Above, left, is where the back garden/yard is as of today (photos taken in 2017). Above is the transition of the east side of our house. A pruned-into-tree (bonsai, giant sized) Dwarf Arctic Willow, and a Golden Sutherland Elder became so large, I was astonished. There was also a 25+ year old Crab Apple Tree in the front yard.  One spring, the crab appeared dead, but just one side, so I called an arborist to come prune. A few weeks later, I called again, asking him to cut it down, as the other half appeared dead, and by the time he was able to put us on a list of a particular day, he also cut down the willow, the elder, and a Pagoda Dogwood growing on the far side of the yard. All of the trees (large shrubs) had been infected with Fire Blight (which, up till then, only affected Crab trees), and that was that.  
Over a period of time, I experiemented with this non-garden side of the yard, but to be ready for Nature Manitoba 2017 yard tour, I decided, for good flow, I'd simply pave that area, and gate it off. This meant the yard could be circumnavigated, and if I was in front, the dogs were with me there, and likewise, when in back.
It was amazing how well this turned out, albeit a huge amount of work, in a very short period of time, and the now quite large Pagoda, a 'Grace' Smokebush, and a soon to be gone, sad Amur Maple Shrub, flank the fence, where I am teaching them that they can only be where there is room, and myself, the art of  Espalier.


What can we do to garden, successfully, in the new, crazy weather?
The weather has been changing, noticeably in our gardens, for the past 10 years, and each year, the changes are more significant. So, to begin, I suggest, eagerly, what you need to do first is to let go of a lot of ‘past practices’, re-think them according to current, ambiguities, and accept that NATURE WINS.  The more we fight the conditions in our yards, the more plants we lose, the more problems develop, and in the end, we lose our JOY!  If that isn’t what gardening is about, we’re not talking about the same thing.
The Humidex, around since 1965, has only come to part of our daily weather forecast in the past 10-15 years, and the “it feels” like part of it, in the past five+ years. So, if it feels like +42oC in the sun, it also feels like +42oC in the shade. In early spring, before the foliage on larger trees can protect my shaded, typically cool NE garden, I have watched a plant simply FRY, burned to nothing, in early April. THAT is not typical, although it’s becoming more common. Likewise, I used to make much ado about micro-climates, and knowing the ‘personality’ of your garden’s micro-spaces. However, when half a large perennial, burns, down to ground level, while the OTHER HALF thrives, flowers in fall, and comes back the following year, as if nothing happened, it means these nano-climates are so infinitesimally small , they can no longer be defined, as we once thought. So, what do we do? One year, it rains, the next, it doesn’t (2017), and the humidex, along with our new friend, THE WIND, is ever present.
You need to know, from early spring, where your shade comes from (sun mapping), so you know if it at all sensible to chance planting something "iffy", making them more vulnerable by exposing them to the much hotter, lower rays of the sun, as are felt in the early months of spring.

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                    Charlotte's Place
Landscape & Interior Decor Consultant
"a work in progress" 
making home your favorite place to be. 
Think about what you need to change, 
the new weather is forcing our hand. 
Phone: 204-227-4324t


Invite birds and beneficial insects into your garden; they will help keep the natural balance, making less work for you. And if  you have dog(s), make room for them too. Gardens can, and should be animal friendly: I cringe less often each year.

The clematis, shown above, along with a good half dozen others, do wonderfully in full sun, even in the early parts of spring.  However, without the gigantic Siberian Elm partially shading them throughout the silly HOT summer sun, maybe that would not be the case. what I have learned about this easily grown plant is that, as long as you feed it frequently, don't let the root ball dry out​, AND protect that root ball from the sun's heat, they are hard to kill. Native Ginger (R) is not a 'shade' plant; it's tolerant of shade and though it make LIKE shade better, it gets plenty of sun throughout my garden, and has spread to all 4 corners.  Astilbe, another 'shade' plant, is not tolerant of DRY shade, so all my 'under the trees' efforts, have failed, but in an open, partly hot-sun area, they are wonderful, again, as long as the roots are not aloud to dry out. In 2017, they were far less spectacular than in previous years, but most plants were. That was a lot of summer with very little water.

Soil, with manure, or nothing but straight compost, is the optimum soil for our gumbo. When I first started gardening, without, literally, a clue, I threw course sand and pea gravel onto the soil, letting it percolate down in order to break up the hard-as-rock stuff I couldn't get a spade into.  If I was gardening elsewhere, I'd still do that. Here, my soil is wonderful, albeit I amend every other year, regardless. Hopefully Samborski Garden Center will find a way to reopen and we will still be able to purchase their fabulous, by the bag, or yard, compost; it's miracle stuff.
New housing developments have had all the good stuff taken away (the gumbo IS the good stuff), and barely able to be called top dressing has been applied. You will note that anyone in a newer area, who isn't willing to water their lawns all the time, have terrible grass, and even with watering in 2017, a lot of lawns failed to be pretty. I don't have any lawn - that suits me just fine, and the water bills reflect that.
Rather than throw your leaves away in the fall, mow them into bits, and put into a simple compost bin, to be used in following years - it's Nature's compost, and I'd say she's doing a bang up job with it. No waste. And goodness knows how long it will take for our tardy city to get with it, and sell compost, as do most major cities in Canada, for quite a few years already.  We are still holding meetings about it....?

Mulch in the garden. If you are a vegetable gardener, mulch can be invaluable. It holds the moisture in, keeps the weeds down, and gives you something to walk on inspect, and harvest, your home-grown food. When I first began digging up lawn, later planting over top of the lawn, and covering it in newspaper (recycled paper = eventually composted landscape cloth), I bought natural chipped, tree mulch. It requires replenishing every 2-3 years, dependent on the weather, but while it is breaking down, it too is feeding your soil, so it’s a win-win scenario. 
Dyed, chipped pallets are made from wood that has been treated, AND they tend to grow mold, and clump, as opposed to break down. And they don’t look remotely natural. 
In any event, having access to all areas of your garden is important if you’re going to keep a close eye on the goings-on. Mulch can be the path, or hardscaping of some sort may be the path, and mulch covering the (negative) soil space between plants. Either way, it’s highly beneficial, and the only rule about using it is, do NOT pile up against the woody stem of shrub, or tree, or put too close to the base of a perennial. Too close means possible rot, and disables the roots ability to get the light, and air it requires to stay healthy
For further information on MYKE, click on the following link    https://www.usemyke.com/en-ca/products/natural-growth-enhancers/myke-trees-and-shrubs/.
BTW, ​Jensen's Nursery on McGillivray Blvd. offers a one year warranty on all their perennials (204-488-5042)! Think about it; that's one heck of a deal, and all you need to do is keep receipts, and return dead plant!
  FRESH IN from a hundred year old farmer - what to do with ant hills (and potato bugs). Boil rhubarb leaves in water for 10 minutes, let cool and pour over anthill; the rest is a wonderful dessert. Apparently the Oxalic Acid in the rhubarb, produced in the boiling process, will make a stainless steel pot look like new again. Remember, the leaves are poisonous to us, cats, and dogs, as is the foliage from tomato, and potato plants!

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