Monthly Archives: March 2016

No Fail Perennial Plants for Any GardenPerennial plants are basics that are essential to landscapes of all kinds. These perennials should be as reliable as they are beautiful. Reliability should come in the form of disease resistance, ability to "play nice" and not become a spreading pest and ecological threat, and add to the natural beauty that exists around and outside of the area the landscape is in. There are so many wonderful perennials today that suit needs just right and make great staples, but there is of course always the cream-of-the-crop that works in every garden, under most conditions, and look great doing it. Here are ten no fail perennial plants for any garden (in no particular order!).

Coreopsis: There are many types of coreopsis. The native Coreopsis lanceolata L. is a prairie native that grows quite large and sports beautiful sunny yellow flowers over silvery and textural foliage. In the wild, this coreopsis grows among tall grasses in windy plains where it's much loved by bees and butterflies when it blooms. Then in the fall when it sets seed, songbirds depend on flowers like coreopsis for meals as they bulk up for winter or make their way down the heart of the continent on migration escaping the cold. The types of coreopsis that one sees in nurseries are developed hybrids from lanceolata and others, with neat growth habits and long blooming periods of sporting many colors that include yellow, orange, red, and multicolored themes.

Favorite cultivars include:

- Moonbeam is an extremely popular cultivar of coreopsis that has very light, almost white blooms over neat mounds that stay nice and short and unobtrusive. The bloom time on moonbeam is almost all season long, with constant repeat blooming, especially if you deadhead, encouraging a new flush of growth mid-season. Ideal for areas that are dry and hot, such as in front of borders that line driveways or walkways along pavement or patios.

- Cranberry Ice is a beautiful and bold red petaled variety with white outer edges. The centers are orange ringed with yellow. The foliage is very fine on Cranberry Ice and the growth height is usually less than a foot. Spreading nicely in neat clumps, it won't take over your garden either. Use Cranberry Ice as a mass bed planting or as an accent point in the garden as its color is so punchy, it would certainly add a lot in small numbers to the design of any landscape. Perfect for the front of a border or in a rock garden.

- Rising Sun is a double bloomed type (meaning there are more than one set of petals giving the flower a fluffier look) that is yellow with some hints of red radiating out of the middle on each petal- beautiful! This Variety grows larger, true to its wild ancestor's size (height topping around 3-4 feet in height and spread) and is a serious butterfly attractor. Plant in the middle of borders or in naturalistic areas. Works well in native plant gardening, in prairie restoration, in rain gardens, and anywhere that a not-so formal setting is desired. Pair with beautiful Buddleia Black Night for dramatic contrast and more butterfly magnet power.

Daylily is a common sight in gardens around the country. Even if you don't know what a daylily is specifically, it's guaranteed you've seen them before and remember what they are without knowing their name. They are everywhere and of course, for excellent reasons. It's so well suited to landscape use with its neat growth habit, interesting strappy foliage, and beautiful (and long lasting) blooms of many colors that it makes its happy home everywhere. Here are some wonderful varieties that fill many needs and design requirements.

- Stella De Oro has been a hit ever since it came onto the garden market scene decades ago and continues to be one of the most sold plants for landscapes in America. Super hardy to frigid cold zone 3 and into warm zones 8 and 9, this daylily never complains about the weather. It grows in neat clumps of a foot wide and sends flower spikes up to about 2 feet in height over a neat mound of strappy graceful foliage. Stella D'Oro blooms in a neat and cheery solid yellow and blooms for a long time through middle of summer until fall. You can eat the blooms! They taste like mild cucumber and are beautiful on salads. Many landscapers plant Stellas in masses in home and commercial landscapes- but this limits the possibility of variation and interest thorough the entire growing season. Use Stellas as PART of a border, or as accents here and there and you'll be able to enjoy them as well as take advantage of other plant's attributes. The foliage is a good contrast to many other types of foliage and of course, it will last a long time in the garden without much care and attention.

- While Stella gets most of the attention, wonderful varieties like the Pumpkin Festival sometimes get overlooked- which is unfortunate! Pumpkin Festival is just as hardy as Stella and has the same growth habit, but the flower on Pumpkin Festival is so lovely! Centers are yellow, with a run of beautiful purple followed by cream where the three inner petals are then scalloped and edged in more lavender. What a perfect contrast to Stella! Try interplanting several Pumpkin Festivals in your landscape with yellow bloomers like Stella De Oro or Coreopsis Moonbeam in front for a beautifully designed look without much fuss.

Echinacea is another North American native like Coreopsis, often hailing from the same habitats. Wild Echinacea is also known as purple coneflower, or just coneflower as it's petals sometimes are held facing down below the center of the flower, giving it a cone shape when open fully. Echinacea is also the basis for many natural medicines- usually given as tinctures or teas and is used to combat colds or prevent sickness. In the wild, Echinacea is a highly valuable plant for pollinators and is essential for bees and butterflies alike. In the landscape trade, Echinacea has taken on beautiful new colors of not only purple, but reds and oranges and yellows and whites. They are wonderful in the landscape and a certain necessity. Here are some favorite varieties of Echinacea.

- PowWow White is an older, tried and true cultivar of Echinacea that blooms in clean and beautiful white. Its small height of around a foot and same spread makes it neat and tidy. It does naturalize well when seed is allowed to fall on the ground and overwinter, which in some areas is a wonderful habit.

- Double Scoop Bubble Gum is a double blooming pink and purple lovely variety that grows larger than the PowWow's, and is much loved by butterflies. It does reach heights of 2-3 feet, so using it as middle of the border filler or in naturalistic areas is recommended. Enjoy its punch of color as the deer avoid eating it and it handles drought well.

- Salsa Red is a super bright red blooming and short growing Echinacea that will certainly make a big impact in the landscape over a long period of bloom time. Try planting Salsa Red among Elijah Blue Fescue grass for a perfect bold pairing.

Nepeta is catmint- and where ever you need some problem solving, spreading and hardy, fragrant plant to fill in gaps among the landscape, nepeta will do the trick. If you have a kitty, even better! You probably know that catmint is kitty heaven, and if you let your cat outside, watch kitty enjoy themselves among the catmint. The blooms of all catmints are very attractive to bees, especially native bumble bees that depend on it for nourishment.

- A favorite cultivar of catmint is Walker's Low, because of its small and spreading habit. It makes a decent ground cover that's well behaved in hot and dry conditions and still sends up spikes of beautiful purple blooms that the bees love.

Perennial Geranium: Also known as cranesbill or bloody cranesbill. It's not like the geranium that's sold in American garden centers as a spring annual. This geranium is perennial. It grows well in sunny forest conditions and is of course, a long lived perennial. The flowers are lovely, and the foliage is an interesting shape and texture. Perfect for growing as a groundcover in areas where morning sun and afternoon shade is prevalent.

- Geranium x Cantabrigiense 'Biokovo' is the 2015 Perennial Plant of the Year. It's an absolutely lovely cranesbill, sporting white or slightly tinged with pink blooms over neatly mounded low foliage ideal for the front of a woody border. Very hardy, deer resistant, and long lived.

Sedum is a very hardy succulent plants group that come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and colors. They are wonderful in borders, in foundation plantings, in large pots, and just about anywhere. They all tolerate drought well and love full hot sun. Their late season blooming is beautifully scented and highly attractive to bees and butterflies. There are lots of wonderful cultivars. Here are some favorites:

- Autumn Fire: A tighter and brighter version of Autumn Joy, Autumn Fire holds its heavy bright red heads of flowers up high and proud without flopping like Autumn Joy. In the fall, the red color is a lovely scene with falling leaves and smells lovely on warm breezes. Growing up to 3 feet tall, Autumn Fire sticks to neat clumps and is a perfect plant in the perennial border. Try planting among fall blooming perennial or annual mums of yellow and orange, and enjoy the blazing color when nothing much else is blooming.

- Japanese Ogon Sedum is hardy in a narrow range, from zones 7-9 (where most residents of the country live!). It's a creeping sedum and does prefer some shade in the very hot afternoons. Spreading and spilling over edges and walls, try planting Ogon over rock walls or terraces.

- Blue Spruce: This sedum does look a little like little branches of Blue Spruce with it's blue-grey cast of its foliage and stems. This sedum is evergreen in warmer areas, but is extremely hardy with a wide range of hardiness (zones 3-9). Blue Spruce grows low and wide and is an excellent groundcover for dry areas and rock gardens, and grows beautifully in landscape stone gaps. Try planting in front of yellow blooming coreopsis like 'Moonbeam' for a lovely combo of disease resistance, deer resistance, and vigor in the landscape.

Russian Sage is a standard in most gardens and landscapes where the gardener enjoys the benefits of long lived, slightly unkempt and wild perennials that live a very long time. Cottage gardens, naturalistic gardens, and borders that come between a yard and a greenbelt or natural scenery are all areas where Russian Sage fits well. 'Little Spire' is a smaller and neatly clumping variety of Russian Sage that tops out at 2 feet in height and spread, and is easily added into the landscape where larger cultivars have to be settled in more specific areas. Topped in purple blooming branched spikes of flowers with foliage of finely-cut silvery grey, this lovely plant resembles an airy version of lavender, and in colder climates can even take its place! Hardy from zones 4-9, there's not much area in the country that 'Little Spire' can't be enjoyed.

Ornamental Grass is often overlooked as a residential landscape plant candidate, but it shouldn't be so! More gardens could use the stately vertical lines and graceful seed heads of large ornamental grasses, and the neat clumping nature of smaller varieties. There are many types of ornamental grass, which are healthy and very well behaved. Consider these lovely cultivars:

- Karl Foerster is a tall, clumping grass that reaches about 5 feet high and holds vertical seed heads from summer through winter. Karl Forester can be planted in modernistic landscapes as well as naturalistic ones.

- Pink Muhly Grass is a medium height grass that has the most lovely pink and wispy seed heads of all the grasses, making them stunning and interesting indeed. Undemanding, easy to love, they offer great color and form in the fall when everything else is just beginning to fade away for the winter.

- Adagio is a very full, medium height (3-4 feet) miscanthus grass with white feathery fall seed heads and a neat strappy and slightly graceful arching habit. Adagio is a wonderful grass for all landscapes, doing well in the heat of summer and retains winter interest with its seeds.

Rudbeckia is another North American native flowering perennial that's tough and lovely. As with Echinacea and coreopsis, Rudbeckia is native to prairies, but also has some varieties in other parts of the country- from the east to the west, to the south. Rudbeckias are adaptable and there's definitely a variety or two perfect for your landscape. Here are some favorites:

- Autumn Colors is a mix of lovely bloom colors in yellow, orange, and red in varying combinations. They are a shorter plant, topping out at around 2 feet in height and enjoy full sun. They are topped from summer to fall with loads of these brightly colored blooms that are large- sometimes 4 inches across!

- Denver Daisy is a yellow with a red brick center rudbeckia with a short height- developed for the 150th anniversary of the city of Denver!

And finally... the Leucanthemum, or Shasta Daisy. Children love the classic white Shasta daisies, as they have long tall stems that are easy to pick, and make wonderful daisy crowns and necklaces. The classics are quite popular and commonly seen in landscapes, but there are some cultivars that are not only just as hardy, but have blooms that are show-stoppers.

- A true show stopper, Victorian Secret is a white to cream colored Shasta with full, marigold-like blooms that are beyond triplicate and quite lovely. A medium sized perennial, they are a perfect size for many applications in the garden such as in the front of middle of borders, perfect for "hell strips" along streets and sidewalks, and wonderful foundation planting additions.

- Crazy Daisy is another Shasta daisy cultivar that's also beyond triplicate in petal form, but the petals are curly! What a different textural sensation these are! Same height and form as Shasta daisies, they look fantastic in drifts and in masses. Their shaggy blooms are a lot of fun, and will have neighbors begging you to know what they are.

How to Plant and Grow Snap PeasSnap peas are also known as sugar snap peas. They differ from snow peas by the fact their pods are more rounded in shape and contain slightly more mature peas. Snap peas are a cross between snow peas and garden peas. The whole pod is eaten and has a crunchy texture and very sweet flavor.

Snap peas are a very rich source of Vitamin C whereby just 100g contains 100% of the recommended daily intake. Furthermore, the vegetable provides a good source of dietary fiber (10% recommended intake), folic acid (10% recommended intake), Vitamin A (22% recommended intake) as well as being a good source of iron, calcium and Vitamin K.

Sowing snaps peas is an easy and rewarding experience, not to mention the luxury of having your very own fresh produce available in your very own backyard. Below is a step by step guide for sowing your snap peas:

Step 1: Soil Preparation

Snap peas can be grown from a wide range of soil types ranging from heavy to light soils, although needs good drainage and a friable well-structured soil. The vegetable prefers a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0 and lime should be added if soils are too acidic. Turn over your soil to aerate it, add some fertilizer, I recommend using horse manure and a slight amount of blood and bone meal.

Step 2: Planting the Seeds

Snap peas have a very delicate root system, therefore it is recommended to direct plant your seeds into the garden as opposed to growing seedlings in trays. Sow at a time to avoid flowering during the frost periods. Prepare flat trenches approximately 15cm (6") wide and 5cm (2") deep. Plant seeds at an interval of 7.5cm (3") and when sowing multiple rows allow 90cm (3.5") between each row. Cover seeds with soil and firm down gently.

Step 3: Water Well

Once sown, water well and keep well watered throughout growing. Since peas are part of the legume family of vegetables they are capable of fixing nitrogen from the air and as such require little fertilizer. Snap peas will need to be trained to go up a trellis or similar support (stay tuned for how to construct your own garden trellis).

Pests:

Birds can be a problem for emerging seedlings. If required, cover rows with bird netting until seedlings are 10cm high. Pests and diseases are minimal, although the most likely to damage pea crops are onion thrips which cause spotting of the pods. Caterpillars may also attack leaves and pods. Mildew and rot is also a common problem, whereby the seedlings are stunted and the vines are an off color. Typically mildew and rot is caused by poor drainage in the soil.

Harvesting:

Snap peas are usually harvested 8-12 weeks after planting and may continue for 8-10 weeks. Typically snap peas are harvested when the pod is still flat and the seeds are just starting to swell. Be sure not to leave the pod on the vine too long well before any etching of the veins show on the surface as it may become stringy.

Storage:

You'll get the best flavor if you eat the peas right away (typically same day as harvesting). Although peas can be kept in the pod in the refrigerator crisper for up to a week (be sure not to wash until ready to eat). Alternatively you can wash thoroughly, remove stems and leave peas whole, blanch for 90 seconds then chill quickly and freeze immediately in an airtight container for up to 12 months.

Enjoy!

 

Blue RosesBlue roses are odd yet beautiful. Unlike some other roses out there, this type of rose exudes a different kind of beauty that calms and make you wonder at the same time. Now, before you start giving it or you just want to know its significance you've landed on the right article!

Blue roses meaning

  • Royalty

As the color blue speaks for itself, royal blood and majesty are symbolized by blue roses. The feeling of eloquence brought by these make them popular around people with power and position. They are even used at courtyards or in offices thus adding an impression of authority

  • Complicated beauty

This flower represents that complicated yet alluring beauty which gives a long lasting impact. These can be given to a person with that beauty that is unique and totally extraordinary. It could also mean "I can't get you out of my mind.

  • Remarkable

They are one of those remarkable flowers because of its uniqueness. While most flowers bring happiness and cheer, this brings some feelings that are quite different and unachievable by other flowers.

  • Mystery

That mysterious aura that it brings is different amongst all blue flowers. There is that ambiguous aura which cannot be easily pinpointed or moreover discovered is what blue roses bring. So if you want to enhance the feeling of mystery even at a show or performance, this kind of rose would heighten that mystery and make great audience impact.

  • Endless

A bouquet of blue roses symbolizes endless love therefore they are best for anniversaries or even for one of a kind weddings. These are the perfect choice if you want to truly express to your loved one that your affections are never ending. Its rose petals can even be scattered in the air for a dramatic effect rather than the usual color of red roses.

  • Hope

They symbolize hope. They symbolize achieving the impossible since there is no such thing as natural blue roses. This could also mean hope to gain a love that is unattainable according to Chinese belief. So if you want to express your one sided love, these are recommended.

Despite the sad note that it brings, it is undeniable that they are very beautiful. The mystery and tantalizing beauty that they have are what makes people demand of them more. On the positive note, blue roses symbolize excitement and a sense of newness. In the end it is up to you with how you use the beauty of blue roses.

Bringing The Outside to Life With Garden DecorHave you ever looked at your yard or garden and thought how much you love the outdoors, with its rich colors and smells? Yet, it seems like something is missing from the area that would really bring your garden to life. It's more that the living and breathing plants that you want when you step into your garden. You want to bring to life an entire world of your own, so that you can relax outside in a haven that you have created. What you may need is some garden decor, various figurines, furniture, or even fountains that will make the area a true living paradise.

How do you begin to bring your garden to life with home garden ornaments? The first step is to determine what sort of style you want to present to yourself when you step out of your home into your yard or patio. Are you looking for a tranquil, peaceful setting where you can relax and let the cares and the stress of the day just melt away? Would you rather enter a fantasy world full of exciting creatures and other fun and lively garden ornaments? Take a look at your home decor and get a feel for your own style; you can extend this into your yard, or you can choose to create a unique environment that allows you to escape the every day of being in the house.

Next, you'll match your design and color preferences to the colors already in your garden. You chose the particular flowers for a reason, whether it is the shape, smell or color of the flower that especially pleases you. When choosing garden decor, you can continue with that particular thread, installing a fountain that is complementary to the color of the rose bushes surrounding it or picking out characters that fit the style of the plants you keep. Perhaps a fairy statue overlooking your tulips or a gnome peering mischievously into the vegetable garden would make a good addition to your yard.

Obviously, you never want to overcompensate because then the garden could become too cluttered and remain uncomfortable for you. However, without enough garden ornaments, the sparse design may seem as though it is still lacking something, with the breath of life just out of reach. You need balance in your garden decor, just as with interior home decor, and planning out the location of various ornaments and furniture can be quite a task, almost as if you were an architect drawing out a building plan.

Finally, you'll be ready to get started. The installation of garden decor and garden furniture doesn't have to be completed in one day. In fact, you may get even more satisfaction out of simply working at it a little each day and watching your garden slowly come to life, budding with your imagination and design. One day, a toad might pop up in your little water garden, and the next, you may find that a fountain has begun flowing next to the bed of lilies. Another day, you may have a visit from a mermaid, having lost her way back to the beach. Let your imagination flow, and bring your yard to life with garden decor, enjoying the building and creation of your own private Wonderland. When it's complete you'll have a special place to relax, and leave the worry of every day society behind, that lives and breathes with your creative touch.