|January 1, 2005 10:01 - How to lose weight and make your orchids flourish
If one of your new year resolutions is to lose weight and shed some of those excess pounds that you put on over the holiday, Restuccio has a novel approach that should appeal to gardeners. "Restuccio (ress-TOO-she-oh) is a fitness buff who preaches the gospel of aerobic gardening. That means engaging in low intensity, sustained workouts feeding on oxygen for energy. Aerobic exercise builds endurance, burns fat and strengthens the heart and lungs" reports Dean Fosdick. "Restuccio doesn't believe in buying fancy exercise equipment or pricey gym memberships. Instead, he recommends swapping your treadmill for a lawnmower, your stair-climber for a spade." Read more...
On a more gentle note here is some advice on how to care for that exotic plant that you have been given as a Christmas present. Betty Stephenson Ashley suggests that you should consider your plants as if they were people. By this she does not mean talking to them but by paying attention to a plant's likes and dislikes, it is quite simple to figure out the optimum conditions for each individual. Her speciality is orchids and she sets out her three-part process for succeeding with these plants in this article.
January 3, 2005 16:55 - New Year resolutions for gardeners
If you haven't finalised your new year resolutions yet, here are some suggestions. In fact here are four lists from which you can take your pick.
Let's start with a baker's dozen from Joe White in Shreveport, Louisiana. Thirteen practical suggestions culminating with an exhortation to become a Master Gardener.
Coconino County Master Gardeners from Flagstaff, Arizona provide the next list. Read what Ruth, Alice, Andrea, Carolyn, Mark and Wendie have resolved. Then read on to learn the resolutions of nine more.
Geri Nikolai from Rockford, Illinois is the author of the next set of resolutions. Many of her suggestions are geared to her local area but there are some general ideas that will apply wherever you live. Read on..
And finally here are some thoughts from Tom Maccubbin in Orlando, Florida. No surprise to read that his main concern is how to recover from damage caused by last year's hurricanes. However he does see 2005 as a new year of gardening opportunities where you can plan new designs to replace the trees and plants that were destroyed. Read more..
January 4, 2005 10:10 - From ice melters to thoughts of spring
"Ice melters can be damaging to plants" warns Kevin Holyoak. "This is the time of the year that gardening takes a back seat to other activities that may include snow and ice removal. Don't automatically buy the cheapest ice melt product unless you know what is in the product. Gardeners should be aware of the damage these products can cause to lawns, plants and trees." To learn how you can avoid these problems, read the rest of his article.
Did you know that gardening can help heal the sick? Teresia Hazen is a licensed horticultural therapist and uses nature to help rejuvenate the mind and rehabilitate the body. “I can give them the watering can and they don’t even realize that that’s therapy.” Read more..
Looking forward to spring Judy Terry has some ideas for new plants for your yard. After reminding you that your existing plants and shrubs will be growing bigger each year thus making less room for new plantings, she then goes on to tempt you with reviews of new varieties that are available this season. From roses to zinnias and tomatoes to winter squash - learn all about them here.
January 5, 2005 10:54 - Colored carrots and warm weather tangles
If you are a gardener living in Raleigh, NC should you be worried by warm weather at this time of year? The outbreak of warm weather might be pleasant for humans, but it can be tricky for plants according to Dennis Werner, a professor in the horticulture department at N.C. State University. A couple of weeks of mild weather can cause buds to start to develop and, if there is then a return to normal winter temperatures, this can result in damage to the buds of shrubs such as camellias and fruit trees. However Michelle Roberts, a nursery manager, points out that if nights are cool, that lessens the chance of long-term damage. "The nights are still getting cool enough that plants know that it is wintertime." Read more..
Hannah Stephenson writing in The Scotsman has been scanning the seed catalogues for new varieties. She highlights some cottage garden favourites, summer scorchers and one for the conservatory. And then those colored carrots, "Samurai" which is red and pink inside and "Purple Dragon" which is burgundy when pulled from the soil. Although the seed suppliers she mentions are all UK firms, two of them, Thompson & Morgan and Mr Fothergill's Seeds do export to the US. Read more..
January 6, 2005 11:09 - Voracious flower eaters and yet more new year resolutions
These two items have one thing in common - how to deal with slugs and snails. Eileen Ward gives a detailed description of these common garden pests and their feeding habits and then advises on the actions you can take to protect your plants. She mentions the use of beer traps and slug pellets. Of course if you are really keen you can venture out after dark with a flashlight when they are feeding and collect them by hand. Do this for three or four nights and you should solve the problem at least for a time. Read Eileen's article here.
Sarah Robertson takes a different approach in her piece in which she discusses her plans for her garden in 2005. Her hostas have suffered badly in previous years from the attentions of slugs and snails so she is seriously considering replacing them with less susceptible plant species. Read more..
January 7, 2005 10:48 - Out-of-sync rhodos and planning a new garden
If you are looking for ideas for a new garden Ann Lovejoy may be able to help. She has created many gardens in her time and has progressed from yards that have a brief period of color in spring and summer to a garden that is rich in texture, color and movement through every season. Her approach is to begin by selecting plants that provide winter color, texture, form and if possible, fragrance. Long before any roses or poppies are placed, she will plant perimeter shrubs and arrange her privacy screening. You can find her personal selection of plants in her article here.
In her Question and Answer column Nancy Brachey deals with a query from a reader who is having trouble with his rhododendrons. They are flowering in the fall and then they fail to bloom in the following spring. "Is there anything I can do to get them back on schedule?" he asks. Read her reply here.
January 9, 2005 09:43 - Gardening in a glass bowl
If your green thumbs are suffering withdrawal symptoms while you contemplate the snow and ice outside, here is an idea for a gardening project that can be carried out indoors. Create a terrarium. You will need a demi-john locally called dama juana, large candy jar, large wine bottle, fish bowl, alum glass case and/or any other container made of clear glass. For instructions on how to prepare and plant your terrarium read the advice of Serapion Metilla or watch Skip Richter's video.
Here are two suggestions for Arizona residents. Next weekend January 14th, 15th and 16th, visit the Maricopa County Home & Garden Show at the Arizona State Fairground in Phoenix and prepare to be overwhelmed by more than 700 exhibitors. Here are the details. Or if you prefer to stay indoors, Hattie Braun lists her favourite gardening books for high country dwellers.
January 11, 2005 09:43 - Beat smog with rooftop grass
It sounds like one of those New Age schemes that are fine in theory but unrealistic in practice yet this is just what is happening in Beijing. The polluted city is planning to plant grass on rooftops as part of its drive to improve air quality in time for the 2008 Olympics.
"Downtown Beijing is too crowded to insert more green belts, so we'll try it on the roofs," Yang Zhihua, an official with the city's parks and woods bureau, was quoted as saying. Green belts are urban areas set aside for planting trees and shrubs.
Rooftop "green belts" could sprout on 30 percent of the city's high rises and 60 percent of its lower buildings by 2008, Yang said. Read more..
Back to earth with a bump with this piece on the January blues. The excitement of Christmas has passed but the keen gardener is confined indoors with nothing to do but wait for the weather to improve before he or she can venture out to get their hands back into the dirt. But didn't you know that January is "National Mailorder Gardening Month"?
"There's no better way to beat the winter doldrums than to flip through a stack of mail-order garden catalogs," said Camille Cimino, executive director of the Mailorder Gardening Association. Read on
January 12, 2005 09:51 - Squirrel haters love the "Yankee Flipper"
Back in December I mentioned an article I had written about the problems some people experienced with squirrels digging up tulip bulbs. This is just one of the annoying habits of squirrels as those of you who put up bird feeders will know only too well. It can be a constant battle to devise ways of ensuring that the birds get to eat the nuts and not the squirrels. No doubt it has been around for years, but I have only just come across this ingenious device called the "Yankee Flipper". Take a look at this video demo to see how it works. It shows just how persistant that squirrel can be.
If you are looking for some bargains during the sales, Gardeners Supply Company is offering 85% off selected items and you can also get a further 10% reduction if you spend $50 or more. Click the banner for details.
January 13, 2005 10:34 - Preserve the past with Mammoth Red Rock Cabbage
One of the virtues of organic gardening is that your vegetables are tastier and have more flavor than those grown using chemical fertilizers. Anyone approaching middle age who was brought up on home-grown vegetables will have fond memories of particular varieties that are no longer readily available today. This, it seems to me, is the basis of the Heirloom Gardening movement which seeks to grow and preserve non-hybrid fruits and vegetables. Seed saved from the current year's harvest is used to plant for the next season. To qualify as "heirloom" the variety must have been cultivated for 50 years, and some say 100 years. If you are tempted by such exotic sounding names as Brandywine Tomato, Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans or Sweet Banana Pepper and want to do your bit to carry on the tradition, then Gurney's Seed and Nursery have an Heirloom Garden Special for only $12.00.
January 14, 2005 10:40 - New multi-colored rose bushes
In their latest catalogue Thompson and Morgan are offering multi-colored rose bushes. Apparently this is not some new hybrid variety but rather a physical marriage where three different colored roses are plaited together and then grafted on to a 3 foot high stem. Although this is the first time that the company has sold these multi-colored rose bushes, the technique has been employed by nurserymen for thirty to forty years. So, yet again, it is a case of "new news" really being "old news" recycled. The bushes are only available in the UK where new houses have small gardens so compact plants of this type are popular.
January 17, 2005 09:38 - How to create an instant garden
"Are you unsure what to plant and where?" asks Marty Ross. "Pre-planned gardens take some of the guesswork out of gardening. Even if you don't know a delphinium from a day lily, garden plans and the plants that come with them are package deals designed for success. All you have to do is dig a few holes and prepare to accept the compliments." Read on..
Once your pre-planned garden is installed, that's when the real fun begins. You tend the plants and watch them develop to the point when you can stand back and bask in the glory of your instant garden. But it's not quite like that in real life, is it? You need to remember those not so desirable plants that always seem to thrive at the expense of your precious flowers. They are known as "weeds". "Pluck it or eat it" are two of the ways of dealing with oxalis according to Richard Schwarzenberger. Read the rest of his lament here.
January 18, 2005 09:58 - How to create an instant garden (part 2)
Yesterday I discussed the pre-planned garden packages that supply you with all you need to create an instant garden. When you read reports of temperatures of 54 degrees below zero in Embarrass, Minnesota on Monday morning, you need something to cheer you through the cold and dark winter months. I have received an email this morning announcing "Instant Blooms (tm)". "This astonishing breakthrough in prechilled flowerbulbs means you can have flowers right away and bask in the beauty of spring's renewal extra early." Well not quite "right away" but they do promise that these bulbs are "guaranteed to thrive and bloom in magnificent colour just 2-3 weeks after arrival." Just in case you are interested, Daffodils, Tulips or Hyacinths are available from Brecks Bulbs.
January 19, 2005 10:21 - Ward off winter coughs and colds
Winter is the time of year when many of us suffer from colds and coughs and, in seeking ways to relieve the symptoms, search for natural remedies in the local health food store. However there are some easy-to-grow herbs which you can use to make a tisane or tea to help to sooth your cough or relieve the misery of your running nose. If you want to learn how lemon balm, thyme, mullein or rose hips can be used for this purpose, then an article by Hannah Stephenson in The Scotsman reveals all. Read on..
The information in the article is taken from "The Healing Garden" by Sue Minter horticultural director at the Eden Project and former curator of the Chelsea Physic Garden.
January 20, 2005 10:01 - What is cockney rhyming slang for a lawnmower?
It's being cast in bronze to honor one of the UK's most famous gardening personalities, Percy Thrower. He was the first gardener to become a household name when he joined the BBC's "Gardeners Club" in 1956. To mark the 60th anniversary of his arrival in the county of Shropshire the local paper, the Shropshire Star, has commissioned a life-size bronze bust to immortalise the man who inspired many to sow their first seeds. Read more..
AS we crawl through January here are two winter survival tips. The first from Susan Mahler in New England suggests that you should get out and visit local greenhouses to seek out displays of orchids and multi-colored Cineraria to lift your spirits. Maggie Wolf in Salt Lake City takes a different tack and tells how she seeks consolation in caring for her collection of houseplants at home.
Before I became aware of blogs and blogging, my first attempt at online publishing was a monthly newsletter called "Garden Ramblings". The January issue is now available. Sign up for a subscription at Garden Ramblings and you will receive a free copy of "Homeowners Guide To Landscaping".
January 21, 2005 09:30 - What do Hope, Powder Puff, Electric Blue, Hollywood, Peach Flambe and Stoplight have in common?
If you are looking for new perennial varieties to plant this spring, here are a few of the names you need to remember. Hope, Powder Puff, Electric Blue, Hollywood, Peach Flambe and Stoplight are just some suggested by Sarah Robertson. You can read her descriptions of these and other exciting new plants here.
"Beautiful Dirt" is the title of a piece by Kali Robson in which she discusses that remarkable stuff known as soil. After an explanation of how soil is formed and how it changes over time, she stresses the importance of incorporating organic matter and extols the benefits of compost. Read more..
Do you want to know whether you can move a two year old butterfly bush to a new location? Or how to deal with a rabbit's foot fern that has outgrown its pot? Or what to do about crabgrass that is not crabgrass but is really something else? If so, just ask Nancy Brachey who gives you her answers here.
January 23, 2005 10:00 - Are you bored with begonias or missing your lawnmower?
"Tired of plain red begonias? Bored with pale pink petunias?" asks Kathy Van Mullekom. Is this an introduction to new and exciting alternatives to these traditional favourites? Not at all. What she describes are new varieties of these boring plain red begonias and pale pink petunias so, if you are a fan of these familiar flowers, read on to find out what is in store for the coming season.
If you are suffering lawnmower withdrawal symptoms, here's an idea that will allow you to enjoy your grass indoors while you are waiting for your lawn to start its regrowth. This is another suggestion by Kathy Van Mullekom. Learn "how to turn a one-pound package of winter wheat into little thickets of grass you can use as decorative touches around your house or apartment. Young or old can create these grassy plots, then use them to display, hide or accent brightly colored eggs you decorate for Easter on March 27". Read more..
January 24, 2005 09:37 - How to protect your garden from deer and moles
During the cold of winter when food in the wild is scarce, deer venture into gardens to satisfy their hunger. While deer are attractive animals and you would not wish to harm them, you will not relish the prospect of your precious plants and shrubs being damaged. In his article Tim Lamprey discusses the various forms of deer repellent that are available and how to achieve success with these products. One other method that he does not mention is a mechanical device that sends a squirt of water at the deer when it enters a protected area. Further details can be found here. Although this article deals with cats, the same principles will apply to deer.
If you are having problems with moles right now then pray for the return of cold weather is the gist of the advice from Richard Nunnally. Moles hibernate during the cold periods of the year but any unseasonal warmth can wake them and prompt their search for food. Read more..
January 26, 2005 09:58 - Japanese Goldfish and the Origin of Plants
Have you ever wondered where the plants in your garden came from? All plants have a long and interesting history many dating back to classical times, don't they? Wrong! Take Broccoli for instance. "There is no evidence of this crop before the 18th century when it was reported growing wild on the cliffs near Naples. Cucumbers, on the other hand, have been cultivated in India for thousands of years and are thought to be derived from a wild cucumber type plant which grows in the foothills of the Himalayas" according to Don Bickel who has been studying “The Cultural History of Plants,” published by Routledge. Read more..
Japanese Goldfish is the generic term that covers the various species of goldfish that are raised by fish breeders in Japan. The main varieties are Tosakin, Ranchu, Jinkin, Nankin, Suminishiki, Orandas, Edonishki and Akinishiki. Of these the Tosakins are probably the rarest and most beautiful result of the hundreds of years of Goldfish breeding. Read on..
January 27, 2005 09:33 - Koi pond filters and the meaning of Shade
Koi pond filters are essential if you are to keep your precious fish happy and healthy. The purpose of the filter is to keep the water clean and clear so that you are not troubled by the problem of green algae clouding your pond.
An efficient filtration system consists of two elements. The first is a biological filter and the second is an Ultraviolet light. Both fish and decaying plants produce toxic ammonia which needs to be removed from your pond. The biological filter converts the ammonia to nitrates and nitrogen which acts as a fertilizer for the aquatic plants. In this way the harmful substances are removed and converted into useful plant food. Unless steps are taken to control the situation algae will form a green cloud in your pond during hot and sunny weather. The ultraviolet or UV light acts to kill the algae which will ensure that your pond water says bright and clear. Read on..
"In gardening there can be many shades of shade" says Sarah Robertson. In this interesting piece she discusses the reasons why certain plants fail to thrive because they have been planted in an unsuitable position even when you thought that you had followed the instructions on the label. She explains why the terms "half shade" and "full shade" are not enough on their own but that you also need to consider the aspect of the site and the presence of walls and fences. Read more..
January 28, 2005 09:20 - Local florist Chicago and an Oxalis blunder
If you are looking for a Local florist Chicago City, you have come to the right place. Here you will find a list of local Chicago florists who can supply your needs. Beautiful flowers for those you love to suit every occasion.
But before we list the names, can we just check out exactly what it is that you want. Is it to find a local florist near where you live in Chicago so that you can pop out and buy flowers yourself? Or do you want to send flowers to someone living in Chicago? Or even to send flowers to someone living elsewhere? If that's the case, then the nearest "local" is right in front of your nose on your computer. Read on..
This reader was given a pot of oxalis and was captivated by its shamrock-like leaves and pretty, lavender-pink flowers. Unfortunately he made the mistake of planting it in his shrub border where it has spread wildly and become an invasive weed. The gardening correspondent makes his suggestions as to how the weed can be eradicated but I fear that he is being rather optimistic. From personal experience I can vouch for the fact that, like vinca major the dreaded bindweed, every last fragment of root or bulbil will grow again and you will be left with a permanent resident. Read more..
January 29, 2005 13:03 - From pond heaters to watering in the heat
For those of you who are living in those parts of the country that are still in the depths of winter here are two items from warmer regions which will either cheer you with the thought of warm weather to come or make you green with envy. In fact although the first piece starts by commenting that "it has been so warm this winter", it then tells you that it is time to get outside and prune your roses and gives detailed instructions as to how this should be done. Read the article by Cecily Gill from Tucson.
"THE hot and dry season has descended on us and suddenly everything green in the garden turns desiccated and dusty as early as 10 in the morning" reports Linda Kumar from Malaysia. After giving practical advice on watering in the heat, she continues with some intriguing information about "good luck" plants, feng shui and exotic chinese names. Read more..
On the winter front here is a note about pond heaters and garden pond de-icers.
January 30, 2005 20:35 - Reluctant Jade plants and an old golf bag
Do you have a jade plant that has never bloomed? Well you're not alone. "Some people go years and years and even forever without seeing their jade plants bloom. Les Broadstreet had gone 40-some years before one of his jades -- and it's not his oldest -- started blooming recently. It was in full flower this week" reported Annie Calovich. To find out whether there is an easy answer to this problem, you will have to read the rest of her article.
Here's a novel idea if you've recently given up golf (unlikely) or have an old golf bag lying around forgotten and unused. Take out the clubs and put in some tools like a shovel or rake. In the pockets you can put your pruner and other small hand tools. Then slip the bag over your shoulder and you will have all your tools to hand as you walk around your yard. This tip comes from Anne Clapp and there's even a video too!
January 31, 2005 09:52 - 5 Gardening Myths and DIY Concrete Leaves
“Everybody knows ... everybody says ...” "These are some of the most deceptive words in gardening" according to Joel M. Lerner. "Just because something is conventional doesn’t mean it’s wisdom. A lot of views “everybody” subscribes to in gardening are simply myths, and some ideas that have been accepted by “experts” have, with more time and research, proved to be wrong." Read on..
Have you seen large concrete leaves decorating fountains and gardens, or have you seen photos of these unusual sculptural accents in gardening magazines? If so, you may have wondered how they're made. Pete Havekost and his wife Dianne are now providing an illustrated tutorial to show you exactly how to make your own concrete leaves. You can find it online at concretegardenleaves.com