Make a cup of tea and sit down with me for a few minutes, gardeners, and I’ll tell you about the great day the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society had when we went to Gardenscape on March 31.
Thank you, Liz, for organizing this road trip for us, it was great!
The first speaker was Sara Williams: you’ve heard me mention Sara before. She is one of the foremost horticultural specialists for gardening on the prairies, and has written several gardening books that focus on prairie gardening. Sara was speaking about the spring garden, with a good selection of xeriscape plants thrown into the mix. Sara had a list of dozens of plants that are workable for our prairie gardens, including perennial alyssum, bergenia, bleeding heart, coral bells, bearded iris ( new to me was a dwarf variety called “Mrs. Andrist”, and a spuria iris called “Dutch Defiance”). Other things that sounded interesting were Blue Lyme grass, which is very lovely but very invasive. A variety called “Blue Danube” can be grown in a container for those who like the look of the grass, but don’t want to start an ongoing battle with the grass in their gardens.
A good hardy plant with lovely purple flowers is catmint, “Dropmore” or “Walkers Low”. Contrary to what I thought, Sara said that not all cats are drawn to catmint! Another plant that I’d love to try is the fleece flower: the foliage makes a great mat that resists weeds; it is very drought tolerant and hardy.
Sara suggested planting plants in “diagonal drifts”, which means to plant things in a row behind other plants, so that when the first plants die back (for example, tulips or daffodils) the dead foliage and empty space will not be so obvious.
We also heard another speaker, Jill vanDuyvendyk talking about container gardening. She promoted container gardening as working for so many of us who are short of time and space. By gardening in a container, we can pick the plants that are suited for our locations, whether sunny or shady. Some tips she mentioned: make sure to position your planters so that they can be watered conveniently (so obvious when you hear it mentioned, but yet how often do we put our planters in a spot more for looks than convenience?); don’t water plants at night, because the moisture does not evaporate the same way and can cause problems; and don’t use a water gel soil additive in a planter that is in a shady spot, because it will never dry out and that can definitely cause problems for your plants.
Other ideas? Be bold with colors: don’t think that only certain colors “go” together. Don’t be afraid to mix tropicals, houseplants, or succulents into your planters (I knew this tip already, thanks to great advice we got from Frank Woloschuk during a talk he gave us on container gardening a while back!); and use perennials or shrubs as “impact” plants in your planters.
I could go on, but I want to remind you about the Horticultural Society’s regular meeting on Wednesday, April 18 at 7 p.m. in the Sunshine Room, SIGN on North Street. Our guest will be Marie Saretsky speaking to us about “Planting, Gardening, Fertilizing, and Pruning according to Moon Phases”. Everyone is welcome, you don’t have to be a member to attend. Hope you can join us!