Category Archives: Brian Minter

Brian Minter: Plant small berries for a tasty treat

Strawberries in the process of ripening. COVID-19 has created a shift in our thinking and priorities, and more people have become focused on planting their own gardens this spring. In terms of food security, what can we plant in our gardens now, apart from traditional vegetables, and expect a crop this year? Not a two-year-old fruit tree — it would still need a couple more years before it could provide a crop. However, many small fruits, especially larger-sized plants, can give you something tasty to enjoy this season.
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Brian Minter: How to bring ‘True Blue’ into our gardens

Veronica Moody Blues Dark Blue.

Classic Blue is Pantone’s

Colour of the Year

for 2020, and indigo is one of this season’s most winning shades. Although blue is one of the most sought-after colours for gardens, surprisingly, it can be one of the more difficult colours to find.

Indigo, always recognized as one of the seven colours of the spectrum, is borderline between blue and violet. A richly saturated colour, indigo has a long history of being indicative of wealth and prestige. From early Mesopotamian and Roman times to Indian and West African cultures, cloth and clothes dyed with indigo were highly prized.

 Black and Bloom Salvia

The indigo plant was a source of early dyes, and with today’s renewed interest in organic dyes, indigo is making a comeback, both in interior design and fashion. It’s a colour that can be stimulating as well as calming, depending on how it is used.

In the garden world, not many annuals have a rich blue colour. Dark blue salvias, such as Salvia farinacea ‘Evolution Violet,’ could be the closest you will find. ‘Evolution Violet’ is very heat and drought tolerant and is an All-American Selections and Fleuroselect award winner. Another new, much larger salvia is an interspecific annual named S. ‘Big Blue.’ It grows 61 to 91 centimetres, is very weather tolerant, has a long bloom period and attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators.

 Blue Marvel Salvia

Vibrant purple-blue violas and pansies are the earliest and latest to flower. Matrix ‘Deep Blue Blotch’ and ‘Denim’ pansies are stunning, especially when contrasted with whites, soft primroses or pinks.

For blue flowers that are fragrant, it’s hard to beat


. The sweetly perfumed H. ‘Sachet’ has the most intense blue blooms.

Early in the season, before the summer heat sets in, deep blue lobelias, like ‘Regatta Marine Blue,’ Regatta Midnight Blue’ and ‘Regatta Sapphire,’ provide stunning hues that look great in both containers and hanging baskets.

Whether planted in the ground or in containers and baskets, all varieties and sizes of petunias are some of the longest-flowering summer annuals that can carry a rich indigo colour during the intensity of hot summer days. Blue petunias also have a soft perfume that often attracts pollinators.

 Magadi Blue + Eye Lobelia

In the perennial world, many varieties of lavender, like ‘Ellagance Purple,’ ‘Lavance Deep Purple’ and the new ‘Blue Spear,’ provide vivid blues.

For longer colour in the summertime, perennial salvias are certainly coming into their own, especially with the new, longer-blooming and repeat-blooming


. Many series are now more compact as well. The ‘Fashionista,’ ‘Bumble,’ ‘Color Spires’ and ‘Profusion’ series all contain varieties that provide strong indigo colours. Like lavender, they are all pollinator magnets.

Nepeta, too, is growing in popularity because of its new, improved longer-blooming habit. Proven Winners’ ‘Cat’s Meow’ and ‘Cat’s Pajamas’ are just two of these exciting must-have varieties.

From deep blue geraniums, Siberian iris and late-blooming asters to rich lupins and lovely delphiniums, they all add a seasonal punch of indigo in our gardens.

Whether it’s the colour of the year or not, indigo is always an inspired choice to add interest to our gardens.


Brian Minter: B.C. Home and Garden Show a great source of ideas

The B.C. Home and Garden Show takes place from Feb. 19 to 23 at B.C. Place in Vancouver.

With the less-than-pleasant winter weather we’ve been experiencing, any thoughts of outdoor living would be a welcome escape. Well, the B.C. Home and Garden Show at B.C. Place is coming up February 19 to 23, and it might just do the trick to lift those winter doldrums.

I always look forward to speaking at the show, but it also gives me a chance to check out some of the professionally designed landscapes, horticultural booths, new styles of greenhouses, innovative growing ideas, unique outdoor patio displays and all the novel garden accessories.

It truly is a show about both indoor and outdoor living. There’s always an eclectic collection of interesting products and the latest trends, from art and new kitchen styles to the latest sleeping comforts and what’s new in food preparation. You’ll also find more environmentally friendly heating and cooling units and improved fixtures that offer greater efficiency of home water usage.

Experts, who are knowledgeable about virtually everything we use and do in and around our homes, will be presenting very timely and informative seminars.  For example, on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. at the Main Stage, the Homebuilders’ Association of Vancouver is sponsoring a panel discussion by construction and renovation pros on the topic of indoor/outdoor living, with the main focus on the outdoor living aspect.

My passion for plants is, of course, connected to outdoor living and so, I’m most interested in what’s happening in the gardening world.

The seminars being given at The Vancouver Sun Gardeners Stage will tackle some of today’s most important gardening issues. Most of us are interested in being more environmentally sensitive in our gardening practices. Lisa Giroday from Victory Gardens will be presenting on ecolandscaping. Her focus will be on making the most of your usable land — a subject from which we can all benefit.

Janis Matson of Shoreline Landscape Design will be speaking on drought tolerant gardening. It may not seem relevant now, given our excessive rainfall, but when we get into the hot summer months and water restrictions, this concern becomes very important.

West Coast Seeds is really expanding their presence in Canada, and they are helping many folks learn more about having success with seeds. Alex Augustyniak will be discussing growing food twelve months of the year in a Canadian climate for the 100-Foot Diet.  ’m sure folks on the Prairies might chuckle at that. However, here on the West Coast, it’s surprising how successful a winter garden can be, and it is a concept that is garnering a lot of interest.

Carissa Kasper from Seed & Nourish will be giving a seminar titled Seasons of Growth: The Future Garden. As our climate changes, so will our gardening practices, and the gardens of the future may look quite different than today’s gardens. Carissa will tell us what to expect in the years ahead.

 The B.C. Home and Garden Show takes place from Feb. 19 to 23 at B.C. Place in Vancouver.

As we become more creative by using our outdoor patios as gardening spaces, you might want to take in Earth, Wind and Fire: Creating a Natural Patio Setting being presented by Reinier Van de Poll of Van de Poll Garden Design.

During her presentation of Countertop Gardens, Shelley Levis of Sow and Dipity will enlighten us on the new trends in countertop growing.

I truly love the changes I’m seeing in indoor gardening. It’s a trend being driven by the Millennial generation. Leanne Johnson from GardenWorks will explain in her presentation Plant Parenting how tending to plants and including them in our homes make us happier and healthier.

Early last year, I spent an interesting week in Holland and Germany on a horticultural tour which ended in Essen, Germany at IPM, the world’s largest horticultural show. I learned a great deal about how Europeans are changing the nature of gardening. For my seminars at the show, I’m excited to share the hot new trends I saw during my tour.

This year there is also a new garden feature called GROW! Experts from West Coast Seeds, Master Gardeners of Vancouver and Victory Gardens will help educate show goers, through the means of this interactive, informative and experiential feature, on what, when, where and how to plant.

And don’t go home empty-handed! Art’s Nursery in Langley will feature Art’s Garden Market where you can shop and purchase some funky plants.

Although gardening is not the major part of the Home Show, it has a significant presence. As always, the B.C. Nursery and Landscape Association will have a booth manned by industry folks who will answer your questions and provide great advice.

Perhaps the weather, being what it is, will give you a little more incentive to explore this year’s B.C. Home and Garden Show where I know you will discover some terrific new outdoor living ideas to be enjoyed this coming spring, summer and fall.

Brian Minter: Horticultural Short Course enjoys a long, important run

The trade show floor at the Pacific Agriculture Show, running Jan. 30 to Feb. 1 at Tradex Exhibition Centre in Abbotsford. Locally grown food is becoming more and more important to both our B.C. economy and our environment. So it’s great to see the co-operation between the agricultural and the horticultural industries at the Horticultural Growers’ Short Course taking place Jan. 30 through Feb. 1 at Tradex in Abbotsford. This has become one of the major events for both industries.
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Brian Minter: Climate action starts with you, in your own personal environment

Amphibians, like frogs and toads, are important to our whole ecosystem.

As we embrace a new year, we’re reminded again of the climatic challenges we face today. Unfortunately, many of us think it’s some other entity’s responsibility to deal with it. In reality, a change in attitude and a commitment to action begins with each of us.

To make a difference on an individual level, everything we do — how we live and travel, where we purchase products, how we consume energy and water and how we dispose of waste — requires a more thoughtful approach. And we can start today. Don’t wait for a leader, become one!