Landscape Ontario 2019 Awards of Excellence

Landscape Ontario 2019 Awards of Excellence 1080 369 windermere

Every year Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association holds an annual competition called the Awards of Excellence (the Oscars of the Green Industry). This competition is open to active and interim members of the association and is judged by a panel of respected horticulture industry experts. There are over 40 different categories of awards, recognizing the design and master craftsmanship in landscape construction, maintenance and design projects along with awards for growers and garden centres. The awards are presented at the Emerald Gala held during Congress – Canada’s Green Industry Show and Conference held at the Toronto Congress Centre.

We are very honoured to have received awards for all five of our entries this year, three under the Garden Centre category and two in the Landscape Maintenance category.

The Garden Centre categories are judged on the images and descriptions submitted on sales appeal, originality, creativity, ease of shopping, cleanliness, use of signage, quality of plant material and overall impact.

We received awards for the following, in the Garden Centre category

Outstanding Display of Plant Material – Annuals and or Perennials

Our write up about our annual and perennial displays

Add beauty, colour and fragrance to your world with our wide selection of annuals and perennials. From old favorites to new exotics, when looking for continuous bloom of colour in your shrub and perennial gardens, then annuals are your answer. Or for visual impact of your waterfront cottage custom planted and delivered!

Throughout the garden centre you will find creative displays in many pockets, end of aisle or entrance incorporating antique farm implements and garden accents and groupings for plant of the week displays. Take a rest on an inviting bench while you take in the calming atmosphere of flower power! Can you find our cat mascots in amongst the greenery!
Parade day mini garden in vintage pickup inspires customers to come check us out.

Here are some of the photos we entered for this category 


Outstanding Display of Goods – Giftware

Our write up about our giftware displays

Rustic, Traditional, Contemporary, Transitional, Vintage and more …

…more than just flowers to make your home and gardens beautiful – bird baths, unique sculptures, soapstone display, forest animals, or pretty beautiful butterflies. Nautical, driftwood and stars inspire images of the cottage. Wall art in various mediums for inside or out!

Antique furniture or farm equipment are great for displaying our products; or in the right place can be displayed as a beautiful work of art, a conversation piece or a wonderful focal point in your home or cottage gardens.

Here are some of the photos we entered for this category 


Outstanding Display of Goods – Seasonal

Our write up about or seasonal displays

All Seasons are bursting with colours; with fall being a favourite, whether along a driveway, or entrance way and throughout the garden centre! In full bloom or about to break out!
Brimming with inviting ideas for displays incorporating fall mums, pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks, perennials and shrubs around focal points of interest such as a wagon or vintage farm equipment. Small pumpkin centerpieces for your table. Even the Fall Fair’s largest pumpkin could be yours!

Here are some of the photos we entered for this category 


The Landscape Maintenance Categories entered must have been maintained by us for a periods of not less than two seasons. They are judged on originality, overall impact, quality of turf cut, turf health, edging & trimming, evidence of IPM/best practices, cleanliness of site, (ie. debris), pruning (proper technique) plant health and vigour & design.

We received awards for the following, in the Landscape Maintenance Category

Private Residential Maintenance – 1 Acre or more

Our write up about one of our island properties

Our client’s property is on an island. All plant materials, soil, mulch and equipment is barged over to island bay to off load at beach side of property. Our maintenance crew takes a separate 30 minute boat ride to get to the property. There is an inclinator on front side of property for access to main cottage.
Feature – extensive water frontage; rock out crops; and slopes to water
Challenges – Township recently mandated 50’ shoreline restrictions and native vegetation, shrubs and trees cannot be disturbed or removed
Feature – owner hand-picked birch logs for some of their staircases
The owner is an artist who loves to be surrounded with colour so we plant a mixture of annuals for full season colour along with perennials you will find pocket of annuals and perennials in natural and man-made pockets where least expected. Integrated planting without a lot of disruption to native fauna on boundaries of property
Challenges – island is inhabited by herd of deer
We use a a variety of techniques to keep deer away from eating annuals, perennials and shrubs. If they are hungry enough, they will eat anything in sight! They will even swim around double fences and come back in on the beach for what they want.
Quirk/conditions – recently requested that we verify that all plant material brought to the island be free of “neonicotoid pesticides” from our greenhouses and our suppliers. This not really a problem as majority of our industry has already done this.
Quirk/conditions – “no noise” zone when client is on site. There is no use of motorized equipment ie. leaf blowers, mule or track carrier etc. Our quiet Eco-friendly battery operated golf cart with dump box is left on site for the season for our crew to use.
We believe that this is worthy of winning an Award because this one property presents so many challenges requiring different solutions with its features, restrictions and accessibility along with a wide variety of soil, light and water conditions.

Here are some of the photos we entered for this category 


Special Interest Maintenance – Residential or Commercial

Our write up about the photos we submitted

Key feature – Island client’s vegetable garden to supply their family chef with lots of fresh herbs, vegetables, edible flowers and some small fruit/berries all grown organically
Challenges – Shorter growing season. We start vegetables from Organic/Heirloom seed in our own greenhouses, transplanting into larger containers as they grow and keep in our greenhouse until after last frost in our area. They are then planted into the garden and are ready for use or harvest when the family arrives for the summer. We continuously replant some of faster growing vegetables and herbs throughout the summer, such as lettuces
Challenges – Island is inhabited by herd of deer and those that swim over from mainland
If they are hungry enough, they will eat anything in sight! Even swimming around double fence and come back in at the beach to get to what they want.
Solution – We built a custom vegetable garden enclosed by decorative fence structure to keep deer out. We included raised beds for ease of harvesting and weeding; with mulch in between. With a composter outside enclosure, keeps critters such as raccoons outside of garden.

Here are some of the photos we entered for this category 

We would like to thank all of our staff members, for all their hard work and dedication. They are the ones boating to the islands, driving near and far to the many properties we maintain during the summer season and our greenhouse and sales staff that keep everything looking spectacular at both our locations all summer long.  They are our the reason we were chosen for these awards. Thank you to our wonderful clients for continuing to choose Windermere Garden Centre for your landscape and maintenance needs, so we can continue to do what we do best.

Click on the link below to check out all of the 2019 Landscape Ontario Awards of Excellence Winners for this year

Attracting Pollinators to Your Garden

Attracting Pollinators to Your Garden 600 400 windermere

Attracting Pollinators to your Garden

One question we get every year is “what do we plant to attract pollinators?” this is a question we love to hear. In order to give you the best answers, I have conferenced with the experts here at Windermere and have come up with some great ways to help attract pollinators to your garden.

What to Plant
The first step to planning your garden is choosing what to plant. We suggest planting fragrant, native, pollen and nectar rich plants with a variety of annuals, perennials and shrubs. Research suggests bees are more attracted to native plants than they are to exotic or hybridized flowers. Hybridized flowers tend to be less fragrant and usually have less pollen and nectar. When choosing what to plant be sure to include flowers of different shapes, sizes and colours. Different pollinators are attracted to different colours and since pollinators come in different sizes, choosing different sized flowers will allow for all sized species in your garden, form humming birds to bees. It is also important to choose flowers that have different blooming times, so you will have continuous blooms in your garden throughout the entire season.

Planting and Caring for your Garden
It is suggested that to increase your pollinator traffic to plant several of the same species in clumps. This makes plants/flowers easier to find and will allow your pollinator to use less energy when collecting pollen or nectar as they don’t have so far to travel.
Most of the flowers/plants that attract pollinators need a lot of sun to be able to bloom at full potential. If you’re building a new garden be sure it is in a bright and sunny location.
Be sure to water your plants well, especially for the first few months after they are planted so they can become well established in your garden.
Get to know your plants, some of them will continue to bloom all season long if you remove the spent flowers by deadheading, unfortunately some only bloom once and you have to wait until another year for more flowers. Once the first frost of fall has come it is important for you to cut back or prune your garden, this will keep your plants healthy by keeping mold and diseases away as well as encourage new lusher growth for next year.

Avoid Chemicals
Choose natural weed and pest control in your garden as pesticides harm the pollinators you’re trying to attract. Many pesticides, even ones that say they are organic can be very toxic, especially to bees. Using a mesh barrier, such as landscape fabric, will prevent weeds from growing and placing mulch in your garden is also a great way to keep weeds at bay.
To aid in dealing with those pesky insects like black flies, mosquitoes, beetles etc. plan to add a few insect repelling plants to your pollinator garden. Here are a few suggestions I found and what they are supposed to repel.

Citronella – mosquitoes
Lavendar – moths, fleas, flies and mosquitoes
Cat Nip – deer ticks, cockroaches (you may attract some unwanted cats though)
Chives – carrot flies, Japanese beetles and aphids,
Petunias – asparagus beetles, leafhoppers, tomato worms and squash bugs
Thyme – whiteflies, cabbage loopers & maggots, corn earworms and tomato hornworms
Allium – slugs, aphids, carrot flies and cabbage worms
Chrysanthemums – roaches, ants, Japanese beetles, ticks, silverfish, lice, fleas, spider mites, harlequin bugs and nematodes
Nasturtiums – whiteflies, squash bugs, aphids, many types of beetles and cabbage loopers

Water and Food
If you looking to attract humming birds, adding a humming bird feeder will do just that, some butterflies will also use a humming bird feeder.
All pollinators need water to survive, adding a pretty bird bath or mini fountain can keep your pollinators hydrated. Just remember to change the water often as dirty water will not help them, but will become a great breeding place for mosquitoes and black files.

Pollinators like to be able to hide from predators and need a home where they can get out of the elements as well as a safe place to rear their young. If you’re in an area where there is some wild and natural lands with over grown grass, fallen logs, dead trees still standing, etc. that is great, these are where your pollinators will be found when they are not busy in your beautiful garden. If you aren’t close to anything like this, that’s ok. You can purchase or build bee and butterfly houses. These are bird like houses filled with little pieces of bamboo leaving a bunch of tiny hollow holes that they can hide in. Solid wooden blocks can be used too, just drill many tiny holes into the block and viola you have a bee house.

In my research I have found quite an extensive list of plants that will help bring pollinators to your garden. Here are some of our favorites.


Black Eyed Susan
Cone Flowers
Creeping Thyme
Holly Hock

Trees & Shrubs
False Spirea
Fruit Trees of any kind

You don’t need to have a large yard to attract pollinators. All you need is a small space, a variety of planted pollinator attracting flowers and a source of water. You can have yourself a beautiful garden for many kinds of pollinators to enjoy.
We wish you well in with your pollinator garden adventures. If you are looking for more advice stop in and visit either one of our locations and speak to one of our amazing plant experts.
Don’t forget we always welcome feedback and photos of the beautiful pollinators you end up attracting.

                                             Happy Planting

Starting Seeds Indoors

Starting Seeds Indoors 375 500 windermere

Starting Seeds Indoors

Spring is officially here the snow is starting to melt (slowly), some of your perennials and shrubs should be showing signs of coming back to life and your spring bulbs will be poking through the soil soon, if they aren’t already. If you haven’t already stated your seeds inside, now is the time. Starting some seeds inside gains you a few extra weeks in our short growing season, which allows you to choose some of the vegetables that have a longer growing time.

In order to start seeds at home you will need the following;

• Seeds
• Clean containers or flats – egg cartons can be used as well
• Soil – We use BM8 soil which has a blend of high quality composted peat moss, that provides beneficial microorganisms to enhance plant growth (can be purchased at both locations)
• Labels – popsicle sticks work well for this
• Marker/pen
• Pencil or stick to poke holes in soil
• Water

Before the planting begins you will want to read all your seed packet instructions. Some seeds need to be chilled, soaked, scratched etc. before planting. Also keep in mind on the instructions for transplanting. Some seeds need to be transplanted into bigger containers as they grow and some seeds don’t like to be moved. It is important to plant according to what is instructed.

Now that you have prepped your seeds as instructed on their packages, they are ready to be planted.

• Fill your clean containers with moistened soil. Most seeds can be gently pressed into the soil, with your pencil or stick. However some seeds are to be covered, some not, some are to be planted with very little soil covering the seed and some might need to be buried ½ an inch in the soil. This is why reading your seed packages is important.

We suggest planting one kind of seed at a time and labeling the containers as you go. It can be quite frustrating trying to figure out what is what, when you are trying to transplant into bigger pots or when transferring your plants into your outside garden.

• Once your seeds are planted they will need watered, you want to be gentle with the watering. Using a spray bottle to mist the planted seeds works well, we have heard turkey basters also work well or a light flowing watering can. Using lukewarm water when watering is usually best as cold water can sometimes shock your seeds and they won’t germinate.

• Now that your seeds are planted and watered, cover the trays with plastic to keep them from drying out, making sure there is a few holes in the plastic to allow some ventilation.

• When your seeds start to sprout remove the plastic and move the trays into a spot that gets lots of sun. If you don’t have a sunny spot you can always set up a station with grow lights. Grow lights should be a few inches above the plants and should be moved up as the plants continue to grow. If you place your seedlings in the sun it is advised that you turn your trays/pots around in different directions. This helps keep your plants growing straight and not bending in the direction of the sun.

• For the seedlings that are to be transplanted into bigger pots, you will know they are ready once they have sprouted their second set of leaves. You can use yogurt container, Styrofoam cups or buy pots from your local hardware store or garden centre. Like before fill your pots with your moistened soil and put a small hole in the soil with your stick or pencil.

• Carefully break up the soil your seedlings are in so the roots can be easily freed. Always lift seedlings by the leaves not the stems when you are moving them. Carefully place them into the new pots planting them as deep as instructed on the seed package.

• Be sure to water them when you are finished transplanting them. Just like before using lukewarm water, misting from a spray bottle or a soft flowing container.

• After transplanting, keep seedlings out of direct sun for a few days, this helps them to become better established in their new pots.

• Now we wait until the weather is warm enough that we can plant our seedlings outside. Make sure to keep seedlings watered as they grow. It is always best to keep inside until after the full moon in June. This year the full moon in June this year is on June 17th

We know planting seeds indoor takes some time, patience, a lot of space in your home and doesn’t always have the results that you had planned for. It is definitely a learning experience and can be mastered quite well over the years of trial and error. If by chance this isn’t your best year for indoor planting or if you’re like me and just don’t have all that much space in your home, for all the seeds you would like to start now. Don’t Fret! We’ve got you covered. We started planting seeds last month in our green house. With our horticultural experts doing the planting, we will have a huge selection of plants (including vegetables) for you to purchase to plant in your gardens, planters, hanging baskets and window boxes this year.

Pruning Your Fruit Trees

Pruning Your Fruit Trees 1701 1129 windermeregardencentre6721

Pruning Your Fruit Trees

Why is it important to prune your fruit tree? Regular pruning started the first year the tree is planted leads to an all over healthier tree. Pruning allows to create a strong and proper root system and framework to support your tree for future fruit production, to direct the growth of the tree into an optimal size and shape, promoting fast regrowth in the spring, alleviates overcrowding, increases the amount of air circulation and sunlight into the tree which helps control pests and disease, ensures a higher-quality of fruit, and allows fruit trees to live significantly longer.

Why is March the best time of year to prune fruit trees? In the fall after your fruit is finished for the season the trees start to settle into dormancy for the winter. The tree stashes its excess nutrients/sugars from the leaves in its roots, causing the leaves to turn colour and fall off. If you prune your tree at this time you will stimulate growth just before the tree is getting ready to be dormant. The sap will rise from the roots in the tree and with the temperature dropping this can cause the plant to suffer, and even die. If your plant doesn’t die, it will certainly be weaker come spring.

If you prune your trees in early winter you are leaving wounds on the trees that won’t be repaired on the tree until it starts coming out of dormancy and growing in the spring. Which can cause permanent damage to the tree.

Pruning fruit trees after they have started to bud will slow down their growth and will result in a smaller amount of fruit developing.

Pruning in March (later winter/early spring) is the best time for your trees. Your tree is bare of leaves which allows you to see dead, diseased or broken limbs better, able to see the shape your tree, and it is right before it comes out of dormancy which will allow your tree to heal wounds from pruning quickly as it starts growing.

If you don’t feel comfortable pruning on your own, hiring a company such as Windermere Garden Centre is always an option. However the process of pruning your fruit trees is not hard to do on your own, when you know how to use your tools and saws properly. Here are some simple steps to follow.

First you want to make sure you have a sharp pair of shears. Pruning shears are used on limbs less than a half inch in diameter, lopping shears should be used for bigger cuts and a pruning saw is for the bigger limbs. It is suggested to sanitize your tools, this will help to prevent infection disease and to re-sanitize when moving from one tree to the next.


“Plants give positive energy! So make yourself happy, plant a plant!”