Garden Alert: Poplar & Aspen Borers

One pest that is causing a lot of grief for those who have poplar trees on their properties is an insect called the Poplar Borer.

It is a native beetle that evolved feeding primarily on native aspens, but has developed a taste for Swedish Columnar aspens that are typically planted in rows along fences for privacy screening. Poplar Borers are rather large, gray beetles with faint, yellow stripes on its body and antennae that are as long as its body.

The problem with these borers is that they not only feed on the green “phloem” that sits just below the bark and moves sugars up and down the tree, but the larva (worms) also tunnel into the wood and leave a labyrinth of trails that weaken the tree, leaving portions of the trunk prone to snapping-off on windy days.

Aspen Borers prefer aspens that have trunks about 10 cm wide or larger and they typically seek trees that are stressed. The adults prefer to lay eggs on the south to southwest side of trees that have lots of exposed bark (extra trunk heat is better for larva growth and development).

The lifecycle of Aspen Borers can take several years to complete in our region, but once they invade trees they are very difficult to control. Given the great benefits of having Swedish Columnar aspens, and the expense of removing these trees, the battle to keep the borers at bay is critical.

Here are some of my observations and a bit of a game plan for Poplar Borer:

  • Aspens growing in landscape fabric with rock around the base are the worst affected, typically
  • Drought stressed aspens growing in poor soil are also preferred by the borers
  • Aspens with branches removed on the south/southwest side of tree are attacked more often

Symptoms of borer attack:

  • Small holes in trunk with brown sap stains on bark
  • Small piles of ‘wood shavings’ at trunk base from borer tunneling

What can be done?

  • Inspect your poplars several times during the growing season and look for any signs of damage
  • Pest control products like ‘Garden Protector’ can be used as a trunk and foliage spray prior to the borers penetrating the wood
  • If the borers enter the wood, control is difficult. A number of gardeners have been quite successful applying Knock Down aerosol insecticidal spray directly into the entry holes on the tree trunks.

Aspen Borers are destructive pests so if you have Swedish Columnar aspens always be vigilant! Being proactive with controlling the beetles is the best strategy!

- Jim

"What can I do about mushrooms in my lawn?" By Jim Hole

It’s funny how many of us find mushrooms such a wonderful addition to our pizzas or omelets, but are horrified when they emerge from our lawns. The first thing to remember about mushrooms that pop up on lawns is that the vast majority of species are beneficial organisms, with only one species being a bit of a pest.

Let’s start with the pest. The Fairy Ring mushroom (Marasmius oreades) is the one species that most lawn aficionados hate. Usually, this fungus first noticed as a ring of mushrooms with dead or dehydrated grass occupying the middle of the ring. The reason the grass dies is due to the high density of waxy mushroom ‘roots’ (properly called hyphae) that shed water away from grass roots and compete for space.

There are no registered chemical controls for Fairy Ring fungi, but the “poke and soak” method can be used to, at least, reduce the severity of the fairy ring.

“Poke and soak” involves using a root feeder (hollow metal stake with reservoir on the top), hooking a garden hose to it, and then stabbing it into the ring and turning on the water. Water that penetrates into the ring not only helps to hydrate the grass roots but it always encourages the growth of microorganisms that compete with the Fairy Ring fungi. Adding some horticultural soap to the reservoir will make the water “wetter,” and allow better water penetration around the hyphal strands.

The “poke and soak” method is not perfect, but it helps.

Non Fairy Ring mushrooms that emerge after thunderstorms are just the fruiting bodies of fungi that are consuming organic matter in the soil, including bark, compost, dead roots, and more. They are not plant diseases, but instead, are saprophyte which means they are fungi that eat non-living organic matter. Saprophytes are, actually, beneficial for soils in lawns and gardens. Rather than trying to kill these mushrooms, I say, grow to love them…if you can!

Now if you are thinking that you would like to add some of these lawn mushrooms to your pizza, don’t do it unless you can - with absolute certainty - correctly identify which ones are edible and which ones might be poisonous.

There is a great aphorism that I love about mushrooms. It goes like this: "There are old mushroom pickers and there are bold mushroom pickers, but there are no old, bold mushroom pickers!”

- Jim Hole

Quick & Easy Garden Tricks!

Not everyone has a lot of time to spend in the garden, but that's okay! The good news is that with a few easy tricks, you can still have great looking gardens in a matter of minutes. Here are a few easy to do examples that took less than 10 minutes to make each, and look fantastic!

Rather than planting individual flowers into your garden, a quick way to fill your garden with flowers is to use hanging baskets instead.

Simply dig a small hole, remove the flowers from the hanging basket pot, and place into the hole, filling in the soil around it. That's it!

Repeat as many times as you'd like. It looks great and takes only minutes! 





For these pots, we simply filled them with potting soil, added two planters to, and one hanging basket each, to make instant flower pots that look as though they've been growing in the pot for months!

Stop by Hole's today!

Canadian Shield Rose

Back in stock! Boasting silky, red blooms, the Canadian Shield Rose makes its debut this year, arriving just in time for Canada’s 150 Celebration. Planted in full sun, this shrub will flower for you all summer long.

Bred in Ontario, this rose is a true Canadian creation. And, as part of Canada’s Explorer Rose Series, the Canadian Shield Rose is amazingly hardy—even at temperatures as low as -35°C.

Find the Canadian Shield Rose, plus many other Canadian Explorer Roses, at Hole’s.

Podcast: Container Gardening - Jim Hole's Top 5 Tips

Are you wondering about growing in containers but couldn't make it out to one of Jim's free talks this spring? Well, you're in luck! Jim Hole has recorded a container gardening podcast on the Hole's Radio Network, available here.

In episode 2 of the Hole's Radio Network, Jim Hole chats with Brad Walker—the reluctant gardener—about the top 5 things everybody needs to know about growing in containers.

Play it below or download it by clicking here and, when you're done checking it out, please let us know what you think (by replying in the comments below). Also, let us know if you'd like to see more podcasts or video tutorials in the future.

Buy 1, Get 1 Bedding Plant Sale!

Right now at Hole’s Greenhouses, all bedding plants are buy 1, get 1 FREE!

We have over 100 varieties of petunias in our greenhouse, as well as favourites like thunbergia, mandevilla, & sweet potato vines.

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Plus, this sale includes our edible and flower hanging baskets. Featuring Canadian colours in our flower baskets, these beautiful arrangements are the fastest way to spice up your yard, patio, or balcony!

"Why are the leaves on my tomato plant curling?" By Jim Hole

The passion that gardeners have for their tomatoes never ceases to amaze me.
This week we had over 450 people respond to our Hole’s Happenings Reader’s Choice questionnaire, and the most requested question by far was: “Why are my tomato leaves curling up?”
Well, the good news is that tomato leaf curl is not a serious problem…usually.
These are the 3 main reasons why tomato leaves curl:
First, some tomato varieties naturally have a bit of a twisting or curling growth habit. Typically, once the leaves expand, they tend to flatten and develop a more ‘planar’ growth habit.

Secondly – and most commonly – tomato leaves will often cup upwards due to an imbalance between roots and above ground growth. The cupping is referred to as physiological leaf roll, which is just a fancy term for the fact that the tomato roots cannot supply enough water to all of the leaves, stems and fruit. When tomato leaves sense a deficit of water, they respond by cupping upward to reduce exposure to sunlight which therefore reduces moisture loss.

Anytime the roots are not functioning well due to, say, restricted root space like a small pot, or if the roots are damaged, the leaves often roll. Vigorous hanging basket tomatoes are notorious for leaf roll because the ratio of leaves to roots is often large and the roots simply can’t keep up.

The good news with leaf roll is that it doesn’t cause extensive harm to the plant. And if you do your best to provide a good growing environment for your tomato plants, leaf roll can be kept to a minimum. But, keep in mind that rolled leaves won’t unfurl.

The third major cause of leaf roll is much more serious. It results from the misapplication of certain types of herbicides. The rolling of leaves from herbicide damage is different from physiological leaf roll. Herbicide damage is most prominent in the new growing points resulting in severe cupping, distortion and clumping of flowers and shoots. The source of herbicide contamination is often from misapplication of lawn herbicides or contaminated potting and garden soil mixtures. If you have herbicide damage like this the only solution is to get rid of the affected plants and soil and start over.

Every year, I receive dozens of tomato plants displaying herbicide damage. Often the herbicide damage wasn’t caused through misapplication by the owner of the tomatoes. The problem is, all too often, potting mixtures that have been blended with herbicide contaminated manure.

This is why starting with good quality potting soil is essential. Every bag of Jim Hole's Potting Soil and Sea Soil has been tested for quality-assurance.

And remember to feed your tomato plants too!

If you have a hanging basket tomato don’t forget to feed it! Of all the plants in our greenhouses, hanging basket tomatoes are the heaviest feeders. If you want to keep the feeding simple, add some Plant Prod 16-16-16 Controlled Release Fertilizer to each basket. If you prefer the liquid fertilizers weekly or even daily applications of Talk of Tomato 3-3-4 are a good choice. Find all your tomato plant needs at Hole's.

- Jim Hole

The Birds, The Bees, & The Butterflies

Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the stamen (male part of the flower) to the pistil (female part of the flower), which results in the formation of a seed.

Hybrids are created when the pollen from one kind of plant is used to pollinate and entirely different variety, resulting in a new plant altogether.

Did you know?

  • Ladybugs eat harmful pests such as aphids, mites and scale.
  • Mason bees pollinate up to 1500 blossoms per day!
  • Butterflies help gardens grow by pollinating native plants and are a sign of a healthy garden.

Here are some easy steps you can take to make your yard more pollinator-friendly:

1. Plant flowers & plants that attract pollinators!

As you may have guessed, planting plants and flowers that support pollination is a great place to start. If you’re already planting something, why not make them pollinators! Try Echinacea, Sunflowers, or Black-Eyed Susans from Hole's.

2. Plan your yard so you always have something in bloom

Do your research before planting and find out when different plants bloom. Always having at least one plant in bloom is a great way to attract pollinators AND it makes your yard look great too!


3. Plant native plants

Native plants help native species pollinate. Many plant and animal species have adapted to environmental changes together, making them a great team. Let’s help them remain a great team! Consider a Lady’s Slipper in Alberta. When bees and other insects enter the pouch of the Lady Slipper, they can only exit through the back of the flower. This forces the insect to pass through pollen, which then spreads to the next plant the insect visits. Lady Slippers are perennials, blooming in May and June. Get yours at Hole’s!


4. Pick up a Wildlife Habitat!

Your yard is already home to insects galore, so why not give bees a proper place to rest their wings? Wildlife Habitats, also called nests or houses, are a great way to attract pollinators to your family’s flower or vegetable garden.

Special Bee Hotels are places for solitary bees to make their nests. These bees live alone, not in hives. They do not make honey. Solitary bees are much less likely to sting than honeybees because they aren’t defending a hive.

Hole's carries specialty wildlife homes for ladybugs, butterflies, bees, & more!

Jim Hole's Best Advice for Wind Damaged Trees


Edmonton’s wind storm created a lot of problems with power outages and property damage due to falling branches and toppled trees.

When trees topple or large branches break during a wind storm, it’s the storm that is blamed. But really, winds (unless they are hurricane force) are just the coup-de-grace for trees and branches that are weak or damaged. If that were not the case, the newspapers would be talking about hundreds of thousands of tree toppling rather than a few hundred.

By choosing an excellent planting site - good sun, soil and space - and keeping trees in good shape, there is little danger of large branches falling or entire trees toppling.

Proper pruning is fundamental for ensuring that weak branches are removed and strong branches retained. Everyone should have a few basic pruning tools and learn how to prune them properly.

Here are somethings you should look for in your yard this weekend, and some tips on how to deal with them.


Snapped branches? Weak branches? Uneven breaks? Hole's Greenhouses carries a wide variety of Corona tools for pruning trees. Pick up a bypass pruner for regular pruning, a handsaw for those larger branches, and a pole pruner for high up branches. But, they must be high quality. I learned from my Dad that poor quality pruning tools are a bad investment. Bad tools can’t be kept sharp, break just when you need them, and are dangerous when they don’t easily cut through branches or stems.

Remember, if you are able to prune yourself, these tools are a great investment and are cost effective when compared to the cost of hiring a professional pruning service. 

Look how easily the Corona Razor Tooth Saw cuts through a thick branch!

Pruning tree branches that are at great heights with Corona Pole Pruner


Use Tree Seal to speed up the healing process of cracks & splits. We recommendMorrison's Tree Seal available here, at Hole's.

Before using tree seal, remove all snapped, hanging branches with a Corona saw or pruner, then clean up the area. See below:


If the damage is really bad, you may need to remove the tree entirely. To remove the stump, you first need to drill holes in it and fill them with Bye-Bye Weed and apply Bye-Bye Weed to the outer bark. Once the stump is dead, you can rot the stump by applying Falling Leaf Stump Remover.


Some jobs are too big to do alone and require hiring a professional company. If you are unsure about what types of tree damage you can and cannot repair yourself, visit Hole's Greenhouses for the best advice. 

Send your damaged tree questions to and get set up with the tools you need to get your trees back in great shape with 20% off Corona tools!

- Jim

Seeds Of Health: Unleash The Power Of 10%

A few months back I was getting my hair cut and my hair dresser was in need of a little advice. She tells me she has been struggling to lose some weight, and just wants to feel healthier overall. In her confession to me, she admitted to feeling guilty about not taking action, and also feeling like reaching her goals were so far away that it felt futile to even try. 

After hearing everything she wanted to tell me about her fitness goals, I pondered out loud to her and said, "what would happen if instead of trying to do everything at once and focusing on a far away end point you did just 10%, and focused on being just 10% better, how would that make you feel if you did just that?"

She thought about it for a moment as if someone just gave her permission to not be perfect, but still farther ahead. She responded back telling me that even 10% would be better.

So we talked a little more about what 10% really means. Here are 3 ways that we applied the 10% rule for her.

1. Bump up your steps by 10% 

My hair dresser gets about 6,000 steps a day, so if we bump it up by just 10% that's an extra 600 steps a day, doesn't seem like much but at the end of the week that's an extra 4,200 steps. If you didn't do anything extra at the end of the month that would be over 17,000 steps. Just shy of 3 extra days worth of steps. 

2. Reduce sugar intake by 10%

She admitted to loving all things sugar and carbs, and she feels she eats too much of it. So what if we trimmed the carbs on her plate by 10% each meal (we estimated 2 thumb sizes as a visual) 

3. Increase Sleep by 10%

A big part of having more energy and being healthier is quality sleep. Her average sleep lasts about 6 hours. Add 10% more and that's just an extra half hour. She felt it would be easy to get to bed 30 minutes earlier at least 5 days a week. That's an extra 10 hours of sleep in a month, almost 2 more nights worth for her. 

The other day I went to get my hair cut again. I saw my hair dresser and she greeted me with the biggest smile on her face. She was excited to tell me how great she was feeling by doing the "10%" rule and that she lost a jean size, and started a nightly walking group with her friends as a result. 

When you have a goal that seems far away, employ the 10% rule, and start making enjoyable progress to a healthier you.

What 10% things can you do? I would love to hear how you employ the power of 10%. Click here to email Robin.

Your Urban Oasis


“Gardens have an almost magical ability to transport us to another place, far away from our everyday stress and worries. You don’t have to live on a farm to experience the magic. You can carve out a vegetable patch in a tiny urban backyard. You can fill a windowbox with potting soil and create a flowerbed on your apartment balcony. You can even tend tomatoes on the 23rd floor of an office tower.” - Lois Hole, I’ll Never Marry A Farmer


Spending time in nature can be difficult when you live in the city. Start by creating an inviting outdoor space for your family and friends to enjoy! Hole’s carries a huge selection of pre-made flower planters and hanging baskets to instantly make the outdoors actually feel like the outdoors. One quick stop at Hole’s Greenhouses and you’ll be enjoying your balcony like never before! Take advantage of our FREE planter delivery from June 16 to July 10!


Straight from your plant to your plate (or cocktail!)—it doesn’t get any fresher than that! Have you ever purchased herbs from the grocery store? They’re affordable and taste great, but after a day or two, they begin to wilt and end up in the trash. Growing your own herbs saves time and money, and prevents waste. Right now at Hole’s, save 25% on Lois Hole’s Herbs & Edible Flowers book with the purchase any of our herb plants!


A breath of fresh city air—yes, it’s possible! The indoor air we breathe can be stale and unhealthy, but plants are natural air purifiers—and they look great too! Relax and breathe easy knowing your air is healthy and clean.

Where can you start? Try an easy-to-care-for indoor plant like a spider plant, ivy, or fern. Plus, from June 16 to July 10, get your indoor plant repotted for FREE with the purchase of any decorative pot!

Gifts For Every Kind of Dad

Hole's is carrying a huge selection of giftware just for Dads! Visit us before Father's Day.


Father's delight! Grab Dad one of these sneaky office executive golf putting sets that just so happens to fit in the bottom desk drawer.


Style from head to toe! Pick up a pair of shades, fashion socks, & a shoe shining kit. The Gentlemen's Buff & Shine Kit comes with 2 brushes, black and clear polish, & a cleaning cloth.


Take a bright & beautiful trip around the world. This stunning 12" globe creates an amazing display depicting the world– lit up by nighttime city lights!


This Master of All Trades multi-tool features 15 brushed, stainless steel blades & tools. Talk about a handy item to have in your back pocket!



This 5 Piece Wine Kit includes a wine key, wine stopper, drip, combo pourer and stopper, & a foil cutter.


The Hook & Line Sinker is a handy multi-tool that will do the job for any keen fisherman!


Get all the accessories Dad needs to start riding in style. Pick up a Bicycle Repair Kit, Bike Holder, Bluetooth Loop Wireless Speaker & pair of shades.

FREE Hotdogs at Hole's!

June 17 & 18, 11am-3pm

Bring Dad down to Hole's Greenhouses Father's Day Weekend, both Saturday & Sunday from 11am-3pm, for a FREE hotdog! Louisiana Grills will be firing up the BBQ and serving up hotdogs, along with other great deals. The hotdogs are FREE but we encourage a support Edmonton's Youth Empowerment & Support Services. 

PLUS, experience the wood pellet advantage with Louisiana Grills and Pit Boss Grills. From 11am-3pm Father’s Day weekend, commit to the purchase of a grill at our booth at HOLE’S and receive FREE unit assembly, FREE delivery, FREE bag of pellets and a FREE custom cover! That’s $250 in savings! Dad will definitely have a happy Father’s Day with a deal like this.

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Planning an event? Rent a patio planter!

Save money at your next event! Hole's Greenhouses rents patio planters for your wedding, anniversary or other special event.

Here's how it works:

  1. Visit Hole's Greenhouses 7 days before your event.
  2. Pick out the planters you would like. We recommend snapping a picture of the planters with your phone.
  3. Email our Information Centre at and include contact information, rental dates, location, number of planters required, indicate pick up or delivery and include the pictures of the planters if you are able to. 
    • If you prefer, you may place your order over the phone at 780-419-6800 (9am-4:30pm, Monday-Friday; excluding holidays.)
  4. Our Information Centre will respond within one business day. Weekend enquiries will be answered on Monday. 
  5. Once confirming your order, we will tag your planters and have them ready for you to pick up or for delivery!

Rental Fee: 25% of the retail price of the patio planter/per day

Delivery & Pickup Fee: $100*

*subject to additional fees depending upon special requirements such as location, delivery times, venue restrictions, site preparation, size of order, etc.

Payment Terms: patio planter retail price must be fully paid along with Delivery & Pickup Fee, should delivery and pickup be required. Upon return, 75% of the patio planter retail price is credited back to the renter. Damaged planters will not be given full credit.

Visit Hole's today, or contact our Information Centre (9am-4:30pm, Monday-Friday; excluding holidays) by emailing or by calling 780-419-6800 during specified hours.