact with it.  Use topsoil to fill your planting hole.  Once planted and watered add a topdressing of manure.  Once established,  Clematis do not like to be moved.  It is important to prepare a rich soil that feed the plant for many years.

Clematis like their feet in the shade and their head in the sun.  Use large rocks, driftwood, low growing shrubs or perennials to shade the roots.  I have found Bleedingheart grows very well with Clematis and shades the roots.

I welcome your comments.

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groundhog on June 23rd, 2011

By G. Bosley  a.k.a.  “groundhog”

Do you have fall blooming garden mums growing in your garden?  These plants can often become tall and floppy by the time they bloom, to prevent this give your mums a pinch.

When the stems are 6″ to 8″ tall pinch them back to about 4″.  Pinching back means cutting off the top of the stem by 3″ or 4″ to a set of leaves.  Pinch as close to the leaves as you can where they meet the stem.  If you pinch higher on the stem above the leaves, that piece of stem will dry out and die, turning brown and not being very attractive in the garden.  Pinching back will slow the upward growth of the plant and cause it to branch out more for a bushier plant.  When these new side shoots develop 8 leaves you can pinch them back again leaving 4 leaves on the stem.

This pinching back will create a dense, well-branched mound that will produce a beautiful show of blooms in the fall.  Do not pinch your mums after the first of July or you may be removing some of the developing flower buds.  If you are unable to pinch your plants back before July 1st, no problem, they will still bloom this fall.  Next year you can try pinching back for a more compact plant.

I welcome your comments.

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