Monthly Archives

November 2018

Ornamental grass cutback: time it right

By | landscape maintenance, Seasonal, Species | No Comments

I was on a large strata site last week planting winter pansies and testing out a new Stihl brush cutter. Finished for the day, I descended down the long private road that winds through the complex. And what really struck me was the beauty of the ornamental grasses. They were gently moving in the late afternoon sun and they put on a great show. They were ornamental for sure.

 

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Pressure

Unfortunately, the beautiful Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ were coming down. So you have to ask yourself why this is happening just as the grasses start to look their best. It comes down to pressure because this particular strata site is huge. It takes four weeks to make one full maintenance rotation. And the fear is that before the grass area is due for service, rain and wind will have destroyed them. That’s too bad because the show they put on along with their cousin grass species totally warmed me up. Now all that was left was a grassy stump to look at until next spring. This totally defeats the point of planting these grasses when they’re not allowed to be ornamental.

Note that there is always the possibility of rot in the centre when the grass is cut back too early.

 

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This is it until next spring. Rot in the middle is always a danger.

 

 

Cut back timing

Ornamental grasses flower in the fall and when everything else in the landscape fades, they give us something to look at. Personally, I cut them back only when they’re all broken up on the ground.

If you can let your ornamental grasses stand into winter, you might get rewarded with a beautiful frosty look. And birds also feed on the flower spikes in winter when there isn’t much else to eat.

If you can, let your grasses be ornamental and enjoy them well into spring. If you must cut them back, do it when they’re flopped over and hugging the ground.

Collecting CEUs is a snap!

By | Education | No Comments

So you made it, you passed your written and practical exams and now you’re Landscape Industry Certified. Great. Now the hunt is on for education credits and this blog post will show you how easy it is to collect them.

Requirements

The requirement is 24 CEUs every two years, ending on December 31. I renewed this year so my next renewal will be on December 31, 2019.

The renewal fee is $84.75 and the form and payment must be sent on time to the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association. There are late payment fees and if you leave it really late, they will make you re-write the tests. So renew on time.

Yes, I know, it’s a nice money grab but it forces you to learn which is excellent. And you should be able to pass the renewal cost on to your employer. Your employer in turn looks good for having certified professionals on staff.

So how do you collect the required CEUs? Take a look at my last CEU report.

 

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Trade shows

Attending trade shows is the best way to score CEUs because you get to mingle with other professionals while you do it. I usually attend the CanWest Hort Show in Abbotsford, BC, the best trade show there is in British Columbia.

Last year I attended the all-day Urban Foresters Symposium which often features Ph.D. speakers who are extremely knowledgeable and articulate. Lunch is included in the $200 fee.

I also took in some plant seminars, each lasting 1.5 hours.

 

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Books

I used to struggle with book reading time estimates until I discovered audiobooks. Now it’s a breeze because the listening time is clearly shown. I strongly recommend Peter Wohlleben’s “The Hidden Life of Trees” book. It will change the way you look at trees. Forever.

Finding appropriate books for CEUs is easy. It’s normal for me to finish one book while I work. I highly recommend Audible.com.

 

Bartlett Tree Experts

Bartlett invites clients every winter to their client training seminar so my boss sent me. And it was worth it. It was snowing lightly outside so it was nice to be inside with hot drinks and great lectures.

Finding lectures and seminars is easy. Van Dusen Botanical Garden also puts on many lectures that qualify for CEUS.

 

Blogging

As a professional blogger I could point the CNLA to my published blogs. And I will do the same for my next renewal. I find I learn lots by writing about landscaping, gardening, trees and horticulture.

 

So don’t worry about collecting CEUs. Passing the CLT tests was the hard part.

 

 

 

Adding some winter colour is easy

By | Seasonal | No Comments

By early fall most summer annuals start to look suspicious so we remove them and clean up the beds. Now what? What do we do with bare beds all winter?

Don’t worry, there is an easy way to add some winter color to your planted beds. And it won’t blow up your budget. Consider using ornamental kale which adds nice, bright whites and purples to your beds. Brian Minter, writing in Tri-City News, (October 10, 2018 A24) reports that ornamental kales should be fine in winter unless it’s -10 degrees Celsius for long stretches.

It’s nice to plant ornamental kale with good companions. We used pansies but Dusty Millers are also good. Planting around evergreen Carex species is also good.

Key tips

Brian Minter offers two key tips. One is to plant ornamental kales in groups so the bright colors really stand out. This is obvious. The other tip isn’t. Plant ornamental kale deep so they look like they are popping out of the ground. Since I read Minter’s article half-way through our winter planting, I adjusted my planting afterwards.

A third tip involves peeling off the bottom leaves that look brown or yellow before planting your kale. It cleans up the plant nicely.

 

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Remove the yellow foliage before planting.

 

 

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Much better; and ready for planting.

 

Examples

Let’s look at some actual examples. First comes bed preparation. Remove all annuals and rake and cultivate your beds so they are clean. Cultivation fluffs up the soil and makes planting easier.

 

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My directions were to plant kale and then alternate with yellow and blue pansy lines. At your house you can experiment and arrange everything to your liking.

 

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This driveway corner looks much better now and hopefully the plants survive the winter. Remember to do your clean-up blow gently so you don’t blast out the plants.

 

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This is another high-profile boulevard corner and it looks fine for now.

 

If you haven’t tried winter planting with ornamental kale and pansies, give it a go. You can also do your garden pots. It will add fresh colour to your garden just as the days get shorter, darker and colder. Group the ornamental kales and plant them deep. Then pray for a mild West Coast winter.

How to inspire future green workers

By | Education, Landscaping | No Comments

I know a landscape foreman who received a nice card from a kid living on his site. As the seasons piled up the two developed a nice relationship. The kid would “help” on site and it would totally excite him. His mother appreciated the attention the boy received but now they were moving away.

 

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This is a card for a foreman from a resident boy moving away.

 

What I remember

I would see them only sporadically and every time I saw the woman she was very pregnant or stuffing her family car with kids. I also remember the boy handing me a bag of cookies once to hand over to the previous foreman. But since the man was on holiday, I promised to hand over the cookies later and thanked the boy. I lied.

One of the cookies broke so I tested it and the others soon followed. And they all passed their final test. I’m not proud of it but the boy never found out.

I also remember the boy being excited about tree work and my ISA certified arborist patch. Unfortunately, I couldn’t give him one. He can easily earn it later.

Two lessons

1. This boy is a poster child for biophilia, defined by Edward O. Wilson as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life”. He loved “helping” the landscape crew, excited by trees, machines and the big truck moving around the site. I’m sure he will become a green industry worker when he grows up.

2. This case also nicely illustrates that providing good quality work on site isn’t the only thing landscape companies should focus on. Building relationships is just as important. Sure, it takes precious time away from never-ending maintenance work but it’s an important sacrifice. Assuming it doesn’t get out of hand.

Clients that get to know you well are more likely to retain you so don’t forget to build relationships with your clients. You might get a cool card one day.