Lifestyles

Making Mother’s Day special: Minter

<p>Master gardener Brian Minter offers Mother’s Day gift ideas that will last, and for the most part, grow in beauty each year.</p> -

Master gardener Brian Minter offers Mother’s Day gift ideas that will last, and for the most part, grow in beauty each year.

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By Brian Minter

Moms are pretty special and since Mother’s Day is almost here, I’d like to offer a few suggestions to say ‘thank you’ beautifully.

There’s scientific proof now that flowers and plants not only make people happy but they are also therapeutic. They make our living spaces a lot more enjoyable as well. The type of plant you give, however, should fit Mom’s lifestyle. If she is away a great deal, small tropicals or hanging baskets certainly are not the answer. I would suggest something like an outdoor garden. Larger patio tubs can go a long while between waterings, and the addition of a small tree can make quite a difference to a patio, providing privacy or cooling a hot seating area. Containers about the size of a half barrel, such as large 50cm cedar tubs or terracotta pots, can make an attractive permanent garden. By using lightweight soil mixes, the weight problem can be minimized. If you add casters to the bottom of the pots, they can be easily moved if necessary, or if you just want to change the perspective.

Hanging baskets are a nice gift too, but again make sure they are large enough that they do not require daily attention There are so many being mass-produced today, try to find something unique and that has a personal touch. Ideally the containers should be a minimum of 14-16 inches across and deep to keep the maintenance down. If you are giving a gift of fuchsias or begonias, make sure they are going to a shady location. Large herb gardens, with edible flowers mixed in, are colourful and a delightful culinary surprise. Or put together a containerized vegetable garden, including the latest compact-growing vegetables like ‘Tumbler’ tomatoes, everbearing strawberries, colourful ‘Simply Salad’ leaf lettuce varieties and ‘Bright Lights’ swiss chard.

Planting a yard tree for special occasions is not only a nice commemorative gesture, but it’s also a good environmental plan. This is especially true in urban areas. There are many kinds of trees that are well suited to small gardens. Japanese maples, beautiful pink or white dogwoods, tree form magnolias and weeping katsura trees are particularly lovely candidates.

Flowering trees and shrubs that attract birds or butterflies to the yard are wonderful. Buddleias (butterfly bush), especially the new Proven Winners dwarf series, ‘Lo & Behold’, really do attract all kinds of beautiful butterflies. The fast-growing orange flowered vine called Campsis ‘Indian Summer’ attracts late hummingbirds. The Korean or kousa dogwood not only has gorgeous blossoms and great fall colour, but also has edible seed pods. Speaking of edibles, the collection of container plants such as ‘Raspberry Shortcake’(raspberry) and ‘Jelly Bean’,‘Peach Sorbet’,‘Blueberry Glaze’, ‘Pink Icing’ and the new non-stop variety ‘Perpetua’ (all blueberries) provide a continuous summer buffet. This year’s addition is a dwarf thornless delicious blackberry called ‘Baby Cakes’.

Moms enjoy fragrance, and there are all kinds of choices. From the new Proven Winners compact ‘Bloomerang’ lilac that blooms now and again in fall to the fragrant snowball shrub (Viburnum carcephalum), and from new disease-resistant fragrant roses to ‘Eternal Fragrance’ daphne, there is much from which to choose.

Perennial plants are always appreciated, and peonies and lavenders are among the most cherished, especially the hardy continuous-blooming ‘Anouk’ Spanish lavenders.

Water on the patio remains a huge trend. Containers that hold water are quite magnificent filled with floating water hyacinths, water lilies and a myriad of colourful flowering water plants. Easy care plug-in fountains, with their soothing sounds, are delightful, and you can add even more music to her ears with high quality Woodstock wind chimes.

All of these suggestions are gifts that will last and for the most part, grow in beauty each year. You might even plant Mom’s gift for her - in the right location of course! Be a little creative this year. It is not only the flowers and plants but also the innovative ways in which they can be used and enjoyed, either inside or out, that makes the difference. Add your own special touch, and it will mean a great deal more.

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