Monthly Archives: August 2011

Close Up of Fatal Attraction EchinaceaI thought I would introduce you to some of the more interesting plants in my garden. Now while I love many of the tried-and-true plants, I love to pick up some more unique varieties every now and then.

One plant I love is Echinacea or Purple Coneflower. Now today this plant comes in so many more colors than just purple and in heights from a foot tall to tall enough to hide a small child behind. The names are bizarre enough to remind you of a diner menu (Tomato Soup and Mac and Cheese) to some R-Rated movies, which is where we find one of my favorite varieties in bloom right now.

Fatal Attraction Coneflower is a nice dark pink blooming variety, (almost maroon in color). The blooms are large in size with a flat center (eye) which the petals stick straight out of much like a Daisy rather than droop down like their cousins the ‘Magnus’ Coneflower. The blooms start in mid-summer and will bloom for weeks, especially if deadheaded!

Echinacea in my garden!

Fatal Attraction Coneflower grows to a height of 2′ and a width of 1-1/2 to 2′ making it a perfect addition to the perennial border or for use in planters (remember it will likely not overwinter in the planter unless the planter is larger enough to withstand the constant freeze-thaw cycle). I have partnered my Fatal Attraction Coneflower with Autumn Joy Sedum and the dark blooms of the coneflower coupled with the green “blooms” of the sedum are an excellent contrast!

These Coneflowers are not only drought tolerant but also deer tolerant too! Butterflies love them and the dried seedheads make for excellent decoration but in the garden throughout the winter months or in dried flower arrangements. Very easy to grow in almost any soil condition provided you have a good half day of sun!


One question I am often asked when I visit a new client is “How long will it take to transform my yard?”. The answer really depends on the size of the project but I think people are often surprised when then learn it can take as little as one day.

Take this front yard project for instance – the hardscaping was already in place when I met with the homeowners who had been wanting to put a plan in place to add some curb appeal to their home for the past few years.

Front Yard Before Transformation (Hardscaping already in place)

While speaking with the homeowners I learned about the style of landscaping they liked (a bit on the formal side), what plants they liked (ornamentals like Spiral Evergreens and Topiaries) and what their favorite colors were. We also discussed things like whether they liked rockery and how tall they wanted the plant material to be in relation to their front window (in this case the client wanted an unobstructed view out of their front window which we could easily accomodate with the right plant materials). The neighbourhood was also quite mature so we were able to look around at what other people had done for inspiration.

A Quick Look at my Notes

I mocked up a few ideas with the help of a garden hose, my clients standing in as trees and some basketballs to make sure we were on the same page. We then made an appointment to meet in a few days.

Armed with this information I headed back to my office and came up with a plan to add some planting and rockery that fit both their style and budget. I ensured that there was both color, scale (in terms of the house) and a balance of ornamental shrubs to give the homeowner a garden that would look great 12 months a year. I also addressed the downspout so that the old concrete splash pad could be disposed of and wouldn’t be an eyesore in the new garden.

The Plan! Note that all plants are labelled and in some case alternatives are given

Our second meeting was a visit to the garden center to select the plant material. By meeting my clients at the garden center they were able to see all the plants that would be part of their new landscape and make any changes incase a plant I had suggested wasn’t exactly to their liking. All specialty plants were selected and tagged right away assuring my clients that they’d get the EXACT plant they saw in the store.

Shortly after this meeting the crew from Humber Valley Landscaping was scheduled to be onsite to start the work. All the materials were delivered the morning of the job (soil, mulch, plants, stone) so that work could begin right away.

I met the crew bright and early with a can of paint and we laid out the plant beds before the beds were actually cut out. Once the beds were cut, I (with the muscle-help of the crew) then laid out the plant material. The crew planted the plant material, placed the armor stone, mulched the beds and watered everything in. The site was cleaned up and by the end of the day the job was complete!

We have left a small area in front of the bonsai to be planted with annuals each year that will allow the homeowner some creativety with their landscape and I have provided them with a list of suitable annuals (however at anytime they could change this area to a perennial planting or fill in the area with river rock if the task of annuals becomes too much).

So in eight short hours this home owner had a complete front yard transformation from a quick sketch to a newly planted front yard! The results are amazing and the homeowner was thrilled!
The Garden Transformation Complete!

When it was all said and done these words in an email from the client summed it up just perfect: “Jodie, The landscaping looks beautiful! Thanks again.”

Anyone who knows me knows I start itching to get my planters started before the snow even starts to melt…I start stalking garden centers the minute annuals begin to arrive checking out whats new and watching just how all these new introductions thrive (This year this was the new Black Petunias). For countless weekends we hit garden center after garden center in search of the right plants, and I empty our wallets bringing home what looks like enough plants to plant planters for two or three houses!

This year went just like that…and then it rained…and rained…and rained. My poor plants sat outside for a weeks soaking up the rain, but looking great (with the exception of one poor soul that kept falling over and took beating after beating after beating). When the rain finally gave up I finally got my planters planted minus everything that didn’t make it from being too waterlogged or the dog had managed to destroy is his quick dashes outside.

Now unlike the hanging baskets of last year packed with color, this years are dark and black and very foliage heavy! Things have taken a more tropical theme this year with Banana, Mandevilla and Hibicus showing up…and bursts of color with lots of nice flowing annuals. One of the biggest surprises came with the Canna Lilies that were supposed to go to a client and ended up staying next to the garage – they have grown to 5′ and are just starting to bloom! The dark leaves look fantastic lit up at night in their planters…a definate YES to do again!

So what exactly did I get up to planting? Yes, definately got the black petunias in there. And I must say I am very impressed. Paired with the Euphorbia they look fantastic however the Potato Vine has been a bit of a disappointment – chalk that one up to a learning experience. The basket has handled the heat well and the Black Petunias faired far better than the Cappaucino ones I planted in the same spot last year In the front planter a Banana Tree is the main focus, and while I don’t expect to get a crop of bananas (it would be cool though!) it brings such a nice tropical flare to the garden. The Potato Vine here has done excellent and is a great compliment to the Colleus.

Banana Planter

Banana Planter

I love spring time in the Garden Center and all the people in the rows upon rows of Petunias, Impatiens and Geraniums. I am always lostin the tropicals, and the row of all the odd ball stuff… I am hunting for the weird. The wacky. It only took 3 garden centers to find my banana tree…I almost gave up! I am glad I didn’t. Strangely I can’t wait till fall to get planting again!

And for those who wondered – yes I do offer planter design and planting services. So if you are looking to spiff up your planters for this fall or winter drop me a line ( and let’s talk!

Walking out my front door right now I am greeted with a wonderful color display in the most vibrant pink EVER! Now you may be thinking I overdid it with the Impatiens or perhaps I have a few too many potted Geraniums, but no…these are Hydrangeas!

Now I know when I talk to my clients about Hydrangeas their minds immediately flash back to their mother’s and their grandmother’s gardens and bushes over run with white flowers that would flop over the minute a drop of rain fell on them.

Well I am here to say, that Hydrangeas have come a long way baby!

Cityline Hydrangea in Bloom

My current Hydrangea obsession is the Cityline Hydrangeas from Proven Winners. Now I had been warned that planting them “this far north” probably was a “bad idea” but I did it anyways! These compact little Hydrangeas (about 2’x2′) make for a great show in the front bed of the house and are just covered with lipstick pink blooms! The foliage is nice and lush and has an almost waxy appearance. Cutting off the dead blooms encourages reblooming and the blooms make a great cut flower! I have paired the Hydrangeas up with ornamental grasses under a Dawyck Beech and have included a miniture Hosta and the effect is quite nice. I love the color blocked appearance the Hydrangeas give to the garden! Not to mention I am not freaking out with each heavy rainstorm!

Cityline Hydrangeas in garden

Yes, there are other Hydrangeas throughout the garden – QuickFire with its early white blooms turning a nice pink-red, Limelight Hydrangeas with their limegreen blooms in late August as well as a gigantic Standard PeeGee Hydrangea. Its almost like there is a new Hydrangea bloom every month!

And here is a tip – did you know the pink or blue color of a Hydrangea is determined by the acidity of your soil? Blue flowers appears when your soil is acidic and pink blooms appear when your soil is alkaline. You can alter your soil pH and therefore change the color of your flowers. To change your Hydrangeas to blue add ‘Aluminum Sulphate’, to make your Hydrangeas pink try adding ‘Dolomitic Lime’.