Garden in my opinion is art, your property the pallet and your home the frame of your picture. While artist look for ideas and inspiration to paint the perfect picture the same can be said with a gardener in their quest to create a wonderful garden.
Ideas and inspiration can be found almost everywhere from books to magazines to websites but my favourite way to be inspired is to visit gardens first hand.
Take for example Canada Blooms (www.canadablooms.com) : Almost 6 acres of freshly built and fully forced professional landscaped gardens built indoors for your viewing pleasure in early March. That’s the inspiration then there are the ideas that can be found through attend one of the hundreds of educational seminars during the show (March 12-16, 2008 MTCC Toronto).
No matter what the season Canada’s depth of Botanical Gardens have the roots to be inspired.
Montreal’s Botanical (www2.ville.montreal.qc.ca/jardin) has a collection of 22,000 plant species and cultivars, 10 exhibition greenhouses, some thirty thematic gardens.
Then there is Burlington’s Royal Botanical Garden (www.rbg.ca) claiming to be Canada’s largest Botanical Garden offers year round tours, educational programs and events.
Vancouver’s VanDusen Botantical Garden is currently going under a $20millon rejuvenation project with a goal of environmentally responsible design, a goal a think all gardeners should strive for. For a full listing of Botanical Gardens go to Canadian Botanical Conservation Network at www.rbg.ca/cbcn/en/information/l_gardens.
When you think of it really you don’t have to look far to find inspiration. Almost every city town and municipality has an arboretum, community garden, etc…but my absolute favourite way to be inspired is to visit home gardens. One of the easiest ways to do this is to participate in your local horticultural societies or garden clubs annual garden tour. As a general rule of thumb these happen around July when gardens are in full bloom but depending on the community Spring, Summer and Fall Garden tours all exist. It’s at these local garden tours that you can ask the questions that directly apply to your own backyard and get the information and ideas from those who garden and backyards just like yours my other recommendation is if tea is offered go!!!! You can’t beat the bake goods at these places.
Other Gardens of note: Toronto’s Music Garden, Lethbridge’s Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden, Winnipeg’s Living Prairie Garden, New Brunswick’s Kingsbrae Garden, Montreal’s Jardins des Floralies, British Columbia’s Butchart Garden.
Seed Starting Tips:
Don’t start them too early: The number one reason why people fail at seed starting is they start them too early. Refer to the back of the seed pack and count back from your typical last frost date in your area. For example start 4 to 6 weeks before last frost date. In my area I use May 15, count back 4 to 6 weeks, my sow date is the week of March 31.
Soak them: Soaking seeds for a period of 12 hours before sowing will increase germination by softening the outer shell. This works best with most large seed such as beans and peas and some may need even some extra help by scarifying the seed which simply means scarping the outer shell of the seed with a nail file or sandpaper to help crack it open.
Be sterile: If you plan on using old seed trays and pots its very important to sterilize them before hand thus reducing the chance of disease. Also use a sterilized seed starting soil. Most store bought soils are already sterilized but if you plan on making your own an easy way to sterilize is to stick the soil in your oven for 30minutes at 180c.
Use your fridge: One of the best places to help a seed germinate is on top of your fridge…why. The heat generated by trying to keep your fridge cool is a great way to increase the soil temperature of the seed try thus speeding up the process of germination.
Don’t start too many seeds: Seed starting is a cost effective way of creating new plants only if you need those plants. Remember seed trays take up space and need light. So if you only need 2 tomato plants don’t start an entire pack.