Rain Gardens and Low Impact Design Gardens

World Water Day is celebrated to raise awareness of the importance of water each year on March 22nd. Hosted by the United Nations, the 2018 theme for World Water Day is ‘Nature for Water,’ exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face today. Anne Kulla, a local landscape professional and owner of Huckleberry Landscape Design, explains what home owners can do in their yard to help the reduce the impact of rainfall in BC.

Rain Gardens and Low Impact Design Gardens – One of the Newest Trends in Garden Design is also a Great Environmental Plus

By Anne Kulla, CLT

Many would say that living in the Lower Mainland is sometimes like living in a rain garden. On average the Vancouver area receives just over one metre of rain every year. Low Impact Development (LID) is a landscape design strategy which helps mitigate flooding from rainwater and limit chemicals and nutrients getting into our waterways through rain gardens, bioswales, green roofs and permeable pavement.

A rain garden is a form of storm water management. The rain water falls and flows into our storm drains and streams, and eventually into the ocean, taking oils and chemicals from vehicles and other waste with it.  Our storm drain systems are reaching capacity due to the increase in unique weather events in the past few years, our increase in population, as well as our aging infrastructure. To mitigate the cost of repairs and upgrades, governments across the country are searching for ways to reduce the amount of water going into our drainage systems. Federal, provincial and local governments are implementing new bylaws, restrictions and taxes in an effort to keep water out of the drains.

One simple, low cost and effective solution is to build rain gardens.  They are a deep garden bed with a layer of topsoil planted with a variety of plants that can survive periods of wet feet during the winter and spring, and dry feet during the summer (think water restrictions).  A rain garden placed at the bottom of a slight down-slope can capture water from driveways, patios, walkways and other hard surfaces, allowing the water to slowly absorb into the ground.  Even the downspouts from your roof top can be re-routed towards a rain garden, further reducing the amount of water going into your storm drains.

The designs for rain gardens are limitless, as each one is unique to the individual landscape setting.  The location, shape, size and style of garden will change depending on the homeowner’s personal style and tastes. Different mulches, different plants and different locations all go towards making that rain garden one of a kind and unique.

Rain gardens are effective and beneficial by lowering the amount of water flowing into our storm drain systems, reducing some of your home’s water usage costs and by increasing your property value by adding a beautiful landscape.  The bonus is that you are helping the environment by keeping harmful chemicals and waste out of our rivers and oceans.

If you need assistance designing your rain garden, call a professional landscaper to help ensure you have the correct location and plants for your home. Visit LandscapeBC.com to ‘request a quote’ easily from your computer.

Anne Kulla is the owner of Huckleberry Landscape Design, a landscape design and installation company based out of Surrey, BC. She actively supports her industry as a Past Chair of the Landscape Commodity for the BC Landscape and Nursery Association and is currently active in the association’s Landscape Advisory Group.

5 Ways Gardening Makes Us Happy

Today marks the first day of Spring and for gardeners, we couldn’t be happier.

No wonder today is also the International Day of Happiness. In 2011, the UN General Assembly recognized happiness as a “fundamental human goal [that] promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples” and since 2013 we’ve celebrated the International Day of Happiness on March 20th.

As gardeners, we know that our plants make us happy, but do you know why? Here are 5 things that happen when we spend time with plants:

Healing Qualities

Working with plants is proven to promote feelings of comfort, soothing and relaxation. People are designed to be outdoors but now we spend most of our time indoors creating a disconnect between nature and ourselves. This can lead to Nature Deficiency Disorder and increased stress.

When working with plants, or even being around plants, blood pressure is reduced and people’s nerves are relaxed. Allowing them to be able to concentrate longer and heal faster from illnesses than if plants are absent.

Plants also help filter pollution out of the air. In fact, two mature trees can produce enough oxygen for a family of four. Indoors, having plants in the home, office or school, promote better health and fewer days absent from work or school.

Healthier eating

Everyone knows they need to eat fresh fruit and vegetables but few consume the recommended daily amount. Eating healthy can be a challenge, especially when trying to get kids to eat their greens. People who grow their own food are more likely to eat larger quantities of vegetables over those who buy their food at the store.

Also, growing your own food give you control over the quality of your food. Brian Minter, owner of Minter Gardens in Chilliwack, talks about how certain varieties of vegetables have more nutritional value and antioxidants than other varieties in the same food group in a recent Vancouver Sun article. By growing your own veggies it allows you to control how much harmful pesticide residues touch your food and how much your food bill comes to.

Exercise in the garden

According to the Queen’s doctor, Sir Richard Thompson, the benefits of gardens to mental and physical health have been known for centuries. By encouraging people to become active, it helps reduce illnesses caused by inactivity while improving the environment.

As gardeners, we know how much work it takes to plant and maintain a garden. In fact, 30 minutes of exertion can burn 160 calories raking; 180 calories weeding; 200 calories digging; 240 calories using a push mower and 240+ shoveling.

When working with the earth, the bacteria in soil, Mycobaterium vaccae, helps trigger the release of serotonin in the brain. The increased serotonin levels acts as a natural anti-depressant and help strengthen the immune system, making you happy naturally.

Increase cognitive abilities

Gardening is known to help with overall brain health and there is some research that even suggests it can lower the risk of developing dementia. Alternatively, exposure to natural scenery and lush greenery can have positive results on children’s cognitive ability, and help them to achieve higher test scores.

To test the effects of gardening and green spaces on children’s cognitive abilities, a study out of Barcelona asked young students in Spain, Norway, and the United States to write four cognitive tests at three month intervals over a year. The students who were exposed to more greenery ended up improving more in their working memory and attentiveness by 5%.

Allows for adventure and imagination

Finally, spending time in the garden allows the mind to wander. Gardeners start to experience things that they wouldn’t be able to experience otherwise. From thinking creatively about garden layouts to exploring new insects; gardening frees the mind from every day and allows the gardener to experience life around them. Because of this, some may say that gardening actually allows them to be better in other aspects of their life.

 

So if you needed another excuse to get gardening, do it because it makes you happy.

Check out our interactive map to find local Garden Centres and Landscapers around BC! https://plantsomethingbc.ca/search-local/

Buzz by PlantSomething Bee Friendly’s Table at the 20th Annual Nature Day, Hosted by Amsterdam Garden Centre

  PlantSomething Bee Friendly will be at Amsterdam Garden Centre for their 20th Annual ‘Nature Day Event’ on Saturday, March 17th from 10 am to 4 pm. Our table will be loaded with PlantSomething Bee Friendly posters, postcards, magnets and booklets that you can take home or share with friends. We will be discussing why Bee Friendly plants are important for gardens, no matter the size and how to plant for efficient pollination.

This is the second year that we’ve attended Amsterdam’s event. Last year the attendees were a mix of young families and gardeners at every skill level. The event provides an opportunity for people to learn more about the environment around them and to understand the impact that a personal garden can have on the area around them. The Nature Day Event is free to attend and provides entertainment and learning opportunities for people at any age.

Jennifer Kok, Assistant Manager at Amsterdam Greenhouses and Garden Centre, tells us that their main focus is to promote environmental awareness in the community through free displays and presentations. The garden centre has invited over 20 local nature groups to share their displays and raise public awareness on issues that impact the environment in the lower mainland. A few of the organizations who will be on display include the Alouette Field Naturalists, Ridge Meadows Recycling Society, Burns Bog Conservation Society, Invasive Species Council and more.

There are plenty of activities for children as well. A ‘Nature Day Clue Hunt’ encourages young attendees to interact with the booths and enter their sheet into a draw. A colouring contest and free professional face painter is also available. No matter their age, getting involved in the Nature Day Event is a great way for children to learn an appreciation for nature and how they can help the environment around them.

The Nature Day Event offers the following workshops to help gardeners at any age to become aware of the impact they have on the local environment and to improve their gardening skills:

10:30 – 11:30 am ‘RAPTOR FORCE’ Birds of Prey
Free Presentation by Raptors Ridge Birds of Prey about the owls, hawks & falcons living among us.

12:00 pm ‘THE BEAR NECESSITIES’ – Class for Kids
Free seminar by Ross Davies of K.E.E.P.S. (Kanaka Education and Environmental Partnership Society) where he will use puppets to explain how to be bear aware in our yards and on the trails.

1:00 pm ‘BEE FRIENDLY PLANTS’
Free seminar to learn about which plants are best to attract and feed bees and other pollinators!

2:00 pm ‘STRAWBERRY BASKET’ – Class for Kids
Kids plant their own strawberry Hanging Basket and take it home! $10:50 (incl. tax) per child workshop includes the cost of materials. Ages 7 and under need adult participation. Please register in advance.

3:00 pm ‘MASON BEE SEMINAR’
Free seminar to learn about everything you need to know about mason bees and successfully keeping them as beneficial insects for pollination in your garden.

Amsterdam Greenhouses and Garden Centre is a family run business located in Pitt Meadows and provides  a wide assortment of plants grown onsite, as well as other local favourites. Established in the early 80’s, the staff at Amsterdam Greenhouses are knowledgeable in all things gardening.

PlantSomething Bee Friendly Launches the Spring Campaign at the BC Home and Garden Show

This week marks the Spring 2018 Launch of PlantSomething Bee Friendly at the BC Home and Garden Show. Our booth is set up and filled with postcards, posters and other items that you won’t want to miss. Doors for the popular 5-day tradeshow opened at 4 pm on Wednesday, February 21st and will close at 6 pm on Sunday, February 25th at BC place.

Displaying our bee theme, we are located on the concourse level in booth #2320 and staffed with gardening experts. Stop by our booth to talk to landscape and garden centre professionals and ask questions about bee friendly plants or how they can turn your backyard into a bee’s paradise.

Show attendees are invited to take a picture in our booth to show us how they PlantSomething Bee Friendly. All attendees who take a picture in our booth will receive a Sedum Spectibilis root, which is a low maintenance plant that is great for kids and small spaces. The roots are sponsored by Van Noort Bulb Company, located in Langley, and highly recommended as a bee friendly plant for any garden.

The popular #BCplants photo contest also started on February 21st, giving attendees the opportunity to post their photos on social media for a chance to win a Wheelbarrow of Goodies valued at $250. Last year, this contest was held 3 times over spring and summer and brought hundreds of photos of people gardening for bees. Learn more…

New this year! Our booth will also be promoting careers in the industry and how you can find resources on how to get into the original ‘Green Industry.’ The green industry is filled job opportunities in large and small companies around the province, with lots of opportunities for job advancements and certifications. To learn more, visit www.GreenCareersCanada.ca

Start the Lunar New Year Right with the Right Plants

Today’s blog was written by Frank Shang, owner of MRD Landscaping Inc, to show the important role that plants play in Chinese New Year. Frank Shang is a Certified Landscape Technician in Vancouver and columnist for Home & Realty Weekly.

Start the Lunar New Year right with the right plants

2018 Chinese New Year falls on February 16 and marks the Year of the Dog according to Chinese zodiac.

In China, Chinese New Year (also called Spring Festival or Lunar New Year) has more than 4,000 years of history. Being one of the traditional Chinese festivals, it is the grandest and the most important festival for East Asians. China, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore and many Asian countries celebrate the Lunar New Year as national holidays. The dates of celebration are similar because many countries in Asia interpret the lunar calendar the same way. While Asians celebrate the Lunar New Year in different ways, all celebrations have one common feature: family reunions.

Today Chinese New Year is celebrated all across the world, with people coming together to wish each other good luck and a prosperous year ahead.

To traditionalists, families come together to share a meal; give the house a thorough clean to sweep away any misfortune before the New Year starts. Homes are filled with Chinese New Year decorations and Chinese New Year flowers and fruit to promote wealth, longevity, good fortune, and happiness.

Chinese believe: “When Flowers Bloom, Prosperity Comes”. It is important that gardens are green & blooming and homes are decorated with healthy, vibrant plants. Care is taken to remove all dead, dying and decaying plants from sight. My post today is about plants and flowers that bring luck, wealth, prosperity and health for the Chinese New Year season.

Lucky tree

Citrus Tree

Citrus fruits play a big role during Chinese New Year.  The words orange and tangerine are similar to the Chinese words for luck and wealth and the orange colour resembles gold or money. Eating and displaying these fruits is said to bring wealth and luck. A pair of blooming lime trees are placed at doorways and living room to bring abundance, good luck and wealth for the coming year. In Richmond, Chinese nurseries have perfected the art of getting the plants to flower at precisely the right time so that during the New Year, the fruits will ripen.

Why is Citrus such an important part of Chinese New Year?

Giving citrus trees or citrus fruit is also considered to symbolize wishing good luck or fortune. In fact, the more fruit a tree has, the more luck and wealth it is thought to bestow. For this reason bountiful calamondin and kumquat trees are often given as gifts at Chinese New Year. Other gifts are often accompanied by fresh mandarins symbolizing prosperity; ideally they should include a couple of leaves to show they are fresh and to symbolize fertility.

Now, can you see why these citrus plants are so popular during Chinese New Year?

Lucky Flower

Orchids

Orchids are undoubtedly the most popular Chinese New Year flower. During the festival, flower markets and shops will be flooded with bouquets, pots, and arrangements of Orchids in a wide variety of colours.

Orchids are delicate, beautiful and elegant flowers, and in China they are considered to be symbolic of ‘many children’ or fertility. Orchids also signify luxury and innocence or purity. These flowers make valuable gifts in this season. They are also popular objects in Chinese art and culture as they are emblems of love and beauty. Their fragranced flowers represent virtue, moral excellence, refinement and reputation. Violet coloured orchids are said to bring the most luck, wealth and good fortune.

In Vancouver orchids can be found year round, however there’s a larger selection during Lunar New Year, especially in areas where there’s a large Asian population.

Azaleas

Red, which symbolizes happiness, is a prominent colour during Chinese New Year. As such, red azaleas are perfect for Chinese New Year. In Chinese, azaleas are called “ying shan hung,” meaning “a glowing mountain of red.” These blooming red beauties will add colour and brighten up your home. Azaleas symbolize happiness, harmony and balance.

Tips: Red Azalea is the No. 1 choice for Chinese. They may also choose other colours like purple and pink, but never white.

Lucky Bamboo

In modern Chinese culture Lucky Bamboo has become one of the most important plants for Chinese New Year. You may see it sold everywhere in Vancouver during holiday season, but this isn’t an accurate name from a scientific point-of-view. Lucky Bamboo is actually a Dracaena Sanderiana which comes from Cameroon in tropical west Africa.

Local growers use the principles of Feng Shui to train plant stalks into the shape of hearts or coils, weaving stalks together to make decorative braids, and potting a “lucky” number of plant stalks together. The Lucky Bamboo is wrapped it in a decorative and auspiciously-coloured ribbon to make an appropriate and affordable salute to the arrival of the symbol-rich Lunar New Year.

According to the Chinese tradition, the meaning of Lucky Bamboo is tied to how many stalks you have. Here are some of the meanings associated with different lucky bamboo arrangements: two stalks represent love, three stalks represent Fu (happiness), Lu (wealth), and Soh (long life),and eight stalks represent luck in wealth.

Tips: Avoid keeping a Lucky Bamboo with four stalks. In the Chinese language, the word used as four sounds very similar to the word used for death. Don’t give four bamboo stalks as a gift except to your worst enemy, as it means you’re giving the recipient a death wish.

Above are most common plants used in Vancouver. Whether you believe or not, bringing any plants into the home or workplace provides a health benefit. Traditional Chinese culture is ahead of the world culture on this. In traditional culture lucky plants are used to attract whatever you need more of in your life in the coming year whether it be health, happiness, love or money.

Thanks to all of you who take time to read this. I cannot thank you enough. “Xin Nian Kuai Le” to all of you, which is Happy New Year in the Mandarin.

Frank Shang
2018.Feb.03

Spring is Around the Corner

Weather in February can’t make up its mind. Snow falls but days get longer and the temperature gets warmer. In Metro Vancouver, trees are starting to bud and new growth is starting to peek through dirt – a sign that spring is around the corner… until a surprise dump of snow falls.

But regardless of the weather, independent garden centres are starting to get prepared and re-open for the season.

Allium schoenprasum CHIVES

Allium schoenprasum CHIVES

Many garden centres in BC close over winter. They use the downtime to prepare for upcoming trends and events. Jennifer Kok, from Amsterdam Greenhouses and Garden Centre, suggests that this year’s trends will include traditional and unusual edible plants, container grown plants, lawn replacement ground covers and small space gardening. Purple will be very popular this year, including alliums which adds texture to the garden and excellent for bees.

With edibles trending in 2018, Shelagh Themmen from Art Knapp Poco explains that kale plants left in the ground over winter will go to seed in early spring, throwing out a tall bloom spike with small yellow flowers. The flowers will attract bees to your garden, just in time to coincide with strawberry and fruit trees blossoming.

Getting into gardening for the first time can be intimidating. Kok’s advice for new gardeners is to decide what type of garden you want before you plant. The type of garden that you choose to create will determine the types of plants that you select, such as edibles, ornamentals, low maintenance plants, etc.  She recommends researching the plants before you purchase them in order to determine the ultimate size and specific requirements they may need in order to keep them healthy.

While garden centres start to ramp up for the season, they’re looking to fill their staff with passionate plant-minded people. Garden centres are expected to reach double digit growth over the next decade, leading to an increase in local jobs. If you like to work with plants and people, ask your local garden centre how you can apply for a job. Our interactive map can help you find a garden centre near you.

Most garden centres are locally owned businesses and have close relationships with their community. A lot of consideration goes into their plant selection making sure customers receive quality plants. They are passionate about what they do and make sure that their plants are well cared for and appropriate for the area.

How to Hire A Landscape Professional

Gardeners love to spend time in their yards – but not every homeowner has the time or skills to create their own sanctuary. Sometimes experts are needed to create a space the owner loves to be in.

But hiring a landscaper can be intimidating. With over 2400 landscapers in British Columbia, how do you know you’re hiring the right professional for the job?

We asked Jeff Foley, President & CEO of Para Space Landscaping Inc., to share his tips on hiring the right contractor for the job. Here’s a list of the top questions he recommends asking to make sure you’re hiring a professional.

Ask to see a portfolio of their work – It is always good to see a portfolio of a landscaper’s work and ask for current and past client references. Visiting one of their projects will give an even better idea of the service product they are selling.

Ask what accreditation their staff hold – Internationally recognized, the Landscape Industry Certified Technician accreditation proves competency through written and hands-on testing. Other accreditations to look for are Certified Arborists and Irrigation Technicians. Landscape Horticulturist is a Red Seal Trade so you may want to request a journeyperson to be on site as well.

Ask how long has the company has been in business – The age of a business doesn’t always tell you about the quality of their work, however, a long-established company indicates that the business has been successful over time. This may be a way to weed out a fly-by-night operation.

Ask about membership with BC Landscape & Nursery Association (BCLNA) – Being a member of a professional association often means the company has agreed to abide by a set of professional standards or code of conduct and ethics.

Ask if the work will be done in accordance with the new Canadian Landscape Standard – The Canadian Nursery Landscape Association and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects released the Canadian Landscape Standard (CLS) First Edition. The CLS is a single, authoritative resource for landscape construction projects across Canada. For the first time, there is a national guideline to set the standard of landscape work in every province across the country.

Ask if there is a product warranty – Plants are living organisms and rarely have a 100% success rate. However, credible companies should warranty all plant material for one year, subject to adequate maintenance of plants.

Ask for a certificate of liability insurance – If it’s an extended job, make sure that you are added onto their policy as an additional insured and notified of cancellation/material changes within 30 days. Coverage of $5 million is preferred these days.

Ask if the company is in good standing with WorkSafe BC – Make sure that the landscaping company is in good standing with WorkSafeBC. You can easily find a clearance letter on the WorkSafe BC website.

Ask for awards – Awards are a great way to vet a company, as their work has been professionally judged to a high standard.

Ask what work will be subcontracted – Ensure that your general contractor is familiar with all subcontractors. It is also advisable to ask many of the above questions of subcontracted companies working on your property.

A final word of caution is to ensure you have a signed contract that outlines the scope of work in detail. This will ensure clarity between you and the company you hire and will be helpful should there be any disputes over the project. And last, but not least, check out LandscapeBC.com to help you search for and hire the right landscape professional.

After all, bees need flowers and professional landscape companies know exactly how to create the best space for you and the bees.

 

Jeff Foley is a Red Seal Journeyperson Lanscape Horticulturist, Certified Landscape Manager, Certified Landscape Technician, and the Executive Vice President of Para Space Landscaping Inc. Para Space has won numerous awards for their landscape maintenance and installation and was honoured as one of B.C.’s best companies to work for in 2011.

Let’s Talk Gardens and Mental Health

Today is ‘Bell Let’s Talk Day,’  a day dedicated to bringing awareness to mental health issues and helping eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health. This movement is becoming increasingly important over the last decade to help those who are dealing with mental health issues gain access to help.

Today a lot of people rely on medication to help with depression, anxiety and other forms of mental health. Although these medications are an important part of the treatment process, there are other holistic ways to promote healthy mental health in your daily life; like gardening.

Being around plants and in the garden is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety. Gardens are known to have several healing qualities, including lowering stress and blood pressure levels, calming nerves and reducing tension. By having a ‘green space’ on your balcony or in your yard helps boost relaxation, encourage physical activity and lowers agitation among people. Gardens are a popular tool that they use in hospitals to help promote healing within their 

patients and some care homes will provide therapeutic gardening for patients with dementia. Being around the plants helps calm their mind and can help promote a healthy mind and reduced anxiety.

Studies also look at how green spaces affect children. During these studies they notice that being around plants and green spaces help calm student minds, allowing them to relax and having a positive effect on behavioural issues; such as Attention Deficit Disorder. There is also a strong correlation between green spaces and a child’s cognitive functions, showing that students who are exposed to green spaces typically receive higher grades than those who are not.

Nature Deficient Disorder is a new phenomenon happening in urban settings, a disorder where people are spending more time indoors glued to modern technology and away from nature or green spaces. This is having a negative effect on our mental health and general well being, leading to a sedimentary lifestyle and creating a large disconnect between how we are biological supposed act and our daily activities.

Taking advantage of the benefits you can get from a green space can be as simple as buying a plant for your desk from a local garden centre or hiring a landscape professional to install a garden for your home. Another option to consider is a career in landscaping, garden retailing or plant nurseries. Most of these jobs are locally owned and operated, providing you with a friendly job environment and opportunity to build your own business – plus there are tonnes of jobs available in the industry right now. To learn more about jobs working with plants, check out the resources on GreenCareersCanada.ca for more information.

 

 

Hello, We Are PlantSomething Bee Friendly.

If this is your first time to our website ‘Welcome!’ and allow us to introduce ourselves. We are PlantSomething Bee Friendly.

PlantSomething Bee Friendly is a marketing initiative from BC’s Landscapers, Nursery Growers and Garden Centres to promote locally grown, Bee Friendly Plants and to encourage more Bee Friendly choices being planted in the garden. PlantSomething originally came to BC in 2015 to encourage novice and experienced gardeners to consider locally grown plants. Since then it’s expanded to promote … you guessed it, Bee Friendly Plants.

So what does that all mean? Well, BC’s famers, landscapers and garden centres came together and noticed that there was a knowledge gap when it came to gardening.  People want more information on where their plants come from and how to create pollinator gardens in any space. After much consideration and planning, the BC Landscape and Nursery Association (BCLNA) decided to adopt a popular campaign created from Arizona and that was how PlantSomethingBC was created.

PlantSomethingBC evolved into PlantSomething Bee Friendly in the spring 2018. This shift has proven to be successful as British Columbians are eager to help the local pollinators. Local farmers are also eager to share their expertise on which bee friendly plants are their favourites, providing photos and recommendations on plants for each season and each region of BC.

The experts at local garden centres are equally excited to share their information with you. Independent garden centres hand select plants that are right for the area and of top quality. They know exactly which plants will grow best in your yard and how to get the best Bee Friendly yard. Many garden centres carry a wide variety of products that will keep your plants happy and healthy for years to come.

Alternatively, BC is full of landscape professionals who are certified and trained to take care of your plants, creating a haven that’s perfect for you and your bee visitors. With so many landscape companies to choose from, it can be difficult to find a professional. When you search on our interactive database, you can find listings for Professional Landscapers in your area who are eager to help you find locally grown ‘Bee Friendly’ plants for your space.

Keep posted, over the spring we will be visiting with garden centres and landscaper professionals around BC to bring you the latest information on how to create a Bee Friendly Garden in your space.