Anyone who knows me will agree that I love gardening. Now that I have the time, I especially like to spend my summer days outdoors. I have to admit, though, that I have created a very high maintenance garden and this spring has brought some challenging days in the garden.
Part of the problem was the early snowfall last fall leaving me unprepared for the winter preparation. Usually, I have all my pruning done before the snow flies. Being away until the first week in May also put me behind for spring cleanup. It seemed these last two months I’ve just been trying to stay on top of the daily disasters!!!
One of my favourite things ever is the giant elm tree in my garden. It’s old and huge, providing a beautiful canopy over the patio and much-needed shade in my south facing backyard. Due to a long, cold winter and the unseasonably hot temperatures at the end of April and the first part of May, the city’s elm trees have gone into distress producing an abundance of seeds that have dropped everywhere…and blown everywhere due to the winds that seem to whip up every day. It’s been impossible to keep the walkways and patios swept!!!.
*We are so fortunate to have boulevards of elms throughout the city. Edmonton has approximately 70,000 of these magnificent giants on the public property providing beauty for every season. It’s scary driving around and noticing how unhealthy the elms are looking…many with barely any leaves. The stressed trees produce an excess of seeds to ensure the future survival of their species. Thankfully it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are dying. Elms are very hardy but are going to require some help with extra moisture. I’m hoping residents will “adopt” the trees on the boulevards in front of their homes giving them ample water over the coming months.
I’m sure you have witnessed how changes in the climate have affected your own garden. It seems like the snow just melts and then overnight its summer. Where did spring go? Summers are hotter and drier. Then one day the leaves start to fall and like the snap of your fingers its winter.
Once zone 3, Edmonton is now considered zone 4a. The only advantage of climate change (if that’s even possible!) in our region is that we can successfully grow a wider variety of trees, plants and perennials. I live in an old neighbourhood with many mature trees. My garden is also protected with a brick wall on one side and high solid fencing on the another. This has created a mini microclimate giving me the opportunity to push the zone even higher. Some of the shrubs and roses I’ve planted and that have made it through the winter are hardy to zone 5.
I’ve grown hybrid tea roses quite successfully in the past. This winter, however, I lost many of them and have had to scramble to replace them. It’s heartbreaking to lose some of my favourites and because I’m not the only one to lose roses this year the greenhouses have been in short supply.
Growing roses requires proper preparation. They like well-drained soil ensuring that the roots are not sitting in water. When planting it’s important to make sure that the graft is at least 4-6 inches below the soil line…which means that sometimes you are digging a really deep hole.
Deadheading (cutting off the spent flowers) is necessary for the plant to produce new flowers. Cut the old blooms down the stem to above the first set of 5 leaves.
The shoots that grow out below the graft should be removed. These are canes that grow from the hardier rose (below the graft). If these canes are not cut the rootstock rose may take over and prevent the tender rose (above the graft) from thriving. These shoots grow very quickly and are easily identified as they have 7 leaves instead of 5 and have thorny red canes.
Before the ground freezes in the fall, water well. Mound with mulch or fallen leaves. For extra protection cover with a cardboard box or styrofoam rose cover.
These photographs were taken this week in my garden.
The Rose Garden
The Back Garden
Now that most of the spring cleanup is done and the “no-see-um” little bugs are no longer snacking on my neck and shoulders, the next couple of months in the garden should provide more hours of enjoyment than frustration.
Cheers to all the (hard working) gardeners out there!