Wednesday August 27, 2014

Spring has arrived


Years ago, there used to be an excellent gardening show called “Canadian Gardener” on CBC. The show ran for twelve years, and every episode was a gem. From the first notes of the theme music, my sweet Mom would be smiling as we watched host David Tarrant take the viewer on a gardening tour across Canada. There were many excellent guests on the show, and regular contributors who spoke about a myriad of gardening topics.

One of David’s most popular guests was the late, great gardening guru, Lois Hole. Lois was a Saskatchewan girl from Buchanan who later moved to Edmonton, and she and her husband began selling vegetables from their farm; eventually that project evolved into the famous Hole’s Greenhouses and Gardens. Lois was the 15th Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, but among gardeners she was more famous as the queen of prairie gardening! She had a very kind and friendly way about her, very down to earth; and if there would have been a chance, I think she would have loved to see our gardens then sit and have tea with us!

She wrote several books about gardening, and as I chat with you now I am looking at one called “Lois Hole’s Bedding Plant Favorites”. This is a great book to have in your collection, because it offers so much practical advice on bedding plants, as well as listing dozens of bedding plant favorites. So skimming down the list, I am looking at “snapdragons”.  Lois has the comment that she remembers snapdragons growing in her mother’s garden, and I’m sure many of us have that same memory.  I can still see the spot where Mom always used to plant snapdragons, a deep red, velvety variety that seemed to bloom and bloom.

Snapdragons are one of those garden standards that might sometimes get overlooked, but they are wonderful in the annual border because of their height, texture, and delicious colors.  Lois says that we can start them in the house, ten to twelve weeks before transplanting. Or, if we are buying our plants, we should look for plants that have been hardened off (she says we should check for this by running our hand across the tops of the plants. If they feel soft and floppy, they likely haven’t been hardened off; if they feel sturdy and strong, then they have).  Once we have planted our snapdragons out, we should pinch the centre flower stalk, because this will encourage our plant to branch out and have more than one flower spike. It’s not easy to cut that stem, because if it is blooming and looks so pretty, it seems a shame to snip it off. But we have to keep reminding ourselves that we’ll end up with more flowers, so it is worth the cut!

Snapdragons like a sunny location with well-drained soil. They are suitable for flowerbeds, great as edging plants, but they are also wonderful in flowerpots. We must be sure to deadhead our snapdragons; or better yet, let’s pick bouquets as often as we can, and that will encourage more blooms.

Spring is now officially here, and isn’t it exciting to think in just a few short weeks, we might be able to go looking at bedding plants? Well, okay, I know it’s not that close, but we can dream, can’t we? Let’s include some snapdragons in our plantings this year!

The next meeting of the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society will be on April 17. Our special guest will be Karen Leis from Runnymede speaking about vermiculture and composting with worms.  

Till next time, have a great week, and enjoy the longer days!



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