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Archives for March 26, 2017

Ideas for designing simple but beautiful container arrangements



It is never too early to get some of those cool veggie seeds started like kale and swiss chard. You can also get the containers prepared for a new adventure in landscaping this season. But keep the design simple.

Every summer you will see my large containers planted with ornamental trees or shrubs and surrounded with other trailing annuals and perennials like ivy, Goldilocks, or potato vine. I will bet you are nodding your head right now because you do the same container combo. Ho Hum. This year, let’s spice it up a bit with some veggies!

Keep it simple

First, consider light and water. You can’t just pick any flower and vegetable combinations. They should need similar light conditions and growing habits.

Start with a large container with drainage holes in the bottom. You can use a window box, old metal washtub, or even cheaper metal containers at the dollar store. The container doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be able to let the extra water drain out so the plants roots won’t rot. If you love a container but it doesn’t have drainage holes, get the drill out and make some.

Fill the pot with a potting soil mix and sprinkle in some slow-release fertilizer and water-retaining polymer like Soil Moist. Water your little oasis at least every other day.

You can find some containers that are built to hold layers of plants. Usually they have a basket frame with straw cloth liner. There are holes in the liner to make it easier to figure out where to put the plants.

Grasses stand tall

In my own containers, I like to use grasses as a focal point. They are double-duty plants, bringing height and interesting texture to the arrangement, then are easily popped into the landscape in the early fall. Try a combo of juncus grass with mustard greens, pansies, and cabbage for some oohs and aahhs.

Colorful clipping edibles

Lavender is a nice herb to use as a focal plant in the center of a pot. Who knew? I usually keep them in my landscape bed along the edge, but we are breaking that mold this year. Try planting lavender in the center with ornamental kale on the sides, then finish off the look with edible violas. How adorable and tasty!

In mid-June, plant your melons at the base of a fence and train the vines to grow vertically instead of horizontally. You might have to help the vine hold the fruit in place as it grows with a gentle sling made of nylon, but it is a real space saver in the garden and looks nicer. Melons make a great base plant, and so do cucumbers and squash. Some even look beautiful all by themselves in a colorful container.

Here’s a new idea to try with tomatoes. 

In a layered hanging container, try planting a smaller variety of tomato around the bottom, then potato vine, begonias, and salvia on top of it. Add bonnie grape tomato plants with purple sweet potato vines, lime sweet potato vines, and fill it in with wax begonias and one large mystic spires salvia in the center.

This one will be a show stopper. Cut the tomatoes out after they have been harvested in the late summer and it can roll right into fall.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at:

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Edible Landscapes With Garden Club

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For some, annual garden show a harbinger of spring

BANGOR, Maine — Vicki Grant of Bangor smiled Saturday as she watched her 6-year-old granddaughter, Brenna Hurd, plant a pumpkin seed in a tiny terracotta pot that she decorated with stickers in the children’s area of Through the Garden Gate’s display at the 2017 BDN Maine Garden Show at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

The child also made a simple birdfeeder consisting of Cheerios strung on a pipe cleaner bent into a wreath shape while at the Corinna plant nursery’s booth.

“I’m babysitting for her this weekend,” said Grant, who was shopping for the makings of a succulent garden. “We’ve been before, the two of us. This is something to do.”

This year’s show featured more than 60 vendors offering a range of garden and landscaping products and services as well as healthy living and food products, jewelry, clothes and more.

For many showgoers, the annual garden event was a chance to be reminded that warmer weather lies ahead.

“Everybody’s been really cheery and optimistic about the future weather prospects,” Charlie Longo, a former Bangor city councilor, said Saturday while staffing the Liberty Mutual booth.

“It seems like everyone I’ve spoken to today has been really excited, you know, the quality of the vendors and every booth has been really fantastic,” he said.

Plymouth resident Sharon Pratt, who doesn’t garden but has friends who do, came to check out the landscaping displays.

“I came just to get out and enjoy a semi-spring day, to see who actually followed the theme of the show,” said Pratt, who particularly enjoyed the display created by DePaulo Landscaping and Property Maintenance of Veazie.

The display was one of the big hits of this year’s show — both with the public and with this year’s judges: Todd Bangs of Windswept Gardens, Bangor City Council Chairman Joe Baldacci, Councilor Gibran Graham and Sarah Walker Caron, features editor at the Bangor Daily News, which organizes the annual show.

In keeping with this year’s theme, “Flower Power,” DePaulo Landscaping owner Jacob Earl presented a display featuring none other than a vintage Volkswagen Beetle.

“We got it in Burnham, Maine,” said Earl, who last fall bought the business from former owner Cameron DePaolo, who now works for him.

“We had the idea and went on Craigslist and the next day I found one. We went down to Burnham the next day [to pick up the VW Bug]. It was in the middle of a cow field. Yeah, it was funny,” he said.

“It’s been great. Everyone’s loving it. It seems like everyone used to have one. I heard that at least 25 times,” he said with a laugh.

With flowers and foliage tucked inside and spilling out from the former engine compartment at its rear and surrounded by plantings of such spring favorites as tulips, hyacinths and daffodils, to name a few, the Bug was a sight to behold.

The display required some planning as Earl had to force several varieties of bulbs to flower, which he did in the greenhouse at Sprague’s Nursery Garden Center.

Earl’s display took the first place Best in Show award.

Second place Best in Show honors went to Hickory Dickory Decks, which entered a display featuring a deck and hot tub decorated with a colorful selection of flowers, and third to Maine in Maine Landscaping’s wooden moose and deer, also accented by a selection of garden flowers.

Some garden show regulars, however, were disappointed that there were fewer gardening and landscaping displays and less foot traffic than in previous years.

Betty Snook, a New Hampshire vendor of therapeutic magnetic jewelry, was one of them.

“I won’t be back next year,” said Snook, who has been participating in the show since 2014.

Longo noted that this year’s garden show in Bangor coincided with the Boston Flower Garden Show.

“A lot of the vendors went down there,” he said.

The garden show opened Friday and wraps up on Sunday, when it will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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This week’s gardening tips: Keep Louisiana irises well watered, fertilize your lawn

Check your oak trees for masses of young, black buck moth caterpillars. If you see large numbers of them, consider having your tree sprayed. Ideally, don’t wait to spray until the caterpillars start crawling down the tree trunk or falling from the branches.

Keep Louisiana irises well watered now while they flower and through midsummer. Remove any developing seed pods after flowering is finished.

Thrips are tiny insects that infest the flowers buds of roses before the flowers open, particularly double flowering types. They are always worst on the spring and early summer flowers. Symptoms include buds that do not open properly, and when the flowers do open, the petals have brown, scorched edges. Thrips do not damage the bush, but it is heartbreaking to see the flowers ruined. Spray with acephate or spinosad for control during the early summer blooming season.

If you haven’t fertilized your lawn yet, do so anytime over the next two weeks. Mow the lawn just prior to fertilizer application, spread the fertilizer evenly and at the proper rate, and water thoroughly when you are finished.

Prune spring-flowering trees and shrubs any time after they finish flowering. Have a specific purpose in mind before you begin pruning, and prune carefully to accomplish it. Unless you are creating special shapes, such as clipped hedges or topiary, try to preserve the natural form of the shrub when pruning.

Dan Gill is a horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter.

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Patch Living: Spring Gardening Tips, Recipes And Easter Egg Prep

Go ahead, get your grow on.

Spring has sprung which means it’s time plan that garden you’ve been dreaming about all winter. If you’re a farm-to-table wannabe (aren’t we all), check out this beginner’s guide to growing produce right in your own backyard. Looking for something simpler? Snatch a few of these easy spring gardening products to get your garden started. Read More

Photo credit: Hans via Pixabay

Ace Easter with these egg-ceptional tips.

Don’t you dare start researching Easter egg designs until you read this. The American Egg Board (yes, one exists) has tips on how to get cook a perfect easy-to-peel hard-boiled egg so you can start your holiday prep. Read More

Photo credit: Kristin’s Kitchen (

Say hello to halloumi.

Who needs a piece of grilled chicken on top of your pasta when you could have a grilled, gooey-centered block of cheese instead? No one, that’s who. I promise you won’t miss the meat in this meatless dish. Get the Recipe

Everything you need to spring into shape.

Forget New Year’s — spring is the ultimate new beginning. Whether you have an hour a day to hit the gym or about a minute before bed to get in a few reps with the hand weights, we got you covered with these clever fitness picks for every lifestyle. Read More

Interested in becoming a Patch Contributing Writer? Submit your information here!

Photo credit: Meg Nielson via Unsplash

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Master Gardener: April garden tips

Thea Fiskin is part of the Tulare-Kings Master Gardener program. Visit, email or write UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners, 680 N. Campus Drive, Suite A, Hanford, CA 93230.

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