Hello there! My name is Janice. My husband and I have two adult married daughters and a young Golden Retriever, named Haven. In 2020, the construction of our new summer cottage was completed, and in 2021, we decided to sell our home in the suburbs of Toronto, Canada and make the lake house our primary residence.
What inspired you to start gardening?
My mother definitely deserves the credit for inspiring me to enjoy gardening and appreciate flowers so much. Many of my current favorites were ones that I first learned about from her gardens. In recent years, the sheer enjoyment of meandering through garden centers as well as seeing my own flowers flourish has kept the passion strong.
Describe your garden.
In our previous home, I had a very well planned out garden, with a wonderful balance of evergreen bushes, perennials, and annuals. The situation here at the lake has multiple unique limitations, because we don't have much level land, and we have a steep granite rock face and forest right behind us. I have relied primarily on containers and window boxes as my gardens up until last year, when some landscaping work was done, and we began to transform what had previously been the construction site, into hillside gardens for some of my favorite perennials, with hydrangeas topping that list.
What has been your biggest gardening fail?
Probably the worst mistake I ever made in early gardening days, was to plant mint in the ground in my flower garden. That stuff took over, and it was a whole lot of work to get it all removed!
How have you used Wave Petunias or Cool Wave Pansies in your garden?
Wave Petunias are my absolute favorite, and repeatedly the most successful flowers, that I plant in my sun window boxes and planters. Over the years, I experimented with other varieties of flowers but was never as happy with the results. The Wave petunias have outperformed anything else and prove to be overachievers every year! I have also tried a variety of color combinations but always gravitate back to the one I am happiest with, which is a mix of fuschia pink, yellow, and white, often with some purple or blue flowers in there too.
In my most prominent full sun window box, I start with vibrant pink Wave Petunias, and then my most frequently used combination includes bright yellow flowers like Bidens, white Bacopa, purple Petunias or blue Lobelia, and trailing Vinca.
In my shade window boxes and planters, I have also experimented with many different flowers, but keep returning to the shade Impatiens which I find provide reliable growth performance and require very little maintenance, other than regular water and some plant food. In early spring before the frost risk has passed, potted purple and yellow Pansies are my go-to flowers.
What’s one piece of advice you would give a beginner gardener?
Our youngest daughter just got married. They purchased their first home last Fall, so she is planting some flowers this year for her first time ever. She told me she had no idea what to buy, so I suggested that she take time to wander through the garden center and discover what flowers appeal to her most. Then determine which ones are suitable for the sun or shade locations she wants to plant in. The most important planting tip I share with beginners is one I was taught years ago by a Master Gardener. When transferring any plant or flower from their original garden center container to the ground or a planter, loosen or shear off the bottom quarter of those bound up roots. Then before planting it, use a technique called "puddling in". Create a puddle of water in your planting hole, so the water drains deep into the soil, and encourages good root growth, and helps the plant through the shock of being transplanted.
What would you tell someone who has never heard about Wave Petunias?
When my daughter asked me what I would recommend she plant in her front door urns, which will have full sun, I didn't hesitate to suggest that she includes some Wave Petunias. I told her they will grow and spread to look spectacular, and they won't need a lot of attention other than deadheading and extra watering during the hottest days.
You have inspired us to pair that beautiful blue with our purple and pink petunias! How did you decide on your color scheme for the cottage?
The blue and white color scheme of our cottage was a very easy decision. Blue has been my favorite color for as long as I can remember. Prior to building this new cottage, we had painted our old one in a similar dark blue with white trim, and it instantly felt right, and I knew it was a color I would never be tired of. One of the most important elements of the new cottage exterior was to have siding that was the right shade of blue, and it turned out just as I hoped it would.
Tell us about the gardening season in Canada. Does it present any specific challenges?
The gardening season and weather here are virtually identical to what the neighbouring states of Michigan and New York have. Also, where we are specifically, being right on the lake, moderates our temperatures so that sometimes they can even be slightly warmer here than they are a few hours to the south of us. So, we are usually safely past frost by third week of May, and in recent years here, my summer flowers have continued to thrive until late October. That gives us close to 5 months of growing season.
Do you plant similar things every year or do you like to experiment with new flowers and/or planters?
I have established my favorites now, which I plant every year, but I also like to experiment with additional new ones each Summer. I had great success with planting Hibiscus a couple years ago, and this year I have Bougainvillea for the first time. These tropical flowers are more like annuals than perennials in northern climates, but they can be over-wintered indoors. It will also take a little trial and error for me to learn which perennials are going to do well on the slope of our hillside garden. Last year, we planted 3 flowers I haven't grown previously - Black Eyed Susans, Daisies, and Day Lilies, and they appear to be doing very well here, as are the hydrangeas and peonies which are my must-haves! Aside from the garden areas, I plant 5 window boxes and at least 9 large planters, and some hanging baskets. Of those, 2 window boxes and 2 planters will have something completely new, while all the others have a version of the tried-and-true recipes!
Do you have any other hobbies?
My favorite hobby is photography. Other interests include travel, swimming, geocaching, painting, health & fitness, and technology.
Our current pup, Haven, is our 4th consecutive Golden Retriever. All of them have been an integral part of cottage life at the lake for us over the years.
Do you know any gardening jokes? If so, tell us one.
I would love to hang a sign on my door that says "Ring the doorbell. If no one answers, please deadhead my flowers." It's not exactly a joke because I mean it!
Tell us something that most people don’t know about you.
A few things might qualify here. I had some severe setbacks with my health during my twenties and was determined to overcome it. I learned a lot about nutrition and fitness, and decided to take up running, and then entered a triathlon. I finished second from last but had such a good time that I went on to do many more triathlons, and race events, and eventually ran several half marathons and a marathon.
I have also been a huge fanatic for NBA and college basketball games, even driving 38 hours in a weekend to see March Madness games or flying to Los Angeles to see the Lakers beat Celtics in game 7 of the Finals.
I have done a lot of traveling to many countries and islands. My all-time favorite place was Bora Bora. The craziest and most embarrassing experience of my life was when I got sick on a flight to Australia, and they had to land the plane in Hawaii to get me off and be taken to the Honolulu hospital. It was awful because I kept thinking "Oh no! I'm THAT person!" The one who every other passenger is annoyed with for causing them to be delayed!