Organic Gardening

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Guerilla Gardening

Great idea!

Ron Fineley is a Guerilla Gardener in South Central L.A.
Redefine 'gangster'; "Be a gangsta with yo shovel!"

We have a nice start here in Kamloops with projects like the Kamloops Public Produce Project.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Kamloops Tree Pruning

One of the first gardening faux pas I noticed upon moving to Kamloops was the large amount of mutilated trees.  I'm not sure why I notice the practice here more than other places I lived, but it breaks my heart every time I see a topped tree.

Topping a tree is not simply an esthetic nightmare, it's dangerous.  The new mess of branches that grow will compete to be the new leader (the dominant branch).  These branches will be weak and poorly angled.  In time, as they grow large and heavy, wind or their own weight will cause them to fall, and you don't want to be underneath one when this happens.

That is the worst case scenario.  The best case, is that you will have to prune a topped tree every year to avoid this danger.  As the tree grows, this will increase the difficulty and cost of maintenance.

Some municipalities such as Port Coquitlam and Richmond have bylaws prohibiting tree damaging activities such as tree topping.

There are other options:

  • Firstly, research the ultimate size of a tree before you plant it and consider the space it is to be planted.  Will it be under hydro wires?  How close will it be to your house?  Will it scrape your  roof or siding?  Will it block your view?  Will it interfere with traffic or pedestrians?
  • If the tree is preexisting consider why you want it topped.  Sometimes proper removal of select branches will lighten the look of the tree.  Raising the canopy can open your view.
  • In extreme cases you may want to consider removing the tree altogether and planting something more appropriate, or planting another tree in a better spot.

There is one topped tree that makes me smile.  Commonly referred to as the 'Doughnut Tree' in Nelson, BC.  This has been creatively pruned to grow around the hydro lines.

For more information on tree topping visit ISA Trees are Good site.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

How to Harvest Your Christmas Tree

It's that time of year again.  Children are on their best behavior.  There is an air of excitement in the air. Everyone seems to be vibrating at a higher voltage.  The lights are already going up.  The stores are in full on Christmas mode.  People are thinking about family dinners and what they will do for a Christmas tree.  Some already have a manufactured tree waiting patiently in storage.  Others will purchase a tree from local stores or tree farms.  Others will make a day of harvesting a tree from the forest.  

Harvesting a tree from the forest can be a wonderful day.  You can pile up your vehicle with family and friends, bring a thermos of hot coco and snacks and enjoy a beautiful afternoon breathing in the fresh winter air and soaking up the nature around you.  It's important to consider the environment and future visitors when choosing your tree and where to cut.

Its' best to choose a tree from a stand that needs to be thinned out.  Any of the trees in the photo below could be chosen.  The neighboring trees will appreciate the room to grow.  When trees grow too close together there is less airflow and more chance of disease or pests.  The less attractive side of the tree is the one you place against the wall.  No pruning necessary!

Never top a tree!  New branches compete to be a leader and create unsightly, dangerous branches.  Eventually these branches break and can create large wounds and splits opening the tree to diseases, fungus and pests.  Click HERE for more information on topping trees.

There are some legal considerations as well.  Click HERE for regulations on harvesting trees in BC

So, enjoy your tree hunting.  Remember, planting a tree is always preferred to cutting one down, but you can help instead of hurting nature by following these few tips.  

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Children's Garden

Everyone loves a garden, whatever your idea of a nice garden is.  It's my belief that a garden is essential for children, but who has the time.  Not having children myself, it's easy to exclaim the virtues of a garden over a lawn, but some non-gardening parents see a garden as yet another chore or a fantasy for life after children.  The lawn is seen as a necessity for our little people to play soccer, games and to lounge around on.  I'd like to present some great garden idea's that will inspire your child's imagination, curiosity and offer endless opportunities to learn and grow.

I love this no-mow lawn.  What fun for the kids, and clean and tidy for adults to enjoy.

You can incorporate a game into the landscape too.

Water features can be built for play.

Get creative with structures and layout.

Dr Zeus inspired gardens have endless possibilities

Tempting pathways lead to way to magical spaces and adventures.

Don't forget a sense of humor!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Winter Gardening: Ode to Evergreens

Winter has officially arrived in Kamloops.  We've had our first real snow day.  So beautiful, but what is a gardener to do?

We'll we might not be able plant our petunias and weed the garden, but we can dream, and oh do we dream.........
I still tour around my garden in the winter and plan changes for next year.  Winter is a great time to think about winter interest.  It's easy to gobble up flowery annuals and perennials in the spring that make our gardens spectacular in the summer.  In Autumn we are drawn to those gorgeous fall coloured deciduous trees, but these are fleeting beauties who all but disappear in the winter.  What is left for us to enjoy?  The evergreen.

The poor evergreen has been given a bad image over the years.  I don't know how many times I've heard a customer say NO JUNIPERS, or "I don't want any evergreens".
Evergreens were the default planting in many a  foundation planting over the years.  Blankets of large, heavy junipers stabilized banks and slopes, filled in no-mans-lands and were the ground cover of choice for commercial buildings.  These created a heavy, closed in, boring landscape.


Grasses are effective for winter interest, but lack the colour and stability an evergreen offers.  Trees and shrubs with interesting bark, shape or colourful berries make a statements, but lack the warmth an evergreen offers.

This reminds me of a time I was tree planting.  The day was done.  My trees were planted and I waited anxiously by the side of the road for someone to pick me up as the weather threatened my comfort.  Sure enough, the skies opened and the rains belted down.  I crawled for the only cover available to me: A tight grove of fir trees down the slope by the road.  Barely a drop touched me.  The tree kept me warm and dry until my ride arrived.

You probably wont use your evergreens as a shelter, but they will add warmth, literally and figuratively to your home and property.  A large evergreen will act as a windbreak, protecting you from those bitter winter winds.

Evergreen plantings aren't limited to conifers like juniper and pine.  There is a nice selection of broadleaf evergreens such as hollies, boxwoods and rhododendrons and our native oregon grape.


If you are so inclined or are able to hire a professional to create and/or maintain them for you, topiaries add drama and whimsy to your landscape.  They take time and patience, but can be worth it.


Don't let the winter get you down.  An interesting winter garden will invite you outdoors regardless of the weather.  So grab a steaming cup of hot coco, put on your coziest winter coat and wander around your yard either dreaming about the possibilities or enjoying your own winter wonderland.