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My Garden Journal
Jan. 28 - Filled the bird feeders and shoveled snow. Lots and lots of snow.
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Posts Tagged ‘garden photos’

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.

IMG 01891 223x300 Circumcising the Peach Trees   The Importance Of Thinning Fruit

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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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

P1010003 300x225 Limelight Hydrangeas and Japanese Anemone   How To Grow Perennials, When to Plant & How To Use In Landscape Gardens

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

P11700401 300x225 Limelight Hydrangeas and Japanese Anemone   How To Grow Perennials, When to Plant & How To Use In Landscape Gardens

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


Herb study chart for Cousin Camp 04 182x300 Herbs Ive Grown and Loved

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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Gardening Thought For The Day…

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Hollyhocks in the morning sun.

Lord, I do fear thou’st made the world too beautiful this year. My soul is all but out of me.

– Edna St.Vincent Millay



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Gardening Thought For The Day…

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Green beans growing and maturing

Once we become interested in the progress of the plants in our care, their development becomes a part of the rhythm of our own lives and we are refreshed by it.

– Thalassa Cruso




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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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Garden Indoors With House Plants

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House Plants For Sale

I know I’ve talked a lot recently about house plants. I guess it’s because I’m surrounded by them because we have to bring so many of our plants in for the winter.

I know you’ve seen the house plants for sale at the home improvement stores. Some of them can get pretty pricey, but if you’re getting a really nice, large, healthy plant, then it might be worth it. If you care for it really well and it grows and adds beauty to your home (as well as oxygen – see post for years to come, then it might well be worth the price.

Besides the home improvement stores, check out your local nurseries. The selection might be better and the prices might be comparable.

Pay attention to the needs of the plant to see if you will be able to care for it. If it only lives for a short time then it definitely won’t be worth the price.

For information to help you make the right selection check out this post:



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Garden Design Tip – Walk On Pathways, Not In Garden Beds

P1010019 300x225 Garden Design Tip   Walk On Pathways, Not In Garden Beds

2011 - Path beside grape arbor with herb bed on right.

A great garden design will have permanent pathways, and stepping stones…for walking and stepping. If garden beds, flower and vegetable, are kept narrow enough,  then there is less temptation to walk on the soil of the bed. If the area is too wide, it’s best to place stepping stones.

Most plants like well drained soil. Walking on the soil compacts it and has an effect on the drainage. Compacted soil also has less oxygen and makes it more difficult for plants to grow.

Just sayin’…


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Spice Up Your Life With Garden Cress

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Mint and Garden Cress

Garden Cress (or Pepper grass) taste like Watercress, with a peppery bite to it. It’s a very easy to grow annual herb. It can be grown in the garden or in containers on the deck or patio or even in the kitchen window.

To grow cress in the garden, plant the seeds as early as possible in the spring, planting again every 2 weeks for a longer harvest. Cress matures very fast and grows best in cool weather. If you live in a mild climate, cress can be planted all through the fall and winter.

Cress does well in containers. It sprouts in a few days and can be harvested in a couple of weeks. Whether in the garden or in a container, cress likes moist, well drained soil.

Cress is so easy to grow it can even be grown by sprinkling seeds on wet cheesecloth or paper towels. Just keep them damp and you can began harvesting in about 2 weeks.

The peppery flavor of cress spices up any dish. Try using it in tossed salads, egg, potato or chicken salad. Try it in scrambled eggs or in sandwiches instead of lettuce.

Get creative. Garden cress is a beautiful plant and versatile in the kitchen.

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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.

House street side Aug.01 300x225 Front Yard Landscape   Garden Design

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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Flowers For Cutting – Vases of Flowers Everywhere

P10100033 300x249 Flowers For Cutting   Vases of Flowers Everywhere

Cut flowers from garden to be used in arrangements


Isn’t it too bad that cut flowers are so expensive?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have vases of color all over the house?

Well, actually, you can. If you have a few packets of seeds, and a little plot of ground that gets plenty of sunshine, then you can grow  your own flowers for cutting.

This winter, when you’re looking through all those catalogs (see post “Have You Ordered Your Gardening Catalogs?  and planning your garden, be sure to carve out a space for your cutting garden. I use my whole garden as a cutting garden, but some gardeners like to have a patch set aside just for cutting.

Clear the ground of grass and weeds. Dig and turn the soil to a depth of at least 8 inches. If  your soil doesn’t drain well or isn’t fertile enough, add some composted manure (available in bags at Lowe’s: and mix in well. Level out the top of the soil and plant the seeds. You can plant in rows, with the taller plants at the back so they won’t shade the shorter plants, or you can plant in squares or groupings of each kind of flower. To plant annuals, I put the seeds down and sprinkle more soil on top. Tamp down the soil with a hoe to make sure the seeds make good contact with the soil. Keep the area moist (not wet) until the seeds germinate and have a couple of leaves.  Then water deeply every 3-4 days. As the plants mature and the roots go deeper, water deeply weekly. Soon you’ll have plenty of flowers to cut for your own use and to share with family and friends. Most annuals improve with cutting because it encourages more blooms.

Some of the flowers listed below are perennials (plants that come up year after year), and can be planted from seeds but many are planted as seedlings, which give them a head start in the garden. Some of the flowers listed below are from bulbs that will come up year after year.

Some Of My Favorite Cutting Flowers

P1010006 300x252 Flowers For Cutting   Vases of Flowers Everywhere

Cut flowers from the yard, annuals and perennials

  •  Zinnias
  • Cosmos
  • Centranthus (Jupiter’s Beard)
  • Companula (Canterbury Bells)
  • Bachelor Buttons (Corn Flower)
  • Scabiosa (Pin Cushion Flower)
  • Marigolds
  • Nicotiana (Flowering Tobacco)
  • Salvia
  • Rudbekia (Black-eyed Susan)
  • Agastache
  • Dahlias
  • Gaillardia
  • Gypsophilia (Babies’ Breath)
  • Coreopsis
  • Sunflower
  • Cleome
  • Asters
  • Japanese Anemones
  • Snapdragon
  • Bee Balm
  • Lilies
  • Larkspur
  • Liatris
  • Phlox
  • Tulips
  • Iris
  • Daffodils
  • Peonies
  • Delphiniums
  • Foxgloves
  • Lavender
  • Echinacea (Purple Cone Flower)
  • Roses (a shrub, but great for cut flowers)
  • Hydrangeas (a shrub, but great for cut flowers)


P1010014 300x298 Flowers For Cutting   Vases of Flowers Everywhere












For more information and pictures of these blooming plants check out these posts:


P1010053 256x300 Flowers For Cutting   Vases of Flowers Everywhere

Peonies, roses, Jupiter's Beard and irises (with black Iris)















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Our Fresh Air Factory – Bringing Plants In For The Winter

IMG 0956 300x224 Our Fresh Air Factory   Bringing Plants In For The Winter

Plants brought in for the winter

Cold weather is officially here and the leaves are still coming down. The time has come to cut back the perennials, pull up the annuals (after harvesting their seeds for next year of course), dig up the dahlia tubers and bring the tender plants inside, where they will be kept until next spring. As soon as it’s warm enough, they will go back outside. Since our warm season is so short here, it takes plants a while to get started and by the time they are up and growing really well, then it is almost time for the first frost.

I discovered that I can bring them all inside and next spring I will have beautiful, mature plants to put out and not have to wait for them to finally start growing.

An added bonus to this plan is the fact that these plants convert the carbon dioxide, that is produced in a house that is closed up all winter, into oxygen.


Since the houses are kept so tight for warmth, it is really good to know that we have a steady supply of oxygen being manufactured right here in our own home. Seriously though, they are nice to have inside with us, especially the scented ones, because they give a feeling of

IMG 0963 300x224 Our Fresh Air Factory   Bringing Plants In For The Winter

House plants for the winter

warmth and bring a little of the outside in for us. I think they make having to stay inside all winter more bearable and fun.

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IMG 0961 300x233 Our Fresh Air Factory   Bringing Plants In For The Winter

Plants on the enclosed back porch for the winter









IMG 0962 300x224 Our Fresh Air Factory   Bringing Plants In For The Winter

Plants inside for the winter






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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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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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Grasshoppers In the Garden – An Update

Earlier, I had posted about our abundant crop of grasshoppers this year. I’ve been trying to find out how to prevent next years crop of them and I was reading a book by C.Z. Guest Garden Talk. She mentions a way to prevent damage by the grasshoppers, not necessarily getting rid of them, but lessening the damage they do.

Be for-warned that her remedy is disgusting, but I’m willing to try it, to see if it works. For all the plants in our yard though, I’d probably have to wipe out most of the population to use this remedy. Oh well.

Grasshopper Puree sprayed on plants, will protect them from the grasshoppers.

Now for the nauseating recipe: In a blender (one that you never intend to use for your food again) add

12 grasshoppers, medium to large, dead or alive (though fresh is best) and enough water to cover them.

Puree and then thin with water. You can sprinkle this mixture on the plants with a watering can or strain through a sieve and spray it on.

Reapply after rain. You can uses the same remedy on other bugs eating you plants. It seems that bugs don’t like to eat other bugs.

Isn’t it amazing the lengths gardeners will go to to protect their plants?

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by Eliza Osborn

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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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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

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