The sunny south

Gardening is easier in the southwest, where the climate is mellow

Are you a north-side person in Calgary or a south-side holdout? I have lived all over the city and surrounding areas, including Airdrie, Riverbend, Ramsay, Valley Ridge, Rideau Park and Spruce Cliff, and I make it to many more communities around the city during my travels for work.

During all this moving, there is one thing that I’ve noticed. If you are a gardener, life in the south is simpler: less wind, less frost, less killer hail and more heat, as elevations drop and the climate gradually mellows. In the southwest, the climate is softer and the garden living is easy.

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Forest in a pot

Growing trees and shrubs in pots around your condo or townhome deck saves space, money and time

For Mike in Lethbridge, it started as a rescue operation.

He found dead-looking shrubs in the garbage behind stores and homes. He revived them, not as full-sized trees, but as miniature, windswept versions of their bigger selves.

His rescues became bonsai, and he built a delicate forest of trees in tiny pots.

Before I met Mike, I had never seen a crabapple or potentilla in a bonsai pot.

Why bother with bonsai? While a crabapple tree at 10 metres tall is a big tree, a 60-centimetre version in a bonsai pot is the perfect size for a patio. And the brilliant red crabapples, 1.5 centimetres across on a full-sized tree, are still the same size on a bonsai version of the same tree.

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Shelter from the storm

Avid gardeners should consider elevation, climate and soil before buying a new home

As many Albertans know, we can get some really nasty hail storms. Years ago, when we lived in Airdrie, my kids got pelted by golf-ball-sized hail walking back from school. They survived, but my garden wasn’t as lucky; the hail had stripped leaves off trees and pummeled my native orchids into the dirt. After nine years in Airdrie, it was the final straw. We listed the house and moved back to Calgary.

Thankfully, garden enthusiasts can now look up factors that impact their garden, such as elevation, before buying a house. Other factors that affect a garden, like soil and microclimate, can be changed, but elevation is fixed. If you are a gardener looking to buy or sell in a satellite community, here are some gardening tips to consider:

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Kitchen herbs

Grow your own herbs and inspire your next culinary creation

Is there a shortage of basil at the store? No problem. Frost in the garden? No worries. Basil and other herbs are always in season and at your fingertips when you grow them right in your own kitchen.

A herb garden in the kitchen is amazing. And if you’re the family cook or aspiring chef, you already know that fresh herbs bring meals to life. With a little space and the right kit, herbs practically grow themselves. Or, if you prefer a low-tech approach, even a modest a windowsill can suffice.

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