Green Thumb Newsletter: Spring 2017

Welcome to our 29th season–we’re ready for another gardening year. Every year it seems I say it’s been a very unusual winter…long fall, lots of precipitation with both snow and ice. Early signs at the garden centre show our plants wintered well. I am concerned about the evergreens around the city – ours too. A very dry summer doesn’t make for happy conifers going into the winter. The big message is it takes a while for a tree to show stress; it takes equally long for that same evergreen or tree to recover from that same stress. You need to decide if you are along for the patience ride, or if you are going to replace the struggling plants. As long as your plants were well settled in to your gardens before the winter, they should do just fine but do give them some time to rebound.

The Plant Search on our website includes more plants than in previous years. Plants are now sorted in the same categories as in our garden centre display areas. We carry all plants that are listed, or we can readily get them. They are hardy for Ottawa (zone 5a).

Remember that you can find us twice on Facebook: as a ‘person’ and as a ‘place’ which means that is twice the pleasure! You can ‘like’ us and ‘be our friend’. You’ll find out about our goings-on, some speaking venues, our staff’s twice monthly floral pick and helpful garden hints.

Continue to tell your friends and family about us. Familiar faces are waiting to welcome you and your colleagues to another gardening season.

Mary Shearman Reid
Owner, Green Thumb Garden Centre

To celebrate Ottawa Garden Days (June 9 – 18), we’ll be having some workshops at the garden centre the weekend of June 17 – 18. Details will be in the store and on our website.

How are we celebrating Canada’s Big Birthday?

Everyone’s talking about it!

Our staff has all sorts of surprises to share with you. They include:

  • We’ll be highlighting some of our Canadian roses and woody plants…aren’t we lucky to have the creations of some famous plant breeders as part of our heritage, such as Preston lilacs, Northern Gold forsythias, and Explorer and Morden roses.
  • Of course, we’ll have some native plants and smaller trees once again from Twigs Nursery – an Ottawa group who grows a selection of native woody plants from locally collected seeds.
  • As annual season approaches, we’ll have some red and white planters or just the plants and you can make your own display.

Email newsletters

75% of you have asked to get your newsletter by email. Thank you – we love saving the odd tree without the paper! The only drawback is that I won’t be able to write personal notes on all of those emails…it doesn’t mean that we don’t want to see you or we won’t follow up on your orders from last year – of course, we will. It’s not too late for more orders. Many of you tell me that you like to post our newsletter on your fridge to remind yourselves of us, our location, and hours and so on…we have hard copies to share if that is your preference.

We continue to email invoices… for a planting job, a spring or fall clean up, weeding and so on. We’ll accept your cheque, but you can also do an email transfer to us for your payment.

Perennial of the year

The Perennial Plant Association is a North American group of growers, garden designers, nursery and garden centre owners. This group votes for the Perennial of the Year. The winners are usually known for their year-round interest, their ease of care, their ability to thrive in a wide range of zones and varying growing conditions.
This year’s winner is Acslepias tuberosa – also known as butterfly weed…this cultivated plant is an alternative to housing milkweed from a natural setting in your garden. Butterfly weed is a food source for butterflies and supports insects and birds. A long-lived perennial AND native to parts of Canada and USA.

Asclepias tuberosa is a sun lover, about 2 feet tall by about the same, with brilliant orangey flowers blooming from late spring through July, relatively free of pests and diseases; apparently, deer don’t even like it. Dead heading keeps the plant compact and encourages longer blooming. Asclepias likes well drained soil, yet is quite tolerant of poor dry conditions. It doesn’t transplant well, so make sure you place it correctly to start. It will look quite stunning with day lilies, gay-feather, cone flowers and Salvia – a lovely contrast.

Green Thumb Membership

Your Green Thumb membership continues from year to year — it’s our way of thanking you for your business. No matter what level of discount you had last year, your membership is automatically renewed with your first purchase; just remind us that you’re a member. Your membership entitles you to discounts that increase, depending on your total yearly purchases. Just save your receipts and bring them in.

Level Annual purchases Most items Trees, shrubs, perennials
Green $100 10% 15%
Silver $150 12% 17%
Gold $300 15% 20%

Please note: the only reason we have your name, address and phone number on file is to be able to share these discounts with you and to send you our newsletter or other Green Thumb information — we do not sell our customer list to anybody. If you do not want to be a Green Thumb member and receive these benefits, please let us know.


If we have another dry season – remember new plants and newly transplanted ones need watering every day for 2 weeks, then weekly until the end of the season. For evergreens, that means until the ground is frozen solid. It’s better to water directly to the roots instead of via an overhead watering sprinkler.