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Archives for July 28, 2013

Gardening Tips: Instant Hedges – Fast-growing annuals are the solution

Need to mark a boundary or create a bit of privacy? Try fast-growing annuals for a quick fence. Or plant an annual hedge in front of a row of young shrubs to hold the line until the shrubs fill in. I also use annual hedges to direct traffic in new patterns around my garden when I’m changing the layout. If I’ve miscalculated, it’s a lot easier to make changes with annuals than it is to transplant shrubs.

Castor bean plant (Ricinis communis) and Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) are annuals of statuesque proportions. Their sturdy, branched forms are strong enough to stand tall without support, so they’re ideal for tall hedges between houses or along a roadside. Castor bean, which can reach 8 feet or more, has huge, exotic leaves, usually flushed with red. It can be invasive in some areas, such as southern California, where it has spread to the wild, but in cold-winter areas, that’s not a problem. A single plant of Mexican sunflower grows 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide and is covered with orange-red flowers that hummingbirds and butterflies adore.

Instant Hedges

For a smaller hedge, try the unusual annual called burning bush (Bassia scoparia, formerly Kochia scoparia), which looks like a fine-textured green cypress. You’ll hardly notice the tiny flowers of this 2- to 3-foot-tall annual, but its dense foliage makes it stand out in the landscape as a small shrub. Pretty when green, burning bush is even better in late summer and fall, when it flames purple-red.

You can also create instant privacy with a quick trellis of plastic netting stapled to 2×2 uprights. Along the bottom of the netting, plant seeds of annual climbers for quick coverage. Beans are the sprinters of the annual vines: try purple-stemmed, lilac-flowered hyacinth bean (Lablab purpureus, or Dolichos lablab), or orange-red scarlet runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus), which hummingbirds love. Or pair ethereal ‘Heavenly Blue’ morning glories (Ipomoea tricolor ‘Heavenly Blue’) with night-blooming, saucer-sized white moonflowers (Ipomoea alba) for a privacy fence that’s a beauty at any hour.

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Gardening Tips: Beneficial bugs in an organic garden

One of the best organic methods of pest control is to encourage beneficial bugs in your garden. Lady beetles, Tachinid flies, lacewings, soldier bugs and other beneficial insects will help keep bad bugs like aphids, slugs and armyworms under control. You may not see your obliging friends unless you spend some time gazing into the flowers or digging in the dirt.

Lady beetles and their larvae feast on aphids, mealy bugs, soft scales and spider mites. The larvae of lady beetles are very distinct spiny creatures.
Tachinid flies or hover flies look like tiny bees or wasps. Although the adult is not predatory, feeding on pollen and nectar from flowers, its larvae are parasites to plant-chewing caterpillars.

Gardening Tips: Beneficial bugs in an organic garden

Although many children will scream and run from ground beetles, these allies that live under mulches and plantings are voracious villains for slugs, cutworms and other soft-bodied pests.

Spined soldier beetles are another predator of soft-bodied caterpillars and grubs. And lacewing larvae have an insatiable appetite for aphids, leafhopper eggs, thrips and more.

How do we encourage the good bugs to spend time in our gardens? With an easy and lovely addition: throw in some flowers among your vegetable plants.

Let me give you a little history about our farm. When we started our CSA business, I had dreams of adding flower subscriptions, along with the vegetable subscriptions. To easily harvest weekly bouquets of flowers, I planted most of the annual flowers in front of our pole shed, away from the main vegetable garden. I had visions of annual and perennial flowers flowing down the hill.

As we improved our vegetable production, I had less time to cut flowers even though I still planted dozens of zinnias, asters and celosias. Then came the year that we ran out of space in the main garden.

There was a little room on the flower hill so the beans moved in front of the pole shed. As we were planting, we noticed that this was the richest, crumbliest soil that we had. What a nice spot for carrots.

Needless to say, my vision of a hill of flowers has changed. Now we put them in among the vegetable gardens. A row is saved here and there, some for perennials and some for annuals. That way while working in the garden, we enjoy the beauty of the flowers and the vegetables enjoy the benefit of the bugs. The business world would call this a “win-win” situation. Once again, nature is way ahead of us.

Some good plant food sources for your allies are daisies, sunflowers, marigolds and yarrow. Be sure to let some of your herbs flower. Sage, thyme, lavender, fennel, mint, and dill not only treat your good bugs they also look nice in the garden or in a bouquet. Even better than that, most herb flowers are edible so you can create a masterpiece salad from your herbs.

Go ahead; bring on the beauty and the bugs by mixing up the flowers and the vegetables.

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Gardening Tips: Hobby Greenhouse Structures

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a small greenhouse in the yard where you could escape winter, if only temporarily, and enjoy the quiet serenity of tropical plants and beautiful flowers? Well, with so many hobby greenhouses on the market today, growing year round is no longer just for the professional. Trying to decide which structure to purchase can be a bit confusing though. Let’s look together at the different types available today.

There are two basic types of hobby greenhouse, lean-to and freestanding. Lean-to types are attached to your home. This is an advantage because a common wall is shared as well as heat and electric. Care should be taken to make sure the structure is properly attached and sealed to the house. The major disadvantage is at some point during the day, the lean-to will be in shade because of the shared wall. This can affect the plants growth inside.

Gardening Tips: Hobby Greenhouse Structures

Freestanding types can be located anywhere on your property that receives sun all day and where the ground is level. There is a wider selection of style and size options to choose from. There is one negative aspect; heat and electrical lines must be brought out to where the greenhouse is sitting. Freestanding greenhouses lose heat more quickly because it does not have the insulating wall that a lean-to has, but it will receive more sun, as it is open on all sides.

Styles vary between the two, with lean-to’s having the least to choose from. Freestanding greenhouses offer Slant-side, A-frame, Dome, Gable roof, Quonset, and Gothic arch styles, the most popular being the latter three. Both lean-to and freestanding can be purchased as a kit and usually have aluminum framework, which is long lasting and needs little maintenance.

There are a variety of greenhouse-covering materials to choose from. Polyethylene films, reinforced fiberglass panels, double layered acrylic and traditional glass are mostly used, each having advantages and disadvantages. Glass is very strong and transparent but subject to shattering and is very expensive. Polyethylene film is cheaper to use and lends itself to layering (putting one sheet on top of the other and inflating with air creating an insulation barrier), but needs replacing frequently. Fiberglass panels are rigid, durable, and lightweight and retain heat better than glass panels do. I found that the fiberglass turned yellow after a few years and needed to be replaced. Double-layered acrylic panels are made up of two layers of plastic. There is a ribbed spacing between the layers, measuring between a half and one inch. It will remind you of a corrugated box. This layer increases the strength of the walls and increases the heat retention capabilities. It is also aesthetically pleasing.

I mentioned framing before and I would like to go back to that. The covering material used determines which frame to use. Homemade greenhouse frames are usually constructed with treated wood. Greenhouse kits, sold by the manufacturer, are made of aluminum or galvanized metal. Which ever one you choose, make sure that the frame can support the covering material used. The frame must withstand wind, rain, snow, ice and the load exerted on it from hanging baskets.

If building a freestanding or lean-to structure doesn’t appeal to you, try a greenhouse window. The window resembles a box that has glass shelves and venting windowpanes. It gets its heat from the sun and is a good way to try your hand at greenhouse growing without the expense of a structure on the property.

One important note at this time, always check with your town first for any special permits that may be required before you erect your greenhouse.

So here you have the different types of structures, covering materials, and styles to choose from. Confusing yes, but if you know someone who owns a greenhouse, use him or her for information. Some counties own and operate greenhouses to grow all the flowers used in the surrounding town. Pop in one day and talk to the grower. They are a wealth of information and usually willing to share their passion with others. Sometimes bouncing your ideas off of some else will shed more light on the subject.

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Home food garden tips: A guide to growing hot peppers

Tips and how to for growing hot peppers in your own home food garden.

Peppers, one of the most popular vegetables grown in home gardens, are available in an astonishing variety of colors, shapes, and heat levels. Peppers are not difficult to grow, but most gardeners find that the hotter the pepper, the warmer the weather they need to produce their best.

Choose a variety of hot pepper that suits your taste, and according to the purpose you have in mind. Some “hot” peppers are actually quite mild, but others are so fiery that you need gloves just to harvest them. The heat in peppers comes from a chemical called capsaicin, and is measured in Scoville Units. Seed catalogs often rank their varieties by Scovilles, so you’ll know how hot the peppers (also called “pods”) will be. Much of the capsaicin is concentrated in the seeds, so if you’re using the peppers in a recipe you can choose to either include or discard the seeds to control the level of heat in the finished dish.

Home food garden tips: A guide to growing hot peppers

Peppers are rarely direct-seeded into the garden soil; most growers plant them in seed flats or other seed starting containers early in the spring. If you start your own, make sure they’re in a warm spot with lots of sun or bright grow lights. Peppers can be difficult to germinate; applying bottom heat helps. An ideal spot for the seed flats is the top of the refrigerator – but move the flat as soon as the seeds sprout so it can get plenty of light. Exposing the seedlings to a light breeze or brushing your hand over them several times a day will help them to grow stocky stems.
If you choose to purchase seedlings from a grower, select stocky, bushy plants with a deep emerald green color. Avoid plants with yellow, mottled, or black speckled leaves, as these are signs of disease. If your seedlings have blooms or peppers already developing, you should remove them. This will give your pepper plants a bit more energy for root development before more pods are produced, resulting in a higher yield later on.

Plant your peppers in a location that has fertiled, well-drained soil and gets full sun for at least eight hours a day. They like plenty of nutrients in the soil, so be sure to amend it with plenty of compost or fertilizer. Peppers are not cold-hardy, so you’ll need to wait until you’re certain there will be no frosty nights. The season can be extended somewhat by using plant shelters, but since warm soil is needed too, gardeners in northern climates may need to apply black plastic or landscape cloth for additional heating.

Pests that may nibble on your pepper plants include aphids, flea beetles, and hornworms. If they invade, you may want to apply a spray containing pyrethrins. Alternatively, let them defend each other – make or purchase a hot pepper spray. This hot stuff will defend your peppers, and other garden plants as well, from most pests from bugs to hungry bunnies. This is a great reason to grow hot peppers, even if you don’t want to eat them!

Your peppers are also susceptible to diseases such as tobacco mosaic virus, blossom end rot, verticillium wilt, anthracnose, and bacterial spot. To prevent these diseases from affecting your garden, take the following precautions:

  •  If you smoke, wash hands before handling seedlings.
  •  Only purchase seedlings from reputable sources, or grow your own.
  •  Don’t plant peppers near related plants, such as tomatoes, potatoes, or eggplant.
  •  Water thoroughly, regularly, and make sure it’s early enough that the plants have time to dry out before dusk.
  •  Space plants properly to allow for good air circulation.
  •  Destroy plants that show signs of disease immediately.

Most pepper varieties can be harvested either green or later, when they change their color – whether it’s red, yellow, or even purple. It may be difficult to wait for them to ripen and mature, but ripe peppers have a more complex, full-bodied flavor and are more attractive in dishes.

Once you start growing this versatile, beautiful plant, you’ll want to experiment with every variety there is and with the many ways to serve them. Chances are you’ll run out of garden space long before you run out of hot peppers to grow there.

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Gardening Tips: Choosing the right tools for gardening

Any house will look beautiful with colorful and fragrant flowers in its garden. This not only adds aesthetic as well as monetary value to the house but also helps the inhabitants to relax and enjoy a natural and serene atmosphere. It is a popular belief that gardening is a therapeutic hobby, as you get to do some manual labor which allows you to ease out your worries and cope up with your troubles.

Gardening Tips: Choosing the right tools for gardening

Whether you want to have a garden full of flowers or vegetables, choosing the right gardening tools will help you in doing all the jobs easily, quickly and comfortably. If you are a beginner in gardening, then choosing the right gardening tools may not be that easy for you. There are several tools available out there and you may easily get confused about which one you should purchase. So, let us take some steps back and have a look at which tools are extremely essential for gardening.

A spade is a very important gardening tool that will be needed all through your life dedicated to gardening. This tool is used to dig holes for moving soil, planting, taking away the sods and edging beds. These are in the form of shovels that have short handles and square heads. Another imperative gardening tool is a hand trowel which is used for placing the plants into the soil. It is better to purchase a hand trowel which is made up of stainless steel and which has a rubber grip.

Different types of hoes are also available and you have to choose the one as per your type of garden. If you have a vegetable garden, then a stirrup or standard hoe will be appropriate for you. But if you have a perennial garden, then choose a super-thin hoe for more delicacy in the touch. You will also need a rake that will help you in cleaning up your garden effortlessly. In this way, you will be able to round up the litter quickly and easily and also get rid of weeds and unwanted parts of the plants. A rake made of plastic is a long lasting and durable option.

It is very important to have your garden weed-free and for that, you will need hand cultivator. This is used for turning the soil for seeding, whether you are gardening in containers or garden beds. This has to be used with a pulling and chopping motion and you should choose the one that is attached securely to its base. A pruner is used to shape the plants and remove the spent foliage. Although this is an expensive tool to buy, it will prove to be very useful for you in the long run.

If you are going to do gardening, then you will also need to water your plants regularly. Therefore, having a water hose is just impeccable. It should be enough in length to reach all the areas of your garden. Purchase a hose that is high in quality standard and which also comes with a warranty. Gloves will also be needed to keep your hands clean and away from stings and bruises.

Doing gardening is not very easy and it is extremely rewarding. You will need to keep in well-maintained and for that, you will need most of these gardening tools that you should buy today itself.

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Gardening Tips: Backyard Water Garden

Making your own water garden pond can be a fun and rewarding weekend project. This is a relatively inexpensive project that can be done on your own with a little hard work and lots of imagination. Although there are several different materials that can be used to line your pond, this article will discuss the PVC liner because it is the most economic and versatile material on the market today. Before you get your shovel out and begin digging, you will need to take into consideration several factors. These things will affect the appearance and finished product of your water garden.

Gardening Tips: Backyard Water Garden

Planning Your Garden

  • Where do I plan to install my water garden? This is an important question for several reasons. Safety should be a main concern regarding the location of your pond. Small children and pets should not be able to access your pond. If you live in an area where this is a concern, your pond should be located within a fenced area. Another issue involving the location of your pond should be the amount of sunlight available. A water garden pond needs to have full sun for a good portion of the day. If you choose to place your pond in an area with minimal sunlight, you will easily develop algae problems. The water plants you choose to have in your pond will also not grow properly in areas that receive too much shade.
  • Will I have fish in my water garden pond? This is an important question because most fish who make their homes in garden ponds require a depth of at least three feet in order to withstand summer heat and winter cold. This is an average depth for common goldfish who do very well in small outdoor water ponds. If you plan on keeping more exotic fish such as Koi, you will need to have a deeper pond. Fish are an asset to your pond as they will eat unwanted insects and work together with the water plants to keep your pond clean.
  • What shape do I want my garden pond? The sky is the limit! Many experts recommend that you use a garden hose to outline several different shapes and see which one suits you best. You should keep in mind that the more curves you place in the outline of your pond, the more difficult it will be to calculate the size of your pond liner. A relatively square pond is the easiest shape to use when installing a PVC liner.
  • How deep do I want my garden pond? As outlined above you need to keep proper depth for fish in mind if you are planning on having them reside in your pond. It is recommended that the bottom of your pond vary in depth from 6″ shelves at the edge to at least three feet. The different depths provide a larger selection when choosing water plants and give fish areas to warm themselves or cool off depending on the season. Many plants, called bog plants, only require a depth of six inches of water, while others like the water lily, must have deeper water to grow in. A sloping design or a pond with shelves of various heights is recommended to suit a variety of water plants.

Building Your Garden

Step #1 Excavation

The most difficult part of installing your water garden pond will be the excavation. If you are creating a smaller pond 4′X 6′ or less, a shovel and regular digging tools will work great. As recommended, use a garden hose or string to outline the area that will be dug out. Remember that you will need to have some areas more shallow than others. The easiest way to accomplish this is to either dig your pond shallow to deep at a slope from one end to the other or from side to side. It is also very important to remember that although the bottom of your pond does not need to be level, the top MUST be level. Failure to level the top edges of your pond will result in the water filling at an angle. Another important factor involving excavation that cannot be overlooked is that you will need to have at least three inches between the fill line of your pond and the ground that surrounds it. This ensures that rainwater and groundwater do not flood the pond.

Step #2 Preparing your pond for the liner

Once the area has been dug out you will need to smooth the sides and bottom to protect the liner from potential holes and tears. The bottom of the liner will carry the most weight and it is recommended that at least three inches of regular sand be spread in the bottom of the hole before the liner is installed.

The pond liner should be at least 45-mil thick. These liners can be purchased at many home improvement stores such as Lowe’s or Home Depot or at specialty water garden supply stores. They are usually sold by the foot or yard and you will need to use the following formula to calculate the proper amount of liner you will need.

  • Length of pond + 2 times depth of pond + 2 feet = Length of liner you will need
  • Depth of pond (deepest part) + 2 times width of pond + 2 feet = Width of liner you will need
    • Example: for a 6′ long by 4′ wide pond that is 3 feet at the deepest part: 6 + 6 + 2 = 14 feet long and 3 + 8 + 2 = 13 feet wide

Step # 3 Installing the liner

It is best to let your pond liner warm in the sun for a few hours before installing it. This makes it more pliable and easier to work with. Pull the liner over the top of the hole and work it carefully down to the bottom of the pond making sure to leave plenty of extra liner all the way around the top edges. The liner edges will be covered and dealt with in the next few steps. You will need to try and remove as many creases and wrinkles as you can but some will remain depending on the shape of your pond.

Step # 4 Filling your water pond with water

Once the liner has been installed, you can begin filling your pond with water. Keep an eye on it as it fills and try to smooth or remove wrinkles and creases once again as the pond begins to fill. You may have to adjust here and there as the weight of the water changes the placement of the liner. You can stop filling when you are three inches from the top of the liner.

Step # 5 Setting the edge of the liner

The best way to set the edge of the pond liner is with stone, brick or concrete paving stones. Choose the material that will fit best with your design plans. The stone or brick should completely cover the edge of the pond liner and fill dirt can be used if needed to cover in between. At this point any excess pond liner can be cut away.

Step # 6 Adding plants to your pond

It is best to wait a few days before adding plants to your pond to allow the water to settle and chemicals such as chlorine to dissipate. There are numerous easy to care for water plants that can be placed in your pond. You will need to pot all of your water garden plants for easy care. You may need to use bricks or stones to set the pots on in order to adjust the depth of your plants. Water lily, Arrowhead, Iris and Cattails are just a few of the plants that will thrive in your new water garden pond.

Your plants will work together with fish (as mentioned earlier) to act as natural filters and cleaners in your pond. A properly planned pond does not require a pump or filter to keep the water clean. Newcomers to water gardening should read up on different types of plants and their growing requirements as well as pond maintenance.

Now you can sit back and relax and enjoy the results of your water garden pond. It is sure to provide hours of enjoyment for you and your friends.

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Midsummer garden trends from Europe


Cape Town – Kirstenbosch’s participation at London’s Chelsea Flower Show – 38 exhibits winning 33 gold medals – has provided a direct interest for South Africans for decades. But for all of Chelsea’s prestige, the largest flower show in the world takes place at Hampton Court Palace every July.

Much younger than Chelsea, the Royal Horticultural Society’s Hampton Court Palace Flower Show was established in 1990, and takes place in 34 acres of garden surrounding one of Britain’s most famous palaces. Situated 20km south-west of London, this major midsummer gardening event includes 34 gardens, 600 exhibitors and a spectacle of flowering roses.

This year it ran from July 9 to 14.

Of particular interest to South African gardeners is the fact the Hampton flower show focuses on environmental issues, outdoor patio gardens, designs by young landscapers, school food gardens and growing your own food. In 1998, a gold medal award-winning food garden created by the Leyhill Open Prison at Hampton Court Palace interestingly provided the basis for the film Greenfingers (2001), starring Dame Helen Mirren.

Internationally acclaimed wildlife exhibits were to be seen at this year’s show. The Eden Project created a massive butterfly dome that featured a magnificent array of beautiful tropical butterflies, and an entire Bee Garden marquee provided demonstrations and advice on gardening for bees and bee-keeping.

The gloomy recession in Britain remains a backdrop to all garden shows, and celebrity customised henhouses were auctioned for charity at the show.

The large grounds at Hampton Court Palace offer young designers a platform for experimenting. A conceptual garden category with the theme of “the changing environment” drew a huge amount of media attention, and succeeded in ruffling the feathers of many traditionalists. Young designers included a range of old fridges in one garden, and a giant grass claw gouging the earth in another. Several exhibits were stylishly blackened visions of burnt-out forests – complete with 2m artistic flames and tombstones dedicated to nature destroyed.

Among the 34 large gardens created by landscape designers for this year’s Hampton Court Palace Flower Show were a number of trends relevant to local gardeners:


Multi-cultural gardening:

Secluded, sociable patio spaces are now being designed to celebrate and mirror the diverse and dynamic cultural make-up of modern society. The vibrant colour of walls and floor surfaces, together with sculptures and plants from across the world, reflect different cultures and horticultural traditions – all in one garden.

The gold-medal winning “Layers and Links” garden was created by a designer of Turkish descent who blended diverse elements – blue walls, artistic ironwork, patterned floors and English meadow garden – into a single garden.

The garden “August 1963 – I have a dream” celebrated 50 years of progress in racial integration and equality since Martin Luther King jr’s famous speech that month. Designed as a place for contemplation, the garden included paving and water features inspired by the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Blocks of planting represented racial segregation and racial equality, while water features with white and black water cascades flowed into the centre of the garden to meet in a single pool.


Colour your garden:

Bright colours dominated many of the patio gardens this year. The “Four Corners” meadow garden included only plants that flowered in sunset shades of burnt orange, rust and gold. The design was inspired by the ancient Chahar Bagh Persian-style garden layout, and was divided into four areas by rills around a water fountain. Picture frames on the fence of the garden were filled with miniature succulents (Sempervivum) in the tradition of vertical gardening.

Bright orange was also the backdrop for a 1950s-themed garden which celebrated the low-cost, high-impact era of “Mid Century Modern”. Inspired by a vintage advertising poster, the garden included a patio and pool in a secluded seating area.

Blooms in red, orange and yellow also dominated “The Hot Stuff Garden”, which had a circular terrace with patio chairs.


Food gardens:

The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show specialises in cooking demonstrations and food gardens. The most impressive food garden created last week was entitled “A movable feast”. Inspired by army wives, the garden showed how to create a food garden that can be transported to wherever army families are relocated, making use of inexpensive, colourful containers.

The planting scheme featured the ingredients needed for a feast, while a river of yellow planting symbolised the ribbon of hope used by military families when a loved one is away on a tour of duty.

Promoting the establishment of school food gardens has taken on a new urgency in recessionary Britain. The Royal Horticultural Society’s Campaign for School Gardening uses the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show as a stage to honour the country’s best school gardens and identify heroes in school gardens across the country.

Notwithstanding the glamorous platform given to British schools at Hampton Court, South Africa’s own school food gardening initiative is still well ahead of the curve internationally.

Established in 1990 by Food and Trees for Africa, and sponsored by Engen and The Woolworths Trust, the Edu-Plant campaign has trained more than 40 000 educators in food gardening and greening for schools.

More than 600 schools across the country are assessed annually, and 60 make it to the finals, with 21 honoured by winning in various categories. Last year, the top award for the best school food garden in the Western Cape was won by Vergesig Primary School in Robertson.




* Get ready to prune roses in the last week of July. Not all rose bushes respond well to heavy pruning. A modern rose that particularly resents heavy cutting back is Iceberg.

* A general rule with bush roses is to create a vase shape by removing any inward growing stems. Cut away all dead and diseased wood, and spindly growth. Cut back bush roses by a third, and train canes of climbing roses as horizontally as possible to encourage more flowers.

* Never prune or cut back shrubs that flower in spring. These include rambling roses such as the banksia rose, azalea, camellia, deutzia, philadelphus (mock orange) and rhododendron.

* Take out spent vegetables, dig over the beds and fork in compost and well-rotted manure in preparation for spring planting. Start seed potatoes in shallow trays of soil in a warm place in preparation for planting out in August.

* Don’t wait until August before staking plants securely to prevent damage. New plants are at great risk from wind rocking and loosening emerging roots. Shrubs and trees with brittle branches should be reduced to avoid tearing and breaking.

* There is still time to plant the bulbs of tiger lilies and tall white St Joseph lilies. If planted now, good drainage is vital, so they’re best planted in containers where they can be protected from snail and slug damage.

* There is still time to plant colourful winter bedding plants such as primula and pansy. Established seedlings of these bright annuals can be planted directly into prepared beds or containers. Pansies do best in a sunny corner, whereas primulas will do better in the shade. – Weekend Argus

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Garden design ideas: Great ideas for corner flower garden designs

Creating corner flower gardens

Designing a garden area in a corner of your yard can be a creative endeavor, bringing serenity and beauty into your life at home. Although many ideas can be gathered by visiting other gardens, such as city gardens for public view, one may also achieve a unique design by putting together some fundamental elements in an arrangement that is particularly pleasing to the garden’s owner.

Garden design ideas: Great ideas for corner flower garden designs

First, you will want to consider the shape of the garden. If a fenced or walled corner is the focus, you will be working with a triangle, or perhaps a semi-circle extending from, or arching into, a right angle. The tallest section of the garden will be the corner. You may wish to plant a small flowering tree here, but larger trees can cast too much shade, making it difficult to grow other plants in the area. Another idea for achieving height in the corner is a tiered succession of shaped, small leafed bushes. Keeping the further-most bush quite tall, a tiered effect of several shades of green, neatly trimmed, will make an interesting and permanent backdrop for the corner. Be sure that the shade from these bushes does not overtake the garden. Tiered bushes can serve as the backdrop for smaller, more colorful plants and flowers.

When choosing a variety of plants, be sure to note the growth season, so that you can attractively alternate varieties that will bloom at different times of the year. Your main plants should be eye-catchers throughout the seasons, and those that are not should be alternated with a successive species, such as spring bulbs planted in advance to fill the spots where summer flowers do not yet appear.

The easiest method for choosing plants is to visit a local nursery where there are knowledgeable salespeople. Even without advice, you can observe which plants are commonly planted in your part of the country, and safely choose these for your beginning garden. Also, there will be sun and temperature factors to consider. Be sure to make a special note of which areas receive the most sun at different times of day or year, and whether any part of the garden is exposed to wind or frost in winter. Also take care that you are not shopping indoors, where all the tropical plants are kept, when looking for outdoor plants that need plenty of sunshine.

For those who want to dress their garden with small plants and flowers, a succession of trellises is a lovely idea for the small garden area. These can be adorned with climbing, flowering vines, such as Morning Glories, to achieve a lovely effect. In a corner spot, a stair-step effect of the trellises, meeting symmetrically at the center from each side, will form a point of focus, giving rest to the eye. An attractive bird bath or fountain centered in front of the tallest point will add beauty and interest as well as the elements of water and wildlife to your special area. Another idea is to place rectangular trellises on each side, with a fountain or bird bath in the center. If you don’t want the look of a trellis, vines can also be attached to the fence or wall with a large staple or bracket carefully nailed over the vine.

If you want wildlife visiting your garden, you can inquire at your nursery about various plants which will encourage their attendance. Certain species attract birds, and there are clumping plants to attract frogs as well. You may wish to select only the heartiest plants for your garden, requiring minimum upkeep. The best course to follow in this event is to find locally indigenous plants. A book on this subject might be most helpful in planning an indigenous garden.

When choosing the colors for your garden, keep in mind your favorites. Some colors will have a more pleasing effect to you than others, and there are color clusters that go very well together, whereas others may clash. Plants and flowers leading away from your fence line should all be planted in order of height, leaving the shortest for the front of the garden. Also keep the center corner area taller than the flanking sides, or for the opposite effect, make your outermost plants very tall, to form a kind of pillar to each side. Symmetry is most pleasing to the eye, and following this rule makes arranging easier to accomplish successfully. Buy even numbers of every plant except for your center piece.

When thinking of a border for your garden area, consider using a heavy, contrasting element such as medium to large stones. Contrast adds to the effect of delicate flowers with their bright colors. If you are wanting for a more formal look, use a uniformly cut material to border the area. The cut-off line between grass and garden soil must be sharply divided so as to prevent grass from growing again into your flowerbed. After tilling the area to be planted, a flexible metal or plastic divider can be purchased for pushing down into the dirt, making a barrier to crossover growth. Set your decorative dividing stone along this divider. Add your garden soil to the planting area, and a fertilizer recommended by your nursery specialist. A solid green ground cover between your flowers and your divider may also lend a pleasing effect to the garden border.

Garden benches placed on each side of a climbing flower trellis arrangement with a birdbath, will form a cozy seating area. The garden may be enclosed with tiered bushes in this arrangement, which should be set toward the back side of the benches, allowing for beautiful flowers and interesting plants in the foreground. The benches can be accented with boxed flower gardens on each side, and set amongst a simple rock walkway. Pavement stones leading to your garden area are inexpensive and very easy to install. These can be arranged creatively to form an artistic path.

For the garden that is not created specifically for the purpose of contributing to your view from the house, garden benches set beneath flowering vine-covered arched trellises with will form an especially romantic setting. With the bench facing away from the heavy traffic areas toward the corner garden, a simple stone or pebble path leading toward a fountain would be most pleasing. To make your covered garden bench particularly romantic, cut a trellis form to fit the backside of the arch and cover the structure with flowering vines all around. In this more romantic arrangement, a Grecian urn pot of flowers flanking each side of the bench would be more fitting.

In keeping with the plan of symmetry, you may wish to duplicate the arched trellis at a right angle to the first. Both archways would form a sort of entrance to your corner garden, making it a private place for shaded rest, reflection or wine and cheese with your loved one. This area might be an ideal spot for a larger fountain, perhaps including the beautiful Koi fish.

Whether you choose to make an elaborate and expensive garden design, or to simply plant some well placed flowers, you can create a garden area with which to grow. Add to and embellish your special corner as you please, and in time, your corner garden will become a restful place and a beautiful work of art.

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Perennial flower garden design tips

Planning a perennial garden can be overwhelming. Here are some tips to help organize your thoughts and choose a design you will like

Garden Style

In order for us to end up with a garden we can enjoy, we must first decide what we like. Choosing a garden style is the first decision. That style can be worked in to any size or shape later. A good start in choosing a style is to look at magazines and find pictures of gardens you like. Tear the pictures out and save them for a while as you collect more. Look at the collection of clippings. What do you like about them as individuals? What do they have in common? Are they calm like a Japanese style garden or are they a riot of color, shape, and abundance? Do you have a particular theme in mind like an all-white garden or a fragrance garden? A look we like can be incorporated into a property of acres or a collection of potted plants. In choosing a style, it is important to consider, not just what we like, but where the garden will be located. While you might like a meadow garden, or a whimsical garden in which to display your whirligig collection, perhaps the front yard is not the place. Your neighbors probably will not appreciate it and there may be zoning laws as to lawn height and content. In general, the front yard keeps a relatively formal look. As for the rest of the property, the farther from the house and street, the less formal the garden can be.

Perennial flower garden design tips

Plant Choices

Next, think about the flower and foliage color, various leaf forms, plant heights, and bloom times. Plants can be placed in drifts through a bed. They can be grouped in several places along a walkway to lead the eye down the path. Plants can be used as a single specimen, a focal point. Choose plants that vary in height, placing the tallest at the back. If the bed is large, plan how you will get to the plants in the back to care for them. A few well-placed stepping-stones may be in order.

Seasonal Considerations

Think about what each season will be like. Try to make a focal point for each season. You might put in some bulbs and forsythia, maybe an early blooming fruit tree like cherry, for spring. Add lilies, day lilies, gay feather, Russian sage, or a host of other summer blooming perennials. Choose different colors and shapes of foliage too. Many flowers, like gaillardia, bloom on into fall. Mums with so many colors offer great fall showings. Have some plants that have fall foliage color changes. Most of us have a winter to deal with. Grow plants that leave behind berries like nandina or bittersweet. Many plants have interesting seed heads that persist through the winter like ornamental grasses. Make sure to have some evergreen plants.


If your perennial garden is a container garden, a lot can be decided about the style by what kinds of containers you choose. They do not all need to match each other, but they should match your style. The containers could be rustic or they could be sleek and shiny lacquered pots with an oriental design painted on them. The plants can be bamboos, palms, bananas, trees, succulents or virtually any plant that you could grow in the ground. They can be colorful or serene.

Pots or other containers of plants can be set into the midst of a garden as accents. If you have a space that looks a bit drab or bare, set a potted plant there. This is an especially good trick if you are waiting for small perennials to grow into large ones. The garden can look a little sparse for a year or two. Another way to make a new garden look fuller is to plant annuals in the spaces until the perennials fill in. Some people leave sections of the perennial garden empty on purpose because they like to incorporate annuals, which are changed seasonally or for holiday flower displays.

Garden Accessories

If seats are placed along the garden path, sit there and look at the view. Is there a focal point for the lounger to enjoy? Is there something that attracts attention? Place seating with that in mind. If arbors are present, be sure that they are placed with the view through the arbor in mind. Think of the arbor as a picture frame. Any fencing should be chosen with garden style in mind. A two-foot-high fence of sticks might look cute in a rustic garden, but a more polished garden requires a more polished-looking fence.

As you can see, there is a lot to think about when planning a perennial garden, but dreaming about how you want it to turn out is half the battle. Now you know how to get started.

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DIY Hanging Garden Fits In A Small Space, Can’t Be Killed Too Easily (PHOTO)

If you don’t happen to have an outdoor space or you’re just looking to bring some greenery inside your home, a pretty hanging garden is the perfect solution.

Heather from Whipperberry created this fun and colorful design by simply using old coffee creamer bottles. After cutting them down to size, adding a little paint, some twine and great summer plants: succulents, she was able to create the ultimate planters. These guys don’t take up space and there’s seriously no need to worry about your black thumb.

diy hanging garden

Head over to Whipperberry for the full tutorial, and be sure to checkout other great DIY ideas below.

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  • Install Metal House Numbers

    Improve your home’s curb appeal with new house numbers. Metal numbers can match any style, from vintage to modern, and adds a refined look. All you have to do is drill into the masonry with a specialized bit to anchor the numbers.

  • Re-Gravel The Driveway

    Because gravel driveways and paths can get “potholes” too. The good news is that all you’ll need are a few bags of gravel, a 2×4 (or something to “tamp” the gravel into place) and, if on a driveway, a car. Simply fill, tamp and then run over the filled-in spot. For a more detailed how-to, visit a href=”” target=”_blank”TLC/a.

  • Freshen Up Your Fence

    If your backyard fence has never been stained, or the color has faded from the sun, adding a fresh coat is sure to brighten it up and protect the wood. First choose your stain and make sure your fence is clean and dry. Using a roller with a long attachment, coat about 3 feet of fence at a time. It is best to roll in the same direction as the wood grain. Then, move to the next section. Staining the fence in small sections will help make sure you cover each area completely. Allow to dry and apply a second coat if needed.

  • Turn A Rug Into A Welcome Mat

    Bring new life to your old rug with a little spray paint. We love how blogger Kinsey Mhire of a href=”” target=”_blank”Sincerely Kinsey/a used masking tape to create a chevron pattern. She also used adhesive lettering, which is available at your local craft store, to personalize her mat with a message. For the full tutorial, visit a href=”” target=”_blank”Sincerely Kinsey/a.

  • Install Window Awnings

    Installing window awnings is a good way to give your home some curb appeal if it’s looking a little tired and they’ll also keep the summer heat from beatingbeaming in. First, using a power drill and the supplies provided in a a href=”” target=”_blank”window awning kit/a, center and mount your brackets above the window. Then slide the bead of the curtain in the mounting bar, allowing the curtain to hang down. Center the curtain on the mounting bar and use pliers to squeeze the ends, locking the awning into place. Next, attach the support beams to the bottom piece of the awning and twist to lock them into place. Afterward, attach the support arms and secure them into the wall brackets using screws.

    For a full tutorial, visit a href=”” target=”_blank”Nuimage Awnings/a.

  • Build A Sitting Wall

    Take advantage of the beautiful weather with an outdoor DIY project. A sitting wall is a stylish addition to any backyard and a great way to add some flair to your landscaping. You’ll need to do some measuring and digging before you get started. Once the area is dug out, lay the bricks. Use construction adhesive to make sure the wall is secure.

    Visit a href=”” target=”_blank”DIY Network/a for an in-depth tutorial.

  • Paint Your Mailbox

    Add serious curb appeal by fixing up your mailbox. If it’s looking a little weather-worn or isn’t standing straight, a few quick and easy fixes will ensure you’re giving off a positive first impression to passers-by. Replace the stand or repaint the box with a fresh, vivid coat. If it’s damaged beyond repair, buy a new mailbox and start fresh. Then, add accents and decorations to personalize.

    Learn how to replace your mailbox and create a nautical design and more at a href=”” target=”_blank”GMC Trade Secrets/a.

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