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Your USDA Hardiness Zone

Featured Articles!

Plants Need Their Rest Too

This is about the time of year I start getting inquiries from local media about why leaves turn colors in the fall. What they really want to know is the exact week of peak color to inform the leaf-peepers. I usually respond that the plants are preparing to enter dormancy and peak color depends on prevailing weather conditions and is often unpredictable.

But what exactly is dormancy and why is it crucial to plants? Like explaining why leaves change color, the answer is not straightforward and “depends,” which is not the answer most people want to hear. I’ll attempt to explain in layman’s terms an interesting facet of a plant’s life.

>> read “Plants Need Their Rest Too”       #Colorful   #Fall   #Orange   #Trees
Hold On to Summer

Hate saying goodbye every year to your beautiful flowers? Dry those blossoms and you can keep them for years to come. I’ve always been intrigued with flower drying; in fact I used strawflowers (Xerochrysum bracteatum), statice (Limonium spp.) and baby’s breath (Gypsophila spp.) in my bridal bouquet so I could keep them along with my memories of that eventful day. I even had strawflowers placed on the wedding cake instead of flowers made of icing. I still have those flowers, though they are fading a bit. And they still make me chuckle when I think how my mom bartered manure for them from a neighbor.

>> read “Hold On to Summer”       #Crafts   #Flowers   #How to
Building a Scarier Scarecrow

If you have a garden, it’s more than likely that you also have a pest or three. It should be no surprise that pests and critters like our yards and gardens as much, or more, than we do. We are encouraged to invite wildlife into our yards and gardens because we love seeing them, and, in theory, they help balance our desire for our garden and nature to coexist. But what happens when they go rogue and start eating, digging and destroying all of our hard work?

Scaring them away, or we could say gently discouraging, wild and sometimes not-so-wild critters to “Step away from the garden,” is always a first and sometimes successful option.

>> read “Building a Scarier Scarecrow”       #Decorating   #Fall   #Pests
The Lowdown on Mulch

You may be wondering, why write an article about mulching? Everyone knows how to mulch, right? You buy mulch and place it around your plants. True, it’s not rocket science, but I have seen enough bad mulching jobs that it does merit more attention.

>> read “The Lowdown on Mulch”       #Landscaping   #Misc   #Soil
Gardening is for the Birds

Patience is a virtue, especially in the gardening world. I learned this lesson in a profound way one season while on a morning walk through the garden. As I scouted for disease and pests and checked the ripeness of various fruits and vegetables, I discovered my lush and heavily laden tomato plants nearly covered in aphids. Or so it seemed. Never in all my years had I been the victim of such a harsh attack by these horrid creatures. I’m sad to say that my initial response, despite being an organic grower, was to think I needed some chemical to treat the infestation. Fortunately for my garden, my more rational side suggested I wait patiently to see which of my garden helpers would come to the rescue. And as always, I was not disappointed.

>> read “Gardening is for the Birds”       #Birds   #Pests   #Wildlife
Plant a Delicious Fall Garden

I lucked into elderly neighbors who had gardened all their lives and thought everyone should at least grow a few peppers. In New Orleans, old Mr. Faulk shared with me the heat-resistant virtues of eggplant. A few years later near Tuscaloosa, Mr. Englebert told me to “wait for the September gales” to plant fall greens. I later realized that the September gales were the drenching rains from hurricanes, and there’s nothing like them to keep a fall veggie garden growing fast.

>> read “Plant a Delicious Fall Garden”       #Edibles   #Fall   #Vegetables
Living the Good Life Outdoors

You have probably heard the term “outdoor living.” This has been listed as a major landscaping and gardening trend in recent years. But what does it really mean?

>> read “Living the Good Life Outdoors”       #Hardscaping   #Misc
Better Late than Never

Traditionally, the Midwestern vegetable garden was considered a three-season affair, bounded by the last spring frost and the first fall freeze. True, cool-season gardens were popular in the spring and the fall, but the idea of year-round vegetable production definitely raised eyebrows. Recently, however, proponents of season extension, such as Elliot Coleman, have increased awareness of the possibilities, and enthusiastic gardeners across the region are embracing four-season vegetable gardening.

>> read “Better Late than Never”       #Fall   #Tools   #Vegetables
Patterns by Design

Have you ever walked through a garden where even though there was a lot going on, you felt a sense of peace and restfulness? You may have noticed that your eyes easily found a spot to rest or followed a natural flow that was pleasing, even playful, as it directed you to the main event without ever giving it a thought.

More than likely, you were seeing patterns – shapes, forms, outlines, and configurations that copy or repeat in some way, either in plant form or hardscape, to give overall definition. Patterns are all around us in nature – every tree, shrub, leaf, and flower has its own unique shape, texture, and color.

>> read “Patterns by Design”       #Design   #Landscaping   #Shrubs
Slow Down and Smell the Flowers

During the past few years, the Slow Flower movement has been generating a lot of buzz in the media. Following the success of the Slow Food movement, Debra Prinzing, author of The 50 Mile Bouquet, coined the term “Slow Flowers” in an attempt to talk about some of the reasons for supporting local flower growers as well as appreciating in-season blooms.

>> read “Slow Down and Smell the Flowers”       #Flowers   #Misc   #Sustainability and Self-Sufficiency
Some Strings Attached

In the last few years there has been a new method developed called “string gardens.” The nice thing about these hanging plants is that anything goes. They come in a multitude of sizes – tiny little things wrapped in colorful fabric and tied with embroidery thread or very large specimens in burlap, hung with a chain. They can be pottery, glass containers, or as natural as a moss-wrapped root ball. These are plants that have been wrapped in a variety of materials and hung from windows, beams, or ceilings.

>> read “Some Strings Attached”       #Containers   #How to   #New Trends
Green on Green

If it’s a crime to plant loads of color, then I plead guilty. Color just feels good. Or does it?

The last few years during my morning walks around my neighborhood, I began to notice that my eyes were continually seeking out green-on-green gardens, landscapes that relied on nothing for their beauty other than year-round evergreens and perhaps a lawn area and some especially bright green summer additions.

>> read “Green on Green”       #Ornamentals   #Themed Gardens
 
 
 

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