Part 2: Suzanne King’s “Digs”


Welcome back to Digs.

Staging a garden at the end of the summer when plant selection has dwindled is a

challenge for even the most imaginative gardener. Yes of course there are mums.

Mums are everywhere. But in this garden, I want something special—just the right

colours and textures and interesting shapes—definitely a challenge.

The good news is I’m working with a charming turn-of-the century town home with a

lovely wrought iron gate, brick path winding through a sweet, although neglected.

little garden to a front patio/entrance waiting for enhancements.

The colours of the house are lovely so I decide colours will be the focus. Silvery

greens, blackened burgundy and cream will work perfectly in the window boxes and

planters on the front patio.

Cabbage plants (kale)—the soft foamy green, cream and burgundy ones should be

a good start.

 So with Salsabug—that’s my red Beetle—cleaned out and Woody—he’s my

Yorkie – on board, we head to nurseries. Not much luck in the city so we beetle out to

small town nurseries nearby and wallah! After two or three stops the bug is full.


We‘re both feeling pretty good about what we found amidst a lot of dried out plants.

Our selection gives us the colours we needed, and a nice variety of shapes and

textures—four big, round, shiny, green and burgundy cabbage plants (kale),54

smal,l velvety, Dusty Millers—a few ruffled edges, a few smooth edged,4 tall Red

Star Spikes, 3 burgundy potatoe trailing plants, and 2 full Hydrangea trees (Bombshell

& Magical fire).

Back at the house, day two, we are ready to work. Woody stretches out in the sun.I

start digging in the garden. Out go the weeds & dead plants, roses and ferns

trimmed back and fertilized, soil turned, and mulched, hostas and overgrown plants

split and moved to new spots.

besserer walkway

Next, I plant a few blue fescues (from my own garden), adding the foamy green touches

I’m using, and the handsome,cream & burgundy hydrangea bush takes a spot of honour

at the top of the path. Both setting up the colours about to be sorted out at the front door



 Time for a well-earned rest, at least for me. Woody yawns, stretches, and shakes

his head in approval and joins me for carrots and a sandwich.


Sipping an expresso on the front step I ponder the possible arrangements for the plants

waiting for pots.

After moving them from place to place, I decide on what works best and fill the

window box and pots with the new tenants.




Then what to do with the huge, immovable air conditioner and hydro meter! I fill a

large circular container(actually a retired plastic catering plate) with dusty miller and

trailing vine type plants to drape down the sides of the AC and plant the other

hydrangea tree  in a wonderful, iron container borrowed from the Teskey collection.

I had bought a very bushy 4-5’ hydrangea hoping it would camouflage fairly well. And it

did the trick.

 besserer garden blog


Everything watered, Woody and I stop to take in the oohs and awes of the

passing neighbours, then pack up the bug and head for home after another great

day in the garden.


Digs  .613 236 0050




Guest Blogger Suzanne King



OK, so your house is ready to list! Or is it? Did you remember the garden?

Too often the outside comes as an afterthought if it comes at all. Yet, the first thing a buyer sees is the front garden and generally the last stop is the back garden. People, today, look to the outdoors to entertain, to garden, or simply stretch out in the chaise with a good book.  A beautiful garden can be the clincher in selling your home.

Welcome to Digs

And my blog about Staging a Garden.

Staging your garden is not much different than staging your house. You’re looking for the wow factor! I start with a ‘simple’ plan to clean up, add plants, decorate, and maintain. I’ll walk you through my recent garden-stage focusing on a few essentials that turned an overgrown back garden into a tranquil oasis.


This stately Glebe home on Queen Elizabeth Driveway overlooks Ottawa’s Rideau Canal. The front and side yard needed sprucing up. The private back garden needed an overhaul.



With less than two weeks to do the job, and a limited budget, we planned a simple, clean-looking back garden, easy to maintain, using as many existing plants as possible, and added white impatience to brighten things up. Clean and simple meant, hard pruning, getting rid of the grass and weeds, putting down weed cloth,covering the main surface with pea  gravel  and sprucing up the flower beds.


Pulled weeds, pruned trees & shrubs, tossed broken planters

Turned soil, fertilized, & added mulch to the flower beds

Leveled ground and installed weed cloth,

Raked pea gravel into place .

Split and repositioned hostas from around the property

Planted white impatiens -a nice complement to the variegated hostas

Positioned existing vines to provide interesting back drops.




before and after



  Finishing Touches


Cleaned patio bricks (house view) and garden path (street view)

Divided the garden into two distinct areas (using existing patio furniture)

Eating area, with easy access to the house including table & chairs, a sunbrella, accent plants, and a BBQ (tucked in a corner);

Lounge area to relax under the shade of the mulberry tree

Added the cleaned-up fountain, Buddha and potted plants for a dash of colour!cid_CB4BAE12-423A-40B8-BCED-1161CFA5D59A@home





Final Word

Given the stresses of selling a home with constant cleaning, showings, and open houses you’re better off to hire a garden stager who brings fresh eyes, design sense, and know how to you garden. But for those who are do-it yourselfers I leave you with a few tips.

  • Keep it simple—remember you are staging not staying on

  • Sketch out a plan.

  • Cleanup—roll up your sleeves and don gardening gloves. Get rid of broken furniture, pull the weeds, prune unruly bushes, vines, and trees, and touch up peeling paint. Power clean patios paths and anything looking tired

  • Replace weedy lawns with pea gravel and simple bushes punctuated with colourful annuals

  • Use low maintenance, drought-resistant plants (fewer waterings and bugs) suited to your yard (sun or shade) Choose a simple colour scheme that compliments the house. It’s easy to be overwhelmed with the hundred’s of plants (and colours) waiting to confuse you. Sticking to one or two colours will create a greater impact.

  • Visit the nursery or markets—plant growers are a great source of advice—and talk to neighbours who may have appropriate plants to share.

  • Turn the soil and add mulch to improve texture and look of soil.

  • Position new plants in an attractive manner—for impact, place clumps of flowers rather than stringing them out. Place tall, bushy plants at the back of the bed and short ones at the front.

  • Decorate—think of all the accessories—cushions, paintings, pottery you put out to dress up rooms inside your home. Pay the same attention to your garden. Make it call out to visitors.

  • Start with a couple of pots of ‘showy’ flowers at the front door. Be sure the pots are in good shape—no room for chips and moss-covered containers. They belong in the garbage. However, if you have a few worthy candidates spruce them up with a paint job.

  • A front porch can be dressed up with a couple of chairs and bright cushions—an inexpensive (matching) side table with candles adds a homey touch.

  • In a back garden, a patio table and chairs and/or a couple of chaise lounges with colourful cushions and pots of aromatic herbs or plants such as lavender, near the door, are always inviting.

  • Prepare a simple sketch with plants numbered and a care plan for watering, fertilizing, deadheading, and pruning. If you’re listing your home off-season, some photographs showing the garden at it’s peak is a thoughtful gesture

 Bon chance!



Digs  .613 236 0050