Our Changing Gardens



Brian Minter

Minter Country Garden


Despite the long, cold, and often challenging spring weather, Canadians across the country are highly engaged in beautifying their homes, both indoors and out. Food gardening, too, is here to stay as more people are planting not only small fruits and fruit trees but also a large array of vegetables. Container gardening is still a huge focus, especially with today’s reality of small- space living, where patios and balconies may be the only locations available to grow plants.

For the first time in Canada, the Canadian Garden Council has declared 2022 as the Year of the Garden. June 11 to June 19 is the actual garden week, with June 18 being National Garden Day. I was speaking with Michel Gauthier, the director of the Garden Council, and he talked about the long history of gardening in our country, from public parks and gardens to the many gardening events and festivals, and of course, our private gardens. He is convinced that there is a true garden culture in Canada that needs to be more highly recognized.

A new demographic, the Millennial generation, is now leading this renewed interest in gardening. These folks are far more connected to the natural world, and they see gardening as an extension of nature. They believe that gardening should focus more on supporting wildlife, like pollinators, birds, and amphibians, such as frogs – all of which are under threat. Today’s gardens need to be more beneficial, not only to us, but also to wildlife and our planet.

Regenerative gardening is the new reality. We have depleted our soils to the point where we are losing far too much viable soil needed to grow trees, grasses, and other plants that produce oxygen and sequester carbon. With a burgeoning world population, we need quality soil to produce enough food for nine billion people.

This renewal all begins at home where we must put more back into our soils and gardens than we take out. By increasing the organic matter and compost in our soils and by planting winter grass crops to continue this process, it’s amazing how successful we can be in making our soils far more sustainable and richer in micro- organisms and worms. With our changing climate, we also need to use plants that have greater heat, drought, and excessive rain tolerance.

Perennials have become today’s go-to plants because the new varieties are longer blooming and are, therefore, a greater source of pollen and nectar for pollinators, hummingbirds, and many other bird species. Varieties, like “Milly Rock” achillea (yarrow) flower or repeat flower all summer. Perennial salvias, like the “Marvel” series in pink, blue, and white, also have an extended flowering period. New coreopsis varieties, like “UpTick,” basically flower from June until frost. The gold standard of perennials is the rudbeckia family, and many new varieties flower from late spring well into the fall. A new lavender series from Dummen Orange in Holland, called “La Diva,” is the first angustifolia or English type that flowers most of the summer. These are just some of the plants that are changing the future character of our gardens.

Flowering shrubs, too, have evolved, becoming more compact and repeat flowering. The new, non-invasive dwarf buddleias, like the “Miss Molly” and “Pugster” series, flower all summer and have a beautiful perfume. These shrubs attract butterflies, pollinators, and hummingbirds.

Compact weigelas, like the “Sonic Bloom” series, now reflower over the summer for more continuous blooming. There’s also a wealth of new hydrangeas, like the “Ever- lasting” and the “Bloomstruck” series, that not only stay more compact but also repeat bloom.

When planted in containers filled with lightweight soils, smaller trees are also becoming an important patio feature. Used as screening for privacy and for shade, they are now a vital element in hot and exposed small-space gardens and on patios. Japanese maples, especially the many new green-leafed varieties, make ideal patio plants.

Colourful annuals, too, have become much more important for their foliage and heat tolerance. Canna lilies, coleus, “Angel Wings” senecio, and silver artemisia are magnificent accent plants that really make their flowering companions pop.

Gardening today has changed dramatically and for the better. Not only does it provide many health benefits, like fresh air, exercise, and stress relief, but it also results in more beautiful and beneficial surroundings and adds enormous value to our lives. ■

Brian Minter’s destination garden centre, Minter Country Garden, is located in Chilliwack, BC, at 10015 Young Road North. Visit their website at www.mintergardening.com

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of RGF Integrated Wealth Management, which makes no representations as to their completeness or accuracy.

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