More ideas from the west coast
Vancouver is different from Calgary in so many ways: from the gardening perspective
even a short visit illustrates this – wandering recently (in the snow and rain) around the
west end near Stanley Park I was struck by the lack of weeds. This is not due to a
widespread use of landscape fabric – quite the opposite in fact - I only saw one piece of
fabric. Although that area is largely apartment complexes, all gardens were well tended.
One reason for the lack of weeds was the widespread living ground cover, which gives
little opportunity for weeds to settle down onto open soil. Here in Calgary we get thistles
blown in, and seeds produced from Manitoba Maples and Ash, all of which need rapid
attention, especially if they germinate in hedges.
One of the other frequent gardening practises in Vancouver is the use of mass plantings
and these do make a dramatic sight. There, downtown hedges sometimes comprise of
evergreens, some of which we can grow here in sheltered locations, including yew, box,
and cedars, but the box and cedars have a low probability of surviving in Scarboro and
the yews are slow-growing. In Vancouver where there is an evergreen hedge, medium
height grasses often give a nice contrast. I saw one border, about two or three metres
wide, consisting of evergreens behind a mass of Bishop’s Hat, (also known as Persian
Barrenwort, Fairy wings or Horny Goat Weed. Botanically, Bishop’s Hat is Epimedium.
In Scarboro we can grow several different species: their leaves have a reddish border and
their tiny delicate flowers can be red or yellow which are best seen in slightly raised beds.
One advantage is that they survive in both sunny and shady areas, and flower early in the
More exotic perennials that “sort of” survive here are Black Mondo Grass (not a true
grass), and Christmas Rose (i.e. hellebore): in a sheltered moist spot, the hellebores will
survive for a decade or more. Of the plants mentioned here, Bishop’s Hat is the toughest
– why not try some this spring?