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Windermere Garden Centre

It all comes down to the right plants in the right location

Not everyone has a green thumb, but with careful planning and some informed advice, anybody’s gardens have an opportunity to be spectacular.

Beginner and seasoned gardeners alike need to be aware of key factors for a successful planting season. These include proper nutrition, watering, whether plants tolerate sun or shade. Get those right and you’re on your way to a healthy and vibrant garden.

Perennials and shrubs are the first product typically found in spring at the Windermere Garden Centre. This is due to their ability to tolerate our cooler springs — they can be planted once the ground warms up.

Annuals which do not survive our Canadian winters are recommended to be planted after the first full moon in June. May 24 may be fine for southern Ontario, but Muskoka can still see killing frosts into the first part of June.  That way you avoid losing your precious product, and you’ll be sure to enjoy beautiful blooms throughout the summer season.

In June many of your perennials will start showing growth and bloom. To ensure continued bloom throughout the season, pick perennials with staggered blooming times.

Perennials such as peonies are early bloomers, lillies will bloom in late June and early July, cone flowers bloom in mid-July and black-eyed Susans begin to show in August to set the stage for the coming fall colours. 

Shrubs can follow the same patterns for blooming: examples would be lilac for late spring, weigela and ninebarks for early summer and hydrangeas throughout the summer and into the fall.  A great shrub for the fall would be a burning bush to provide an intense leaf colour.

Location is key

Selecting the right plants also means understanding what conditions they need to thrive.

Sunny spots – which see six or more hours of sunshine a day – are perfect for flowers like lavender, dianthus, hibiscus, daylily, and yarrow. On the other hand, that might be too much for shade-lovers such as hostas, primrose, begonia, viola, and ferns.

In Muskoka – and in particular on the lakes – wind is another significant factor. Wind-resistant plants include perennials like daylilies and daisies, as well as annuals such as zinnias and geraniums.

“If you’re putting flowers and plants at your dock, make sure they are well-suited to that environment,” say the staff at Windermere Garden Centre.

Not all plants are alike when it comes to watering. Some, like geraniums, are more heat and drought tolerant, while lobelia or bacopa generally require more watering. This also applies when fertilizing your plants: blooming plants tend to require more food during the heat of the summer while plants like succulents will thrive with less fertilizer and water.

Flower trends

This year’s trends are bold colours like brightly coloured begonias in red, oranges and yellows, or geraniums in bright pinks, reds and orange.  We have seen a rising trend in edible gardens to include fruit trees, berry bushes and vegetables, which are sold at both Windermere Garden Centre locations.  In the end it’s all about individual preferences: the centre has hundreds of flowers and plants to choose from, with a large palette of colours.

Ultimately, it’s about choosing the flowers to fit your style and taste. Whether it’s to liven up your gardens or creating a sustainable food source, your personal taste and some expert advice will result in the best selection for your needs.

Family affairFor almost 50 years, the Emmons family has run the Windermere Garden Centre. It is now being passed down to new owners that have both been in the industry for a number of a years and are looking forward to expanding their knowledge base.

Kari Meeks and her partner Collin Dunnett have been connected to the garden centre and to Colleen personally for many years.

Collin, who also owns Stonescaping Muskoka, worked there through his teenage years, while Kari is truly part of the Windermere Garden Centre family. She has worked there for seven years, and her dad, siblings, and close friends have worked at the business throughout the years.

“It’s more of a family transition,” says Kari. “I’ve known Colleen all my life and my dad was the best man at their wedding.”

Many loyal customers will be happy to note that Colleen will still be an active member of the amazing team for many years to come.

Open May through Thanksgiving, the business also has a second location in Port Carling. Hundreds of vibrantly coloured annuals and perennials, as well as many varieties of trees, shrubs and herbs and vegetables on site at both locations, as well as custom-designed planters, home and garden decor, supplies such as soils and seeds. 

New this year they are selling grow-your-own mushroom kits, Poppa Jim’s Honey, jams and dressings from Yummies in a Jar and Emmons family grape Juice from the Niagara region.

With two locations and 15 greenhouses, they are able to offer a constant supply of fresh plants, many which they have grown from seed to pot.

If you haven’t got your green thumb yet, there’s no need to worry. The Windermere Garden Centre team is more than happy to help with all your garden needs.


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