Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lilacs in the (Nova Scotian) Dooryard

The topsy turvy weather here in Nova Scotia has accelerated the bloom period for many plants this spring, and for a lot of us, lilacs are approaching peak bloom several weeks ahead of schedule. Late spring always brings a heady fragrance to the air as the lilacs open their blossoms to the great delight of hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and even human beings.

Did you know that Canada holds bragging rights regarding lilacs? The Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Ontario, grows a remarkable collection of lilac species and varieties, and is also the international registrar for new lilac cultivars.

Not only do we Canadians hold bragging rights about lilac registration, one of the best hardy lilac hybrids, the Preston lilac, (Syringa x prestoniae) was developed in 1920 at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa by Isabella Preston (1881-1965). Miss Preston is worthy of bragging up too, as she was the first woman to work as a plant hybridizer in Canada. Preston lilacs are extremely winter hardy and bloom later than other species, with drooping clusters of very fragrant blossoms. They tend to grow to a substantial sized shrub (10-12 feet high and wide) but seldom produce suckers. We carry 'Miss Canada' and 'James McFarland' at Baldwin Nurseries.

Lilacs require at least 6 hours of sun daily, and grow best in well drained soil that is not overly rich in nitrogen. The shrubs bloom on old wood, so resist the urge to prune them in spring if you want flowers. After blooms are spent you can trim back the plants, removing weak wood and most of the suckers that form at the shrub’s base. Some people dig up their suckers and shade them with others, always a nice way to add to a friendship garden.

One of the most common questions asked by gardeners is “why won’t my lilac bloom?” There are a number of possible reasons and solutions for non-blooming plants:

1. Flower buds have been pruned off. Don't prune it at all, at least until you do get flowers; then you can prune after bloom, but don't wait too long as lilacs form next year's flower buds not long after they flower.
2. Wrong sort of fertilizer. A fertilizer high in nitrogen will produce good growth but no flowers. Look for a fertilizer with a higher phosphorous number (middle number in formulation eg 5-10-10) They don't need a lot of fertilizer--in fact many gardeners never fertilize their lilacs at all, and so often we see old varieties growing around abandoned homesteads, where they have had no care for years!
3. Shrub needs more light. You can calculate the number of hours in full sun your plant is getting. Less than six hours and you’ll see few or no flowers.
4.Immature shrub. While they often flower in containers where they're under stress, lilacs need a few years to mature and bloom once they've been transplanted. Just be patient.
5. Not enough water. Though that's hardly been a problem the past several summers, it can be a problem.
6. Soil acidity. Most soil in NS is acidic, and lilacs like it neutral to slightly alkaline. You can get a pH kit to test this. Is your lilac near acid loving plants like rhododendrons, azaleas, etc? If they're doing well and it's not, that could be your problem—soil that is too acidic.

What you choose for species and hybrids depends on your garden size and your preference in colour and flower form. Lilacs come in a host of shades from white and cream to pink, mauve, various shades of purple, and even one bicolour! If you have a small garden, don’t worry: there are compact varieties, including the extremely fragrant cultivar 'Miss Kim', which only gets a few feet tall.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rhodos...we've got rhodos...

May is certainly being the month of rhododendrons around Nova Scotia, and we at Baldwin Nurseries are no exception. Our nursery yard has rhododendrons and azaleas popping out with colour everywhere you look.
Rhodos come in every conceivable size and in a rainbow of colours, from pale yellow like this 'Capistrano' to the deep purple of 'Purple Passion', to the soft colours of special plants like 'Mist Maiden' to the jewel tones of the deciduous azaleas.

As you can imagine, the hummingbirds are attracted to the strong red of this beauty.

Digital cameras don't do the best justice to some of the rich colours of plants like 'Purple Passion', but we hope they whet your appetite to come and see them for yourselves.
Drop in any day of the week to Baldwin's...we're open seven days a week 9 am-5 pm, and our enthusiastic and helpful staff are here to help you find the perfect shrub, tree or perennial for your garden. We have a few other surprises to tell you about, so please keep checking back!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

We're in Garden Making Magazine!

Gee, this is exciting! Baldwin Nurseries has been written up in the summer issue of the brand new Garden Making magazine. Some writer named Jodi DeLong wrote a piece about the nursery. If you're not acquainted with Garden Making magazine, it's a great read: all about "inspiring and informing Canada's gardeners", just as a gardening magazine should be!

There's a nice sidebar mentioning three other great Nova Scotian nurseries, too. Bayport Plant Farm, established by our late, lamented friend Captain Dick Steele; Ouestville Perennials down in West Pubnico, owned and operated by Alice d'Entremont, and Bunchberry Nurseries in Upper Clements, owned and operated by Jill Covill.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tree giveaway continues all May!

The weather has been unsettled the past few days, with huge gales of wind, erratic showers, and downright chilly temperatures at times. Despite this, spring is charging ahead in Nova Scotia, including at our nursery. The early rhododendrons and deciduous azaleas are starting to bloom, which makes gardeners and bees very happy.

If you have a small property and want to try a tough little rhododendron that gives great colour and is attractive even after its bloom is past, one of our favourites is 'Ramapo.' It's hardy to zone 5 and likes moist, but well drained acidic soil with plenty of organic matter. You can grow this cultivar in sun to partial shade. Expect Ramapo to grow anywhere between 1-3 feet in height, and 2-4 feet wide.

One of the showstoppers at the recent Saltscapes East Coast Expo was the display of tree peonies we had at our booth. Many people could not believe that something this exotically gorgeous could thrive and bloom in Nova Scotia, but it can. Unlike our ordinary herbaceous peonies, this one develops woody branches and trunk and produces huge flowers the size of dinner plates. You have to protect it overwinter for the first couple of years as its roots get established; you do this by putting a large pot over the plant late in the autum, and removing it in early spring once the risk of serious frosts is past.We'll have more to say about these wonderful, exotic plants in a future post.

We have been enlarging our retail area with a few sitting areas and some unique garden art. These give your garden an air of mystery and yet tranquility; I want one home in my own garden but I guess I'll be negotiating a pay settlement. Plants and garden art make great currency to copy writers,Just saying.

Because the weather has been cranky the past few days and it hasn't been so nice for working outside, we've decided to extend Tree Giveaway until of the merry Month o' May. We like to do this to let our clients know we appreciate them. So come down and and visit Baldwin Nurseris, just about 6 kilmetres from the highway. So come on down and visit us to have a look at ourgreat looking nursery stock. We'r sure you'll find a few shrus, a handlfu of perennials, herb and tomato kitchen gardens maybe the perfect tree for your garden. While you're hear, chek out the trees, and ask for your tree donation. You never know what bonus plant might climb into your truck before you leave. It happpens a lot here at Baldwin's.

We have a special on every week here at the nursery:this year it inclues the 'Ramapo' rhododendrons as well as Japanese maple seedlings that Robert has grown on from seed. They're healthy and hardy and only 15.00, the perfect way to test your garden and try these marvelous jewel-toned foliage for yourself. There's plenty new to see every time you visit, and we hope to see you on a regular basis!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Welcome to Baldwin Nurseries!

Welcome to the official launch of the Baldwin Nurseries blog. Baldwin Nurseries is located in Upper Falmouth, Nova Scotia, just outside of Windsor.

Baldwin Nurseries has been in operation since 1995, and we specialize in shrubs, trees, and perennials suitable for the maritime gardener. We have more than 5 acres of potted trees, shrubs and perennials available for the home gardener as well as for professional landscapers.

Spring is a little early in Nova Scotia this year, but we're ready for it with a huge selection of flowering shrubs, broadleaf and coniferous evergreens, Japanese maples, and interesting perennials such as this tree peony. We're open 7 days a week, 9 am to 5 pm. You can click here for directions to our nursery.

Over the coming weeks we'll be developing this blog with information on current events, sales, profiles of special plants, and more. If you are looking for something special, come and see us--we pride ourselves on carrying a wide selection of well-grown, healthy, and interesting plants, so there's usually something for every gardener.
Here's the nursery owner, Robert Baldwin, industriously watering a collection of golden Japanese Forest Grass, Hakenechloa 'All Gold'. This is just one of many ornamental perennial grasses available at the nursery. Come and visit!