Soil is at the heart of gardening

Healthy soil grows healthy vibrant gardens.

It’s liberating and humbling to write a lesson-learnt blog. Last year’s lesson-learnt evolved from my high-density plantings in a raised bed.

Modified raised bed

Written on Thursday, February 26, 2015 in Plants & Soils

1 comment | Read 152 times |

Nobody describes fall better than Albert Camus: “Autumn is a second spring, when every leaf is a flower.” He’s right. Especially this fall. The colours are intense. Sadly once the leaves drop from the trees, many of us shuffle them into recycling bags for city pickup. But recycling those leaves in our gardens can improve our soil.

fall trees

Written on Thursday, November 13, 2014 in Building Soil

Be the first to comment! | Read 373 times | Read more...

A couple of weeks ago, Connie, my neighbour, asked me to take a look at her beloved Japanese lilac. She was worried about its gradual decline. I could see why Connie was concerned. Half the tree had lost all its leaves. Something was obviously wrong, but what could it be?

Japanese lilac

Written on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 in Plants & Soils

2 comments | Read 358 times |

In the previous blogs, I covered the merits of planting up slopes and the visual delight of terraced slopes. But which method works best for your site? How do we decide? According toUniversity of Nevada Coop Extension, the slope angle decides the method!

planted slope, Brampton, Ontario

Written on Thursday, September 11, 2014 in Landscaping & Soil

Be the first to comment! | Read 495 times | Read more...

In my last blog, I covered slope stabilizing native plants used by Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. But there are other ways to tame a slope. Some gardeners in Pittsburgh have tapped in to a 2,000 year old idea: terracing. Of course, the most attractive way to deal with a slope happens to be the most expensive.

terraced garden with stone retaining wall in Pittsburgh, PA

Written on in Landscaping & Soil

1 comment | Read 1,249 times |

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania surprised me. The city has a whooping 42 percent tree canopy! In comparison, Washington DC has 36% and Portland, Oregon in the wet Pacific Northwest has mere 30% tree cover. Even Canadian cities known for their leafy nature have less tree cover– Toronto 33%, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Montreal all at 20% tree cover. But enough about trees!

Another visual surprise is Pittsburgh’s topography. Hilly. Steep slopes. It’s a great place to see how gardeners tame their slopes. Since there’s too much information to cover in one blog, I’ve divided it this entertaining topic into three blogs.

planted slope at Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, PA

Written on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 in Plants & Soils

Be the first to comment! | Read 536 times | Read more...

At the end of every month, #groundchat highlights the latest in the soil world. This month, August 2014, we explore news articles on soil organisms. Join us on Twitter at 2 pm EST.

ground chat poster August soil news

Written on Thursday, August 28, 2014 in #groundchat News

Be the first to comment! | Read 300 times | Read more...

Recently I was invited to give a presentation on peonies and soil at the Oshawa Peony Festival. On the surface peonies soil requirements appear straightforward. What more could I add? That was before I did a little digging…


Written on Thursday, June 19, 2014 in Plants & Soils

Be the first to comment! | Read 775 times | Read more...

I believe in supporting botanical gardens. Botanical gardens not only showcase and conserve different plants, but they also play a key role in educating people on the wonders of plants and gardening.

Paul Zammit, Director of Horticulture

Written on Tuesday, June 3, 2014 in Plants & Soils

3 comments | Read 1,116 times |

Soil health is a hot topic nowadays, but what does it mean? According to soil scientist, Dr. Dena Marshall, “Soil health is emphasizing the overall diversity of soil biology, which then enhances the resiliency of the soil.”

Dena Marshall

Written on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 in Plants & Soils

Be the first to comment! | Read 1,054 times | Read more...