08 Oct

9 Practical Ideas for Beautiful Balcony Gardens

A year ago, I moved from my home in Lahore and settled in Toronto. Aside from the cultural changes that I had to embrace, one major challenge as a gardener was to start my gardening hobby afresh in a very different climate. It is a big change – from a 600 sq. feet rooftop garden to a small 36 sq. feet balcony garden space.

Not only I have a limited room for growing plants but also I cannot grow some of my favorite plants here. Toronto has continental climate – warm and humid in summer, and very cold in winter. I did not add much to my small balcony garden yet, but I have started planning it.

Here are a few practical ideas for my balcony garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

01 Oct

Beautiful Flowering Plants for Ponds and Gardens: Crinum

Crinum is a large genus of bulbous perennials grown for their beautiful flowers. These lovely bloomers come from tropical and sub-tropical parts of the world and are admired by gardeners for the wide range of colorful blooms.

A typical plant of Crinum, commonly known as Crinum lily, produces large green leaves that usually die back in winter and appear again in spring. From the center of leaves, appears a tall flower stalk in spring and summer. The flower stalk can be as tall as 60 cm and is terminated by a group of prominent flowers. Flowers of Crinum last for a long time and emit a light, sweet scent.

Crinums can be grown from seeds though some varieties can be propagated from divisions as well. Most species of Crinum benefit from full to partial sun but protection from direct exposure to scorching sun. Provide your Crinums with well-drained but slightly moist and rich growing media in spring and summer. Keep them rather dry in winter.

Crium lily

Crium lily / Image by Drew Avery

With their fresh green leaves and long-lasting flowers, Crinums make good plants for garden borders as well as excellent container plants. They also thrive well along ponds and pools.

Popular species of Crinum include:

C. bulbispermum is characterized by large green leaves and a long flower stalk that bears a bunch of funnel-shaped flowers.

C. paludosum is a rather smaller plant and produces arching green leaves and a bunch of white and pink flowers.

Crinum x powelii is a hardy plant and produces larger clusters of pink flowers in summer and continues to bloom till the early fall.

A large number of hybrid verities are also available easily. Some popular hybrids include:  Crinum ‘Birthday Party’, Crinum x digweedii ‘Connor White’, and Crinum ‘Elizabeth Traub’.

18 Sep

Beautiful Winter Flowering Shrub: Hamamelis, the Witch Hazel

The name of the lovely plant in pictures is Hamamelis. It is commonly known as Witch Hazel.

Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel / Image by Steven Severinghaus

Hamamelis

Hamamelis / Image by Dietmut Teijgeman-Hansen

Hamamelis or Witch Hazel is a deciduous shrub that sometimes grows into a small tree. The plant is characterized by twiggy branches, fall colors, and unusual flowers.

Witch Hazel produces alternatively arranged leaves that change their colors from green to yellow, orange and red through spring, summer and winter. After the plant has shed all its leaves, flowers of spicy fragrance and multiple shades adorn its branches – a perfect shrub for winter gardens. The flowers of Witch Hazel are unique in their shape as they produce long crumpled and ribbon like petals along brown sepals. Flowers of Witch Hazel are usually yellow, pink, scarlet or orange.

Witch Hazel can be grown from cuttings however it is a bit difficult to root cuttings. Commercially it is propagated by grafting on Hamamelis virginiana. An established plant required slightly moist but well-drained soil in a partially shaded spot.

Popular cultivars include:

H. × intermedia ‘Diane’, H. × intermedia ‘Jelena’ and H. × intermedia ‘Pallida’.

17 Sep

Lapageria rosea, the Chilean Bellflower

Lapageria rosea is an evergreen perennial vine known for its beautiful and unusual flowers. Commonly known as Chilean bellflower, Lapageria rosea can be grown as a beautiful climber in shady and slightly humid parts of the garden. This lovely vine is characterized by dark-green waxy leaves that grow alternatively along wiry stem.

Lapageria rosea, Chilean bellflower

Lapageria rosea / Image by Eric Hunt

Lapageria rosea is a slow-growing plant. When grown from seed, the plant can take 2 to 3 years to establish itself. Mature plants can grow long twinning stems that grow up to 10 meters. Lapageria rosea belongs to mountain range of the southern Chile where it enjoys rich soil and moderate winters. In cultivation, Lapageria rosea should be provided with a rich soil in a shady and slightly humid spot where it is protected from strong winds, frost and long spells of cold. Water generously when soil is dry.

Summer is the best time for Lapageria rosea, this is the time when it starts producing beautiful pendular flowers that keep appearing on the plan till autumn. The colors of flowers can range from pink to red and orange. A number of new cultivars provide a wider range of colors. These include: Collinge (white flared with red), Nube Blanca (pure white) and Sangre de Toro (intense red).

Chilean bellflower can be propagated from cuttings, layering and fresh seeds.

09 Sep

Garden Dispatch # 2

The Garden Dispatch is a weekly compilation of useful and interesting resources for gardeners and landscape designers.

3 Practical Tips for Fall Pruning

Fall is around the corner and it is time to prune your shrubs and trees for the next season. Though not all plants require regular or seasonal pruning, but it is advisable to prune your plants, whenever required, to keep them in desired size and shape. So here are 3 practical tips for fall pruning by Jim Lounsbery.

Special Merit Plant: Impatiens hawkeri

Commonly known as New Guinea impatience, Impatiens hawkeri is a lovely annual that grows up to 4 feet serves as a nice border plant. Also suitable for flower beds,  Impatiens hawkeri produces flowers of many hues ranging from pink, coral, orange, salmon, red, lilac, lavender and white. See more information on growing Impatiens hawkeri in your garden.

Impatiens hawkeri

Impatiens hawkeri / Image by Tom Potterfield

Free Smart Phone App: Garden Insects Guide

The Garden Insect Guide is a free smartphone app for gardeners. Available for iPhone/ iPad and Android phones, this free smartphone app serves as a quick reference when you are in the field – hunting for nasty bugs. You can use this smartphone app to identify good as well as bad bugs and get information about getting rid of bad bugs.

Garden Insects Guide

The application has three guided sections:

  • Identify common pests: This section helps you identify bugs by the kind of threat that they pose to your plants.
  • Spot insect friends: This section introduces friendly bugs that keep the bad bugs away.
  • Keep pests away: This section provides detailed information on getting rid of infesting bugs and preventing their attack in future.

How to Grow Roses

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. So true! You will hardly meet a gardener who is not a fan of roses. They are attractive, sweet, colorful and regal. If you are new to growing roses, this comprehensive guide on growing roses could be handy.

How to grow rose

Growing Vegetable in a Window Garden

Growing your own grub can be an existing and satisfactory experience. Fortunately, you do not have to have a large piece of land to grow your own vegetable (unless you are trying to grow pumpkins :D ). You can utilize small spaces such as windowsills to grow herbs and vegetables. Follow this link to find step-by-step guide on  utilizing your windowsill to grow your own vegetables.

Windowsill garden