After sitting inside for months looking outside at the garden, I was happy to finally get outside and have a walk around the garden.

Now, the first thing I had to check was the state of the plants I knew the local rabbits had snacked on over the winter, unfortunately the damage was far worse than I had imagined. The rabbits ate a total of a Dwarf Serbian Spruce, 5 Carpet Roses and a pink Spiarea that was cleverly hiding the A/C. I was sure the buggers had gotten into the bulbs as well but I see the Crocus’ are finally starting to poke through. So to stop Mr Rabbit (and likely the Easter Bunny) from visiting the garden, a quick visit to the garden centre to purchase some Critter Ritter and I haven’t seen one yet!

So once I had surveyed the damage I started walking through the rest of the garden and I could see signs of spring! Perennials poking through, buds on the Hydrangeas, weeds already starting where mulch didnt make it and lots and lots of cleaning to do!

As I closed my eyes on the mess that was before me, I remembered how crazy last years garden was! Everything grew like crazy and I had tried some new plants in some new places – some successfully, some not. So in addition to cleaning up the garden there is lots of splitting and transplanting to do! Not to mention pruning and fertilizing.

So now I am waiting for the weather to change, making my list of what I need to pick up at the garden center and creating my wish list of new plants to try in the garden for this season. The longer Mother Nature takes to cooperate the longer the list grows though – this *could* be a bad thing!

Now that spring is here I am noticing all our feathered friends are back. The Blue Jays are out flying in the trees (and playing a mean game of baseball!). The Chickadees love sitting in the Beech tree we planted last fall. And our old friend the Cardinal is making his daily appearance pecking at the window every morning at7am!

As I sat watching all this excitement the other day it dawned on me that we really should have a birdfeeder. This is the perfect place to attract birds – next to a woodlot, seconds from the lake…and there are already lots of birds who pay a visit, so off to Lowes in search of birdseed.

Now anyone who has bought birdseed knows that half of the birdseed out there sounds and looks like trailmix you might take on your next hike, so we settled on some that was designed for the type of birds mentioned above. Now, not looking at the birdfeeder that was currently taking up residence on a shelf in the basement, off we went without thinking twice. Of course, you know where this story goes – wrong seed for the feeder and now the pursuit for the “perfect” birdfeeder is underway.

So with birdfeeders constantly on my mind, and one of the questions I am always asking my clients is whether or not they want to attract birds to their garden, I thought I would add some quick tips about bird gardening.

1)      If you feed the birds, feed them year round. Just like your kids, the birds are hungry in all seasons. You wouldn’t just feed your kids in the winter and leave them scrounging for food in the summer would you?

2)      Don’t feed the birds bread! Unlike the nutritional value bread gives us it does not do the same for birds. Bread also swells up in the bellies of our feathered and can make them very sick. Instead of feeding the birds your leftover bread – feed your greenbox!

3)      If you are going to make a point of bringing birds to your garden, provide water. This can be done by way of a birdbath or fountain. Just remember to not to leave standing water as this can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

4)      Plant clusters or groups (rather than just “one of”) of trees, shrubs and flowers that will bring birds into your garden. Using native species will help encourage birds to come into your garden as these are plants that would normally be found in the wild.

5)      Examples of plants to plant in your garden

  1. Berryproducing shrubs such as Viburnum, Dogwood, Holly, Serviceberry
  2. Seed producing perennials such as Black-Eyed Susan, Coneflower, Asters and various Ornamental Grasses
  3. Sunflowers can also be ideal in a bird garden and fun to grow every year (especially with children). Although, if you grow Sunflowers one year, be prepared to see them the next year from the seeds being dropped by your feathered friends!

This is by no means a complete list of plants that you can include in a bird garden but should help set you in the right direction. Watching the birds as they visit your garden can be enjoyable and educational. Just remember to keep your feeders and birdhouses out of reach of any predators!

For help with planning your bird garden, email me to book a landscape consultation!

I am asked time and time again what is the benefit of doing a landscape plan. As a landscape designer, to me, the answer is obvious – you wouldn’t build a house without a plan so why would you build your landscape without a plan?

When you think about your dream backyard what elements would you include? A patio? Deck? Pool? Gardens? Large shade trees? A shed? The list can go on and on, and the cost can go up and up. Due to the nature of these types of projects and the construction involved it is very beneficial to have a set of plans available to work from. By having a set of plans you can accuratly receive quotes from contractors (and be sure that contractors are all quoting on the same thing!), compile lists of materials needed for the project as well as plan the work out in phases all while having an overall vision of the project.

While the initial investment of a landscape plan may seem expensive and perhaps like an unnecessary expense, if you consider the probability of planting a shrub in the wrong location and it needing to be replaced or completing one part of the project only to have to redo it later when completing another part of the project (ie: the first part needs to be taken out to put in the second part), a landscpe plan is a very worthwhile investment. I have been to many sites where someone has started work on their garden, suffered many failures and became increasingly frustrated.

A landscape designer is well versed in not just the design aspects of planning your yard but also in plant materials. We can help you to select the right plants for your yard based on lighting conditions, soil conditions and how much water the plants will receive – this is critical to your gardens success! Knowing where to place elements in your landscape so that they are best enjoyed, thrive the best and can be phased into the landscape in the best possible manner are all skills your landscape designer can bring to the table.

When I meet with a client who is planning a new landscape that involves any hardscaping (patios, decks, walkways, pools, etc) I strongly urge them to consider a landscape plan. As many of these clients are approaching their landscape in phases this gives them an overall view of their project from the start and allows them a vision of each phase as they move along the project. It also gives us something to hand to contractors for quoting so that we can ensure that everyone is quoting on the same part of the project and on the same aspects.

When I complete a landscape plan for a client I always visit the site – this gives me the best opportunity to understand the site and all it’s conditions. site conditions such as grade changes, existing trees both on the property and on the neighbouring properties, locations of swales and catch basins, heights of windows, locations of vents, etc are critical to the overall development of the landscape plan and generally can not be determined without being onsite. While visiting the client I not only take photographs and measurements but also conduct an interview asking questions regarding the needs and wants for the space, getting a feel for the style that my client is after. Often the client has certain plants or certain colours they would like to see incorporated into the plan. Once this is completed the design phase begins. My landscape plans are always drawn to scale and include recommendations as to what the materials in the plan should be (ie: what paving materials to use) as well as naming each and every plant with a genus, species and variety. Having the complete names of the plants is very useful in years to come in case you need to replace a plant or if a friend drops by and asks you what that fantastic shrub in the corner is!

If you are interested in finding out more about the landscape plan process, please contact me at jodiemunshawcld@gmail.com or 647 381 2758.

Okay, I admit it…I get excited about plants.

Last year it was the Cappuccino Petunia that had me running from garden center to garden center searching out enough to do my friends planters and hanging

baskets. Not an easy find, but I was thrilled with the results!

This year though…I am giddy about another Petunia. Now, those who know me know I HATE Petunias. The mere image of those white and purple striped tubular, sticky annuals my grandmother had used to make my skin crawl, but now, well I am a changed woman! This years latest Petunia – BLACK! The only real BLACK out there! Oh, I am already making my list of places to drive to the minute the weather is warm enough to start planting…the combinations are coming to mind!

We often think of our annual diisplays of being shades of reds, pinks and yellows but why not a nice display in black and white? Wouldn’t that be a show stopper on your patio table in a nice lime green container or in a planter at the front door? Layered with the right ornamental grass this could be a striking combination! Using this type of combination is an easy way to bring your indoor decorating style outdoors!

So yes, while there is still snow on the ground, my mind is definately thinking about spring!

Did you know that the United Nations has declared 2011 the “International Year of Forests”? To be honest, I didn’t. Shame on me! However, now I am aware and I am going to make it a mission to share this information with my friends and clients.

The UN’s website states that 30% of total land area is forests and is home to 80% of terrestial biodiversity. A whooping 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livlihoods! With forests being such a valuable resource you would think we would be trying more to save them!

While we may not be able to plant a forest at a home, we can still do our part and plant a tree (or two or three). Right now I can hear many of you saying, “my back yard is so small” or “I don’t have room” however, I am not talking a Sugar Maple here…you have to select the right tree for the right location. And while it may seem like this new guest in your garden is out of place, you will soon grow to love its architectural interest in winter, sound of its leaves in fall and the shade it provides in summer and wonder how you ever lived without it!

So back to picking the right tree for the right location…if you were to grab a piece of paper and draw a tree and I am willing to bet one of two shapes comes up – either your standard triangular Christmas Tree or a lolipop shaped deciduous tree. And yes, while these are pretty common, there are lots of other shapes and sizes of trees. Columnar trees for instance will grow nice and tall; pyramidal in shape making them perfect for smaller spaces (both in coniferous and deciduous varieties), there are dwarf trees that, as their name implies, will stay relatively small, trees that grow wider than tall and trees that grow taller than wide. There are trees with very dense canopies and trees with very fine leaves that provide a nice filtered light.Flowering trees, trees with great fall color, you name it…you can find the right tree for your location, all you need to do is a bit of research! Or let’s plan a meeting and together we can pick the perfect trees for your yard! (and while we are at it maybe a few shrubs and perennials too!)

So, in this year of the Forest, think about what your garden is missing…perhaps a tree?

For more information on the UN’s Year of the Forests, visit – www.un.org/forests/

Welcome to my blog! Over time I will introduce myself, mybusiness and introduce different things that I would think would be of interest to you – whether it be a new plant or product, or a new project I am working on.

While it may still be February, the spring season is just around the corner! Its never too early to start thinking about gardening! 🙂