Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tending to the Summer Garden

Time gets past you some weekends and our coastal garden has missed some of its usual trimming due to life's interruptions. This past weekend we had a cooler summer day (in the mid fifties instead of the mid sixties on the coast) so we decided it was time to do some serious hedge trimming and mowing.

My husband worked on the overgrown front yard hedges, he used the hedge-trimmer and cut back one of the two hedges. There was so much garden waste that he could only cut back one hedge this week, the other will need to wait until next weekend. Usually we have cut back the hedges in March instead of July, then trim them up one more time before the fall rains hit in October. So there is plenty of extra growth happening which means the hedges are going gang-busters when it comes to putting out stems. The hedges had so much extra growth there was quite a bit of white blooms happening on the stems, which no doubt was a bonus for the local hummingbirds.

Mowing happened in the front yard with my husband manning the mower while I used the weed-whacker to trim back the front yard edges and hit a few taller weed along the way. I am still sore today from swinging the electric weed-whacker but the front yard looks oh so much better now. Next after trimming was planting up two new plants I bought at our local garden center.

While I was in the front yard I also dug holes and planted my new plants near the pink climbing roses. The Goodwin Creek lavender has already put on a few inches growth and was flowering madly waiting to be planted. The ground cover is a thick growing plant, I am hoping between the wide growth of the lavender (if it grows the same as the back yard lavenders) and the heavy-duty ground cover it will fill in bare spot next to the passionflower vine and pink rose. I also dug up a plant that has seeded a number of places in the front yard, it is similar in growth to the cotoneaster ground cover under the pink roses but this plant gets even bigger with thicker stems, as well as flowers and berries like the cotoneaster. I haven't had time to identify this plant but it looks great where it has seeded itself in the front yard.

I am tending to my four passionflower vines I bought from an online garden store. I'm really unhappy with the results so far. The vines have not grown at all since being planted two months ago and the two smaller ones are dying off. I'm going to contact the garden store and see if I can get a refund. The trellis boxes were filled with new dirt, watered plenty and give time-released fertilizer but the vines have been doing poorly to say the least. It is very disappointing after all the work we did to clean out the trellis boxes so we could have new blooms on the trellis this summer.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Gardening Article: Style and Function: The How-to of Raised Garden Beds

Raised garden beds can add visual interest to an otherwise ordinary landscape. They can also take the strain out of gardening by bringing the garden closer to your level, eliminating the time you spend stooping and bending to tend to your plants. With a few tools, you can create raised beds yourself.

A Better Way to Grow

Raising garden beds will improve drainage and curb weed growth. Some additional perks include:

  • Isolation of plants that spread, or are invasive
  • Prevention of soil compaction
  • Protection against slugs and snails

Building the beds puts you in charge of the design. You can create multiple levels and mix different types of wood to make a pattern. For example, alternate cedar and maple to create a checkerboard look with a sweet cedar smell. It may take a little time to develop each section, but the results will be impressive.

Make a Plan

Narrow beds such as 3 feet by 6 feet allow you to work from both sides while maintaining the garden. You can make the walls as tall as you want, but keep in mind deep beds will require more soil to fill.

Once you map-out your design on paper, use string or chalk to block-off each section of the yard where the beds will go. Remove a couple inches of earth and fill the space with crushed stone to improve drainage. Smooth the gravel until it is level. For an alternative to gravel or stone, cover the ground in each bed with landscaping fabric. This will reduce weed growth.

Get Busy: The Step-by-Step

Cut the lumber to the proper size using a table saw. For example, to build a bed that measures 8 feet by 4 feet, buy three 8-foot planks and cut one in half to create the end pieces.

Attach the ends to the side planks with screws or, to make the process easier, purchase ready-made, rot-resistant garden bed posts. The posts stick into the earth and have grooves that hold each plank in place. Set up a post at each corner of the bed and slide the wood pieces into the holders.

Fill the frame with soil and add compost and peat moss to create a nutrient-rich environment for the plants going into that area.

Set up an irrigation system. You can put soaker hoses between each bed or use perforated sprinklers. Installing a drip-irrigation system automates the watering process. If you don't have the time or budget to install an irrigation system, you can always water the plants yourself.

Raised beds can give your yard a manicured, high-end look without breaking the bank. You can design and build your own raised beds in a weekend, and enjoy the results for years to come.

Kristine, a music enthusiast, originally hails from Chicago. She has a cat, her best friend, named Walter. She enjoys crafting from music memorabilia and baking organic treats for Walter. In her free time she writes on behalf of Sears and other brands she trusts.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gardening Article: Be Your Garden’s Best Friend: Tips To Bringing Life Into Your Garden

There’s nothing like having a fabulous garden of your own to stand back and admire after all that hard work. Creating a beautiful space outdoors is the perfect way to escape life, work and its stresses, and is always, always worth it. Gardening allows you to feel at one with nature, and feel as though you’re conserving and protecting the environment. You become the provider for every tree, plant, flower and fruit or vegetable in your garden. The best bit? Once your garden has sprung into life, you can sit back, relax and say….”I grew that!”

So here’s how!

So what’s the first step?

Well, any good workman knows he can’t blame his tools….except if you want a decent garden, you will need a decent set of tools! Investing in a really good pair of gloves, a shovel, rake, spade, hoe, wheelbarrow, shears, kneeler and hose will make life so much easier!

Once you’re fully stocked up, it’s time to think about the time plan. You need to make sure you’re doing the right things at the right time of year to make sure you get the best results. It’s pointless digging the soil during the winter, its way too late by then!

Autumn should usually be spent digging your soil over, and adding fertilizers to get it ready for winter, when the worms wriggle their way in to the healthy ground. Winter can usually be spent making sure things are ready for the cold weather ahead, and keeping an eye on things happening around the garden. Take this time to relax ready for the busiest period in the garden ahead: Spring! Start by digging the ground again, using a rake or something similar. Check your soil temperature using a thermometer before planting any bulbs, seeds or bedding plants. Spend the spring sprucing your garden to a stunning sanctuary, and then kick back and relax throughout the summer!

Well, actually, that’s not strictly true! Summertime is great for keeping an eye on your plants as they start to grow and bloom into beautiful displays. It’s important to remember that plants need room to grow. If they’ve been planted in an overcrowded bed, or planted too closely together, you’re not going to get the best results! They’ll need enough water every day, with the amount decreasing as the plants grow. If you’ve planted them in hot sunny areas, it’s even more important to check on watering.

Keep an eye on plants with disease or those which are pest infected and burn them away immediately to prevent contaminating all your other beauties. Expect several creepy crawlies to roam in your garden, such as blackflies, slugs, snails and the like. These can be easily controlled with the relevant pest control. Some insects, however, like ladybugs; butterflies and hedgehogs are your garden’s best buds (after yourself!) because they help in pollination and even eat some creatures that may try to destroy your plants.

Top Tip: Pick an area in your garden which receives enough heat and moisture- you’ll already be off to a good start.

Planting flowering plants in your garden with beautiful scents will definitely help attract bees and butterflies, increasing pollination and therefore a better chance of a blooming outdoor space to enjoy. Mixing these flowering plants with vegetable and fruit bearing plants will ensure you can harvest healthy crops on time.

Top Tip: Invest in a water butt to make sure you’ve always got a plentiful supply after the rainy season. You can’t always rely on Mother Nature!

There’s loads of ways to create a beautiful garden, this is just a small snippet of tips and handy advice. Some say that your garden is a reflection of yourself, so it’s important to look after it, just as you look after yourself!

Mike is a gardening writer who enjoys writing about everything there is to know about gardening.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hanging Basket Fuchsias and Ground Fuchsias

One of my favorite all-time plants is fuchsias. I've grown a number of fuchsias but have had my best luck with thymifolia and the two-tone pink fuchsia I inherited from the previous homeowner. I've managed to root a few thymifolia plants to spread around my yard.

In Petaluma I had a large thymifolia fuchsia under my arbor in partial shade. I found this plant to bloom non-stop all year long in warm and cold weather in Sonoma County. The hummingbirds really appreciated those tiny dark pink tubular flowers in fall and winter, and spent many hours drinking from the miniscule flowers then flying a few feet over and sitting on the thin branches of the Rose of Sharon tree planted at the far end of the arbor. Here on the north coast the two main thymifolia plants I planted are thriving and always covered in flowers, the older plant living happily under the shade of the holly trees while the other sits in the middle of the grosso lavender in our sunny front yard. Besides the hardiness and abundant flowers the thymifolia blooms are tiny but gorgeous! If you want a delicate looking fuchsia that never stops blooming then I can't recommend thymifolia enough for your garden.

The two-toned pink fuchsia plants are growing madly at either end of my back yard flower bed. One of the plants was rooted easily in water from the main plant and planted a few seasons ago and is now getting quite large. I wish I knew the name of this particular fuchsia. I'll have to go looking online to see if I can identify it. The extra plants I've grown from the original two-toned fuchsia are also living in the front yard and back yard, and a number of them are in my recently replanted hanging fuchsia baskets along with a few small fuchsias I bought last season for the baskets. So far the two-toned pink fuchsias are growing best in the hanging baskets (no surprise there), and the smaller mix of fuchsias are starting to leaf out after their replanting and pruning a number of weeks ago. Summer starts late here on the coast so I expect the baskets will be looking fuller by August or September. Even the blue lobelia is growing well and looking good in the hanging baskets.

I have a few pieces each of thymifolia and the two-toned pink fuchsia in water, hoping for easy rooting in the coming weeks. I have plenty of places to add these new plants once they are ready to be potted up. I think I will add more of the two-toned pink fuchsias to at least one of the hanging baskets to get a really full fuchsia basket, the plant tends to grow big and I'd love a basket covered in those dazzling pink fuchsias.

Stumble Upon Toolbar