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Posts Tagged ‘garden ideas’

Circumcising the Peach Trees – The Importance Of Thinning Fruit

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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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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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Front Yard Landscape – Garden Design

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Near our front gate

I never thought I wanted to live on a corner lot, not enough privacy, too much traffic etc. I changed my mind after we bought our house. We bought it in the dead of winter, lots of snow on the ground, and honestly, I loved the house so much I didn’t even pay much attention to the yard.

When the snow began to melt, and we started planning our garden, I realized…Oh no!!..we live on a corner!  Since we live in a small town, the traffic isn’t a problem. The privacy issue is okay, because on our corner lot, we have quite a bit of distance between us and our nearest neighbors.

The corner lot does give you a very large “front yard” to make a first impression with. That’s what a front yard is for others seeing your home and yard for the first time. It is their first impression of what lies beyond, whether in the house or in the back yard. Making the front yard as pleasing and inviting as possible is important.

If you step across the street from your property and have a look at your front yard and entrance area, as if you’d never seen it before, what do you think your first impression would be?

  • Is it balanced?
  • Are the size of the plants in scale with the house?
  • Do the trees and shrubs compliment the home or hide it?
  • Do the plants look healthy and well cared for?
  • Is the lawn cut and manicured?
  • If there is color (flowers or foliage), does it work with the colors in the house?
  • Are the beds tidy and weed free?
  • Is the front door easy to find and get to?
  • On the whole, is it inviting?

Being winter makes it harder to assess some of the points, but you can still get an idea of balance, etc. For instance, If you have a very large, and tall home but you only have a little row of pansies in front of the house, the proportion is all wrong. On the other hand, if you have a smaller, or lower roofed home, giant towering trees and overgrown shrubs will overwhelm it, in the scale of things.

We were lucky, in that we did have some mature trees in the front yard. We have an old and beautiful crab-apple tree and an old black walnut tree. There were 4 other very large trash trees in the side and back yard that kind of swamped the house, which we had taken out to allow a lot more sunlight in. The last one to go was taken out this fall. See

The trees and shrubs should frame the view of the home, to compliment it and not detract from it. Is it easy to find your

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Dogwood and flower bed beside front porch

front door, and get to it without any obstacles? Can you find a way to enhance your front door area? Color helps a lot, whether in flower beds near the door or in planters. Stay with the style of your home. If you have a formal setting, use formal beds and planters. If your home is traditional or even more of a cottage, then have some fun with multiple plants and color combinations.

Planters near the front door have a softening, welcoming effect. If you don’t have enough sunlight in the area to grow flowering plants, then plants with beautiful foliage, such as philodendron Selloum or Asparagus Fern, work well too. For more ideas, see plant list at

Whether you have lawn in your front yard, or shrub and flower beds, everything should be kept tidy and neat. We worked on landscaping our front yard our first summer here, and the second summer we concentrated on the back yard. While we were so busy with the back yard, the front yard got neglected. And it showed! I just hadn’t taken the time to even look at the front much that summer…until one day. I couldn’t believe the weed crop I had, the pruning that needed to be done and plants that weren’t doing all that great because of neglect.

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Potted tree and fern by front door, flower beds in proportion to this Florida home.

We had to drop all work in the back yard until the front was presentable again. I really couldn’t believe how in a few short weeks it could have gotten away from me so badly. Now, at least once a week, I will take a slow stroll around the front (and side front) yard to see what needs to be done and make sure it all gets done. (Here’s a tip – Using mulch not only helps to retain moisture in the soil but stops weeds from growing.)

Even though the back yard is where we live and where we spend most of our time, most people won’t see the back yard but everyone passing by on the street or sidewalk can see our front yard.




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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

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Putting the Garden to Bed

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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

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When To Plant Spring Bulbs

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Tulips growing in the spring garden

After a long, cold winter it is so wonderful to see plants coming up and flowers beginning to bloom, all because you thought to plant bulbs in the fall. Spring flowers from bulbs are so easy to grow and if they are happy ( that is –  getting everything they need) they will just get better and better each year. So it’s important to plant the right bulbs for your climate. Just do a little research before you get started, so that you’ll know what does best in your area. Get creative and have fun as you plan where to plant the bulbs. In designing your garden, you can think about the colors you’re going to use, like the hot colors of red, yellow and orange or maybe you’d like the cool colors of pinks, purples, lavenders, blues and whites.

When you’ve decided what flowers you want to grow and what color scheme you like, then you’ll need to decide where to plant, and how many plants to fill the area you have. After all that has been figured out it will be time to think about when to plant the bulbs.

The when depends on which hardiness zone you live in. If you don’t know that, click on the “Zone Map” button at the top of the page. It will bring up a map, which you just click on your area to enlarge the map. The bulbs need to be planted 3-4 weeks before it gets cold enough to freeze the ground. The trick is to get them into the ground so that they will have time for their roots to begin to grow before the ground

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Tulips which lasted such a long time. It was worth the wait.


The problem is that you don’t want to plant them too early because if they have too much time before the ground freezes they’ll have time to send up shoots, which take energy away from the bulb. The bulbs will need all the energy they can get for next spring, when they begin to grow.

So get out the crystal ball and figure out when would be the best time to plant for your area. I think it’s almost that time here in zone 5/6.


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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

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Raspberry Pruning

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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.

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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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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.

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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

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

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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.

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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.


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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.

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by Eliza Osborn

plus2x2 If You Feed Them, They Will Come   How To Attract Birds To Your Garden

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.

mikeandtiff 300x240 The Fight That Turned Into Flowerbeds    guest post by Tiffany Sowby of Happy Most of the Time blog

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.


plus2x2 The Fight That Turned Into Flowerbeds    guest post by Tiffany Sowby of Happy Most of the Time blog

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.

plus2x2 Guest Blogger Coming

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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The Rhubarb Outgrew It’s Bed

P1010061 300x225 The Rhubarb Outgrew Its Bed

Rhubarb before it outgrew it's place in the perennial bed.

Never having grown Rhubarb before, I hadn’t realized how big they actually get. Not only did I plant 1 in the wrong place, I put 2 in there, side by side. This is one of those mistakes I was talking about that you can learn from and not repeat.

The bed was plenty large enough when I put the two of them in there, but as I began to add other plants, and they began to grow, well, those giant leaves started trying to shade all the other plants around it. So…it has to go. I’ll find a sunny spot on the south, side yard and when the weather is cool enough, I’ll transplant those large Rhubarb plants.

Here is a video of the Rhubarb and the bed it’s in now.

As I move it I’ll post videos of that process.

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by Eliza Osborn

plus2x2 The Rhubarb Outgrew Its Bed

A Clematis I Highly Recommend

I have planted clematis all over the garden because they can co-mingle with other climbing plants and not be invasive or intrusive. One of the clematis has out performed all the others. The Reiman Clematis has been in continuous bloom since it started blooming early in the summer. It has grown more than any of the others and it has a beautiful blue/violet color. I’m so glad I have two of them. As they grow and cover the gate and arbor I’ll post pics or videos.

I’m sure in time the other clematis in the garden will began to perform, but if you want one that will be beautiful from the very start, try a Reiman.

Check out this video of the Reiman Clematis on the gate attached to our grape arbor.

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by Eliza Osborn

plus2x2 A Clematis I Highly Recommend

Ya Gotta Love Roses

P10100285 275x300 Ya Gotta Love Roses

Apricot Candy Hybrid Tea rose (click to enlarge)

Roses have been stuck with a bad (undeserved) reputation for being difficult or hard to grow. I think that’s a bunch of hooey!

Now, in some climates (too humid or too hot) they can be a challenge, but even in those areas there are roses that can take the heat and/or the humidity. If you give them what they need, lots of sunshine, well drained soil, good air circulation, plenty of food and water, you’ll be rewarded a 100 times over with beautiful plants that give you gorgeous, sweet smelling flowers. Flowers to enjoy in the yard or in bouquets inside, or to share with friends and family.

I know I’m partial to roses, but I’m not blind to their little faults, like thorns and the need to be pruned occasionally. If you use the right gloves (deerskin) the thorns are not a problem. Pruning basics are easy and unless you cut the plant down to the ground, it’s hard to really do much damage.

Like other perennials, roses can be planted now, whether bare-root (see planting guide at: or potted, they will need protection with a little mulch this winter. Then in the spring they’ll have a head start and will be beautiful, flower producing plants that first spring and summer.

P1010031 150x150 Ya Gotta Love Roses

Graham Thomas shrub rose

When buying roses, potted or bare-root, just know that the potted ones were bare-root earlier in the year and some of the roots  were probably removed so that it could fit into the pot. So the potted ones may look better but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll perform better in the ground. The main advantage of the potted roses is being able to see the foliage ad possibly  the blooms. Look for sturdy plants with 3 good (1/2″-3/4″) stems.

P10100341 150x150 Ya Gotta Love Roses

Queen Elizabeth (grandiflora) rose bud

Do a little research to know what kind of rose you’re looking for, hybrid teas – one bloom per stem, floribunda or grandiflora – multiple blooms per stem, or climbing roses to go up over an arbor or column, just to name a few. There’s so many to choose from and that is a lot of the fun, looking at all the different roses and picturing where you’ll put them in your yard.

P1010057 150x150 Ya Gotta Love Roses

Medallion rose

I have favorites, some because of their color, some their perfume and some because of the way they grow. You’ll want to consider all of these traits when choosing your roses.

P10100083 150x150 Ya Gotta Love Roses

Queen Elizabeth roses and peach trees.

Don’t be intimidated by what you may have heard about growing roses. At least give them a try and see if you don’t fall in love with them too.

IMG 0212 150x150 Ya Gotta Love Roses

Brandy Rose rose in bud


IMG 0250 150x150 Ya Gotta Love Roses

Brandy Rose rose as it opens


IMG 0253 150x150 Ya Gotta Love Roses

Brandy Rose rose fully open now.

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by Eliza Osborn

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Video Update to Past Post – Gather Those Seeds While Ye May

This is the time of year to gather seeds for next year. I’ve added a video to the post: “Gather Those Seeds While Ye May” that might be helpful.

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by Eliza Osborn

plus2x2 Video Update to Past Post   Gather Those Seeds While Ye May

Garden Pathways

IMG 0309 294x300 Garden Pathways

Pathway between the grape arbor and the herb/flower beds

In our yard we have a sidewalk that is all the way around the house, up next to the house. Since we live on a corner, we have a public sidewalk that goes across the front and down the south side of our property. (See the diagram below) There are connecting sidewalks in the front and on each side. That leaves a lot of area for flower beds. Flower beds that  couldn’t be accessed if there weren’t pathways winding through the garden. Besides for convenience, garden paths are 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 even 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 aren’t bad to walk on.

Okay, 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.

IMG 0312 290x300 Garden Pathways

Garden path from driveway along grape arbor to peach trees.

Another thing that would work, would be 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 mountains, that’s what we have access to. I’ve also used old railroad ties or Monkey Grass (Loriope). 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.


IMG 0292 244x300 Garden Pathways

Our landscaping plan for pathways and beds - the green areas are flower beds (Click to enlarge)















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by Eliza Osborn

plus2x2 Garden Pathways

10-10-10 or 0-14-0 or 40-5-5 – Which Fertilizer To Use?

IMG 2292 300x224 10 10 10  or  0 14 0  or  40 5 5   Which Fertilizer To Use?

65-15-15 OR 10-10-10 Which fertilizer to use?

Ever wonder what those numbers on fertilizers mean? It can be very confusing to know which fertilizer to use because you have to know what your plants need and you have to know what the fertilizer provides. It’s not all that mysterious if you just know a few basic facts.

The 1st number is Nitrogen – Nitrogen feeds the leaves, promoting rapid growth and gives the leaves their green color.

The 2nd number is Phosphorus – Phosphorus promotes healthy, vigorous roots. This is important because the moisture and nutrients are taken up in the plant through the roots, so the more the better. Right?

The 3rd number is Potassium – Potassium helps with the overall health of the plant, allowing the plant to produce more blooms and higher quality fruit and seeds.

See, mystery solved. simple smile 10 10 10  or  0 14 0  or  40 5 5   Which Fertilizer To Use?

It is important though to know what your plants need. If in doubt, go for balanced numbers. Generally speaking, the higher the numbers in a balanced formula, the less fertilizer you’ll need to use.

For grasses, high nitrogen is favorable because it keeps it green and growing. On fruit and vegetable bearing plants though, high nitrogen means a strong foliage production at the expense of the fruit and vegetables. I once had gorgeous zucchini plants that didn’t bloom and fruit. I’d used the wrong fertilizer, one where the nitrogen number was much higher than the other two.

So when it comes to fertilizers, numbers matter.

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by Eliza Osborn

plus2x2 10 10 10  or  0 14 0  or  40 5 5   Which Fertilizer To Use?
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