Dear Helen: How do I keep my cut roses in good condition for as long as possible?
First, take a bucket of clean water with you to the garden and place the cut roses directly in the water. Indoors, remove any leaves that may be submerged in water from the vase and cut the stems under water before placing them in the vase.
Make sure the vase is clean and fill it to the desired level with lukewarm water. For roses, I usually mix in a commercial floral preservative. Place the arranged roses in a cool place for a few hours. After that keep them away from direct sun and heat.
Dear Helen: What should the soil temperature be before you can plant bush beans? Apart from a few sunny and slightly warm days, it always feels cold to me.
For bush beans, the soil temperature should be at least 15 C. A simple soil thermometer is a great investment at minimal cost.
Sometimes, to cope with the amount of sowing I have to do in the spring, I sow seeds outdoors before the ideal soil temperature is reached. It often works well with fresh plants like peas, spinach and root vegetables, although germination may take longer than usual. Early planting is more of a challenge for heat lovers like bush beans. In cold soil, especially if it is wet, the seeds tend to rot.
When I last tested my soil temperature about a week ago, it barely hit the 15C mark, and mine is very light-textured sandy soil that heats up quickly, from less in a more usual type of spring than this. .
Dear Helen: We are dealing with a second invasion of bamboo from the neighbor’s yard. A few years ago, to eradicate a first invasion, it was necessary to remove a fence panel, dig up the area and remove the roots. Perennials and a blueberry bush grow in the area where the current bamboo growth appears. I don’t have the energy to search again. Is there another way to kill bamboo and keep it out of our garden?
The only way I know of to prevent bamboo from creeping into your garden is to dig a trench at the fence and drive a metal sheet in it, at least 45cm deep if possible, as a barrier. Another physically demanding project, but one that you might find some help undertaking.
Keeping each cut bamboo shoot on the ground will at least discourage regrowth over time. Depending on the bamboo’s proximity to desirable plants, other control measures such as applying boiling water or vinegar to the new bamboo growth as it appears may be considered.
While some bamboos have already developed strong stems, another possible approach is to cut them off leaving a tip. Pour boiling water or vinegar with a little mild dish soap over the tip. Double strength cleaning vinegar (10% acetic acid) is more effective than regular vinegar.
Dear Helen: Is it normal for an arbutus tree in my garden to produce clusters of white bells? Will the tree form and spread seeds?
Our native Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziesii) bears clusters of bell-shaped white flowers in drooping clusters, followed by bird-friendly orange-red berries.
Although the seeds in the berries are often dispersed by birds, and sometimes rodents, seedlings do not usually appear in large numbers. Only a few seedlings have appeared in my garden from two huge strawberry trees in the yard next to me.
The fruits of the tree are edible, but are not usually eaten by humans.
Fundraising in Ukraine at the Abkhazi Garden. Abkhaz Garden, 1964 Fairfield Rd. in Victoria, will celebrate Canada’s National Garden Day on Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. All donations received at the entrance will go to the Canada Ukraine Foundation. A live classical music program will be presented in the garden at 4:30 p.m.
Information day on roses. Members of the Mid Island Rose Society are hosting an Open Garden and Information Day featuring old garden roses in bloom in Huddlestone Park in Lantzville on Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The park is on the corner of Lantzville and Huddlestone roads.