Lacoste Staff Plant Pick of the Week

Bacopa

bacopa

Bacopa is a long-time favourite plant to fill the role of “spiller” in container planting.   Its bountiful white flowers are eye-catching and dainty

Scientific Name: Bacopa Sutera cordata

Plant: Sun/Part sun

Grows: 4-8″ (10-20cm) tall and trails up to 36” (90cm)

Bacopa is a low-maintenance plant, requiring no deadheading to remain in bloom all summer long.  It does like to be evenly moist, and long periods without water can cause it to drop blooms and buds.  Luckily, after a few weeks of regular watering, it will recover nicely!

 

What to Plant in Shady Planters

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I love planning out our containers to plant each year; trying out new combinations of plants, and configurations makes the yard seem new and unique each year.  I certainly have some standby’s that I use each year, but trying something new is always fun! If you’re new to gardening or have been planting for years, I think it is always nice to have a fresh perspective to add ideas.  I’ve gathered a few ideas here for some shade planters to help inspire you as we wait for spring to arrive, and more importantly, stay!

The general rule for planters is to include a “thriller, spiller and filler”.

Shade Plants:

Thriller: Plants that add height and a bit of unique appeal.

Dracena, Ornamental Grass, Palms, Gartenmeister Fuschia, Elephant Ears, Coleus

Filler: Mounding plants that won’t reach the height of your thriller, but will fill in around and in front of the thriller.

Begonias, Impatiens, Fuschia, Coleus, Ferns,

Spiller: Adds interest and flows out of the pot. Can be either flowers or foliage.

Ivy/Vinca Vine, Torenia, Nico, Ivy, Creeping Charlie, Silver Falls, Lysmachia

 

The thriller is usually placed in the middle (if seen from all sides) or towards the back (if front/side views only). Then moving outwards/forwards add the fillers. Then finally along the outside edges add your spillers.

 

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12″ pot= 5 plants

14″ pot= 7 plants

16″ pot= 9 plants

 

Remember, when you first plant your containers they will look sparse. They will fill in as the plants mature. Try not to over stuff them as it can result in over-crowded and unhealthy plants.

 

Lacoste Staff Plant Pick of the Week

Snow on the Mountain

goutweed

Bishops Goutweed is an invasive groundcover that is perfect for sun or shade. It can be quite aggressive, but is great for difficult-to-grow areas.

Scientific Name: Aegopodium podagraria

Plant: in Sun or Shade

Grows: 12-18″ (30-45cm) tall and spreads

Goutweed can be stunning when used in mass plantings.

 

Bee Friendly Gardening

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If you spend some time watching a flowering plant, eventually you will likely see a bee land and gather the nectar and pollen contained in the flowers.  It can be fascinating to watch them work; moving from flower to flower before eventually flying away to their hive. Bees play such an important role in nature, pollinating so many plants with their tiny bodies.  However, the use of chemicals in gardening and yard care is causing the widespread demise of bees, worldwide.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/what-s-killing-canadian-honeybees-1.1312511

At Lacoste we are committed to operating in a sustainable system. We use parasitic (“friendly”) wasps (read about it here) to control aphids in the greenhouse.  We do not use neonicontinoid pesticides.

At home, you can help the bee population too! When you plant your planters and gardens, you can create a bee-friendly place!

Create a welcome place for bees

  • All creatures that eat plants (including humans!) depend on pollinators.
  • ¾ of the foods we eat — fruits, nuts, vegetables, and herbs — need pollinators to reproduce.
  • Creating hospitable homes for beneficial insects in your garden means they are less likely to move into your house.
  • You’ll triple the yield of fruit and veggies in your garden — no more lumpy strawberries or shrunken squash!
  • Even what seems like a small contribution — just a tiny flower pot or patch — can provide valuable pollinator habitat.

These plants, organized by when they bloom, are just a few of the species that attract bees:

Early                      Mid-season        Late

Blueberry            Blackberry           Aster (perennial)

Cotoneaster       Cat mint               Beggar’s tricks

Crabapple           Catnip                   Borage

Cranberry            Chives                   Coneflower

Crocus                  Dahlia                    Cornflower

Foxglove              Hyssop                 Cosmos

Heliotrope          Lavender             Goldenrod

Hazelnut              Raspberry           Pumpkin

Heather               Sunflower           Sedum

Primrose              Yarrow                  Squash

Willow

 David Suzuki has a great article on other ways to make your garden bee-friendly, check it out for some more ideas

http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/food-and-our-planet/create-a-bee-friendly-garden/

And don’t forget the best part about cultivating a healthy bee community.  There’s nothing tastier than local honey!

Lacoste Staff Plant Pick of the Week

Alternanthera Red Threads  

alternanthera

Red Threads is a new variety to Lacoste; we carried it last year and it sold out very quickly.  It’s a great choice for container planting as a “filler”.

Scientific Name: Alternanthera ficoidea

Plant: In sun, 16’ (41cm) apart

Grows: 10 - 12″ (25 - 30cm) tall by 16 - 18″ (41 - 46cm) wide

Red Threads grows in a tightly mounded shape, and thrives in hot sunny conditions.

 

Lacoste Staff Plant Pick of the Week

Digiplexus

digiplexis

A new plant this year at Lacoste! Digiplexus has long lasting tubular flowers in a stunning shade of rosy orange that last all summer long! This is a very large plant that looks exceptional both as a centrepiece in a container, or in the garden as a mass planting.

Scientific Name: Digiplexus Illumination flame

Plant: in Sun

Grows: 36″ (91cm) tall by 18″ (46m) wide

Grows best in full sun but tolerates partial shade locations as well.

‘Illumination Flame’ has proven to be a bee and hummingbird magnet and is otherwise care-free.

Should be are watered and fertilized regularly; ‘Illumination Flame’ can be a thirsty plant during hot and sunny weather.

Spring Kick-off

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This morning as I walked out my front door, past my sad empty planters, and into the bright morning sunshine, I made a decision.  This is the year I’m going to gamble.  I’m going to plant at least a planter or two this weekend.  The last year we had a warm April, I debated planting early and did not, out of fear of frost.  My neighbour did plant early and his tomatoes were safe.

I’m not going to plant in the ground just yet, but planters can be easily moved inside if necessary, and maybe just maybe they won’t need to be!  There’s no hard-and-fast rule as to when to plant and when its safe; there are so many “rules”:  . . . May Long weekend, or the first moon in June, after the last frost.  However, there is no “garden police” that will come and tell me that I’ve planted incorrectly, so I’m going to try it!

The added benefit of planting early will be that all the beautiful, new, unique plants will still be plentiful. Come by this weekend to check them out, and while you’re here, grab a hotdog and make a donation as a part of our annual charity kick-off BBQ!  In addition to the BBQ, as always there will be great kids activities, and tons of beautiful inspiration to see!

Aphid Control

Bugs, insects and disease probably are not top-of-mind for you as you’re planning your spring garden.  Luckily, right now in the greenhouse, we’ve got it covered! As the baby plants are growing we are proactively confronting the sinister, sap-sucking, soft-bodied aphid!

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Aphids are sap-sucking insects, which are one of the most destructive pests in the garden.  Damage from aphids is quite evident on the plant.  A plant infected with aphids may have decreased growth, curled leaves, browning, wilting and may even die. 

 aphid damage

 

Aphids can be killed by unfavourable weather, including freezes, excessive heat, and rain.  However, manipulating the temperature in the garden or greenhouse to freeze aphids, probably isn’t the best solution for plant health!  There are chemical insecticide solutions to control aphids, however there are also eco-friendly solutions including using aphids’ natural predators.

We have begun using a parasitic wasp to control aphids on our greenhouse plants.  When I first heard “parasitic wasp” I pictured something much more ominous than what it actually is. The wasps, called Aphidus colemani are very small, usually less than 3 mm long.  Female wasps lay an egg in the body of an aphid.  Once the egg hatches, the wasp larvae lives and feeds inside the aphid.  As it grows, the aphid is killed and mummified. The wasp, now and adult chews its way out of the mummified aphid.  The wasps have a good searching ability, and are able to find aphid colonies from far away.  The wasps detect “alarm signals” from an infected plant, and also smell the honeydew secreted by the aphids.  Not only do wasps detect the aphids, but the reverse happens as well.  The presence of a parasitic wasp can cause panic in an aphid colony, and the aphids will let themselves fall to the ground, where they die on impact, or from starvation.

aphidus and aphid

aphidus

 

As ferocious as these wasps are to the aphids, they are completely harmless to people.  You likely won’t even notice them unless you actively seek them out.  You will notice small pots of oat grass throughout the greenhouse, which will act as their home-base.  If you DO want to seek them out, that’s the place to look!

At home, the best solution for addressing an aphid problem is using an insecticidal soap, or even a soap and water spray.  The spray penetrates the aphid body to kill it, so a certain degree of diligence is required, spraying the plant often, until ALL aphids are gone.

Enjoy your Spring planning, we all look forward to seeing you soon, and when you stop by, make sure you look out for this superstar!

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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.

 

Botanical Photography – Plant Pic Contest!

How many of us love to capture nature with our cameras? Whether you use a phone camera, a point-and-shoot, or a high-end DSLR, it is very easy to capture the beauty around us!

Yesterday’s “Google Doodle” was a representation of photograms by Anna Atkins.

Anna Atkins Google Doodle

 Anna Atkins was either the first or second female photographer. Her images of Algae were made by placing seaweed on light sensitive paper, which was then left exposed to sunlight. In addition to being a pioneer in photography, she also published the very first illustrated book, with her images of algae!

I find that taking pictures of plants and flowers is a great boost of confidence in my photography skills. Unlike kids or pets who will dart away, or make funny faces, flowers tend to be ideal subjects! Of course there is always something to learn, but practice and experimentation is the best way to capture the world around you!
I’d love to see some of your favourite “botanical” (really just any plantJ) picture you have taken. Everyone who posts one in on our Facebook timeline will be entered to win a $25 giftcard!  The winner will be drawn randomly, at 5:00 March 18th.  To get things started here are my two favourites:

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