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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 planning’

My Dad’s Irises Are In Bloom

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Irise

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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Iris

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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Iris

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Iris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Iris

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Iris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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

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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: http://wp.me/p1OXDF-1xE

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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.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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: http://wp.me/p1OXDF-4L

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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.

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: http://wp.me/p1OXDF-Z9

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.

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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

Our Garden Gate
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