Archive | September, 2011

Freshly planted fall container with #kal

27 Sep

Freshly planted fall container with #kale #cabbage #gourds. Looks beautiful enough to eat! A #VerkadeDesign original!


Darling, don’t forget the dahlias!

19 Sep

If you love Spring peonies then consider adding dahlias to your late summer garden.  They bloom from early August until the first frost and come in a dizzying array of sizes and colours. Some are as small as a golf ball while others rival the largest of buffet dinner plates!

Dahlias are know for their saturated and rich colours of orange, pink, purple, scarlet, yellow and white.  The best part is,  you can find many varieties that offer a combination of these colours all in one flower which make these perfect for cut- flower arrangements. My friend Roxanna shows us how gorgeous a simple bouquet of the flowers can be!

Dahlia Growing Tips

1. Select a comfy home.  Dahlias are sun lovers and must have well-drained (yet moist) soil.

2. Be careful when planting. The most common way to grow dahlias is from their tuber form (imagine oddly-shaped fingerling potatoes or ginger root).  These tubers however are very sensitive to any damage so be sure not to scratch, cut or break the tuber as otherwise you may be disappointed come bloom-time.

3. Provide Support.  Dahlia flowers are often very large which makes them top-heavy.  Give theses busty plants support by using a wooden or metal stake.

4.  Winter “Hibernation.” Dahlias unfortunately are not perennials in our climate. Once frost has brought an end to this years gorgeous display, remove the tubers and store in a dry, cool place until the following Spring.

Click here for more Dahlia growing tips.


Grow cool season veggies that pack a punch!

16 Sep

Arugula growing easily on my 29th floor balcony. YUM!

Are you a novice gardener? Don’t fret! Cool season vegetables are easy to grow. In fact, this is the perfect time to start growing your anti-oxidant, nutrient rich greens in your backyard or even on your balcony.  The following Fall favourites are moderately frost- tolerant so if you seed them now you will have fresh greens to put on the table at Thanksgiving!

  • Chives
  • Arugula and other salad greens. Click here to watch a video on how to seed your own lettuce.
  • Kale
  • Radish
  • Swiss Chard
Read the step-by-step guide to sowing your own salad greens in my guest post on

Joy, from Joyous Health,  is an amazing Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Health Coach.  She offers tons of easy to understand health and nutrition information, delicious yet simple recipes, and fresh perspectives to provide food for the soul.  Learn more about Joy and check out her blog.  She is cute to boot! (I guess eating healthy does work after all!!!)

5 Tips for Cottage Gardens

8 Sep

Ontario’s northern landscape proudly displays the grandeur of speckled smooth granite boulders, towering stands of swaying pine and birch and soft sweeping carpets of mosses, wildflowers and grasses.  For the avid gardener, you may wonder what “improvements” if any can be made to this gorgeous landscape?

My friend Caroline Coulson seems to have found the answer to this at her evolving Georgian Bay island cottage garden.  Her garden teaches us 5 simple tips to creating the perfect cottage garden.

1.Be Inspired by Nature

Any hardscaping elements such as pathways and retaining walls should be constructed using local materials (if not from the actual site itself).  Notice how her garden beds have been formed in the lowest areas in the granite surface.  Not only does this appear more natural but also ensures maximum water availability as water collects in these “pool-like” indentations.  Also, granite boulders found on the property have been moved to create organically-shaped retaining walls.

2. Pick Non-fussy Eaters!

The soil in cottage country is thin and low in available nutrients.  As a result, if introducing non-native species, ensure that they tolerate well-drained infertile soil.  That doesn’t mean you have to forfeit beauty. For example, add a range of early to late summer blooming day lilies and hardy Black Eyed Susan’s for colour throughout the summer.

3.  Plan for Hot Days & Cool Nights

Soil temperature in cottage country varies greatly throughout the day and puts added stress on plants. The large granite boulders can end up “baking” plant roots.  As result, select plants that are drought-tolerant and can handle hot days and cool nights.  For example, this garden bed contains Black Eyed Susan’s, variegated Sedum and early summer day lilies.

4.  Grow Food for the Soul

Nothing goes better with the great outdoors than eating freshly-picked produce.  Again, select veggies and herbs that prefer warm days and cool nights and consider growing  in containers to help keep soil moisture and temperature more steady. Caroline has had great success this year with her 9 different varieties of tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers!


Tomato plan in pot


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