Upcoming gardening tour

If you are interested in a mini-gardening-vacation, you might want to be part of the Saskatchewan Horticultural Association (SHA) gardening tour, July 14 – 16. Just sit back and relax on the bus, then see wonderful things as you tour the site of the North West Rebellion, visit the farm of the “Wheat King of the Prairies”, and learn about Saskatchewan basin lakes.

Meet gardeners, artists, seed growers, plant breeders, and wildlife biologists. Highlights are Batoche National Historic Site, Elfros Icelandic Pioneer Memorial, Seager Wheeler Maple Grove Farm, Kuroki Japanese Garden, Spirit of Manitou Studio Tour, St. Peter’s Cathedral and Abbey, Little Manitou, Quill Lakes, Prairie Garden Seed Farm, Fishing Lake and more! Contact Sheila Glennie: sheglennie@gmail.com or (306) 338-7304 or visit www.icangarden.com for more information!

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Weren’t the recent rains a wonderful blessing? The plants were smiling after those gentle rains came tumbling down.  

When we remind ourselves how precious the rain is, and how our plants struggle without it, we might want to chat about xeriscaping. What is xeriscaping? It is the practise of gardening in a way using plants that require a minimum of water, or will use it in a more efficient way. In other words, we would look for drought tolerant plants. It does not mean that we never have to water, but we will do minimum watering and more effective watering.

If we’re thinking that “drought tolerant plants” mean cactus, think again!  When I started checking some of our gardening books, drought tolerant plants include many beautiful annuals that we’d enjoy growing anyway!

Here are some of the brightest and most tolerant of the sun and dry conditions: dusty miller, geranium, petunias, cosmos, sunflowers, nasturtiums, zinnia, portulaca, and gazania. Not only are they tolerant of dry soil, but they are bright and beautiful and great for the bees.

We can plant them more efficiently by planting them in blocks or groups, so that when we do water them, the water will not be soaking into empty soil, but will have multiple plants within reach. I read that planting them close together will help shade the soil and help it retain moisture, and we can also use mulch to hold in moisture and keep the roots of the plants moist.

Some of the flowers listed will do well in containers, making them very easy to water and if we use drip trays, the water is used effectively.

If you’re wondering about one of the most efficient plants in times of drought, that would be your lawn! When the lawn turns brown, it is not dying; it is going into a dormant state so that it uses less water. This is not the time to give it a short haircut! Let the grass be a little longer, as the longer blades of grass will help shade the roots and conserve whatever little moisture there is. And here’s an interesting factoid: when our lawns are stressed, they go into survival-mode. Their roots are vital to their life, and that is where the plants’ energy goes, not into making lush leaves.  So our lawns turn brown.  When the time of stress ends, then the leaves begin to green up again.  Very efficient!  And guess what else: I read that if we start applying fertilizer to stop the grass from going dormant, it will weaken the plants.  Our best plan of action is to be patient and let the grass do its thing in its own time.

So even though we have been lucky with rain so far, it never hurts to think about ways to use that moisture more effectively.

Visit us at www.yorktonhort.ca, and have a great week! Be sure to wear a hat!

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