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

Circumcising the Peach Trees – The Importance Of Thinning Fruit

IMG 01671 223x300 Circumcising the Peach Trees   The Importance Of Thinning Fruit

Autumn Star Peaches on Tree in September

Even though it’s really hard to remove little baby fruit from fruit trees, it can be a very important step. Not only do you get much better fruit but the tree is better able to bear the fruit while it grows and ripens.

When our peach trees became laden with fruit we had to remove quiet a bit of it. Since this is just their third summer we were worried about such an abundant crop. We learned that removing the fruit is called ‘circumcising’ the tree. Well all 5 of our trees got circumcised. Apparently we weren’t thorough enough because just as the fruit on our Red Haven ripened the trunk of the tree split right down the middle all the way to the ground. I ran out with baskets and was going to pick the fruit and then take out the tree.

“Slow down”, my husband said, “let’s just think about this a minute.” So I stand there tapping my foot impatiently, knowing I’d have to do something with all those peaches right away. He headed for the garage saying we were going to pull the tree back up and strap it together.

Ha! I thought he was delusional. This was a young tree but it was already big, at least 12′. I tried to budge one side of it and I might as well have tried to lift our deck. But back he comes with pulleys and come-alongs and bungee cords and ropes and boards and a drill? Then he reaches down and smooth as can be he lifts one side up and braces it then pulls the other side up and braces it. He straps them together tightly and supports those heavy limbs. Then he gets out the drill and drills two holes through that poor tree. He used bolts and nuts and things and bolts the trunk together in two places. Poor tree had surgery with no anesthesia. I thought that by the next morning all the leaves would be wilting and the fruit would began to drop.

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Bolts in split peach tree with little hollyhock plants coming up everywhere

Except for the support straps still in the branches, you’d never know anything had happened to that tree. The fruit stayed on and ripened and was delicious. Now the tree will grow around those bolts and it’ll be impossible to tell what once happened. Isn’t that amazing?

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Early Elberta Peaches getting ripe...finally.










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by Eliza Osborn

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My Dad’s Irises Are In Bloom

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My Dad was a gardener and he grew a lot of things, from roses to fruit trees. He had a beautiful collection of bonsai that he had cared for for about 25-30 years. He loved growing Rhododendrons and also had collected some beautiful Irises. Unfortunately, as he aged, and as his macular  degeneration became worse, he was unable to garden as much as he wanted to.

A couple of years ago we helped my Dad clean out his Iris bed. The weeds had taken over and the Irises needed dividing. We

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dug them all up so that we could untangle the roots of the weeds from the Iris roots. There were too many to fit back into the newly prepared bed so we took the ones that were left over. There was no way to know which ones were planted in his garden, and which ones we got. They didn’t bloom that first year after moving them, but this year they have been spectacular. Not all of them have bloomed yet, but here are pictures of the ones that are blooming now.

Sadly,  Dad passed away on Christmas day. I like to think that he is enjoying these beautiful blooms as much as we are.

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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.

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Gardening Perks


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Yellow lilies in front yard

An unexpected thing I enjoy about our garden is getting to talk to so many people as they pass by, some strolling, some on bikes and many in cars. We live on a corner just off Main Street in our little town of about 40,000 and so it feels like we live in Mayberry, with so many friendly people. Anyway, one day a man walking his dog stopped to talk and was telling me how much he appreciated me putting the names by the plants so passersby could know what they were. I told him I hadn’t thought about the people passing by, I was just trying to remember the names of plants and what was planted where.

I moved out here to the West almost 3 years ago and even though I’d gardened for such a long time in the south (zones 7 & 8), there were so many plants out here (zone 5b/6a and elevation ca.5000′) that I’d never heard of and didn’t recognize. Really, there were very few of the ones I was use to growing that would grow out here. So if you think you have to know a lot to be a gardener, then I’m living proof that you don’t. I started reading a lot, I now have 154 gardening books (I just counted out of curiosity), almost all second hand. I like to be able to look up anything I need to know about. I do use the internet a lot but I get a lot of help from books.

Back to the names on the plants…I use metal wire stakes with a metal plate to write on. They work great for helping me to remember the plant name and to mark the spot where it’s planted so in the spring when I’m looking for places to put new plants I’ll know that place is reserved for something that will be coming up soon.

When I have spaces to fill I like to plant annuals that have plenty of blooms to use and share, like Cosmos and Zinnias, which can grow quite tall if they’re happy. Last year I had a profusion of blooms along the sidewalk outside the picket fence on the South side  of our yard (our house faces West) and large areas covered in blooms inside the fence.I try to get everyone to come and cut bouquets from the zinnias and cosmos because it encourages more blooms and it makes people happy.

One afternoon as I was sitting on a little stool weeding by the front sidewalk a little girl, about 8 years old, came riding by on her bike and stopped to talk. She gave me one of my favorite compliments when she said, “Your yard looks like a flower forest.”

How could I not like that?

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Cosmos by sidewalk on south side of house

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Lavender and daisies in front yard by grape vines.

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by Eliza Osborn

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Where to start? – How To Plan a Garden, How To Plant a Garden – How To Be a Gardener

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Back yard in 2009, before garden planted, arbor and deck built

I’m trying to decide whether to began at the end or the beginning. Maybe I’ll just jump back and forth.

I mentioned in “About Us” that in 2009 we’d bought a very old home in the Rocky Mountains (zone 5b-6a) and had taken up most of our lawn. I didn’t mention that we also took down four huge trees and many large, old shrubs. You can imagine what a mess our yard looked. But…we had a plan.

Here is a picture of our yard when we began laying it out. The big crater is where a large stump was ground out and where the Queen Elizabeth roses now stand beside the deck. You can see 2 of the 5 little peach trees planted early that spring. The small one on the end is stunted because deer ate the top out of it when it first put on leaves.

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Peach trees, Queen Elizabeth roses, hyacinth bean tower

I think the neighbors were a little worried about the nut jobs that had moved in next door. It did look pretty bad but we did put up a privacy fence to protect their eyes. Of course the picket fence in the front yard didn’t hide very much and the front yard looked this bad too.





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by Eliza Osborn

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Limelight Hydrangeas and Japanese Anemone – How To Grow Perennials, When to Plant & How To Use In Landscape Gardens

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Dogwood, Japanese Anemonies, Limelight Hydrangeas, Lamium and Sweet Woodruff by front porch.

When we bought our house a couple of years ago there was a small varigated Dogwood Tree beside the front porch with Sweet Woodruff and Lamium growing thickly under it. Late in the summer some pretty foliage started coming up. It only grew to be about a foot high and since I didn’t know what it was I just let it grow there. Since the foliage was so pretty and was coming up in little sprigs all through the Lamium I decided to move some of it around the yard. Most of these sprigs soon looked dead and I regretted moving them.

Since the Lamium is a low grower I planted Limelight Hydrangeas in front of the Dogwood. In September the little plant I didn’t recognize began to bloom and were beautiful. Well the next year those little plants, which I finally identified as Japanese Anemonies, grew huge and practically covered up the Hydrangeas.

The ones I had moved the year before had been just playing possum and they began to grow too. Now I’ve moved sprigs all over the garden. It’s a beautiful plant and still tries to outgrow the Hydrangeas but I’ve decided it’s survival of the fittest because I don’t want to move either of them. That next year too there were pink ones where there had just been white ones the first year. By the way, there is a Hydrangea behind that mass of white blooms.

I’ve since learned that they can be considered invasive but they are such a hardy plant and so pretty and best of all bloom in the fall when

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Perennial garden in back yard

almost everything else is finished up. I hope they invade my whole garden. Maybe I’d better be careful what I wish for.

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by Eliza Osborn

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Herbs I’ve Grown and Loved


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Growing favorite herbs in the herb garden for cooking

I started growing herbs when my Aunt Pearl, who lives in Georgia and is also a gardener, gave me a large pot planted with herbs. I’ve been growing them ever since. I like to mix them in among other perennials, although I have had beds with just herbs in them. Herbs are so easy to grow and since you need to keep pinching them back to make the plant fuller and to prevent blooming, you have plenty to use in cooking and you’ll have plenty to share, since it really is good for the plant to get pinched back. In most cases it would be hard to use that much of any herb. When I prune them back I put the clippings I’m not going to use in a basket on my kitchen counter. The smell is wonderful.

Put the ones you are planning on using in a glass with water in the fridge and they will stay fresh until  you need them. When using fresh herbs in recipes you’ll need to use a larger amount (about 2-3 times as much) because measurements are usually for dried herbs, which have much less volume. Fresh herbs make such a difference in foods. For example, potato salad is a whole different dish when prepared with fresh oregano, thyme, parsley and chives. The flavors are so fresh and wonderful.

Some can be grown from seeds and some can’t. Some can be dried and used, some frozen. If you’re interested in planting herbs, now is a good time for planting the hardy ones. Depending on where you live, Rosemary is iffy, and basil surely can’t take the cold but most others are pretty hardy. I’ll talk more about herbs later, but for now you really should consider herbs for your garden. You’ll fall in love.

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by Eliza Osborn



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How To Start a Garden

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2011 - Agastache, Sedum, Phlox and Rhubarb

This question comes up a lot and I think the best place to start a garden is not with a shovel and dirt but with pencil and paper.

Gardening is a growing interest and a lot of people, even though they want to garden, just don’t know how to get started. Even a small bed can produce a great amount of flowers or vegetables.
Here is a link to an article I’d written that might be of some help. Check it out.

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2009 - Newly planted Agastache and sedum


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2011 - Deck with potted plum tree and flowers.


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by Eliza Osborn

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10 Reasons to Garden

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Ripe tomatoes ready for bottling.

Everybody enjoys looking at a garden or being in a garden, but not everybody actually enjoys getting in and getting their hands dirty and their backs tired. The rewards are so great though, it’s worth the effort, time and money.

Here are just 10 very good reasons to garden.




  1.  I want a beautiful yard and can’t afford a gardener.
  2. I need the exercise.
  3. It keeps me out of the house so I don’t have to see that it needs cleaning.
  4. I get fresh fruits and vegetables that are way too expensive in the store.
  5. I get a sense of accomplishment.
  6. I get an opportunity to talk to neighbors and passers-by that I would miss cooped up inside.
  7. I can take my frustration out on the weeds instead of my sweet husband.
  8. It creates beautiful, relaxing places to spend time with family and friends.
  9. It gives me a great reason to get out of bed in the morning.
  10. It’s in my blood and I just can’t help it!

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by Eliza Osborn

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Gardening Thought For The Day…

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Primroses for sale



Gardeners, I think, dream bigger dreams than emperors.

– Mary Cantwell



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Garden Design (Green is Flower Beds)

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Hydrangeas – Easy To Grow And Beautiful

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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.

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So Many Seeds, So Little Space In The Garden…Don’t Be Intimidated By The Choices

IMG 2287 300x224 So Many Seeds, So Little Space In The Garden...Dont Be Intimidated By The Choices

Seeds For Sale

If you’ve been going through the seed catalogs (like I have), or visited the seed racks at the stores (now fully stocked) trying to decide what your going to include in your garden this year, then you’re aware of the huge choices available to us.

Take vegetables for instance, once you decide which vegetables you want to grow, then you have to decide which variety. Say you want to grow green beans. The first choice that comes to mind for green beans is whether you want them to run (climb something) or to be bush beans (so you don’t have to provide something for them to climb on).

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Seed Racks Fully Stocked

The key is to do some homework, whether in the catalogs, gardening magazines and books or on the internet, learn as much as you can about the things you want to grow. Whether is vegetables, herbs or flowers, the information on the back of the seed packets will make a lot more sense if you know what you’re looking for. By the way, there is a lot of information on the seed packets so don’t ignore it. See post:

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Flower Seeds For Sale

Some things grow great from seeds and some will grow from seeds but take way too much time (like Asparagus). Some things won’t grow from seeds (like Tarragon). Tomatoes will grow from seeds, but our growing season is so short that we have to set out seedlings in order to get tomatoes before the cold weather returns in the fall. Most gardener set out seedlings for tomatoes anyway, because everyone wants to get fresh, homegrown tomatoes as early as possible.

This is the best time to stock up on seeds, while the racks are well stocked (both garden centers and mail order seed stores). Before you know it, the racks will be almost bare and your choices will get more and more limited.

It’s time for us to plant the peas, lettuce and spinach, so I’ll be checking out the racks this week and making the crucial decisions…which English peas, and what kinds of lettuce to grow. So many choices….so little space.

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Never Ending Variety of Succulents…and Their Uses

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Figure Created Using Succulents

I have to admit that I’ve not grown too many succulents. Ive had the Hen and Chicks and the Kalanchoe, but not much else. Lately though, I’ve been noticing them more and more in other people’s gardens and in the garden centers. I had no idea that there was such a huge variety of these beautiful plants.

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Dancing Figures Created Using Succulents

They are not only beautiful but very easy to grow, if the conditions are right. When we were in the San Diego Botanical Garden I fell in love with these figures that had been created using succulents. How do people even dream up things like this, much less figure out a way to do it?

One of the garden centers we visited in California had such a huge selection of succulents to choose from, I would have like to have had one of each.

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Succulents For Sale

When our garden centers get up and running this spring, I intend to check them out to see what wonderful little treasures I can find. I will be finding ways to use them in our garden from now on.


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Figure Created Using Succulents






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Color In The Garden With Garden Ornaments

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Mosaic Bird Bath

Not all color in the garden has to come from flowers. Whether you like bright, vivid colors or more subdued pastels, you can have color throughout the garden with painted furniture and with garden ornaments.

In my garden I have leaned toward the softer hues of purple, pinks, blues and white. For my flowers, I still prefer those colors, but after a few trips to Mexico,  in certain areas of the garden I have ventured out into the brighter shades of the same colors.

You might like the warmer (or hotter) colors of reds, yellows and oranges. Whatever colors appeal to you, there are ways to get

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Ceramic Chickens for the Garden

them into your garden. Check out the things that I found for sale at a plant nursery in California. There were sun faces, lizards and frogs etc. to hang and birdbaths and colorful pots as well as all sorts of garden figures. Now, beautifl pots come in ALL colors.

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Bright Colored Yard Furniture

I like to tuck figures in among the plants and most of them, you really have to be looking hard to even see them. It’s fun for the grand-kids to have something to look for. See post:

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Colorful Sun Faces For the Garden




There are plenty of garden ornaments that you can make and it is really easy to slap a coat of paint on some yard furniture.

Have fun in your garden and make it a relaxing fun place to be.

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New Plant For My Garden Will Be Stock

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Stock plants for sale at nursery

When we were in Arizona recently, I discovered a wonderful plant with beautiful flowers and a heavenly scent. They were growing in a pot on the front porch and they perfumed the whole area. The blooms remind me of larkspur a little. The plants were called Stock or Matthiola and it is an annual.

I intend to not only have them in pots on the deck, but growing in the flower beds all around the deck and grape arbor. I love plants that smell so good that they make the whole yard smell great too.

Depending on your climate, these plants can be grown from seeds or bought as seedlings at the local nursery. If the climate is milder, they can be sown directly into the garden, otherwise, they can be started indoors and set out as seedlings. I think I’m going to try to direct sow and also pick up some at the nursery. It’ll be fun to see which ones do the best. Since these plants prefer cooler temperatures, they should be planted early. They need full sun but can tolerate light shade.

These plants are sensitive to too much moisture, so make sure they have well drained soil. Adding plenty of compost will keep them well fed to produce lots of flowers.

Stock varieties can be 12 to 36 inches tall, so check the label to see which ones your getting so you’ll know where to use them in the garden. The taller ones will work in the middle or back of the garden while the shorter ones need to be out front.

If you pinch the seedlings back, the plants will be fuller and also produce more blooms. These make good cut flowers, so plant plenty.

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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







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In Planning Your Garden…Consider the Leaves

DSC 6829 Aj 200x300 In Planning Your Garden...Consider the Leaves

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:


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Hardy Kiwi Vine…or In Other Words…Actinidia kolomikta


P1020029 225x300 Hardy Kiwi Vine...or In Other Words...Actinidia kolomikta

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.

images 150x150 Hardy Kiwi Vine...or In Other Words...Actinidia kolomikta

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 )

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


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New Discovery For the Garden…Rubber Garden Hoses

This is a re-post from last September. I’m re-posting it because before we know it, it will be time to get out in the garden. Sometimes we have to replace garden hoses because of winter damage. Before you rush out to buy yet another vinyl garden hose…

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Rubber garden hoses in the garden path

I just discovered something last spring that I wish I’d known before.

I realize that everybody but me may already be aware of this, but for the ones like me, who weren’t, I want to talk about rubber garden hoses. Not vinyl, rubber.  A world of difference in the two.

In our front and side yard we have a sprinkler system that pretty much takes care of everything. Well, we have one in the back yard too but it doesn’t work well with the way the yard is planted, so I water by hand with a hose and nozzle. I was so tired of fighting those stiff garden hoses, which were always getting tangled.

We use one of those attachments on the faucet that lets you attach 4 hoses at a time and then each hose goes to a different area of the yard.This Spring when one of our hoses split and needed replacing, I went to Lowe’s and was looking at all the hoses. The one that split had a lifetime guarantee so I just got my money back. As I was looking at the hoses trying to decide whether to get the same kind again or not,  I spotted a small display of rubber hoses, one black and one a clay red. Since it cost about the same as the one I was replacing and this one also had a guarantee, I decided to try one.

All I can say is “Where have you been all my life?” Watering is such a pleasure…well, it always was, because I enjoy just studying the plants and flowers, but to use a hose that doesn’t fight you is wonderful. The rubber hose is so flexible and limp and easy to manage. I’ve used it all Spring and Summer with no problems. If I have a problem I’ll let you know, but so far I really love it and wish I could afford to replace all of my garden hoses right now. Gradually I will though.

So when you have to replace one of your garden hoses you might give a rubber hose a try.

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by Eliza Osborn

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What Do Gardeners Do In The Winter?


This is a re-post from earlier. Since we are in the middle of winter, it seemed a little more timely…


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Raised garden beds in December.

I’ve lived in zone 8, and there, gardens just need to be trimmed up a little and maybe mulched for some protection. Even in the warmer zones, most gardening activities take place in spring, summer and fall. So what do gardeners do in the winter?

Some gardeners, like us, enjoy traveling or visiting distant family. It’s hard for gardeners to get away during the growing season, because too many things need attention, but in the winter, there is a lot more free time. If you live where there is a lot of snow, like we do, then it’s fun to go to warmer parts of the world. We like to go to Mexico, or to south Florida, where it’s sunny and warm even in January and February.

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Snow in the garden

Here in zone 6, the winter is long, but even with the holidays and traveling, there is still plenty of time before spring arrives. This is the best time for gardeners to evaluate their garden, to think about expanding the planting areas, or building raised beds for vegetables, or even planning an herb garden. As you think about problem areas, where plants might not have done so well, you might consider improving the soil. It’s also a perfect time to think about adding arbors, decks or fencing to your yard, to give it structure or vertical interest. I kind of mentally walk around the yard and garden, trying to find places to plant another rose bush, or maybe another fruit tree.

It is very helpful to make a drawing of your yard, being sure to include the house and garage or any other buildings or structures, like patios or decks. It makes it much easier to evaluate the growing space in your garden and see how everything relates to each other. See post:

Winter is also a good time to learn more about soils, fertilizers, soil conditioners and mulches. In the long winter evenings, you’ll have more time to learn about plants you may have heard of and wanted to grow, like hardy kiwi or bamboo.

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Woodpecker at suet feeder

One of my favorite winter activities is watching the birds. There are so many different kinds of birds at the feeders in the winter, and it’s fun to watch them inter-act with each other. They can get quite territorial at times, but usually they all feed in peace, taking turns at the feeders. When food is so scarce, it’s much easier for them to eat at our dining room, so we tend to have a lot more visitors in the winter months.

One of the bonuses of feeding the birds during the winter is that as the weather begins to get warmer, the migrating birds will begin to come through and then, for a short time, we get to see so many different species. Winter is a great time to learn about the birds, how to recognize them, what they like to eat and how best to attract them to your yard.

As you can see, winter can be a very enjoyable, and productive time of year.

Winter for gardeners can be a time of relaxation, evaluation, planning and self education. It’s time to take stock of what worked in the yard or garden, and what didn’t, and decide how to change it and make it better. With so many books about gardening and bird feeding available, and countless sources of information on the internet, there is no reason not to be able to make your garden more productive and your yard more beautiful.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider clicking on the Google “Plus 1” button and any of the Social Media buttons you’d like. Thanks so much.

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