Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Gardening Article: The History Of English Allotments

For 27 years or so I have been an active gardener and I wouldn’t turn back the clock one single day. I love being outside in the fresh air growing an aesthetic garden for the family to enjoy and tending to my crops on the allotment, whilst having some good old banter with the old boys. However, I realised I don’t know half as much about the history of allotments than I thought I did and so I took it upon myself to find out.

On my journey to discovery I was pleasantly surprised to find out allotments date back 1,000 years to the Saxon times. However, it’s the St Ann’s Allotments in Nottingham that have the richest history and are still used. This set of allotments that reach 75 acres have been used by residents for over 600 years and has now been listed as a grade II listed site.

Reading deeper into the history of allotments, I found they had been seen as a form of wealth; during the reformation in the 1540’s plots of land that has once belonged to the church were given to lords. During Queen Elizabeth I’s reign the poor were not allowed to be seen to have more land than the lords and so the land they used to raise cattle and grow vegetables to feed families was confiscated. However, allotments were provided on the side of cottages.

I was astonished to find that there is a whirlwind history connected to allotments. However, I did find a gap; during the 18th and 19th centuries it seems allotments fell off the radar. I’m presuming this was to do with the Industrial Revolution and the construction of towns and cities. It isn’t until the first and second world wars when we hear about the popularity of allotments once again. Due to rationings and poor food supplies people began to grow their own food again. Allotments were used as a survival tool; people were scared food supplies would run low or their rationing book wouldn’t cover what families needed and so decided to grow fruit and veg from seed.

Throughout history allotments have been used to show off wealth and power and as a survival tool, but now becoming self sufficient has come into vogue. We now actively want to do our part for the environment and so the demand for allotment spaces has been steadily increasing. Over recent years we have become concerned with genetic modifications, chemical pollution, contamination of food and our carbon footprint, which could have all played a part in our interest in growing our own.

Allotments are no longer a survival tool they are an accessory we possess to help us maintain a greener way of life. People across the country see an almost romantic side of growing food, giving each seedling attention and love to provide their loved ones with healthy and organic food. So much so, people are now incorporating the allotment life into their gardens, balconies and even inside their homes.

Image courtesy of http://gypsy-willow.hubpages.com/

About the author: Mr. McGregor is a guest writer for Notcutts and offers tips and advice on everything horticultural, from growing your own fruit and vegetables to maintaining the perfect lawn.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gardening Article: Show Stopper – Jackmanii Clematis

Guest author Jacqueline from deeprootsathome.com, republished with permission.









Photo above used with permission Susan Bale's Garden from deeprootsathome.com.

Probably my favorite garden flower combination is a hardy David Austin pink climbing rose and the vivid purple Jackmanii clematis ‘Superba’. I am smitten with roses, but combined with a Jackmanii, the rose is even better.

Clematis can grow in any zone in the US, and will provide many, many years of glorious color from June 1 to mid-July and then again in September if you keep them well watered . This wondrous vine grows up to 20 feet when in its optimal environment. It can be used as a shade vine on a south-facing wall in some circumstances.









Big rocks hold cooling and moisture on this south-facing wall

There are some great old standards, but only a dozen or so can compete with the attributes of the Jackmanii… even better yet, ask your nursery to order you a ‘Superba’, a Jackmanii on steroids.

Things to know when planning a site: It needs a fence or trellis that it can grasp, but the foremost rule of thumb is that the roots must remain cool, even during summer’s scorching heat. Using mulch or big rocks helps.








In a stiff wind - just ready to open.

Find a site that has a minimum of 6 hours of sun for best blooming on a fence but place a low growing shrub or several large rocks south/west of the root ball for shade in the hot afternoons. A showy Pinky Winky or Limelight hydrangea goes beautifully with clematis growing above it (see bottom).

It was developed by George Jackman, an Englishman, in the mid 1800’s, and bears his name as a tribute to his work.











Sometimes blooms look a regal purple, sometimes cobalt blue

This particular planting is right outside the sliding door off the kitchen, so I can see it all summer into fall when I work at the sink. It is such a treat to watch the flowers sway in the wind.

I love the romance of a well-placed arbor. Flanked by some evergreen shrubs, you can allow climbing roses and clematis to intertwine (perhaps planting one on either side). The effect is stunning, and it is rather low maintenance once established.

Note how the clematis is mainly leafy stems until about 3′ up the arbor. The top flares out at this point to clamber up and over. You can place a shrub at the base to keep the roots cool or place the vine on the north or east side. It will reach for the sun, but its feet will be in shade.













Another good use is on an arbor. It will go over the top!

Last thought: you may want to use a green Velcro tape to help the vine up in the spring. Sometimes the tops are so heavy with buds and they twine together that this aid is just the thing! I look forward to getting out of the house to ‘play’ with my plants. They will repay you for that extra care all summer.









Pair with other season-long bloomers.














Found in gardening catalogs and most garden supply stores.

~ Jacqueline


Photos courtesy of Jacqueline.

About the author: Jacqueline writes the inspirational blog deeprootsathome.com, covering organic food and gardening, health, music, and life.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gardening Article: Planting The Perfect Rock Garden

Have you been toying with the idea of planting a rock garden? If you have, you'll have quite an exciting challenge ahead of you. It will definitely be a new experience when compared to simple gardening, but very rewarding and the results can be extremely stunning. If you're ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work, here is a simple guide for planting a rock garden to help you get started.


Picking Out A Color Scheme

This is a great place to begin. It will help you decide on the type of rocks you want to use and the flowers and plants you need to buy. Every gardening project needs a starting point and picking out a color scheme can help you get the ball rolling with a quick and easy decision.

Where Will You Put It?

Choose a spot that receives a lot of sunshine. You're not going to want to attempt a rock garden combined with shade gardening.

Choosing The Rocks

In most cases you won't have a preset potential rock garden sitting in your back or front yard. If you do, great. If you don't, you'll have to start searching for stones that will match your color scheme and at the same time look like they are part of the yard itself. What you are striving for is a stone setting that looks like the rocks have been set there permanently.

What Type Of Soil Is Best?

Most rock gardens will require a sandy soil since the plants used in a rock garden need excellent drainage. If you have a soil that is more on the clay side you'll need to add some sand. While you're at it, add some compost to it as well.

Purchasing The Plants And Flowers

As mentioned above, you'll want to look for plants and flowers that work well with a lot of drainage. Buying flowers that require the soil to remain wet just isn't going to work.

If you are planning to set up a garden on the outside of the rocks you can look for flowers and plants that match the growing requirements of your lawn. Of course, there is no need to purchase flowers and plants that do well with drainage if they are placed at the bottom of the rock garden around the outside edge of it.

Keeping It Varied Yet Uniform

While you will be looking for plants that meet your color scheme, you'll also want to find some with different heights and textures. This will give you the right variation you need.

You don't, however, want to overdo things by getting too many different types of flowers and plants. In order to keep your rock garden looking uniform, only buy a few plant types and flowers.

Getting The Correct Foliage

Plan to spend a good amount of time picking out the foliage you want. Remember that your flowers will bloom at certain times of the year while the foliage will remain constant. This is going to be the backbone of your garden.

Setting Up Your Rock Garden

The best way to start setting up your garden is to plant something first and then arrange the rocks around it. It is a lot easier to move the rocks around than it is to constantly replant to create the desired effect. You'll simply continue to plant and rearrange rocks until you can stand back and look at your garden with pride and honor.

Adding Mulch

The last step is to add your mulch. The best thing to use is small colored stones that match your color scheme.

Dressing It Up

Some people choose to use realistic silk flowers to create an effect. While some true die-hard gardeners consider this to be cheating, it is an option. Realistic silk flowers can be purchased in colors to make a dramatic color statement, especially when the flowers are not in bloom.

If you set up your rock garden properly it can be a very low maintenance proposition once it has been completed. The trick is to pick out the proper plants, flowers and foliage and to not get tempted to purchase other flowers when you are at the flower nursery. Especially if they don't meet your drainage requirements.

About the author: Robert works for silkflowerssarehouse.com, he is a gardener and writer who enjoys writing about flowers and gardening.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Benefits Of Gardening Infographic

The Pond Blog was kind enough to offer this free infographic for us to help explain the many benefits of gardening. There is some interesting information about exercise, saving money growing plants, the environment, and real estate values. Check it out by clicking on the image for a close up look at the gardening info.

Cool Ways Gardening Can Make Your Life Better; The benefits of gardening


Source by Loch Ness Water Gardens




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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gardening Article: 5 Must Have Salad Plants For Your Edible Winter Garden

We all know that getting a jump on the growing season means starting plants indoors early each spring. Why not spread that excitement throughout the year and sow seeds in fall for an edible winter garden?

Depending on your location November is the perfect time to plant salad crops that will overwinter, providing you with fresh greens all winter long. In maritime or mild climates the plants below can be grown outside. If you happen to be in a place with a little colder temperatures then growing these in a green house or cold frame may be necessary. For best results try germinating seeds inside and transition plants outside once they are a few inches tall.

1. Collards – Collards are often forgotten as a winter type green, especially in the West. Typically cooked, collards have a strong bitter flavor so use them sparingly in fresh salads until you are comfortable with the taste. Many of the “bitter greens” as they are called (kales, endive, escarole etc.) are not widely available in stores and as a result most people are not used to the flavors. Collards are also easy to grow and easy to overwinter.

2. Kale – What can I say other than Kale is awesome! There are many types of kale with a wide variety of leaf shapes, colors and textures. Not only does kale taste great, it will add to the beauty of your edible garden. Kale does very well as an overwintering plant. In fact, some varieties even become sweeter after a frost. Most people only like using the young leaves for salad but I find the mature leaves add much needed texture and flavor to most salads. Mature leaves are also great in soups or baked dishes as they don’t wilt and fall apart like lettuce or spinach would.

3. Maché (a.k.a. corn salad, lamb’s lettuce) – Maché is an incredibly easy plant to grow. It was discovered in cornfields where it was thought to be a weed. This is a low growing plant with very delicate leaves. The growth pattern of maché is neat. Every whorl of leaves are paired and off set by 90 degrees. Maché to me is similar in taste to spinach but has a lighter texture.

4. Peas – While not a green leafy salad plant, peas, especially snow peas are a perfect addition to any green salad. Peas do best in cooler times of the year but are not as cold tolerant as kale or chard so you might find these better suited to growing in a greenhouse. Nonetheless, peas can be grown for winter harvest. Peas are a fast growing plant with harvest between about 55-70 days for most varieties.

5. Swiss Chard – Like kale, there are many varieties of Swiss chard with a range of colors and textures. Most of the difference in color is related to the stalks of chard, some are pure white while others are bright yellow, orange and red. Again, smaller leaves are more suitable for fresh salads while mature leaves and stalks are typically saved for cooked dishes, but the choice is yours.

The great thing about all of the above plants is that the harvest can be prolonged, spread out over weeks or months by taking outer leaves first. In the case of peas, the harvesting will induce production of additional pods in most cases. For more specific growing information on the above plants check out http://ediblegardennw.com/plants.

Plant now and enjoy a bounty of greens for your holiday dinners!

Image courtesy of ediblegardennw.com

About the author: Galen is a gardener who enjoys writing about edible gardening. Read his gardening articles at
http://ediblegardennw.com/articles.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Summer Rains And Steady Garden Plants

When it was starting to warm up here in the summer months, we did have some rain (and not just a shower) back.in July. In July it stayed at 60 to mid 60's mostly so far but there is more sun out there in summer than the rest of the year. That weekend we were in the garden mowing, watering, weeding, and trimming up the roses. Later that afternoon we looked out the window and it was raining! It's never rained here in July before, so we were surprised. It still looked like it could rain in the next or two as well, and in fact it did rain again. I found it so strange that it rained in July. This past summer was far from even the slightly warm coastal summer we usually get.

I decided one weekend while we were gardening we needed to re-do the trellis boxes in the front of the house. The plants in the trellis boxes just aren't doing well and the passionflower vines that are growing in there only go half-way up the trellis and hardly bloom at all anymore. There are a couple of dead passionflower vines also in there, and the pink jasmine vines in the trellis boxes are not doing much of anything. We think it's best to dig everything out and start all over with new vines. Wouldn't you know that the pink jasmine vines the previous homeowner planted all over the front and back yards grow like crazy except in the trellis boxes.

I would like to plant purple jackmanni clematis vines in each trellis box. I'm guessing having two different vines would be ideal, something that blooms in early spring then the clematis blooms in summer and fall. I've had no luck planting sweet peas in there but maybe once we clear things out and add new soil and vines the sweet peas would do well in there. I'm going to ask the people at our local nursery for advice in planting vines in the trellis boxes and see what they suggest.

The summer blooming heathers started to bud and flower in July, they really are pretty. I have lithodora, a ground cover that looks like tiny ice plant and has brilliant blue flowers all over it during summer. It really grows well but a gallon container is pretty expensive and they don't carry six packs of this ground cover. I'm going to try and root some of the lithodora to see if I can make more plants from the original plant.

The garnet colored pestemon had gotten huge, it was a good three feet tall and just as wide, covered in dark fuchsia tubular blooms, it's beautiful. My hebe shrub was growing well near the roses after I moved it from the other side of the yard, it's doing better in this spot. Hebe shrubs usually have white flowers but this shrub is rare in that it has purple flowers. The shrub is starting to bloom and looks great against the fence. The blooms are small and remind me of bottle brush blooms.

I have a piece of what I believe is a white Shasta daisy I dug up from a crack in the sidewalk in front of our yard. I planted a few of them and one of the pieces grew in July and produced two white blooms. I hope this plant gets bigger next year. The seeding came from the daisies across the street where they have big bunches of Shasta daisies blooming, so pretty. I hope it grows bigger over time.

The kiwi vines had gotten so big this year they were covering the metal structure and creating a shaded area under them. When you walk by the kiwi vines with their cream colored flowers it smells of kiwi fruit and the fruit hasn't even formed yet. The butterfly bushes were full of blooms, lavender, dark purple, and the dark magenta blooms which are my favorite. They have to have grown a good 12 to 15 feet tall this year.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gardening Article: Smitten With Roses

Guest author Jacqueline from deeprootsathome.com, republished with permission.

The pink rose symbolizes femininity, and refinement, grace and gentleness.

The rose’s happy countenance is contagious. They comfort, cheer, and please everyone that they meet. Roses are easy to live with if you choose wisely. The many David Austin English roses are hardy and disease-free, while many of the new hybrids take lots of work. I am thankful for a selection of roses that does not take much pampering… for life has other more pressing needs!

When we moved to our home I put in 3. They are not very expensive (about $20 each) for the joy they give. I must admit I am still finding out about these beauties! There are 3 lessons I am learning:

1. This spring, I forgot that last spring the deer had a feast, chomping away on the new leaves. I had used a ‘smelly’ bar soap (Irish Spring) and found relief for the roses by placing it on the top of the fence posts… all 3 bounced back, finishing last season well. This year, my helpful husband put more soap near the 3 climbers!! The greedy deer must be made to think “Man” is close by even at dawn when they feed! If you don’t have deer, so much the better.









The young opening blossom and the older, more mature one

Wisely 2008 (above and left) is a David Austin rose of exceptional delicacy and charm. It is well suited to growing on a fence or a wall. Extremely tough, it has reliable arching growth up to 5 feet. The flowers are a soft, pure pink and have a slightly cupped rosette up to 3″ across. The substantial fragrance is of raspberry and tea.

2. Also, this spring, I forgot that it is wise to use a systemic rose fertilizer. Oh, how I dislike chemicals!!! But this is the one time I bend the rules on chemicals of any sort. I use a granular formula (Bayer All-In-One Rose and Flower Care) with great care. It fights three problems: it’s an insecticide, an anti-fungal and a fertilizer. It fights from the inside out. So this means no more spraying or combining different chemicals in order to achieve one result. It literally is three-in-one. Please use it responsibly.

3. Roses, when newly planted need 3-4 gallons, (yes, gallons!) of water /day during the hottest part of the summer. I use a 2-gallon watering can twice. Once established, they can use a good deep watering once in a while (if there is a drought), but do not water the leaves!

I want to introduce you Gertrude, or rather the Gertrude Jekyll rose, (below) by David Austin~ she will perfume your yard! Her blossoms are lighter pink around the edges when first opening, but once in full bloom the color is only the deepest pink.









Gertrude Jekyll blossoms after 3 days of rain this spring.









Deep, rich pink ~ a delight to the senses

Her flowers (above) start as perfect little scrolled buds and soon open into the most beautiful, large, rosette-shaped flowers of rich glowing pink. The 8-10 foot growth is upright and vigorous and in every way reliable. The most outstanding characteristic of this lovely rose is its perfectly-balanced Old Rose scent. The garden is suffused with it and carried by the breeze. Gertrude Jekyll was a famous garden designer, who has had a huge effect on the style of English gardens of the 2oth century.

Englishman David Austin who lives in Shropshire has spent the last 50 years perfecting these amazing roses so you and I can grow them, too. He bred them by crossing old roses with newer roses to achieve the superb fragrance, delicacy, and charm of the old-world blooms combined with the repeat flowering characteristics and wide color range of modern roses. Before you decide to plant an English rose, do research it here, and you will be rewarded with a rose that will still be there for your grandchildren. There are some special requirements for planting.



~ Jacqueline

Photos courtesy of Jacqueline.

About the author: Jacqueline writes the inspirational blog deeprootsathome.com, covering organic food and gardening, health, music, and life.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gardening Article: Top Tips for Fresh Herb Gardening

Fresh herb gardening isn't anything new. In fact, it has been a very popular hobby for a long time now. After all, herbs have a lot of uses. For one, they can flavor foods, but they can also make homes smell very nice. Aside from that, a lot of them also have medicinal traits and they can even be used in arts and crafts.

Now, if you want to start a garden of your own sometime soon, the first thing you will have to do is pick out the perfect location for it. Fortunately, you wont' need too much space if you want to grow herbs, so you can opt for a simple container garden for them. If you want, you can also put hanging baskets to use to grow cilantro, thyme or oregano instead.

Of course, you need to remember to place your herbs somewhere under the sun that isn't too hot, as well. Ideally, your plants should be able to catch the sun in the morning instead of in the hot afternoon.

Your plants' location should also be convenient to a door or your kitchen. This will ensure that you always remember to water them. The majority of potted plants in today's day and age tend to need daily watering, but make sure you check their seed packaging anyway. After all, overwatering and underwatering are just as bad as one another - remember that.

If you have potted plants, they may not need too much water. Conversely, if it is the rainy season, you won't have to water them unless you go through some sort of dry spell.

Now, although it is true that rain comes with a lot of nutrients, you may still need some additional fertilizer anyway. Loamy soil for potted plants are fortunately very easy to find, so you can fill up your containers with it in no time. If you have a bigger garden, though, you might have more trouble finding soil for it.

If you plan on having a huge garden, then you might want to invest into a guide for beginners. After all, there are a lot of different herbs out there, all of which have their own personal soil preferences.

Unfortunately, herbs generally aren't a huge nutritional source since they are only used in smaller quantities. However, even in smaller quantities, these herbs may come with a lot of health benefits.

A lot of common herbs come with natural anti-inflammatory traits, so adding some herbs to your diet on a daily basis may actually reduce your overall risk for health problems in the future. So, overall, fresh herb gardening will make it much easier for you to take care of your health and enjoy the taste of your food at home. Grow your own today!

About the author: Shaira Lee is a writer that focuses on topics about outdoor furniture and gardening. She also writes topics for Brookside Patio Furniture which specializes in resin wicker patio furniture which can be stored in this recommended Toledo storage facility.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Summer Miniature Dahlias And Anenomes

During the summer months here on the north coast it did not get very hot, even for Eureka. I purchased some summer bulbs from the local store at the usual $2.00 price, such a deal but sometimes the bulbs do not come up, the price you pay for cheap bulbs. Among the flower bulbs I purchased were anenome bulbs and some miniature pink dahlia bulbs.

The miniature dahlias were potted up in containers on the patio table, both came up in summer, producing some very sturdy, bright green leaves. One of the dahlia stems that started to come up for flowering was damaged somehow and never produced a flower. The other dahlia bulb grew two flowers successfully. The first which you can see in the photo came out perfectly, very impressive and a beautiful shade of pink, lasting for a number of weeks. The second flower stem produced a flower one third of the size of the first bloom, it did not fare as well and was finished within a week or two. Of course the bulb box states this bulb should produce a large number of flowers. When buying on the cheap for bulbs I am always aware that the bulbs are no doubt much smaller than usual, which is why they can sell for a lower price. As we headed into fall weather in October the two dahlia bulbs still have bright green leaves in each pot and look very healthy. It will be interesting to see when the leaves die back on these hardy plants.

The anenome bulbs were successful this past summer, coming up like clockwork in the container with my hosta and two amaryllis bulbs. It seems like a lot in one pot but amaryllis like close quarters and the hosta grew just fine, in fact as small as the plant was for the second year growing it produced a pretty white flower on a tall stem. I expect the hosta will grow bigger each year. The anenome bulbs are purple and white, with mostly purple flowers emerging on very tall stems. The flowers were really beautiful and quite large, a good three inches wide and tall. The display was impressive and the anenomes blooms were much bigger than the anenomes I grew in Petaluma. Typically anenomes grow the best the first season then the second season the blooms are less and smaller or sometimes they do not bloom a second time. The anenomes I grew in Petaluma kept coming back with smaller blooms and less flowers overall, but they grew for three or four seasons before they gave out. These $2.00 bulbs made me smile during the summer with their brilliant blooms.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gardening Article: Plant Your Dream Vegetable Garden No Matter How Little Space You Have—Three Tips for Green Thumb Success

You don’t need a large, expensive plot of land to grow the vegetable garden you have always wanted. You just need good soil, water, sunshine and getting creative with the space you have. Sound easy enough? It is, with a creative mind, some know-how about which vegetables grow best in small spaces and the patience and care to watch them thrive. Whether you are preparing to grow your first New York City indoor apartment garden or an outdoor one in your studio in Phoenix, here’s what you’ll need for a successful start.

Sunshine

If you want your tomatoes, onions and potatoes to grow in a productive and timely manner, you’ll need to give them about six hours of sunshine every day. Sunlight and the warmth it provides your veggies is important and unfortunately, not always in your control, so it’s important to know which plants need more light than others. Know your vegetables! Are certain varieties of potatoes easier to grow than say, broccoli? Lettuce, carrots, peas and kale can handle some shade while squash, eggplant and tomatoes need to be perched on a sunny backyard space like a patio or balcony for full sun exposure in order to thrive.

Soil, the Perfect Food for Your Precious Plants

Soil is another crucial ingredient to think about before you plant your vegetable garden. Don’t just buy the cheapest soil at the gardening store or you’ll end up with a crop of vegetables that have a hard time growing. Instead, you want a soil that is full of organic matter, crumbly, and drains well (allowing the roots plenty of room to grow and receive nutrients). As you learn more about soil for your gardening efforts, feel free to incorporate organic household material such as coffee grounds, vegetable and fruit waste from the kitchen.

Water

As a general rule of thumb, your vegetable garden will need 1-2 inches of water every week to keep them growing at an optimal level. Depending on which vegetables you are growing, will depend on the type of watering you need to give them. Salad vegetables like lettuce leaves, salad greens and spinach grow well when sprayed rather than watered with a hose. Knowing which plants respond best with each watering type will help you to become a successful gardener, whether this is your first garden or fifth!

Additional Tips for Small Space Gardening

As you begin to shop around for the type of vegetables you are considering growing, make sure to pay attention to the seedlings information. This will tell you how big they will become in their mature state, and how much room on your balcony or backyard you have to give them. Wondering if you can really have a garden inside or outside of your New York City studio apartment? Survey your apartment and find the best patch of sunlight you can, and place your plants here. If you’re dealing with a vertical and narrow space, invest in some window boxes which can hold many vegetables and are narrow enough for even the smallest balcony.

Image courtesy of Boston.com.

About the author: Heather J. enjoys writing about all aspects of home gardening, especially vegetable gardening.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Gardening Article: Be Tickled Pink with Autumn Plugs

There seems to be a theme of fashion in this year’s autumn plug plants, and pink is definitely the common denominator. More and more plug plants are blushing their way through a harsh winter and emerging with a rosy glow as the sun comes out to play again in the spring.

If you’d like a garden to make the boys wink, check out the plugs on offer this time of the year to ensure your spring borders are pretty in pink:

There are Bellis, a low growing daisy like flower with vibrant pinks, deep reds and six flowers at least to a plant. Deliciously decadent in hanging baskets, these pretty little pinks brighten up any garden.

The Pansy, a mainstay of tradition is now available in a range of reddish hues giving a deeper warmer feel to their pretty petals in pink. Of course Winter Pansies are one of our favourites, poking through the sow when everything else has gone into hibernation. For a more contemporary twist, try the Pansy Can Can (it really Can), or the Frizzle Sizzle, now there’s some warmth you’ll benefit from come March!

Polyanthus are a must for Primrose lovers, usually sold in a spectrum of colours, the pinks are pipping the others to the post. The plugs generally come with a 6cm leaf ensuring you don’t mistake them for weeds, and they’re always a lovely surprise flowering first as the Snowdrops die off. Very versatile, being able to be planted in pots, baskets, borders, even hedgerows and paddocks, the Polyanthus is the perfect pink.

Stocks or Matthiola range from purple to white with a myriad of pink in-between, releasing a fragrance that is second to none, these generous tall flower heads blow in an evening breeze as they release their scent into your private plot. A personal favourite, stocks will look great at the back of a border and even better in a vase as a centrepiece to the dining table.

We couldn’t mention pinks and fragrance without some favourite Lavender. There are so many varieties that a garden could easily benefit from an abundance of lavender and look amazing all year round. Lavender can be bought in plug plant form, and some can be planted now or taken care of in a greenhouse re-potting as they grow.

Our favourite in this theme is Lavender Rosea, and as the name suggests they form tufty flower heads that compliment any rosy sunset. French lavenders are developing at an alarming rate, and along with the lavender Red Kew Head, there is a new addition in town, lavender Little Bee Rose is bound to look as pretty as a picture in any pink border.

Image courtesy of http://www.lavenderworld.co.uk.

About the author: Sam Goodwill enjoys writing about perennial plants and other great ideas for the garden.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gardening Article: Winter Color for Your Garden

Summer is a beautiful time. Trees and gardens are often luscious green and different types of flowers bloom all sorts of wonderful colors. However, as soon as autumn hits these colors disappear almost overnight. Here, we will explore how you can make the best of the colors available to you over the winter season.




Create the Impression of a Full Garden

Keeping healthy topsoil through the summer is advised because it will help you to grow plants in the winter. However, you will be lucky if you can create color throughout your Garden. If you want to give the impression that your garden is full of color in the winter, plant the flowering plants right next to your door. This will offer the impression that your whole garden is full of life. The reality is that it is much better to have ten flowering plants next to one another then spread out all over the garden.

Plants

Of course, the best way to keep your garden looking full of color through winter is to sow plants that you know will be able to survive this period, regardless of the temperature.

Prunus Autumnalis Rosea – this plant will give your garden a nice white and pink color in winter. However, it is not very large, which means that you will only find it suitable in smaller gardens. It might work in larger gardens if you sow it near to your house.

Helleborus Niger – this plant is also known as the Christmas rose, because of its appearance. If you sow this plant in the shade, be ready to have a bloom of white roses with a wonderful yellow centre.

Mahonia japonica Bealei 'Leatherleaf mahonia' – this shrub is green all year round. However, during winter, it will erect yellow flowers, which will look amazing, especially if your garden is covered in a light blanket of snow.

Nandina domestica 'Heavenly Bamboo' – this shrub has leaves that turn a beautiful red in winter, which is an odd color to see at this time.

Chinese Witch Hazel – in autumn, witch hazel is a prominent yellow. Even though it does fade a bit, you will still be able to see the wonderful yellow throughout your garden in December and through to January.


Blue Grass

One of the best plants to keep your garden colorful year round is blue grass (aka Festuca glauca 'Blue Fescue Grass.’) This has a blue/grey foliage that covers your grass throughout the year. Growing roughly 20 cm high, this grass will stick out over a light blanket of snow, which looks simply amazing. Remember, that this height is a maximum and will depend on the quality of your topsoil.

Summary

Sometimes the winter season in the Northern Hemisphere seems like it goes on forever, so much so that some of us start to wonder if spring will ever come. However, by following some of the above steps, your topsoil will reap the rewards. Furthermore, you will have something beautiful to keep an eye on at winter, which will hopefully keep you occupied until summer.

Plant photos courtesy of Wikimedia.org.

About the author: This post was written by James Harper on behalf of Boughton Loam and Turf Management. James is an avid gardener and enjoys writing about his hobby.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Gardening Article: How to Extend The Growing Season for Tomato Plants

An interview with tomato gardener Ernie Shivers

What were the main challenges of this tomato growing season?

Ernie: In this area, which is the Greater Atlanta area, the temperatures this summer have been record breaking. We had many days above 90 degrees. So it has been a problem to keep the tomato plants watered enough and looking after them, and picking tomatoes as they ripen. So this has been a challenge. Some of the plant leaves started dying from the bottom and going up the plant. It is mid-September and the tops of the plants are still green, and blooming, and have small tomatoes. It has been a challenging season and I don’t think I have gotten as many tomatoes from my vines as I have in past years. I think the hot weather has been one of the things that has held the growth back. But it has been a good season and so we look forward to going on to the cooler weather now.

What do I do with tomato plants that aren’t bearing fruit or have dried up branches?

Ernie: I would suggest trimming the branches off, if they are not barren; the leaves have turned yellow or brown so I suggest more than likely they are at the bottom of the plant. I would suggest trimming those off but leave the top, if it’s still green like mine and has blooms and small tomatoes on them. I would continue watching after those. If there is any sign of bugs or worms or that sort of thing, I would suggest that you spray maybe with Miracle-Gro which is a good spray for those type of things. Then I think it might be a good idea to sprinkle a little fertilizer around the base, maybe 10-10-10 in small amounts, and rake it in and water it. Then, like I said, remove the dead leaves and branches.

With the weather cool like it is, the vine insects, the worms, have pretty well gone and I don’t think you will have any problem with them at this time. But if you do, then you can spray for them. I would continue watering the plants so that the ground remains moist and the plants have plenty of water to suck up and continue to produce tomatoes.

Do those things help to extend the growing season for the tomato plant?

Ernie: It will. We will be getting into cooler weather very shortly, like in mid-September. So a lot of areas are already cool. Our temperatures are running between 50 at night and 70 in daytime and so I think the plants are alright under those conditions. When the temperatures drop down to the 40s, I would do several things to extend the growing season. I think it would be best to watch for the cooler temperatures and when it is predicted that the temperature will be dropping to the 40s, it is time to protect your tomato plants.

When it gets down to 40 degrees, I would wrap them with a clear plastic, put them all the way around the plant, top to bottom. Leave the top open and tie the plastic so that the cold wind can’t get to the green tomato leaves and plant. Also, you might use a closely woven cloth to wrap around the tomato plant. That will keep the cold wind off the plants.

One other point I want to make is that when the weather gets down to freezing, just before the freeze comes, I would go out and pick all the green tomatoes, those that started to ripen and are big enough to eat, and bring them inside, lay them out and let them continue to ripen inside in your kitchen or even in your basement perhaps.

You mentioned smaller tomatoes. Is that typical when the sunlight begins to diminish?

Ernie: Spring time and early summer is when you get your largest tomatoes. Then the hot weather makes the tomatoes ripen quicker, so they are smaller size in August. They will continue to be small unless you have some special conditions where you can look at your tomato plants other than just normal weather.

You mean like a greenhouse or something?

Ernie: Yeah, greenhouse or something like that. In normal weather conditions they will tend to be medium to smaller sizes. You can pick the tomatoes when the weather gets down and before freezing, and bring the tomatoes in and let them ripen inside, and they will be good.

If it frosts, then it ruins the tomato, doesn’t it?

Ernie: That is right. It freezes the tomato and it will be too watery. They are not much good then.

Image courtesy of eHow.com.

About the author: Ernie’s Homegrown Tomatoes is an online class where Ernie teaches how to grow tomatoes from your own garden at http://www.growtomatoestoday.com.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Gardening Article: Container Herb Gardening

Guest author Jacqueline from deeprootsathome.com, republished with permission.


Growing annual herbs in a container is one of the simplest and quickest ways to bring edible freshness and maximum flavor to your kitchen. You will need a big planter, preferably the plastic kind which can withstand many seasons in the extremes of weather… also enough good soil to fill it.

In zones 4-5, most herbs, even the perennials (like sage, thyme, chives, oregano, and mint) will get too cold in pots and die over winter.

You may not want to put the money into store-bought plants that won’t overwinter, so put them into a bigger mass of soil – the ground or a protected raised bed to enjoy and use them for years.

I brought the rosemary (above) inside last fall, but the sage in the pot didn’t survive the cold.

But for herbs that live only one year (annuals), you can start them from seed right into a fairly large (so you don’t have to water all the time) container and keep them near the door. These herbs, among others, include basil, dill, cilantro, thyme, and parsley. Place your pot where it will not be in the hot sun after 3-4 PM, ideally getting morning and early afternoon sun only, otherwise they may bake in late July and August. And use mulch once the seedlings grow up a bit.

Start thinking about what you need and appreciate in your kitchen. Sow all of these seed (in separate sections) right into the container once the weather is past your frost-free date.

If you would like to try your hand at basil pesto, you might consider planting a giant leaf basil.

I once planted a cute little globe-shaped Greek basil, but it took forever to harvest the tiny leaves and they were a bit tough.

The mammoth basil gives 25 times more leaf, is tender, and has a true basil flavor that pairs well with tomatoes and mozzarella or feta cheese.

Cilantro is one herb you either love or dislike. It’s indispensable in salsas, Mexican, and middle-Eastern dishes.

It is best grown in the early spring or fall when the weather is cool. Even in the best conditions, it will only last 8-10 weeks before flowering. Once it does flower, it will make seeds which can be harvested as coriander or replanted to grow more cilantro.

Its high mineral and phyto-nutrient profile is quite amazing. Cilantro is commonly used in many heavy metal detoxification programs, but it should be paired with a colon cleanse to effectively get the toxins out of the body.

Dill is a lovely, airy herb, and deserves a place where height is needed for the eye. See it in the top photo above.

It is not uncommon to find tiger swallowtail caterpillars on your dill. This provides a special opportunity to watch the caterpillar with your family as it makes its chrysalis, later opening into the elegant black and yellow butterfly.

The seed can be used for dill pickle-making or on baked fish. The fresh green fronds are wonderful chopped into sour cream with chives and sea salt, then used on baked potatoes or salmon.

Thyme seeds are tiny!

Thyme is a perennial herb that survives winters, even in a container. It takes drought better than most herbs, and it has a pretty, delicate texture that goes nicely with other plants.

It really blends well with lamb, eggs, and tomatoes. It is useful to have in my spice cabinet for soups, stews, and casseroles.

Oh – and try it on the barbeque. Like rosemary just toss the woody stems (minus the leaves) on the coals for a wonderful aromatic blast!

It is fun to dehydrate herbs in the fall and have my own home-grown flavors in the spice cabinet of my kitchen. It makes your home smell wonderful!

All of the herbs above dry well and can be stored for a year or more in a dark, dry place.

This is another little opportunity to teach your daughters the ways of proper growing and storage. With the cost of herbs and spices ever increasing, this is good stewardship in action.

Bon Appétit!

~ Jacqueline

Photos courtesy of Jacqueline.

About the author: Jacqueline writes the inspirational blog deeprootsathome.com, covering organic food and gardening, health, music, and life.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Planting Lilac Seed And Bulbs

During the summer I spent some time potting up a few double-layered purple lilac seeds sent to me by someone from my gardening forum. The person providing the seed was happy to share the seeds since the lilacs turned out so beautifully. Since we only have one lilac in lavender I was more than happy to receive the seeds through the mail and thanked the person profusely. Besides the double-layered lilac seeds there are also two other sets of seeds, a purple traditional (no doubt what we have) lilac and a wild white lilac. One of our three lilac trees in the back yard in Petaluma had one branch of white lilac blooms, really pretty. In the coming weeks I will pot up the other lilacs and see what happens.

I planted some blazing star that same day, these little bulbs produce tall wands of purple blooms that look similar to the bloom of bottle brush, only the bloom section is longer than a bottle brush. I had one pot that was dying down from bulbs planted, one set of tulips that did wonderfully in spring, the other rannuculus that did not bloom well with only two tiny flowers and die back soon after. I also had an astilbe. I know I planted the blazing star bulbs later in summer than they should be planted but thought I'd give it a try and see what happens. I planted a box of them in the flower beds in the front yard last year and nothing happened unfortunately. Since these are the two buck bulb deals I get at our local store it's not a huge loss so it is always worth the risk. This way I know which bulbs grow well and which do not, avoiding them the next planting season.

The aneome bulbs I planted in a pot with the hosta on the back deck did very well and sent up plenty of leaves and shortly after sending up flower stems. The blooms are a mix of white and purple, the white are really pretty since I've planted purple aneome bulbs before but never used white. Generally aneome bulbs bloom full size the first year, very reliable for bloom, then grow smaller the second year with smaller blooms. After that point if you are lucky the third season you may see a few small aneome bulbs bloom but by then a new planting of bulbs is a good idea.

I realized repotting my hanging fuchsia baskets is probably a good idea for next summer season. Even though everything is growing relatively well, the dirt is compacted and the fuchsias are not blooming at their best. We replanted most of the baskets with half new soil and an experiment using burlap as the container in the metal baskets, which seems to be working out well so far. The coco fiber linings really don't hold up well after a season or two, particularly with the windy weather here on the north coast, and frankly it's fairly expensive to buy new liners so often. The coco fiber is popular with our wild birds however since they like to pull the fibers when it's time for nest building. The burlap holds up well, next time we'll cut it precisely to fit the baskets, use all new dirt with time released fertilizer in place, and replant the fuchsias. I think the burlap will last much longer than coco fiber, and there is always moss if the burlap doesn't perform well over the next few years.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Geranium Taking Over The Yard

When we first move to our home in Eureka there were a few geraniums in pots sitting in the back yard. I prefer geraniums that are scented or different than the traditional geraniums our grandmothers grew. One of the plants had a dark pink flower with burgundy colored markings in the flowers. This geranium seems like the old-fashioned geraniums of yore, but the flower is really beautiful on this plant. The other is a vibrant light pink scented geranium which smells of roses. Both of these plants were small, no more than 1 to 2 feet tall and 1 foot wide if that much. I decided it was time to plant these in the ground last fall.

I planted the darker pink flowered geranium on one side of the holly trees, next to the greenhouse. The area tends to get a lot of shade, but I knew these plants are hardy so I went ahead and planted it. The ferns and calla lilies complement the dark pink flowers and wide leaves of the geranium. This summer the dark pink geranium is a good 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide with some flowers, not too many, but still much better than when it was in the pot. The other light pink geranium was planted on the other side of the holly trees, a sunny spot near the corner of the green arbor. Part of the plant was behind the green arbor with a little sticking out from the wall of the arbor. I thought the geranium would do well there. That's an understatement. The picture you see here is showing only a portion of the plant. The pink scented geranium has grown to 4 feet tall and at least 5 to 6 feet wide! This scented geranium loves the sunny location and took off, overtaking the back area of the arbor.

I took a few pieces of the pink scented geranium to try to root in water along with some other plant pieces I'm trying to root. If these pink scented geraniums grow roots I will pot them up and grow them in pots until next spring or summer. I have a few places in the front yard that would be a perfect sunny location for the pink scented geranium. I'm hoping they root well and grow so I can add them to the front yard and watch how big they grow there.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Gardening Article: Choosing a Chiminea as a Centrepiece for your Garden

If you’re thinking of doing a spot of landscaping, or simply looking for ideas to refresh and revitalise your garden, it’s worth considering setting aside a space for relaxing and entertaining guests. Make it large enough for a few good-quality garden chairs, lay down some decking or paving, and try cordoning it off with decorative fencing or ornamental hedging to create a stunning, relaxing quiet space in the garden.

And when it comes to choosing a centerpiece for your new retreat, it’s worth thinking about whether you want to heat your new outside space. Adding an outdoor heater ensures you can enjoy your garden in the spring and autumn as well, and even late into the summer evenings. One of the major benefits of buying a chiminea is that you and your guests will be able to enjoy the joys of a real fire, and, positioned properly, it will also make a great centrepiece.

Place your chiminea in a central position, make sure the space is large enough to accommodate your chosen model, and arrange a semi-circle of chairs around it (or select an open-bowl chiminea). Remember to leave a sensible gap all around the bowl of the chiminea. Alternatively, if you have a smaller garden or patio space, you could arrange chairs around a firebowl and supply a side-table or two for drinks.

Which sort of chiminea you choose is entirely dependent upon your garden design. Chimineas are available in modern or traditional designs; cast iron chimineas, often available with integral BBQ grills, are more convenient for more frequent use and add traditional style to your garden, whereas steel chimineas are more modern, often cheaper, and a lot lighter if you ever need to move them. You can find chimineas in a variety of colours and finishes, so even if your garden is a riot of colour, you should be able to find a chiminea, perhaps a clay chiminea with a vibrant Mexican-inspired style, which will fit right in. Having access to a real fire in your garden means you can quickly set up an impromptu barbecue or sit around with cups of cocoa and toast marshmallows long into the evening. 

Chimineas can also be very environmentally-friendly depending on the fuel you use, and some people believe that the smoke (particularly from aromatic softwoods such as pine or ocote (Montezuma pine)) acts as a natural insect repellent. There are also various brands of very cheap recycled fuel, or you can make your own. There are a variety of log- and briquette- makers on the market which will take a variety of household and garden waste, and the logs can be made in advance and stored in a cool dry place until needed.

Image courtesy of http://www.chimineashop.co.uk.

Laura Phillips is an outdoor living enthusiast and writes for chimineashop.co.uk.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hebe And Cotoneaster Blooms In Summer

The hebe shrub I transplanted from its spot next to the rhododendron last year has established itself well next to the climbing roses and is growing bigger. I'm really pleased with how readily the hebe took to being transplanted and the growth it has shown itself to be a hardy plant. The shrub has grown much bigger since being transplanted, growing faster in this full sun position. The hebe has not only grown bigger but is starting to produce a few purple blooms on the tips of the branches. I'm very excited to see the blooms begin to form and can't wait until the shrub produces more and officially opens its purple blooms.

The cotoneaster shrub has really taken off this year, growing much wider with arching branches, very pretty sitting in front of one of the climbing roses. The cotoneaster this year is filled with white flowers, which means more berries this fall and winter on the branches. It was slow going for quite a while with the cotoneaster but it is looking very good and I'm hoping eventually will be very large and spreading at the base of the climbing roses in the corner against the fence. I have a few heaths and heathers planted in front of the cotoneaster, they are growing very well, especially the heath which is a good two feet wide and foot high, sporting evergreen leaves and covered in magenta color blooms.

The hebe was originally planted between the rhododendron and the pestemon. With the expanse of the pestemon and rhododendron the hebe was getting less sun and less room to grow, hence the transplanting to under the roses. The rhododendron has been growing very slowly but is a little bit bigger every year. The rhododendron has bloomed every year since planting, producing beautiful deep fuchsia pink blooms. The pestemon grew huge within the first season of planting, apparently liking its sunny position in the garden. The pestemon is a good three feet tall and two feet wide, with masses of garnet red tubular blooms hanging off the plant late spring through fall. I've taken a few pieces of the pestemon to root in water since I'd like a few more of these spectacular plants in my garden. I rooted a pestemon from a stem last year but went directly into the ground and the cutting didn't flourish. This time I will plant up the rooted cutting in a few pots and grow the plant bigger before planting it in the garden. The hebe and rhododendron continue to grow slowly as the pestemon grows vigoursly, all three plants have ended up being wonderful additions to my garden.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gardening Article: Using Plants to Spice Up Your Patio

A patio is a wonderful thing to have for entertaining and just enjoying the great outdoors. It creates an inviting space in your backyard to enjoy the outdoors while still being a functional and useful place for many different things. That being said, adding plants and small gardens to your patio will not only spice it up but it will make it even more inviting and engaging to all those who enjoy your patio.

Adding colorful flowering plants is one of the best ways to add intrigue to your patio. Using plants such as these can turn a dull and bland patio space into a beautiful and scenic environment. Some perfect plants to try are geraniums, petunias, daisies and begonias. These will bloom well in the spring and summer and will keep flowering throughout the season. They do well in pots as well as in the ground. Try finding some pots or planters that fit your style and decor tastes and plant some of these beauties in them. Place them in open spaces on your patio such as by the door and outer edges to break up some of the color. If you prefer to plant them in the ground you can find some decorative edging or border such as stones or bricks to create a small flower bed. Either way these plants are sure to spice up your patio.

If you prefer to stick with greenery instead of flowering plants there are some popular choices that do well in an outside environment such as a patio. You could try some ornamental grass or plants such as hostas. These are beautiful plants that will add a splash of green to your patio. They are also relatively easy to maintain and will return every year. Just as with the flowering plants you can plant these in planters or in the ground depending on your preference. The sleek look of ornamental grass or the leafy look of hostas is sure to engage your visitors.

Last but not least there are shrubs and trees that you can add to fill in your space even more. There are some that stay small and some that grow large so it really depends on the space you have available and your planting preferences. Of course most of the larger trees and shrubs do better when planted in the ground but if you decide you want to keep your shrubs small you can dwarf them by planting them in the ground inside the pot. This will keep the shrub or tree small but still allow it to thrive in the ground. Furthermore there are many options available. You can pick from beautiful braided trees with unique trunks or colorful trees such as hibiscus which stay moderately small and create beautiful blooms in the summer. Basic green shrubs are also perfect because you can be creative and trim them into any shape you want adding a touch of your own personal style and taste to your patio.

As you can see adding plants to your patio is the perfect way to spice it up. There are many different choices and many different ways you can create a lively and intriguing patio just by using plants such as flowers, trees, bushes and shrubs. So, if you want to spice it up go ahead and take a look at your local garden store or greenhouse and see what fits into your style.

This article was written by John for Patioshoppers.com, a home and garden store featuring BBQ grills, artificial Christmas trees, and other popular patio decor goods.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Heathers In A Barrel And In The Flower Bed

Last year I set up an old barrel with new dirt and five small heathers to provide some color and evergreen growth outside the dining room window. These heathers are all very different. One has a deep red tinge on the edges of the dark green leaves and grows upright, branching out. Another is very small and grows closer to the ground, with vibrant yellow tips with a salmon color mixed in with the yellow and green leaves. The wider of the plants is a heather with medium green leaves and tips of chocolate brown, with a wide spread and upward growth. The final two heathers are deep green shades that will produce blooms to complement the rest of the heathers. All of these heathers will produce flowers that bloom in pinks and lavenders.

There is some slight growth since last year, but since we hit spring there is a filling out of the leaves and more color on the tips of the shrubs. I paired these heathers with small purple windflowers at the base of the shrubs. These windflowers are very delicate looking and daisy like, opening full when there is a cloudy day or some sun, but the flowers closing up tight when raining. The leaves of the windflowers look similar to chrysanthemum shaped leaves. These windflowers grow so small that the barrel is an ideal place for them to be showcased, hovering below the branches of the colorful leaves of the heather shrubs.

The oldest heathers I have were planted in the large back yard bed, the flower bed that needs to be torn down, this photo is of one of these heathers after a year or two of being planted. I have one other old heather I brought with me from Petaluma that is doing well in the front yard and blooms profusely with pink flowers every summer. The old front yard heather is about a foot wide, whereas the old heathers I planted when we first moved here over four years ago are a good two feet wide and almost as tall. Both of these heathers get creamy colored tips of yellow and orange in spring then blooming follows. At some point I will need to move these two huge heathers into a sunny location, probably in the front yard. It is possible to replant these heathers into the new flower bed in the back but I think this flower bed will actually become an herb bed. I think herbs in the garden are a great match with flowers, they look great and provide green through much of the year, are aromatic, and you can cook with them too. My old heathers really do love the spot they are in since it is one of the sunniest areas on our property. They may just have to join the herb bed or convince me to create a heath and heather bed there instead.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Gardening Article: The Gardener’s Peskiest Pest

Ah, gardening. For those of us who love to garden, gardening time is prime time. Non-gardeners are sometimes hard-pressed to understand it, but when we’re out in our gardens raking, hoeing, watering, planting and sweating, we’re at our happiest. There’s just something about working close to the earth that is relaxing and restful, no matter how hard we may be toiling physically.

But in the spring and summer months when gardening is at it’s peak, idyllic hours spent in the garden are sometimes ruined by an unwelcome intruder – mosquitoes. Though mosquitoes are no fun for anyone, mosquitoes can be particularly tormenting for gardeners.

After all, most gardening tasks turn us into easy targets for mosquitoes. Planting, hoeing, weeding, or whatever chore we’re doing as we slowly work our way down a row of plants leaves us quite vulnerable to attack as the mosquitoes zero in on the carbon dioxide we exhale.

And isn’t it a special delight when a mosquito alights upon your cheek while your hands are encrusted with soil - or something even less savory? You’re forced to choose between letting the mosquito have its way with you or slapping yourself in the face with your grimy hand!

Mosquitoes Are Deadly Serious Business

Unfortunately, mosquitoes are much more than just simply a nuisance that can spoil your outdoor activities. Mosquitoes are directly responsible for the deaths of millions of people every year. The mosquito spreads diseases such as West Nile virus, various forms of encephalitis, and the most deadly mosquito-borne disease, malaria.

So although mosquitoes may ruin your gardening fun, leaving you a mass of itching welts, consider yourself lucky if that’s all they do to you. Millions of people each year are considerably less fortunate.

You Can Take Back Your Garden…

You don’t allow weeds or any other pests take over your garden; you don’t have to let mosquitoes take over, either. And you also don’t have to resort to smearing smelly mosquito repellents on your skin.

There are a number of modern mosquito control products that are quite effective at either repelling or killing mosquitoes. One such product that is particularly suited for gardeners is called the ThermeCell Mosquito Repellent Appliance.

The ThermaCell is a portable mosquito repellent device that creates a safe-zone from mosquitoes. Whether you clip it to your belt or just place it close to where you’re working, the thermacell will create a safe-zone of 225 square feet (15 feet x 15 feet) in no-wind conditions.

Other modern mosquito control products include traps that use carbon dioxide to lure mosquitoes to their deaths, and set-and-forget sprayers that automatically spray mosquitoes with a natural insecticide.

What About Mosquito Repellent Plants?

For gardeners, what could be a more perfect form of mosquito control than growing plants that repel mosquitoes?

Unfortunately, though, there aren’t any plants that just by their mere presence will repel mosquitoes. Though there are many plants that are hyped as being repellent to mosquitoes, according to experts, growing these plants will have little impact upon the mosquito population in your garden.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are many plants you can grow which do have some mosquito repellent properties when the leaves or stems of the plants are crushed to release the natural oils of the plants.

You can use these plants as a natural repellent applied to your skin, and while they probably won’t be as effective as using DEET, they can help to make you less attractive to mosquitoes. These plants include:

• Ageratum
• Basil
• Beautyberry
• Catnip
• Garlic
• Horsemint
• Lavender
• Lemon grass
• Marigolds
• Onion
• Rosemary

The Worst Garden Pest?

As gardeners, it often seems as if we’re constantly battling one pest or another. Whether it’s invasive weeds, armyworms, flea beetles, cucumber beetles, thrips, or any other of a myriad of gardening pests, it seems there’s always something that wants a piece of what we’re growing.

But the argument could be made that mosquitoes are the very worst of all the pests we face. After all, they don’t simply want a piece of what we’re growing; they want a piece of us!

Image courtesy of eHow.

About the author: Visit the author’s website: mosquito-slap.com, to learn more about the mosquito and the best and most effective mosquito control products and repellents.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gardening Article: Having Fun in the Summer Garden

Summer is finally upon us. Really, is there a better way to spend the long lazy days than by growing living things in the rich soil? Few activities provide us with more rewards than gardening. Whether you choose to have a garden bursting with the bright colors of summer flowers or enjoy growing the fixings for a spectacular summer salad, you are nurturing something that will bring joy to anyone who happens to see it or taste it.

Great Choices for a Summer Flower Garden

Depending on where you live, your mileage may vary, but some great blooms to include in your summer garden include:

-- Geranium
-- Marigolds
-- Amaranthus
-- Chrysanthemum
-- Lavender
-- Cosmos
-- Dahlia
-- Iris
-- Freesia
-- Gladiolus

Really, the list goes on and on. Group your plants together and enjoy fragrant bursts of color, or spread them out for a delightful cottage garden effect. Don't feel left out if you live in an apartment -- container gardening is a wonderful way to go and summer flowers are perfect for the slightly harsher environment of a balcony.

Great Choices for a Summer Vegetable Garden

Fewer things give more pleasure than heading out to your garden and selecting your dinner and food never tastes as good as when you grow it yourself. Summer vegetables provide a bounty that not only work well as your salad, but can also help create your main course. Stuffed zucchini is a favorite summer treat! Some excellent summer vegetables to try:

-- Green and wax beans
-- Corn
-- Cucumbers
-- Arugula
-- Bell peppers
-- Tomatoes
-- Zucchini
-- Broccoli
-- Carrots
-- Leeks
-- Snap and snow peas

It's Not Too Late!

Worried that you missed the summer cutoff for planting? Not a big deal at all. You can still enjoy a garden full of flowers and veggies. While growing your plants from seeds probably won't garner you a harvest at this point, you can still get seedlings and fully grown plants from local nurseries. The best part? At this time of the year they are practically giving them away! You will be able to score excellent deals on plants and may be able to have an even bigger garden than you dreamed possible.

Avoid the supermarket gardening departments and head to the local nurseries. They will have great advice on what will grow well in your area, based on the soil and local weather conditions. Check their clearance sections, but don't compromise on quality. If you are planning a container garden, make sure to pick up some high quality potting soil as well.

You can still enjoy a fantastic summer garden. Get out there and get dirty!

Image courtesy of http://www.inthegardenradio.com

About the author: This helpful information was provided by the research team at Fatwallet.com, home of the HP coupon. Find coupons, cash back, deals, and much more at FatWallet.com.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gardening Article: All About Trees

The right tree adds value to a home and provides generations of pleasure, beauty, and cooling shade. The wrong tree planted in the wrong place causes constant aggravation. Selecting, planting, and caring for the right tree is a simple process so long as basic landscaping rules and practices are followed.

Choose the Right Tree for the Right Place

Before selecting a tree for the home landscape, first think about expectations. Is the primary goal shade or ornamentation? How much maintenance is needed? Some trees, like conifers, arbor vitae, and slow growing shade trees need very little care after the first year. Ornamental trees like flowering cherries, crabs, and weeping trees of all kinds require lots of annual pruning and maintenance.

Buy From a Reputable Nursery or Garden Center

Resist the temptation to dig up a wild tree and bring it home. Wild trees are often poorly shaped and can harbor unwanted pests and diseases. Many parks are protected by laws that prohibit the removal of wild trees. Also, choose a tree for its mature size, not its size in the nursery. If the tag says the tree grows to thirty feet tall and wide, believe it, even it if is much smaller at purchase. In general, fast growing trees like poplars. sugar maples, and willows live shorter lives and create more debris than slow growing trees like oaks, hemlocks, and red maples.

Dig a Thousand Dollar Hole for a Fifty Dollar Tree

Most people dig a hole that is much too shallow when planting a tree. To plant a tree correctly, dig a hole that is at least twice the width and depth of the root ball. Mound loose soil in the bottom of the hole to bring the tree to ground level, then fill in with soil, checking the tree regularly to make sure it is straight. Water immediately and apply a phosphorus-rich root stimulator to give the new tree a strong start.


Water Generously


Trees are vulnerable to drought and sun the first year after planting. Deep weekly watering and a monthly dose of root stimulator help a new tree become securely established. After that first year, most trees can fend for themselves, although ornamental varieties benefit from early spring pruning and systemic insecticide. Most people water trees too little and prune too much and too often, when actually the reverse strategy is better for the tree.

Prune Sparingly

When pruning, read up on the species of tree before touching it. A few trees must be pruned after they flower, but most trees are pruned in the very early spring while the weather is still very cold, before the leaves come out and before buds form. Prune away dead branches first, making clean cuts with a sharp anvil pruner. Do not leave stubs. Remove root suckers and small branches that cross each other next. Go slowly and stand back frequently to check the tree's appearance. Once a branch is cut, it can't be put back.

Plant trees in the early spring or in the fall, care for them well, then enjoy them for a lifetime!

About the author: Provided by the research team at Fatwallet.com, home of HP coupons. FatWallet is a bargain hunting website that provides informational forums, and helps consumers find deals, coupons, cash back, and much more!

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