Category Archives: Uncategorized

House Plants and Water

So many times when talking, about houseplants, I’m asked “how much water does it need?” or “how often do you need to water it?”

Unfortunately, the easy answer is never the most satisfying, as the easy answer is “it depends”.  It depends on the type of plant.  It depends on the amount of sunlight it receives.  It depends on the temperature of the room. It depends on the size of the plant.

In one of my kids bedrooms, there is two Pothos plants.  Both are in identical 6-inch grey ceramic pots.  Both are the same distance away from their respective windows.  Both are watered on the same day, with approximately the same amount of water.  However, when I went in this week to vacuum and water, this is what I saw:

pothos

To clarify, or complicate matters, the plant on the left is in an east-facing dormer window, the one on the right is in a south-facing dormer window.  The south window is shaded by a large tree, and generally seems darker, and the east-facing window seems to be the sunnier warmer location for the entire day.

Luckily, most of my houseplants benefit more from neglect, than from over-watering, and now both are thriving again. My best suggestion, as un-helpful as it may seem: water your houseplants when it seems like they need it.

To keep things green and healthy in your home, here are some other great options:

 

http://www.daviddomoney.com/2015/01/14/top-10-cant-kill-houseplants-lazy-gardeners/

Lacoste at Gardening Saturday

“That’s a sign of spring!” says my daughter; “spring is knocking at the door!” says my son; “break out the rubber boots!” I say.  We have officially, if tentatively, declared it spring at our house.  I know many gardeners who are itching to get started.  I have a few Facebook friends who have been posting pictures all winter of their indoor herb gardens, another friend who has started some seed with her kids, and my mom has had her gardening books out, planning, since early February.

If you are looking to start your plans for spring, this weekend is a great opportunity! Gardens Manitoba is presenting the 9th annual Gardening Saturday at the Victoria Inn. Admission to the trade show provides the opportunity to mingle and chat with many Manitoba vendors, including your favourite garden centre! We’re be set up at booth 800, showcasing our fantastic fairy gardens!

The seminar schedule can be found here, and most sessions still have space to register (walk-up registration is also available). I know all these seminars will be very enjoyable AND informative. If you attend the fairy garden and terrarium workshop, you’ll even recognize Madeline as the leader!

I hope you all have a wonderful spring weekend, and stop by and say hi, if you’re at the Victoria Inn on Saturday!

Growing Places and Growing Spaces

As you wander and shop through the greenhouses in any season, you’ll have noticed doors that lead to mysterious areas labelled “staff only”.  Behind these doors is where we hide all of our storage and growing greenhouses.  We have 8 freestanding greenhouses, in which we grow bedding plants, as well as fall mums and poinesttias. There is also a large greenhouse range adjacent to the pottery section of growing space. This area is where much of the early spring action takes place; seeding and transplanting, and growing.  My favourite of the back greenhouses though has been “4 to the North” which sits right outside the back entrance.  On the North side of the entrance, to be specific!  It is typically used to store large orders of plants for landscapers, and commercial customers.  I’ve liked it, because the plants are grouped together as large plantings; a variety of plants together looking more like a garden than a field.

This week, I said goodbye to “4-to-the-North” as well as the growing range.  We’re working on a pretty major renovation back there, tearing the whole structure down, and building a new one.  This new area will be almost as big as the retail area, and best of all, newly designed for better growing conditions, and maneuverability.  As growers, we are very picky when it comes to the quality of the plants that you take home to your gardens.  With an improved growing space, the young plants will thrive with improved environmental controls (humidity, temperature, airflow, light dispersion).  They will grow strong and healthy, less susceptible to diseases and fungus.  Better walkways and aisles will mean more space for us to move around, to bring plants out for you to enjoy!

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Spring Clean-up

Last fall was a busy one for us; we had a few family moves, and a few babies born (ours included), but fall clean-up was a priority, knowing that the spring with a new baby wouldn’t provide a lot of time for extra tasks.  That being said, it is SO important for the health of your yard and garden to get out there in spring and clean-up.  The following list is from thisoldhouse.com, and seems to be fairly comprehensive, but still achievable.

spring-cleanup

1. Prune away dead and damaged branches.

Where tree or shrub branches have been damaged by cold, snow, and wind, prune back to live stems; use a handsaw for any larger than ½ inch in diameter. Shaping hedges with hand pruners, rather than electric shears, prevents a thick outer layer of growth that prohibits sunlight and air from reaching the shrub’s center

2. Cut back and divide perennials as needed.

Prune flowering perennials to a height of 4–5 inches and ornamental grasses to 2–3 inches to allow new growth to shoot up. Where soil has thawed, dig up perennials, such as daylilies and hostas, to thin crowded beds; divide them, leaving at least three stems per clump, and transplant them to fill in sparse areas. Cut back winter-damaged rose canes to 1 inch below the blackened area. On climbers, keep younger green canes and remove older woody ones; neaten them up by bending the canes horizontally and tipping the buds downward. Use jute twine or gentle Velcro fasteners to hold the canes in place.

A pair of sharp bypass pruners makes a clean cut on both dead and living foliage.

3. Clean Up Around Plants.

Rake out fallen leaves and dead foliage (which can smother plants and foster disease), pull up spent annuals, and toss in a wheelbarrow with other organic yard waste. Once the threat of frost has passed, Push heaved plants back into flower beds and borders, tamping them down around the base with your foot, or use a shovel to replant them. Now is a good time to spread fertilizer tailored to existing plantings on the soil’s surface so that spring rains can carry it to the roots. Add a bulb fertilizer around bulbs as soon as they flower to maximize bloom time and feed next season’s growth. Use pins to fasten drip irrigation lines that have come loose and a square-head shovel to give beds a clean edge and keep turf grass from growing into them.

4. Compost Yard Waste.

Dump collected leaves, cuttings, spent foliage, and last season’s mulch into your compost pile, Shred leaves and chip branches larger than ½ inch in diameter to accelerate decomposition, or add a bagged compost starter to the pile. Keep the pile as moist as a wrung-out sponge, and aerate it with a pitchfork every two weeks. Just don’t add any early spring weeds that have gone to seed—they might not cook completely and could sprout instead.

5. Prep Damaged Lawn Areas for Spring Seeding.

In colder climates grass starts growing in April, but early spring is a good time to test the soil’s pH so that you can assemble the right amendments. Remove turf damaged by salt, plows, or disease to prepare for the seeding that should follow in a few weeks. Work in a ½-inch layer of compost to keep the new seed moist, increasing the germination rate.

6. Neaten Up Hardscape Surfaces.

Rake escaped gravel back into aggregate walkways and patios, and order more gravel to spread in large depressions, which often form near the driveway’s apron. Refill joints between flagstones by sweeping in new sand or stone dust; water with a hose to set it, then, repeat. If the freeze-thaw cycle has heaved pavers out of place, remove them and replenish the base material as needed before setting pavers back in. Use a pressure washer with a low pressure tip to remove slippery algae spots or leaf stains from patios and walkways.

7. Patch or replace and paint worn wood.

Remove badly rotted or damaged pickets, boards, or lattice, then scrub wood structures clean with a mix of 2 gallons water, 2 quarts bleach, and 1 cup liquid soap; let dry. Patch rotted sections with wood epoxy; install new wood as needed. Check wobbly fence posts to see if they need replacing.  Scrape off old paint, then sand wood all over with 60 grit to prep for a new finish coat. Once temperatures go above 50° F, brush on a new coat of paint or stain.

These 7 items need not be done in a single day, or even 7 consecutive days, but they are all tasks that can be accomplished to ready your yard and garden for the fun of spring planting.  Keeping your garden healthy will provide rich dividends in summer, in a beautiful garden.

 

Thanksgiving Recipes with Local Produce

I’m not sure about your house, but at mine, it seems like fall is moving very quickly this year! I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is coming up this weekend!  This year we’ll be attending two dinners, one of which will be at our house.  Fortunately, both are collaborative affairs, which mean that I personally won’t have to worry about cooking a turkey, or inventing a complete menu.  One of my favourite things about this style dinner is that it provides some freedom to try new recipes!  Fortunately, there is still lots of local produce available that can make these recipes that much more delicious!

I have a standard Butternut Squash soup recipe that I can make in my sleep, but the addition of the apples and herbs in this one, makes me think that I might need to expand my repertoire a little!

Savory Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash; peeled, de-seeded, and cubed
2 carrots, cut in thick slices
1 med onion, cubed
2 gala apples, peeled, cored, and cubed
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp of dried sage
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 cup light cream
32 oz vegetable stock, pre-made or from scratch

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss squash, carrots, onion, apples, and garlic in large bowl with olive oil and the dried herbs. Spread them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or tin foil. Roast in oven for about 40 minutes, or until squash is tender and lightly browned. Remove from oven and place the vegetable mixture into a large soup pot over medium heat.

Add vegetable stock.  Simmer for 15 minutes and then remove the pot from the heat. Working in 2-3 batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. You can add more vegetable stock if the soup is too thick. Stir in cream until thoroughly mixed and serve!

From: http://www.town-n-country-living.com/savory-butternut-squash-soup.html

I found this recipe in a magazine this summer and LOVED it, and even better, so have guests, AND kids!  As an added bonus, the potatoes can be boiled ahead of time, and the roasting done just before supper, which makes them a bit of a time saver!  I also have added paprika (smoked paprika would make it even tastier I’m sure!) with the salt and pepper, for an added kick.

Baby Red Potatoes (about a dozen or so, depending on size)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

Place potatoes in pan in one layer. Add enough water to cover by an inch. Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes are cooked through and can be pierced easily with a fork.Drain potatoes well and pat dry if necessary.

Preheat oven to 450F. Place on baking sheet and gently press each on with your palm to flatten. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt & pepper. Roast potatoes for 20 minutes. Remove from oven; flip each potato over, drizzling with more olive oil if any looks dry and seasoning with more salt, if necessary. Roast for another 20 minutes or until potatoes are sizzling and crispy.

Serve immediately.

From: http://www.thewickednoodle.com/smashed-potatoes/#_a5y_p=2239987

Fall Garden Clean-up Checklist

We can certainly all remember the joy of jumping into a pile of freshly raked up leaves, and perhaps we can also remember the frustration of having to rake up that pile again and again and again.  However there is more to fall clean-up than simply raking.  A bit of searching around online, I’ve compiled this list which will hopefully assist in your end-of season tasks!

Not included in the list is of course, the fact that you should be rewarded at the end of all the work with a bonfire with friends, while drinking some warm apple cider (or Pumpkin Spice Latte, if that’s your style ;))

Bulbs

*Fall is the time to plant many favourite spring flowers.  Crocuses, tulips, allium and daffodils are all planted in the fall.

*Dig up tender bulbs (Canna Lilies, Calla Lilies)

Trees

*Rake leaves

*Rabbits love to chew the bark off of newly planted trees, but damage is easily prevented by wrapping the trunks.

*Springtime damage from cankerworms is also easily prevented by banding with Tanglefoot

Perennials

* Fall is a great time to both divide and plant new perennials.

* As perennials finish, trim off the dead foliage. You can compost the healthy trimmings to continue the cycle of nature.  Alternatively, some perennials, if left alone, look great as winter interest and can provide winter food for wildlife. Leaving the perennials can also ensure greater snow cover, which can help protect tender perennials against winter kill.

*covering any marginal (tender) perennials with mulch will also protect these plants from exposure to the elements

* Clean away any and all diseased plants and dropped leaves.

Vegetables

* Vegetable gardens are best completely cleared up to prevent any disease or pest overwintering.

Tropical Plants

* Tropical plants should be brought inside before the first frost

Miscellaneous

* Tools should be cleaned and sharpened so they are ready for action in the spring

* Containers should be emptied, at least partially and covered to prevent cracking

* Even the best quality cushions on lawn furniture need to be dried and stored inside

Philosophies from the Garden

As the summer changes into fall, I look around the garden and, as always, make a list of things to remember for next year!  This year, looking at my list many of my things to remember for next year can be translated into good life lessons.

 

  • Be flexible:

Bedding plants can work very well in containers, and basket-stuffers can work very well in garden beds! 

In our front garden we planted geraniums and sweet-tunias, and they spread so nicely! If it wasn’t for our neighbourhood bunnies, we would have had a beautiful mat of colour! Similarly, I had two extra packs of impatiens after planting an area in the backyard.  I had an empty container.  The light pink impatiens in a large planter mounded gorgeously, and it was my favourite planter of the entire yard!

  • Good intentions need to be followed through with action:

Planting a new herb is not enough; make a plan to actually use it!

Herbs are one of my favourite things to plant.  Every year I plant at least one container of mint.  This year we had two; both peppermint and mojito mint.  Unfortunately, this and every year at the end of the season I throw it away, not having used a single leaf. Writing this right now fortunately means that I still have enough time to squeeze in a mojito on the patio before it’s too late.

  •  Large projects flourish with regular attention:

You can never have too much basil, or prune it too much!

In past years I’ve planted 3-4 large terra-cotta planters of basil, which has never been enough for our pasta –loving family.  This year, I took over two large cedar planters, and filled them with 24 basil plants.  With this much basil, I was never afraid to use it up, and so made pesto almost every week.  Each time I picked the basil, I made sure to pluck off and throw away any of the stems that had extra-large leaves, and any that had gone to flower. With such regular pruning, the basil flourished, and continued to produce small sweet-tasting leaves.

  •  Every individual is unique:

Even plants that are the same, and seem to be in the same spot can grow differently!

We have a row of 12 cedars along our back fence.  They are the exact same variety of cedar, all planted at the exact same time, and all receiving the exact same amount of fertilizer and water.  The 1st cedar however is approximately a foot taller than the last.  I am sure that the height difference is due to varied light conditions, but it’s a good reminder that there are many factors that allow for differences in plant growth.

  • Change is good, and healthy:

It is okay to replace plantings mid-season!

You may recall in spring time the excitement that surrounded planting croton in containers.  I eventually managed to grab one for home, and planted it by itself in a container on the deck.  Despite how much I loved the look of Croton in our planters in the greenhouse, it just wasn’t thriving at home.  Eventually I gave up, and replaced it with some extra Magilla Perilla that was still lying around the yard, and the whole planter looked much much better!

  •  Short-cuts are wonderful:

Mulch is a great way to reduce weeding!

We’ve covered all of our garden beds with cedar mulch.  Cedar mulch does break down, and blow away, and in the case of a garden with kids……get carried away for “crafts”.  This year we debated topping-up the beds, but decided it could wait until next year.  I am still convinced we can wait until next year, but wow! I needed to weed WAY more often this year.

  • Trying new things is an adventure:

Dividing up the responsibility of who plants which containers is a great way to see plants in new ways!

We have about 15 planters throughout the yard, some are planted by consensus; both of us agreeing on what to plant where. Some however are divided and we each plant some on our own.  Even the kids get in on the action, and this year, theirs were two of our favourite planters yet!

 

 

 

 

Lacoste’s Favourite Plants

Flamingo Supertunia

 

Scientific Name: ‘Supertunia® Flamingo Petunia hybrid 

Plant: in Sun

Space: 10-14” apart

Trails:36 ” long

Great for use both in landscapes and container, blooms all summer.

Mounds AND trails in containers.  Great for baskets viewed from all angles!

Heat tolerant

Easy to care for

Be sure to fertilize regularly to promote continued flowering

Lacoste’s Favourite Plants

Lacoste Staff Pick!

Wendy’s Wish Salvia

Scientific Name: ‘Wendys Wish’ Salvia hybrid PP: 21889

Plant: in Sun

Space: 24 – 36” apart

Grows: 24 – 36” tall

Great for use both in landscapes and container, blooms all summer
Heat tolerant
Easy to care for
Attracts Butterflies & Hummingbirds, resists deer
Be sure to fertilize regularly to promote continued flowering.

Lacoste’s Favourite Plants

Celosia Intenz

This variety of Celosia has been a favourite with staff and customers alike for the past few years.  The first few years we carried it; it sold out in no time.  Now that it is not quite so brand-new, our Celosia supply lasts a little longer.  Celosia is a great, bright flower that you can count on to bloom throughout spring summer, and into fall!

Scientific Name: Celosia argentea

Plant: in Sun (at least 6 hrs of sun)

Space: 8-12″ (20-30cm) apart

Grows: 18″ (46cm) tall by 12″ (30cm) wide

Bold purple color that continue to bloom throughout the season

– can take the heat.

Easy to care for and maximum color!

Be sure to fertilize regularly to promote continued flowering.