Category Archives: Garden Sources

8 reasons to say yes to houseplants

Jade succulent plant

That fresh air feeling that houseplants bring to a home is hard to beat. We’re told they clean the air, help cut odour, and do it without the use of chemicals, so that’s reason enough to invest in a couple. However, sometimes the care, maintenance and fear of killing them (and wasting our money while we’re at it) puts people off.

Here’s 8 reasons why house plants are worth the effort and some tips for planting success.

Outdoors indoors

As many of us are living in more urban environments (read increasingly cut off from nature) the desire to add some greenery to our indoor spaces is growing. Like pets and kids, plants also provide us with an opportunity to nurture something and that’s never a bad skill to improve on.

 Bunny ears cacti are a great first houseplant.

Needs first

Like any pet, or person, plants have needs, and like pets and people they thrive when their needs are met and don’t when they’re not. So the place to start when purchasing houseplants is to consider their needs, says Jehna Chrysler , florist, plant specialist and owner of Vancouver’s beloved Hilary Miles Flowers .

Most indoor plants need good drainage, filtered light, and not to be overwatered, says Chrysler. In fact they like to dry out between waterings, which means watering them once a week.

Keep it simple: Succulents

For those who feel they lack a green thumb, cactus are a good first step, says Chrysler, followed by a succulent , or Jade . If these survive, she says, you can try an “easy fern” like a button fern , and once you’ve mastered that maybe move on to a ficus or something more delicate like a maidenhair fern.

Avoid the stuff of banks and malls

The typical variety of snake plants (or sansevieria) are often seen in banks and malls, says Chrysler, because they’re incredibly tolerant (i.e. hard to kill). She suggests trying more interesting varieties of these plants, like cylindrical, boncel (also known as starfish) or masoniana (whale tale). 

 An orchid with a splash of colour is a nice break from white on white on white says florist Jehna Chrysler.

Mixing it up

Orchid plants are a great addition to any home, says Chrysler, but you don’t need to go with “white on white on white”, instead try a variety that has a splash of colour and try grouping a few mini or medium sized orchids in the same container.

“This is a great look for an apartment or quiet corner of the home,” she says.

To the pots

Don’t worry too much about getting the right or wrong pot. Choose one you like the look of and have fun with it. Plants bring personality to any space and you can express some of own personal style with the pot you choose.

 A Sansevaria cylindrica is an interesting variety of snake plant.

Go big

Large, statement houseplants are very popular at the moment, says florist Amanda Langerak, founder and owner of Vancouver’s Forage and Bloom . Trees like Ficus Lyrata , with their “violin shaped leaves”, and large tropical plants like Bird of Paradise and Elephant Eared Philodendrons all have that incredible eye-catching quality with their giant-sized leaves, she says.

Jungle fever

Hanging plants can add a dramatic element to your space, says Langerak, and suggests String of Pearls and String of Hearts as two examples. Hoyas are another great hanging plant, she says, with their exquisite pink and cream leaves and flowers that “make them look like they are made of ceramic.”

Vancouver fashion designer Yifat Jovani draws a lot of creative inspiration from nature , and her home is filled with hanging and potted plants.

“I love to be surrounded by nature, so I like the idea of bringing some nature into my home. They have a calming, relaxing effect and of course release oxygen into the air, which is so good for you. I find them beautiful to look at and they make me happy,” she says. 

Related

8 reasons to say yes to houseplants

Jade succulent plant

That fresh air feeling that houseplants bring to a home is hard to beat. We’re told they clean the air, help cut odour, and do it without the use of chemicals, so that’s reason enough to invest in a couple. However, sometimes the care, maintenance and fear of killing them (and wasting our money while we’re at it) puts people off.

Here’s 8 reasons why house plants are worth the effort and some tips for planting success.

Outdoors indoors

As many of us are living in more urban environments (read increasingly cut off from nature) the desire to add some greenery to our indoor spaces is growing. Like pets and kids, plants also provide us with an opportunity to nurture something and that’s never a bad skill to improve on.

 Bunny ears cacti are a great first houseplant.

Needs first

Like any pet, or person, plants have needs, and like pets and people they thrive when their needs are met and don’t when they’re not. So the place to start when purchasing houseplants is to consider their needs, says Jehna Chrysler , florist, plant specialist and owner of Vancouver’s beloved Hilary Miles Flowers .

Most indoor plants need good drainage, filtered light, and not to be overwatered, says Chrysler. In fact they like to dry out between waterings, which means watering them once a week.

Keep it simple: Succulents

For those who feel they lack a green thumb, cactus are a good first step, says Chrysler, followed by a succulent , or Jade . If these survive, she says, you can try an “easy fern” like a button fern , and once you’ve mastered that maybe move on to a ficus or something more delicate like a maidenhair fern.

Avoid the stuff of banks and malls

The typical variety of snake plants (or sansevieria) are often seen in banks and malls, says Chrysler, because they’re incredibly tolerant (i.e. hard to kill). She suggests trying more interesting varieties of these plants, like cylindrical, boncel (also known as starfish) or masoniana (whale tale). 

 An orchid with a splash of colour is a nice break from white on white on white says florist Jehna Chrysler.

Mixing it up

Orchid plants are a great addition to any home, says Chrysler, but you don’t need to go with “white on white on white”, instead try a variety that has a splash of colour and try grouping a few mini or medium sized orchids in the same container.

“This is a great look for an apartment or quiet corner of the home,” she says.

To the pots

Don’t worry too much about getting the right or wrong pot. Choose one you like the look of and have fun with it. Plants bring personality to any space and you can express some of own personal style with the pot you choose.

 A Sansevaria cylindrica is an interesting variety of snake plant.

Go big

Large, statement houseplants are very popular at the moment, says florist Amanda Langerak, founder and owner of Vancouver’s Forage and Bloom . Trees like Ficus Lyrata , with their “violin shaped leaves”, and large tropical plants like Bird of Paradise and Elephant Eared Philodendrons all have that incredible eye-catching quality with their giant-sized leaves, she says.

Jungle fever

Hanging plants can add a dramatic element to your space, says Langerak, and suggests String of Pearls and String of Hearts as two examples. Hoyas are another great hanging plant, she says, with their exquisite pink and cream leaves and flowers that “make them look like they are made of ceramic.”

Vancouver fashion designer Yifat Jovani draws a lot of creative inspiration from nature , and her home is filled with hanging and potted plants.

“I love to be surrounded by nature, so I like the idea of bringing some nature into my home. They have a calming, relaxing effect and of course release oxygen into the air, which is so good for you. I find them beautiful to look at and they make me happy,” she says. 

Related

The Home Front: To cover, or not to cover —the patio dilemma

Rooftop patio (50 Electronic Avenue Port Moody by Panatch Group) designed by Bob's Your Uncle (BYU) design Photo: Panatch Group for The Home Front: To cover, or not to cover... the patio dilemma by Rebecca Keillor [PNG Merlin Archive]

Sometimes in the height of summer, it’s easy to forget that fall is on the way, and winter right behind it.

At this time of year, people are outside soaking up the sun on their patios, but the question is whether to cover that patio and extend the months of the year you can use it, or opt for a more temporary option like a large umbrella.

Permanent patio coverings can sometimes result in a space that feels damp in the non-summer months, says interior designer Cheryl Broadhead of Vancouver’s Bob’s Your Uncle — or BYU — Design, noting that soffits, or overhangs, can be preferable.

“They offer some protection from the weather, and shading when the sun is high in the sky, so you’re not getting so much thermal intake,” she says.

Broadhead and design partner Nicole Duval recently considered all patio options when designing the multi-family development   50 Electronic Avenue in Port Moody for the Panatch Group. She says the patios in some of the lower units are completely covered, while others on the rooftop have overhangs.

“The size of the decks is something you don’t often get in the Lower Mainland with the price point of real estate,” says Broadhead. They were designed this way, she says, to take advantage of the views, and the project’s proximity the water and parkland.

She notes that in Greater Vancouver, people often leave their patio furniture out year round, so it’s worth investing in furniture that is designed for the outdoors: the rain and cooler temperatures.

Patio materials also need to be protected from the weather, Broadhead adds.

“We try and go with more natural finishes on wood so that they’re easier to maintain.”

Even on small decks and patios, it’s worth investing in plants, she says.

“They can also be a real buffer for the elements. They can buffer the wind, provide some natural shade and privacy between units in a multi unit building.”

There is nothing quite like sitting outside on a rainy day as long as you’re warm and dry, says John Moroz of hardscapes company Belgard. So investing in large umbrellas and pagodas is key.

These coverings will add personality to your outdoor living space, he says, and should be thought of as extensions of your home’s interior.

Patios used to be areas where people just plopped down an outdoor dining set and that was it, says Moroz, but now patio design options are extensive. Porcelain tiles, he says, have become very popular in patio design, and come in such a range of textures and colours, you can either match them to your home’s interior design or contrast them for effect.

“With your patio, you’re really creating another room,” he says.

He says Belgard recently released a line of porcelain pavers inspired by B.C.’s beauty called Galiano Slab, with colours such as Tofino grey (a blend of white cement and charcoal).

“In B.C., the primary colours you see everywhere are greys, charcoals and whites,” he says.

 Firepits and fireplaces make patios usable year round Photo: Belgard Group for The Home Front: To cover, or not to cover… the patio dilemma by Rebecca Keillor [PNG Merlin Archive] Fireplaces in patio design have also grown in popularity in the last few years, says Moroz, and they extend the months of the year you can use these spaces.

“You want to have that balance. It’s a cool evening, but you want to have a bit of warmth. Maybe you’ve taken a hike in Stanley Park and when you come back home it’s your little Zen-like space.”

Related

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Home Front: To cover, or not to cover —the patio dilemma

Rooftop patio (50 Electronic Avenue Port Moody by Panatch Group) designed by Bob's Your Uncle (BYU) design Photo: Panatch Group for The Home Front: To cover, or not to cover... the patio dilemma by Rebecca Keillor [PNG Merlin Archive]

Sometimes in the height of summer, it’s easy to forget that fall is on the way, and winter right behind it.

At this time of year, people are outside soaking up the sun on their patios, but the question is whether to cover that patio and extend the months of the year you can use it, or opt for a more temporary option like a large umbrella.

Permanent patio coverings can sometimes result in a space that feels damp in the non-summer months, says interior designer Cheryl Broadhead of Vancouver’s Bob’s Your Uncle — or BYU — Design, noting that soffits, or overhangs, can be preferable.

“They offer some protection from the weather, and shading when the sun is high in the sky, so you’re not getting so much thermal intake,” she says.

Broadhead and design partner Nicole Duval recently considered all patio options when designing the multi-family development   50 Electronic Avenue in Port Moody for the Panatch Group. She says the patios in some of the lower units are completely covered, while others on the rooftop have overhangs.

“The size of the decks is something you don’t often get in the Lower Mainland with the price point of real estate,” says Broadhead. They were designed this way, she says, to take advantage of the views, and the project’s proximity the water and parkland.

She notes that in Greater Vancouver, people often leave their patio furniture out year round, so it’s worth investing in furniture that is designed for the outdoors: the rain and cooler temperatures.

Patio materials also need to be protected from the weather, Broadhead adds.

“We try and go with more natural finishes on wood so that they’re easier to maintain.”

Even on small decks and patios, it’s worth investing in plants, she says.

“They can also be a real buffer for the elements. They can buffer the wind, provide some natural shade and privacy between units in a multi unit building.”

There is nothing quite like sitting outside on a rainy day as long as you’re warm and dry, says John Moroz of hardscapes company Belgard. So investing in large umbrellas and pagodas is key.

These coverings will add personality to your outdoor living space, he says, and should be thought of as extensions of your home’s interior.

Patios used to be areas where people just plopped down an outdoor dining set and that was it, says Moroz, but now patio design options are extensive. Porcelain tiles, he says, have become very popular in patio design, and come in such a range of textures and colours, you can either match them to your home’s interior design or contrast them for effect.

“With your patio, you’re really creating another room,” he says.

He says Belgard recently released a line of porcelain pavers inspired by B.C.’s beauty called Galiano Slab, with colours such as Tofino grey (a blend of white cement and charcoal).

“In B.C., the primary colours you see everywhere are greys, charcoals and whites,” he says.

 Firepits and fireplaces make patios usable year round Photo: Belgard Group for The Home Front: To cover, or not to cover… the patio dilemma by Rebecca Keillor [PNG Merlin Archive] Fireplaces in patio design have also grown in popularity in the last few years, says Moroz, and they extend the months of the year you can use these spaces.

“You want to have that balance. It’s a cool evening, but you want to have a bit of warmth. Maybe you’ve taken a hike in Stanley Park and when you come back home it’s your little Zen-like space.”

Related

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cluck! Taking a Look at Hens and Chicks

Cluck! Taking a Look at Hens and Chicks
Cluck! Taking a Look at Hens and Chicks

When you see the phrase “hens and chicks,” do you think of plump birds pecking around the barnyard? You might be right, but in the miniature gardening world, those words have an entirely different meaning. “Hens and chicks” is the common name for a group of succulent plants. The plants in the group have varying colours, textures, and forms, but they share two things. Almost all have a rosette shape. And hens and chicks plants also propagate regularly, producing numerous “babies” from the “mother” plant.

After a year or more, you may notice that the mother plant flowers dramatically. After flowering, the mother rosette dies, leaving room for the new chicks to spread out and produce more chicks. The mother can be gently removed to prevent overcrowding. Flowering can sometimes be a sign of poor conditions. Drainage and light should both be checked after a plant flowers.

Read more… →

Brian Minter: Tips to get going on growing your own food

Vegetables and herbs can be grown in containers.

With all the uncertainty these days around almost everything we do, many more folks are planning to grow their own food this year, especially vegetables.

The good news is that growing veggies can be done not only in traditional gardens but also very successfully in containers and raised beds as long as you have a space that gets full or partial sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you don’t get a lot of sun, you can still grow crops, but leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard will fare better.

Along with many products today, there’s been a bit of panic buying on seeds. In speaking with some of the major seed companies, I have been told there is no shortage of seeds, but there may be a delay in shipping. The usual popularity of some varieties may require restocking or substitutions could be made.

In addition, many local growers are shifting from ornamental production to more food items. Because of this, there will be a good supply of transplant seedlings of peas, beans, all brassicas and lettuce, as well as root crops, like beets, onions and carrots, throughout the growing season. The same goes for later seedlings of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.

Perhaps one of the greatest concerns is when to start our vegetable gardens. Planting too early can be a problem, especially for heat-loving vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers. Early in the season it’s colder, wetter and there is always the chance of a night frost. As well, it’s a time when insects, slugs and birds are also looking for early food.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that it’s better to err on the side of being a little late rather than too early. Remember, right now we get a minute and a half more light each day, and the sun is warmer as its rays edge northward in our planet’s seasonal cycle.

For cool-loving crops I wait until we get a consistent daytime temperature of 10 C, even though it can still get closer to freezing at night. Crops, like onions, brassicas (such as kale, cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli), beets, early potatoes, peas, broad beans, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard and perennial herbs can tolerate the cool weather.

Using a row cover like Reemay cloth, at night when it’s clear and cold will keep the young sprouts somewhat protected from frost.  If a heavy frost is forecast, use N-Sulate, a 10 C-rated frost protection blanket. Garden beds that are raised eight to 10 inches will keep soil temperatures five to six degrees warmer.

Open, porous, well-draining soils are far better for an early start. Mixing in as much organic matter as possible will make a big difference, especially once the weather warms up.  Composted manures and Sea Soil are great, and provide much needed nutrients to get early veggies off to a good start.

Container food gardening is growing rapidly and, done well, it can be just as productive as ground planting.  A few tips, however, can make a big difference.

Large rectangular containers (3 to 4 ft long, 18 inches deep and wide), are best. You can purchase them or make your own wooden ones. I also like to secure a 6 to 8-ft trellis to the back of the container so vines like peas, beans, cucumbers and even tomatoes, can be trained up for better light and air circulation.

The best soils are lightweight mixes, especially on balconies where weight can be an issue.  Sunshine, Sungrow and ProMix bales are the most effective as complete soil mixes. There are many other products, but make sure you get a container mix and not a cheaper topsoil. I always like to work in a little composted organic matter, like Sea Soil.

Today, many vegetable varieties are bred specifically for container growing, but some of our traditional compact veggies are also ideal. Seeds can also be started in containers, but transplants will save you four to six weeks in production time.

There is still lots of time for direct seeding of cold crops.

Longer, heat-loving crops like tomatoes and peppers should be started soon in your home or in a small greenhouse.  Remember, if you start your seeds indoors, there must be a continuous process of moving steadily though the stages of germination, transplanting, acclimatization to the outdoors and finally planting.

No heat-loving vegetables, like peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, melons and eggplants should go outside until we get consistent night temperatures of 10 C, which usually happens towards the end of May. Don’t start heat-lovers too early or you’ll have long, legging plants that may not do well.

Fortunately, many of our B.C. and Canadian seed catalogues give approximate times for seeding indoors. They also give the best times to direct seed vegetables outside.

When we get a few nice days in late March and early April, many of us are anxious to get growing, but if you wait until late April or May, both for seeding and transplanting, I guarantee you will have far better success.

The goal is to have a very productive and successful garden — therefore garden wisdom is paramount.

There is lots of time, lots of seeds and lots of transplants available. I rarely have time to plant my own veggie garden until the end of June, and I always have good success. So don’t panic.

Even though these are stressful days, you should still be able to enjoy a summer full of produce from your own garden or patio.

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