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Shauna's blog

CALIFORNIA LILAC - Ceanothus thyrsiflorus 'Victoria'

Ceanothus is a wonderful shrub for the summer garden. As the name eludes, ceanothus is native to California and the Pacific Coast, however it is not a true lilac.

Named for Victoria on Vancouver Island, this variety is the hardiest of the ceanothus family and in my mind, the prettiest. In early June buds are ready to burst into a nearly true blue haze of blooms backed up by deep, deep green glossy small leaves.

Ceanothus is fast growing, evergreen, deer resistant and drought tolerant so it is a welcome addition to many gardens. It can be added to the garden as a single shrub or it can be used as a hedge either formally clipped or left natural for a loose cottage garden look. Ceanothus grow quickly to 6 or 7 foot tall and wide so give yours plenty of space. After blooming they can be sheared by one third to keep the overall size smaller.

Plant in full to part sun with bonemeal, peatmoss and manure. Water well especially in dry hot locations for the first season but after the first season nothing more that occasional watering during really dry periods will be necessary. So easy and so beautiful, I just know you are going to love ceanothus!



...Experience the Joy of Gardening!


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Native Plants ~ Gardening West Coast Style!

Native plants and their cultivars are becoming increasingly popular with today's gardeners. Their simple beauty is enhanced by our surrounding forests and adding them into your landscape brings to life a style that truly is West Coast.

Natives in your garden are easy to care for because once they are established they require little or no maintenance. Native plants will also encourage wildlife to enjoy your garden for both the habitat and for food. Remembering that most of our native landscape is naturally a forested woodland setting, you can easily add many of the natives to your woodland or shade gardens.

This is the time of year that the native landscape truly comes alive, so take a walk in the woods soon, perhaps along the lovely Canyonview Trail, and remember to stop and admire the bleeding heart, dog tooth lily, trillium, deer fern, western sword fern and so many more that grow beneath the magnificent douglas fir, cedar and western hemlock that are ours to respect and enjoy.

Drinking in the earthy smell of the skunk cabbage, one can easily imagine a magical, imaginary world where the forest fairies dance beneath the toadstools, where Bilbo Baggins and his Hobbits live and where the horsetail is a delicate and beautiful, ferny plant worthy of our admiration.

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Proven Winner Osteospermum

Wow! That's the comment most people make when they first see blooming Osteospermums (or Osteos as we like to call them). They really do make a stunning display of colourful daisy-shaped blooms so prolific you can hardly see the foliage.

Osteos bloom from spring to frost and though they are thought of as annuals, they sometimes winter over when they are planted in sheltered locations; such as under the eaves of a west facing wall.

They come in a full range of colours including white, cream, yellow, peach, pink, mauve, purple and orange. Whew! So, what else can I tell you.? Oh yes, the deer don't like them (Yippee!).

They like hot sunny locations and are best in large containers or in the ground because they grow to about 14" in height. They also look great in window boxes and paired up with other Proven Winners such as the creeping verbenas.

One of our customers has planted her window boxes, for the last few years, with Orange Osteos and "Tapien Blue Violet" Verbena, which makes a stunning combination.

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Forcing Paperwhites

Enjoying the scent and beauty of paperwhites during the winter is one of the simplest ways to bring your garden indoors. Not only does it smell and look beautiful, it also adds a growing/living element to your home. For young and old alike, it is fun to watch them grow.

It can be nice to plan for paperwhites to bloom during the Christmas Holidays when families are together and we enjoy entertaining in our homes. Paperwhites make great gifts. They are simply enough that children could plant them as gifts for grandparents or special teachers.

However you decide to grow them I'm sure you will enjoy their beauty and lovely scent.

You will need:

A shallow bowl or pot about 6 inches across. Clear, glass bowls are both beautiful and allow you to enjoy the novelty of seeing the roots grow.Enough pebbles to fill the pot. You can also use other materials to plant your bulbs into such as marbles or glass beads.5 paperwhite bulbs (or more if you choose a larger container.)

Plant your paperwhites in pebbles in shallow containers (or shallow in deeper containers). The bulbs should be deep enough to be anchored down but do not completely cover them. You can plant larger containers with more bulbs and the bulbs look best planted close together. Add water to your container but be sure that the level of the water is below the bottom of the bulbs.

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Spectacular Rhododendrons

A rhododendron in full bloom is a spectacular sight! From delicate soft white, creamy yellow and baby pink to shocking pink, glowing orange, blood red, and deep dark purple they are all magnificent in bloom. And while the flowers are spectacular the foliage on some is also noteworthy and a tribute to the plant year-round.

True red Rhododendron 'Grace Seabrook' sports handsome deep dark green foliage, delicate white R.'Snow Lady' has delightful hairy leaves and R. ponticum 'Variegatum' has showy variegated foliage. Also, sometimes the buds are showy and such is the case with R. 'Taurus', the deep red buds show themselves off all winter long.

Positioning your newly planted Rhododendrons is important. The height varies greatly from the dwarf varieties that stay between 1-2 feet tall and the extremely large varieties that grow up to (and sometimes over) 10 feet.

I search out the very large, very small and very unusual (and very cool!) rhododendrons on the cold wet days of winter but I also know that most gardeners will be looking for varieties growing between 3 and 6 feet in height so we always have a large selection of those.

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Flower Carpet Roses

One of the easiest ways to add a splash of colour to your summer garden is with Flower Carpet Roses. If you don't have a Carpet Rose in your garden, you might be surprised to find out just how easy they are to grow and just how colorful and vigorous they are.

The original 'Pink' Flower Carpet is still my favourite. It is the most vigorous and it is a deep, hot pink that is outstanding. I've seen them planted in commercial plantings, barrels, hedged and mixed into flower borders and they always seem to steal the show. Their glossy green leaves are very disease resistant which is what sets them apart from most other roses. Carpet Rose are also available in white, yellow, coral and red.

Pruning for Flower Carpet Roses is a snap. Whether it is your late winter clean up, or you are dead heading the first flush of roses, just bring out your hedging shears and trim the bush back to the desired size. No fussy 'where to snip' decisions to be made. New flowers continue through the summer until frost.

WPlant your Flower Carpet Roses with a half a cup of bonemeal and some steer manure in a part sun to full sun position and water deeply with 'Transplanter'.


...Experience the Joy of Gardening!


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Summer Blooming Shrubs

Like most gardeners, as the seasons go, my interest moves from the delicate winter bloomers, to the bulbs that herald early spring, to the joyful promise of planting annuals and so on, and so on. As each season passes I forget how I loved the very first blooms of the plant I am now deadheading and I long for the first blooms of the plants of the next season.

I watch in wonder as the first flush of roses come and now I busy myself cutting roses for bouquets indoors so my flowers continue to form and please me. Oh, we are the fickle ones aren't we, but I simply can't help it; I love my garden, the structure of it, the striking foliage combinations, the fragrances, but most of all I love the blooms. Now that summer is here the blooms are no longer delicate little bursts of colour amazing us on cool and frosty mornings but rather magnificently voluptuous blossoms that awe us with their heady beauty.

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Dazzling Tulips

Tulips come in colours that range from pristine white through yellow, orange, pink, rose, red, green, blue, purple and even black. While that may sound shocking what is more amazing is how beautifully the green markings enhance the pink of varieties like 'Greenland' and how clean and fresh the green markings are on the otherwise pure white variety 'Spring Green'.

'Blue Amiable' and 'Blue Parrot' are two blue tulips with differing shapes that both look steely mauve-blue with other pink flowers and especially nice with a splash of white.

Being born on Valentines Day, I have always had a affinity with red, and red tulips never disappoint appearing at once vibrant and classic. Orange and yellow are colour trends that are gaining popularity currently. While these colours were once the shades left behind, now we notice that they are often chosen first.

Both orange and yellow look fabulous with purple and blue, which always takes us back to our school days and art classes where we learned how the opposite sides of the colour wheel are the complimentary colours.

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Virginia Creeper

Virginia Creeper indeed must be the most spectacular vine for fall colour. Beautiful green foliage that is lush but subtle all season, burst forth in an Autumn display that is truly spectacular. It is a fast growing deciduous vine for full to partial sun that can cover an old shed or unsightly fence in a couple of seasons.

Our first Virginia Creeper at our old house on Country Aire Drive attracted a lot of attention as it scrambled over our small greenhouse with its gorgeous green leaves but not a hint of a bloom. While all the clematis' had taken the first dance, our Virginia Creeper subtly waited, letting the clematis and the wisterias have the lime light, quietly bowing out. Finally in the late summer she showed a little ankle in the form of tiny white flowers. Many a neighbour would, in kindness, ask what we had there and "Oh yes, then what will it do?

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Long racemes of pink, white or most frequently purple flowers drip from the gnarly, twisted vines of Wisteria in mid-May displaying a beautiful combination of masculine and feminine form. The fragrance is delicious and hangs in the air like the flowers themselves, sweet and heady. Soft new tendrils curl all around the edges of the main vines. The overall effect of old growth, new growth, flowers and fragrance is quite simply perfect!


The ideal situation for a wisteria is either grown against a solid wall against which it can be espaliered by training it onto wires, or more easily, it can be trained to wrap itself up a sturdy pillar. The pillar should be at least 4" X4" or larger. Wisteria is far too vigorous to be grown on a lattice, and you should keep it clear of vinyl or cedar siding as it can cause damage to these.


Any sunny location with at least 6 hours of direct sunshine and well-drained soil will do. Add the usual bone meal, peat moss and manure when planting, followed by plenty of water in the first year. Plant grafted plants as these bloom at an earlier age.


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