January and February in the Garden

by Jane & Wilson Grahame

  • In a severe frost place cut evergreen branches over tender plants….remove after frost

  • Don’t walk on frozen grass…..it will cause damage

  • Gently dislodge heavy, wet snow from weighed down branches

  • Pull weeds…….mild weather promotes their growth

  • Rake winter leaves, debris and moss off the lawn

  • Apply Dolomite lime to the lawn

  • Order from seed catalogues

  • Prune deciduous trees

  • Prune grape and kiwi vines in January. When the weather warms up the sap begins to flow and the pruning wounds bleed.

  • Prune winter jasmine when flowering ends. Cut back the flowering shoots to within 2″ of the base. Remove dead growth and some of the oldest wood.

  • In late February prune common hydrangeas. Remove old flower heads cutting stem down to a point 1/4″ above the first fat pair of new buds below the old flower heads.

  • If the colour of your hydrangea blooms was muddied last year:

    • Clarify pinks and reds by adding wood ash or lime to the soil (alkaline)
    • Clarify blues by adding peat moss (acid)
  • Spray fruit trees and roses with dormant oil and lime sulphur on a dry day before leaves open. Take leaves off roses before spraying.

  • (Some people disagree with the use of dormant oil and lime sulphur.)

  • If the soil is not frozen or soggy plant leafless trees, shrubs & roses

  • Plant lily bulbs

  • Consider planting the following plants for winter interest in the future:

    • Helleborus (Christmas or Lenten Rose)
    • Winter Heathers
    • Hammamelis Mollis (Chinese Witch Hazel)
    • Winter Jasmine
    • Sarcococca (Himalayan Sweet Box)
  • Unlike tulips and daffodils you can lift, divide and transplant snowdrops and winter aconites while the foliage is still green

  • Check begonia, gladioli and dahlia bulbs and tubers for rot due to dampness or disease

  • Water plants under the eaves about once a month

  • Check for slugs and their eggs under pots. Slug eggs look like tapioca (white or clear)

Posted in Gardening Tips.

November & December in the Garden

by Jane & Wilson Grahame

  • Get the leaves off the lawn and into the compost. Your slug population and disease will be less next spring.
  • There is still time to plant bulbs. This is an excellent time to plant trees & shrubs, particularly winter blooming shrubs, i.e. witch hazel, Pink Dawn Viburnum, Sarcococca (Sweet Box) and early blooming Camellias.
  • Spray roses and fruit trees with lime sulphur as soon as the leaves have fallen.
  • Clean up carefully under the plants.
  • Check stakes on trees & roses to protect them from winter storm or snow load damage.
  • Mulch marginally hardy plants such as cistus (Rock Rose) and caryopteris (Blue Beard). Keep mulch away from base of woody stem to prevent disease at stem.
  • Dig over beds of clay soil when moist – frost will break up the clay.
  • Don’t dig over good soil – winter rains will compact it and wash away nutrients.
  • Spread Dolomite lime around lime lovers such as lilacs.
  • Empty frost tender clay pots, wash and store.
  • Drain your irrigation system or have it blown out.
  • Drain and store hoses.
  • Service lawn equipment.
  • Inspect and repair hand tools.
  • Mix motor oil with sand in a bucket to clean and oil shovels.
  • Organize feeding stations for the birds.
  • Give house plants a rest. Cut back on fertilizer and do not over water.
  • Clean the gutters.

Water Garden:

  • Remove all surface plants, e.g. water lettuce, water hyacinths. Otherwise they decompose and you may have algae problems next spring.
  • Use a net to keep leaves out of the pond.
  • Don’t be tempted to drain the pond. Always leave 30% of the water in.
  • If a lot of bottom debris has collected scoop it out and put it in the compost.
  • Don’t leave the pump running over the winter. It lowers the temperature at the bottom of the pond. This may damage the fish and the water lilies.
  • If the pond freezes never smash the ice. The vibration will kill the fish. Put a pot of boiling water on the ice to melt it.

Posted in Gardening Tips.

October in the Garden

by Jane & Wilson Grahame

Many things mentioned in September apply to this month as well.


  •  Continue to weed.
  •  Compost spent annuals
  •  Lift and divide perennials usually every 3-4 years, but Shasta Daisies every 2 years.  Tender plants should be divided in the spring after the last frost – cistus (rock rose), rosemary, agapanthus, grey leafed plants  (artemesia).  Also leave pruning of hardy fuchsias until spring.
  •  Peonies are susceptible to Botrytis so prune to below the soil and put in the garbage, don’t compost.
  •  Transplant evergreen trees and shrubs but wait until deciduous ones have lost their leaves and are dormant.
  •  Plant bulbs well into November.
  •  Remember to water plants under the eaves once a month over the winter.
  •  Don’t leave fruit on the ground – it provides winter homes for diseases and insects.
  •  Tuberous begonias need digging up or removing from pots and storing.  Dahlias and Gladioli can be left in if it is a very well drained area, or, after the first frost prune to 6”, dig up, clean and dry the tubers, bulb dust and store in a cool, dry place.
  •  Hybrid Tea Roses – cut down by 1/3 (leave final and more careful pruning until spring), water deeply and mulch.  Take all leaves off and put in the garbage.  Clean up around the plants.
  •  Apply fall fertilizer low in nitrogen to lawns.
  •  Remove leaves from the lawn, as they are a haven for pests and diseases.  The lawnmower, weed eater or mulcher will cut up big leaves like maples before composting.
  •  Plant lupin seeds.  Many plants take nitrogen from the soil but lupins return nitrogen to the soil.
  •  Take lawn equipment in for servicing.
  •  Inspect all you hand tools and do repairs.   A bucket of sand saturated with motor oil (10w40 or 10w30) will clean and oil shovels.
  •  In the Water Garden – do not drain and do not change the water by more than 30% at a time.  If there is a lot of bottom debris scoop it out and compost it.
  •  Empty frost-tender clay pots, wash, dry and store.
  •  Bring in pots of geraniums, prune back by 1/3, remove dead bottom leaves and keep dry.
  •  Drain and store hoses.
  •  When you have done all this, take a big mug of steaming tea out into the garden and enjoy the last few rays of sun for the year and think about how wonderful your garden is going to look next spring.

Posted in Gardening Tips.

September in the Garden

by Jane & Wilson Grahame
  • Continue to weed, don’t let weeds go to seed – it doubles your work next year.
  • September can be dry so keep on watering.  Camellias need water to prevent bud-drop next spring.
  • Keep on deadheading annuals and perennials – it extends the blooming season.  Compost annuals after they have finished blooming.
  • Walk around the garden and make a list of what needs to be moved and what new plants are needed.
  • Lift and divide perennials (pick a damp, cloudy day).  Use divisions from the periphery, discard the old centre, use bone meal (promotes roots) not fertilizer (promotes new leaves) when transplanting. Don’t cut old stems back to ground until spring – they protect the plant in cold weather.
  • Don’t move trees or shrubs until they become dormant, (i.e. they have lost their leaves).
  • Select and plant new perennials to fill in any colour gaps.
  • Plant peonies – choose position wisely – they prefer to be left undisturbed for many years.
  • Put in the garbage any diseased plant material – black spot, powdery mildew.
  • Buy bulbs early while the selection is best, you don’t have to plant them until Oct. or Nov.  Plant in groups of odd numbers, not straight lines.
  • Good time for sowing grass seed.
  • Check that ties around trees and shrubs are not cutting into the bark.
  • Bring houseplants back into the house before the heat is turned on – they will acclimatize more easily.  First clean the plant and pot scrupulously and spray with insecticidal soap.
  • In the water garden:
    Stop fertilizing plants to allow them to harden
    Cut off decaying foliage
    Remove water lettuce, water hyacinth, and fairy moss. Put in compost. (If left predisposes pond to algae).
    Remove excess parrot feather – leave the rest in a pot on the bottom.
    Do not discard oxygenators (e.g. barrenwort)
    Cut down on feeding fish as their metabolism drops
    Lay fine mesh plastic netting over the surface to catch leaves and needles – empty once a week.

Posted in Gardening Tips.

July in the Garden

by Shirley Rainey

as published in the Penninsula Garden Club Gleanings newsletter (July 2010)

General Activities
• Keep deadheading and weeding frequently.
• Apply slow release fertilizer to the lawn. Raise the mower blade when cutting. Water according to CRD
1″ recommendations.
• Whenever possible use soaker hoses on beds and water in the early morning.
• Containers and hanging baskets may need watering twice daily in hot weather. Fertilize with 20-20-20 or
Miracle Gro.
• Moisten and turn compost frequently.
• Trim evergreen hedges.
• Look out for caterpillars, aphids, slugs and snails and remove them.

• Cut back and fertilize to encourage a second show of flowers.
• Bearded iris should be lifted and divided after blooming as necessary.
• Biennials sown in June can be planted out.
• Watch for black spot and mildew on roses. Remove any infected leaves and put in the garbage. Deadhead.
Feed with rose food and water well at the soil level to avoid wetting the foliage.
• Mulch and feed dahlias. Taller varieties will need staking for support.
• Collect seeds and dry thoroughly prior to storing in a cool dry place.
• Cut sweet peas frequently to encourage continued flowering.
• Buy and plant fall flowering bulbs.
• Cut back lupins and delphiniums. Tidy up and cut back foliage of early flowering perennials.
• Take softwood cuttings from lavender, hebe and senecio.
• Clip back lavender after blooms fade to prevent plant becoming leggy.

• Prune back wisteria, philadelphus, deutzia and weigela after flowering.

Vegetables & Fruit
• Vegetables grow fast in summer heat and must be fed and watered regularly.
• Harvest regularly and continue sowing peas, beans, carrots, green onions, arugula, corn salad and oriental
• Winter crops of cauliflower, winter cabbage, purple sprouting broccoli and chard can be sown now.
• Cut herbs to freeze or hang to dry.
• Tomatoes should be supported in cages. Pinch out the tip when 4 or 5 trusses have set.
• Protect cauliflower by turning the leaves inward.
• Make sure potatoes are well covered to prevent sunburn and toxic green skin.
• Earth up Brussel sprouts for support.
• Cut out the tip of broad beans when 2′ high to prevent black fly infestation.
• Cut off the growing point of runner beans when they reach the top of the pole.
• Check cabbages for caterpillars.
• Harvest garlic and shallots when tops die.
• Detach strawberry runners and separate new plants. Remove 3 year old plants after fruiting.
• Cut out old raspberry canes after fruiting.

Posted in Gardening Tips.

June in the Garden

by Jane & Wilson Grahame

  • Weeds – easier to pull when the soil is moist.
  • Keep planting out annuals.  Feed regularly with fertilizer and water well.
  • Containers and hanging baskets dry out quickly.
  • Divide German bearded irises after flowering – about every 3 years.
  • Mulch lilies with compost or well-rotted manure.
  • Prune back deciduous shrubs, such as Mock Orange, after flowering.
  • Start taking shrub cuttings.
  • Cut back suckers on lilacs and prune off faded flower heads.
  • Keep newly planted hedges, trees and shrubs well watered.  Even drought tolerant plants must be watered regularly for the first few years.
  • Check for aphids, mildew and black spot on roses.  Pick off and destroy diseased leaves.
  • Mulching over the root zone helps keep the soil damp while suppressing weeds.  Use well-rotted manure compost or other organic material.  Peat moss dries out if used alone and wood chips steal nitrogen from the soil as they rot, so use extra fertilizer.
  • Deadhead.  Cutting off dead flowers helps prevent seed formation and keeps many herbaceous plants flowering longer.
  • Variegated plants may produce branches that revert to their plain green forms.  These grow strong and can take over if not removed.
  • Hedges  – clip.  Do not cut coniferous hedges back too far as most will not regrow once green branch ends are removed.  To keep such a hedge narrow, prune it a little every year.
  • Keep looking for pests – weevils, aphids, caterpillars, etc.
  • Fertilize roses after the June flush of bloom.
  • Just as perennial delphiniums and lupins go to seed cut them right to the ground, thus encouraging clean new growth and a second set of blooms.
    All peony flowers should be cut before they shatter and put in the garbage.  The tissue could be infected with the fungal disease Botrytis.
  • Delphinium.
    May give a second show – deadhead after initial blooming, and cut back stems by two thirds.  It’s a good idea to provide an extra top dressing of compost or manure as compensation for this overtime work.
  • Asters.
    Cut back by one third when plants are about a half metre high.  This will build strong sturdy stems and prevent your plants from falling over when blooming in the fall.


Posted in Gardening Tips.

May in the Garden

by Jane & Wilson Grahame
  • Deadhead tulips and daffodils but leave stems and leaves to die down.
  • Leave flower heads of smaller bulbs such as squill and grape hyacinths to allow them to seed themselves.
  • Fertilize bulbs – they will flower well next year.
  • Pull out forget-me-nots and wallflowers after they have finished blooming.  Add them to your compost
  • Sow seeds of the above for next year.
  • Thin out annuals that were sown earlier, retaining the best & strongest plants.
  • Pinch out growing tips of chrysanthemums & asters to promote bushy growth.
  • Stake all perennials such as delphiniums, before they get too tall.
  • Lightly shear back early spring flowering perennials such as aubretia, arabis & alyssum.
  • Plant dahlia tubers, making sure to drive in the stakes first, to avoid damage to the tubers.
  • Buy bedding plants but wait until at least May 15th to plant them out.  Plant tubs, hanging baskets and window boxes.
  • Prune spring flowering shrubs after they have finished blooming, i.e. keria japonica, forsythia, spiraea & flowering quince.  Prune out old wood and shape messy or overgrown shrubs to create a better-looking plant.
  • Deadhead azaleas & rhododendrons.
  • Mulch irises and rhododendrons – use compost or aged manure.
  • Fertilize rhododendrons after blooming – at the drip line.
  • Keep newly planted trees, shrubs & lawns well watered.
  • Keep a lookout for slugs, snails & aphids.
  • WEED.  Be careful in areas where you have sown seed so you don’t remove the new sprouts.
  • Set up birdbaths – empty regularly and keep clean.
  • Clip spent blooms from heathers.

Posted in Gardening Tips.

April in the Garden

by Jane & Wilson Grahame

  • Pull out weeds.
  • Deadhead tulips and daffodils, but leave stems and leaves to die down.  Leave flower heads of smaller bulbs such as squill and grape hyacinths to allow them to seed themselves.
  • Fertilize bulbs – they will flower well next year.
  • Plant all summer flowering bulbs by mid May, including dahlias and gladioli.
  • Divide primulas and polyanthus after they have flowered.
  • When camellias have finished blooming it is time to start feeding them using rhododendron and azalea fertilizer.
  • Fertilize rhododendrons before and after blooming.
  • Yellowing foliage on camellias and azaleas usually indicates lack of iron – fertilize with milorganite.
  • Make sure you have pruned your caryopteris (bluebeard), buddleia and lavatera. They bloom on new growth.
  • Remove suckers from tree peonies.
  • Prune spring flowering shrubs, I.E. forsythia, philadelphus (mock orange), ribes (flowering currant) and weigela after flowering in late April and June. Cut back 1/3 of the oldest branches to the ground, leaving the new ones to produce new flowers next spring.  Good time to take cuttings!
  • Prune lavender and other grey leafed shrubs to prevent from looking straggily.
  • Prune away the dead wood on hardy fuchsias to just above developing buds.
  • Support tall perennials as they grow – have delphinium stakes and supports in place by mid May.  Use tomato cages turned upside down over peonies and delphiniums.  They will require very little tying up later.
  • Sow hardy annuals out doors this month, i.e. nasturtiums, scabiosa, nigella (love-in-a-mist), lavatera.
  • Remove about 1/3 of old soil from large containers and replace with fresh soil and a little slow release fertilizer.
  • Winter flowering heather can be sheared after blooming is over.
  • ROOT WEAVIL attacks rhododendrons, azaleas and clematis.  Telltale signs are notched edges on the leaves.  They are a hard backed, nocturnal beetle.  With the use of a flashlight they can be picked off plants at night.  Another remedy is to put planks around the base of the plants, the weevils will hide under them during the day, and you can gather them ‘on your time’. Or use ‘tanglefoot’.
  • Lawn care – aeration – lime – fertilize.  Mow regularly twice a week now and leave clippings on the lawn.  This returns nitrogen to the soil.
  • DON’T FORGET to water your new plantings.  April can be very dry.

Posted in Gardening Tips.

March in the Garden

by Jane & Wilson Grahame
Spring is here. It’s time to get into fourth gear.  Cleanliness is very Important at this time. It reduces the incidence of slugs, snails and cutworms. So get rid of old leaves and debris from the lawn and beds.
Weeding – don’t let weeds go to seed. All those perennials that were not cut back last fall can be cut back now.

Perennials can be divided and moved. Trees and shrubs may also be moved.

Apply balanced fertilizer and a compost/manure dressing or mushroom manure. Don’t put mushroom manure around your rhododendrons. It contains lime and Rhododendrons are acid loving.

Pot up your tuberous begonias.
Towards the end of the month plant summer flowering bulbs and corms – i.e. montbretia, lilies, gladioli, dahlias and nerines.
March is rose pruning month (St. Patrick’s Day). First clean up all the leaves under rose bushes before pruning and put them in the garbage. Apply a thin 1” layer of compost or aged manure to the base of each rose. Try under planting roses with garlic or chives to reduce incidence of aphids and black spot.
Prune early flowering shrubs after flowering – i.e. forsythia, winter jasmine, weigela, flowering currant, philadelphus (mock orange), ceanothus (California lilac)
Lavender, senecio, santolina and other grey, woody shrubs can be clipped hard removing last year’s flower spikes and most of last year’s growth.
Prune summer flowering shrubs – i.e. caryopteris, buddleia and lavatera. They can be cut back aggressively because they flower on new growth.
Clematis: Type A – those that bloom early (Armandii/Montana) DON’T prune; Type B – those that bloom in May & June prune lightly in March; Type C – those that bloom late from July to September prune hard to within 30” of the base.
Cut down ornamental grasses.
Deadhead and feed (fish fertilizer) spring bulbs when they have finished flowering. Leave the leaves.
Lawn rejuvenation starts now; moss removal; aerating; weeding; fertilizing; liming; seeding of bare patches.

Posted in Gardening Tips.