carlyn yandle/for metro vancouver
This time of year, every urban green space in this town is bursting with blooms and greenery — unless you’re a delinquent balcony gardener. In that case, you probably look onto a clutter of pots with leggy, infested plantings tortured by your general neglect.
I quite understand how those springtime plans for a lush garden retreat dry up by July. The big outdoors is very distracting; There are weekend getaways that take you away from the watering routine so essential during our short but serious summer drought.
When we surrender to the aphids and blackspot, those garden terrorists have won. If this sounds like you, it’s time to ask yourself: are your more about outdoor décor or do you really want to learn to grow? I have to admit I lean toward the former. I focus more on the style of pots than what’s in them, so I pick plants that can withstand serious neglect in the watering and grooming departments, like sedums and evergreen shrubs.
Pros like my colleague, gardening coach Therese D’Monte, would find my repetitive planters of unchanging boxwood, hens and chicks, and cedar hedging tedious.
That’s why I call on her when clients would like to get beyond their odd, straggly hanging baskets and pots of exhausted, under-nourished annuals that haunt their small space in the big city.
D’Monte, a garden-magazine writer and photographer, has created her own breathtaking English country garden in the city, but she keeps the advice for her clients simple: restore, replace and resolve.
“Restore with tender loving care: Finger-check to see if the water is too dry or too wet, remove unwanted predators, cut back tired foliage and deadhead flowers, move containers to achieve a different look, and tuck in new plants of a different colour.”
“Resolve to be clever next year: Pot up your containers with perennials and buy long-lasting annuals that will endure until the first frosts.”
“Replace and be generous: Empty pots and donate the contents to a friend with a garden; purchase a fresh supply, choosing plants for fall with a supply of bulbs for spring.”
Bulbs are now available at better nurseries. In the downtown peninsula, check out Art Knapp Urban Garden at Hornby and Pacific, or Costco, which perennially (ha ha) sells bulbs in bulk bags.
For more inspiration, check out the fruits of D’Monte’s labour of love at www.theresedmonte.com.