Thursday, March 29, 2012

Let's get planting!

This is a guest blog by Susan Wheeler. Susan is a well-known garden designer in the White Rock/South Surrey area. The photos of her own gardens show many of the plants that are available here at West Coast Gardens.  We thank Susan for sharing her expertise with us!

'Let's Get Planting!'

It's about time, don't you think? Although we sometimes like to brag (well, just a little...) about our wonderful West Coast weather, this spring we've been a little disappointed! The blossom trees are so late and really, the Hellebores 
(Lenton Rose) have had to be the main floral focus. (In my experience, they do best with some shade from the hottest sun and I keep them well watered.)

However, there are many more colourful possibilities that can brighten up the gardens right now, even with this cool spring. Below, is  a bright and cheery arrangement that I did using the colour scheme of purple, pink and lime. It incorporates a lot of colour which is set off by the small evergreen. I chose this one, as I particularly liked the lime green with the 'Kermit' mums. The bright pink flowers are double Primulas. At the back of the arrangement you can see the spiky leaves of an early Narcissus (Daffodil) which has finished blooming, but the shape of the leaves is still interesting. Another beauty that would also have looked very nice in this planter is the lime-green Sedum rupestre 'Angelina (Angelina stonecrop), also below. 

If you have read some of my garden design tips, you will know that I am a very big fan of using greenery to act as a wonderful backdrop to set off the beautiful colour of the flowers. It gives the 'eye' a bit of a chance to really take in the 'stars', which are the flowers. In Spring planters especially, it can be difficult to get some height and the bright lime-green Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa), in the above planter, does provide the needed height. At West Coast Gardens you can find many different evergreens that would do well in large planters. Each season, just exchange the annuals and you can have colour throughout the year, especially if the planters have some overhead protection.

One of my favourite plants, at this time of year, is the little early bulb, Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow). It comes up each year along my front pathway, looks so cheerful and provides a very pretty focal point as I walk past. This one is about three years old now and the clump just keeps getting better each year. Nearby, a clump of this Vinca minor (Periwinkle) adds a note of spring. I keep mine pruned very hard, as I don't want it running all over the garden. 

A change of pace this spring might be to try the underused Sorbaria.  Here, I have it paired with one of the rich, red-toned Heucheras. Both are up now and looking very fresh on my back terrace...but, I would definitely suggest that you keep this little 'lovely' in a planter, otherwise...Sorbaria everywhere!

These gems, below, are Saxifrages, and are a pretty addition to a planter as they will spill over the edge and you will be able to appreciate their delicate beauty close up. I bought several different ones from West Coast last year, to try them all out. I particularly like Saxifraga 'Pixie', as well as the very deep pink/red/almost purple one, Saxifraga X arendsii 'Purple Robe'. They need shade and moisture, but well-drained soil. 

And, finally, a plant you will often see in many gardens, is the Euphorbia (Spurge), but there are many different ones to choose from, as well as different sizes. I have several in my gardens as they add such a different texture, and even in the winter, they are very architectural. Be very cautious when dealing with 'Mrs. Robb's Bonnet', however, as this one will go far....!! I would keep it contained in a large planter and enjoy it that way. 

Well, that is what is happening in my gardens, now. If you would like to read more, go to my Blog, at or if you are wanting to re-do or 'spruce up' your own gardens, check out my main garden site, at

Cheers! and Happy Gardening, Susan Wheeler. 

Please note:  Photos or articles written by Susan Wheeler of 'Green Design Gardens' are copyrighted material and can not be reproduced without written permission from Susan.