Categories > Perennials

Seeding At Home – Video

To pull all of our blogs on seeding together, we put decided to make this quick 5 minute video tutorial on seeding for the home gardener who enjoys starting their seeds at home!  We used everyday items that are easily accessible at home or in the marketplace and keep seed starting from getting too complicated – after all, the basics of seeding and germination hasn’t changed much over the years.  The only things that have changed are the different hybrid choices and the use of machinery in a larger greenhouse setting.

We hope you enjoy this video and that it helps make gardening fun, simple and wildly successful for you!

Have seeding or gardening questions? Call us today: 780-467-3091.


Spotlight on Poppies: Icelandic Poppies

As Remembrance Day approaches, our eyes land on poppies – specifically, red oriental poppies. Last year we did a blog on oriental poppies & how they grow. This year, let’s take a peek at Icelandic poppies.

Icelandic poppies are also known as Papaver naudicaule and they originate from the northern areas of North America and Asia. Their crepe paper-esque flowers bloom in hues of yellow, pink, orange, salmon, red, and white. This 6 – 18” tall poppy is a short lived perennial or biennial depending on their location. They thrive in poor soil, but they do like to have good drainage. They classified as a zone 2 – 8 plant, so the good news is: They love our area.

Bloom time for Icelandic poppies is late spring and early summer. Like Oriental poppies, Icelandics don’t like the heat of midsummer and that’s what causes them to stop blooming. In areas where it stays cool, they will bloom all summer long.

The bonus with Icelandic Poppies is that they attract pollinators – bees, butterflies, & birds. Deadhead the old blooms to encourage more flowering and toward the end of the bloom cycle, leave the old flowers to produce seed pods to allow them to self sow.

For cut flowers, harvest the buds just as they are cracking and showing a little color. Sear the ends of the stems with the flame of a lighter for 7-10 seconds to seal the seepage or place the stem ends in boiling water for the same amount of time.

Sow seeds in the fall to yield a fresh crop next spring. Give them a try; they’ll add an element of whimsy to a perennial garden.

Sources:, Perennials for Every Purpose,,,

It Doesn’t Have to be Over! Late Blooming Perennials

late blooming perennials 2 of 2As summer winds down with annuals and perennials slowing their blooming, be encouraged that it doesn’t have to all end right now.  Fall blooming perennials extend the joy of garden deep in fall while the rest of the garden is winding down and as leaves are crunching under your feet.

Fall blooming perennials withstand frost and their bloom is unaffected.  Consider adding some of these to your garden palette!

Tall Fall Blooming Sedums:

  • These are typically 18-24” tall, love a full hot sun exposure, and bloom during the  late summer in colors ranging from yellow to very dark pink.
  • Foliage colors range from pale green to dark purples.
  • These are very good performers and vigorous growers.
  • Bees love them as they tank up for their last feasts of fall.
  • There are many varieties of fall blooming sedums, some favorite cultivars are:  ‘Autumn Joy’, ‘Autumn Delight’, ‘Neon’, ‘Matrona’

Solidago  (Golden Rod)

  • Varieties range in height from 12-24”
  • Feathery golden yellow plumes light up garden spaces
  • Bees love Solidago flowers


  • Great fall color in hues of pinks, reds, and purples
  •  Varieties range in height 18-30”

Other perennials whose bloom extend into fall:

  • Alcea (Hollyhocks)
  • Chrysanthemum aka Leucanthemum
  • Echinacea (Coneflower)
  • Gaillardia (Blanket Flower)
  • Helenium (Sneezeweed)
  • Hemerocallis (Daylilies)
  • Nepeta (Catmint)
  • Pervoskia (Russian Sage)
  • Rudbeckia
  • Heliopsis (False Sunflower)
Sources:  Perennials for Every Purpose by Larry Hodgson, Green Leaf Plants,

A Canadian Classic: Rhubarb | Gardening

In light of this weekend celebrating Canada’s birthday, let’s put the spotlight on a well known plant that’s been here so long, it can be called a ‘classic’ – Rhubarb.

Rhubarb, its Latin name “Rheum”, is not native to Canada, but made its appearance in the late 1700s, brought over in seed form with Europeans settling in Canada. Prior to that, records show that Rhubarb came to Europe from China.  It thrives in cool climates and actually, heat slows its growth.  It is a drought tolerant, overall tough plant that can withstand tremendous amounts of abuse.

Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable that has nutritional benefits, making sense that those settling here would want to include it in their pantry.  The stalks are high in vitamin C, dietary fiber & Vitamin C and it’s low fat – 1 cup of rhubarb boasts a measly 26 calories!

Due to high levels of oxalic acid, remember that the leaves are toxic to humans.

Care & Planting:

  • Rhubarb will grow in pretty much any type of soil but thrives well drained, rich soil – it will  rot if the soil is too wet
  • Plant in full sun
  • Plant the crown1-2 inches below soil
  • Don’t harvest the 1st year after planting so the roots can get established
  • When you do harvest, always leave at least 2 stalks to provide nutrients to the roots
  • Remove flower stalks so the plant’s energy will go into producing stalks
  • Every 4-5 years, rhubarb tends to get spindly, so thin them out
  • Can use a slow release fertilizer 5-10-10 applied once yearly.  Rhubarb is not a heavy feeder.

Other uses:

  • Can be used as a cleaner
  • Insecticide: cabbage caterpillars, aphids, peach & cherry slugs
  • Natural hair coloring

For more information on rhubarb, be sure to check out the website, “The Rhubarb Compendium”, they have a lovely recipe index as well.


Call us today for more gardening information! 


School’s Out! Children & Gardening

Gardens are great places for children!  It’s a place for them to come face to face with every sensory sensation – sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste.  It’s a great place to learn and of course, burn off energy.  If all goes well, you could actually develop a helpful garden ali.

Valuable life lessons can be learned from the garden like:

  • plant biology & reproduction
  • where their food comes from and how different veggies grow
  • how yummy freshly grown veggies taste
  • how to work
  • gaining an appreciation for the struggle with weeds and bugs

All that being said, be careful to keep your garden, veggie and flower, a fun place for your children to be.  Sometimes we can get distracted with the dream of keeping a beautiful yard like the retired neighbours across the street when we have children – that day will come all too quickly.  So be encouraged to keep your garden a happy place where your children love to be.

On the playing side, give your space items children can enjoy playing on with your kids’ favorite play things.  On the gardening side, include gardening items like a watering can or a wheel barrow and small hand tools like a trowel or a broom or a rake in their size so they can learn to experiment with them in the garden setting.

A garden is a place where great memories can be made and life lessons are learned naturally.  Enjoy your children! And enjoy your garden!

Deer & Rabbit Resistant Perennials | Gardening

Deer ravage country gardens and rabbits love to mess with country and urban gardens.  We are often asked for ideas for deer and rabbit proof annuals and perennials.  Unfortunately, there is nothing ‘proof’ when it comes to deer and rabbits – when hungry enough, they will eat basically anything that’s not poisonous to them.  Below we have listed some strategies to help combat these pesky visitors and hope that this helps somewhat.

General guidelines:

Use plants:

  • with a bad taste or smell
  • that are highly fragrant
  • that contain a milky sap
  • that are highly textured with fuzzy leaves
  • that have prickly stems
  • like ornamental grasses – deer have difficulty chewing they long stems

The following is a list of perennials that deer tend to avoid sourced from fellow gardeners, customers at our greenhouse, and perennial suppliers.  Please remember that this is a general list but there is no guarantee that deer or rabbits will not eat these.  Let us know what you discover.

  • Achillea (Yarrow)
  • Aconitum (Monkshood)
  • Aquilegia (Columbine)
  • Artemesia (Silver Mound)
  • Cerastium (Snow in Summer)
  • Delphinium
  • Dictamnus (Gas Plant)
  • Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)
  • Digitalis (Foxglove)
  • Euphorbia (Spurge)
  • Lupines
  • Monarda (Beebalm)
  • Nepeta (Catmint)
  • Rhubarb
  • Salvia

A few other strategies:

  • Be aware of time / weather that makes your garden more vulnerable to visits from deer and rabbits i.e. drought
  • Protect vulnerable plants with physical barriers like cages, netting, and noisy materials that flap in the wind
  • Put up fencing
  • Plant less desirable plants

Wishing you success because this is a challenging issue!


Comparing Peonies: Shrub vs Tree vs ITOH

Peonies are wonderful shrub-like perennials with huge flowers boasting wonderful fragrances that people have a certain sentimentality about because often they grew in their grandmother’s yard. In fact, those peonies are likely still growing in that same yard because they are one of the longest lasting and easiest care perennials around – they can last up to 70 years or more.

Perennials can be even said to be a ‘no care’ perennial just as long as you don’t divide them, which can cause certain death.  The biggest two drawbacks about Peonies is that they often need to be staked and some people hate how ants are attracted to the buds.  Ants aren’t needed for the buds to open but they definitely love the sugar in the sap.

The peonies of our grandparents’ day are still around but there have been some ‘modifications’ to them.  They have been crossbred (not genetically modified) over the years and now we have three major classifications:  Garden, Tree, and Intersectional (aka ITOH).  Below is a chart of the differences in habit and care. If you have time, check out the website: it has wonderful information and great pictures.

peony care


Sources: Perennials for Every Purpose by Larry Hodgson, Walters Gardens, Inc,,

Call us for more peony tips and tricks: 780-467-3091!

Natural pest control: Cut Worms

Cutworms are a finite problem lasting 2 – 3 weeks in the early spring – just about the time you have planted your veggie garden seedlings and your seeds have erupted.  You generally don’t know you have them until you see wilted and dying seedlings in your garden that have been cut off near, at , or below soil level.  Here are some strategies to cope with them.

Who they are:

  • larvae from eggs that have overwintered, laid by a variety of adult moths on grass or other green plants/weeds in the garden or at the garden’s edge in the fall
  • they emerge hungry & ready to feed so they can reach their next enstar (stage of development), which is that of a pupae or cocoon
  • range in color from grey to brown & black, with or without spots
  • curl themselves up into a classic C shape when exposed from the soil
  • check out this Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Fact Sheet on identifying cutworms (note: this is not of natural pest control):

What they do:

  • live in top 2” of soil
  • like to feed at night or on cloudy days
  • some emerge from the soil, others feed just below soil level
  • feed on the stems of the young plants – thus cutting off the stem – hence the name, cutworm
  • feed by wrapping their bodies around the stem to grip on & eat

Getting rid of them:

It is possible to reduce the incidence of cutworms but it takes discipline

Here are a few ideas

  • Tilling in both the spring and fall to expose the cutworms
  • Placing collars around the base of the stems
  • Placing something (a nail, toothpick, straw) right beside the stem so the cut worm can’t wrap itself around the stem to dine
  • Natural pest control

Also,  check out the following links below:

1. The Old Farmer’s Almanc


2. Gardening Know How


3. Natural pesticide recipes

4. Montana Homesteader


5. Mother Earth News


6.  Canola Encyclopedia

Clearing up Some Clematis Confusion

Originally from areas such as Spain and Japan, Clematis is a member of the buttercup (Ranunculus) family and the draw to get them to grow in North America dates back to the early 1800s.  Clematis has been a plant that has eluded the success of many a gardener.  Here are some tips that hopefully help clear up some of their difficulty.

Preferred Location:

  • Clematis like to have their heads (foliage & flowers) in a sunny area that gets more than 6 hours of sunshine but doesn’t enjoy being excessively hot.
  • They like to have their feet in shade to keep roots cool – roots stop growing when soil temperature reaches 25C

Ideas for shading roots: things like a tall (12-18”) fall blooming sedum or a small shrub that is well mulched (3-4 inches).

Avoid using rocks because that can cause the roots to get hot as the rocks heat up in the sun.


  • Plant deep –dig a hole 4-6” deeper than original root ball in its pot.  This may take you to 12 or more inches deep, but don’t worry, that will be ok.
  • Leave root ball intact as you plant it as to not disturb the roots & gently place it in the hole.
  • Backfill the hole with good quality, well draining potting soil – Clematis hate wet feet
  •  Stay patient – Year three is what we call the magic year of perennials – that’s when they really start to shine and do their thing – says that in regards to growth:

In the 1st year they sleep…

The 2nd year they creep…

And the 3rd year they leap.

Pruning Requirements – should be indicated on all variety labels. Clematis are separated into Groups A, B, & C – also called Group 1, 2, & 3.

Group A – blooms on old wood from last year’s growth – don’t cut these back.

  • Remove dead or weak branches to clean up plant
  • Usually zone 6 & 7
  • Prune back after blooming in the spring or summer

Group B – divided into 2 groups: B1 & B2

  • B1: Blooms on older stems in spring and reblooms on new growth in the late summer
  • B2: Blooms on older stems and new growth at the same time
  • For both groups:  In the spring, lightly prune a few stems to encourage strong buds & to promote branching & blossoms on new growth while letting other old stems grow to produce the spring bloom
  • OR, you could prune the entire plant back every 2 years and just miss the spring flush
  • These are usually zone 4
  • Most Canada tolerant Clematis belong to this group

Group C – Later bloomer, only on new growth – July – Autumn

  • Prune back hard in early spring, to about 3 nodes (about 30 cm from the soil level) to encourage branching
  • Usually zone 5 & 6

Support – depending on the height of growth use:

  • Trellis or lattice
  • Arches or arbors

Best clematis for Edmonton area are rated as zone 4:

  • Jackmanii is by far the most successful Clematis in our area
  • Nelly Moser
  • Multi Blue

Other notes:

  • Planting different Clematis with bloom times together you may be able to create a  succession of bloom
Sources:,,,,, ‘A Concise Guide to Clematis’ by Clearview Horticultural Products,,

Well Water & Your Garden| Edmonton & Strathcona County

Well water in our Edmonton Capital Region area and the Strathcona County is high in iron and dissolved minerals such as calcium and sodium.  This high iron and dissolved mineral salt content is  what makes water hard causing yellow staining, soap scum, and other issues. Well water not only effects machinery, household appliances, and bath tubs, it also affects plants.

When well water as described above is used to water plants, salts accumulate in them also.  As dissolved salts accumulate you will see:

  • Loss of a dark green color, paling of the plant in general
  • Yellow leaves
  • Burned leaf edges
  • Wilting that doesn’t respond to watering
  • Death

Plants most sensitive to salt accumulation tend to have more succulent leaves such as:

  • Sunpatiens
  • Impatiens
  • Begonias of all types

Geraniums will be one of the last kinds of plants to show burning but they as well will succumb to death by excessive dissolved salts.

Understanding that water trucked in is expensive, we recommend that you collect and use rain water to hydrate you plants.

Have gardening questions? Call us today: 780-467-3091.

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