landscaping

Podcast: Skinny & Dwarf Trees for Small Yards - Jim Hole's Top 5 Tips

Are you wondering about growing a tree in a yard without much space but couldn't make it out to one of Jim's FREE talks? Well, you're in luck! Jim Hole has recorded a skinny and dwarf tree podcast on the Hole's Radio Network, available here.

In this episode 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 a tree in a small space.

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.

Podcast: The Perfect Lawn - Jim Hole's Top 5 Tips

Are you wondering about growing the perfect lawn but couldn't make it out to one of Jim's FREE talks? Well, you're in luck! Jim Hole has recorded a podcast all about taking care of your lawn, on the Hole's Radio Network, available here.

In this episode 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 the perfect lawn. He covers all the topics: top-dressing, dethatching, weeding, watering, fertilizing, and more!

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.

Podcast: The Best Ways to Water Your Garden, Containers, Lawn, & Trees - Jim Hole's Top 5 Tips

Are you wondering about the best watering advice for your garden, lawn, trees, or containers but couldn't make it out to one of Jim's FREE talks? Well, you're in luck! Jim Hole has recorded a podcast all about watering your plants on the Hole's Radio Network, available here.

In this episode 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 watering their plants.

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.

A Lasagna Garden for the Lazy Gardener

Last weekend I made a Lasagna Bed in my garden. No, this is not something to sleep in or eat, but you can certainly grow food in it!

A Lasagna Bed is actually the way for lazy gardeners to make a new garden bed. The best thing about it is that you don't even have to dig up the lawn!

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The basic idea of a lasagna bed is to put down layers of carbon-rich materials (e.g. dried leaves, straw, cardboard, newspaper), alternated with layers of nitrogen-rich materials ( e.g. grass clippings, green material from your perennial beds and your vegetable garden, uncooked vegetable peels, coffee grinds, manure).

Combined with moisture, this carbon-nitrogen mix will feed the micro-organisms and fungi that decompose material and turn it into a nutrient-rich, growing medium.

The other bonus is that it allows you to make good use of the leaves that are all over your lawn right now and you'll also be able to use up all the green clippings you have from cutting down your perennials and mowing your lawn at the end of the year.

Here is the "recipe" I used for my lasagna bed this year:

  1. Wherever you'd like to start your garden bed, start with a thin layer of material high in nitrogen, to activate the decomposers (e.g. the fungi and micro-organisms). I used steer manure as my starter.  Then add water.
  2. Add a layer of overlapping cardboard or newspaper, to act as a carbon layer and as a weed/grass barrier, until the composting process is well on its way. Add water again!
  3. Add another thin layer of nitrogen rich material. I used clippings from my perennial beds and the green shells of the beans that I had grown this summer. Water!
  4. Add leaves. Water!
  5. More nitrogen, again. Here, I added the contents of my pots and planters. This is actually a mix of carbon (potting soil) and nitrogen (plants). Water!
  6. I still had more leaves to get rid of, so I did another layer. Plus more water!
  7. Finally, I finished things off with a layer of half-composted material from the compost pile I made last year.
  8. You can start the bed right on the lawn, but you should end up with a pile that is at least 1.5 to 2 feet high. As the material decomposes only a few inches will be left.

Now let the snow, winter, and the decomposers do their work.

In the spring, you can dig small trenches into your lasagna bed. By adding just a little bit of light potting soil for your transplants or seeds, you'll be able to plant your fruits, vegetables, and flowers right into these trenches and into your bed.

In such a rich growing medium, they'll grow amazingly!

 

Maria is a landscape designer trained and educated in the Netherlands. She owned a landscape design business for 10 years before moving to Edmonton in 2005 and joining the Hole's team. Book a landscaping design consultation with Maria Beers this fall and we will give you a FREE $25 gift certificate for our Glasshouse Bistro.

Growing Bulbs in Alberta and Picking the Right Bulbs for Your Garden

There is a myth that growing bulbs in Alberta is difficult.  

Well, I am Dutch, and I love bulbs, and I have successfully grown almost every type of bulb that I can lay my hands on, right here in Albertasometimes even growing tulips between my strawberries!

So growing bulbs in Alberta is definitely do-able and at Hole's, I get to choose from an amazing collection. My brother-in-law is the owner of one of the largest tulip growing businesses in the world and—while visiting Alberta from the Netherlands last year—he was so excited to find many of the world's rarest and most unique bulbs right here at Hole's Greenhouse.

But how to pick the right bulbs for your garden?

Well, I always have some early flowering crocuses planted near my front entrance, where I will see them every time I leave the house. As soon as the snow melts, the crocuses peep out of the ground with their delicate flowers, announcing the arrival of spring.

An added bonus is that crocusses will naturalize. That means that you only plant them once and they will come back every year with more.

Making it Pop

I find that bulbs have the biggest visual impact if you plant them in groups and in combination with another kind of bulb or with a perennial that flowers at the same time.

Power Combos

One of my favourite combinations for early colour is to plant the bright yellow dwarf narcissus along with the true blue star flowers of the Scillas. Both bulbs will naturalize and this combination works even in a shady garden.

Planted in between your hostas, they will put on a show before your hostas emerge and, later, the large leaves of the hostas will cover up the bulbs as the scillas and narcissus go dormant for the summer.

Timing is Key

Another trick is to find combinations of plants that flower at the same time. Sometimes that is just a matter of trial-and-error or sometimes it is just good luck.

One year I found a great combination, when I planted early purple tulips between my "Fire Cracker" moss phlox  (a ground cover smothered in vibrant fuchsia-pink flowers) and in between my Blue Fescue grass with its fine blue leaves.

Check the Package 

I always look on the package of the bulbs if they are early, mid, or late spring flowering. I find the early and mid-spring flowering bulbs especially interesting, because they flower at a time when not much else does.

Experiment!

This fall I'm going to try a combination of soft yellow "Peach Melba" tulips with a pink trim and flashes of green. In between the tulips, I'm then going to place some with light blue Puschkinias with clusters of star-like light blue flowers. It looks like a marvellous combination to me.  I am not sure if the timing will be right, but it is exciting to try.

I will let you know how it worked out in spring. The beautiful thing about bulbs is that, even if a combination doesn't work out, they're easy to move around.

 

BONUS: Book a landscaping design consultation with Maria Beers this fall and we will give you a FREE $25 gift certificate for our Glasshouse Bistro. 

Fall Gardening: Moving Perennials and Planting Trees in the Fall

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At this time of the year, I get asked everyday if this is still a good time to plant.

The fact is that for many plants fall it is actually THE BEST time to plant! It's also a great time to get deals on perennials, trees, and shrubs too!

Why is it the best time to plant? Well, with plants preparing for winter, there is no energy being used for new growth. Soon leaves will start to drop and the sap stream will stop. All the plant's energy will go to root development and the soil is still warm enough for plants to settle in.

That said, plants that you buy in a garden centre will probably be "root-bound" after growing in a pot for a whole season.  For this reason, it is really important to break up that rootball at planting time, to give the plant a chance to develop new roots. Massaging the rootball lightly will likely not be enough. If necessary, take a knife to loosen the roots and really roughen them up. Make sure you have watered the plant before you do this.

  • Fall is also a good time to plant, move, or split most perennials.You can still see what is growing where and it is easy to remember what was not working well.
  • Most perennials can be split and re-located in fall or spring, but for Peonies, Bearded Irises, and Lilies, fall is the very best time.
  • Tender perennials and grasses are better relocated in spring. Shrubs and most evergreens can be re-located till mid-October.
  • I would not plant or relocate cedars any later than the end of September. 
  • All other trees can be planted or transplanted for as long as the ground is soft.
  • If you have any hardy perennials or shrubs in a pot or planter that you would like to survive winter, then this is the time to plant them in the ground. In our harsh Alberta winters plants will almost never survive in a pot.

When transplanting, mix in some Sea Soil into the new hole that you've dug.Sea Soil is our best compost here at Hole’s. It is made from composted forest fibres and composted fish. It works well for just about any plant and I love the smell of it that reminds me of forest in fall.

Finally, remember to water your plants during fall and soak everything really well before the ground freezes, usually towards the end of October.

 
~Maria Beers
 

 

Maria is a landscape designer trained and educated in the Netherlands. She owned a landscape design business for 10 years before moving to Edmonton in 2005 and joining the Hole's team. Interested in booking a landscape consultation with Maria? Click here.

Landscape Design: 4 Ways to Create Cohesiveness


This garden uses a few large shrubs and trees and then repeats colours and shapes to create an interesting but still very cohesive look.

This garden uses a few large shrubs and trees and then repeats colours and shapes to create an interesting but still very cohesive look.

Last week we talked about how contrast can bring depth and levels to your yard’s landscape.

Another important part of landscaping design is cohesion: that is, every part of your garden feels as if it’s part of a larger vision and not just an unconnected jumble of plants.

This time of the year is always a fun time to go shopping for some amazing deals on plants. That said, keep these few things in mind, so that you don’t end up with an unconnected collection of interesting plants.

1.       Divide the space in your yard with large solitary forms.  A large shrub, an tall ornamental grass, a pond, a boulder, or the large leaves of ornamental rhubarb, will give it structure and will prevent a cluttered look.

2.       Use repetition to tie the picture together.

  • Repetition in colour: For example, a maple or cherry tree with burgundy leaves, repeated in other areas in the form of a Purple Leaf Sand cherry and a group of burgundy Coral Bells. 
  • Repetition in form:  In between the burgundy forms you could plant a blue upright Juniper on the one side and a Columnar Blue Spruce on the other side. You could also add different sizes of globe shaped shrubs dotted throughout your yard. Dwarf Korean Lilacs, many Spireas, Globe Cedars, and Globe Spruces all have a naturally round growth habit.

3.       Fill in the spaces between the larger forms with ground cover, perennials, and smaller shrubs.

4.       Plant multiples when you use smaller plants.  Mass planting perennials or smaller shrubs creates a greater impact than many different individuals.  

 

With our 30% OFF outdoor clear-out sale on this week, now is a great time to pick up some amazing shrubs and perennials and get a great deal on them at the same time.

 

Maria is a landscape designer trained and educated in the Netherlands. She owned a landscape design business for 10 years before moving to Edmonton in 2005 and joining the Hole's team. Book a landscaping design consultation with Maria Beers this fall and we will give you a FREE $25 gift certificate for our Glasshouse Bistro

5 Ways to Create Contrast In Your Garden

Black eyed Susans against a backdrop of grasses.

Black eyed Susans against a backdrop of grasses.

 

Contrast is essential for any successful landscape design. Contrast helps the eye to spot different shapes and levels, and can be the key to adding dimension to your yard. Without contrast, your landscaping can look flat and dull or perhaps so cluttered that it is just overwhelming.

So what are some of the different ways to create contrast?

There are many ways, to create contrast and you may already be using many of these without even realizing it:

Plant textures:  Silver Mound Artemisia has a soft, matte, grey texture that makes it a great contrast to the shiny mound of large burgundy leaves of the Coral Bells.

Plant shapes: The rounded broccoli-like flower heads of the tall Purple Stonecrop stand out against the pointy, upright spikes of the Spiky Speedwell or Blue Sage. Round Globe Cedars also look great up against, the grassy spilling leaves of Daylilies.

Leaf variety: Leaf contrast is often used in shade borders. The big round leaves of Hostas contrast well against the tiny leaves of groundcovers like Bearberry or Creeping Jenny.

Mass: Big, bold, top heavy coneflowers like Black Eyed Susans or Echinacea look great growing against a backdrop of airy feathery  grasses. This combination is great for late summer and fall interest.

Colour: Burgundy Purple Leaf Sand Cherries are complemented by the tiny golden leaves of Goldmound Spirea.  Bold orange Asiatic Lilies also look great growing above the delicate small blue flowers of Brookside Cranesbill.       

 

With our 30% OFF outdoor clear-out sale starting this Friday, now is a great time to pick up some of these amazing shrubs and perennials and get a great deal on them at the same time.

 

Maria is a landscape designer trained and educated in the Netherlands. She owned a landscape design business for 10 years before moving to Edmonton in 2005 and joining the Hole's team. Book a landscaping design consultation with Maria Beers

Tips on choosing a tree for your front yard

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Choosing the right tree for your front yard is an important landscaping decision.  Maybe you've just bought a brand new house and are trying to figure out what to do with your landscaping? Or perhaps you just took down a 50-year-old birch tree and need to replace it with something?

Whatever your situation, here's how to find the right tree for your yard.

Firstly, there are a few factors to take into consideration: 

  • The size of your lot 
  • The shape of your house 
  • The colour of your siding
  • What type of trees are planted nearby

Next, here's a designer’s trick I use when helping people plan their landscaping:

  • Stand on the opposite side of your street, and take a photo of your front yard, including your house.
  • Get a piece of transparent tracing paper and put it over your photo. With a pencil and an eraser you can experiment with different shapes of trees, different sizes of trees, and even different placements.
  • Once you have found your favourite shape and size of tree, take good note of the location you would like to plant it in. How many hours of sun would the tree get there?  How exposed will it be to cold northwest winds? And how is the drainage in that particular spot?

By completing these easy steps, you'll have gathered all the necessary information to go tree shopping. The only thing missing is to visit us, let us know what you're looking for, and we'll help you find a tree that matches those needs.

 

Maria is a landscape designer trained and educated in the Netherlands. She owned a landscape design business for 10 years before moving to Edmonton in 2005 and joining the Hole's team. Book a landscaping design consultation with Maria Beers