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Jan. 28 - Filled the bird feeders and shoveled snow. Lots and lots of snow.
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Posts Tagged ‘designing a garden’

Garden Design – New Flower Bed

This is one of those lemons/lemonade things.

For some reason, none of our Asparagus survived this winter. I don’t know if I hadn’t planted them deep enough or if the winter was too bitterly cold, or if there was a disease or fungus or whatever. But no Asparagus.

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Dead Asparagus bed.

So…after looking at that empty bed for a few weeks, waiting and waiting, I decided to dig. At first I was digging to see if there was anything happening down below. When I found all of the Asparagus gone (DOA) I decided to really start digging.

I get excited when there is a blank space in the garden because it’s so fun to plan an new garden area and to make it happen. This new space is between a peach tree and the grape arbor. At the back is a 6′ wooden fence and large rocks in the front. A blank canvas.

I wanted something that would grow tall in the back, taller than the fence but not tall enough to shade the grape vines on the arbor. I wanted something in the mid-range in the middle and a little shorter closer to the front. Then much smaller plants in the very front.

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New flower bed just planted.

On top of all that, I wanted plants that would have a long bloom time  and be long lived. In other words, a permanent bed. I don’t like spending a lot of money on annuals that have to be re-planted each and every year.

I chose Hibiscus (Rose of Sharon, Hardy Hibiscus, Althea are other names) for the back. They will grow to about 8-9′ and bloom all Summer and Fall.

In front of the Hibiscus I decided to use Centranthus ruber (Jupiter’s Beard) since it can get to about 4′ easily and blooms from Spring through Fall. A very tough and beautiful plant and so easily grown.

In front of the Centranthus I used Garden Phlox. It too has a long bloom time and is very easy to grow. It will reach about 30″.

For the very front I planted Snapdragons. They aren’t perennials but they have re-seeded freely in my garden so I think I can could on them to re-appear each year.

On each side of this bed is a stand of Hollyhocks which re-seeded a few years ago and I just let them stay.

Now the fun of watching and waiting. It’s one thing to plan it all out and know what each plant is supposed to do, but  waiting and watching for the magic to happen is part of the joy of gardening.

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Garden Phlox

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Hardy Hibiscus, Rose of Sharon

 

 

 

 

 

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Snapdragons

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Centranthus ruber, Jupiter’s Beard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creating Garden Pathways

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Garden path between grape arbor and deck

Since we live on a corner, we have a public sidewalk that goes across the front and down the south side of our property. Between the house and those sidewalks leaves a lot of area for flowerbeds, flowerbeds that couldn’t be accessed if there weren’t pathways winding through the garden. Besides for convenience, garden pathways are

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Garden Path between raised beds and deck

appealing, drawing you into the garden. If I could use any material I wanted for the pathways, I would use old, reclaimed paving bricks. I’d have tiny little plants growing between them and beautiful green moss growing on them.

In the real world though, we’ve found something that is within our budget and looks pretty good. We use wood chips spread pretty deeply (4-6″). They began to break down a bit and we’ve had to add more, here and there. The older they get, the better they look. They do a pretty good job of holding down the weeds and they are not bad to walk on.

Where do we get these chips? When we began work on the yard in 2009, we had 3 huge trees removed. The guys cutting them down ran all of the limbs, that they could, through the chipper. We had quite a few to use, which was great. The next year we noticed there were a couple of spots that needed more chips. We saw a tree trimming crew in the neighborhood and stopped and asked if we could have the chips. Sure, because they were going to have to take them to the city dump and pay to deposit them there, a win/win situation. Keep your eyes out for crews cutting down trees or trimming trees and direct them to your yard.

Another thing that would work would be to use pine straw. Until it breaks down a little, it could be a little slippery, but if you have access to lots of pine straw it would really be put to good use. Plus, pine straw smells so good. I love that about it, smells like you’re in the woods.

You could even use grass, if you don’t mind mowing it. If you already have a lawn and would like to have more bedding space to grow things, then mark the pathways and remove the rest of the sod to prepare the beds for planting. If you did this, it might be best to edge the pathway with something, to prevent the grass from growing into the beds. We’ve used large rocks because here in the Rocky Mountains, that’s what we have access to. I’ve also used old railroad ties or Monkey Grass (Loriope), and both of those work great.

There are so many possibilities, but the idea is to provide a place to stroll through the garden. If you have room for it, along the path would be a really good place for a park bench. Let your imagination run wild as you plan your garden paths.

When landscaping your yard don’t forget to include pathways that draw visitors in and make them want to discover what’s there.

Hydrangeas – Easy To Grow And Beautiful

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Hydrangeas

Even though Hydrangeas are old plants, found in the gardens of our grandparents, they are getting more and more popular in the gardens of today.

If you’re in the process of designing your garden, or needing a plant to fill in an empty spot, have a look at the beautiful, flowering shrubs, Hydrangeas. They are easy to grow, long lived and gorgeous.

All Hydrangeas are not the same. The one most people think of when “hydrangeas” are mentioned, are the mopheads or Hydrangea macrophylla. These have huge clusters of blooms that are formed into a large, tight cluster and are usually pink or blue. These are the ones that can have their color changed by changing the PH of the soil. They can even be lavender and all three colors can be on one bush at the same time.

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Lacecap Hydrangeas

Then there are the “lacecap” Hydrangeas, which have a tight cluster of blooms with loose clusters of blooms circling them. There are Oakleaf Hydrangeas with white blooms, whose large leaves are in the shape of oak leaves. The blossoms on these have a much looser form. The foliage is as much of an asset in the garden as the blooms.

There are Hydrangeas with cone shaped flower clusters and these are Hydrangea paniculatas. One of my favorite Hydrangeas is Limelight, and it is a paniculata. The blooms are chartreuse (pale, lime yellow-green) and as the temperatures cool in the fall, the blossoms turn pink and then burgundy. All hydrangeas can be easily cut and dried for arrangements, but these are really special because the color they are when you cut them is the color they will stay.

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Limelight Hydrangeas and White and Purple Japanese Anemones

Hydrangeas require little care. They like soil enriched with good compost but can tolerate sandy soil, medium moisture and partial shade. They do need some sunshine or they either won’t bloom, or won’t have the prolific number of blooms they are known for. Some varieties even thrive in full sunshine. In hotter climates they can require more water.

They don’t need pruning, except to remove spent blossoms. They bloom from mid-summer through fall. Fertilizers that are high in nitrogen can cause the plants to have vigorous foliage growth with few blooms. Since Hydrangeas bloom on old wood, pruning isn’t recommended. If pruning is needed to control the size of the plant, do the pruning immediately after blooming.

They grow in zones 5-9. They can be anywhere from 3′ to 6′ tall. Do some research and see which ones appeal to you and which ones will fit into your garden. You won’t be disappointed.

Get Inspired At The Local Plant Nurseries

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Primroses at Plant Nursery in California

Okay, I really wasn’t expecting to find such a huge selections of plants available in February…not even in California. I’ve never seen such a variety of plants offered and the prices were pretty good too.

I sure did get the fever. Even though I’ve almost maxed out our small quarter acre yard, in my mind I was rearranging all of our flower beds to try to accommodate some of the gorgeous plants we saw, some I’d never even thought about growing before. It’s probably a good thing we had so far to travel and our car was so overloaded (citrus, dates and yet more pots), or I might have been tempted to buy plants that might not be suitable for our climate. But it was fun dreaming.

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Gerber Daisies For Sale

I did get some really good ideas for potted plants. In these photos you’ll see what an unusual combination of plants have been used.

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Cyclamen, Heuchera and Begonias in Hanging Basket

I doubt that seeing the photos will have the same effect that walking through the nurseries and seeing the plants had on me, but maybe you’ll be tempted to get out to your local nurseries to see what’s being offered this season, maybe try something new. Just be careful to read the plants requirements carefully to make sure it will thrive in your garden.

 

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Contrasting Foliage in Potted Plants

 

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Succulents For Sale

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Planning Your Garden…Consider the Leaves

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Colored foliage for the garden

I love a garden full of flowers, flowers everywhere. But even the best of best plants don’t have flowers on them all season. Besides, all those flowers need a little background music.

For colors and contrast in the garden, some plants have foliage that can compete with flowers.

As you look through all those gardening catalogs, or as you stroll through your local plant nursery this spring, have a look at the foliage plants.

Hostas are nice because they come in blue, blue green,deep green, lime green, yellow green, not to mention all the variegated ones.

Heuchera, or Coral Bells, is another nice plant. The leaves can be beautifully green or a rainbow of colors.

For more ideas, check out this post: http://wp.me/p1OXDF-Xy

 

Hardy Kiwi Vine…or In Other Words…Actinidia kolomikta

 

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Kiwi Vine and Limelight Hydrangeas,

The hardy kiwi is an exciting vine to have growing in your garden that many people are unaware of. It is a robust vine that can reach 25′ long. The foliage is beautiful, with splashes of cream and pink. The first few years the foliage will be green, until the plant is well established.

It has tiny little blooms in the early summer, but then, after a few years, it will produce kiwi. Not the large, fuzzy variety, but smaller and smooth. They are supposed to be very sweet and the skin is eaten as well, so they don’t have to be peeled.

Our kiwi vines (you need to have a male and female vine to get the kiwi fruit) are planted on one end of our large grape arbor. They are 3 years old and are looking pretty established to me. I’m hoping that this year will be the year we not only see the pink on the foliage, but also some fruit on the vine.

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Hardy Kiwi Vine

As you go through the garden catalogs, planning you garden for next summer, have a look at the kiwi vine (Actinidia kolomikta) It’s available at a lot of the nurseries.

A few facts:

It’s hardy in Zones 5-8  (Find your zone http://wp.me/P1OXDF-oK )

It can reach 25′ long

It likes well drained, moist soil

It needs partial to full sun

It’s deciduous and blooms in early summer

It’s a long lived plant

 

Plan Your Garden On Paper – Garden Planning Made Easy

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Raised garden beds in winter

During the winter months is a really good time to take stock of your yard to see what changes you might like to make. It doesn’t hurt to think big. If you have a plan, say for a patio to be built in a certain area, then you can begin to plant the right plants (the right height etc.) in the right place. We had to do that. We staked off where the deck would eventually go, and planted a row of peonies along that line. Behind the peonies we planted some tall shrub roses, and other things, but these plants had time to grow before the deck was built 2 years later.

If you have a bird’s eye view of your property, being able to see the house, yard, driveway, walkways, deck, patio etc., it is much easier to decide where you can have flower beds or fruit trees or raised beds for vegetables.

 

You can create the bird’s eye view with a simple drawing.

Using graph paper makes it a little easier and probably more accurate, but you don’t even have to do that. Try to get the

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Designing a Garden (Green is Planting Areas)

house, garage drive etc. somewhat in perspective. I used a poster board with graph line on it. You can determine how much each square represents, 6″, 1′, 5′ etc. It just depends on the size of our property. I do an outline in pencil but when I’m pretty sure of the measurements, colored pencils help to make it all a little clearer.

Winter is a great time to scour magazines and catalogs (and garden blogs) for ideas of what kinds of plants to use. It’s important to find out the needs of plants you like and want to use. Do they need full sun? Do they like to be dry or moist? How tall will they get and will they shade neighboring plants?  I make lists of the ones that appeal to me, learn as much about them as I can, then try to figure out where in the yard I can use them.

In the first sketch, I just block in areas for “flower bed” and don’t try to plan where every plant will go.  Later, when I’m sure of the size of the bed, then I can start planning what plants to put in and how to place them.

Tall plants such as shrubs or hollyhocks should be place at the back of a border. It’s important to pay attention to where the sun will cast a shadow in the summer (which is different from the winter) so that tall plants won’t shade plants that are sun lovers.

Medium plants should be planted in front of the taller plants with low growing plants placed in front of the medium ones.

Decide on a color scheme for your garden.

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Japanese Anemone and Limelight Hydrangea

Do you like warm, hot colors like yellow, red and orange? Then choose plants that will mix these colors throughout your garden. Maybe you like the cooler colors such as blue, pink, lavender and white. Another way to use color is to use complimentary colors, colors opposite each other on the color wheel, like yellow and purple, or blue and orange. Some like to use just one color, all blue or all red, even all white. A garden with a color scheme in mind is much more pleasing than a hodge-podge of color all jumbled up. Also, plant in groupings of color, instead of scrambled all together for a more effective look. But ultimately, it’s your garden, so you get to plant what you like, where you like.

Just one more thought on the subject…

Every plant doesn’t have to bloom. A garden with foliage in a variety of textures and shades of greens and other colors, is beautiful as is, even without flowers.

 

Finding a place for everything.

It’s good to list the things you’d really like to have in your yard. We did that when we bought our home 3 years ago. Even though our property is only 1/4 acre, our list was long. The property already had the house, a garage, a potting shed, a wide driveway and sidewalks around the property on 2 sides (it’s a corner lot). We wanted a deck, a large grape arbor, raised beds for growing vegetables, an asparagus bed, fruit trees and a berry patch. All of this plus as many flower beds as we could squeeze in.

Because we drew it all out, we were able to fit everything in. We had to move things around (on paper) to make it work, but we were able to settled on a plan. By doing that, we knew what plants we were in the market for, and we knew approximately where they would go.

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Grape vines on grape arbor with beebalm below.

We were able to have a 50′ x 10′ grape arbor (planted with 2 kiwi vines and 11 grape vines), a large deck (33′ x 16′), 4 raised beds (16′ x 4′ each) for vegetables, 20 assorted fruit trees placed throughout the yard, an asparagus bed (8′ x 5′), a berry patch with raspberries (20′ x 4′) and a berry patch with strawberries and blackberries (12′ x 6′). There are flower beds, large and small, tucked everywhere else. It wouldn’t have been possible to include all we wanted to have without a plan.

Have some fun this winter. Plan a garden.

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Pathway between deck and raised vegetable beds.

 

 

 

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Deck out back door, potted plum tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Autumn Star Peaches on Tree in September

Garden Design Video

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Beside our future front gate

 

 

Check out this fun, quickie, garden design video…

Paying Attention To The Foliage In The Garden

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Leaves contrasting in size, shape and color.

Sometimes, we focus so much on the flowers in our garden, we forget to notice the foliage. The variety of shapes, sizes and colors that leaves come in, is amazing. If you plan it right, you can have a very beautiful and colorful garden using plants that have no, or insignificant, blooms.

The foliage has always been important as a backdrop for the flowers. Can you picture a garden with just stems and flowers and no leaves? Leaves have always played an important part in the design of the garden, but I’m just saying that they don’t have to be just in the background.

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Colored leaves of Coleus

By placing plants with contrasting leaves, whether is size, texture or color, near each other, it creates interest. In some shady gardens, it is really hard to get light and color in with blossoms, but some plants, such as coleus, can add color to the shady garden, and by using the light colored coleus, can add light to a darkened area. Coleus do bloom, but the blooms are incidental and usually pinched off to help the plant.

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Strappy, spikey leaves in the garden

Have a look at these pictures and see if you get any ideas of ways to get more texture and interest into your garden.

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Beautiful color and texture

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Good contrast in hosta and fern leaves

 

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Beautiful colors and patterns

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Elephant ears

 

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Curly leaf parsley is beautiful in the garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Delicate leaves in the garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Just Some Of Our Garden Photos

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Sunflowers in the afternoon sun

Only October but I’m feeling the cold of winter breathing down my neck. So I’m just remembering “the way it was”.

 

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Crabapple blossoms in April, just before a big snow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Under the peach trees - such a peaceful place in the garden

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Medallion Rose is one of my favorite roses and it smells heavenly

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Cut flowers from the garden

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Zinnias in sunshine garden photo

Putting the Garden to Bed

walnut and crabapple

Crabapple and Black Walnut Trees in Front Yard 2009

Soon the leaves will be turning some beautiful colors, and don’t you know, those leaves WILL come down. I’ve always loved the look of the colorful leaves all over the yard but they soon turn brown and they won’t stay dry and crispy. During the winter, whether from snow or rain, they’ll get wet and slimy, and pretty much stay wet. They’ll become a slippery, sludgy mess. So it’s important to remove them from walkways and steps to prevent accidents.The leaves should also be removed from the lawn, as well as flower and vegetable beds. There are plants that need mulching for protection during the winter, but it’s better to use mulch or pine needles. Using straw can cause problems because of the possible grains of wheat etc, it could contain, which could attract mice to your garden. The mice would then began to feed on the stems of plants, such as roses.

The leaves can be shredded and added to the compost pile. We even gather up bags of leaves left at the curbs for the city to pick up, to add to our compost.

Cut down perennials that have finished blooming. Annuals and vegetables should be pulled up when they’re spent. If not diseased, tossed all of these clippings and spent plants into the compost. Some plants can be left, if they add interest to the winter garden or if they have seed heads that can feed the birds.

Autumn is a good time to divide perennials, which can then be planted in other areas of the yard or shared with friends. It’s also time to dig up tender bulbs, like Tuberous Begonias and Dahlias (wait till frost has turned the leaves black), and store in a cool, dark place.

To strengthen roots through the winter, apply bonemeal to perennial beds and around shrubs and trees.

Tidying up the garden not only makes the yard/garden look better through the winter, but spring gardening will be so much easier and more enjoyable. If you’ve planted spring bulbs, with cleaned out flower beds, you’ll have something wonderful to anticipate and look forward to.

 

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by Eliza Osborn

New Article Published About Creating Garden Pathways

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Pathway between deck and raised vegetable beds.

Just to let you know, I’ve had an article published at Ezines, if you’d like to check it out.

http://ezinearticles.com/?Whats-Down-the-Garden-Path?&id=6595139

 

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Hedges Don’t Have to Be Boxwood

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Hedges of boxwood and Leyland Cypress

Sometimes in designing a landscape a hedge is just what you need. Whether its a backdrop for a perennial border or a way to create privacy, a hedge can be a very valuable addition to your garden.

So much depends on how much room you have and where you live (what hardiness zone you’re in).
If you have a very large area then you might consider Leyland Cypress. They’re beautiful, don’t need any upkeep or trimming and they are evergreen and provide a lot of privacy. The main problem with Leyland Cypress around a garden is the shading they would cause because of their height. They will grow to about 70′ depending on the zone. Gardens need all the sunshine they can get. Placed on the north side of your garden wouldn’t cause a problem though, as the shade would be on the north (unless you live south of the equator).
For a hedge around your garden you might want something that only grows to about 3′-6′, which wouldn’t cause too much shading problems.
For warmer climates you could use privet (Ligustrum) which is pretty, either pruned or not. It can be pruned up into small trees, or left to be full and shrubby. It grows fast and has little white flowers that bees love. Drawing bees to your garden is important for pollination if you’re growing fruit or vegetables.
You could use Nandina which is pretty in all seasons with color changes and berries.
Oleanders make a good hedge too, but may get too tall. I kept mine down to about 8-10′ with annual pruning  but they can get taller if you like. In the very warm climates, you have a choice of many beautiful, flowering shrubs that would work well as shrubs if planted closely enough.
Of course there is always Boxwood. Some grow taller than others so check the label. Boxwood are popular because of their slow growth, which means less pruning needed.
For coolerareas you might consider a Spirea which takes a little more room but is beautiful and it doesn’t need pruning.

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Privacy hedge of Leyland Cypress or Thuja

Rosa Rugosa are really nice, I’ve used the Rugosa and loved it. It not only has fragrant blooms, but produces very large, bright red hips in the autumn. It is very thorny, which makes it completely impenetrable. It is a very hardy rose and needs no pruning. These rose bushes  will grow 6-8′ high and about 3-4′ wide. For a hedge you’d want to plant them 2-3′ apart. It really makes a beautiful hedge if you have the room. In the photo below you can see where I planted mine next to a picket fence.
Lilacs are beautiful and make a good hedge, once again, if you have the room. They can get 10-12′ or higher so consider that when choosing.

Now is the time to plant trees and shrubs so if you are considering putting in a shrub, get creative and find something that will add to the beauty of  your yard and not just be a hedge.

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Flower hedge being pruned

 

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Rosa Rugosas just planted for a beautiful hedge

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How to plant a hedge in a straight row.

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by Eliza Osborn

Raspberry Pruning

garden tools needed to prune raspberries - gloves and clippers

Raspberries and Rhubarb in July 2011

A friend asked a question about pruning raspberries, so I thought I’d mention something about raspberries here.

First of all, I am so excited to live in a place where we can grow raspberries because I love them and they are so expensive bought fresh. So you know that I have to have them in our garden.

Raspberries should be pruned in the late winter/early spring before they bud out.

There are 2 kinds of raspberries, Summer Bearing and Everbearing. We have the Everbearing, but they don’t really bear all the time, just in the summer and again in the fall. The Summer Bearing bear in the summer, but I think it depends on the species as to when, in the summer, that happens. Or it could depend on the climate. Sorry, don’t know about that. If anyone does please comment.

The “How” is the tricky part when it comes to pruning raspberries. On both kinds, you prune out the canes that bore fruit, because they won’t bear again. Then, on the Everbearing, you prune out the weak and smaller canes leaving the tallest, strongest, thickest canes (5-6 per foot). Tie these up to some kind of support. We have ours against a fence, so that’s easy to do. Or…I recently learned that you can cut all canes down to the ground (late winter/early spring) and as they grow in the summer, prune out all but the tallest strongest canes, again, leaving only 5-6 per foot. They won’t bear in the summer but the crop in the fall will be heavier. This would work for us because our summer crop isn’t very big compared to the fall. I think I’m going to try this way this year to see how it goes. It sounds a lot less complicated. I’ll let you know.

You should wear good leather gloves and use sharp, clean clippers to prune the canes. If you’ll remember from an earlier post, I highly recommend deer skin gloves. They are the only leather gloves I’ve found that won’t let thorns in.

garden design with raspberries and rhubarb

Raspberries ripening in September 2011 (click to enlarge)

The Summer Bearers need to have the damaged or dead canes removed, as well as the ones that bore fruit in the summer.

 

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by Eliza Osborn

Raised Bed Gardening

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Newly built raised beds between peach trees and deck (click to enlarge)

If you haven’t discovered raised bed gardening yet, then listen up.

There are some real advantages to gardening in raised beds, especially if you have poor soil or a lot of tree roots etc. Raised beds don’t get walked on, so they don’t get all packed down. Weeds aren’t a problem either. Plus, as you get older, it’s nice not to have to bend over so far.

You’ll need a place in your yard that gets plenty of sun and is pretty level. If possible the bed should run north and south so that the sun can get on both sides equally. That is the ideal, but all of ours run east and west and do fine.

Raised beds can be built out of bricks, blocks, cement or lumber. Lumber is the most common material used, with cedar or redwood being the best because it will last longer. If you live in an arid climate, you can even use pine. If you use lumber, then you have a choice of just nailing the box together or using metal corners that you just slip the lumber into and screw it together. We have both kinds and both work great.

You have to decide how big you’ll make the beds. If  you make them 4′ wide then you’ll be able to reach the center from both sides. You can make them as long as you like, keeping in mind the lengths that lumber comes in will save you some money. We have 16′ x 4′ beds with one cross board in the middle. So it looks like two 8′ x 4′ beds attached end to end. You can make square beds or any size you need that will fit on your available space. You’ll also want to make the beds at least 3′ apart if you’re making more than one bed. This allows you working space in between them. Also, you need to consider how deep you want it to be. Boards come in 6″, 8″, 10″, 12″. Realize that the deeper the bed the more growing medium you’ll need. Plants usually need at least 6″, but we have ours at 8″. Also the roots can go past the mixture and into the soil.

growing vegetables in raised beds

Raised bed between peach trees and deck in July

To fill a raised bed, don’t use garden soil. There are a few things to use in the planting mixture and you can create your own mixture from these ingredients.

These ingredients are:

Peat moss, sawdust (not wood shavings), sand, Perlite and/or Vermiculite, compost, dry fertilizer (in even numbers, i.e.8-8-8 or 10-10-10). Mix it all really well either before you put it into the bed or layer it and mix it well in the bed. Level it off and don’t mound it up in the center. Water it really well to moisten the peat and perlite/vermiculite.

You’ll be able to grow a lot more plants in this rich, well drained mixture than you’d be able to in the ground. Earthworms love these beds and multiply really fast and make the mixture even more fertile.

You can build your raised beds in the fall for very early spring planting. Another something to look forward to after a long, cold winter.

 

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Raised garden beds in December.

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Raised beds in in front of grape vines on fence in August

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by Eliza Osborn

Noticing Beauty – guest post by Tiffany Sowby of Happy Most of the Time blog

design a garden with pepper plants and flowers

Noticing Beauty

My husband Mike is very detail oriented. And I don’t just mean the twenty minutes he spends ironing one shirt or the forty five minutes he can spend cleaning a single toilet. Mike notices everything. We can’t drive down the street or go on a walk without him calling our attention to something. Whether it is a sunset, the buds forming on a tree, the architecture of a building or the way a shadow or lighting falls on an object. Mike notices it all.

It’s never been one of my favorite qualities of his. When I’m at Disneyland, I want to enjoy the rides, the characters and the atmosphere. Not the flowerbeds or the brickwork. When I’m at Buckingham Palace in London, I do not want to stop and look at the type of sprinkler heads they use. When we are driving south on I-15 on our honeymoon, I want to talk about US, not be told to look out the window at every passing mountain peak and every tree full of spring blossoms.

As our children have gotten older, they are the same way. Mike and now our children notice EVERYTHING. There is rarely peace and quiet on our car-rides or family walks. (And it isn’t JUST because of the fighting.) It’s because of the never ending:

“Oh look at that.”

“Look over there, hurry, don’t miss it.”

“Did you see that?”

“Now that is pretty.”

Though I certainly appreciate a beautiful landscape and the wonders of nature, I don’t usually notice them as frequently as Mike (or my children).

But I’m learning to.

Recently, while walking around acres of beautiful lush gardens, as is usually the case, I was walking too quickly and too rushed ahead of everyone else. Interrupting my declaration of, “Keep up kids” was my nine year old son saying, “Mom, you’ve go to see this. There are peppers in the flowerbeds!”

It wasn’t just my quick pace that slowed, my mind relaxed of the thoughts of where to be next, and instead I caught the wonder and awe in the eyes of my children as we viewed what seemed to be a pepper plant amidst the landscape.

designing a garden with pepper plants and flowers

Pepper plants in the flower bed.

That my nine year old son had to point out.

I can’t help but wonder exactly what I was doing as we were meandering through the gardens supposedly to enjoy the beauties around us. Was I too busy checking everyone was still with us? Too busy worrying about who was holding whose hand? Too concerned with wondering what time it was and how much longer we should stay?

I was in one of the most beautiful flower gardens in our state. And I had to be told to look at what was surrounding me! Obviously one of my husband’s finest qualities of appreciating his surroundings has rubbed off onto my children. And I want to join them.

I’ve decided I’m not going to snap responses as much anymore that sound like, “No, I didn’t see it, maybe I was looking at something else.” or “It’s a tree. Big deal.” or “Aagh, let’s just have quiet time and enjoy the walk.”

I’m going to follow the example of my husband and kids on this one, I’m not simply going to appreciate living in beautiful surroundings, I’m going to notice them.

 

If You Feed Them, They Will Come – How To Attract Birds To Your Garden

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One of 10 birdfeeders in the garden.

Of course I love being in our garden, enjoying the relaxing atmosphere and watching the breezes moving through the branches and the flowers. One of the things I enjoy most about being in the garden though, is watching and listening to the birds.

The first year we were so busy landscaping and planting that we didn’t spend any effort attracting birds to our yard. Last year we began  putting out a variety of feeders to see what birds would actually show up.

The finches and hummingbirds took a few weeks before they discovered our feeders, than they began coming in droves. The regular feeders, we filled with combinations of seeds, millet nuts etc. We learned right away that birds are picky and they are messy. They’ll fling unwanted seeds out of the way to get to their favorites. As it turns out, the seeds tossed to the ground attract the ground feeders, which means a bigger variety of birds in your yard.

There is some expenses involved, with the feeders, and the food to fill them, but there are some very good reasons for attracting as many birds to your yard as possible.

The top, number 1, most  important reason to go to the trouble and expense, is because birds eat bugs, larvae, caterpillars, you know, the pests that are eating the garden. If you feed the birds all during the year they will associate your yard with food. As your garden begins to come up and grow, just cut back on the amount of food you put in the feeders and they’ll turn their hungry, little eyes on the garden pests nearby. As the garden is finishing up, increase the food again. They’ll stick around to pick off any insect eggs they can find and gobble up anything hatching out as well.

Another good reason, is because the birds are so entertaining to watch, and so pleasant to listen to, as they sing or chatter away or even as they’re scolding each other. The community of birds you share your garden with, makes the garden come alive.

Some worry about feeding the birds and then stopping suddenly to go out of town etc. They worry that the birds will come to depend on them and they will suffer if they quit putting feed out. I’m sure the birds will still find food if the feeders are not filled. They will have to work a little harder for their food, but they’ll find food.

Check out this great site for more information.

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/AboutBirdsandFeeding/abtbirds_index.html

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by Eliza Osborn

The Fight That Turned Into Flowerbeds – guest post by Tiffany Sowby of Happy Most of the Time blog

My very first job, when I was 15 years old, was planting seeds at a local nursery. To me, it was just a part-time job that provided a little teenage spending money. Eight years later, I found myself married to a landscaper, living in a brand new home, with a brand new landscape to design.

It isn’t because I have a fantastic memory that I remember one of our very first fights as a newly married couple. It probably has more to do with the fact that my husband reminds me of it all of these years later. He doesn’t remind me to be unkind, nor to remind me that I was the one in the wrong. Instead, he reminds me because it is something we laugh at almost fifteen years later.

designing yard and gardens

The Happy Couple, a Landscaper and a Garden Designer

We laugh at the memory of the ‘discussion’ we had over how to landscape a four foot wide flower bed stretching out along a 50 foot driveway. My husband, a LANDSCAPER, and me a new bride, who had six months experience planting seeds along a conveyor belt, and a few weed pulling sessions in her youth. To say we had very different views about the design is an understatement. I suggested a patch of grass would be nice.  My husband, putting aside all newly-wed sensitivity, laughed out loud at my suggestion, (I think that is when the ‘argument’ started) and instead suggested trees, shrubs and perennials.

I have thanked my husband for his wisdom ever since.

After my husband planted four beautiful towering oaks, and placed a few Spireas, Potentillas, and Barberry shrubs here and there, in a peace agreement of sorts, my husband left the rest of the design to me. I spent hours perusing greenhouses of a nearby nursery and became acquainted with Stella D’oro Day Lilies,  Echinacea, and what became my favorite, Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia).

Within a year and a half our landscaped areas increased and I had three more good sized flowerbeds to take care of. Again after some careful placement of trees and shrubs by my husband, I was left to the flowers.

This round of landscaping, I fell in love with Forget-Me-Nots, Jupiter’s Beard and Woodruff. (And quickly learned to never again plant the ever-seeding Mexican Primroses.)

I’ll never forget that early summer day, just four years after our first fight as a married couple, when a city official knocked on my door and declared my yard as the recipient of the city’s ‘Yard of the Month’ award!

My husband is not often found sending me beautiful bouquets of flowers, but instead he has taught me an appreciation and love of flowers that last far longer than some store-bought flowers in a vase. I am a lucky woman.

And what a lucky man my husband is. He has beautiful flower beds AND a wife that can admit she is wrong.
 

 

Guest Blogger Coming

I’m so excited to be able to say that a friend, Tiffany, who is a gardener as well as a published author, will be blogging on this site. She has such a beautiful yard and has shared plants with me when I was planting my garden.

I’m sure you’ll love, and look forward to, her posts. She is Tiffany Sowby of Happy Most of the Time blog.

Grasshoppers In the Garden

Early this spring I noticed a lot of tiny little grasshoppers but I wasn’t worried about them because I figured they were so tiny that they couldn’t do much damage. Well, those little buggers grew up and turned into big, fat, hungry grasshoppers that are everywhere this year. We haven’t been plagued with them before, so I don’t know much about dealing with them, but I will learn before next year. I’ll pass along whatever I can find out about these pests and how to control them.

Here is a link to a video I made of one of our fat little pest sitting on an Autumn Joy sedum. Obviously he is too fat and lazy to move so I can get up close and personal with him.

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by Eliza Osborn

 

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