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Jan. 28 - Filled the bird feeders and shoveled snow. Lots and lots of snow.
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Posts Tagged ‘flower gardening’

The Brandy Rose Is One Of My Favorites

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A large bee resting in the Brandy rose

I have a big variety of roses and of course I have favorites. I tend to like the pastel colors rather than the vibrant ones. The Brandy Rose is a beautiful, soft colored rose that is really pretty in all stages. When it’s fully open it is just as gorgeous as in the bud stage.

This morning I was strolling through the garden and just enjoying, when I noticed a bee nestled in one of the roses. I couldn’t rouse him and thought he might have expired. I moved on but came back and he was still there, tucked down in his beautiful bed. I ruffled him a little just to make sure he was really alive and sure enough he was. But he refused to be run off. I left him there, enjoying his rest. Curious creatures, bees.

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Beautiful Brandy Roses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Many Colors Of Irises In The Garden

My Dad was a gardener and had a pretty good collection of beautiful Irises. When he passed away, I dug them up and moved them to my garden. They didn’t do very much that first year (2012) since they were just getting established, but this year they have been spectacular. It has been wonderful having such a variety of color in the garden. I had no idea Irises even came in so many colors.

I also hadn’t realized how heavenly scented they are. Their perfume drifts over the garden all day, but especially in the early morning. Ah, bliss.

Here are some of the many colors abloom in the garden this year.

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Burnt orange Iris 2013

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Lavender and purple Iris 2013

 

 

 

 

 

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Peach colored Iris

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White with purple Iris

 

 

 

 

 

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Purple Iris 2013

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Rich colored Iris 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mixed color Iris

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Purple and white Irises 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This doesn’t even include the White, Yellow, Blue and Black ones. Irises are one of my favorite flowers, rating right up there with Roses, Clematis and Peonies. I just wish their beauty lasted all summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preparing For Spring Gardening

As I try my best to be patient waiting on the snow to melt so that I can finally get back out in the garden, I realize  that there is a lot to do before I get started..

One of the first things to do is to make a list of the things that need to be done, such as clearing away winter debri and checking the plants for damage.  Some of the plants (fruit trees and roses) need to be pruned and as buds begun to swell on the fruit trees, it will be time to spray with dormant oil to prevent pests like aphids from getting a start.

Before the perennials come up or annuals are planted, it’s a good time to work on things like pathways and sprinkler heads.

Early spring is a good time to evaluate your garden to see if you might want to make any changes or additions. Trips to plant nurseries can give you a lot of new garden ideas.

Check out lists above (Flowers tab) for some favorite annuals and perennials.  Don’t forget to check out the seeds available before they get all picked over and scarce. Planting seeds are a great way to get a lot of flowers (or vegetables) for very little money.

Unfortunately, planning for spring gardening makes me even more impatient to get out there and get started.

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.

Spring Clean Up Of Perennial Beds Underway…At Last

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Flower bed all cleaned out and the roses have been pruned

See this mornings post for the “before” pictures of these flower beds.

Underneath all of that old, dead debris from the winter, green life is pushing its way up. It’s amazing how much growth has taken place. It won’t be long before everything is getting big and setting buds for spring and summer blooms.

I cleared the asparagus bed and was amazed to see asparagus spears already appearing. It must be this mild season we’re having. Bad timing for us since we’re about to leave on vacation, I guess I can get someone to harvest the spears for me so they will keep coming. Since this is the fourth year on the plants, maybe we can get a few weeks of cuttings when we return home.

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Flower bed by south gate all cleaned out

The peonies are coming up and the roses and many other perennials are leafing out. The apricot, peach and aprium trees are in bloom. Even though I have only a few hyacinths, they are in full bloom, as are the daffodils.

I lost a lot of tulip blooms to the deer last year and so this year I’m trying to protect them with some mesh. I noticed today that they have chomped down the tulips in the front flower bed that I hadn’t covered, but the covered ones are still looking good.

Once I’ve finished with all this not-so-fun clean up, then maybe I’ll get to sit back and enjoy watching the garden come to life.

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Creeping Phlox, Hardy Geraniums, Daylilies, Wormwood and Liatris all coming up in the front corner bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Flowers On The Horizon…Finally

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Pansies in Las Vegas March, 2012

It’s about time for the Pansies, Crocus, Hyacinth, Tulips and Forsythia, to name a few, to start showing their faces all over the place. The days are warming up and even though the nights are still chilly, and there is still the real threat of more  hard frost before the middle of May, it’s hard not to get spring fever when the daytime temperatures are in the mid 60’s.

As I survey our “end of winter” garden/yard, it’s hard to believe it can ever recover. All it takes though, is a couple of flowers to start showing up and the winter blues evaporate and the excitement and hope of spring take over.

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Cute Pansy Faces of Spring

Some of the really early birds, like rhubarb, have already popped up and started unfolding, but it is the spring flowers that create the excitement and joy of spring.

I’ve been missing gardening…can you tell?

 

 

Improving Plant Growth With Less Fertilizer? Great Products For The Garden

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Product Samples To Test In Our Garden

Last fall I wrote a post about a product I’d heard about called “Blend” (see post http://wp.me/p1OXDF-BE ) and all it could do to improve the qualities of soil. The company that produces it is located in Arizona and since we were down there for a wedding reception, we took time to tour their facility and learn a little more about them.

It was an amazing place, much larger than I had imagined. I learned that Blend is only one of many products they produce to improve and condition the soil and to feed plants.

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Mixers At The Lizuid Fertilizer Plant In Arizona

There are mixtures that stimulate the root growth (for stronger, healthier plants) and products that improve the uptake of nutrients (macro and micro). There are pesticides made with Thyme oil. Plants need such a variety of nutrients and most soils don’t provide all that plants need. Most fertilizers provide the basic  Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potash (the numbers on the fertilizer containers) but not the many other nutrients required by plants.

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Preparing My Samples

They were generous and kind enough to give me some samples to bring home to try on our garden. I am so excited to be able to use them, since I’ve heard such good things about them. At this time they only sell wholesale and their products are used all over the world, even China. (Isn’t it nice to know that China actually buys something from us?)

Hopefully, they can be persuaded to retail some of their magic plant serum to some of us here in the U.S.

I will be posting pictures of plants grown with (and even some grown without) the different additives. It will be interesting to see how it does in our garden.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gardening Thought For The Day…

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Garden with no boundaries

 

The only limit to your garden is at the boundaries of your imagination.

-Thomas D. Church

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Flowers, herbs and fruit growing along the garden path

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jupiter’s Beard – One Of My Favorite Discoveries

Centranthus ruber, or Jupiter’s Beard, is one of the beautiful plants I discovered about 3 years ago, after moving west. I’d never heard of it before, but I began to see it in gardens all around.

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Centranthus - Jupiter's Beard

It is a beautiful plant and easy to grow. The plant only grows about 2 feet high but the flowers growing on tall, straight stems can reach 3 feet.

The flowers are made up of clusters of tiny, little flowers and can be very fragrant. The flowers can be white, red, pink or lavender, and last a long time. They are good as cut flowers in arrangements.

Jupiter’s Beard grows well in full sun or partial shade. It is drought tolerant. The plants spread and also self sows freely. Removing the finished blossoms will help to prevent this and to encourage more blooms. The plants can be divided and used around the garden or share the divisions with friends and neighbors.

It’s a really good plant to grow in difficult spots where other plants won’t grow. (See the Favorite Perennials List at: http://wp.me/P1OXDF-Ps

I love them and think they’re wonderful. They seem to stay in bloom forever. I’m hoping they will spread a little so I can divide them up and spread them around my garden.

Drying Flowers From the Garden

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Flowers hung up to dry

Did you know that many of the flowers in your yard can be cut now and bundled loosely and hung upside down to dry. They will make beautiful  arrangements for the winter…or anytime.

It works well with a lot of different kinds of flowers but I have had success with roses, hydrangeas, yarrow and lavender.  Try what you have and see how they do.

Below is a picture of the front of the book the picture was taken from.

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Western Gardening Book picture was taken from

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by Eliza Osborn

Our Garden Gate
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