Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Evergreen Wreaths

Wreath making is an easy and rewarding fall project. A wealth of wreath materials can be collected from fall pruning chores, maybe your neighbor needs a hand if your garden doesn’t contain the right shrubs, or trees. One cedar hedge will have enough materials for an entire block.

Most evergreen plants can be used in mixed wreaths. I like to use as many species of conifer as I can find, and broadleaf evergreens such as Salal, and Holly, but have even added English laurel, Osmanthus, Viburnum, and evergreen Magnolia to the mix.

The first step is to bulk out, and disguise the wire frame by wiring moss or cedar boughs to it. Paddle wire wound around the frame will hold everything together.

I make small bouquets from the materials I have collected, wiring the stems to hold them as a unit. The shorter your bundles the more you will need. Most wreaths will take 25 of more of these bundles.

When you have your bundles complete place the first one on the wreath wrap your wire over the stem and around your wreath form until it is secure. If you wish you can add a bit of moss over the stem ends before wiring. Lay your next bundle the same way, covering the first ones stems by the second ones top, and wire as before. Continue to wire in the remaining bundles until the wreath form is filled.

Once the form is filled you can add accents like a bow or wire in contrasting foliage or berry to decorate. Make sure you add a loop of wire for hanging, and you’re done.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Christmas Trees

Christmas Trees

Urban Oasis is pleased to offer fresh cut Christmas trees from our friends at Wintergreen tree farms in Mill bay. The last two cool wet springs have grown the best trees in twenty years. We have a size to suit any home, and all your favourite varieties.

This year a portion of each Christmas tree sale is being donated to the Salvation Army Children’s fund

Urban Oasis Garden Centre 4085 Quadra St

Monday, November 10, 2008

November Interest

November in the garden, is full of magic. We love autumn leaf colors, like a gorgeous sunset, we are moved by anew by the hues of the turning leaves each fall.

Fall is turning leaves, but there is something special about the flowers and berries that take the stage after the summer show closes.
Chocolate Joe Pye Weed, Eupatorium rugosum 'Chocolate' is in full bloom this month. It's summer job as a chocolaty backdrop for my orange geraniums done, it breaks into bloom.

Pyracantha is a versatile plantthat provides brilliant fall color, late season bird food and shelter.

Crinodendron is a lovely fall addition. It's blooms exactly match the brilliant fall leaves of the Burning bush Euonymus alatus , and the blooms of the fall flowering perennial Schizostylis .

I love to surprise guests, by enticing them to try my Wintergreen, Gaultheria procumbens berries. They really do taste just like wintergreen lifesavers, and the big red berries look great for Christmas.

Viburnum davidii, is another plant that shines in the fall, glossy leaves, mahogany stems, and those metallic blue berries never cease to amaze.
One of my favorite plants is Viburnum tinus, I use the lower growing Gwenallin for foundation plantings, and Spring bouquet as a hedging or specimen plant. This plant always looks good, and often displays, buds, flowers, and berries simultaneously. It is very prolific, so I steal it's flowers for wreath-making and holiday decorating.

Pansies are the hands down winner for winter bedding out plants. If well established they will bloom most of the winter, and hold the show till the summer annuals can be safely put out.

Cotoneaster, another fabulous berry plant, that comes in a variety of forms from ground cover to large shrub. I have the damerii variety covering a rocky outcrop in my back garden where little else would grow.It has been one of the most rewarding plants, always looks healthy, and has received absolutely no help from me.

I love the groundcover, Cerastigma plumbaginoides, it's late season blue flowers and beautiful red leaves are a must see.

Bellis is a nostalgic flower for me, it always brings back memories of making daisy chains from the naturalised flowers blooming through our lawn.

Callicarpa has a very unusual berry color that create a lot of attention.

My fuchsias are still blooming like mad. I have several varieties of this plant in my garden. In our mild climate I have had good luck with some of the non hardy varieties. I have Hummingbirds living year round in my garden, so I bring home the un-sold fuchsia baskets from the store for them to enjoy. If the plant survives the winter I will plant it in the spring.

Winter flowering Heathers are an old stand by for obvious reasons. The Doris Page winter garden in Victoria is a the place to see what the local Heather Society has collected over the years.

Another of my favorites, this one is Cyclamen hederifolium, the fall blooming cyclamen. You often see it naturalised through peoples lawns.

Another favorite, seems I have a large collection of favorites that bloom in the fall. Schizostylis has this tropical look, but it blooms in the late summer through fall. I have had mine throw out blooms in January. It has an amazingly long bloom period, and is very cold tolerant.

Pampas grass is one of those love it or hate it plants. I have to admit I have been somewhat of a hater, sour grapes from being cut up by it while trying to steal it's blooms from the neighbours yard as a kid perhaps? I will say, I have admired it of late, and must agree it makes a real show this time of year.

More Schizostylis, couldn't resist one more pic.

Nerines or naked ladies must be the most exotic of the fall bloomers. They are in leaf during summer, die back in fall, and bloom from the naked earth this time of year. My patch has diminished as the light changed from sunny to shady where I grew them. I often hear how easy they are to grow, hmmmfff, I wish I had the same luck.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fall Home and Garden Show

I always enjoy the relaxed pace of the fall Home and Garden show. It's a slow season at the store, our fall booth is less grandiose, with the lack of pressure there is time to socialize. I enjoyed catching up with old friends, and chatting with the exhibitioners.

The Bartlett booth was very informative, they had some great props showing tree damages, and diseases, and well educated staff answering tree questions. They kindly let me take pictures, so I could post their examples, showing the effects of topping, planting root bound trees, girdling, and diseases.

Integral Design was there with examples of their work. I have worked a couple projects with this firm, and they are a pleasure to deal with.
I met the friendly owners of Earthworks, this hardworking duo and company already have completed an impressive portfolio of work. I look forward to seeing their company grow and expand.

Our booth was next to the Greater Victoria Compost Education Centers booth. This group is very active in local outreach. They have the best compost pamphlets, website, interpretive demonstration centre, and knowledgable volunteers. They are definately the "go to" folks for composting, and diverting organic materials from the landfill.

Last but not least here is our little booth. I partnered up with Gardenscapes, you can see "big" John in the pic. I colaborate on John's projects on a regular basis. He says, he does the heavy lifting, and I make it pretty. John has great vision,and is very talented at seeing the potential of a landscape. You can check out pics posted on his web site, from his extensive portfolio of projects.

I introduced next seasons fun Face Pots pottery collection. I grabbed the demo examples from the Canwest Horticultural Show this fall, and will receive a full shipment for the store in early Spring.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Roots in Perimeter Drains

I was walking to work the other day and came across a property where the perimeter drains were being replaced. The old drain pipes lay on the front lawn, where you could see how the cedar hedges roots had completely filled them. It was a classic demonstration of the problem, so I couldn't resist coming back with my camera.

It is not so much that the roots are on a seek and destroy mission as they are opportunistic. Roots flourish where there is moisture, and you can see how well they did when the drains provided it. If you plant a big tree close to your drains they will take advantage of leaks, and wet spots. Cedars are thirsty plants, you can't blame them, it's a case where hedging was a bad option. If your property line is close to the house sometimes a fence is your best privacy option.

In our area, houses can be as close as 5 ' off the property line, now that is very close, but resist the urge to plant a hedge along this side of your property. In the case of the Western cedars you will have the added problem of plant side. This tree wants to be BIG, even with regular shearing it will encroach on your walkway. We have seen what happens underground, it's not much better above, and you may have created the same problem for your neighbour.

Cedars are beautiful hedge plants, fast and easy to grow, but often a terrible choice for the urban lot. When you choose a hedging material always consider maintenance, size of mature plants, and things like other plantings, and hardscaping. You may find the area at the foot of a hedge very hard to plant, leave ample room for beds. The foot of a cedar hedge will be dense with roots, and very dry without irrigation. They may also need to be pruned 2-3 times a year to keep them in check. You can save yourself a lot of money and heartache choosing the right planting .

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ask the Coach

Ask the Coach

Urban Oasis will be at BC Women's home show and sale, where Sandra Nelson will answer your gardening questions.

October 4th & 5th

Pearkes Recreation Centre

3100 Tillicum Rd

Victoria, BC

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

GMO Free Vancouver Island ?

I was at a Greendrinks event last night, and was made aware of a movement to make Vancouver Island GMO free. I think this is a very important safegaurd for the worlds food supply, and have noted other Islands around the world also looking toward this kind of action. If you would like to read more, click on the title to link to a full article, and further comments.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Kingsbrae Gardens 10yr Anniversary

Kingsbrae Gardens was started 10 years ago as a way to give back to St. Andrews by some wealthy long-time residents. Today it is a sprawling much-loved 27-acre estate distinguished by its sense of humour. Story by Kate Wallace.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lily Show

Stop by the Lily Show this weekend, then take in some Sidney by the Sea Canada day festivities.

North American Lily Society, Inc.presents 61st Annual International Lily Conference and Show "Seaside Scentsation"
on 2 - 6 July 2008
hosted byThe Victoria Lily SocietyatMary Winspear Centre2243 Beacon AvenueSidney, British Columbia V8L 1W9


Sunday, June 22, 2008


What happened to Spring?

The weather hasn't cooperated, but the flowers held up their part of the bargain. Spring bulbs have bowed out, and the summer show is taking the stage.

Another signpost of summer is the appearance of my Arisaema in the shade border. This unusual specimen remains dormant winter through Spring, suddenly appearing with the warmth.

I know it's Summer because in my yard the blooms of the bearded Iris tell me so. I was recently told they are grandma flowers, as are Oriental poppies.... hmmfff, I love mine!

Both these flowers are great examples how nature can make something spectacular from nothing.

The ground my beardies, and poppies grow in is dry and scrappy, yet these plants coax enormous luxuriant blooms from it. Froo froo, or exotic I can't walk by them without pausing to take in their beauty.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Spring into Summer Solstice Sale

Spring into Summer
3rd annual
Summer Solstice Sale.

June 21st

Urban Oasis is open 8 till late

Everything in the store is 30% off.

Those friendly Master Gardener's will be in attendance to answer your questions from 11am to 3pm, Saturday and Sunday

Urban Oasis Garden Centre
4085 Quadra St
479 6868


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Y grip tool

It is always nice to see new products that truly are different. I occasionally have people come to my shop with objects they would like to market. I never know how it's going to go when I hear, they have something they to show me, " it's just in the trunk of my car"

I have seen some amazing things in parking lots. It can also be an exercise in tact. Grampa's bird houses, Billy's painted rock, special one of a kind driftwood bits, decorated pots, and tools don't always hold the test of wide appeal. I am always looking for new things, and objects d' art, but retail is ruthless, it has to sell. It is with trepidation I head into the parking lot, I have been pleasantly surprised....but more often, I have to let someone down.

This was not the case when Paul, a massage therapist "with a tool, I invented", showed up. I loved it! It simply was new, and innovative, simple and effective. Again,... I was delighted, and agreed to take his product in a flash.

I have paddled competitively, and coach a seniors team, so Paul and I were on the same page when it came to wrists, ergonomic designs and neutral alignment. Paddlers suffer the same wrist issues, that are aggravated using a trowel. I was definitely his new biggest fan. I am happy to promote his new tool any way I can.

I showed it to a customer with very bad arthritis, and she agreed it was brilliant. She could hold it, and although she has very little use of one hand she could put pressure on the blade with her bad hand, while holding with her good. She thought with her body weight, and two hands it would be possible to use.
check it out for yourself,
........it is very reasonably priced too!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bean bag

I planted Scarlet runners pole beans, into one of the bags, I had fiberglassed. I added a bamboo tee-pee, and ta da, my bean-bag. The beans sprouted yesterday, I can't wait till they start to climb the poles.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Purse Planters

I made these, and other purse planters for Mother's Day, to learn how, or to see others follow the link.

My Cherry tree.

This is the view from my deck chair in May. My Kwanzan Cherry brings us a lot of pleasure. This is a beautiful tree.
It blooms with huge double pink flowers, and the new leaves are blushed with amber tones.

I get a birds eye view of these spectacular babies. The Kwanzan is great street tree, it has a big impact at a distance, even zooming by in a car.

I spent a lot of time placing this tree. I think it is 10 years old now. I wanted to see it from the patio. I measured, and measured, I wanted it as close as possible but not touching the house. I have a shady backyard so didn't want to create more shade on the sunny side. The tree is as far North as I could place it and still see it from the deck. I also wanted to see it from my bedroom window without blocking it. I moved that tree six inches here, and two feet there, for an hour before I thought it was perfect. I remember there was mocking, and even exasperation, but it was worth it.

It is close to but not touching the deck, and not encroaching on the path, all good things to consider when planting a tree.

Million dollar view.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Victoria Alpine society

I recently stumbled upon a garden project of the Victoria Alpine Society. I had no idea they maintained this gem, and look forward to visiting others. They are looking for volunteers for their Hospital rock project. Here is a link to their site. http://www.virags.ca/ , and another for the garden at Beaconhill park.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Tippy pots

I use tippy pot stacks in my store displays, if you want to learn how follow the link.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Victoria homeshow

The Victoria Home show booth, this past weekend

This bridge was stunning, pictures don't do it justice

The Mexican river rock created a quandary, everyone needed to ask if it was real. It is a beautiful pink striped marble, river tumbled smooth.

The Hellebore " Ivory Prince", matched it's color exactly.

The amazing Gardenscapes crew put all this together in a mere two days!

An artsy shot through the front gate's window. Gardenscapes had the gate, and fence custom built in cedar timber, with copper inserts, and iron accents. They like the bridge are one of a kind items created by the design team.

Kiosks with examples of our work.

The zen area, with Basalt column's from Squamish, Pom Pom Boulevard cypress from John's nursery, and pots, and granite sculpture from Urban Oasis, my garden centre.

more shots from the isle

Gardenscapes cedar gate, see John in the background, phew ....we needed to sit down.

....and me
Gardenscapes http://www.gardenscapesbyjohn.com/