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Archives for April 29, 2017

Melania Trump dedicates ‘healing’ garden at DC children’s hospital

WASHINGTON  — Off in the distance, young patients can see the Washington Monument from the hospital’s new rooftop “healing” garden, dedicated Friday by first lady Melania Trump as a place children and their families can breathe fresh air, “relax and enjoy in peace.”

Features of the Bunny Mellon Healing Garden at Children’s National Medical Center also include doors that are wide enough to wheel in hospital beds, power outlets for patients who use machines that run on electricity and fake grass for patients with allergies.

Trump, who has been living in New York since she became the first lady, has been a low-key FLOTUS so far, but she’s met several times with children in hospitals or care centers in appearances sometimes unannounced and largely uncovered by the national press.

In March, she paid a surprise visit to New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, reading to children in the pediatrics unit playroom. On April 14, she paid an unannounced visit to HomeSafe, a home for abused teen girls, in Lake Worth, Fla, according to the Palm Beach Post. But there were no photos until she tweeted pictures of the encounters.

Earlier, in March, Trump quietly toured Children’s National and visited the garden, helping the children plant morning glories, said to be a symbol of love and renewal.

“We had so much fun,” she said. “I look forward to coming back when everything that we planted is in full bloom.”

In her short speech Friday, Trump, dressed in a mint-green cardigan over a white eyelet dress by Giambattista Valli, thanked everyone who donated their services to help build the garden, declaring that, “The end result is something everyone should be proud of.”

Design/life: Leonie Cornelius, garden designer and interior architect

What’s your background?

I studied Interior Architecture in Sligo. At the time I left in 2006, it was hard to find a job. I also had my son, so I decided to study garden design and combine the two disciplines.

I took part in Super Garden in 2012 and went on to win the show. We went on to Bloom with the garden, and I immediately had a huge amount of clients – that was how I launched my own business, in a fairly fast-track way.

It has been a really interesting arc, because I would have been a contestant, then I was brought back as a mentor, and then last year, Woodies were looking for a new judge and asked me. The designers are really good this year.

“Cookies and Cream” from 2012

What’s a typical work day like for you?

I get my son off to school and then I settle into answering emails. Generally, I take the dog for a little walk, after the emails, just to clear my head and then I launch into work and get some writing underway, or some designs done, or even some site visits before I collect my son.

Tell us about a recent project you have worked on?

That would be my book, Dream Gardens, which I released on 10 April, with Mercier Press in Cork. The book for me has been about trying to make good garden design accessible for people.

There is a chapter which is about stepping back from the practicality of designing the garden and saying ‘tell me what your dream space is’.

People often say: ‘I want a compost bin, and I want a patio and that kind of a chair’ and I say ‘hang on, zoom out and think: how do I want this garden to make me feel, and how can I use it on an everyday basis?’

What’s your design style?

I am always thinking about how people’s lives inside and outside connect – you can really combine those two. That features in a lot of the designs I do.

What inspires your work?

I always try to echo nature. I did a design for a client in Sligo – they’re just below Knocknarea Mountain – and they’re looking out at these amazing meadows and the idea of placing something structured would just fight with the view beyond, so we placed a meadow within a meadow.

It has more colour because it’s a garden, but it echoes what’s happening beyond – it has the same spires, shapes, and movement of the grasses. It’s amazing because you’re looking out towards that mountain, and it all blends into one.

What’s your favourite trend at the moment (if you have any)?

There is a lot of coral around at the moment, I like that. I was going to take that into my garden at Bloom this year but I adore colours that come from natural materials so I have opted for that instead, like when copper rusts and it goes turquoise. I love that.

Woodies are sponsoring my Bloom garden. It is called: Everybody has a Dream. Because I am using the copper, the patina takes a while to paint on – using different vinegars and salts – so we are doing samples at the moment. It is really interesting how you can use a chemical process to bring out more colours.

What’s your most treasured possession?

I love this Limoges mug that I bought at an antiques fair in France. It has a gold base inside so when I drink tea out of it, the tea looks golden. It’s so relaxing.

Who would be your favourite designer, or style inspiration?

A few people featured in Dream Gardens that I find incredibly inspiring– one was French garden designer James Basson. Another was the Sligo-based firm, Noji architects.

What would be a dream project for you to work on?

I would love to work on a range of accessories and furniture for the outdoors.

Have you any design tips for us?

If you’re going about a garden design, dream big and limit yourself later. There’s no reason why you should limit yourself at the start of a design. 

Dream Garden: Creating an outdoor space from an emotional perspective.

Mercier Press: €18.99 p/back.

If you’re going about a garden design, dream big and limit yourself later. There’s no reason why you should limit yourself at the start of a design

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Plant sales among Treasure Valley gardening events

Wednesday, April 26

Hypertufa Pot (Part 1 of 2): 6 p.m. at FarWest Garden Center, 5728 W. State St., Boise. In this two-part class, Rebecca Needles, of the Idaho Botanical Garden, will show how to create a Hypertufa pot. Part one of this class you will form your pot. Part two is a few weeks later, which allows your pot to cure. In part two, you get to put soil and plants in your creation. $40. RSVP to 853-4000.

Saturday, April 29

U of I Master Gardener Plant Sale: 9 a.m. to noon at the University of Idaho Ada County Extension Office, 5880 Glenwood St., Boise. 287-5900.

Blueberries: 10 a.m. at FarWest Garden Center, 5728 W. State St., Boise. Dennis Fix, owner of FarWest, will teach how to grow blueberries in Idaho. Free. RSVP to 853-4000.

Idaho Native Plant Society sale: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at MK Nature Center, 600 S. Walnut St., Boise.

No Space is Too Small: Container Gardening with More than Just Annuals: 11 a.m. at Madeline George Garden Design Nursery, 10550 W. Hill Road Parkway, Boise. Explore creating containers with perennials, edibles, vines, shrubs, small trees, conifers and more. Free. RSVP to 995-2815 or email

Raised Bed Gardening: 1 p.m. at Idaho Botanical Garden, 2355 Old Penitentiary Road, Boise. Tamara Micone, U of I advanced master gardener, will discuss topics of soil choices, watering, planting for increased yield, and how to clean up at the end of season so the bed is prepped for the next growing season. $17 general, $12 IBG members. Register: 343-8649.

Saturday, May 6

Ada Gardeners Plant Sale: 8 a.m. to noon at 10080 W. Secreteriat St., Boise.

Catholic Women’s League of St. Paul’s Plant Sale: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Paul’s Catholic Church, 510 W. Roosevelt Ave., Nampa. Proceeds will be donated to the parish project of building a new events center. 899-7000.

Moveable Feast: 11 a.m. at Madeline George Garden Design Nursery, 10550 W. Hill Road Parkway, Boise. Learn to design your cuisine of choice in a container for enjoyment all season long. Free. RSVP to 995-2815 or email

Saturday-Sunday, May 6-7

Treasure Valley Orchid Society Orchid Show and Sale: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Hilton Garden Inn, 7699 Spectrum St., Boise. Judged show and sale; workshops. $4 admission, free for children younger than 12. 939-1740,

Thursday, May 11

Idaho Botanical Garden Plant Sale for members: 4 to 7 p.m. at Idaho Botanical Garden, 2355 Old Penitentiary Road, Boise.

Friday, May 12

National Public Gardens Day: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Idaho Botanical Garden, 2355 Old Penitentiary Road, Boise. Any leftover plants from the members-only plant sale on Thursday, May 11, will be available. Free admission.

Saturday, May 20

Design with Idaho in Mind: 11 a.m. at Madeline George Garden Design Nursery, 10550 W. Hill Road Parkway, Boise. Learn about the best native, waterwise and regionally adaptable plants for the urban environment. Free. RSVP to 995-2815 or email

Saturday, May 27

Garden Editing: 11 a.m. at Madeline George Garden Design Nursery, 10550 W. Hill Road Parkway, Boise. Learn the tips and techniques for editing your garden. Free. RSVP to 995-2815 or email

Saturday, June 17

Idaho Rose Show: Noon to 5 p.m. in the Aspen Room, The Riverside Hotel, 2900 Chinden Blvd., Boise. Presented by Idaho Rose Society. Free. 440-7826.

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Nikki Negrea: A Welcoming Home Has ‘a Garden That Sings’

An espaliered apple tree underplanted with mixed parrot tulips, “Blue Jacket” hyacinth, muscari and glory of the snow. (contributed photo)

By Michelle Moskowitz
Sentinel Correspondent

Have you ever driven ever so slowly by a Greenwich home to marvel at the richness and beauty of its landscape design?

There’s a good chance the landscape artist behind it was Nikki Negrea, proprietor of Greenwich Garden Design, a high-end landscape boutique firm offering full-service design, installation and maintenance.

Espalier Apple and pear trees flanking a riot of mid-spring color: Rococo and Apricot parrot tulips, pastel mix hyacinths, muscari and chinodoxa. (contributed photo)

Since 2004, GGD has been serving Greenwich and surrounding communities as a single-source provider for all landscaping needs, including extensive masonry work for both residential and commercial properties.

On first meeting Negrea, one is instantly engaged by her bright, confident smile and capable demeanor as she discusses the business—and the art—of landscaping, and the impact it has on a homeowner, on the community, and on Mother Nature.

“A beautiful landscape design makes people feel warm and welcome,” said Negrea. “It of course adds curb appeal, but most importantly, people get inspired when they see that softness (of nature).”

Her passion for gardening and landscaping, coupled with her immaculate attention to detail, has contributed to her ever-growing client base over the last decade.

GGD’s projects range from simple foundation borders of a home or commercial building to multiple-acre master plans, requiring numerous phases of design, development and implementation.

According to Negrea, “symmetry, balance, scale and texture” are all critical components garden design.

One of the firm’s largest clients is The Taft School in Watertown, Conn., where GGD has essentially designed and constructed all the landscaping on campus.

Headmaster Willy MacMullen has said, “GGD has had a dramatic effect on the experience of our campus.”

It’s easy to see how Negrea’s multi-faceted past culminated in the success of GDD.

She has fond memories of working with her mother in their vegetable and perennial gardens as a child. And she drew inspiration from her family’s travels around the world, spending ample time in the French and Italian countryside, as well as in Brazil, where she once lived. These travels helped form her “traditional, European aesthetic,” she said.

Some of her favorite inspirations include Vaux le Vicompte, right outside of Paris, the gardens of Versailles, and Villa D’este, in central Italy.

An English perennial border surrounding the Taft School graduation courtyard. It includes Russian sage, nicotiana, sea oats, “Moondance” chrysanthemums and Van Houtee spirea. (contributed photo)

“Everyone wants to see color and have the feeling of being uplifted,” Negrea said with a smile.

While attending Wellesley College, Negrea spent a semester abroad at L’Universite d’Aix-en-Provence, where she studied landscape architecture, and art history, solidifying her European flair for the craft that would one day become her profession.

Spring and fall are her most active seasons; Negrea plans for them all year long. She seems utterly unphased as she discusses managing numerous projects simultaneously, each staffed with up to ten people at a given time, depending on the scope.

“I love all the elements of this business—the creativity as well as the complexities that come along with each project, such as managing sunlight and soil conditions,” she said.

“I listen to my clients very carefully and to their needs, whatever they may be, whether it be a low-maintenance program or deer-resistant plantings,” said Negrea.

“I personally pick every single plant and tree to ensure it’s of the utmost quality,” said Negrea.

Perhaps Negrea obtained her detail oriented nature and quality assurance tactics from her vast experience on Wall Street, where she worked for ten years prior to moving to Greenwich almost twenty years ago with her husband and growing family.

Negrea worked as a lending officer with The Bank of New York.

She also worked at Credit Lyonnais bank, where she conducted all business affairs in French—all while earning an MBA in finance from New York University.

After moving to Greenwich and becoming an active volunteer for several years (which she still is), Negrea felt that it was the right time to put her green thumb to work and share her love, talent and creativity for landscape beautification.

When asked how she fares as a woman business owner in a field that is dominated by men, Negrea offered a knowing smile.

“While there may only be a handful of us in this business, how many women (or men for that matter) have been through the Amazon jungle? I have.”

She adds, “It’s a wonderful career choice, contributing to one’s community and making people happy and proud of their homes at the same time.”

Negrea remains an avid volunteer by contributing to the enhancement of Greenwich in myriad ways.

Negrea works with “Greenwich Green and Clean,” has donated over 20 trees to the town, and has been decorating the holiday stroll for Greenwichites to admire for the past ten years.

She has also contributed to the enhancement of landscape design at North Street School and Central Middle School, which her children attended.

Negrea proudly recalls one of her long-standing Riverside clients, whose landscape design had an “inspirational ripple effect” on many neighbors on the block, and shares her testimonial words of joy that say it all: “Our garden now sings.”

Visit for more information.

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Beware garden thugs – invasive plants

“Baby’s breath.” The very name hints at gentleness, a perfect label for a plant best known for airy sprays of tiny flowers that act as a bouquet backup to more spectacular blooms.

So you’re likely to do a double take at Camp Ripley (the National Guard training facility near Little Falls, Minn.) and around Park Rapids and Brainerd, where robust stands of baby’s breath have popped up in the landscape. With a taproot and a tendency to break off and bounce across the ground like a tumbleweed, spreading seed as it goes, baby’s breath has become enough of a thug at Camp Ripley that alarmed officials are spraying fields with herbicide.

Is baby’s breath on its way to joining other once-valued garden plants that are now on the state’s blacklist of invasives that threaten Minnesota’s environmental or economic health? Possibly.

“I’m an avid gardener,” said Monika Chandler, invasive plant expert with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA). “When we learn that a plant is invasive, it’s a serious bummer for us, too. These have been really popular plants.”

Over the past 200 years, several thousand foreign plant species have naturalized in the U.S., and about one in seven have become invasive, according to Cornell University. Many of those plants were imported for their value as landscape and garden plants.

Thirty years ago, pink-flowered crown vetch was widely planted to stabilize slopes along Minnesota highways and roads. Purple Japanese barberry, with its thorns and fascinating shiny oval fruit, was a fixture in foundation plantings around homes. Buckthorn hedges were common in older neighborhoods. And I bought supposedly sterile hybrid lythrum from one of the nation’s best-known perennial merchants, planted it in my garden and loved the plant for its beautiful flowers and statuesque presence in the perennial border.

Noxious weeds

Today, crown vetch and buckthorn are on the MDA’s restricted noxious weed list and cannot be sold or intentionally planted in the state. Lythrum, better known by its common name purple loosestrife, is on the MDA control list to prevent its spread. (My plants produced seedlings within a couple of years, of and I removed them.) And next year, Japanese barberry will join crown vetch on the noxious weed list. Birds eat and spread barberry seeds, producing brawny green barberries that naturalize in the woods.

The MDA works with agriculture, natural resource, environmental groups and “green industry” partners like plant nurseries to manage invasive plant threats. Progress has been made, Chandler said. Purple loosestrife has taken a serious hit from an imported leaf-eating beetle that defoliates the plants. Oriental bittersweet, an aggressive cousin of the native American bittersweet, was identified in the state in 2011 and is on the MDA’s list to eradicate. Garden centers in the state stopped selling the plant, and the MDA worked with private landowners, cities and the Department of Natural Resources to get rid of the bittersweet. Working with the University of Minnesota, the state has experimented with using drones to spot the invasive bittersweet on hard-to-access river bluffs and other rough terrain.

While lots of plants romp through the landscape, for the MDA it’s a matter of degree, she said. Siberian squill, the tiny spring-blooming bulb with nodding blue flowers that naturalizes in lawns, is considered an invasive by many but it isn’t going to do much economic harm or hurt livestock, Chandler said.

Contrast that to the knotweeds, a plant that she’s working to assess now.

Japanese knotweed (polygonum cuspidatum) is sometimes called hardy bamboo in Minnesota. The towering plants were a favorite landscape feature in 19th-century gardens. The problem, Chandler said, is that polygonums have no natural enemies. They are early plant colonizers after volcanoes erupt, can pierce hardened lava and, in more civilized landscapes, can break up asphalt, concrete and even house foundations.

The plant is considered a serious threat in England; removing it from the London site for the 2012 Olympics cost the equivalent of $120 million, Chandler said. Chemical treatment to kill the plants takes three to five years.

The MDA is investigating a mystery stand of knotweeds near Duluth, Chandler said. She thinks the plants are a hybrid of some kind, though it isn’t clear where they came from or how they got there. The state collected flower and leaf samples last summer, and is conducting a genetic study to identify the plant and testing to see if viable seed is being produced.

Knotweeds are already a specially regulated plant in Minnesota, meaning they are rarely sold, are sold only with restrictions and can’t be planted near water. Once the Duluth data are in, the state’s Noxious Weed Advisory Committee will discuss what to do.

“You can’t figure out how to manage it if you don’t know what you’re dealing with,” Chandler said. “After that, outreach and education is critical, and working with management plans.”

Gardeners’ role

So what role do gardeners play in controlling invasives? Chandler says they can build healthy landscapes by using information available at websites like the University of Minnesota’s sustainable urban landscape information at, and by paying attention to bulletins about plants like oriental bittersweet and buckthorn, which many people have removed from their yards.

Gardeners aren’t alone in their efforts. Chandler said plant breeders are working on seedless varieties of plants like Japanese barberry, which were valued by landscapers and homeowners for their purple, maroon and red coloration and attractive form.

“Nobody wants to lose these as garden plants,” Chandler said. “We would much rather see these stay on the market, but be safe.”

As for baby’s breath, the jury is still out. Chandler said it isn’t clear if plants have spread from dried bouquets that had viable seed in them or from plants that are self-seeding. Baby’s breath is already listed as a noxious weed in Alberta.

“We are not trying to take away people’s bouquets,” Chandler said. “We don’t know if this plant will be regulated or not.”

For more information on the state’s efforts to fight invasives, check out the MDA website at


Mary Jane Smetanka is a Minneapolis freelance writer, a Hennepin County Master Gardener and a Minnesota Tree Care Advocate.

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Deep Roots Garden Center: A new source for local, organic and native plants on Bloomington’s east side – The Herald

With the recent opening of the new Deep Roots Garden Center, blooms are back at Bloomingfoods East—and so are vegetable and herb starts; berry bushes; native perennials, trees and shrubs; and seeds, tools, and garden accessories.

As I chatted with founders Ramsay Harik and Andy Marrs, busily readying the garden center for its grand opening, a solitary bee poked around the “sales-shed” porch and soon-to-be-filled plant shelves. I fancied that she sought what we two-legged Bloomingtonians had been missing ever since the cooperative grocery bowed out of the gardening business, and that we would all be grateful to have locally-sourced organic and native plants available here once again.

The shelves at Deep Roots are now full and green with starter plants from local growers, many of whom are familiar to anyone who frequents our community Farmer’s Market. Vegetables, herbs and annuals are supplied by Stranger’s Hill Organics and the permaculture nursery Bread and Roses; organic blueberries, raspberries and other edibles come from Brown County’s Backyard Berry Plants; and indoor plants are provided by Linnea Good’s greenhouse.

In addition to organic edibles, Deep Roots provides a much-needed Eastside retail source for native landscaping plants. Ramsay and Andy named their garden center for the extensive root systems of plants indigenous to the Midwest—particularly prairie plants. These roots condition the soil, filter rainwater, carry plants through times of drought, and nourish the above-ground flowers that bring us such pleasure. The two gardeners would also emphasize that native plants are vital to a functioning ecosystem: not only do they provide food for our imperiled pollinators, but also for caterpillars, who efficiently convert the leaves they eat into fat- and protein-rich food (in the form of themselves) essential for migrating birds and nestlings. As the link between plants and animals, caterpillars are key to a healthy ecosystem, and they rely almost exclusively on leaves of the native plants with which they’ve co-evolved.

Luckily for the caterpillars, birds, and us, Deep Roots features a diverse array of native perennials—all from Bloomington’s Ecologic Native Plant Nursery. Native trees, shrubs and vines are sourced from Woody Warehouse near Indianapolis and from American Beauties of Ohio. Most of these woody plants are straight, wild-type species, well-adapted to our soils (clay!) and possessing greater genetic diversity and more natural habits than cultivars. What you won’t find here are the devastatingly invasive burning bush and Callery pears, still inexplicably sold by many nurseries.

While I talked with Ramsay and Andy in the shed, amongst just-open cartons of soil knives and stacks of tubtrugs, passers-by stopped in to seek advice from them on seeds and pruning. The two have a lot of guidance to offer: they are both Master Gardeners and Native Plant Stewards, and Andy is a Master Naturalist and Backyard Habitat Steward. He also works as a gardener and landscaper, and it was through this work that Andy became aware of the importance of native plants. His enthusiasm infected Ramsay, who proceeded to tear out all the invasives in his yard and replace them with plants that fit the local ecosystem and function well within it.

Both men now serve on the Bloomington Environmental Commission, and are working to create a habitat network plan for the city. The plan’s aim is to identify the green spaces in the city with the greatest biodiversity and to link these zones through corridors of native plantings, increasing habitat for pollinators and other wildlife. Realizing that creating a continuous habitat out of our patchwork landscape involves not only public spaces, but also private gardens and landscapes, Ramsay and Andy saw the community’s need for a visible and accessible native plant garden center with regular retail hours.

Beyond the retail center—the plants, the soils, the garden towers; composting and cold-frame accessories, colorful children’s’ gardening gear, lustrous ceramic pots made in Ohio; and an exclusive line of high-quality hand tools that made this reporter downright giddy—Deep Roots is also committed to social responsibility. This underlying principle is expressed in their support of the local economy and fair wages, sustainable growing practices, and the unending process of education.

Ramsay and Andy both attended the recent Bloomington conference “Understanding Native Pollinators and Their Needs,” sponsored by Ecologic and northern Indiana’s Spence Restoration Nursery. Our aforementioned reconnoitering bee, one of some 400+ native bee species in the state, will benefit from their desire to learn and to share their knowledge and experience with the community; and so shall we all—Deep Roots plans to host a series of onsite presentations that bring together local experts with those keen to know more about organic gardening, landscaping with natives, and tubtrugs full of other topics related to creating a healthy, sustainable and beautiful environment, in Bloomington and beyond.

For more information go to

Gillian Harris is a gardener, naturalist, botanical artist and illustrator. She may be reached at

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Gardening expert Mark Cullen’s top 5 weeding tips

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Gardening Tips: April 29, 2017

Earl May’s Tim Rundlett has answers to questions regarding why a Red Bud Tree may not be blooming, how many grubs are too many grubs to find in your soil, when you can aerate the yard and trim a burning bush, and perfect plants for a shady spot. Watch the answers here!

If you have a question for Tim, post it here and we’ll answer it on a future Saturday.

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5 Container Gardening Tips to Follow to Grow Successfully

I look forward to spring every year. I start planning my small raised bed vegetable and herb garden about a month before I can actually put anything on the ground. I learned the hard way that I need to be patient lest I lose everything to an unexpected frost.

My yard is not very big so, I have always filled clay pots with brightly colored flowers to place around the outside of my home. Over the past couple of years, I have expanded my container gardening to include fruits, vegetables, and herbs, not just flowers. I have discovered that I can grow almost anything in a container. Here is what I have learned from my container gardening adventures.

You need to take notes on how much area receives full sunlight and for how long each day. I have underestimated how much sun my containers need by placing them in the wrong areas. Some plants do better in shade than others. So, you need to know how much exposure your containers are going to receive before you start your seeds or buy your plants.

You will need to time the sun exposure in certain areas. Once you know how much direct sunlight your container will get you can refer to a sun calculator to determine which plants will work best. Most seed packets and seedling plants come with instructions that tell you how much sun they need.

This is a really broad category. You can basically grow plants in anything from 5-gallon plastic construction buckets to sophisticated, custom, raised wood boxes. You can read this article to find more ideas about container gardening.

I have experimented with different types of containers. What I have discovered is that you really need containers that will drain. Clay pots with holes work great. Same is true for plastic that you can drill holes into the bottom of. The roots need room and can’t be saturated with water all the time unless you are growing a plant like watercress that needs constant moisture.

Here are a few other ideas for containers:

If you are fortunate enough to be able to find a rich, earthworm filled soil source that you can dig up, then that is the way to go. I live near salt water, so the soil is a bit sandy and likely high in salinity. I generally have to rely on purchased potting soil for my containers. This is usually not very nutritious for my plants.

If you have to purchase potting soil, look for organic soil that doesn’t have any chemical fertilizers or additives in it. You can mix in an all natural plant food of either your own composted vegetable matter, seaweed, free range animal manure, or even fish emulsion, depending on what you are growing.

For fruits and vegetables, you will want nutrients that aren’t going to impart an unpleasant taste into the produce. Here are some ideas of nutrients for edible container gardens.

Seedlings are almost always started inside your home or in a greenhouse where it is nice and warm. Before you plant your seedlings in the containers, let them acclimate to the extremes of the outdoors gently. Place seedlings outside for an hour or two each day for direct sun and wind exposure. They also need to adjust to insects.

If you have been watering your seedlings with tap or filtered water, start adding some fresh rainwater to their hydration regimen. Eventually, allow them to stay outside overnight. Over time they will adapt to the conditions and will survive better once you plant them.

If your containers are inside, this might not be an issue.

Any container garden needs care, just like ground gardens. Pay attention to how much water your plants are receiving. If rainwater is adequate, don’t be tempted to hydrate more. Remember, the containers will not drain as quickly as the ground.

Be mindful of the amount of sunlight your containers are receiving. They may need to be moved if it is too much or too little, especially as the seasons change and days grow longer. That is the nice thing about containers – you can relocate them.

Flowering plants need to be deadheaded from time to time. Herbs need to be pruned so that they don’t bolt and go to seed too quickly. Fruits and vegetables need to be harvested to make room for new growth. Weeds need to be kept in check so that they don’t choke the roots.

Sometimes insects are troublesome. Here are some natural pesticide recipes for flowering or green plants. For edible plants, your best pesticides are beneficial insects and removal by hand of the unwanted invaders. I recall one summer where I daily removed cabbageworm from the leaves of my collard greens by hand. If I missed a day the leaves would resemble Swiss cheese by evening.

If you have limited space or are physically unable to work on the ground, containers may be your best bet for putting your green thumb to use this growing season. There are so many creative options for containers. And, you really can grow just about anything in a container, depending on the size.

Container gardens are attractive and relatively easy to maintain. Though, they do differ slightly from ground gardens. There is a bit of a learning curve. You will get the hang of it with a little trial and error. Try following some of the tips suggested here and you should end up with a bounty of greenery, flowers, herbs, fruits, and vegetables.

We always like feedback from our readers. Please feel free to comment or share some of your own container garden experiences and suggestions.

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Ten Tips For An Earth-Friendly Mount Vernon Garden – Patch

MOUNT VERNON, NY—Getting ready to work in the garden? If so, it may be time to give some thought to the environment. While planting trees and shrubs is an earth-friendly gesture, some gardening practices may actually contribute to pollution.

Here are a few ways to create a beautiful garden while minimizing the negative impact on the earth.

1. Mulching works

Mulching can cut down the amount of water and fertilizer your plants need. Be sure to use all-natural mulch that is free from pesticides.

2. Curb your water enthusiasm.

For plants that need regular watering consider an irrigation system that measures how much water plants get. Use a rain barrel to catch any rain run-off from your gutters.

3. Choose plants that are already at home

Plants that are native to the area are less likely to need help in terms of water and fertilizer since they already thrive in local conditions.

4. Use plants to protect each other.

Plants such as marigolds, lavender, basil, lemon thyme, lemon grass, mint, rosemary, nasturtiums, petunias and chrysanthemums are all thought to repel insects.

5. Banish bugs by inviting birds

Birds love to snack on slugs and caterpillars. Bird feeders and nesting boxes invite these winged bug hunters into your garden.

6. Invite the right kind of bugs to feast in your garden.

A garden with sunflowers and marigolds is inviting to the ladybugs and lacewings that eat aphids.

7. Invite slugs to happy hour.

Too many slugs in your garden? You can keep these slimy intruders off plants by creating barriers of grit or crushed eggshells. Or you can place a shallow dish filled with beer in the garden. Slugs love beer and will not be able to resist getting in over their heads. The dish will have to be refilled when it rains.

8. Give up your lawn.

For many homeowners giving up a lawn may seem like a drastic step but lawns use a lot of water, fertilizer and weed killer. Also, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a new gas powered lawn mower produces as much air pollution in one hour of operation as 11 new cars do when they are each driven for one hour. If you can’t make the leap to a lawn-free garden, switch to a push mower. Cutting the lawn with a push mower is a good source of exercise and the clippings are good for your soil. Use only organic lawn products.

9. Recycle

Use recycled home goods such eggshells for starting seedlings. Scour tag sales for planters and other gardening tools.

10. Choose organic products to fertilize your plants.

If possible, make your own compost. Acid loving plants are happy to have your leftover coffee grounds.

Growing your garden a little greener is an earth-friendly gesture that pays off with planetary rewards.

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