Garden Art, Accessories: Great Trellis Designs

April 16th, 2014

images: trellis structures – click to enlarge I’ve never understood why trellis manufacturers just keep doing the same old thing, year after year after year. After all, a trellis doesn’t have to be just for vining plants. An attractive trellis structure can be just that … part of the decor…


Coral Nymph Salvia

April 14th, 2014

You Grow Girl – Gardening for the People.

I like salvias. I like any and all salvias; from the delicious, culinary sages to the nectar-rich, super smellerific and sticky sweet types that aren’t hardy in my region. I even like the ones that aren’t edible or aromatic. I’m not sure what it is about this genus. Is it their drought tolerance? Their snapdragon-like …

Read Coral Nymph Salvia on You Grow Girl.

You Grow Girl

My 2014 Herb Experiments (+Giveaway)

April 11th, 2014

You Grow Girl – Gardening for the People.

My gluttonous seed-hoarding habits seem to be behind me now, or have at least calmed for a spell. This year I have abstained from impulse buys from swollen turnstile racks and I only placed one mail order this season. Of course, I say this having bought 40 packets of seed in Tucson, Arizona last June. …

Read My 2014 Herb Experiments (+Giveaway) on You Grow Girl.

You Grow Girl

From our Landscape Architect Friends… by Susan Harris

April 8th, 2014

lamFirst, congrats to the team at Landscape Architecture Magazine on the magazine’s nomination for an impressive national award.  From their website:

We are very honored to be finalists in 2014 American Magazine Awards for General Excellence in the Special Interest category, especially considering the excellent other magazines in the group: Modern Farmer, Los Angeles Magazine, Inc., and the Hollywood Reporter.

In celebration of National Landscape Architecture Month, April’s issue of hte magazine is free for online viewing!  So, lucky us.  Here it is: http://bit.ly/1s3GgJH.

And from the Landscape Architects Network on Facebook, more evidence that these folks must be seriously misunderstood.  (Love the “lanscape”!)

From our Landscape Architect Friends… originally appeared on Garden Rant on April 3, 2014.

Garden Rant

Can a Video Attract Garden Visitors? by Susan Harris

April 5th, 2014

I’ve long had the notion that somehow short, viral-going videos showing the fabulousness of a garden that’s open to the public might increase visitorship – and thereby support for the garden.  And here in the D.C. area the poster child for a fabulous garden that could use some support is the National  Arboretum, which was hit hard by the last sequester (when WAS that?  And what the hell IS a sequester, anyway?).  Since then it’s been open just 4 days a week, and Arboretum-lovers would dearly love to get that situation corrected and back to normal – open seven days as week and FREE, just like most gardens in this city (museums, too!)

So I made a little video slide show of images from the Arboretum I’ve taken in April of various years, set to three different types of music – first techno, then Bach (the overly used Four Seasons), and finally some banjo strumming.  Keep watching to see all three.


I’m a beginner, so be nice.  But what do you think?  I’ve heard so far a few reactions like: “Yes, this would make me visit the Arboretum the next time I’m in D.C.” and that’s exactly the goal.  So I’ve avoided close-ups, which appeal mainly to plant geeks, and I’ve included some shots showing visitors, which according to an expert in garden tourism, is what works.  More photos with people coming.

Musically, these examples are up-tempo.  And boy, is it hard to find music that’s free AND legal, and also the exact right length.  So you might have noticed that the music ends abruptly?  I’ve downloaded an audio-editing program so I can learn to fade out at the end.  The video editing programs used here are Youtube’s own in one example, and PhotoStage in the other two, if memory serves.

I’m also trying different effects, which is fun, and figuring out the right export and upload formats, which isn’t.  So if anybody has some experience with videos, I’d love your advice offline.

Can a Video Attract Garden Visitors? originally appeared on Garden Rant on April 4, 2014.

Garden Rant

Spring Fever by Evelyn Hadden

April 3rd, 2014

As the garden wakes up, I find I spend more time in that stock-still, mesmerized state that, let’s face it, is the point of all this garden work. Though planting, caring for the plants, and editing them all have their satisfactions, being absorbed in the garden is my favorite gardening activity.


The newly uncovered lily pond.

This new garden of mine has a lily pond which I did not create, and that pond is home to a big frog and an assortment of small fish. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve gradually removed its winter blanket, and the lily leaves have begun to emerge. The larger variety’s orange-tinted leaves start as pointy, rolled up leaflets that look a lot like the fish. The other lily variety raises tiny leaves above the water like the hands of inquisitive merfolk.

I sit by the pond in my new courtyard, and if I’m fairly quiet and slow as I walk over and take my seat, slip off my shoes and put my feet up on the opposite lawn chair, the frog will remain in place, eyes slitted, only his bumpy green-black head showing above the surface. If I walk too quickly or otherwise startle him, under he goes with a plop.

Between the frog, the fishes, the plants, the sun, and the near-constant breeze, I am wholly absorbed, body and mind. Ideas flow through my thoughts, echoing the clouds moving across the sky. Solutions arrive. Tension dissipates. This is true peace, and I have made it possible simply by fencing this part of the garden and setting up a couple of lawn chairs.

Of course, I have the previous owner to thank for creating the pond. But even if there were no pond (which would be so sad) and no fence, even with just the pine tree growing in a lawn next to the road, that bit of nature would still have the power to absorb me for moments at a time, in between occasional distractions of passing cars and pedestrians. One reason I prefer a private garden is that it grants more opportunities for being mesmerized.

So does Spring.


The lily pond and its resident frog last September.

I remember when I first realized that “Spring Fever” is a real phenomenon, not just a colorful turn of phrase. It happened a few years after I had moved to Minnesota. One Spring, I noticed how I was feeling—the rush of giddiness, the inner blossoming—and finally put a name to it.

Here in the high desert where I grew up, the seasons transition more gently, and I don’t remember having the same intense physical response to Spring’s arrival. But that year in particular, it zapped me, and for the few days (or maybe weeks) of its birth, I walked through the streets of Saint Paul in a joyful daze, soaking up the light and warmth and reveling in the sheer fact of Spring’s existence.

This was before I became a gardener, and I remember the messiness of those walks (now I am messy so often that such experiences don’t make as much impact). The sidewalks were coated with several inches of slush from the partly melted snow, which tended to refreeze overnight, so it was crunchy early in the day and then became runny toward afternoon. My feet were sopping by the time I returned from even a brief jaunt, because there was nowhere to walk that wasn’t wet. Footprints in the slush went deep and immediately began filling with water. Careful stepping could not prevent the backsplash of both water and slush.


My Saint Paul driveway in mid-March, 2001.

Despite the mess, or perhaps because the melted snow proved there was after all a sun, people I met smiled broadly, traded cheerful remarks, and I recall that some giggled with glee. Just as the harsh winter had brought us together, strangers ready at a moment’s notice to shovel a car out of a plowed-in parking spot or push it back onto an isolated highway in the dead of night, so too we came together in our relief and celebration of the sun’s return.

During this first April in my new digs, I treasure the memory of that Minnesotan sense of togetherness, even as I sit in my lawn chair, basking half-guilty in Boise’s earlier, gentler Spring.

Spring Fever originally appeared on Garden Rant on April 2, 2014.

Garden Rant

PHS Gold Medal Plants 2014

March 31st, 2014

photos: PHS – click to enlarge Some of my favorite plants are on this year’s list of Gold Medal Plants announced by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. The American fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) should be used far more often than it is. It’s a US native that’s covered with airy, fringe-like…



March 28th, 2014

Image credit Sudipto Dashttp://www.peacegallerychallenge.org/


Marigolds flowers are like a little drops of sunshine, and so its no wonder they are such a perennially popular bedding plant. Native to North and South America the popular bedding marigolds, namely cultivars of African and French marigold, are both from the genus Tagetes which makes them a member of the sunflower family.

The common name marigold is a corruption of Mary’s Gold, Mary being the Virgin Mary, however this is name was more originally applied to the European native Calendula officinalis – the English Marigold.

However the confusion with the common names doesn’t stop there. Unsurprisingly, African marigolds – Tagetes erecta are not from Africa and are actually from Mexico, and while French marigolds are varieties that were developed in France  these hybrids and cultivars were developed from Tagetes patula, another native to to the Americas.

Luckily, growing marigolds from seed couldn’t be easier and you can even grow your own seed collected from last seasons plants. Sow marigolds any time from February until April, but this will need to be under protection as late frosts will easily destroy emerging seedlings.

First fill a modular seed tray using a good quality compost such as John Innes ‘Seed and Cutting’, then sow one seed on the surface of each module. Give them a thin covering of compost (approximately 1/8 inch deep) and then gently water in. There is no need to place the tray in a propagator as marigold seeds germinate quickly. Place the tray on a warm, bright windowsill but out of direct sunlight. If you are germinating in a green house then they will need temperatures of between 21-24 degrees Celsius. You can expect the seedlings to emerge in 5-10 days.

Image credit - http://forksknivesandspades.blogspot.co.uk/

When the seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant each one into a 3 inch pot. They can then be grown on in a cooler, but frost free conditions. Once the threat of late frosts have passed they can be planted into their final position.

Marigolds will grow well in any well-cultivated soil and will even tolerate poor, rather dry soils. They prefer an open sunny site and while dead heading isn’t essential it will help to improve growth and flower size.

Did you know?

Marigolds are used as a ‘Flower of the Dead’ in Mexico, and even though the it is used in a lot of floral bouquets and arrangements it actually represents grief, cruelty, and jealousy.

The flower petals are edible and can be used in lettuce salads and other foods to add colour and flavour.

For related articles click onto the following links:
The Garden of Eaden

Seen at the garden show by Elizabeth Licata

March 25th, 2014

Tis the season. Indeed, many of you have already attended or ignored your local home & garden/garden-only exhibitions, which are timed to capture the attention of property owners as winter fades. Our show happened this past weekend. I used to look forward to this when I was first starting out as a gardener. Now I mainly go to find things to mock. That’s sad, isn’t it? Nonetheless, it was fun to see the plants and smell the mulch. I also bought some lily bulbs.  Here’s what I noticed, good and bad:

veggiesWIN: Food garden promotion. However this is done, it is important that there be some mention of food growing in the commercial garden show context. I was encouraged to a large display from a local horticultural program focusing attention on vegetables and herbs rather than patio paving and outdoor TVs.

bugsFAIL: Really? An extermination company using a picture of a BEE? Seriously? I have no words.

beerWIN: Too bad the bottles are all empty. So you know, the theme of this year’s show was “partying in the garden.” I don’t think you need grills the size of Buicks, expensive furniture, or firepits for a great garden party. A bucket of beer gets the job done just fine.

borerFAIL: Enough with the scare tactics. This year, it’s the borer; next year, there’ll be another bug. Education on biodiversity in all planting is what’s really needed.

kidsWIN: Stuff for kids. I didn’t see too much garden content in this children’s garden, but it looked fun, and—again—it’s all about the context. Kids need to associate gardening with fun.

fountainFAIL: Maybe it’s just me, but I think water features should be about the sight and sound of water flowing, not  monoliths that look like they escaped from Disney Stonehenge.

How about your garden show? Anything that rose above the flagstones?

Seen at the garden show originally appeared on Garden Rant on March 24, 2014.

Garden Rant

Garden Accessories: DALA Planters

March 22nd, 2014

images: Dedon. Click to enlarge Love the DALA planter collection from Dedon. There’s a hand-woven mesh structure on the outside of the planter, and it comes in two colors: stone or grass green. This particular planter is 30 x 30 inches, so it’s big enough for even a small tree….


Gardening Tips

A garden is a luxury for many people. There are many houses or properties that don't have an attached garden so those that have one should feel quite privileged that they do. That being said, there are properties and people who are lucky enough to have an attached garden however they don't actively want it.

When you have a garden space that you don't want, it will usually fall into a state of non-caring and into an overgrown mass of old plants, weeds and general mess. It's a shame when a garden goes into an overgrown area as gardening and keeping on top of your garden space isn't as difficult as one may think. It’s pretty simple to create a basic garden space that's both tidy and functional. Following these tips, you should have no problem with a great looking garden;

  1. Get out there. There's no point sitting inside thinking about what you can do to make your garden look more appealing. You have to get out there in amongst it all to get a feel for how the garden is working.
  2. Can you see the ground? If your garden is so overgrown that you can't even see what's under your feet, make cleaning the area your first priority. Dig up all of the weeds, cut down any foliage that's overhanging or overgrown and generally give everything a good pruning.
  3. Clean the rubbish out. Hire a skip if you need to, but make sure you clear all of the rubbish out of your garden so you can see what you’re working with.
  4. Dig up or put down. Turn over the soil and put down some new turf if you want a lawn, or dig up the previous turf and maybe create a patio area. These ideas all depend on the size and shape of your garden and of course what you want to do with the area itself.
  5. Add some low cost garden ornaments or accessories to create a complete new look. Garden benches, tables, chairs or even beautiful wall planters from a company like Lucas Garden (call 01902 423 500 or Luca Designs Ltd, M3 Moorfield House, Moorfield Road, Wolverhampton, WV2 4QT)
  6. Enjoy your newly created garden space!

I hope the above has given you some food for thought. Keeping a garden looking good isn't a hard task but finding the time and even the motivation to do it could be more of a chore. Make a start now if your garden is in need.