7 Tips for Garden Centre Shopping

I'm completely at home wandering the aisles of a greenhouse or nursery – I grew up in my family's garden centre just north of Bradford, Ont. By age five I was helping customers select the healthiest hanging baskets (and shamelessly promoting my favourite plants) and, even now, on a busy May weekend I can be found watering everything from flats of annuals to potted perennials. But for many wannabe green thumbs, a spring visit to a large garden centre packed with plants can be plain overwhelming.

Frankie's Fab 5 Shrubs


Blooms with white blossoms in early spring, and leaves turn vibrant red and orange in fall. Full to part sun. Zone 3b.


Twirling stems feature ruby-red foliage in summer. Full sun. Zone 4b. 

Tree Planting Tips

Trees grow in some of my fondest childhood memories – the pine with my tree fort, the maple with my swing, the shady oak, the spruce with the nest I would check for baby doves. As well as memories, trees provide food and shelter for wildlife and prevent soil erosion. They green urban areas, lessen noise and cool city streets. Trees can reduce winter heating costs by up to 15 per cent and lower summer air-conditioning bills, too. Most important, trees absorb carbon dioxide.

Gardening Lingo 101

A lesson in Lingo from Frankie Flowers! Gardening can be a whole different language for those new to getting dirt under their fingernails. While a trip to the local garden centre may seem intimidating if you lack the vocabulary, a few key words will have you blooming there this summer.


Deciduous means “to fall off at maturity,” and in the plant world, this describes a tree or shrub whose leaves shed in the fall, such as an oak or maple. The opposite of a deciduous tree is an evergreen like a conifer or a pine.

How to Get the Perfect Lawn

In this Cityline segment, Frankie talks about how to get the perfect lawn in the summer.

Here is a summary of Frankie's Tips:

1. Raise your lawnmower blades so you are cutting your grass at 3-4 inches.
2. Mow in an alternative direction each time you mow
3. Measure how much water you are putting on your lawn - you need an inch a week, which includes rainfall
4. Don't overseed in the summer, wait until spring and/or fall to do this for best success.
5. Fertilize your lawn in the summer to keep it strong, unless it has gone brown/dormant

Save your Hibiscus!!

What a year for hibiscus!  I grew one of my favourites of all time (picture above) and now I want to save it for years to come!  Here are the steps: 

  • If planted in a garden, pot hibiscus in a container using container soil, insure pot has drainage.  

A holiday plant meant for a Princess! The Princettia!

For the princess in your life breeders have developed the newest variety of poinsettia named the "Princettia!"  Princettia® is an exciting new series from Suntory® Collection featuring naturally compact plants with excellent branching and more flowers. With compact to medium growth, Princettia has a fragile dainty appearance with the strength of today's common plants.  -Available in limited release for 2016.  


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