373. The right plant in the right spot | Down the Garden Path Podcast | Joanne Shaw | Ontario, Canada
Joann’s best advice: The right plant in the right spot.
A recipe for frustration, I hear people say, i have a brown thumb, I can’t keep anything alive, no it’s the wrong plant in those conditions or that spot.
Down2Earth Landscape Design
Hey, green future growers. Welcome to season three. I’m your host Jackie Murray buyer. If you’re new to the show, I hope you’ll subscribe on iTunes for free or follow on your favorite podcast app. And let’s get growing. Want to donate directly to the show. You can buy me a cup of coffee, where your donation goes directly to support the green organic garden podcast. It helps pay for things like hosting the MP3 files, maintaining the website. It’s super easy. I’ll put the link in the show notes. Thanks so much for listening. Welcome to the green organic garden. It is Friday, January 22nd, 2021.
And I have an amazing guest on the wine. She has her own podcast called down the garden path that I think you’re going to love. She’s a landscape designer. She’s got a ton of stuff going on. She’s going to share tons of golden seeds today, so here to share her amazing garden journey is Joanne. And so welcome to the show. Joanne,
Thank you so much. Thank you. I’m so happy to be here, Jackie. Thank you.
Well, tell us a little bit about yourself. Like what, where are you at?
Yeah, as well. I mean, I mean, Ontario, Canada, so I’m a North of the border and I have an exciting garden story in that. That’s led me down this windy path to where I am now in that my husband and I bought our first house at the end of October and then moved in at the end of January. And then spring came and everything melted. And I was like, Oh my gosh, look at all these gardens and what do I do? And I wrote a tilt up. Now I know that I wrote a tilt up a hundreds of dollars worth of perennials, and I planted all the wrong shrubs and all the wrong spots. And I had to learn the hard way and I learned how much my mother-in-law was a tremendous help.
And then I learned that I could remember, you know, the names of the plants and where they belonged more than I could remember what I did at work the day before. So, so I learned that it was something I loved and I wanted to learn more about and interesting. Yeah. And then, you know, a couple of kids later, I’m home, more, I’m playing in my garden, I’m helping friends with their garden and I still wanted to learn more. So I, I went to a local university kind of continuing ed to learn more about plants, I thought, but it was part of their landscape design certificate. So then it was like, so design never really entered into my mind. It was like, I want to learn more about plants. And, but, you know, once you’re four courses into an, you know, a six course thing, you’re like, Oh, I should finish this.
And so that kind of led me to transition to landscape design. And I finished that certificate and I was working for a nursery at the time. So it was a great way to learn, to be able to help people with their plants. You know, you transition, as you learned in school, I transitioned from being like the cashier to helping in the perennials and then helping in the shrubs and trees because my knowledge expanded. So yeah. And so now their outside designer left as I was wrapping up my certificate. And so I was able to take on that role as a, as a landscape designer for a local garden center. And then I slowly transitioned to my own business. So I’ve been doing it for almost 12 years now.
Well, no wonder you’re such a wealth of knowledge. So I do always start asking about your very first gardening experience. Like, were you a kid, were you an adult? What’d you grow?
You know what, as my parents weren’t really gardeners, I have fond memories of my grandmother on one side and my grandfather and another side, my dad’s father always had a vegetable garden. And so I have memories. Then I think mine was really forced when we bought that house, you know, it was like, Oh my goodness, all of a sudden I have to, I have to learn all of this. And then we are in a different house now. And so, because it worked in the industry, really wasn’t able to do a vegetable garden aside from a few pots of herbs and a few pots of like a cherry tomato plant. But a few years ago, my, at the time, 18 year old son, our new house has a pool and it has one of those strips and a tiny backyard, you know, the 18 inches between the fence and the concrete that I had a lovely display of ornamental grasses in river rock.
And it was my 18 year old son said, mom, can we rip all that out and put in a vegetable garden? And I’m like, do you know how much work that is to do that? And he said, yep. And he did it. He pulled them all out and you know, and we amended the soil and we’ve been planting a vegetable garden ever since. And so we’re still learning. It’s always a tricky timing thing for me is to when the garden vegetable garden needs attention is when, you know, my clients are wanting my attention as well. But, but so he mostly takes care of it, but it’s been a really cool thing to do with your son and, you know, a teenager at that. And now he’s 20 he’s, he’s going to be 23.
So what’s he doing now? Is he working on a farm or is he going to college or is he just living and working or
Yeah, he’s, he’s been working retail for the most part, trying to figure out his next steps. And now he’s doing a college. So with the pandemic, he’s, he’s worked doing it from school home. So he’s home, both sons are home, you know, just trying to find their next step and navigating are interesting times, but both my other son has finished a couple of degrees and, and waiting for the next opportunity. So,
Well, tell us a little bit about, like, I’m curious about some of the challenges that you’ve seen or some of the design things that you’ve done. Like what, what’s some things we talked about landscapes enough lately on my show, I feel like it’s been a big focus on vegetables and I am really passionate about landscape design, like people growing organic. One question I do get a lot is what do I put on my organic Juan? Do you get that question?
We do. Yes. Yes. And it is, I must say for us in Ontario, it is a bit easier to be organic in that most of the herbicides and chemicals are actually banned here. So we couldn’t eat, we can’t use them any systemic, any weed and feed. Those are actually not available to us as gardeners here. So it almost forces us, you know, we still have Roundup, which, you know, is a little bit different, but the, the alternate, I think that’s called created a much bigger options for us to try different things for keeping our gardens and lawns organic. And it is challenging. Lawns are very challenging and we get that on our show. Lot. We always joke about, and regardless of what topic we’re talking about on our show, a listener will call in and ask about lawns.
Well, and the funny thing to me is like, I’ll be like, well, it’s basically the same thing as a garden. You know, compost mix some Clover in water more, you know, use, use like a local grass seed instead of, you know, just buying Kentucky bluegrass, you know, just like, and, and they’re like, yeah, but what do I go to the store and buy and put on it, but what do I go to the store and buy and put on it? And I’m like, you don’t need to go buy anything at the store and put it on it. One guest, AGA Olson came on and talked about making this like molasses mixture with water. I think it was like a cup of molasses per gallon of water. And he even add some like some seaweed to his, but he said the molasses and water will do huge things.
Jeff Lowe and fellows, she wrote teaming with microbes and nutrients. That whole series talks about just using water. But what, what, what are some tips that you give your listeners
We really recommend, or an organic fertilizer, as opposed to the alternative and for a number of reasons in that the, you know, it’s just a slower release as far as nutrients goes. So we find that it gives, you know, where everybody wants that quick green hit right with the high nitrogen, but then those, those grasses, those, those lawns then tend to struggle because then that you can’t, they can’t maintain that. So we, we recommend here, there’s some different organic fertilizing products to put on their lawn, if that’s what you’re wanting, right. To kind of improve it, you know, the good old things about keeping it air rated and really addressing more of the soil.
And, and there’s a fine line. Water is tricky because, and same in the garden, right? There’s a fine line between too much water and not water. So having people, we try to educate people that the roots need to go deep and need to look for the water. And if you’re watering every night, just a little bit, then they stay very surface and there, you’re not really establishing a great root system. So I think that, you know, people focus on the green lawn and forget about the soil and the root system. And I think that’s really important.
You know, they have told me that about our lawn down in the orchard does, that’s part of our problem. I noticed down in our orchard, the biggest difference is letting the grass grow taller, the taller, we let the grass girl that as it gets into August, when the rain comes stops like last year, I think our last rain was like July 26th. And we didn’t get a rain until almost October. So, you know, that’s eight, 10 weeks without a rain. And like, so if we can leave it high, cause it was like one year, like the lawnmower ran out of gas and before we filled it up again, there was like the inside of the one I grown was still tall and that grass stage show much greener and where the last place we had cut, it just burned up and dried around it.
And the grass that was in the middle, like, you know, I was going around in a kind of square circle thing towards the middle. It was just amazing. You could literally see how leaving that grass tall made such a difference as the year progressed. But what about like, do you do things like talk to people about like, what else could you plant besides grass like some of these perennials?
Absolutely. And that’s been a common thing. A lot of people I’m finding many, a few trends in my landscape design business. And one is, you know, more vegetable gardens, which they’ve never asked for before, but pretty much everybody now wants a vet. Every client I see wants a place for vegetables, which is great. The other one is less lawn. So people are looking at expanding, whether it be a sitting area or, you know, wanting more garden and, and less lawn to look after.
So what do you recommend for that?
Well, that’s often something I’ll design for them is I’ll kind of come up with a plan going to balancing the both, you know, often people want more and more of in the front yards wanting a little bit of a sitting area. So it’s a modifying, you know, their front yard to incorporate that because even as much as they want to sit more out front, they still want a bit of privacy from the sidewalk or from the street. So it’s a little bit of a balanced budget, which is good because then we can put in a garden that gives them a, you know, something pretty and it enhances the curb appeal, but also gives a little bit of screening when they’re sitting in their new sitting area. So, and in the backyard, a lot of people are going for, they still people with young clients with young children still want a lot of lawn or as much lawn as possible, but many others are realizing that gardens a better use of their water and their energy.
And, and I also try to convince people that larger gardens are lower maintenance than smaller, skinny gardens where they’re trying to squish everything in.
Where’s my regular questions,
Like sad. Was that okay? I know, I guess you’re editing. Right. So,
She won’t tell us about something that grew well this year
In specifically in just my, my garden or my vegetable garden,
Or do you have some like basic principles that you like when you start to, when you go to a place, like, are there questions that you specifically ask when you start out or like any kind of like guiding principles? Like this is step one, step two.
Yeah. I think for me when I’m, when I’m at a new person’s house or a new client, I, I really want to know how they want to use their space. And, and that’s really important, you know, if they’re, if they want to spend a lot of time out there versus some people really don’t, they want it to be low maintenance. They want it to look good, but they really don’t, you know, they’ve got, might have a cottage or just be busy and they, and they don’t want to spend a lot of time. So then I cater. So then if they’re asking for something really high maintenance, but yet they don’t want to spend a lot of time, then it’s just about educating people, but the best steps and maybe there’s one large garden instead of, you know, that typical backyard where there’s a garden all around the perimeter of the house, of the fence of the yard, right.
We’ve kind of narrowed it down and keep it simple. So I really try to educate people about that and also about the right plant in the right spot. So people will ask for certain things, but let’s say they’re, they’ve got a ton of shade in their backyard. So something like a vegetable garden might, it might be better in the side yard, or it might be better in put in vegetables around your plants in the front yard. So really looking at the big picture to make their lives easier. I know so many people struggle with trying to grow things in less than perfect light conditions, but never consider, you know, setting something up on the side of their home, where they do actually get a lot more sun.
So I, I think I really offer that outside perspective to help people to kind of think outside the box from that standpoint.
So important. I always like try to encourage people to like your first year, you really want to know where is the sun? Because not only where’s the sun, but where the sun is in June in my, in our garden is a different place than where it is in August. And you might find that like, it’s either too hot in August and it’s burning your plans and you’re going to need to add shade there or vice versa. All of a sudden your plants that were getting plenty of sun in June are not getting that sun in August, or, you know, it it’s like lower in the sky. So they’re still getting some, but they’re not getting as much on, or I was just talking to Jesse Frost and he was talking about how was it the beats like could use some diffused sun towards August because they’re getting too hot.
And so they kind of put like a shade cloth up in summer. They do find in the spring and the fall and the shoulder seasons. But, you know, so like knowing where your sun is at, what time of year too, I think can make a difference.
Yeah, it really can. I think it really can. And I think also, you know, the big demand is always, you know, the first thing out of everybody’s mouth, when they first contact me is that they want low maintenance. Right. And I always joke about, Oh, I’ve never heard that before, you know, but I have to do a lot of explaining and that, that, cause they’re like, I don’t want the garden to be too big. I want it to be low maintenance. I want it to be easy to look after and whether it’s an ornamental garden or whether it’s a vegetable garden, but sometimes having them too small is actually worse. Oftentimes it is because I think if you actually give the plants, the space that they need to do to be the size they’re going to be, you know, obviously you want to plant things that are reasonable size and, and the right type of plants for that size, but is less maintenance, you know, versus putting in shrubs and, and, and perennials that are going to get too big for a small space.
And you’re constantly having to divide the plants and you’re constantly having to cut back bushes. Whereas if the garden was eight feet deep and that five foot shrub could be five feet and in a few years, right. And you still have room in front of it for a few perennials, it’s much less maintenance. You know, people are all, and I have to kind of convince hardscapers to, as I often try to differentiate landscapers. And hardscapers when they’re putting in like raised beds at the front of a home, you know, often that the homeowners say they want it to be small. And, but, you know, they don’t realize that 18, three feet, nothing grows three feet wide really for long. And that 18 inches of that wall now has screening in it.
So nothing’s going to do well in that wall. And then often they need to look up at their house and see the size of their house with the scale of that garden. And that really having a bigger garden in their front yard is much more low maintenance than it is trying to constantly trim back and keep everything in that small space. So those are some of the challenges I find as I educate homeowners.
No. Are you like in a city or the suburbs or like, I guess if you’re a nursery center, you’re probably not too rural. Like what, what kind of pleasure? Yeah.
I’m just outside Toronto. I’m about 30 minutes outside Toronto in a city called Pickering, Ontario. So definitely the suburbs, but it’s definitely a good size city. And, and I, what I design, I tend to work in what we call Durham region, which is a larger, so kind of a collection of cities. And so there are some clients that have more property than, and then I have some clients that have less property than let’s say I do. So I do a real range of, of landscape design in different areas.
So what would you see as the biggest challenge dealing with people? Like a lot of my listeners are interested in creating green jobs or maybe they want to be come a designer. Like what are some, maybe things that you would make tell somebody to think about? Like, I’ve been listening to a Nicole Berks, I think it’s called grow yourself podcasts. And I’ve just been fascinated by like she talks about when she first got started, she would just kind of like walk around her neighborhood and she would kind of be like, Oh, if that was my yard, this is what I would do. And I thought it was funny because I find myself doing that.
Like when I used to go pick up my granddaughters at high school and I’m sitting out there outside the school weeding, I’d be like, Oh, this was my yard. This is what I would put there. This is what I would do, you know? And my husband’s always looking at the vegetable gardens when we drive through town. Like what, like what kind of things, like, I don’t know. Do you have any suggestions for like, if somebody wants to start a landscape design business, like what are some challenges or what are some things that, that work well or,
Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, especially if you you’re familiar with, and you’re doing stuff in your own garden, then you’re often helping friends and then before, you know, it, your friend will help, you know, suggest you to help somebody else. And that’s kind of how I started plus a good website. So I really have a lot to say about a good website. So I think working at a garden center, if you can, even for a season is such a tremendous quick way to learn. And gosh, you’re helping. It’s wonderful because you’re helping spend other people’s money on plants. So what’s better than that, right? And people are happy buying plants. They’re not necessarily happy yet at some of the other big box stores or things like that. If you’re working retail, but at a garden center, they’re, they’re, they’re pretty happy.
It is hard work, you know, you are working outside and then the weather, whether it’s raining or, or, or hot, you know, but it’s a great way to learn a lot quickly. And I think you learn a lot about what people, when people come in and ask questions and you’re learning about how to help them plant the right thing in the right spot for their gardens. And I do that too. I still drive and I drive around neighborhoods or I walk around neighborhoods and I’m constantly, you know, snapping pictures about, Ooh, that really works. And Ooh, that size of everything, that garden looks really good and proportion to the walkway. And then in proportion to the house, you know, and I, and I snap some pictures or sometimes it’s like, Oh, that definitely doesn’t work. And I’ll snap a picture.
And that makes that a good example. So I think, I think it’s a great industry and I think there’s so many more aspects of it that people don’t realize, you know, from the horticultural side, from working in a greenhouse or working at a garden center, landscape designer maintenance, I think maintenance is as a really looking after other people’s gardens, I think is a huge need because there’s a lot of people that really take a lot of pride into their, in their yard, but you’re, they’re not physically able to look after it anymore and they don’t necessarily, they’re not ready to downsize, but they just want someone to help them with the weeding and help them with the pruning. So I wish I tried initially a few years ago to do both do landscape design and do a bit of a garden maintenance business, but it was just too hard to do both.
So I had to choose to stick with design, but I see a huge demand. And I’m sure in many communities, would you say that in your community, are people looking for some help in and managing their gardens? Whoa,
Thought that that would make a great business. Because one thing in my community, we have a lot of Canadians who come down for the weekends and I keep thinking they would love to have vegetable gardens. You know, they’re much more organic eaters and they, you know, I think that would make a great business. I have not looked into it any further than just like in, like I said, what I’ve been doing in my head and what you believe, you said something you’d beginning of it, the importance of a good website.
Yes. So anybody starting any business? I think the importance of a really good website is key. And I think that’s how mine, you know, when I was working for the garden centers, they, you know, I would get clients from them. And then, you know, this is my little secret was then they, you know, the homeowner two years later would call me back directly for their backyard design. So then I’ve slowly evolved to now I just work for myself. So, so over that time, I was able to create a really good website. So when people are searching for landscape designers or garden designers, they find me. So, so that’s great. And I know it can be an investment and people, aren’t sure it’s, it’s worth it, but I think, you know, it, it really is because I think then everything you do like social media wise, and even my podcast, everything feeds back to the website.
And I know I have a lot of, you know, and the podcasts or my podcast certainly helps my website because every week some new content is on it. Right. Which Google loves. So, so that’s, that’s a bonus.
That’s so fascinating because the one thing I’ve been struggling with last January, I somehow clicked on some button in Google analytics. And they said that people leave my website within 10 seconds. And I am just struggling with that. Like trying to figure out what is it that they are looking for, that they’re going to my website. Now, granted my website, all that you’re going to find on there are the transcripts of my podcasts and have a feeling that the people, because I have all those transcripts, I get greatest CEO from Google. So when people type in, you know, how do I deal with Bosserman rotten tomatoes, my website pops up and they want to watch a video, or they want like a specific blog post.
And all they find are transcripts from my podcast. So, you know, maybe that’s what you’re talking about. Like a quality website. Like I love my website because one there’s no ads, nothing drives me more insane than going to these websites that are just full of ads, where you can’t even read an article, like go to these recipe websites. And you’re saying, blah, blah, blah. It’s like get me to the recipe.
And pop-ups how do you feel about popups? Oh my goodness. So yes, I have no ads and no popups, like nothing pops up to today. I do have a newsletter that I’d love people to subscribe for a school. So subscribe to, but I don’t, I refuse to have a popup that says
Me too, me too. It’s right on top of my website, it’s on the sidebar. It’s plenty of places. Granted, my web, my email list is tiny, but then I don’t write to my age. Like, I always feel like I’m like, what is the point of like sending a million people to my website to say, sign up for my newsletter, sign up for my email list. I don’t email people. Which part of me is like, is a good thing, because I feel like I’m constantly pushing unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe. I don’t know how it got on your list. Where did I get all these emails? I don’t want an email from you each week. I don’t want to hear about your podcast coming out this week because it shows up on my phone.
Yes. If I listen to your podcast, you know, and I do have a fairly decent open rate for people, you know, that aren’t on my list, but I don’t have a huge list. So I don’t know. I haven’t figured that part.
Oh yeah. Yes. My, I had, I actually started my newsletter kind of selfishly, so I didn’t really start it for other people. I started for myself in that I would get every spring because, and I love my clients and I love their gardens and I’ve helped them, you know, I want them to succeed. Right. So I would get, especially once the, you know, the phone and the email, like it used to be phone calls, they’d call and say, I think something’s wrong with my law law. Can you stop by and take a look? And then it became, you know, email pictures of, can you look at this and what’s wrong with this? Or should I do with this? And then now it’s text messages. So it’s just a huge volume of past clients asking for my help. And I really wanted to give it, but I just, there’s only so much bandwidth.
Right. So I started this newsletter where I just felt like I, if I just told people what to do in their garden this month and what not to do that I was proactive with it. Then that would help cut back on the volume of stuff that came at me while I was, you know, busy doing designs for other, for new people and installs and that type of thing. So it’s been pretty successful. I mean, my open rate is pretty good. I don’t understand. Sometimes I think, Oh, it’s such good information. Why does it a hundred percent? You know, isn’t the open rate a hundred percent, but I know that’s pretty hard to reach, but you know, I think it’s been a great tool because people rely on it. Okay. And new customers too, that are getting new gardens installed that are really worried about like, okay, how am I going to know, like, what do I do about this?
And what do I do in the fall? Like, you know, you put a garden in for somebody in June and they’re like, you know, I don’t know if I, what am I going to do in October to get it ready for winter? And it’s like, don’t worry, you know, you’re going to get a newsletter and it’s going to tell you what exactly to do and what to wrap and what not to do that type of thing. So I think it helps take some anxiety off homeowners with their new gardens as well as it helps ease my volume of, you know, on my time. So, so yeah, so that’s kind of, what’s the purpose for me starting my newsletter.
I don’t know how you’ve told him to do any of this. I know my friend Patty, so she’s kind of my partner in crime. We started this new thing in 2021 where we’re doing like live question and answers on Saturday morning and she’s setting up a Patrion page for us. And we’ve been looking at other successful Petri on pages. And I see that some of them, like that’s part of the deal, like for a hundred dollars a month, you can get their cell phone and text number and you can text them and then get answers on. And, and that’s interesting that you’re seeing that then when people started to do that, then you were seeing like the same questions, come back again. And so then, then that led to you, you, you know, coming up with the pre, this is, these are the questions you’re probably going to have this month.
So here’s the information ahead of time.
Yeah, exactly. I was trying to like, yeah, I was trying to be proactive with the information cause you know, everybody asks, you know, after the, after their lilacs bloom. Right. Okay. When, or, or when the lilacs were blooming or just before they bloom, like, you know, I may you get the law questions and it’s always the same, you know, wait till it blooms, make sure, you know, w you know, you don’t cut off next year’s glow row, you know, that type of thing. So instead of repeating it, you know, many times on emails and phone conversations, you know, I feel like I give it to them proactively. And if they don’t, you know, the people who maybe didn’t open it or whatever, if I still happen to get a call, then I still can forward the email. Then I can forward them the newsletter and say, Oh, here’s the information you were looking for.
So it’s not perfect. It does take time for sure. And, but the good thing is it’s kind of down, I’ve been doing it for so many years now that pretty much with our seasons, it’s, it’s pretty much, you know, March’s newsletter is about, you know, I do a different welcome note every year, but pretty much, you know, my March garden tips and my April garden tips pretty much stay the same from year to year.
Yeah. That’s a good point.
Yeah. Yeah. So the interesting, that’d be interesting to wait to find a way to, to get paid for it. But yeah, and we, we, we were doing for a few years on our show, we actually, those were our most popular on down the garden path. Those were the most popular episodes where we started doing the last Monday of the month. We talk about what to do and the following month in the garden. So really covering the same things. And those often were really, really popular shows. And we did it for two years straight. So we felt like, okay, you know, last year we were like, okay, well, we’ve done them for two years straight. What else can we do? So we switched last year to doing more of a monthly theme. So each month we have a different theme and then all, all weeks, you know, relate to that theme.
So the information overlaps, but because it’s a podcast, those two, those two years of those garden, you know, October in the garden or June in the garden are still there. So people can always go back and look at those.
And how often does your show come out? Is it a weekly show?
It is primarily a weekly show. We did take a bit of an extended break. We did do one week in December, and then we’ve taken a break. And our new 21, 2021 season starts this Monday on January 25th. So, so yeah, so that, but we pretty much had, especially now that we’re recording at home and not going to the studio, we were able to do pretty much a show every week. So we do do it live. So it’s on internet radio live on Monday nights. So we do have listeners email the questions live during our show, and then it’s released later as a podcast
And tell us the name of it.
It is called down the garden path, and you can find it Monday nights at 7:00 PM, Eastern standard time on a reality radio one Oh one.com. So if you go to that website, you could kind of hear us live on your computer. And like I said, you can email questions and we never get callers. You can call us, but nobody ever calls now, but they do email questions. So it’s always great when we have guests, when it’s just Matt and I do have a cohost, Matthew dressing works at a local garden center and is a horticulturalist and landscape designer as well. So he and I, you know, between the two of us, we try to answer everybody’s question or find out, and we have some great guests on the show.
And, and so it’s great that we can have the listeners kind of interact in that, in that day with, with our guests and with our list and with us. So it’s, it’s good. And I don’t know how it is for the podcast listeners to hear the question, you know, the questions after the fact, and we’re pretty casual. We don’t edit or anything. So it’s a pretty casual podcast, but we, we like it that way. So, so yeah,
I do worry about that. I’ve never had so many episodes in the bank ahead of time, as I kind of like changed. I took off September and October from recording. Somehow I managed to get ahead. And then I took like December is the first month where I don’t think I just had like some bonus episodes, Erin, that I just started airing season three in January. And I have over 25 episodes in the bank, which I’ve never had before. So that’s kind of exciting for me, but I wonder how that’s going to play out. But most of the content is pretty evergreen. And then I figure I’ll still be doing an episode here and an episode there.
So it stays current. And like, you know, in season, I dunno, we’ll see how it goes. I’m trying to get off that podcast to hamster wheel. So I can kind of better serve my audience, especially as Patty and I are working on trying to, you know, get this grow life thing out there. So we’re answering people’s questions and then we’re trying to come up with like my most downloaded episodes are my garden challenges. Like I can’t believe how I was looking at the numbers yesterday. I was like, Oh my goodness. There’s like almost twice as many people looking at my garden challenges from 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020, then any, like all the other episodes, like this is crazy, but I need to come up with a good, and usually I’ve just been kind of like in 2018, I made this one called the garden goals challenge, and it’s just like eight days.
And I just kind of talk you through, like, you know, think about what do you eat? What do you, you know, what do you want to grow? Where your space getting to be, you know, visualize what you want, you know, make a list of smart goals. And it’s very short and it’s like eight episodes in a row. And then for the last two years, I’ve just kind of just replayed those episodes. So I’m trying to come up with a new garden challenge for 2021, something just a little bit different to try to do something different. I don’t know. And then, and then I’m really bad about marketing it. Like I just put the podcast episodes out there. I don’t collect email, I don’t charge or anything.
So, but I also think like when people do a challenge, they are kind of looking for more. Hand-holding more like, I always think back to those green smoothie girls where they did like a 30 day challenge, but they like, you know, send out a recipe every day, those 30 days. And they like, you know, would like jump on a question and answer live once a week for the 30 days. And like, they put a lot of stuff and then they charged $35, but they made a small fortune off of their 30 day green smoothie challenge. So I don’t know. I am, then there was one year I did, the challenge was we have a free garden course.
That’s like, it’s like three hours worth of content. It’s like six weeks. So, you know, it’s supposed to take six weeks to get through it where you do a chapter week or two chapters a week or something. And so that was the challenge was to get through the whole free garden course to make sure you read the book, you did the work and you, you know, you got your garden off. And that, that was pretty successful that year. But anyway, I don’t know how we got on this back to my questions. Here’s if we were getting to the root of things, AKA the lightning round, do you have a least favorite activity to do in the garden? Like, cause there’s something you have to force yourself to do.
I mean, I know you need to do it, but it just, it, yeah, I’d have to say I don’t enjoy doing it. So I know how important it is at certain times of the year, but it’s, it’s never convenient right. To do it. So I would have to say going out there and pruning is, is not my favorite thing,
Printing bushes, trees, <inaudible>
My shrubs and, and, and flowers and flowers and that not so much the perennials, but more, I, I pretty much have lots of shrubs. I, I love my shrubs and my evergreen, like you hedges and things like that. That’s my secret around my perimeter, around my garden. I, my front doors, as I always say to people having a low hedge is a secret because then nobody can see the weeds inside the garden. They just see the nice clean green, green hedge. So, so yeah, so keeping the, the things that need to be pruned and they don’t need it often. It’s certainly, I don’t, I think I’ve created at my, for myself a very low maintenance garden, again, more ornamental. And, and, but yeah, so that I would say pruning, I don’t mind weeding, but I’ve gotten it so established and lots of mulch.
So I don’t get too, too many weeds. There’s always some that sneak in there of course, but I don’t mind.
So on the flip side, what’s your favorite activity?
I think moving, oddly enough, moving plants around and kind of looking at space, that’s the designer in me. So I’m always like rethinking this area and like now this Roseanne geranium is really taking over this whole area. And so now I need to kind of, you know, maybe shift things a little bit and, and looking at, so yeah, I love just wandering and being in the garden and kind of looking at the different things that are happening and my goal. And I always say, this is the garden addiction, right. Is that we want something interesting happening in the garden all the time. So I’m constantly, and when I I’m looking at my garden as a learning tool to help my clients in their garden. Right. So, and if there’s like a two week period where nothing is interesting in my garden, then I’m like, okay.
So when I’m designing, I’m, I’m missing, I’m missing a couple of weeks or I’m missing something I’m missing some bloom time. So, so I think, you know, my little bit of a geek that way. So that’s, so that’s something I, I, I liked doing and just puttering in it, you know, wandering around in it, my most of my garden because I’m a corner house with a pool in the backyard. So all my garden is pretty much in the front yard. So it’s, it’s very interactive because every time I step in my garden, I have neighbors and people walking by that kind of chat with me about it. So
What do you do if you’re missing some balloon time?
I think about what plants would work in that way, you know, is there a different plant that could work in that spot that would give color or interest at that time of year? And sometimes it might be even just an evergreen that would provide a little bit of structure. And I find if there’s little areas of evergreens in gardens, then the plants around them, the flowering plants around them look better. I always say that at the front of people’s homes, you know, your plants will look good in front of the green, evergreen, better than they would in front of the brick of your house, let’s say, right. So I find having, you know, making sure that there’s, there’s something interesting all the time. And, and, and that might mean moving something from another area of my garden or dividing something from another area of my garden and, and putting it in that spot because I am constantly at the growers, but looking at new plant material and, and picking plants for my clients, you know, I always come home with something for my own garden.
So do you get questions about curb appeal? Like, I don’t know about Toronto, but I know where we are. We are just like inundated with like houses are selling like hotcakes. I mean, property sales because of COVID this year. It’s just insane. I mean, and so if people want it, like, do you have any tips for curb appeal?
Yeah, I do. I mean, I think curb appeal is, you know, seasonal interest. I think that is really important. You know, it’s great to in easy for everybody to have a pretty June garden, right? Like that’s so many plants look great in June, but sometimes at the end of August, not so much. Right.
I’m laughing. Cause like my son-in-law, I don’t know what you would call him. He wants to bring his new, his fiance over to see our house. And I’m like, can’t you just wait until June? Like, why you want to bring her up here when we’re like sitting outside this freezing cold fire pit, because we don’t let people in our house just right now, it’s just too small, stay six feet apart and whatnot. And I’m like, can’t, can it wait until June? But he’s just so excited for her to meet his dad and stepped out whatever. Yeah.
That’s funny. So yeah, June, right. So I think getting people to realize that, you know, seasonal interest is, you know, all year round. So I think that ended up making some people. Sometimes they get people, they just, Oh, I just want perennials. No, I don’t want any shrubs. No, I don’t want any evergreens. Well then your garden’s not going to look great. Right. For many months of the year. So really getting people to think, okay, the garden needs to look good. Even in November and even in March, right. There needs to be something of interest. And I encourage, so usually that’s my February and March newsletter is like, go outside, look at your, look back at your house, look at your garden.
Like, look how, if you have snow, like, look how nice it looks to have snow on your evergreen. And or if you don’t have anything, then, then look at where you might need to add something. So I think that’s important. And it’s not just about, so as far as curb appeal, it’s not just about the flowers. Foliage is really important because flowers are fairly short-lived right. We’ve, there’s a few perennials, that’ll bloom all summer. But for the most part, you know, it’s really thinking about, I like shrubs that do two things, you know, like a wood Julia that’s burgundy all year BSA flower in June. So you’ve got these beautiful pink flowers in June, but the rest of the year, you’ve got a burgundy color to them.
That type of thing or something like Bloomerang LifeLock is now a lilac that re blooms. So yes, you get, you get that regular may, June bloom, but they, you know, re blooms again in August and September, which is unusual, you know? So that’s one shrub that does two things. So I try to, you know, really introduce people, ornamental grasses, a great one, and that it looks good all summer, but if you don’t cut it down, like you shouldn’t, it looks great in the winter. Right. And it’s food for the birds. So talking about birds and animals and the environment is a whole other thing, right?
How is an ornamental grass food for the birds?
Oh, here the, we have, when they go to seed like the little seed heads we have, goldfinches that eat like I love Karl Forrester is as a grass here in our zone and I’ll get in the fall. I get goldfinches that eat from the, from the seed heads. So, so most of the grasses will provide us a food source for birds. And often you don’t see them. Even my, I have, I know it’s neat. It’s invasive in some areas of the world, but we have Barbary here and I have a Barbary hedge. And in the fall when they get these little berries on them, these little tiny berries, the birds are in the, and they’re not really even descript. Like you, you don’t even really notice them to look at them, but they’re in there.
And in the fall, the birds are in Malott hedge, like crazy eating those. So I think it’s great. You know, I think that’s, that’s often our tip these days is we’ve gone to moving away from clean. Everybody used to clean up their gardens and tidy up their gardens or put the garden to bed in the fall. And really now the goal is to, you know, just leave it and, and let the insects, you know, find a home in the garden, attracting beneficial insects to your garden that way. And we don’t have to keep it all neat and tidy. I don’t you find that, like, do you find that you really, you do keep up, keep your garden clean in the winter or do you, you leave things?
No, we’re leaving things and more and more and more all the time. Yes, yes. For sure. For sure. People talking about that, for sure. Yeah. But there are so many people that still, like, I think my neighbors think I’m crazy, cause they’ve cut everything back. Right. And they’re looking at my garden, that’s, nothing’s cut back and same with the law. And you know, they’re out there three times a day, three times a week, cutting. It really super short. And I, you know, we make cut it every once, every couple of weeks so that we can keep it long,
The leaves and hauling the leaves off. Yes. Instead of learning an emo.
Yeah. And we did some mulching of our leaves instead of begging them, we mulched them with my little weed, my weed Wacker, I got a new weed Wacker and put, I had my husband putting the leaves in like a, a plastic garbage bin. And then we were shredding the leaves that way and then dumping them back in the garden. Yeah.
I’ve heard a lot of people talking about chopping up the leaves and making it yeah,
Yeah. And doing that. So, so yeah, I think, I think curb appeal is important to people, but often it’s funny. Cause they often say they want Kirby people, but they don’t want to do any work. So it’s hard to explain to people that, you know, there’s still some work involved, you know, having larger gardens is less work because there’s more space, it’s easier to even get at the weeds. Right. If you think about a really squished in garden, it’s harder to work in.
And I think of what, like you’re talking about like flower landscape garden as compared to vegetable garden. Right. When you see that.
Vegetable garden I’m definitely going to say is way more work than, but I I’ve definitely like in the last year or so really talked about the whole learning curve that vegetables is like a whole nother learning curve. And if you don’t want to let it work, that’s my advice. Stay away from the vegetables. I mean, there are some that are, you know, get fruit trees, you know, give things fruit that that’s more of a perennial or bushes, but you know, some of the vegetable, I like to leave a lot of the vegetables to my husband and just stick to growing the herbs and the, in the perennials like you’re talking about.
Yes. And as I mentioned earlier in the show, pretty much every client I see now asking for a space in their garden or in their yard for vegetables. And often that’s the case. They’re thinking they need, you know, a 12 by 12 area in a small, suburban lot. And they don’t realize that how much they can grow in a small space. So yeah, I do the opposite for vegetables exactly. And really explaining to people that they don’t need that much space. And often they can do a lot in containers, you know, especially sometimes a young, young homeowners with, you know, let’s say young children, they’re like, Oh, I just want my kids to, you know, see, grow like a tomato plant growing and a pepper plant growing. And they’re, they want like a 10 by 10 area in the backyard. And I’m like, no, you can just put a couple of pots on the deck and the kids can water it and look after it.
And it’s manageable versus what you would need to do for a 10 by 10, you know, or 12 by 12 or whatever, even bigger, a vegetable garden in your yard. So I think there’s a learning curve and letting people know that they can accomplish a lot in a small space.
The other thing I feel like I’m seeing a lot in Facebook groups and people posting and questions is I didn’t realize that my vegetables should be close to my water source. And it’s like, to me, that’s the number one convenient thing you should be thinking about if you’re going to plant a vegetable garden and you’ve never planted any vegetables, whether they’re impoverished or you want that water shore? No, my listeners are probably laughing cause they know the biggest thing I struggle with is watering. I never water enough. So yeah, a small plant close to a water shortage. And I think that’s why I do so good with herbs in my kitchen because the written in the windows shell.
So every glass that gets stumped and I put coffee in my herbs a lot, like the leftover pot of coffee straight in there when I have my classroom, that was often the only liquid they got was my coffee. Cause I didn’t have a sink. Anyway, what’s the best gardening advice you’ve ever received. I think
The well received and give is the right plant in the right spot. So really, you know, knowing your spot growing, you know, arose Bush in the shady, you know, North side of your house, as much as you want a Rose Bush out that window, you know, that is just going to be a recipe for frustration. And I get the people say, Oh, I can’t grow anything. You know, I have a black thumb. It’s like, no, you’re trying to grow stuff in the wrong spot. So I think really it’s not just about how much you know, about what that you want to plant it and that you you’ve got, you know, it’s really knowing the right plant in the right spot. And I think that has served me well.
And that is something that I really try to help all the homeowners that I work with. And, and my listeners on this show is just to really look at your area, even by the front door, you know, how many people plant a small, cute little ornamental tree right by their front or their front walkway. Right. And what happens in five years, they’re ducking under it, right. To get to their front door.
Yeah. We’re having that problem with an Apple tree that was grown too big and shaded everything else out. What’s your favorite tool. If you had to move in, could only take one tool where you work. Could you not live without,
I’m so glad you asked that because I went and got it from the garage. So I love my Cobra head a hook that, is that a popular one on the show? Yeah,
Because you said you went and got it from the garage.
I did because I wanted to make sure I remembered what it was called and that I well, and that I, that I had it right here. So I did. So I love it. I think it’s great for weeding. I can, I can use it in the, you know, for like you can create small holes for planting, you know, your vegetables in the spring or anything that you’re doing. I just love it. And I find it very helpful in the garden. So it is my favorite.
Do you have a fear of recipe to eat or cook from the garden?
You know, I don’t, I really don’t. I, I have my, like I said, my son is more in charge of the vegetable garden and I’m lucky that my husband is in charge of the cooking, but I do have to say that I have, I’ve never really grown a ton of tomatoes because nobody in the house likes tomatoes. My husband, nor sons like them, my, the son that’s the gardener, Dylan. He does like a grape tomatoes, you know, once he can put right in his mouth, but this year growing tomatoes in our garden, they ended up being bigger than the grape tomatoes that I thought I planted. And I ended up stir frying. Some of those and my husband actually liked them. So he is now making this pizza Biola with, with grape tomatoes from the grocery store almost every week.
So I have to say that that is something that having homegrown tomatoes for the first time in his life has really, you know, made him into a, to me. I don’t think he’ll lever like the big ones with the slice, you know, a slice tomato. He still takes those off his burgers, but he has come around with the cherry and grape tomatoes. What
Are you putting a tomato stir fry?
Oh, he just puts like garlic and basil and he roasts them in the, in the oven. So he calls it a pizza Cola. I don’t know. So they don’t, they don’t, they soften and they, with the herbs and the spices I had just, when I had just done it quickly, I had just like put them in a pan just to cook them a little bit to have as a side dish. And, and he tried one and he’s like, this isn’t bad this way. And then he of course expanded on it and, and loves making up recipes and things like that. So, so yeah. So it’s been good because I’ve been benefiting from him adding that to our, our meals as a side dish. So it’s quite nice.
How about favorite internet resource? Where do you find yourself surfing on the web?
I ha I was looking for what’s a favorite. I don’t know that I have a favorite. I’m constantly looking though because between my client, like always educating myself for my clients as well as for preparing for the radio show. So I think I follow like lots of podcasts like yours. I think that’s a, that’s a huge source now because I, I can, I always trying to multitask, right. So I can do work on a design while listening to a podcast. So I think that is, is a big source of, you know, what I, what I’ve been focusing on for information. And I did want to mention a bit about climate because that has been something that we’ve also tried to educate ourselves on mountain. I never felt we could really talk about it much on the show because we weren’t really educated about the different areas of, of conversation around climate.
And so we’ve tried to one of our months last month, last year was a climate month and we had different guests on that could speak to it and we’re learning. And so we’re trying to add that had out of guests every now and then to talk about a certain topic. We learned a ton about solar and a December episode. We had someone on to talk about solar energy. We have, I’m looking forward to someone talk about electric cars in February. He’s going to be on. So there’s, it’s always so varied. You know? So I have to say that my research is always all over the place.
Cool. Well, that’s good to hear. How about a favorite reading material? Like a book or a magazine or a blog or something?
I love the gardening books and the design books from Jan Johnson. I don’t know if you’re familiar with her. Heaven is a garden and spirit of stone. She’s got some beautiful books that, yeah, they’re beautiful books. She’s a landscape designer in New York and I’ve heard her speak and I’ve met her and I just love, and I’ve had her on the show early on. I had her on the show as well, and they’re just beautiful books. And I love that they kind of fulfill the gardener in me as well as the designer in me. So definitely I love her books and she has a new one coming out too. So I’m excited about that.
Ooh, I’m going to see if she’ll come on the show. All right. Well, you’re probably like, is this interview I forget to end? So here’s my final question. And then you can tell the listeners how to connect with you and find all your amazing information. Join. If there’s one change you’d like to see, to create a greener world, what would it be? For example, is there a charity, your pet organization, your passionate about or project you’d like to see put into action? Like what do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either locally, nationally, or on a global scale?
Well, that’s a huge one. I think there are many things, but I think close to my heart and I think something that’s easy, quote, unquote, easy for everybody to of participate in is planting trees. And there’s an organization started that’s local right now and he’s hoping it’ll grow, but it’s called plant a forest.org and really it’s to raise money. And then twice a year, they go out and you can, you can just give money and that’s it. You’re done. You know, the money goes towards planting a forest or you can actually participate and go out and help them plant the plant, the trees. And I think, I think it’s kind of like a grassroots organization and I think it’s a great way to involve, you know, educate your children about, you know, then they can go back and visit this area and look at the tree that they planted five years ago, that type of thing.
So I think that’s something, especially in North America where we have a lot of land and the forests are, need to be rejuvenated every once in awhile. And, and I think, I think trees is, is a good place to start there’s so it’s such a big and complex issue, but I think everybody benefits from the shade of a tree. And you know, that that’s saying about when’s the best time to plant a tree, you know, it was 20 years ago kind of thing. So, so yeah, so I think that’s the one that is a plant, a forest.org and planting trees. There’s lots of different organizations all over the North America, all over the world. I’m sure world I’m sure regarding planting trees.
So I think that’s a great initiative that everybody can take a part in.
Maybe you could send me the link to that website because I don’t know for me, it’s not coming up, but Oh no, there’s something we forest.org. Okay.
As I wrote, I wrote plant a tree.org, but I had plant plant a forest. Got CA Oh, maybe I didn’t shouldn’t have said dots. Okay. Do you want me to go back and say planted.ca? Why did I write down org? That’s a forest.ca. Okay.
Oh, cool. Okay, cool. You know, my husband, I met it cleaning trees in the forest. Oh, sorry. Yeah, that’s very cool. Anyway, tell everybody about your great website and your podcast name again, how they connect with you and how they ask a question to your radio show and, and all the goodies. Excellent.
My website is WW dot down to earth.ca with the number two. So down to earth.ca and there you can find out all about me as a landscape designer. And there’s also, I have all my podcasts on the website. I did prior to doing it as a podcast. I did it only as a radio show so that all the old radio shows are also buried in there as well. So I’ve been doing that for seven years. Of course, down the garden path is available on your podcast app. So you can search for that down the garden path podcast. And if you do want to join us live on Monday nights, that’s a reality radio one Oh one.com.
And you can tune in at 7:00 PM Eastern standard time. And listen, we can, you can email us while we’re on the show and you can email us afterwards if you’ve got other questions. And my website has all my social media links as well. So you can follow me on Instagram, Facebook. We have a Facebook group for our podcast. It’s been a little slow going to, to, to get people to join us there. But we do have a lot of engagement live with our listeners and, and a good amount of people listening each week. So, so that’s great. We’ve got about 8,000 listeners. I know it’s, it seems incredible that people are listening. How many people are listening to a gardening show, but it’s wonderful.
Joanne shot everybody. Woo. Thank you. Thank you so much, Jackie, for having me here.
Thank you. You were just delightful and charming and lovely, and we will check that out and have a great day happy 20, 21 speak directly to the green organic gardener podcasts, help pay for things like hosting the MP3 files, maintaining the website. You know, I don’t mind doing the work, but I could sure use some help with like some of the things, especially as we’ve had to tighten our belts this year, you can buy me a cup of coffee where your donation goes directly to support us. It comes in just like $5 increments. It’s like a one-time thing. I think you can subscribe, but if you just want to donate $5, if you want to donate 10, 15, w awesome.
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