Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Path Continues After a Year of Change...

Well its been a while since I've been able to sit down and write a blog... its been a crazy season.  Although its been busy... I've missed writing this blog!!!  When signing into the blog today, 25 Years and Still Growing has now reached 117 000 views!  Its amazing the blog is still being read over 400 times daily.  Thank you so much for continuing to walk down the path of horticulture with me.

Throughout the season I have four different jobs in the field of horticulture, in addition to writing this blog...  I'm a gardener with the City of Toronto, a Greenhouse assistant at a small country greenhouse, and a Perennial Sales Associate at Plant World, I also do private landscape consulting.  All of these positions although varied... provide me with a network of incredibly knowledgeable friends and co-workers.

"To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow" Audrey Hepburn.  This has to be one of my favorite garden quotes...  It is very true!  As some of you know I moved into a house, after being in a condo for 4 years... needless to say my front yard was transformed into my little garden oasis.  I planted 14 different Japanese Maples, 2 different clumping bamboos, 6 different hydrangeas...along with countless other annuals, perennials and shrubs.  My garden although only in its first season, unofficially became part of a garden tour in my city, and I have been approached to officially be on an upcoming tour.  I am already planning on some changes and additions to the garden next season... including a small pond, and flagstone path and seating area.

Every year in life we continue to change, and grow... This past year I had Lasik Eye Surgery, and Gastric Bypass surgery... I've lost 85 pounds to date, and I can see!  In the same way we change and grow, the garden is constantly changing and with patience, love and a bit of luck... growing!  Its time to start looking through seed and plant catalogs, and checking online as many companies are phasing out the paper copies and switching to online versions.  I'm going to highlight a couple of companies in upcoming blogs that I truly feel offer some quality plants.

From my Garden to yours... I would like to wish you a New year filled with Health and Happiness... and of course Gardening... I look forward to continuing to grow with you over the next year.
All Photographs on this blog entry are taken by Angel W.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Geranium (Pelargoniums)

"Peppermint Twist"
The time is almost here to plant our gardens, and start to enjoy the 2013 growing season.  Hopefully you've given thought to the colours and textures you hope to create in both your garden and your pots and planters.  The options available to you are endless!

"Raspberry Twizzle"
One plant that has long been a staple in the garden and window box is the geranium.  To be honest that has always been one of my least favorite annuals... Until recently. 

Spending time in a greenhouse prior to the growing season has given me a true appreciation for these plants that I have often overlooked.  The colours, varieties, and uses are endless, and I can honestly say my garden and planters will include a couple of geraniums this year.

"Rocky Mountain Light Pink"
I have always thought of them sort as a plant my grandmother would have kept, as I've often seen gardeners with years of experience planting geraniums year after year.  If you've read other posts in my blog you know that I tend to like the unusual flowers and varieties available.  The plain red geranium isn't one i would consider, however there are so many more beautiful options its hard not to become enamored with a couple of the varieties available.

"Cascade White"
There are more varieties and colours available than a single blog posting could ever get into, I am going to highlight a few of my favorites in the photographs on this blog.  There are many more I don't currently have photo's of.  Some geraniums are grown for their flowers, others for their leaves, others for scent.  There are upright, and trailing varieties, the selection really is endless.
"Americana White Splash"

Geraniums care is quite easy, which is likely one of the reason they have been so popular for so long.  The main requirements for geraniums (as with most annuals) is light, water, and fertilizer... If you get the right mix of all 3 of these factors, you're sure to have success!

"Caliente Fire"
Geraniums require a lot of light... full sun is preferred.  By full sun, the hot afternoon sun is required to keep these flowers happy and blooming for the full season.  All geraniums will tolerate partial sun or filtered sun, but you may not get the quantity of blooms this plant is capable of providing.

"Classic White"
Watering Geraniums is crucial... Although geraniums can withstand BRIEF times of dryness, they really should be kept evenly moist all the way to the bottom of the roots... but not wet (soggy).  This is particularly important in hot dry weather... as a rule the more hot and sunny the weather... the more water your plant needs!   If the plant doesn't get enough water you're sure to notice it in the leaves, and it won't bloom to its full potential.

"Americana Rose Mega Splash"
Fertilizing is equally important to keep your geraniums (and other annuals) blooming and growing.  Feed your geraniums weekly as they are heavy feeders...  I like to use a balanced fertilizer like 15-15-15 or 20-20-20 water soluble fertilizer once a week throughout the growing season.  This will ensure that you get constant and prolific blooms and active growth throughout the season.  If you're not able to commit to regular fertilizing like this, a slow release fertilizer is a good alternative, mixing the required amount (and a bit more for geraniums) into the soil will release small amounts of fertilizer with every water... Although the water soluble fertilizer is definitely the preferred method.

In order to keep your plants looking good, it is important to dead-head the finished blooms by pinching them off, I like to do this as close to the stem as possible to keep the plant looking its best.

"King of Balcon"
If you happen to see your leaves yellowing, it is very likely one of two problems... either too much water, or too little water.  If the soil seems soggy constantly, drainage might be an issue, and you should cut back a bit on the watering... if the soil is dry and dusty, your plant needs more water.  It is a good habit to replace the soil in your containers and window boxes every year.

Many people overwinter their geraniums indoors, in a bright window in the house... I don't recommend doing this, as it normally takes these older plants longer to get going in the spring, and the plants don't end up being as vigorous as new plants... However the option is definitely there.  I like to change my colours and varieties up from year to year... and in all honesty... I don't have the room to keep them over.

Geraniums are normally fairly inexpensive... If you have planted them in the past, try a new variety... if you haven't planted them (like me) give them a try!  I know my garden will have a few of the varieties mentioned on this blog this year!
"Rocky Mountain Pink"
All Photographs on this blog taken by Paul Gellatly

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Allan Gardens Conservatory

Photograph by Paul Gellatly
Photograph by Paul Gellatly
Photo by Paul Gellatly

A midst the concrete jungle of downtown Toronto, sits an historic oasis.  The history of the Allan Gardens Conservatory dates back to 1879. 

The original Pavilion Hall hosted concerts and social events... including a lecture in 1882 by Oscar Wilde. 

The original building burnt down in 1902, and was replaced by the current Palm House.  Additions were made to the conservatory in 1924, and 1956.

Photograph by Paul Gellatly

Photo by Paul Gellatly
The current buildings include 6 greenhouses and over 16000 square feet of beautiful and unique plants.  There are two Tropical Houses, A Cool Temperate House,  a Palm House, a Tropical Landscape House, and an Arid House.
Photo by Paul Gellatly
Photo by Kelly Butts

Allan Gardens is open year round, 365 days a year from 10 am to 5 pm, and is free to visit!  There is metered street parking all around the park... Plan to spend at least an hour or so going through the greenhouses.

A beautiful collection of tropical plants and meandering pathways are sure to delight anyone who takes the time to explore this true Historic Gem in downtown Toronto.
Photograph by Paul Gellatly

Friday, January 18, 2013

Garden Import... Where Quality and Unique Plants Meet

Agapanthus 'Blue Heaven'
Amorphophalus Bulbifer
My path of horticulture has led me to many great gardens, garden centres, and mail order companies, all over North America.  One company that has impressed me for more than 20 years is Garden Import.  Garden Import is a family run business in its 30th season.
Sauromatum Venosum

Garden Import's quality and selection gives me something to look forward to every year.  This year is no exception! Its no secret that I like plants that are unusual.  Plants that you don't find in every home or garden are the ones that capture my attention and keep my interest in horticulture growing.

Clematis 'Princess Kate'
Bessera Elegans
Garden Import carries quality rare and unusual plants, seeds, and bulbs suitable for indoor, outdoor, container, and garden plantings.  The Customer service is excellent and the website is very informative and user friendly. Each plant on the website is listed with growing tips, size, colour and condition requirements.

From the blue Agapanthus, to the yellow Clivia, the pink Clematis, to the black Bat Flower there's sure to be something that catches your eye.
Hellebore 'Amethyst Gem'
I will most definitely be placing an order with Garden Import this spring;  including the plants pictured on this blog.

Try something new this year in your containers or in your garden, and plant something that will be sure to be a conversation piece for family and friends to admire.

Be sure to check out their website, and sign up for their email updates.


Tacca Chantrieri
All photographs used with permission from Dugald Cameron
President at Garden Import

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Jovial Jade

Photograph by Paul Gellatly (Crassula arborescens)
Photo by Paul Gellatly
(Crassula ovata Gollum)
Another year has come and gone, and the blog has been very successful!  In one year this blog has had just shy of 16000 views in 82 countries.  Thanks for walking down the path or horticulture with me and continuing to support this blog!

A lot of things have changed in my life over the past year.  My original plan to move to the west coast of Canada has been postponed as I was recently diagnosed with Diabetes.  Due to this diagnosis I decided to stay where I have a family doctor and stable employment.  My roommate and I subsequently decided to leave the Condo Life and opted to move to a house.  I'm very excited about the gardening potential for next season!

Photo by Paul Gellatly
(Crassula Argentea)
The move created a need to cut back on my houseplants from over 200 to just over 100.  The house has a large north facing window, where most of my plants were thriving in southern exposure with floor to ceiling windows at the condo.  I made a lot of necessary reductions and was able to give my friends a number of plants I knew would no longer thrive in these conditions.  When one door closes... another always opens...
Photo by Paul Gellatly
(Crassula arborescens)

With the hustle and bustle of the Christmas holidays over, the decorations put away, and life returning back to normal, its a great time to take a look at your home and see where you can add some life and beauty to your living space.  Garden Centres tend to be quite slow in January and February, which makes it a great, relaxing time to do some shopping for new houseplants.

Photo by Paul Gellatly
(Crassula ovata 'Variegata')
One plant I believe everyone should have in their collection is the Jade Plant.  I have 5 different varieties of Jade Plants in my collection. Although the most common variety is the normal green variety, with a little bit of luck and research you can find other varieties available to you. A lot of people have told me they have difficulties growing Jade Plants.  I have put together a few tips to help you have success with this beautiful plant.

Photo by Paul Gellatly
(Crassula Argentea)
Firstly Light Conditions...Jade Plants require a lot of light, a south facing window is ideal, but mine do quite well in an east or west facing window as well.  In a south facing window you may even get your Jade Plant to flower!  I do have a couple of my Jade Plants in a north facing window, and they do live, but don't thrive.

One common problem with Jade Plants is Rot.  Many people over water their Jade (I learned my lesson) Only water the Jade when you stick your finger into the potting medium and feel no moisture.  Water less frequently in the winter.  Keeping your Jade in a Terra-Cotta (Clay) Pot will help with the moisture control, as the pot itself will wick some of the moisture from the soil.  As a rule I water mine every other week... But always check the soil before watering.

Photo by Paul Gellatly
(Crassula Argentea)
Using a succulent or cactus based soil mix, or a mix high in perlite or sand is the best option for success. Re-pot your Jade in the spring, and only pot to one size larger than the plant is currently in. Normally I don't transplant my Jade until it becomes top-heavy.

A temperature of 50 to 80 Degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for the Jade... So normal household temperatures are great!  If possible keep your Jade a bit cooler in the winter months, but never below 45 Degrees.  Having the plant cooler in the winter can help promote your Jade to flower.

Photo by Paul Gellatly (Crassula Argentea)
Fertilize your Jade Plant with a high Phosphorus Fertilizer such as 10-20-10, every 3 months in the active growing season April to October.  Do not fertilize the plant in the winter months.  Prune your Jade for shape if you like, although I like to let mine grow naturally.  If you do prune the plant... Jades are very easy to start from cutting, so place the cuttings in soil and root them up for your friends...

Jade Plants are fairly bug and disease resistant.  One common pest that may infect your Jade is the Mealy Bug.  Mealy Bugs are a common household plant pest.  They can be washed away with water, sprayed with Rubbing Alcohol, or a household pesticide...  I try not to use pesticides unless absolutely necessary.

I have seen Jade Plants as tall as 8 feet tall, down to 6" in height.  With the variety of sizes and colours available growing a Jade Plant will provide you with a beautiful houseplant for many years to come.

Photo by Paul Gellatly with Crassula Argentea and Portulacaria afra 'Tricolour'