Ex­plore pos­si­bil­i­ties when cre­at­ing your gar­dens

The Expositor (Brantford) - - WEEKEND - DEN­ZIL SAWYER MAS­TER GAR­DENER Den­zil Sawyer is a free­lance writer and a Mas­ter Gar­dener.

Not all gar­dens need to be strips of flow­er­ing plants along the walls of houses or fences.

Ur­ban prop­er­ties are of­ten sim­ply level rec­tan­gu­lar ar­eas with the res­i­dence some­where near the front fac­ing a road­way.

In­stead, dif­fer­ent types of gar­dens can be de­vel­oped where en­vi­ron­men­tal or phys­i­cal sit­u­a­tions ex­ist that are unlike the usual and can pro­vide in­ter­est­ing chal­lenges. This lay­out usu­ally re­sults in plant­ing flow­ers in bor­ders along the walls of the house.

In­stead, part of the prop­erty could be steeply slop­ing with a stone wall or tall hedge, a shady patch of wood­land, a low, shal­low damp area or a swale, or a grav­elly, scree-like rocky area; all re­quir­ing cre­ative ap­proaches to gar­den­ing. An ex­ten­sive pa­tio or deck, like a bal­cony in a high rise build­ing, of­fers op­por­tu­ni­ties to plant in con­tain­ers.

Many pop­u­lar flow­er­ing plants are nat­u­rally adapted to moist soils and these can add beauty to any land­scape. Around the edges of our ponds or lakes grow the bril­liant red car­di­nal flow­ers, pink turtle­heads and blue flag iris, all of which could grow in a rain gar­den, by a brook, a damp swale, or even swampy land. If there is a pond on your prop­erty con­sider grow­ing the hardy and fra­grant wa­ter lily that can be seen in bodies of wa­ter and marshes across On­tario.

Quite dif­fer­ent is a scree, which is like the rocky de­bris found at the bot­tom of moun­tain slopes. There is much less soil mois­ture and this can be found in those ar­eas in Brant­ford with deep sand soils or patches of gravel left over from con­struc­tion. Among the flow­ers that bloom in dry soils are black-eyed Su­san, com­pass plant, pearly ever­last­ing and or­ange milk­weed.

For any­one with an ex­ten­sive prop­erty a patch of meadow or prairie might be an op­por­tu­nity. The same plants that can grow in the scree would flour­ish in the meadow. You have only to visit un­cul­ti­vated or un­grazed ar­eas of land around Brant County to rec­og­nize other plants such as pur­ple cone­flower, wild berg­amot and dame’s-rocket.

I some­times see stone walls adorned with bas­ket-of-gold alyssum tum­bling down their faces. Brick walls could equally well be cov­ered with like plants. Hens and chicks can be tucked into the gaps.

Steep slopes can be a chal­lenge but they lend them­selves to cre­at­ing rock gar­dens. Ground cov­ers may be the so­lu­tion but alpine plants fit in well.

An is­land bed could be de­vel­oped around a spec­i­men tree, such as a white birch or an old ap­ple. A sim­ple ar­range­ment is to plant a ground cover; there are many to choose from, such as peri­win­kle and Ja­panese squill. Small rock gar­dens lend them­selves to spe­cial­iz­ing in alpines.

Herb gar­dens can serve a dou­ble pur­pose. They pro­vide herbs and spices for the kitchen and yet look ex­tremely at­trac­tive. Some of the com­mon herbs bear beau­ti­ful flow­ers. Anise-hys­sop is a tall, spiky plant with mauve flow­ers. bee­balm, dill, cone­flower, laven­der, lemon balm, chives, sage and thyme can be in­cluded.

Un­der shade trees and small groves or copses all the na­tive for­est plants, such as tril­li­ums, blood­root, Dutch­man’s breeches, Solo­man’s seal and most of the ferns, do well. If the soil is acidic you can try bunch­berry (Cor­nus canaden­sis), which has been a can­di­date for a rep­re­sen­ta­tive flower for our coun­try.

Along fences and walls one should not for­get the many vines, pos­si­ble of­ten adorned with at­trac­tive flow­ers. A climb­ing hy­drangea cov­er­ing a brick or rough stone wall is a beau­ti­ful ad­di­tion to any land­scape.

On a deck or pa­tio, in a win­dow box and on a bal­cony there is a re­ally a mul­ti­tude of plants bear­ing flow­ers and fruit avail­able. These are dif­fer­ent or spe­cial gar­dens that are within the reach of al­most any­one. Try break­ing away from the usual flower gar­den with its stan­dard bed­ding plants. Note that sev­eral of the plants listed here are na­tive which means they are bet­ter able to cope with the en­vi­ron­ment.

The City of Brant­ford makes rain bar­rels avail­able for sale at the end of May at the land­fill site. The bar­rels are an easy way of col­lect­ing rain­wa­ter from your rooftop for your gar­den­ing an ex­cel­lent method of re­duc­ing wa­ter con­sump­tion dur­ing the hot days of sum­mer. The rea­sons for rain bar­rels was in­cluded in a leaflet mailed with the util­ity bills.


If the soil is acidic, try bunch­berry (Cor­nus canaden­sis), which has been a can­di­date for a rep­re­sen­ta­tive flower for our coun­try. writes colum­nist Den­zil Sawyer.

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