30 Oct

Fall-Blooming Bulbs: Colchicums

While the fall season has come and most trees are turning their royal green attire in to a cover of orange, red and yellow. It is time to enjoy beautiful show of fall-blooming Colchicums.

Colchicum flowers

Colchicum / Meadow saffron / Image by ukgardenphotos (flickr)

Colchicum is a genus of fall blooming bulbs known for their lovely white, pink, and purple flowers. Colchicum are loved by gardeners because of their refreshing and lovely flowers that appear in the months when very few plants bloom.

Usually known as Autumn crocus or Meadow saffron, Colchicum is a low growing plant that sprouts from small bulbs and produces small stems (10 to 15 cm high) terminated by a star-shaped flower. Since it does not produce any foliage, Colchicum is also described as naked lily.

Autumn crocus

Fall flowering Colchicum / Autumn crocus/ Image by Manuel Martin Vicente

Colchicums make excellent plants for cold climates where they can be grown in a rich and slightly moist soil. Most species benefit from partial sunlight and occasional feeding. The bulbs can be planted in late summer.

Bulbs of Colchicums divided rapidly and can be separated and stored for planting next year.

28 Oct

5 DIY Ideas to Upcycle Your Old Fence Panels

No matter how hard you work to preserve your fence, there will come a time when certain fence panels become broken or too worn out to continue their purpose. It can be very annoying having to replace your fence and then having the broken ones lying around, so why not consider upcycling your fence panels. This allows you to get more use out of your fence panels and you may find they are very useful for something you never even knew you needed. You should look on an old fence panel as a few pieces of wood and from there think of all the wooden items you have/need. This is much easier that simply thinking of reusing fences. Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling in your mind, but you may be able to think of many more that are more specific to your needs so start thinking of innovative new ways to prolong the life of your fence panels.

Construct useful wooden boxes from old fence panels

Although these wood panels may no longer be suitable as a barrier around your garden, they may still be viable in your outdoors area. You can use the panels to construct wooden boxes of various sizes and for various uses. For this kind of endeavour you are likely to want to have a handsaw, nails or screws, and a hammer or a screwdriver (preferably electric). It will also be useful to have rulers, pencils and tape measures to ensure that you can get a neat looking box that all fits together well. Making an open topped box is relatively simple and you can use it to hold flowers and plants.

Make outdoor furniture from used fence panels

Furniture for inside such as tables, chairs and outdoor furniture can all be constructed from the remnants of an old fence with a certain degree of skill and a lot of hard work and dedication. This is likely to be a big project to undertake but it will be worth it if you are able to pull it off. You will need to make precise measurements in order to ensure that any furniture you build is safe and you might want to look into paints, varnishes and extra coats to add to the wood to make it more comfortable to sit on or at. There are a lot of different designs of chairs and tables out there so be sure to properly evaluate how much wood you have and what you yourself will be able to make; if this is your first time doing any woodwork, it will probably be best to stick to a simple design as opposed to any carving or intricate shaping work.

Design picture frames from fence panels

If your old fence panels are still in relatively good condition appearance wise, they could be used to make cheap and attractive picture frames. Like most of the projects mentioned above, this is all about sizing but it is still a relatively simple task to undertake. You are likely to need measuring tools, a handsaw, sandpaper, a hammer and maybe a paintbrush and some paint.

Create garden decor from fence panels

Wooden welcome signs can add a very cosy and homely feel to a building, so why not try utilising your old fence panels in this way? These can be constructed in a similar way to picture frames and using similar tools, but allow for more creativity through the decoration of the sign once you have created your wooden base.

Recycle old fence panels

If you are less adventurous with your upcycles, you can always just store your fence panels somewhere dry so that you can use them to fix up other panels. It is likely that some of the wood will be salvageable so in the future, you could use this to mend parts of other fence panels if they too begin to wear away or break. In fact, if you want a more kitsch and unique look for your garden, you could use the wood from old fence panels on new fence panels that are a different colour or different kind of wood to create a kind of patchwork design. Some people have even been able to use these old panels to make a gate on the fence, so there are a lot of ways to upcycle old fence panels into your existing fence.

Fencestore is a great website to know when you need to buy new fences to replace all the old fence panels that you have upcycled.

Upcycling your old fence panels can turn out to be great for your wallet, great for the environment and great for whatever you end up using them for, so be sure to consider trying out some woodwork and making the most of those old, unused fences.

26 Oct

Fall 2014 Chrysanthemum Show at Allan Gardens

If you happen to visit Allan Gardens in the next few weeks, you will be greeted by hundreds of colorful Chrysanthemum flowers in flowering beds, hanging baskets, pots and cascades. I had a chance to stop by Allan Garden today to see the fall exhibition of colorful Chrysanthemums. Theme of this year’s Chrysanthemum show is ‘fairies’ which is reflected in wonderful arrangements and fairy garden settings. The show runs until November 9, 2014.

Following are a few pictures of wonderful Chrysanthemum from the show:

[You can read more about Allan Gardens here.]

Chrysanthemum Show

Fall 2014 Chrysanthemum Show at Allan Gardens

Chrysanthemum Maroon

Chrysanthemum (Maroon)

Chrysanthemum Red Yellow

Chrysanthemum Red/ Yellow

Chrysanthemum Pink

Chrysanthemum Pink

Chrysanthemum Pink Spots

Chrysanthemum Pink/ Purple

Chrysanthemum Peach

Chrysanthemum Peach

Chrysanthemum Magenta

Chrysanthemum Magenta

Chrysanthemum Gold

Chrysanthemum Gold

Chrysanthemum Display

Fall 2014 Chrysanthemum Display

Chrysanthemum Cream

Chrysanthemum Cream

Chrysanthemum Cream Pink

Chrysanthemum Cream/ Pink

Chrysanthemum Purple Pink

Chrysanthemum Purple/ Pink

Chrysanthemum Bed

Chrysanthemum Flower Bed at Allan Gardens

Chrysanthemum Yellow Ball

Chrysanthemum Yellow

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’.