Got Squirrel Problems?

Do you find that whenever you plant your Containers, or your spring Bulbs have come up that those pesky Squirrels either uproot all your new plantings, or snip the tops off of your flowering bulbs?  We have discovered a great item that works amazingly in deterring them. It's called 'Actisol Hen Manure'. Its' scent repels Squirrels and Chipmunks but is safe around Children and Pets. It contains Calcium which is an essential element required for the growth of all living organisms. Simply sprinkle it on and around your plants. It really works!

Squirrel pic

Enjoy these great pieces of information about Rhubarb courtesy of Ontario Home and living - Dorothy Dobbie

  1. The bitter truth about rhubarb.
    Rhubarb lovers may lament it and disagree, but the truth is that rhubarb is not a fruit. Rhubarb is a vegetable - this, in spite of a 1947 ruling by a U.S. court that declared it a fruit in a dispute over import duties.
  2. Speaking of bitter.
    Rhubarb contains oxalic acid, which accounts for its bitterness. Oxalic acid is poisonous in the right quantities. Rhubarb leaves are considered very toxic, but you would have to eat 5 kg of the stuff to kill a 140-pound person. Oxalic acid will also scour an aluminum pot to shiny perfection meaning that oxalic acid has dissolved aluminum into the rhubarb - don't eat it. An iron pot will turn the rhubarb into malevolent black for the same reason. Rhubarb also contains glycosides that are very effective laxatives. Used to good effect by the Chinese for at least 2,700 years, rhubarb was transported to Europe overland through Russia where it gained the name Russian rhubarb and by way of the Middles East where it was touted as Turkish rhubarb. It was the same bitter story no matter where it came from.
  3. Rhubarb into gold.
    Back when rhubarb first made its appearance in Europe it was more expensive than cinnamon, saffron or opium! (I don't get it! It's so bitten and sour . . . Rhubarb does make a nice ornamental plant, though.)
  4. Rhubarb on Mennonite Sex.
    Oops! That's the magazine, published in Manitoba, not the plant. This special tell-all issue of Rhubarb comes out March 23, 2013. I bet there will be lots of bitterness about that!
  5. Rhubarb just wants to grow.
    Rhubarb is a highly resilient plant that thrives in a cool climate. In early spring, plant root cuttings about three to five inches under some rich, highly organic soil and water well. Harvest up to half the stalks in the second year. When the plant begins to put out smaller leaves or the stalks get woody (in about four or five years), divide by cutting away the outside roots with a sharp spade. You can replant the cuttings to propagate the plant or compost them. Yes, you can compost rhubarb leaves. To harvest, pull the stalks, don't cut them -- cutting can cause rot.
  6. Good-for-something plant.
    Native Indians used to chew a stalk of rhubarb to cure acid reflux. However, this was not your Grandma's rhubarb (Rheum palmatum or Rheum officianale), but rather wild "rhubarb" native to the North American continent. There is much discussion over what genus this plant really was, proving the danger of using common names to describe plants. Some say rhubarb can relieve menopausal symptoms and cure gum disease.
  7. Red or green, which is sweeter?
    The colour of the rhubarb stalk has nothing to do with its sweetness, which is brought out by cooking. However, according to people who actually eat the stuff, 'Canada Red' is a superior plant. If you prefer green stalks or just want variety, try 'Victoria'.
  8. Bug spray.
    Use rhubarb leaves to kill aphids. Boil three to five rhubarb leaves in one litre of water for 30 minutes. Add a dash of dish soap or vegetable oil for sticking power and spray away.
  9. Nothing but the good stuff.
    All sarcasm aside, rhubarb is high in some key nutrients, including calcium and potassium. Eighty-five grams (2/3 cup) of rhubarb contains 20 calories, 4 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fibre, 1 gram of sugar and 1 gram of protein. It can supply 10% of your daily vitamin C and is a good source of vitamin K to help blood clotting.
  10. Save the world.
    According to rhubarb fans, the leaves of this plant could save the world. Apparently, oxalic acid from rhubarb leaves has the power to neutralize CFCs (the stuff in freon used as a coolant in refrigerators). CFCs are said to be eating away at the ozone.

1. Parkway Gardens Gift Cerificates

 How about a Gift Certificate from Parkway Gardens?  We can make it out for any amount you choose and they never expire.   Whether it's a tree for a new home, hanging basket, fresh herbs or a gorgeous piece of new pottery, letting someone choose exactly what they would like is a great gift.

2. The Importance of Mulch

Despite the sweltering heat of summer it is still not too late to add mulch to your garden.  In fact, with a summer such as this one, mulch can really give your plants another line of defense against long periods of drought.

Mulch not only prevents evaportation of precious moisture, but also provides cooling/heating insulation for root systems, suppresses weeds, prevents soil compaction and organic mulches add nutrients as they decompose.

Mulches can be a variety of materials and gardeners are not limited simply to shredded bark or bark chips.  Certainly bark mulch is attractive, easy to use and available in a variety of colours.  But consideration could be given to pea gravel, lava rock, river stone, straw, grass clippings or woodshavngs.  As long as the mulch is spread to a depth of 3 to 6 inches the benefits are almost the same.  Gardeners may want to use a breathable ground fabric before spreading stone or gravel to prevent weed seeds from establishing in tiny crevices, and to help keep gravel from sinking into the soil. 

Once your gardens are mulched well it will simply be a matter of keeping them topped up every year and your plants will be thanking you! 

3. Fresh Herbs

With the turn towards vegetable gardening, what better way to enhance your vegetables than with some savoury herbs.  Whether you choose to grow Herbs in containers or in your garden, Parkway Gardens has an amazing selection of potted herbs to choose from. 

With over 5 varieties of Basil, Rosemary, Chives, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Tarragon the list goes on.  With many Herbs being perennial, you can enjoy Herbs for many years to come in your garden.  If you are limited in space or are a container gardener, Herbs perform wonderfully in pots as well. 

Place your herbs in an area that has at least 5 hours of sun a day for optimal success.  Grab an information sheet from the store for lots of ideas on how to use all the different varieties of Herbs. 

4. Using Tropical plants in your garden

When creating your lush tropical paradise this year, consider using some foliage only plants.  Parkway Gardens has an amazing selection of tropical plants that enhance any decor.  Cordylines, philodendrons, pothos. Scheffleras and gorgeous ficus are just some of the plants that thrive outdoors on a dappled light deck or porch. 

They add a touch of the tropics that make a wonderful addition to your outdoor room.  Majesty and sago Palms,  canna lilies, Bananas, Black Diamond Alocasia, Cypress and red star spikes at an exotic flair to the outdoors in a sunny location. 

Not only will these plants add enjoyment to your summer but they can be brought indoors for the winter months. Whether you are decorating around the pool, on the deck or creating an outdoor room, flowers are not the only thing to consider.  Come check us out for some great ideas.

5. Tar spot on Maple Trees

Now that you have purchased your gorgeous flowering plant, it is important to feed them weekly.  Annual plants need nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K).  Nitrogen helps green up the foliage.  Lawn fertilizers are typically higher is nitrogen.  Phosphorus is beneficial to root development and increasing flowering and bloom size.  Potassium also helps root development and aids in photosynthesis.  If you look at a package of fertilizer you can determine how much of each element there is.  eg. 20-20-20 fertilizer has 20 % nitrogen, 20 % phosphorous and 20 % potassium in the package.  The remaining 40 % is made up of other nutrients and filler which helps apply the nutrients evenly.  Whatever fertilizer you choose, to truly enjoy long blooming flowers, fertilize once a week.

6. Drought tolerant plants

With the cost of water increasing and hot dry summers, it is a good idea to invest in some drought tolerant perennials .  There are a wide variety to choose from such as Daisies, coneflowers, russian sage, hardy cactus, hens and chicks, sedums, barrenwort and even some perennial grasses to name but a few. Many will provide a long season of blooms and interesting textures for your perennial garden.  As with any new planting it is important that it stays well watered for the first year, but after that depending on the site conditions it will adapt to its environment.  

7. Tree tips

If you are thinking of adding a Tree to your yard there are a few important things to consider.

1. What type of soil do you have?  It is a good idea to purchase trees that tolerate or can adapt to your soil type.  For example, if you have heavy clay is it wet through the winter?  If you have sandy soil , have you had difficulty growing things in this area because they always dry out?  Amending the soil can really help improve conditions.  3 in 1 soils have a good mixture of compost, manure and peat.  Sand can break up heavy clay as well as our "clay breaker" soil made out of forest floor mulch.  You want your Tree to be with you for years, so a little investigating can really pay off.

2. How big do you want it to ultimately become?  It's very disheartening when I see Trees that have been planted too close to a home and as they mature need to be removed because of their size.  There are many spectacular Trees that fit all different height and width requirements.  Make sure you know what you want before you shop.

3. How to care for your new Tree?  Trees need to be kept watered for the first year of planting until they have had time to establish a good footing.  Take extra care during a hot summer.  Watering once or twice a week with a slow soak to get the water deep into the soil is more beneficial for a tree than watering every day.  Some Trees require staking because they have a small trunk or are in a windy area or perhaps don't have a big enough root system yet.  There are many ways to stake your Tree but if you are unsure, come in and talk it over with us.

Some careful planning and consideration will ensure a happy healthy Tree and a wonderful addition to your garden.

8. Hardy Hibiscus

If you are one of the fortunate people to have planted a perennial Hibiscus in your garden, you truly appreciate the stunning beauty of its flowers.  These Hibiscus come in a variety of colours and sizes.  They bloom mid to late summer, depending on the weather  Every year people call or come into Parkway worried that their Hibiscus did not survive the winter because it looks like dead sticks.  This plant really needs the heat to get going.  It is absolutely one of the last plants in your garden to come to life.  In the spring, cut the dead branches back to within a few inches from the ground.  As the temperature warms up you will see shoots emerging from the base of the sticks.  Hibiscus like a warm, sunny location. Slow to start but they are truly worth the wait!

9. Japanese beetle

This is the time of year when this beautiful pest begins to make its' presence known. It is the Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica). It over winters in your lawn as a white grub which becomes c-shaped when disturbed.  From late June until September the adult female will continue a cycle of laying eggs in the soil.  It is a voracious insect which feeds on a wide variety of plant material.  It will skeletonize (eat between the leaf veins) the plant at an alarming rate.  It can be controlled by using a japanese beetle trap.  This is a device that hangs with a bag attached and has a pheromone or flower scent inside.  The bug is lured into the bag where it is trapped. It is important to keep the trap away from plants that it is attracted to. Putting it at the edge of your yard is appropriate.  Talking to your neighbours and working on a wide spread effort can also help control it. Another method is simply picking the insect off the plant and putting it in some soapy water...or under your shoe. They are less active in the morning and evening so will be easier to catch.  Some plants are a deterrent to these pests such as, catnip, chives, garlic or tansy.  Nematodes are an insect which are applied on your lawn in spring and fall through a sprayer are a very effective method in controlling the grubs in your lawn.  Whatever route you choose remember diligence and monitoring are key to success. Good luck!

10. Succulents

The new trend this year is succulent containers.  An excellent addition to a sunny deck or yard.  Make sure your soil is well drained, perlite may be added to help achieve this.  You can also purchase cactus soil which also works well.  Once you have planted your container there is little else to do except make sure it is not getting too much water.  If it is in an exposed area monitor the soil.  if there has been alot of rain, you may need to move it to a drier area until we get more of the dry summer weather. You can bring the container indoors to a sunny spot for the winter and enjoy it year round.   

11. Nematodes

With the Ontario Pesticide laws in effect on what is available for use, it is a good idea to consider natural alternatives.  Beneficial Nematodes are a microscopic insects which when applied to your lawn will attack the Grubs which overwinter there.  A tell tale sign of Grubs in your lawn are brown circles of dead grass.  Peel back a portion of that and you will find white, maggot looking insects in the soil.  Nematodes can be applied when soil temperature reaches 10 degrees celcius. The lawn must be wet when they are applied.  Depending on the severity of infestation, they may need to be applied in spring and fall. Nematodes are very helpful in controlling the Japanese beetle which is beginning to lay larvae in the lawn now. Apply the nematodes in late April through May and towards the end of August and into September. Come in and talk to us for more information. 

12. Watering your Trees

With the end of a hot dry summer approaching, it is more important than ever to continue watering our Trees. Even as the leaves begin to fall, which we are seeing now, more from drought than fall leaf drop, Trees store reserves of sugars in their roots to help them survive the winter. Sometimes drought takes a year or two to show symptons in a tree. I equate a Trees vascular system like drinking from a straw as the water is drawn up the tree from the roots. If you have limited water in the soil to draw up, the Tree will only be able to hydrate some of itself. The tops of the Trees are one of the first places you will see signs of drought or dieback. So, look up, look waaay up, and see if your Trees have had enough to drink. Trees are a huge investment and so beneficial to the environment. We need to take care of them!

It's a Perfect Time For...

a visit to the garden centre!