MUCH TO ANTICIPATE IN THE GARDEN

It’s a sure sign that spring is imminent, ‘Turf’s Up’ is back on the pages of your local daily newspaper. Are you as tired of winter as I am? At what point in the last two months did you say “OK, that’s enough of this season!” The vernal equinox, that red letter day on the calendar for all of us who love to be outside in our garden or wherever, is a shade over two weeks away. Hold fast, we’ll make it!
I’ve spent the past two months looking at magazines and websites, reading blogs and articles about trends for the upcoming year and formulating plans for both the garden centre and my own garden. There is much to be excited about in 2011.
Having spent considerable time in vegetable gardens growing up it’s very exciting to see a new generation getting so enthused about growing their own fruits and vegetables. My parents’ generation had different motives than today’s backyard farmers but regardless of the motivation people enthusiastically want to enjoy the physical, financial and emotional benefits of growing their own food.
The resources for growing your own have never been more available, from online information to seeds to plants and all of the tools and hardware. In our garden centre we’re excited about planting some raised beds within our vegetable department to show our customers just what can be done. Our goal is to be harvesting fresh greens in December while we’re helping customers choose their Christmas trees!
So many times this winter I’ve looked out onto our deck and conjured images of good times spent out there-drinking our morning coffee together, eating dinner outside nearly every summer evening, parties with friends. With the deck furniture and all of the containers stored against the back wall and covered with a lumber tarp, the present scene isn’t quite as idyllic as that in my mind.
The Okanagan Valley is the perfect location for spending maximum time outside and I’m excited about the possibilities for enjoying our decks, patios and gardens even more. Extending your living space out the door and beyond will be the most rewarding “garden” project you’ve ever taken on, trust me.
I have been impressed by shoppers who come into our garden centre looking not just for colour and beauty in their landscapes, but the right kind of plants for the location. There is much more awareness of sustainability, of using less water and less pesticides in the garden. If you use the right plants you can have a fabulous landscape that doesn’t take a lot of your time and is ecologically-friendly. The possibilities are endless.
For me, it always comes back to plants. Last year I was astounded at the performance of Lobularia “Snow Princess,” a new type of annual alyssum grown not from seed but from cuttings. Vigorous growth, that lovely sweet fragrance and carpets of tiny white blooms right until hard frost, this plant is a winner. A new variation on the always-popular Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’) called “Fireworks” was a star on my deck, with its green, white, pink and red foliage topped by the soft purple bottlebrush flowers. These will be garden staples for years to come. Who knows what the star plants will be this growing season?

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