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Archives for January 9, 2014

Former resident leaves legacy of lush landscape

Former resident leaves legacy of lush landscape

By Cathy Tallyn Staff writer

Rossmoor had a friend in Lillian Barrett.

The longtime resident left provisions that some of the trust she established be used to beautify her old neighborhood on Golden Rain Road at Entry 14 and other spots in Rossmoor.

Barrett lived in Rossmoor for more than 20 years before her death.

She wanted to help beautify Rossmoor, said Sue DiMaggio Adams, president of First Mutual. First Mutual is the primary beneficiary of Barrett’s largesse.

The Lillian Barrett Trust is administered by Barrett’s nephew, Alvin Barrett.

The first project was specified by his aunt, he said. It was to be a garden of daffodils in her entry because she loved daffodils.

A memorial garden with thousands of daffodils and other landscaping was planted toward the rear of the entry. And, each spring, 5,000 daffodil bulbs are planted in various spots on Golden Rain Road.

Other projects have included creating a viewpoint on Golden Rain Road at Entry 7. Passersby can stop and see a view of the East Bay and Mt. Diablo. A picnic table and benches add a welcoming touch. Some shrubs and trees were also added.

There were also landscaping projects at the corner of Golden Rain Road and Pine Knoll Drive as well as the corner of Golden Rain Road and Lower Golden Rain Road.

“I’ve been pleased with the results,” Barrett said. “Part of the credit belongs to Rich Perona. He comes up with the ideas.”

Perona is Rossmoor’s landscape manager, who suggests landscape projects for First Mutual. Barrett and Perona confer on the ideas.

This year’s landscape project will be on the left side of the entrance to Golden Rain Road at Entry 26. Part of the existing landscaping at the entrance and slope will be removed. A small wall will be installed along with new shrubs and bark.

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Four gardening experts to speak in Brattleboro

The art deco Latchis Hotel invites out-of-towners to spend the night at a special Inspirations rate. For an additional fee, a package is available with two movie tickets and dinner at a local hot spot. For information and hotel reservations, call 802-254-6300.

Originally published in The Commons issue #236 (Wednesday, January 8, 2014). This story appeared on page B3.

BRATTLEBORO—On Saturday, Jan. 25, four gardening experts, each with international experience, will present their thoughts, pictures, and videos at Garden Inspirations, an all-day workshop at the Latchis Theatre in downtown Brattleboro.

Only 100 tickets will be sold, with proceeds supporting the ongoing restoration of the main hall of the Latchis Theatre. Though it may be snowing and 17 degrees outside, in the Ballroom Theatre upstairs at the Latchis, all will be warmth, color, and inspiration for spring.

The lecturers include Julie Moir Messervy, a nationally known garden writer, designer, and lecturer from Saxtons River; Dan Snow, dry stone waller from Dummerston, known across America for his skills and artistry; Helen O’Donnell from Putney, and Gordon Hayward, also a nationally known garden designer, writer, and lecturer from Westminster West. Hayward is also vice president of the Latchis Arts Board.

Messervy will begin the day at 9 a.m. with her PowerPoint presentation, “Landscaping Ideas that Work.” Her images will come largely from her own work across the country. Her goal is to illustrate design principles in her gardens that audience members can apply to their own gardens.

In the afternoon, Messervy will screen her video: “Inspired by Bach: The Music Garden with Yo Yo Ma and Julie Messervy,” the story of the garden she designed with Yo Yo Ma based on the structure and rhythm of a Bach fugue.

Snow will offer a PowerPoint presentation of his work with stone. Examples range from the practicality of stone retaining walls to the fantastical. Snow will also screen his video “Stone Rising: The Work of Dan Snow” in the afternoon.

O’Donnell, an artist as well as a garden designer, and who maintains gardens professionally, will show slides and speak on her two monthlong stints as volunteer gardener at Great Dixter (, the garden of the late Christopher Lloyd in southeastern England.

She will present her inside view of Great Dixter as she worked under head gardener Fergus Garrett during March 2012 and July 2013.

Hayward will present his PowerPoint presentation “Fine Painting as Inspiration for Garden Design.” He first gave this lecture at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 1994 and has refined the lecture since at museums and garden clubs across the country.

This is a lecture about elements of composition — defining depth, itinerary of the eye, color, line and rhythm — as shared by the painter and the garden designer.

The workshop ends at 4:30 p.m. Throughout the day, Messervy, Snow, and Hayward will sell and sign their books: more than 12 titles. Lunch is included in the ticket price.

Tickets for a full day of Garden Inspirations are $125, and may be purchased at the Latchis Hotel, 50 Main St.; by calling Gail Nunziata at Latchis Arts, 802-254-1109, Ext. 3; or by visiting

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Gardening: Tips for beginner gardeners; refresher course for the rest

It’s a new year and a new gardening season. At the suggestion of a reader, I want to do a series of articles through this year for beginning vegetable gardeners. The popularity of growing your own food is still growing as people discover the joy of growing, cooking and eating their own vegetables.

The winter months are a good time for reading, taking classes and planning your garden. Many beginning gardeners have lots of ideas about their new-found project and that unfortunately can get them in trouble right from the start. So my first key to success is to be patient. Write down your ideas but don’t get tied to them right now. Just have fun with your winter research.

There is a lot of information on the Web to sift through, and I do mean sift. Not all websites are accurate or appropriate for Inland Northwest gardening. I always look for websites maintained by universities (.edu) first, especially those of Washington State University, the University of Idaho and Oregon State University. Through their extension services and Master Gardener programs, there is a wealth of online publications available on a wide range of topics. Many of them are available as free downloads and all are based on unbiased research and experience from right here in the Northwest. Outside the Northwest, I often check sites at other universities in the northern U.S. These northern tier universities will often have good information on short-season techniques and plants that will work here.

Beyond the university-based websites, a good gardening website will have in-depth information from a variety of sources and people. There will be advertising but it shouldn’t be overwhelming or promoting just one set of products. That said, some of the best websites are done by seed companies such Johnny’s Select Seeds, Seeds of Change, Territorial Seed (based in Oregon), and Baker Creek Seed. These sites provide a lot of detailed growing information not available in other places along with their seed offerings. Order seed catalogs from ones you like.

This is a good time to pick up a few good vegetable gardening books to have for reference. One of the best for the Inland Northwest is “Gardening in the Inland Northwest” by Tonie Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was WSU Spokane County Extension’s horticulture specialist for 25 years so the book is full of information and her experiences on growing vegetables, berries, grapes and fruit trees here. It is available at several websites and at the WSU Spokane County Extension Office, 222 N. Havana St., in Spokane.

Two of my other favorite references are the “Western Garden Book of Edibles” published by Sunset, and “Edible Landscaping” by Rosalind Creasy. Both books have extensive “how to” sections as well as detailed plant directories. Best of all, both are written by people who live and garden in our region.

Next week; a run-down on gardening classes available in the area.

Pat Munts has gardened in Spokane Valley for more than 35 years. She can be reached at pat@inlandnw

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Gardens a Key to Patient Prosperity

Hospital design in particular has taken a patient-centered approach of late, utilising the power of nature to improve health outcomes and helps decrease the length of in-patient stays.

A 2012 study on Therapeutic Gardens by Sara Holowitz, PhD found that “therapeutic and healing gardens represent an aesthetically pleasing, stress-reducing, cost effective CAM (complimentary and alternative medicine) modality.”

Therapeutic Garden Landscape

Therapeutic garden landscape

The idea that nature has a restorative effect on humans is a not a new concept. Psychoanalyst Erich Fromm coined the theory behind the biophilia hypothesis – a theory that suggests there is an innate bond between humans and nature, and the concept was later popularised by Edward O. Wilson in his book, Biophilia (1984), in which Wilson defined the theory as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life”.

In a healthcare setting, healing gardens are generally considered a sub category to therapeutic gardens, but can differ slightly in terms of execution.

Horticultural Healing

Horticultural healing

Healing gardens are designed to be passive and offer an environment that supports everyone, including patients, staff and visitors. The design primarily features green vegetation and water elements but is generally free of sculptures or man-made structures in order to be as calming as possible.

Therapeutic gardens on the other hand are targeted toward specific patient conditions that engage individuals and support recovery through definite landscape design. This could include spaces through which people can engage in activities such as walking or gardening on raised garden beds or the design could call for a purely passive environment.

This type of garden is generally found in a variety of healthcare settings such as hospitals, rehabilitation centres, senior villages or chemotherapy facilities.

Both garden forms can offer an array of psychological, social and physical benefits by positively distracting patients outside their hospital rooms.

Urbis Landscapes Produced Patient Gardens for Epworth: 2010

Urbis Landscapes produced patient gardens for Epworth: 2010

A 2010 report entitled Beyond Blue To Green: The benefits of contact with nature for mental health and well-being by Deakin University Australia cited research by Clare Cooper-Marcus and Marni Barnes (1999), who said such gardens “are defined as natural spaces where opportunities are provided for relief from physical symptoms, for stress reduction, and for improvements in one’s sense of well-being through activities such as observation, listening, strolling, sitting and exploring the natural space.”

According to Dr. Roger S. Ulrich of Texas AM University, laboratory research revealed that “visual exposure to settings with trees has produced significant recovery from stress within five minutes, as indicated by changes in blood pressure and muscle tension.”

When it comes to designing a healing garden there are multiple considerations to consider beyond “greening” the environment. Appropriate way finding is essential for patients along with ample wheelchair access, suitable seating and non-obtrusive navigation.

Melbourne RCH Landscaping

Melbourne RCH landscaping

Healing gardens can be structured or unstructured, but vegetation should be at the core of the design and “hard-landscaping” should be avoided wherever possible. In the case of fauna birdbaths, water features that provide the soothing sound of water or flowers and plants that attract birds or butterflies are also therapeutic for patients.

Therapeutic gardens will offer similar landscape design to their healing counterparts, but may also have more defined perimeters. Spaces are generally designed for specific patient conditions and can include scheduled activities such as horticultural therapy (humans engaged in plant-based activities such as gardening).

For example, Dementia Care Australia participates in horticultural therapy utilising raised garden beds, light hand tools and activities such as potting and planting for patients.

Horticultural therapy has also been found to beneficial for the ageing population and patients suffering mental illness due to its ability to provide sensory simulation.

When designing either type of garden in an urban healthcare setting, location is essential to minimise noise such as the sound of air conditioners, surrounding noise or traffic.

Finally, it’s all about the colour green. In colour therapy, green is seen as a healing colour as it reflects many elements in nature and earth. It has both energising and calming effects that directly contribute to the well-being of those in its presence.

In Australia, many hospitals are recognising gardens for their healing benefits and implementing vegetation where possible in design that puts patients first.

The award-winning Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) building, which opened in 2011, features many gardens, playgrounds and landscaped areas.

Designed by Billard Leece and Bates Smart architects, the gardens were inspired by the hospitals parkland setting as the architects set out to create outdoor spaces that offered engagement, seating and “sweeping lawn areas.”

Other redevelopment projects across Australia, including Epworth HealthCare Hospital in Melbourne and the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, have also placed gardens and open spaces at the forefront of their design in a bid to provide spaces that assist in patient treatment and rehabilitation while offering a “break” for patients.

While this back to nature approach in healthcare is not a new concept, it is receiving increased attention as the world increasingly focuses on sustainable design and reconnecting nature and humanity, particularly in dense urban settings.

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Happy Horticultural New Year – 2014


A new year of growth has begun, both in our lives and in our gardens. While it is too chilly to achieve much outdoors, you can use this frozen interlude to plan this year’s gardens and landscaping projects.

Gardening books and magazines, whether in hand or on tablet, can make the cold, wintry days seem a bit warmer. Use them for inspiration and guidance when creating or redesigning gardens and landscapes. There are so many topics out there to explore – from reproducing a colonial garden, to theme gardens, to sustainable landscapes, to gardening for wildlife. Think about your interests.

Was there a particular plant you admired this year? Check out new plants mentioned in blogs, newsletters and magazines. Did you have problems in the landscape or garden this year? My two biggest nemeses are the cucumber beetle, which I am used to battling, and the newer cross-striped caterpillar which has been attacking all my cole crops including broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and kale. Where cabbage loopers and cabbageworms generally have one generation per year, the cross-striped caterpillar can have up to three, so they are constantly munching on my plants! Also, they lay a lot of eggs and I just cannot keep up with handpicking the caterpillars so next year I am going to try some crop coverings like the row covers and some regular sprayings with Bt, which is a biological control for many voracious caterpillars. My point is that this is a great time to figure out what problems you encountered this year and to plan on a control strategy. You can call the UConn Home Garden Education Center at 877-486-6271 and describe your plant’s symptoms, and often the horticulturists can suggest what the problem might be and what to do about it.

Also, if you have been thinking about building that cold frame, compost bin, walkway, arbor or potting bench, why not spend some time to seek out DIY instructions now? Some projects might be best done by professionals, but there are quite a number that are easier to do than they look.

Seed and plant catalogs have been arriving daily by snail mail or email. Now that the holiday festivities are over, there will be more time to go through them and note any interesting selections. Even if you do not start plants from seed, quite a bit of information can be harvested from these catalogs. New hybrids and rediscovered heirlooms are listed along with their growth habits, hardiness, bloom times, pest resistance and other attributes. Knowing this information will assist you in deciding what to plant and where to plant it.

Before selecting new vegetable and flower varieties to grow this year, review last year’s performance of the same or similar plants. If you have not kept a planting record in the past, this may be a good time to begin. Records can be as simple or elaborate as you desire. Basically, you should note which varieties were planted, when, and how they performed, as well as weather-related information. Plants can then be evaluated with the past weather conditions in mind. For instance, check out my corn harvest. Each year, we plant an early and late corn at the same time so that their pollination times will not overlap. This year the early bicolor harvest was fine, but look at the late-season “Country Gentleman” white, shoepeg corn! The ears should all look as they do on the right, white and irregular, but we got many ears that were straight and even bicolored, so they cross-pollinated with the early corn because June was so cold and rainy and July so hot that the two cultivars overlapped in their pollination periods. Hopefully we will have a more normal summer in 2014, but the drier spring was really appreciated by all of us who work full time and keep hoping for drier weekend weather to get into the gardens.

Except in very wet falls, it is always a good idea to spray broad-leaved evergreens and rose canes with an anti-desiccant. It is too late to water as the ground has frozen, but if an anti-desiccant is applied, it will reduce the amount of water lost from your plants through their leaves and stems. If a February thaw comes, respray the plants.

Brighten the winter’s frosty grip. Pot up some amaryllis or paperwhites. Go to your local greenhouse and pick up a few flowering African violets, cyclamen or orchids and bring them home to serve as harbingers of the spring that is only a few months off. Make a dish garden and decorative it with fairies. Grow some air plants in the bathroom! Stick some succulents in that hot, south-facing window! Let it grow!

Use these winter months for garden planning – indoors or out. Resolve to make this the best gardening year ever. For any horticultural problem, call the UConn Home Garden Education Center, toll-free, at 877-486-6271, visit, or contact your local Cooperative Extension Center.

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Prairie, North Platte inspire downtown landscaping concepts

Prairie, North Platte inspire downtown landscaping concepts

Prairie, North Platte inspire downtown landscaping concepts

Bryan Kinghorn, of Kinghorn Gardens, presents design concepts for a downtown landscaping, streetscaping and stormwater plan being worked on by Kinghorn and representatives of Dropseed Studio.

Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014 12:00 am

Prairie, North Platte inspire downtown landscaping concepts

New Media Editor

Star Herald

Landscaping artistically modeling the North Platte River, shortened pedestrian crossings and a downtown gathering place were some of the concepts suggested by designers in a downtown revitalization effort.

Bryan Kinghorn, of Kinghorn Gardens, and Zack Fergus and Tom Bentley, of Dropseed Studio, outlined concepts that could make up a preliminary plan for a landscaping, streetscaping and stormwater master plan. Implementing the master plan will be the next step in downtown revitalization efforts. Concepts were presented Wednesday after the designers gathered information during a downtown tour, a public meeting and an open house.

“We are pretty excited about how energized the community is to have something different,” Kinghorn said, saying that participation from the public was good. The designs are driven by the city and the people who live in Scottsbluff, he said.

One of the first parts of the process will be to implement a downtown landscaping plan that will improve the aesthetics, while also being functional, Kinghorn said. The designers proposed landscaping to replace current brick work in the downtown areas, with a design that mimicks the meandering flow of the North Platte River. Plants could be inspired by the shortgrass prairie plants that surround the Scotts Bluff National Monument, Agate Fossil Beds and other sites that western Nebraskans identify with.

“We want to enhance the downtown experience,” Kinghorn said. Designers asked residents and officials to identify components that signify Scottsbluff and the prairie seemed to be a continuous theme in the designs.

Landscaping will also continue the current stormwater efforts that have been done by the City of Scottsbluff in other downtown parking lots.

Downtown intersections could also be flanked by trees.

“We want canopy cover,” Kinghorn said. “We want trees … but we want them to be healthy from the get go.”

Instead of placing trees in planters or planting boxes, the designers have proposed expanding bulb outs at the intersections and locating trees in those expanded bulb outs. The design would serve another purpose, with pedestrian crossings proposed to shorten, improving safety at intersections and slowing traffic. The enhancements would also improve the view for drivers crossing east and west streets.

The designers also proposed making the 18th Street Park and adjoining street a downtown gathering area. The 18th Street Farmers Market served as the impetus for the design, but other events could occur there, including adding a splash pad. The downtown area could also be enhanced by artwork, designers said.

“This is the town’s downtown,” Fergus said of the designs. “We received a lot of good input from people passionate about the community.

Kinghorn said designers will be back to present a preliminary design to the Scottsbluff City Council in about four weeks.


Thursday, January 9, 2014 12:00 am.

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Gardening with the Masters: January tips for ornamentals, fruits and veggies




Watch camellias for buds that have brown spots, irregular shaped blooms or blooms that have a nettled appearance. This is petal blight. Remove and destroy any buds showing symptoms. Don’t confuse it with cold damage. It’s a good practice to remove spent flowers from the ground.

January is a good month to plant trees. Do not add fertilizer to planting hole – it could burn the roots.

If you plant winter annuals this late, don’t use 6 packs as the root balls will be too small to survive January’s cold temperatures.

Fertilize annuals in colder months with a fertilizer high in nitrate nitrogen.

Keep pansies dead headed.

If squirrels are digging bulbs, cover them with 1-inch wire mesh so foliage can grow through then mulch over wire.

Pull up winter weeds now before they form seeds.

If a few, consecutive warm days have caused your bulbs to nose out from under protective mulch, plan to thicken the mulch layer as soon as cold weather returns to prevent freezing by exposure.

Analyze last year’s planting, fertilizing and spraying records. Make notations to reorder successful varieties.


Plant B B, bare-root and container-grown fruit.

Water newly planted fruit trees thoroughly, even if the ground is wet, so the soil around the roots will settle.

Prune grapes in January or February. If this job is left too late in the season, bleeding from cut ends will occur. Train them onto a one or two wire fence

Don’t plant strawberries or figs until February or March

Some mail order seed companies offer pelleted seed of lettuce, carrot, and a few other small-seeded crops. Pelleted seed has a special coating to make them larger. This is especially valuable for children and gardeners with arthritic hands, weak eyesight, or poor coordination. Wide spacing of seed helps eliminate thinning. When using pelleted seed, plant in moist soil and keep it moist because the coating has to dissolve before the seed can germinate.

Organize your seeds for inside planting. Take each seed packet and count back from the last frost (April 14) taking into consideration the number of days for germination.

Remove brown raspberry and blackberry canes that bore fruit last year; tie up green canes for this year’s fruit.

Spray dormant oil on fruit trees, per label instructions.

Prune Apple and Pear trees. Remove dead limbs first, then the pencil-sized, vertical “water sprouts”.


Sterilize tools, pots, and anything you use around your plants. Use one part household bleach to nine parts water. Soak for about 15 minutes, rinse well and let dry.

Protect liquid insecticides from cold weather to preserve their effectiveness. If any product is stored below the manufacturer’s suggested minimum storage temperature, it loses its potency. The most important factor in determining if the product is usable is the complete absence of crystals. If crystals remain after the product returns to room temperature, do not use it. Dispose of it according to the directions on the label.

Chop unwanted kudzu, English ivy, and bamboo to the ground. Follow with herbicide on the new leaves in April.

Clean indoor plant leaves with a damp rag. Sandwich the leaf between folds of cloth and wipe gently. Change the cloth for each plant to avoid transferring insects or diseases.

Make sure houseplants are misted and not touching windows. Cut back on fertilizer except for plants you are trying to force to bloom.

Information about Extension Solutions for Homes and Gardens can be found on the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension website, ; or contact the Cherokee County Extension Office, 1130 Bluffs Parkway, Suite G49, Canton, GA, 770-479-0418. The Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program is a volunteer training program offered through county offices of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.

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Indoor Seed-Starting Tips and Zone 6 Seed Starting Calendar

What are the tricks to successful seed starting?  The most sure fire I have found with a gadget is the Aerogarden with the seed starting tray.  I have almost 100 percent germination rate with it.

You can also start seeds in pots you make yourself with newspaper, toilet paper cores, paper towel cores, or paper cups and sterile, organic seed starting mix.  A nifty way to do it is to cut used paper towel cores into sections and line with old newspaper.  You can plant the whole thing or push out the newspaper insert and compost the core.

There are also the peat pellets and peat pots.  Peat is not a renewable resource, but there are substitutes for it now on the market.  Just read the labels.  I just bought ones made with coir at Lowe’s.

The key is using sterile seed starting mix, pots and containers.  You can make your own seed starting mix with peat moss or coir (renewable), compost, and vermiculite.  Just be sure to heat the compost to at least 150 degrees to kill any pathogens before using to start seeds.

Place the seeds in the starter mix in the pots and allow to wet thoroughly from the bottom (watering from the top can dislodge seeds).  After fully saturated, they are ready to put in a catch pan.  Make sure any catch pan that you use has been thoroughly washed in a bleach solution so all pathogens are killed.  Mine has a water reservoir in the bottom of it that wicks the moisture up under the seedlings. 

I put my seed starts in a plastic tray with a clear plastic lid in a sunny window that I have had for years that you can buy at any big box store.  Keep moist, but not wet, and with the clear cover on until seedling emerges.  Once seedling emerges, remove the clear lid.

Make sure you label your seedlings as soon as you plant them; you may think you will remember two months from now what was where, but likely not!  Now is also a great time to start keeping a journal.  Start tracking what you planted when so you can review next year what worked well to repeat and what didn’t work so well to tweak.

Your seedling’s first leaves are not “true” leaves, think of them as baby teeth.  The second set of leaves are their true leaves.  They are ready to be hardened off when they have their first set of true leaves.  Seedlings must be hardened and not just thrown outside.  You take them out a little at a time, gradually increasing their exposure to sun and cold, only during the daytime.  I try and plant when there is a warm spell forecasted to minimize the shock.

There are great selections of herbs and veggies at nurseries and big box stores nowadays so you have great options just waiting until spring is officially here and picking up what looks good at your nearby store in a couple of months.  This is also a great back up if your first seed starting adventure goes a little awry.

Indoor Seed Starting Calendar for Zone 6 Gardens

End of January into February is seed starting time indoors.  I have outlined by month the plant seeds to start indoors between now and April for our Zone 6 garden.

Many big box stores will begin getting in their seeds this month.  There are great varieties that can be ordered on line.   See my blog side bar for the seed companies that I really like to order from.  

Seed packets will tell you how far in advance of your last frost date to start your seeds indoors.  Here is a web page to look up your last frost date:

January and February are cold season crops seed starting time.  March and April is the time for warm season veggie and herbs to get their indoor start.

10-12 Weeks Prior (end Jan/beginning of Feb in our Zone 6 garden)




Beans (dry lima)












Fruit trees bushes















Summer savory



8-10 Weeks Prior (mid-February in our Zone 6 garden)

Bee balm




























Lemon verbena








Summer squash









Winter squash


You can also start perennial flowers indoors as well.  For any plant, look at the seed packet for when to plant according to your frost date.  Then back up the time from there on when to start indoors.  Typical seed starting is 6-8 weeks prior to the plant out date.

For more tips, check out my blog:   

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A greener garden for 2014: Top tips for growing organic flowers and plants

organic flower

Photo: Jay Melissa Malouin

Looking a for a maintainable New Year’s resolution for your garden? Whether you’re looking to attract indigenous wildlife, improve the colour palette of your garden with interesting blooms, or want to create a welcoming space, one things for sure – you should be following the principles of organic agriculture for a beautiful, and healthy garden.

Successfully growing organic flowers, such as roses, can often seem a challenge. Roses, among many other beautiful plants, can succumb to diseases like black spot; whilst many people look to the quick fix of chemicals, it can often do more damage than good, especially when the environment is concerned. Follow our handy tips for growing organic and ethical flowers and you’ll see beautiful, healthy flowers in no time.



Compost is the secret to successful gardening, no matter where or what you grow. Adding much needed nutrients to your soil, it can also help fight off disease and keeps garden friendly insects like worms busy. Mix a good-quality compost from the likes of Organic Gardening Catalogue into your soil when you’re planting a new garden bed or adding new flowers to an existing plot and you’ll see a big difference.


Look after the roots

Be sure not to damage the roots or delicate ends of any plants as this is the primary spot for all the plant’s nutrient uptake – any injury in this area can impair the plant’s ability to feed and water itself. Without those much-needed essentials, your garden won’t end up looking as bold and beautiful as it could.



Some harder soils require more nutrients than compost alone can provide. If you find yourself with a food-hungry plant, invest in a good organic feed to boast growth. Something like the Blood, Fish Bone Organic Fertiliser from You Garden might sound a tad, well yucky, but you’ll see amazing results. It is wise to keep this kind of fertiliser outdoors due to the smell.

If you have any indoor plants in need of a bit grub, try convenient, and less smelly products like dehydrated organic cow-manure pellets and liquid seaweed.



If you find yourself with a few unwelcome visitors, don’t reach for harsh chemical pesticides. Instead, try an ecological pesticide for great results that won’t damage the environment. You can even create your own organic treatments at home such as salt spray, or by combining soap with orange citrus oil and water. For a great how-to article, check out this post on the GHC blog.

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A Fold-Flat Watering Can Designed For Your Cramped Balcony Garden

A Fold-Flat Watering Can Designed For Your Cramped Balcony Garden

If you live in an apartment in a big city, and you’ve managed to find a little room on your tiny balcony for a modest garden, you probably don’t have much space left for the tools needed to toil over your cramped crops. So inventor Marc R. came up with this rather clever soft-sided watering can called the Squish that’s thin and easy to store when it’s empty.

A Fold-Flat Watering Can Designed For Your Cramped Balcony Garden

Marc is working with Quirky to make the Squish a reality, but in the meantime we can marvel at its design. Featuring a canvas bladder like ones many canteens are made from, the Squish expands from just one-inch thick when empty and stored to eight-inches across when full of water. It can hold up to four litres of water, and it features a folding spout that helps minimise the Squish’s footprint even further. Now that the design is nearly finalised, hopefully Quirky will get this into production and in stores before winter. [Quirky via InventorSpot]

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