Thursday, 23 May 2013

Garden Help from New House, New Home, New Life

This spring, once the snow finally melted in the front yard.  I looked at one of my flower beds and thought, "I need help!"  The bed was overrun with snap dragons and grass, with a few random perennials here and there.  Since it's an island bed, I had no clue how to make it look good.  It didn't take me long to decide who to ask for help.  Heather from New House, New Home, New Life is a fellow Canadian blogger.  She has a gorgeous garden of her own, and I knew she'd be able to help me figure out what to do.  Lucky for me, she agreed to help!  I can't wait to make use of her suggestions to make my front yard pretty again. ~Jo


First of all, I want to thank Joanna for allowing me the opportunity to help her with her garden even though it’s been done virtually. One day I would love to visit with Joanna and her darling family, but for now 2000 km separate us. Thank you Joanna for letting me is part of your wonderful blog. I so enjoy reading it!
Hi, I’m Heather from NewHouse New Home New Life where I blog about all things domestic. But at this time of year, it seems that my blog is about my main passion: gardening.

About a month ago, Joanna emailed me and asked if I could help her with a little garden project for her front yard. I was thrilled to think that someone as creative as Jo would want my help. Please keep in mind that I’m not a master gardener and have only ever really “designed” a couple of gardens other than my own. That and the fact that Joanna lives in a climate very different to my Southern Ontario garden made this an interesting and exciting challenge.

So she sent me a few photos of the existing space, which was still barren from the winter. Joanna had few criteria for me to work with: keep the existing trees and the brick as it was vintage and special to her, plus she would like to have things that bloomed later in the season. So after doing a bit of research on what would grow well in her Zone 3 climate, this is what I came up with:

I apologize for my awful hand-drawn rendition. I’m a gardener, not an artist. As Wynona Judd said after her wonderful performance on Dancing With the Stars “THIS is what I do”. I garden, I don’t draw.

This is a plan for Joanna to work with when laying out the garden. It includes the brick border that is already there, the existing trees and it is drawn to scale. In another version, I’ve drawn the garden as if you were looking at it from the street with everything in bloom.

Included in the plan are some of my personal favorites that provide good ground coverage to help retard weeds like the Carpathian bellflowers, some spring interest with the blue forget-me-nots and some all year interest with the peegee hydrangeas.
In the centre of the bed, I chose to put 3 Peegee hydrangeas to give some all year interest and height to the middle. They will stay about 3’ high, have terrific cone-shaped flowers that start out white in July and stay throughout the fall months turning into a great rusty red. Joanna can leave the flowers on all year or trim them back for a neater look. (I like to keep them on all year for some winter interest.)

Surrounding the hydrangeas, there are five Stella D’Oro daylilies. These daylilies are reblooming so there will be new flowers throughout August and into September. Hardy and easy to grow, these are a great addition to any garden. Plus the yellow will play nicely against the blue siding on Joanna’s house.

 Flanking either side of the front hydrangea bush are two Rudbeckia alba AKA white coneflowers. A native plant to Canada, the white blooms give the coneflower an unusual twist. The colour will complement the yellow of the day lilies and works well with the hydrangea. It grows about 2 ½ feet tall so won’t crowd the blooms of the peegee hydrangea.

Under the two existing trees, Joanna will need something that will provide some ground cover. I chose campanula as they are a small plant that will create a nice mound of blooms. Here it is in purple, but it’s really a lot bluer. Or Joanna can choose white. It’s also known as Carpathian Harebell. Don’t get confused with the ones you see in the supermarket in the spring – those are not meant for the garden and are just houseplants providing a shot of blue inside during the early spring months.

Finally, I’ve added forget-me-nots. A traditional flower that is hardy in most of Canada, this lovely fairy like flower never ceases to amaze me. It starts out so delicate and you think it will be nothing, but the flowers provide a light airiness to a spring garden. I know Jo didn’t ask for spring flowers, but I couldn’t resist. These should be planted between the bellflowers as they will fill any spaces quickly. 

Here’s a quick shot of one of my small gardens filled with forget-me-nots in bloom last week:

So Joanna, you’ve got some work to do. Don’t forget that when planting any flowers and shrubs to fertilize them – I like to use blood meal dropped right into the hole as you plant. Top-dress the garden with a dark mulch (please don’t use natural bark as it grays down and gives everything a worn look very quickly). I like to use a dark brown mulch (Scott’s has a beautiful one that we just used on our front gardens).

If you have any question, Jo, please let me know. And once again, thanks for this opportunity. I hope you have fun creating this garden. I certainly had fun mapping it out for you.


Thank you so much, Heather!  I love your drawings, they're adorable.  Once I get a chance to move the few perennials that are in the way, I will get started! 

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