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Archives for May 2017

Five tips for container gardening success

Container gardens let you easily dress up your balcony and patio, create a colorful welcome for guests and keep edibles close at hand for cooking and entertaining. Theyre also a terrific way for new gardeners to get started. Increase your success growing vegetables, herbs or flowers in a container with these tips.

Proper plant selection: Select the right plants for the container and growing conditions. Closely check the plant tags for information to help in your decision. Create attractive combinations with plants that look good together and require the same growing conditions.

Dont be afraid to mix flowers, herbs and vegetables: This is a great way to have beauty and flavor on your patio, deck or balcony. Scour gardening magazines and the internet for free container planting plans like those featured on the Bonnie Plants website.

Select the right container: Choose a container large enough to accommodate your plants. The bigger the pot, the more moisture it can hold, maximizing time between waterings. A small pot with a large plant must be watered several times a day during hot weather and fertilized more frequently. Use a container with drainage holes made from material suited to your gardening style and climate. Even if you could provide the exact amount of water your plants need, nature may intervene with an extra dose or two. Drainage holes prevent water from building up in the bottom of the pot, leading to root rot.

Avoid black and metal pots that can heat up in the summer sun and damage tender plant roots. Terra cotta pots are a traditional favorite. They are attractive, heavy and dry out more quickly than some other materials. Glazed pots are beautiful, but tend to be pricey and heavy to move. Plastic pots are affordable, come in a variety of styles and dont dry out as quickly as terracotta. Then theres the sturdy half whiskey barrel. This planter is a longtime favorite, but be sure to drill drainage holes in the bottom if it doesnt already have them.

Potting mix: Invest in a quality potting mix that holds moisture, yet provides drainage. These are usually a combination of peat moss, compost or coir to hold moisture, and perlite or vermiculite to aid in drainage. Leave garden soil in the garden, not in containers.

Watering: Check the soil moisture in your container gardens at least once a day and more often if the pots are small or temperatures high. Water thoroughly when the top inch of soil is dry and allow the excess to run out the drainage holes. This shows you have moistened the potting mix, top to bottom, encouraging a robust root system.

Extend time between waterings with self-watering pots. Their built-in water reservoirs provide water to the plants as the soil dries. Fill the reservoir as needed and make sure there is a weep hole. This allows excess water to drain out of the reservoir instead of oversaturating the soil.

Fertilization: Incorporate a slow-release fertilizer into the potting mix at planting. This type of fertilizer provides small amounts of nutrients over a longer time period. Follow label directions and reapply as recommended on the fertilizer label.

As your container plants thrive and you enjoy the flavorful vegetables and herbs and gorgeous flowers they provide, youll soon look for more spaces to incorporate container gardens into your landscape.

Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books and hosts The Great Courses How to Grow Anything: Food Gardening For Everyone DVD set and the nationally syndicated Melindas Garden Moment TV radio segments. Visit

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Tips for gardening with little kids

We have a little yard (that my husband takes immaculate care of) and area for gardening (we all have our own special talents and gardening is not one of mine), so we’ve given our awesome Nanny Nikki (who does have a talent and love of gardening) and the kids free reign of all that grows there. Nikki is with our kids 2-3 days a week most weeks and they get A LOT done in those days, all while having a great time and learning a lot. It’s a win-win. They reap what they sow and they sow what they reap and all that.  


My kids and our Nikki prepping the plots for tomatoes and strawberries and whatever else they decide on this year.

I asked our Nanny Nikki to give us a rundown of what she thinks important for gardening with kids and here are her tips!

I’m no expert when it comes to gardening. What I do have is a wonder and respect for stopping and smelling the roses. I enjoy the small details that nature creates in the world around us. My photo album is filled with flowers and nature do to research, and feed my fascination. I am also an illustrator and find inspiration in the world around us.

I do not have a yard of my own to take care of (renting in Chicago), nor do I have the time to keep an eye on a plot during the week at one of the many community gardens in the city. I try to experiment and play where I can. To experiment and see what you and the land are capable of is the best part. However, you also need to be able to make it a part of your lifestyle. Like owning a pet.

Here are some tips for gardening with little kids:

  1. Be okay with messy. Flowers and vegetables live in dirt. To care for them you must be one with the dirt. Take away the stress of mud. Playing in the dirt releases endorphins in the brain. And it’s healthier for you and the plants if you aren’t anxious about getting too messy. Make a plan well in advance if mess DOES stress you out. As simple as shoes off before stepping side. Have time for a bath later. Freedom to explore and get your fingers in the mud is the BEST part.
  2. Help the kids plan the garden. Give them options. Find things that they can easily plant. Things they are capable of doing their selves. Succeeding and failing is what it is all about. I find it best to let them try and figure out the obstacles along with me instead of ordering them around.
  3. Start learning the plants in your backyard. When the twins were barely two years old they just wanted to eat everything. Including the dirt. It seems a little stressful at first because you don’t want anyone to get ill. There’s no stopping it… your little one will probably sneak in a taste of something. I find it helpful to have them right next to you while weeding and talking out loud about what’s okay to nibble on and what can give you a tummy ache (like too much dirt). We practice asking before you eat (tip: There are a plethora of weeds that are edible AND tasty. The only down side is neighbors or friends using weed killer. So always ASK before you TRY!) Last year, they wanted to taste everything in the beginning of the season. This year they can identify weeds vs. flowers. They know to ask if they aren’t sure. And they know which weeds are edible and delicious!
  4. If you have a plan in mind for your own garden and find it a bit much for toddlers to get involved, give a designated area for your little ones to explore and terrorize freely!


In their happy place.


My kids have gained such a great respect for nature and greenery and growing our own flowers and food, it’s just remarkable.  Bugs and worms are their friends and they know which ones are to be feared and which are not.  They know what to look for as far as weeds go and MOSTLY only pick those out to be thrown away.  My husband accidentally mowed over some scallions last year and he’s never heard the end of it.  We’ve learned that growing what you eat – even just a few things here and there – is incredibly satisfying.  They’ve tried things that they wouldn’t have tried, had I just put it on their plates rather than have them pull it out of our ground.  


I can handle the flower urns in front and that’s about it (I’m not allowed to touch anything else).  We were super lucky to inherit a bunch of beautiful peony bushes when we moved into this house a few years ago and our neighbor across the alley has given us some irises from her own garden to transplant.  This year I did get super ambitious and planted a little herb pot as well that we munch on already.  Baby steps.  As with everything else, I’m learning along with my kids.  

Have fun and go get dirty!

Post  Links to a bunch of other posts about our Awesome Nanny Nikki!

Thanks so much for reading!  If you like what you read, I encourage you to share the love by sharing this post. 

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How to create a Pollinator Garden

Most people in the Denver Metro area know the Butterfly Pavilion as a great place to take the kids. You get to see amazing butterflies, insects, and Rosie the tarantula. The Butterfly Pavilion also happens to staff some of the world’s leading experts in pollinator habitats, bees, biodiverse garden design, and the global bee crisis. The Butterfly Pavilion’s Science and Conservation Services staff are available to offer support and consultations to individuals, organizations, and municipalities all across the state. The Pavilion was recently featured on a PBS special on the global bee crisis.


The Pavilion’s services including:

  • Bee Keeping: hive installation and maintenance
  • Habitat Garden consultation and design
  • Pollinator Corridors
  • Pollinator Habitat Gardens: consultation and restoration
  • Aquatic gardening systems
  • Integrated pest management
  • Open Space restoration: native plants and ecosystems
  • Biodiversity
  • Plant-Insect Interactions
  • Public Habitat Gardens

All of these services range in price from $75 to $250.

Join the Pavilion’s PACE program: The Pavilion’s Pollinator Awareness through Conservation and Education (PACE) program promotes habitat and species conservation and restoration. They have classes for children and adults and families, networks, etc.




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Who is Joe Swift? Chelsea Flower Show co-host, garden designer and Gardeners’ World TV presenter

JOE Swift is back on our screens to present the RHS Chelsea Flower show on BBC One.

But what do we know about the author and designer who regularly presents Gardeners’ World?

Joe Swift (pictured) will be heading up the coverage of the Chelsea Flower show, alongside Sophie Raworth (pictured) and Monty Don

Joe Swift (pictured) will be heading up the coverage of the Chelsea Flower show, alongside Sophie Raworth (pictured) and Monty Don

Who is Joe Swift?

Joe Swift is an English garden designer, TV presenter and journalist.

He was born on May 25, 1965 to father Clive Swift, who is an actor in Keeping Up Appearances, and mum Margaret Drabble who is a novelist.

His brother Adam is an academic, and his sister Rebecca is a poet and founder of the Literary Consultancy.

Joe is the co-founder and design director of Modular Garden, which is a garden design and build company

Joe is the co-founder and design director of Modular Garden, which is a garden design and build company

How did Joe Swift get into garden designing?

After leaving school, Joe went to Art College, before travelling and working abroad.

He started landscaping in North London, before taking his skills to Sydney and Melbourne.

He then studied garden design at The English Gardening School and launched his own landscaping company at the same time.

Joe Swift (far right) has presented Gardeners World since 1998, with hosts Rachel De Thame (left), Monty Don (centre left) and Carol Klein (centre right)

Joe Swift (far right) has presented Gardeners’ World since 1998, with hosts Rachel De Thame (left), Monty Don (centre left) and Carol Klein (centre right)

What TV shows does Joe Swift present?

Joe is famous for presenting Gardeners’ World on BBC2 alongside lead host Monty Don since 1998.

He has also presented coverage of RHS Tatton Park Flower Show, BBC’s Small Town Gardens and Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

On Monday May 22, Joe and Sophie Raworth hosted a live show of Chelsea Flower Show on BBC One showing a preview of the highlight of the horticultural calendar.

In addition to this, Joe is also co-founder and design director of Modular Garden, which is a garden design and build company.

What has Joe Swift had published?

As well as being a regular face on TV screens in the UK, Joe has also had several books published.

These are called The Plant Room, Joe’s Urban Garden Handbook, and Joe’s Allotment.

He has also written several newspaper columns and has featured in Gardeners’ World Magazine on the subject of home gardening and landscaping.

The Sun triumphs at The Centenary Chelsea Flower Show


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Prairie first-graders’ garden design a winner





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Wasco Nursery offers tips for colorful landscaping from Spring through Fall

With careful planning, you can have beautiful, colorful landscaping from early spring until the middle of fall. By choosing trees, bushes, and flowers that have a variety of blooming periods, you can give your home terrific curb appeal and a delightful backyard to enjoy.

The growing season for northeastern Illinois is generally March through November for trees, April through October for perennials, and May through September for annuals. “Early bloomers that do well here include Magnolia, Redbud, and Ornamental Pear trees,” said Cheryl Monzingo, Marketing Manager for Wasco Nursery. “Dogwood, Smoke Tree, and Lilac trees bloom in mid-summer, and there are many trees that offer outstanding fall foliage.”

Other popular early bloomers include Forsythia and Rhododendron shrubs; Lenten Rose, Bleeding Heart, and Bluebell perennials; daffodil, tulip and crocus bulbs; and annual pansies and violas. For mid-summer blooming options, consider Rose, Hydrangea, and Rose-of-Sharon bushes, and Coneflower, Daylily, and Black-eyed Susan perennials. For fall, plant Asters, Chelone, Grasses, Sedum, and Mums. Evergreens, like Boxwood and Yews, provide greenery all year long, and provide a nice backdrop for flowers.

For color ideas, Monzingo recommends visiting Wasco Nursery’s garden center regularly, and exploring your own neighborhood and town, to see what’s in bloom at various times. “At Wasco Nursery, we offer Creative Landscape Design options to fit the scope of any project,” said Monzingo. “Our knowledgeable staff can offer recommendations, and we present seminars throughout the year. We also offer online assistance through the Plant Finder section of our website.”

Common mistakes include planting only spring bloomers without room to add additional plants that bloom later, incorporating too many plants with similar foliage, and planting only one of many varieties of plants. “It’s best to plant larger groups of one type of plant for maximum impact,” said Monzingo. “We can help our customers create a lovely, colorful landscape that lasts for months!” For more information, please contact:

Wasco Nursery Garden Center

41W781 Route 64

St. Charles IL 60175

Ph: (630) 584-4424

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10 outdoor ideas for boosting the value of your home

Photo courtesy of Zillow

Spring is the season to get head outdoors and enjoy the smell of freshly cut lawns and blooming flowers. As many homeowners get ready to spend their time and hard-earned cash on improving their landscaping for a fresh start, it’s also a great time to think about which outdoor projects provide the best return on investment (ROI).

There are many outdoor features that can help owners enjoy living in their homes, but not all of them will add value for all future buyers. For example, swimming pools might be fun for families who aren’t afraid of consistent maintenance and added costs, but they could send some buyers running. Investing in curb appeal, however, almost always pays off.

“First impressions are everything,” said Jessica Lautz, managing director of survey research and communications with the National Association of Realtors (NAR). “Even in landscaping, we want to attract the homebuyer.”

These days, that initial impression often comes in the form of an online listing photo. According to a recent NAR report, viewing homes online is the first step for buyers, with the vast majority of people saying that photos were the most important part of their online research. If a home doesn’t have the most well-kept and well-photographed exterior on the block, online shoppers could be more likely to move on the next online listing.

Another part of keeping up with the Joneses, of course, is understanding the outdoor trends that are popular in a particular area.

“In Miami, homeowners want to live outdoors equally as they live indoors,” said landscape architect Deena Bell Llewellyn, president of Bell Landscape Architecture and president-elect of the Florida Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. In South Florida, where she works, Llewellyn said homeowners are looking to open their homes completely so that the line between interior and exterior is erased.

“Landscape architects really get into the ‘hardscape’ design for the exteriors,” she said. “Specific things clients really want are outdoor kitchens — very sophisticated outdoor kitchens that might have the same types of appliances they have indoors, outdoor televisions with full sound, and lighting outdoors and outdoor fireplaces or conversation pits that act as part of an outdoor living room.”

Thinking of taking the plunge on an outdoor improvement this year? Check out these 10 projects that could add value to your home today and in the future.

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Tips and trends for today’s smart gardening

Tips and trends for today’s smart gardening

• Try xeriscaping. Instead of turf grass, integrate plants that require less water in your landscape, such as yucca, sedum, salvia, hens and chicks, and some ornamental grasses.

• Have a small city lot? Plant flowering dwarf shrubs. Popular varieties are ‘Spilled Wine’ and ‘My Monet’ weigelas, and the Seaside Serenade series of hydrangeas, which require little pruning.

• Plant pollinator magnets to attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and insects to your urban and suburban landscape. Pollinators need food throughout the seasons. Plants such as ‘Blue Yonder’ veronica, ‘Midnight Prairieblues’ indigo, ‘Trevi Fountain’ lungwort and ‘Miss Kim’ Korean lilac can provide it.

• Succulents are hot. The water-retaining, fleshy-stemmed plants are exotic eye candy in beds and containers. Now there are more varieties, colors, shapes and sizes available than ever before. Echeveria and hens and chicks are especially popular this spring, said Jessie Jacobson, owner of Tonkadale. “Succulents are easy-care once you get the hang of it.”

• Get kids excited about gardening with fantasy fairy gardens. (Tonkadale offers a variety of accessories, houses and plants to create the whimsical mini-landscapes.) “Fairy gardens are an activity kids can do with grandparents,” said Jacobson.


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Diarmuid Gavin to offer gardening tips at Lime Tree Theatre

BOTH seasoned and beginner gardening enthusiasts will have the rare chance to learn from the best in the business this week, as Diarmuid Gavin offers a glimpse into his life in landscaping at a Limerick event.

Fans of the celebrity gardener will be pleased to discover that he is kick-starting his national tour in Limerick’s Lime Tree Theatre this Thursday, and is set to spill the beans on his experiences at some of the most prestigious flower shows in the world.

An Evening with Diarmuid Gavin on May 25 will see the celebrated gardener present an evening of fun on all things beds, borders and the world of gardening.

“I am very excited to be launching the national tour in Limerick, a great city in a great county,” said Mr Gavin, who will also be revealing some mischievous antics at the Chelsea Flower Show and talking about the history of outdoor design.

Audiences will be treated to a wide range of gardening tips and advice, in the first of a national tour of shows for the landscaper to the rich and famous.

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Master Gardener: Garden tips for May | Features |

Susan Moore Sevier 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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