Mid-winter garden centre visit

Jan.20, 2022

By Richard Burke

What do you do on a Chinook-blustery, melting-wet January day? Visit a couple of garden centres and come home $200 or so poorer – but much richer.

Winter for a lot of gardeners is not generally a season to forget about gardens. So, after you’ve spent weeks thinking and reading about a remake of a rather large front bed, it makes sense to go someplace where they have plants. Among our favourite places are Green Haven Garden Centre and Country Blooms.

Have you ever seen kids in a candy store? Fun.

We came back with a Meyer Lemon tree, with fragrance and lemon attached, a Gaultheria Procumbens (American Wintergreen, a native North American wildflower) and a Coral Cactus

The plan is to nurture the lemon tree inside until summer when it can be moved in its pot into the new bed. The Gaultheria, which resembles holly and has lots of bright red edible berries, should be fine in the ground, perhaps by the end of May. Maybe sooner. The cactus will probably be one of the plants that can sit outside in its pot for July and August. Otherwise, it’s just a unique-looking plant in the living room and will get Marlene’s TLC, along with all the other house plants including six orchids (flowering), an azalea (flowering), a parrot plant (flowering)  and a bunch of Christmas cactus (just finishing flowering.)


Streptocarpus outside (in the boot pot)

We’ve had experience using plants from another zone in the garden. A Japanese Maple and  Korean Maple are kept in pots in the garage over winter, We’ll try the bonsai treatment on the Korean Maple in the spring. As well, last year, we planted a streptocarpus (Ladyslipper White Ice of the African Violet family) in a pot beneath a honeycrisp apple tree. It did great, flowering all summer. We transferred it into another pot in late September. It makes a great, healthy house plant, although it likely won’t flower again for awhile.

We learned from friend Mike Stefancsik to try anything.

We had in mind as well when we decided to head east to Sunnyside Road, then a bit farther east to Broxburn Road, to look for a wall hanging for the back deck. Didn’t see one that caught our fancy, so we’ll keep looking. 

Japanese Maple

I was also hoping to find a bonsai pot for the Red Dragon Japanese Maple, which sits dormant out of the light in a room above the garage until March. Found the perfect pot to replace the round-bottomed plastic pot that tips in the wind, and just didn’t seem to complement a bonsai maple anyway.

And, did I mention the plant stand that just begged to be brought home?

Next on the mid-winter garden work agenda is to download IScape landscape design software to get to planning the redesign of the front bed. Have been scouring the internet and a book called Sunset Big Book of Garden Design, which I picked up at a Lethbridge and District Horticultural Society meeting book exchange a few years ago, before the meetings went online because of the pandemic.  We’ll have a better idea of what we’re working with when Ladybug Arborists comes to remove a large spirea that’s getting too unwieldy for an old gardener to maintain properly. It’s the last shrub that remains from when we bought the house 23 years ago.

Bring on spring.

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