How to - Techniques

Confessions of TV gardeners, part 3

Bad booboos (and good tips) from Canada's television gardeners. Illustration by Paul Howalt

Larry Hodgson -- a frequent guest on Quebec's Salut bonjour Weekend and Fleurs et Jardins, TVA

Booboo I ordered a truckload of “the best quality” garden soil from a supposedly reputable merchant. It was so infested with horsetail (Equisetum spp.) that two years later I had to dig out the whole bed and destroy all the plants-the horsetail rhizomes had worked their way through them and none could be saved. Before I could replant the bed with new material, I had to run the entire truckload of soil through a fine garden sieve to extract the remaining horsetail rhizomes.

Tip Never buy soil without requesting a sample-a plastic bag with a shovelful of soil. I dump mine in a corner of my driveway and water it. Only samples where nothing comes up over a two-week period get the go-ahead.

David Tarrant -- host, Spring!, a 13-part series on HGTV; former host, The Canadian Gardener, CBC

Booboo While apprenticing at Tylney Hall (England), I was sent, hoe in hand, to weed the beautifully designed formal beds. When I realized I had hoed up some of the annuals as well, ruining the intricate design, I stuck them back into the ground, hoping nobody would notice. The head gardener noticed, and sent me off to hand weed the veggie garden for a while.

Tip West Coast summers are getting drier and drier. We really need to plant things that require less water, such as pines, artemisias, salvias and penstemons.

Stephen Westcott-Gratton -- host, Flower Power, HGTV

Booboo I had to excavate a lot of clay out of my beds, so I used it to create a berm. The two holly bushes I planted on its top looked like candlesticks on a fireplace mantel. In nature, tall material grows at the base of a berm-plants get smaller as you move upward.

Tip Mimic what nature does; it tends to get it right every time.

Read more in How to and Techniques

  • Page 1: Part 3 - David Tarrant, Stephen Westcott-Gratton

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