Here is the condensed version of Sabrina’s “Tending to Your Trees” presentation. Thanks Sabrina for sharing!

Tending Your Trees Sabrina Selvaggi Blog

Trees are very important! Plant one today...

Trees are very important! Plant one today…



It had to be done. The Weigela branch with all its beautiful pink flowers had to be cut; it was broken. It was a painful thing to have to do, but I became brazen as I pruned out another branch that was shading a part of my window basket, impacting the plants in the basket’s growth.

This is what pruning is really all about – a sometimes painful process where you are cutting away all that growth which represents energy and time, time that you spent patiently waiting for the plant to come to its glory ….then you ruthlessly cut it away. But, done correctly, this effort means better health for the plant as well as its neighbours, amounting to a great garden.

The process is prune, patience, and then pleasure. But I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t part with the perfectly laid out branch of pink blooms that I had waited so long for. So I decided to add another step to the process, which I call “prolong their presence”.  As I held this branch, I couldn’t help but think that it still had much to give, as did a few other plants in my garden.

I decided to throw these together into a vase and wow, was I ever rewarded! The new arrangement on my counter was absolutely stunning. I no longer had to peak out the window to enjoy these plants in bloom, I could just wander into my kitchen.

Soon after, I noticed my Euonymus had a growth spurt. It was now shading a good portion of my white columnar cedar. If I left those branches, they would shade my cedar causing a bald spot, so I did some more pruning. Next, I turned to my Saliva (nemorosa) and pruned a few of its flower heads that were nearing their end. Cedar saved, Euonymus shaped, more salvia blooms in the future and another great looking arrangement on my outdoor table.

The byproduct of Sabrina’s pruning…

Make the most of all your pruning. Remember to prune properly and at the right time in order to keep your plants and their companion’s healthy and happy.  We are already coming to a time where some early flowering shrubs and plants need to be pruned now before the season moves along. Here are some general pruning rules (and I do emphasize ‘general’).

1)    Prune right after flowering. Many flowering shrubs that have their blooms on now, and nearing their end will then take the rest of the season to grow more branches etc. On this new growth is where next season’s blooms will flourish. If you prune out these branches too late (i.e. in the fall or early next spring), you will prune the blooms ready for next spring.

2)    Do not prune out more than 1/3 of the total plant in one pruning; this may stress the plant.

3)    At any time, prune out anything that is dead or dying. You do not want the plant expending energy to this ‘injured’ part, nor do you want to leave this wound and invite further problems to the plant.

4)    Make clean cuts, preferable at the joint or intersection of two branches, so you are not left with half a branch oddly sticking out. The branch will usually start dying from the tip down, inviting pest or disease

Pruning need not be painful, do it correctly and at the right time and find pleasure in every stage of your plant’s lives.

Happy Gardening!

(This blog has been contributed by Sabrina who is  Program Manager with RMSi )


Adding Curb Appeal

October 24, 2011

Selling your house? Remember your curb appeal!

I spent the majority of the weekend at house showings and open houses. The homes were located in a newer subdivision with wonderfully designed homes, both the exterior and the interior. One thing that disappointed me over and over was the poorly maintained landscapes. You always hear about how important “curb appeal” is, but I didn’t see much of this at any of the homes we visited. Gardening is not rocket science and if done right it does not have to be time consuming.

The landscape is the first thing perspective buyers see when they arrive.

If you spend all that time to stage the inside of your home, why not put a little effort into your landscape as well? This is the first thing potential buyers will see when they pull up to your house.

Here are some simple tips to prepare your landscape for house showings and/or open houses:


This seems like an obvious task when preparing for an open house or a showing, yet many of the gardens I saw were full of weeds. These were not hard to pull weeds, they were big, obvious weeds that are easily pulled by hand. Weeding is best done after rain when the ground is soft, but anytime works. It doesn’t take much to go through a 10ft by 10ft garden to pull weeds. To keep things weed free during the time your home is on the market, apply  mulch. Adding 3 inches of natural mulch (wood chips, cocoa mulch etc.) to your garden can cut weeding by up to 90%! (It also reduces moisture water loss in the soil by up to 70% meaning you have to water less.)

When you add mulch, remember to add enough, at least 2 inches, preferably 3 inches. A small scattering of mulch looks worse than the weeds and does not work .


Add some colour, but be smart about it – If you don’t have an established perennial garden with wonderfully coloured foliage and well-timed flowering times, then some small punches of colour can easily jazz up a garden, even in just one strategically placed pot or urn. Choose a colour palette in your garden as you would in your house.  If you have a shrub with purple tinted leaves, then use this as your wall colour. Choose your flower colours to compliment the tree or shrub foliage colour as you would choose your pillows to compliment your wall colour. Remember, foliage colour counts.

Another option is to go with a monochromatic colo ur scheme with your flowers i.e. all white, all red or even all green (green IS a colour). Too many colours sprinkled about looks messy and amateurish whereas one colour  that compliments the colour of your home’s exterior repeated in large patches looks calmer and has an inviting visual impact even from afar.

Many people choose bright red mulch in attempt to add colour to their gardens. The red coloured mulch is a very hard colour to match or accent. Try matching the colour of mulch to your home’s brick or accent colours, or better yet, choose mulch without dye in earth tones,
for a natural look.

If you are planning on selling in the winter, then leave some of the plants intact for winter interest.  Some of the best ones for winter interest include ‘Karl Foerster’ Feather Reed grass, Autumn Joy Sedum, Purple coneflowers, and of course evergreen shrubs.  The best part is that all of these plants are VERY low maintenance, year round!


I rarely see proper pruning techniques in gardens.  Having poorly pruned shrubs is
like having a bad haircut.  You wouldn’t dream of putting a bowl on your head and snipping around the outside, so don’t do this with your shrubs.  With a few simple pointers you can cut back your shrubs in a way to add to your curb appeal and save your shrubs from the dreaded bowl cut!

When choosing what branches to prune, start with any dead or dying branches. Next, thin out the older growth (identified by the more woody stems) especially crossed/funny angled branches. Then start to shape the leftovers, but don’t just chop the shape, give it a proper hair style!

Always cut the branch to the nearest bud, leaf or where it joins with another branch or the stem.  This helps the tree better mend itself and prevents from having half dead sticks on the outer edges of your shrubs.  Remember to never take more than one third of the shrub when you prune, or you will risk killing the shrub.

For more details on pruning, check out:


I was surprised at how many homes were being shown with messy, unmown front lawns. A quick cut will make a big difference in your curb appeal.  For best grass health mow your grass at a height of 2 ½ – 3 inches. A short mown lawn will yellow very quickly, look sparse and attract more weeds. This can distract from even the best house on the block.

With a few easy tips, you can make your landscape look as fabulous as the interior.
Small things, at  little cost, can make a big difference when it comes to curb appeal!

For more information on making a great showcase landscape, contact us