How to - Gardening Basics

Helpful gardening websites

Whether your interest in orchids is a mere passing fancy or an all-consuming passion, the American Orchid Society's OrchidWeb is a captivating resource. Gorgeously illustrated with drool-inducing photos, OrchidWeb is more than a pretty website-it's packed with information for all levels of expertise, from beginner to pro. The monthly checklist provides tips on seasonal tasks for all orchid species; the beginner- and intermediate-level culture sheets supply detailed growing information; and the Orchid Doctor gives general information about dealing with pests and diseases (American Orchid Society members may access more in-depth articles). For gratuitous eye-candy, don't miss the members' gallery of orchid portraits, and if you're lucky enough to be visiting Florida, the society welcomes you to its Visitors Center and Botanical Garden in Delray Beach.

OCTOBER 2006 - Garden Rant
The weblog Garden Rant is uprooting the gardening world. Or so say its three co-founders, Amy Stewart, Michele Owens and Susan Harris, all dedicated to their manifesto that gardening matters. Daily topics range from the joys of rural living to interviews with nursery owners and opinions on the rights of poison ivy. Browsing the discussion topics list is fun, with cheeky titles such as Ministry of Controversy, Shut Up and Dig, and I Don't Have a Garden but I Watch One on TV. Garden Rant has its pulse on the gardening world and views it through a passionate, and often wacky, lens.

AUGUST 2006 - The Garden Conservancy
Summertime is prime time for road trips, and many travellers head south of the border. Plan a gardening getaway with the help of The Garden Conservancy, a non-profit organization that has been preserving America's finest gardens since 1989. Its website provides the ideal guide to exceptional ones from Arizona to Washington State. The online schedule offers a list of gardens open to the public, organized by location or date, and includes a description and maps and directions on how to get to each one, making trip planning quick and easy. Before you leave, sign up for e-mail alerts to regional opening days and events, then pack your bags, a camera and sunscreen for a great garden-gazing vacation.

JUNE 2006 - Coleus Finder
Coleus Finder is a new online resource dedicated to coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) and offers a cornucopia of information about these foliage plants, which have become essential additions to container gardens. The site features a history of the genus, images and articles, as well as an extensive listing of cultivars, which can be downloaded in spreadsheet format. A work-in-progress, future additions will include advice on caring for coleus, propagation techniques and an overview of cultivar groups. The site also invites visitors to vote for their favourite cultivar (‘Palisandra' seems to be the front-runner at the moment) and offers links to discussion forums and seed exchanges. Start a coleus collection this makes it easy!

MAY 2006 - Home Gardening at National Gardening Association
You'll find just about anything garden-related on the Home Gardening at National Gardening Association website, from info on annuals, bulbs and perennials to landscaping and maintenance tips-even cooking, crafts and garden travel. Timely regional reports stretch beyond the borders of this American website to reach Canadian gardeners, highlighting events, websites of note and a checklist of what to do in the garden. Libraries overflowing with Q&As, how-to projects, plant care guides and weed identification resources are yours for the browsing. The site has lots of handy tools too, such as a calculator that helps you adjust the pH in your soil or lets you know how much fertilizer to spread on your lawn.

APRIL 2006 - online for 10 years. Imagine a time when there were no websites for Canadian gardeners. That's what Master Gardener Donna Dawson faced in March of 1996. And on the advice of her husband, Tom (who learned HTML to help her implement the site), she launched Since then, the website's content has grown from a scant listing of horticultural societies, some seed catalogues and a few gardening articles to one of the most comprehensive resources of gardening events, information and supplies available on the Internet. If you garden in Canada, this site's as important and useful as a trusty trowel. Congratulations on your 10th anniversary and thank you for helping all of us to grow.

MARCH 2006 -
Chock full of ideas, tips and techniques for creating a beautiful garden, does just that. Developed by Canadian Gardening columnist Yvonne Cunnington, this author, photographer and lecturer has done much of the spadework for you. There's plenty of information on developing a plan, as well as advice on everything from designing with flower bulbs, roses and wildflowers to dealing with shade and creating a water garden. If that's not enough for you, check out the handy calendar of what to do when – it's a great guide to seasonal tasks.

If birdspotting is your passion, you'll want to logon to GeoBirds. This website makes it easy to identify and learn more about the feathered visitors to your garden. Use the BirdBrain ID tool to find a match to any unknown birds you've seen. With a click of the mouse, view a photo and read all about it. Each record is enhanced with distribution maps showing how rare or common the species is to your region. You can post and compare your sightings with others in your area, and browse a field guide of North American birds. The site also features a fun identification game, a birds in the news section, and a soon to be added calendar of events. Don't be a birdbrain, logon to

JANUARY 2006 -
Whether you're embarking on a new design for your garden or tackling a single problem area, offers plenty of good advice. Divided into two modules, landscape and garden design, the site provides articles on a wide range of topics, from discussions on the place of man in the landscape to the principles of plant arrangement, planning for a succession of bloom and how to design with colour. Well organized and easy to navigate, is an excellent reference for the amateur garden-maker.

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