Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cat Humor

This  is my beautiful cat  Whiskers. Can you believe someone dumped him off at our house. Whiskers used to love the outdoors. When I would be working in the garden, he was right  there with me and  he would love to sit  in this  wood stump, like it was his throne.

But that ended, after a trip to the vet.  Whiskers in now  a indoor kitty, it took some adjusting for him, but now he enjoys watching Squirrels from the window, laying in the sun, and he also has found a new throne, life is good !

Someone  forgot to tell Whiskers it is not cool to sit on  the potty and have your pic. taken  : )

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ready for Spring

It has been a  long cold winter here in the Midwest and I am so ready  for Spring. I have been looking through my seed catalogs,  while drinking hot chocolate thinking about warmer weather. I thought  I would share  few pictures  that I took last year that remind me of warmer days.

Buckets of Daffodils

 This a such a cute idea  for spring, I thought I would share it with you, it is from P. Allen Smith      

Materials for Planting Buckets of Daffodils

  • 12 to 15 bulbs of different daffodil varieties (I used 'Sun Disc'. 'Pippit', 'Thalia' and 'Mount Hood')
  • 4 galvanized buckets
  • potting soil
  • hammer and large nail

How to Plant Buckets of Daffodils

Punching holes in the bottom of the buckets Planting the bulbs Grouping of daffodil buckets
  1. Start by adding drainage to the buckets. Using a hammer and nail, punch holes in the bottom of the bucket.
  2. Fill the buckets with soil, about three-quarters full.
  3. Place the bulbs, pointed end up, in the bucket and cover with soil.
  4. Daffodils need a period of chilling before they will bloom. Keep the buckets outdoors for approximately 15 weeks. If it gets seriously cold in your area they will benefit from some protection. Cover with leaves or mulch or place in an unheated storage area.
  5. Check the soil periodically and water if dry.
  6. When shoots begin to emerge move the buckets to a bright, cool location.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Container Plants

Most of my gardening  is Perennial plants, I but I do enjoy the the annuals for that pop of color. Annuals are also are  good if you live in a apt. or condo and have no yard. Below are some pictures of some of my annuals and some tips and ideas for sun or shade plants.
  Plants that good for a shady area..


Impatiens are a mainstay in medium shade to all but the heaviest shade, look fabulous in mass plantings, are so easy to propagate that it's almost ridiculous, and don't require much care other than appreciating halfway decent quality, well drained but moist soil and adequate watering. Impatiens also make excellent container plants, and cascade beautifully over the sides of a container for a lush look that requires minimal effort on the part of the gardener. They love Miracle grow.

Nicotiana, Flowering Tobacco
Nicotiana is easy to grow. Flowers begin to appear and bloom in the early summer. The plant will rebloom all season. Flowers open up in late afternoon, and are on fragrant display all evening.
Did you Know? It should come to no surprise that Nicotiana is also called Tobacco Flower, or Flowering Tobacco. And.....yes, Nicotiana has high concentrations of nicotine.
Nicotiana looks good in mass plantings as bedding plants, or in clumps. You will want them to grow in groups, to enjoy their fragrance. They are best placed towards the middle of the flower garden. Try some on or near your patio or deck. Make sure to locate some under a window of your house. When the plants are in bloom, their fragrance can waft in through an open window. They can be grown in pots and containers, too.
Plants flower and bloom best in partial shade .

Coral Bells
Coral Bells

Coral bells, are some of my favorite container garden plants for shade. They are gorgeous and almost indestructible and come in a huge array of colors. Thriving in the shade, most coral bells will also tolerate some sun and are drought tolerant.
Coral bells come in fabulous and unusual colors, ranging from an almost black-purple to a peach to a bright key lime. Coral bells will attract hummingbirds, and butterflies and some are hardy to a spectacular.

Plants that love the sun

Vinca or Periwinkle
Vinca or Periwinkle is a prolific heat and drought tolerant annual, perfect for hot, dry areas. It's easy to grow, and requires little or no attention.
The plants are grown for its attractive glossy, green foliage, as well as its flowers. Flowers bloom all summer, and up to frost.
Vinca or Periwinkle will grow in range of light conditions, from full sun to shade



Geraniums are one of the most reliable plants in the home garden.
Planting in late May is preferable for the most productive plants. Plant geraniums where they will receive sunlight for best flower production. Select a site where water drainage is good.
Geraniums will grow in almost any type of soil if well-aerated and porous. I like to add to the soil Perlite & Vermiculite
because of the physical shape of each particle, air passages are formed which provide optimum aeration and drainage.


Water geraniums at least once a week if you have had no rain.
Geraniums dislike having wet leaves and flowers so it is best to use a soaker hose but if that isn't possible, water early in the day to allow leaves and flowers to dry before nightfall.
Tip: To promote continuous blooming, pinch or cut off the blooms after they die.

 Million Bells

Million bells
This plant comes in about a million spectacular colors that range from pure white to different shades of pink to deep purple. Million Bells look great in almost any container garden. The prolific blossoms attract hummingbirds and butterflies and will go strong all summer with regular feeding, don't need deadheading but  do need consistent watering and good drainage - no soggy roots for these guys.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mixing Annuals with Perennials

Mixing Annuals with Perennials can add a pop  of color and interest to you’re  garden in  between blooming seasons.

Annual flowers can extend the bloom period of your perennial garden at both ends of the season: Early bloomers provide color when most perennials are still taking their long winter’s nap; when perennials have finished their show in early summer, warm-weather annuals take over. Like perfect party guests, annuals are delightful in any crowd. If you invite them to mingle with your shrubs, perennials and bulbs, they’ll add interest and long-lasting color to your garden.

When you  have a  large space to fill in your Perennial garden,   (A young perennial border can look bare for the first few years).
        I like to create  a visual interest , this can be done by adding height or a pop of color. Hanging  baskets  using shepherds hooks are good and so is using large flower pots, I like using these  because you don’t want to over water  Perennials, so this way the annuals can be watered with out watering the whole garden.

Bulbs are also a good way to add color, Tulips, Daffodils, etc. Just don’t plant them under a hanging basket, over watering  can cause the bulbs to rot.

Make a Mixed Garden
Whichever annual flowers you choose to plant, try bringing together four or five types to make a mixed garden. You can also plant annuals among perennial spring flowers to create a beautifully diverse garden.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How to plant Irises

September and October are the best months to plant bulbs and rhizomes, including Iris rhizomes. First, select a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. Irises are a full-sun plant, and they will really flourish in a sunny location. Make sure your spot is a well-drained area, because irises need a lot of water but will rot if the area isn’t well-drained. If you don’t have a raised bed, make sure you provide some rows to give the area good drainage. If you’re planting multiple irises, space them about a foot apart. Iris rhizome should be planted with the roots growing downwards and the leaf buds upwards. You should dig your hole about twice the size of your rhizome, and about 3 to 4 inches deep.

Iris bulbs will rot if there are any air pockets or voids in the soil. To get around this, form a mound of soil in the center of your hole. Not much, just a handful or so or soil. Then, place your bulb so that the roots drape down over the mound and the rhizome rests on the top of the mound. Press the rhizome down into the mound, and make sure it makes firm contact with the soil. Now, just fill in the rest of the hole and cover the rhizome with a layer of soil. All you have to do now is water the area thoroughly. This will compress the soil and remove any air pockets.

Dutch Iris

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Beginning gardeners can grow lupines successfully in the flower garden, as this hardy plant tolerates a wide variety of growing conditions.

Lupine plants produce flower spikes as tall as 5 feet in the spring and late summer, providing a striking vertical accent in the landscape. This member of the pea family requires minimal care, and even grows as a wildflower in some parts of the United States.

Plant in full sun with good air circulation, in loose, well-drained soil.  The plants can tolerate poor, sandy, or gravely soil, preferably acid.

Foliage is beautiful and will remain lush for a slightly longer time after blooming if kept moist but it will die back by midsummer Deadhead for smaller second bloom. Excellent self-seeding perennial, Lupines will spread over open ground quickly.

Perennial Herbs

Plant in the back is  Citronella

The true citronella plant is a perennial grass similar to Lemon Grass, to which it is closely related. It is not the little scented geranium you find in some stores labeled as a "mosquito plant." Those may smell like citronella but are about as close to citronella as the lime-scented geranium is to a lime tree. Citronella is a clumping grass that grows five to six feet tall. The coarse, grasslike leaves are gray-green and aromatic and are borne on cane-like stem
Growing citronella....
Citronella is generally purchased as a small plant. Make sure you are getting true citronella, Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus
Citronella is undemanding in its care. It should be grown in full sun and watered when it gets dry. It does not like to be too wet,
You could plant citronella in areas where you sit to repel insects, or scatter leaves from the plant around you. From  my own experience this plant on my deck helped quite a bit in the control mosquitoes.

Container Gardening
Don't think that you can't grow herbs just because you don't have a big plot of land suitable for a garden! Even city apartment dwellers can grow herbs in containers, whether in a sunny window or on a patio. You can plant a window box or a half whiskey barrel with your favorite cooking herbs, or keep a few small pots on a sunny windowsill.  Rosemary plants live outside during the summer, and over winter can live in the kitchen window in a pot.


Sage is a wonderfully versatile herb for your garden. It comes in many colorful varieties and growth habits. Try using it as a lovely filler around your other tall garden plants. Sage will grow for many years, returning after even the harshest of winters.

Thyme is one of the herbs that will grow in any garden. It has varieties in both upright and trailing habits. Use thyme as a filler between your stones in a walkway. It offers the lovely scent when stepped on and can handle moderate traffic. Thyme grows well in areas that are too dry and poor for many other plants.

Mint is invasive, but an important addition to any hard to cultivate garden. Try to plant your mint in a bucket that is buried, to allow it to remain somewhat contained.Mint is a refreshing, gentle tea herb and a lovely scented plant. Try growing one of the many varieties of mint.

Lavender is used for everything from cooking, to healing. Try growing this elegant herb alongside your best flowers. Be sure to plant lavender with growing room, you will be shocked at how large the plants will be year after year. . From shades of purple and blue, to white, lavender is truly a wonderful perennial herb.


Echinacea useful for healing, it is a beautiful accent for any garden. Echinacea grows in virtually any garden situation. From moist, fertile soil, to dry and arid conditions, Echinacea has a variety that will thrive.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


One of my favorite things to do is visit a local Arboretum. It is  nice to visit during the different growing seasons, there is always something new to see! For me  it is inspiring and educating to visit. We have Cox Arboretum in the Dayton area that I like to visit. It is so beautiful there, my mind goes into overload with ideas for my own gardening! I thought I would share a few pictures. One more note, these places are great to test  out a new camera or practice your  photography skills.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Zebra Hollyhock

Zebra Mallow is also known as Mallow- Hollyhock and Striped Mallow. The scientific name for this perennial is Malva sylvestris 'Zebrina'. This is a smaller cousin to the hollyhock and hibiscus family.

This is an old fashioned favorite with spikes of single 2-inch lavender flowers with purple stripes. They somewhat resemble hollyhocks, but are bushier and have smaller flowers and leaves. They will flower the first year and are good in perennial borders or for a quick tall edging. It is a little weedy for formal borders.

Height 2-4 ft Space 24" apart Bloom All summer Light Full sun to part shade Soil Average, well-drained Zone Zone 5 Feature Attracts butterflies, drought tolerant

If you are looking for a perennial that is beautiful and has low maintenance, then consider this plant.

Planting Hollyhock Seeds
Start your own seedlings indoors in late winter or early spring, depending on your climate. Fill your flat with potting soil or seedling mix. Plant one seed in each cell at about 1/8 inch deep. Set your flat in a sunny window or under grow lights (my preferred method), and keep them moist. Don't let them dry out. When the seedlings are about 3 inches tall, you can transplant them into 4 inch pots until they are ready to plant outdoors.
Note for colder climate gardeners: To ensure blooming plants the following summer, I scatter hollyhock seeds in my flower gardens in the fall. If I do this early enough that the seeds sprout and develop into seedlings, the plant over-winters and comes up again in the spring to produce flowers during the summer months.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

How long will a Perennial live ?

In nature, perennials have adapted to survive in specific habitats. For some, such as hollyhock and foxglove, this may mean a short life (two years), with survival through spreading seeds. For others, such as day lilie, iris, and peony, this may mean slow growth and long life (often 25 years or more).
It is important to place a perennial in a site to which it is accustomed to prolong its life, especially regarding light and soil type. If you place a plant in a climate or habitat for which it is not adapted, it may turn into an annual or short-lived perennial. Those that are adapted to harsh environmental conditions, such as drought or cold, will not fare well if planted in another climate.

The  culture  and care you  provide a perennial can also affect its life. Stresses such as too little water (especially as plants are getting established), the wrong soil type, or the lack of division if needed can shorten their life expectancy. Spreading perennials, such as bee balm or mint, that are kept in a confined space, such as a pot or a hole in weed fabric, or that are covered too deeply with mulch will have a shorter life. Those that require well-drained soil, like lavender or Russian sage, will have a shortened life in wet soils. If you plant a moisture-loving astilbe in a dry site, it will die prematurely. In addition, stresses from wildlife, such as chipmunks and voles digging around roots or deer and rabbits browsing shoots, can also  shorten the life of perennials, as can insects and diseases.
Paying attention to your plants’ cultural requirements and giving them the right growing conditions are the keys to extending the life of your perennials

Natural Pesticide and Fungicidal Recipes

1. Companion planting and intense gardening - you can plant certain plants close together to help fight diseases, control pests, or even improve the soil for its neighboring plants' health.
2. Garlic, onions - all alliums are great for killing soft body insects. Flying insects can be paralyzed by direct hits. Also a great fungicide. Best if crushed or liquified in a vegetable oil tea. Use several cloves of garlic per gallon of water.
3. Hot peppers - fresh or powder is great for repelling rabbits and other pests. Many soft body insects can be killed by its acidic "burning" effect. Best when mixed with garlic sprays applications.
4. Canola oil, vegetable oils - mineral oils work also, but they are made from petroleum products. Oil sprays suffocate soft body insects. Don't use too much on sensitive plants. May burn leaves. Don't use no more than 1 cup of oil per gallon of water.
5. Alcohol - rubbing alcohol is good but it is made from petroleum products. Drinking alcohols are made from plants. Using only a few tblsp per gallon of water will kill many soft body insects. Too much alcohol in water will produce a super herbicide.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar - Use 1-2 tbls per gallon of water for a mild fungicide or acidic liquid fertilizer. Like alcohol can be a natural herbicide if too much is used in tea. Most white vinegars are made from petroleum products. Apple cider vinegar can contain up to 30 trace elements.
7. Corn meal - Use as a topdressing or in a tea for fungal control.
8. Compost teas - This multi-purpose fluid can contain beneficial microbes and soluble nutrients that can be a mild fungicide and disease controller.
9. Ground cloves - great repellant and can kill flying insects. Use several tblsp per gallon of water.
10. Japanese beetles - these pests are best controlled by killing their larva during the winter and early spring seasons with mild topsoil tilling, or using milky spore or beneficial nematode soil applications. During the warm season, the best way to control them is with traps. Simple inexpensive traps can be made by placing several small open milk jugs, cans, or buckets all over your  garden. Inside the cans place some rotten fruit or fruit cocktail in 1/2 can of water with 1-2 tbls of liquid soap and 1-2 tblsp of canola oil. You can also add dry molasses or liquid molasses for extra microbial power in the soapy tea mixture to attract and kill them. Also planting a border planting of buckwheat will attract these pests away from your crops.
11. Diatomeous earth - this natural powdery substance will poke insect bodies and dehydrate many soft body soil organisms, but not earthworms. It can kill bees if direct contact of a spray mixture. This can be used on the soil or sprayed on the plant with soapy water. Unlike most natural pesticides, D.E. can stay in the soil working for decades.
12. Neem oil - like vegetable oil sprays, it suffocates insects. However, Neem goes the extra step of destroying soft body insects' ability to reproduce and makes them starve by removing their appetites.
13. Liquid soaps - Only use natural soaps or Murphy oil soap or mild liquid dishwashing soaps like Ivory. Soap help make teas stick better to plants and pests, and they also paralyze many insects in direct contact. Use no more than 1-2 cups of soap per gallon of water. Do not use much on flowering fruit or vegetable plants. Can hinder fruit production.
14. Citrus acid and molasses - repels and kills fire ants and similar pests. Mix 1-2 cups per gallon of soapy water. Hot boiling water mixed with garlic products, poured over the fire ant mounds will also kill the queens. You can produce citrus acid from crushing whole oranges or lemons into a tea.
15. Tobacco products - this is definitely a classic natural pesticide, but most organic gardeners today stay away from it. It may kill beneficials too if abused. It can cause diseases on tomatoes if not properly used. Most modern pro-tobacco pesticidal tea experts suggest to brew a tobacco tea no more than 30 minutes, to be safe enough to not harm beneficials like bees and ladybugs. You can mix in a liquid soap as a spreader-sticker. . Homemade tobacco teas have great knock down power for tough pests like Japanese beetles. Chewing tobaccos are the most safest, natural forms for these homemade tobacco teas.
16. Bleaches and Peroxide - great fungicides. However, most commerical bleaches are not natural. Use 1-2 tblsp per gallon of water.
17. Dolomitic Limestome, Hydrated Lime, Bone Meal, Egg Shells - sprinkle a little lime or crushed egg shells around soil areas where snails and slugs live. Most high calcium carbonate products will work. Also a light dusting of lime on plants acts as a fungal control. Egg shells also have the extra benefit of discouraging snails and slugs because of its rough edges.
You can mix together several of the above materials in a special compost tea brew and it will become even more powerful against pests. Be careful not to abuse these brews, because they may harm beneficials if not used properly.

Friday, February 11, 2011

My Irises

My  garden is small, but is packed full! I just love Iris time!  Every morning I head out the door with my camera and a cup of coffee. Each morning  I am greeted with a new bloom and wonderful fragrances that create such memories.  I love to take pictures of my  flowers, so I am  sharing  a few  of my favorites from  my little Iris Row!

Day Lilies

Daylilies are rugged, adaptable, vigorous perennials that endure in a garden for many years with little or no care. Daylilies adapt to a wide range of soil and light conditions. 

Daylilies grow best in full sun. They will tolerate light shade, but flower best with a minimum of six hours of direct sun.
Planting Daylilies
It’s hard to go wrong when planting daylilies, but here’s how to get the best results:
You can plant them any time the soil is workable, although spring and fall are less stressful to the plants.
Daylilies planted during the growing season might not bloom until next summer.
Add some compost to the planting hole, and space plants 1-2 feet apart.
Position the crown of the plant no more than an inch below the soil level.
Water well, add some mulch, and watch them grow!

Deadhead your daylilies by cutting off the entire flower stalk (called a “scape”) to encourage more blooms and to prevent seeds from forming.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bearded Iris "Edith Wolford"

Edith Wolford  is such a elegant Iris! This Iris has butter-yellow standards  blue-violet falls  which are delicatly ruffled  and a yellow beard, and a mildly sweet fragrance. Like other bearded irises, it blooms for several weeks; each flower stalk produces 3-6 buds, and each flower lasts about 3 days. It has thick rhizomes that grow near the soil's surface, producing broad fans of sword like leaves.

Beds and Borders

When making planting plan, the basic principles are essentially the same, whether planning a herbaceous border, island bed or mixed border.

Considerations of height , mass, shape, and sequential interest, in combination with texture and color are all variable factors that may be expected to  achieve particular design effects. It is also vital to research an individual plant’s natural references in cultivation, and to choose plants that are suitable for the soil type, exposure and climate that exist in the garden.  Imagination  and personal taste will inevitably influence your designs but there are a few basic guidelines to follow

General Principles

It is important at the outset to decide on the preferred style of planting, since this provides a clear suggestion as to the size, shape and form of the beds to be planted. The choice of style will be dictated in part by  personal taste and imagination.  It may also be guided by observation of the architectural style of the house and any existing hard landscaping in the garden, such as walls, steps and paving. A formally elegant and well-ordered style usually succeeds best when planted into a straight -edged and symmetrical border. A more relaxed and informal planting, with irregular drifts of plants, is more likely to succeed in borders with irregular, curved outlines.

Lady’s Mantle

Lady’s Mantle is an old-fashioned flower still popular today for it’s fuzzy, cupped leaves that hold water droplets after a rain and the frothy sprays of dainty yellow flowers that bloom in late spring and early summer. Lady’s Mantle is also used in making lotions and soaps. Lady’s Mantle is a long-lived perennial flower that is fairly low maintenance.

Lady’s Mantle forms a nice sized clump, although it will also self-seed in many gardens.

The leaves of Lady’s Mantle are like shallow, pleated cups. The soft hairs make water form droplets that roll around on the leaves. These hairs make the leaves feel velvety, not scratchy or unpleasant to touch.

Lady’s Mantle flowers are airy masses of tiny yellow-green flowers that sit above the foliage until they flop around from their own volume and weight. They are somewhat like a chartreuse baby’s breath and make nice cut and dried flowers.

The only maintenance Lady’s Mantle really needs is the occasionally cleaning up. Deadhead the flowers as they start to dry and remove older leaves as they brown.
Leave Lady’s Mantle standing in the fall. It is semi-evergreen and will over winter better if left in tact and cleaned up in the spring.