An insight into the gardening world of the Botanus ladies!
We thought you might be interested in knowing a bit more us and our gardens so we’ve come up with a list of ten questions that will give a better idea of what makes our gardens grow.
Pam ~ Elke ~ Wendy
1. Do you have a favourite colour throughout your garden?
Elke: I love white flowers! The combination of white flowers with green foliage is simply stunning. To me it looks graceful and sophisticated. In spring, I like to have white mixed in with purple crocus and alliums.
Pam: Green! I’m known in my circle of family and friends as the ‘green lady’ not only because I love to wear the colour green but I adore it in the garden. There are so many different shades of green to choose from and they all give me a sense of peace and tranquility.”
Wendy: For many years I looked for flowers in shades of pink and blue for that soft pastel look in my exuberant garden. That has all changed! I still love them in my garden but after I planted Brunello Lilies a couple of seasons ago I was a changed woman, as far as colours go, that is. Orange is now in, along with bright yellow, frosty peach shades and brilliant reds. They standout and take your breath away with their brilliance!
2. How many hours a week do you spend in your garden?
Elke: Not enough but as many as I can. In the summer I use every minute and I work outside until it's too dark to see anything.
Pam: Well, that depends on whether I’m actually ‘gardening’ or simply enjoying the garden. In the summer, whenever I can, I’m outside putzing about or sitting by the water feature reading a good book. Anytime spent in the garden is a good time!
Wendy: Depending on the season it can be as little as half an hour or it can be from sunrise to after sunset. That’s when I’ve been dragged in by family members worried they might never see me again!
3. Do you use pesticides in your garden?
Elke: No! I use alternative methods to control pests rather than chemical pesticides. I do a lot of handpicking and I use planting companion plants that have a natural ability to repel certain types of insects - like garlic. If I have to use something to control pests it has to be earth friendly and biodegradable. We can't forget that there are a lot of beneficial insects like ladybugs, bees and dragonflies to name a few. I’m happy to say that We’ve added on a new series of earth friendly products garden supplies to our catalogue.
Pam: Never! I’m a firm believer in live and let live. In fact, I go as far as to catch and release house flies and spiders should I run across any at work or inside the house. Every living being has a right to fulfill its destiny although I may ‘shoo’ a few bugs and critters from the garden I would never intentionally kill or hurt them.
Wendy: No I do not. I use boiling water on weeds in my driveway. I pick up and dispose of as many slugs as I can by hand to control them. I mix into a spray bottle 1 ½ cups of water, 1 cup vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons of dish soap which I then spray, every other day, onto the aphids that collect on certain plants in my garden every year.
4. What is your favourite time in the garden?
Elke: My favourite time in my garden is either early in the morning or late afternoon into the evening. It depends on the season. I also love it when I have a whole day in my garden and can work on big projects.
Pam: I’d have to say late afternoon in the summertime – by that time most of the chores are done and the sun is just warm enough to entice me to sit and soak up a few rays.
Wendy: My favourite time of day in the garden is first thing in the morning, any day of the year. It’s quiet and the dew is heavy on the flowers and I can wander undisturbed through the pathways and see what is new that day.
5. How do you recycle or reuse items in your garden?
Elke: Plastic, paper, green waste etc. is all separated. I grew up in Europe and recycling has always been a part of my life. I use a composter and collect rainwater as well.
Pam: I’m very excited to reap the benefits of my new worm composter this coming spring and summer season! As well, you won’t find any plastic pots in my garden: I like to use terra cotta, stone and biodegradable containers whenever I can. Grass clippings are left on the lawn to mulch and any extra garden waste is taken to the recycle depot for proper disposal.
Wendy: I love to use broken old teapots to edge the pathways of my garden as well as old china plates to prop up the soil close to the edges of borders. When you wander through my garden it would not be unusual to see an old fire truck or wooden rocking snail placed in among the perennials, they are at home there and are gentle reminders of childhoods spent in this garden.
6. What is your favourite season?
Elke: It’s hard to choose just one!I love the spring because it's the time when mother nature wakes up with new leaves and buds popping up and lots of colour starts showing all over. Summer is wonderful because it’s the time when everything is in bloom and I can work long days outside. Fall, when the trees show their "true colours" and the air smells fresh and clean and winter, when nature seems like it's taking a rest for the upcoming seasons. Each season has something I am fascinated about.
Pam: My favourite season is the fall…I love it! The changing colours, the fresh, crisp air, the clear blue skies and the autumn smells. Of course, it’s the bulb-planting season, my favourite time of the year and although I know that summer is over and winter’s on its way, I think I could live in fall all year round!
Wendy: Spring is my favourite season in the garden; I love all its colour and promise of new life each and every day! This love affair with spring is neck in neck with my love of summer. Oh those warm days spent watching the lilies grow… from the comfort of my hammock, with an iced tea in one hand and a good book in the other.
7. How long have you been gardening?
Elke: I started as a child helping by parents in our garden in Germany .
Pam: I guess it all officially started when I was a young child and was given the job of being the ‘mister of the fern’ – my mom had received a very large indoor fern from her great aunt and it was touted to be close to 75 years old! Now, whether they were fudging a bit on its age, I’m not sure but my job was to ensure that it got misted on a regular basis and I’m happy to report that it survived well under my watch!
Wendy: Gardening for me began when we moved to Richmond, BC when I was in grade 5. We had two acres and grew daffodils to sell and fruit and veggies to eat. I was hooked from that point on.
8. What’s your favourite spot in the garden?
Elke: I have a very small woodland garden in my front yard. I love the ferns and shade plants I can grow there and the smell reminds me of a west coast forest.
Pam: Right next to the Japanese-style water feature among the grasses and ferns where I can sit back and enjoy the quiet solitude.
Wendy: My favourite spot is actually lying in the hammock that is strung between the two giant pine trees in the front yard. It has the best view of the garden and neighbourhood and it’s where you can find me on a sunny day after the work is done.
9. What garden job do you enjoy the best?
Elke: I like big projects like putting in a new pathway or a new patio. It’s about the ‘before and after’ satisfaction.
Pam: Watering the flower beds and containers. During the summer months you’ll often find me out in the garden after dinner with hose in hand. I find it quite relaxing and contemplative and I know that the plants love it!
Wendy: I love designing and planting new spaces when I’m feeling creative but when I’m stressed and need to work things out I love attacking weeds and overgrown areas and getting them under control. Hmm… definitely some psychological issues there!
10. What’s your favourite flower or plant?
Elke: Tulips and daffodils are definitely on the list but I just love plants and am amazed by their beauty.
Pam: Anything that has a lovely scent. I’m a real sucker for fragrant flowering plants such a Sweet Peas, Acidanthera (Peacock Orchids), Oriental Lilies, Lavender & Roses to name a few.
Wendy: This one is hard to answer because I love so many, but if I had to choose, it would be the Pulsatilla vulgaris Rubra or Pasque flower. The foliage and flowers are so unusual and I cannot wait for them to appear every year. Or maybe the Leopard’s Bane or the Himalayan Honeysuckle or…
11. Where do you get your gardening ideas from?
Elke: Other people’s gardens, magazines, travelling and absorbing all the looks that I like.
Pam: For me it’s not so much what a garden looks like but rather how it makes me feel so my ideas really come from having experienced a good feeling somewhere else and trying to incorporate those ideas into my own garden. Walks in the woods, around the neighborhood and in botanical gardens are a few good places to gather ideas.
Wendy: I love using gardening magazines and other people’s gardens to inspire me in my own garden.
12. Do you have a secret for growing healthy plants?
Elke: Good drainage topped with manure, compost and good top soil.
Pam: I choose ones that I know will grow well in my area and aren’t too finicky. I’m a firm believer in plant it and let it be!
Wendy: The best secret is to give them what they need. Don’t try to grow shade plants in the sun or sun plants in the shade! That and great drainage!
13. What’s your advice for a beginner gardener?
Elke: Start small and make sure you have good soil. Learn as you go.
Pam: Find a gardening buddy: perhaps a neighbor or friend who gardens, someone you can bounce your ideas off of and who has a bit more experience than you. Other gardeners usually love to brag about their successes and are happy to fill you in on their failures as well – let them – it’s a gold-mine of hands-on knowledge that can be very, very useful to you!
Wendy: My advice to novice gardeners is just to start. There are no mistakes in gardening, only opportunities to do things differently next time around.
14. Describe your garden with a few words?
Elke: Private oasis in progress
Pam: Small but sweet and very tranquil
15. Do you have a favourite tool:
Elke: My clippers and my all-time favourite claw-hoe.
Pam: Actually it’s two – but they’re connected so I’m going to count them as one. First my 100% rubber gardening hose - no kinks or binding…hooray! Second, my variable spray garden hose nozzle with ball valve attachment – shuts off automatically so I don’t waste any water and the adjustable ball valve lets me decrease the water pressure for those more delicate flowering plants.
Wendy: The Silky Saw because it helps me to tame the overgrown beasts, in my garden. I do have an electric leaf blower which can be my best friend at times. It allows me to clean billions of pine needles out of my gutters and paving stones in a really short time. You simply have to love that!
16. What’s your motivation for gardening?
Elke: One on one time between me and my plants. Every time I plant a root or bulb I can’t wait for it to come up. Gardening for me is a sign of hope and a belief in tomorrow. I feel rewarded every minute I spend in my garden. Gardening connects me with the Earth. It’s the healing effect of working with plants and sounds and smells. When I weed it’s usually pretty quiet. I am peaceful and I’m listening.
Pam: Happiness…it’s that simple. If I didn’t have a garden to look at and enjoy all the days of the year I know I would be much less happy and content than I am now.
Wendy: My motivation is a desire for beauty and tranquility in the area that surrounds my home, that and the fact that it just makes me feel so darn good!