Hope is growing in 2021. What a refreshing theme after a difficult year last year. Canadians are ready to start looking up and so are gardeners.
That is why Communities in Bloom has embraced Hope is Growing as the banner for its 2021 campaign.
What is Communities in Bloom (CiB)? It is a celebration of urban environmental sustainability across Canada. CiB is a volunteer-driven, not-for-profit organization that partners with municipalities to enhance residential and public spaces.
Since its humble beginnings in 1995, the goal has been “to enhance the quality of life and the environment through people and plants in order to create community pride”.
We are delighted that our professional trade association, the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association (CNLA), acquired control of Communities in Bloom just over a year ago. This provides an opportunity for new ideas, growth and vision.
The first endeavour of the new Communities in Bloom is the Hope is Growing campaign, which encourages Canadians to plant a garden of hope for 2021, featuring the colour yellow. From coast to coast, the goal is to create front yards, boulevards and playgrounds brimming with yellow flowers, foliage and vegetables.
As always, friendly competition is at the heart of Communities in Bloom. If your community participates in the broader Communities in Bloom program, planting a bright yellow Hope Garden can enhance your odds for this year’s awards.
How to design a Hope Garden
Here are the top suggestions for a yellow-themed garden this season:
Forsythia (forsythia), one of our favourite flowering shrubs, is enrobed in a coat of yellow flowers in early spring – perfect timing for the heralding of new hope. If you have not already planted forsythia, you can enjoy its colour with cuttings placed in a tall vase. Forsythia cuttings tend to root easily by pushing the bottom third of each cutting into damp ground as soon as the ground has thawed.
Sunflower (helianthus) – for sunny days ahead – there could be no more obvious choice for a Hope Garden. Shop now for a wide variety of sunflower varieties from seed catalogues or go online and check out the seeds that are available from a myriad of suppliers. Plant directly from seed in early spring, enjoy throughout late summer and fall as the birds show up to enjoy a feast on big yellow sunflower heads.
Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is a native perennial that produces bright yellow flowers from late summer into autumn and attracts pollinators to beat the band.
Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) is another great native plant that is a relative to the sunflower. This one is different, though, as it features an abundance of yellow pollinator-attracting flowers and produces an edible tuber that can be cooked like a potato. Note: Jerusalem artichoke can be overly aggressive, almost invasive. Keep it in a confined part of the garden.
Marigolds (Tagetes erecta) are fun annuals with edible flowers. All marigolds are technically edible, but in our opinion the best tasting species are French marigold (Tagetes patula). Big duck gold marigold is another favourite variety. As a bonus, many vegetable gardeners inter-plant marigolds with their veggie crops to keep insects, especially aphids, at bay.
Speaking of vegetables, a favourite yellow vegetables is the golden delight summer squash or simply yellow zucchini. It’s easy to grow and prolific. One of Mark’s favourite tricks is carving the grandkids’ names in zucchinis on the fruit with a knife when the vegetables are young and giving them as gifts from the “zucchini fairy” after they have matured for a few days. Why not carve a hopeful message in your zucchini?
Canadians took up gardening in record numbers last year: we hope to see a yellow-washed repeat in 2021 – after all, Hope is Growing in the garden.
Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author, broadcaster, tree advocate and member of the Order of Canada. His son, Ben, is a fourth-generation urban gardener and graduate of University of Guelph and Dalhousie University in Halifax. Follow them at markcullen.com, @markcullengardening and on Facebook.
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