Posts Tagged ‘horticulture’
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?
My husband and I both love bamboo, it is so tropical looking and beautiful. Last year we started talking about bamboo and the idea of trying to grow it in our climate. I didn’t think that we could because of our harsh winters. With some research though, I was happy to see that there are some kinds of bamboo that will grow here.
I don’t claim to be an expert on bamboo, but I have done some research on it and I’m just sharing with you some of the things that I’ve found out about it. Besides being beautiful, bamboo is really amazing. It is fast growing, yet easy to control if you understand how it grows (more on that later), is an unusual plant that can provide a privacy screen or a focal point in your landscape.
Since bamboo is a grass, it needs high nitrogen fertilizers, just like you lawn. It needs sunshine and a constant supply of moisture. It shouldn’t be allowed to dry out but it can’t grow in standing water either. The soil should be well drained and rich in organic matter. Mulching helps to keep the moisture in and the weeds down so there will be not competition for the roots.
Not all bamboo is alike, it comes in a variety of colors and growth patterns. It can grow 6′ tall, 15′ or 25′. Some can get 70′ feet tall in the right environment, but in the home garden, most will probably be less tall than their maximum height.
There are basically two kinds of bamboo, clumping and running. The beautiful, exotic bamboo shown here, are all running types of bamboo. The clumping bamboo won’t get big and gorgeous like these, it has a shrubby, weedy look to me.
Bamboo has a bad reputation for being very invasive and aggressive. It takes a few years to get established but when it does, it can be very fast growing (up, as well as out). As I understand it, the plant only sends up shoots for a couple of months in the spring. After that time, no more shoots will come up till the next spring. When the shoots come up outside the area you want the bamboo to grow, just let them get a few inches to a foot tall and then just kick them over. They are very tender during this time and easily removed. What’s more, another shoot won’t come up in that spot. Also, all bamboo are edible and so the shoots that are kicked over can be eaten (especially good in oriental cooking).
You can also keep the area mowed (or use a weed eater) to keep the shoots from growing.
A barrier can be put down around the area as well. Since bamboo roots are pretty shallow, only going to about 12″-15″, a 2′ barrier would prevent the spread of the roots and shoots. Remember, this is a plant, not a monster that can’t be controlled.
We found a great place to get our bamboo, with very reasonable prices and a wide choices of plants. We actually went there ourselves and toured the extensive bamboo gardens. I fell in love with bamboo and I can’t wait to have ours growing tall and magnificent in our garden.
The bamboo nursery we found is called Steve Ray’s Bamboo Garden and is in Alabama.
It is found online at: http://www.thebamboogardens.com/
The types of bamboo we picked out for our garden are all hardy in our zone. Click on the “Zone Map” button above to see the temperatures for your zone. We chose Phyllostachys aureosulcata – Yellow Groove Bamboo with is hardy to -10′; P. humilis – which is hardy to 0′ and p. nigra “Henon” – Giant Gray Bamboo, hardy to 0′. This one the stalks can get 4″ thick. Can’t wait to see that.
Just thought you might like to consider something new for your garden and landscape.
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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.
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.
Limelight Hydrangeas and Japanese Anemone – How To Grow Perennials, When to Plant & How To Use In Landscape Gardens
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
almost everything else is finished up. I hope they invade my whole garden. Maybe I’d better be careful what I wish for.
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.
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.
After seeing the gorgeous bamboo growing at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, I’m getting so excited for spring to get here to see if the bamboo we planted in our garden is going to survive our winters (we live in zone 6) and come up like it’s supposed to.
We planted 4 large clumps (3 different kind) and they are the hardiest of the non-clumping bamboo, so we have our fingers crossed that one day the bamboo growing in our yard will look as magnificent as what we’re seeing here in Las Vegas.They look like they could be the same species as the ones we’ve planted. (See post http://wp.me/p1OXDF-pC)
I talked before about the 4 large clumps we brought back (in our SUV) all the way from Alabama. The nursery we bought from is found online at: http://www.thebamboogardens.com/ I don’t think we’ll give up though, if it happens to not come up. We did get it planted a little late in the season and we would try again, maybe planting it earlier to give the roots more time to become established before the winter cold set in.
You see, we love bamboo, and we’re determined to have some in our garden. I’m sure these photos explain the allure.
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With freeze warning out for tonight, I’ve been busy gathering the last of the snap beans, beets, green and ripe tomatoes, grapes and Basil and Tarragon. I’ll make pesto with the Basil and concentrated Tarragon tea to freeze. (See the post on Tarragon)
By the way, I failed to get a picture of the basil in my garden, so I’ve used the photo of potted basil. If you have potted basil, just bring it in to enjoy fresh all winter.
Last year when I had so much basil to use, I heard about making pesto and freezing it. Since I love pesto, this seemed like such a good idea. So I froze it in ice cube trays and when frozen, I put the cubes in a zip lock bag. Then all during the year I could just get out a cube or two and thaw it to use with pasta, or in salad dressing or in soups and best of all, spread on toasted baguette slices. So if you have a lot of Basil to use up, think about the pesto idea. You can follow this simple recipe to make such an easy pesto.
Fresh Basil Pesto
3 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
3/4 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts or almonds
3-4 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place nuts in food processor and pulse a few times. in a food processor. Add Basil and pulse a few more times. Add the garlic, pulse a few more times.
Slowly add the olive oil while the food processor is on, stopping to scrape down the sides. Add the cheese and pulse a few times till blended. Add salt and pepper.
Makes 1 1/2-2 cups
Use fresh or freeze to use later.
When we begin landscaping our yard with gardens instead of lawns, I didn’t think to take before pictures. It wasn’t until we had rolled up the sod and removed 3 of our 8 large trees that I even thought about it. So our before pictures aren’t really from the beginning, because in the beginning there were beautiful lawns, mature Viburnum and Forsythia shrubs and huge trees with spreading canopies in our yard.
So in the spirit of learning from my mistakes, remember to take photos of your projects in the planning stage, the before stage and all through the work stages. It is so interesting to look back and remember the way it was.
These are some photos of our yard as we planned our deck and designed the gardens around it. By marking where the deck would go, we could go ahead and plant the rose bushes, perennials and herbs around it.
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is a plant that was growing in our back yard, around a little water feature that had seen better days. Besides, it was located in the center f where our deck was going to be built and so I had to move it. When we designed our garden, we didn’t know what to do with it so I moved it to the area around the garden spigot, since I assumed it liked the moisture. It has gotten a lot bigger since I moved it and this year it bloomed, but the blooms were insignificant and not too attractive. The foliage is the pretty part of this plant. It has grown to about 18″-24″ tall and the texture of the leaves are sort of like a succulent.
I’ve asked quite a few people if they recognized it and so far no one has. I don’t think anyone has seen one quite like it.I’ve looked online and poured through my gardening books, but so far it remains a mystery plant in our garden.
If you have any information about this plant, will you please let us know about it?
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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.
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.
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.
I’ll tell you what I’ve learned about strawberry plants since I’ve moved to zone 6. They can be about as fast growing and invasive as Kudzu, you know, the vine that ate the south. When we bought this place there was a sickly little strawberry patch about 2′x2′ and the plants were pitiful, since they were in heavy shade all day.
I designed a little berry patch with strawberries growing low and blackberries on a little trellis (which they quickly outgrew). It is about 10′x8′ and gets sun most of the day. It had a wooden border from 4′x4′ posts left over from building the grape arbor and the deck.
Well…in no time at all they had jumped that border and were headed cross country. I cut them way back, but that only slowed them down for a couple of weeks. Now I know that I have to be vigilant about chopping runners off before they can make it to the border. They do have really good berries, but not as many of them as I would think they would with such prolific plants. I wish I knew what kind they were. Any suggestions would be welcomed.
I learned recently that after strawberries quit bearing, the leaves and runners should all be cut off, being careful not to injure the new growth. Maybe that is part of my problem, I haven’t been pruning them back like that and they just got too rambunctious. They’ve been pruned back now and we’ll see if they’ve been tamed a little.
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.
I can’t believe that we got snow this week, the mountains behind our house are beautiful and white already. We had snow on our deck and I almost slipped down in the slushy, slippery stuff. Won’t be in the garden any time soon it looks like.
My daughter, her husband and five children, are coming here for a visit. They were driving across Wyoming last night and there was so much snow on the road they had to get off and stay in a motel for the night. So close, yet so far away. They’re already on the road this morning but the snow is still coming down.
Let’s see, we had snow Memorial weekend, and then on Oct. 6. Wow, 4 months between snows. It’s a wonder we can grow anything here!
I’ll add a photo of the mountains if the clouds lift enough. Hope it’s bright and sunny where you are.
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.
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.
Even though most of our tomatoes are still green, we have friends with more tomatoes than they could handle and so they shared with us. So…guess what we did today. We’ll have some tomatoes to enjoy this long, cold winter.
We have had such warm, sunny weather for so long and today it has changed dramatically. The rain has come in and the cold weather is upon us and it has turned quite chilly. It really serves as a reminder that we will have to do something with our green tomatoes. I will be frying some, but that is way to many fried green tomatoes. The seasons are so different here, I’m not use to waiting all summer for fresh tomatoes. By the time they finally start ripening, the cold weather is already threatening. Maybe a greenhouse would help out, get them started a lot earlier at least.
If you have the same problem of cold weather getting your tomatoes before they ripen, check out an earlier blog (Sparing Tomatoes) dealing with that little problem.
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: http://ezinearticles.com/?5-Mistakes-Homeowners-Usually-Make-When-Planting-Bare-Root-Roses-and-Fruit-Trees&id=6546666) 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.