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Green thumb

Succulent container gardening for frosty beauty

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There is a strong trend towards “sustainable” container plantings. Hardy succulents can provide beauty and interest even through late fall and early winter, and reward you again next year. Good plants to use in the Laurentians are Sempervivum  (“hens & chicks”) or Jovibarba (houseleeks). They come in different shapes, sizes, textures and colours.  You can combine

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Fall colour from shrubs

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We are blessed by a spectacular fall show in the Laurentians. Maples in particular but also birch, ash and eventually larch give us a continually changing show of reds, burgundies and yellows.  Shrubs can also provide good fall colour. Stephanandra is a good low maintenance green shrub that has small white flowers in June and a nice spreading habit. Most of the season it is pretty innocuous but

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Sex and drugs…

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We’d like to think of the world of horticulture as being above such things but at the end of the day, flowers are all about sex…and drugs! (Not sure about the rock ‘n’ roll part.) Here we are in August and some of the annuals you planted this spring are looking great but others are looking a little past their prime. Why? All plants’ aim in life is to reproduce. Their

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Water features

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Golfers hear “water feature” and they worry…but for most people a water feature means the addition of a water element to their landscape.  Over the years we have created many beautiful landscapes, and I can honestly say that one of the things that give people the most pleasure and satisfaction over time is running water. In our beautiful, rocky Laurentians, there are often

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Seasons and dates

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What a spring! It has been a stark reminder that every year is different…and that every region is different.  Soon summer will arrive, probably violently. For now, the plants are about a month behind. On the good news side, perennials and shrubs will have a more concentrated period of bloom, so late June and July should be spectacular. It means we have to rethink our expectations and set

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Spring drainage

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Drainage and surface water are topics that get a fair amount of attention these days. Water around your foundation is no joke. And around the property, no one wants standing water – instant mosquito larvae incubator.  Luckily, in the Laurentians, the soil is quite sandy so with a little basic thought, drainage goes fairly well. There are, however, a few key points to keep an eye on: Drainage

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Spring bulbs

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Wait a minute, you say, it is barely fall and I should be thinking of spring?! Well…yes. You will be hungry for colour after a long, white winter. Fall planted bulbs give awesome impact come spring. Crocus are lovely but mice and squirrels tend to eat the corms. Tulips will come up nicely, then the deer bean their blooms off. That said, if you have a protected spot, both hybrid and Species

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Find your style

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Styles come and go in gardening and design. These days there seem to be two ideas going at the same time: a very pared-down, ‘modern’ look with linear mass plantings, or a new English-type garden where things are all mixed up. The modern, formal look trends towards a lot of grasses and foliage plants with some summer flowers, often white. It lends itself well to our large spaces when used

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Long-term thinking

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The best gardens are the ones that are built for the long run. A well-designed and well-built landscape can add beauty for years. Choose hard surfaces carefully. If you spend extra money to put a concrete base under your stone patio or path, it should be good for life (or close!). If you choose to use concrete pavers, ensure that base materials and borders are well installed, and that a decent quantity

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Ticks and stones

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I recently had the happy opportunity to fly over the region with a friend who owns a small airplane. Tremblant really is beautiful from all angles. We are lucky to be able to enjoy such a lovely area. Which brings me to: deer! The answer most often given to their rodent-like proliferation is that we have “moved into their environment”. Fiddlesticks to that! Seen from the air, we are surrounded

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Decorative trees

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Wow, spring flowering trees are fabulous! After a long white winter, we are hungry for colour, scent…nature’s beauty at its best. Choose varieties for hardiness zone 3b or less, for reliable life and performance. Before perennials perform, trees can add great colour and interest.  The firsts to flower are the pin cherries and serviceberries. Serviceberries grow in the wild but they

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Veggie gardening

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After a hard winter, we are all more than ready to get growing! Flowers are fun but producing your own vegetables is a real kick. I have written in the past about traditional ‘dirt’ vegetable gardening and about raising tomatoes and other yummy stuff in containers. But here is something I just came across which seems like an intriguing way of extending the growing season and getting maximum

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Ornamental grasses

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Many ornamental grasses are great performers. The ones that catch the eye most at this time of year, and even into winter, are the taller, late-flowering varieties. You can divide grasses into three loose groups, in terms of appearance and behaviour. There are the generally taller varieties that offer a strong vertical accent in the garden and typically flower later (August through October) such as

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Tips for an easier spring

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At summer’s end, you have a great window for garden renovation. From about mid-September through early October plants still have time to establish themselves before the winter sets in.  One of the main advantages of rethinking your landscape in the fall is that you can actually see what’s there, and remember what it looked like through the summer. Tired of what you’ve got, or

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Learning to share

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Yikes! There is a bug on my plant! The leaves are yellow! Much of the damage that bugs and diseases do to plants is cosmetic. Leaves will brown off or become skeletonized, or some will be eaten by insects. Figure that if it is only affecting 15 per cent of the plant, it is probably not doing much harm. Does the rest of the plant look healthy? If so, while disappointing, it’s just part of nature. However,

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Edible gardens

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Incorporating edible elements into containers seems to be the ‘in’ thing these days. But now that you have them growing, how do you take care of them to maximize your harvest? A little regular care will go a long way. Of course you used a decent container mix for soil as by now you know that plants are only ever as good as their dirt. So containers need to be watered. Rain usually doesn’t

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The whys and wherefores of mulch

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It is spring, soon to be summer, and you are enthusiastic about your garden! Or maybe…not so much? So you say, “Why should I bother with mulch?”  Mulch can be as basic as a layer of newspaper held down by rocks but luckily there are much more attractive options available. Once you have cleaned your planting areas, you should add lime and some organic fertilizer, and then…mulch!  Why?

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FAQ after a hard winter…

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What’s the deal with my grass?   This past winter we had very cold temperatures and a lot of snow, but also a few episodes of rain or freezing rain. The combination made for some ice layers within the snow cover. “Snow mould” is a fungal disease that either browns off or outright kills grass, or sometimes the lawn just suffocates under the ice. The solution is to rake or scalp

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Outdoor plants indoors

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With winter coming, people sometimes like to try to keep their “outdoor” plants going indoors. Maybe you are dreaming of fresh pesto in January, maybe you want to keep that beautiful tropical plant happy so you can enjoy it next summer…. No matter your motivation, soil and light are key. The plants need decent potting soil, and well-drained pots. If you have a solarium or a south-facing

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Keep Tremblant beautiful

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OK, I know, I am obsessed. But my deer vendetta is a logical one. People say, "But I love the deer! What harm can I do by feeding them? Poor little deer, we've built houses in their forest...." When I was first landscaping here – almost 25 years ago now (!) – there wasn't much of an issue with deer. Even right beside the park and the Domaine, we had thriving gardens. Evergreens? No problem.

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Performance anxiety?

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Obviously, the climate in Tremblant is different from, say, Toronto or (!) Vancouver. We have longer, colder, snowier winters, short (and sometimes very hot and dry) summers, and a long spring and fall. This year’s cold spring made those differences more apparent than usual, even going into the summer period. Our Agriculture Canada zone is 3b, maybe 4a, depending on where you are. Altitude,

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The birds and the bees…

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There are alarming stories out there, many saying that if we are not careful it will be the end of the world as we know it. One that has been getting some press lately is the disappearance of bees. The result of many of these stories is to make us feel powerless. Three quarters of the foods we eat need pollinators to reproduce and bees are pollinators, so no more bees means no more food (or close

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Garden design

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Whether you are taking on a small or a large project, most books and magazines say:  “First, get a plan!”  Sometimes that is excellent advice; other times, less so. In the country our spaces are often very large. If you are getting your new house landscaped, or doing a full renovation, I would say yes – a plan is a good idea. It does not need to be fully detailed in terms

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APPQ adds value

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Here at Northland we recently won some major provincial-level prizes from the APPQ.  The A-P-P-who, you may well say? The Association des paysagistes professionnels du Québec is essentially the Québec Landscapers Association. But who cares if the landscaper you choose is a member or not, especially for a small project or for maintenance? Easy answer: check out the website at www.appq.org.

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