Author Archives: Adm1n

The Importance of Garden HedgesThe new fashion for planting hedgerows is reversing a trend which has been witnessed over the last few decades.

Hedgerows are ancient structures originating in the Bronze Age. The Romans planted hedgerows to create enclosures for stock and the practice continued to some degree through the centuries that followed.

During the century between 1750 and 1850, The Enclosures Act triggered frenzied hedge planting to mark property boundaries. The character of the English countryside was totally changed. But many of these hedges were lost during the Napoleonic Wars and later in World War II as Britain strived to become as self-sufficient in food production as possible.

The mass removal of hedges from the landscape has had an adverse affect on wildlife. Hedgerows play an important role in feeding, protecting and housing animals, birds and insects. They create much-needed resources to support a rural ecosystem.

But city and suburban gardens too can offer a huge opportunity to create a network of havens. Hedgerows that support wildlife do not have to be exclusively rural; gardeners can play an enormously important role in providing similar habitats.

The planting of hedgerows will create wildlife corridors. These act to link habitats and enable migration. Animals and insects will travel, meet and breed. The wildlife that lives as a satellite population cannot be self-sustaining over the long term.

Bees will in a day, typically travel up to two miles or more away from the hive to feed. But when the food supply is difficult to find, more energy has to be expended in order to collect the pollen and nectar they need to remain well-fed and, therefore, healthy. These insects play an enormously important role in pollinating our food crops.

Most of our ancient woodlands have regrettably disappeared and a lot of the animals that inhabited them now use hedgerows as their last refuge. Hedges accommodate a huge percentage of our birds and small mammals. These in turn can be beneficial to gardeners as they eat pests like greenfly and slugs.

Not everyone has the space to plant a hedge. But planting any plant that supports wildlife is enormously important; creating a service station that will become part of a wildlife corridor facilitating wildlife movement. These wildlife service stations in gardens can be large or small, mainly native trees or bushes and shrubs. They can also be ponds for frogs or banks of nectar-rich flowers like lavender. Plants such as hawthorn or blackthorn provide flowers for insects and berries for birds. These three mentioned plants can be used to create garden hedges.

Lavender is a good choice for a short, uniform hedge and escallonia for a tall one; they can both live for many years and are loved by bees.

Hedges provide permeable barriers that can diffuse airflow but still offer total privacy. They are preferable to solid walls which can draw winds down onto flowerbeds to cause damage. In some exposed places creating a garden without hedge boundaries would not even be possible.

What you ultimately choose to plant will depend on the space you have to fill, the amount of light available, your microclimate and soil type. All have to be considered to give any new hedge, tree or flower garden the best chance of thriving. It is also important to remember that most newly-planted trees and hedges need extra watering in their first season.

Other good plants to choose for wildlife would be: buddleia, cotoneaster, crab apple, dogwood, holly, honeysuckle, hornbeam, ivy, old man's beard, bryony, wild rose and spindle.

In order to create the wildlife corridors needed to sustain a healthy ecosystem, lots of people making small additions to their gardens would make a huge difference.

And if a homeowner is looking for extra security for their boundaries, then a berberis hedge is so full of sharp thorns no intruder would be able to scale it.

The investment of a hedge can pay dividends in many different ways.

How to Irrigate a GardenMost outdoor plants do well with only occasional watering unless they are situated in very poor, free-draining soil or are struck by drought conditions, but those under cover need more attention. Plants can only thrive if they have a good supply of moisture to their roots.

The plants that need the most watering are container-grown or newly-planted. Plants that have just been put in the soil are prone to drying out because their roots are not yet established.

Always water the garden in the evening or early morning because in the intense heat of the Sun not only does water evaporate quickly, it can scorch leaves.

A way of reducing evaporation is to add a thick layer of mulch to the ground when it is moist. Aim to make the layer about 10cm or so. The layer should be organic material such as compost or well-rotted manure or alternatively you could use a membrane designed for the purpose.

When using a watering can or garden hose, try to direct the flow of water to the base of the plant so that the roots can benefit. Keep the flow gentle so that the pressure of the water does not erode the soil leaving any roots exposed. Soil needs to be soaked well otherwise the water will just sit at the top of the ground rather than sink down to where it is needed.

Embedding tubes or reservoirs next to a plant can help get the water from a can to roots quickly thus using water in an efficient way. Home-made reservoirs can be made from cut-down soft drink bottles. Water-retaining crystals are good to use in pots and hanging baskets; add them to the compost when you are planting up.

Garden hoses can be wound onto a reel to keep them neatly tidied away. Make sure you buy one long enough to reach the end of your garden.

Using a seep hose can save a lot of time, especially if you have a large area given over to growing vegetables or flowers. This is a long pipe with a perforated surface that leaks water along its entire length. Seep hoses can be laid along the top of the soil or buried beneath it. They are especially useful in low tunnels where plants are sheltered from the rain and access to them is difficult.

There are also greenhouse irrigation systems that can be connected to a mains water tap or water butt. A timer controls the supply of water to drip feeders. These systems are especially useful for people who work long hours during the week or need to be away from home for many days at a time.

Collecting water in butts from gutters is easy to do. The more roof surface area that can be employed, the more water you will collect. This water is a free resource for your garden and will be especially useful at times when water companies start to ration supplies. A thin layer of oil on the surface of the water will stop insects breeding in your reserves and a lid or grill will stop small animals such as cats or squirrels from falling into the butt and not being able to scramble up the steep sides to freedom.

A lack of water can cause your plants and crops to have problems such as calcium deficiency, mildew or stunted growth and development, so adequate watering is an essential part of their care.

Gardening Tasks for SummerWith June almost over, now is the time to prepare for the gardening tasks which face us this summer - and whilst you may think a lot of the hard work in terms of planting and preparation has already been done during Spring, you'll be surprised at how much there is still to do in the summer.


    • If your decking or patio is looking a little grubby, is suffering from algae or moss - remove it without the need for extensive elbow grease. Instead, turn to your pressure washer and give it a thorough blast, before scrubbing any remaining dirt away with a hard bristled brush.
    • Now is a great time to enjoy the flurry of flowers and colour which blooms throughout your garden. But it isn't just flowers which are likely to be growing throughout your flowerbeds - weeds will be too. One of the best ways to tackle this, without the need for chemical products, is to use a hoe to lift the weeds out of the ground, before leaving them on the surface to wither and die in the sun.
    • Unfortunately, as much as we'd like them to - flowers won't last all season in our garden, so it's important to deadhead them. Once the flowers have become spent, we recommend you deadhead them at the earliest opportunity, as this will help divert energy from producing seeds into producing new flowers. For those taller flowers, make sure they're staked so they are adequately protected against any wind or adverse weather we may experience.
    • Key to helping promote healthy growth in your garden is to water the flowerbeds, pots and lawn regularly. When watering your garden, it's equally important to remain water wise - which is why we recommend reusing dish water (as long as it isn't too greasy) or rain water which has been stored in a water butt.
  • All your hard work in the garden can be undone by Mother Nature, so throughout June make sure you're keeping an eye out for any pests which could feast on your flowers or make your garden look unkempt.

If it's the neighbour's cat which is causing a nuisance in your garden, consider adding cat repeller rods in your flowerbeds. To protect any fruit plants from birds it's recommended to place light netting over the plants.

You should also make sure you are regularly checking your rose bushes for mildew, aphid, black-spot and other diseases. If they appear, tackle the issue immediately using a dedicated chemical treatment. [source: The Garden Helper]

    • Your lawn will require a lot of TLC, including being treated with a complete lawn fertiliser to promote healthy growth, whilst you should also cut it on at least a weekly basis. As a rule of thumb, we recommend cutting a little off your lawn on a regular basis, although take care to only add a thin layer of grass cuttings to your compost bin. Adding too much grass cutting can result in a wet soggy mess rather than compost. [source: RHS]
  • Shade your greenhouse to help keep it cool during the hot spells this summer. Providing adequate shading for your greenhouse will also help to prevent any scorching to the plants which you're growing in it.


    • As June rolls into July, much of the gardening work will roll over too - including the deadheading of bedding plants and repeat-flowering perennials. By continuing to deadhead plants in July, you'll help to ensure continuous flowering to provide your garden with a wall of colour.
    • Prune summer blooming shrubs, once they've stopped flowering, making sure to remove any dead or diseased branches. Carrying out such a task will help to ensure the shrubs maintain a healthy growth as the year progresses. [source: The Garden Helper]
    • It isn't just jobs which have rolled over which will need to be carried out in the garden during July, you should also be using the month to plant autumn flowering bulbs to ensure come the new season your garden is greeted with new colour.
  • Provide woodwork in your garden with a fresh coat of paint. Not only can this help protect the woodwork from the elements, but it will also add a new lease of life and additional colour to your garden - with minimal work being required. [source: RHS]


    • Check your mulch hasn't decomposed, if it has add more and continue to check throughout the month to ensure you keep on top of it. [source:]
    • Collect seeds from your favourite plants, ready to start growing them during autumn and winter so you can enjoy them again next summer.
    • If you've been growing fruit in your garden (or at an allotment) August is the time to prune restricted fruits, cut out old fruited canes on raspberries and lift / pop-up rooted strawberry runners.
    • With August traditionally being one of the hottest months of the year, when cutting the lawn you'll need to take extra care. It's recommended to check your mower's blade for any imperfections - and sharpen / replace your lawnmower blade if necessary. You should also raise the height of the blade so you're only taking a little off the grass with each cut, this will help protect your lawn from drought damage.
    • Continue to tackle weeds throughout your flowerbeds, patios and pathways. By tackling these little and often you'll be able to help your garden remain in top condition. However, it's recommended to avoid using chemical weed killers as these can have an adverse effect on your plants, shrubs and lawn. [source: Wyevale Garden Centres]
  • During the month you'll need to make sure you're regularly watering and feeding your plants, especially those in hanging baskets and pots. If you're taking your annual summer holiday during August don't neglect your garden -ask a friend / neighbour to water it whilst you're away.

Keeping on top of your garden throughout the summer and carrying out the tasks mentioned above little and often, will help to ensure your garden continues to bloom and provides you with an oasis to relax and unwind in.


Starting A Garden In Extreme SummerIf you are a person living in any part of the globe except Antarctica and your area faces drought and scarcity of water, you would baulk at the idea of starting a garden at this time. The extreme heat in climate and shortage of water had even the authorities wondering whether the plants in government-laid gardens would survive. Now, that is the crux of this article? How to save water and start a new garden? It is possible - some sacrifices and smart actions, when made, will help us to start a garden in our home.

However, there are some points that always have to be remembered. Expert gardeners have clearly specified that more plants are lost or become dead as a result of overwatering than by providing the required amount of water or underwatering. The points given below can assist if you are a fresher in gardening:

Every gardener, with a common sense, can easily know that water poured on soil can evaporate easily. You can dig a small area around the plant, cover with stones and rocks where water can percolate down easily to prevent evaporation.

You can also test in the soil moisture the same way. You can poke a stick in the soil around the plant to see if there is moisture. You should water only if there is dryness on the surface.

You can water only near the root tips. Note, that plants do not catch water flowing around and absorb water only near their root tips. The rest of water all around the plant is wasted.

You can put 'mulch' near the plant roots to prevent water from evaporation. Mulch can be prepared from any layer, such as dry leaves, compost, brick pieces, hay to provide moisture near the stem of the plant at its lower part. All the plants, benefit from mulching. However, the mulch has to be changed or moved up and down to prevent infections by fungus and worms.

A grass lawn may be soothing to the eye, but they require water in plenty. Now, we come to the most important part in the article - selecting plants which need less water.

Choose drought resistant plants in the garden. These plants do not need much care, and can thrive in the ordinary garden soil and in the full sun. The best examples are oleander plants. Another plant, if given the natural weather conditions, is Bougainvilleas. They love the heat, and their flowers are bright when there is less water.

There are also other types of plants such as bromeliads, bog plants and water lilies. However, seek the services of a gardener before you start the process.

Water Conservation Lifestyle

Make water conservation part of your lifestyle.

Turn off the taps while you are brushing vessels, or putting soap on your hands and face.

All the rinsed water, without chemicals can be fed to the garden plants.

Fix leaking taps as soon as possible.

How to Plant Garlic From ClovesGarlic is widely used around the world for its pungent flavor as a seasoning or condiment. It is a member of the onion family. Widely used as a flavor in cooking, alternatively garlic can be eaten raw and proven to have multiple health benefits.

It has a rich source of Manganese, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C. Garlic has long been proven to boost the immune system by prevent or reducing the severity of common illnesses such as the flu and cold. There are further medical studies that also prove that garlic reduces blood pressure and improves cholesterol levels.

Sowing garlic is easy and rewarding experience. By growing your own garlic you will be eating fresh organic produce that hasn't been imported. Garlic is propagated by planting the individual cloves in the ground.

Here's a step by step guide for sowing garlic:

Step 1: Prepare soil for planting

Garlic grows best in loose, well drained soil. Typically a pH of 6.0 to 7.5 is ideal for growing garlic. Garlic needs plenty of nitrogen, adding organic fertilizers such as manure is ideal. So turn over your soil to aerate it, add your fertilizer, I recommend using horse manure and a slight amount of blood and bone meal.

Step 2: Sowing the garlic

Split the garlic bulb into cloves, plant the garlic in a sunny, well drained spot with spacing about 10-12cm. Plant cloves approximately 5cm deep with root (flat part of the clove) facing down

Step 3: Water

Water well and fertilizer throughout. Grass clippings lightly sprinkled following sowing to maintain moisture in the soil and reduce the potential for weeds to grow.


Garlic suffers from very few pests or diseases. Some of the common problems associated with growing garlic are (but not limited to) White Rot, Nematodes and Thrips. The symptoms of White Rot cause yellowing and eventual die back of leaves which leads to fungal growth at the bulb base. Nematodes live and reproduce inside the garlic plant eating parts of the stems, leaves and bulbs. Subsequently, this will lead to stunted growth and a poorly established root system. Thrips suck the leaf sap leading to discolored and distorted tissue that slow growth and bulb production.


Garlic is typically harvested from 17 to 25 weeks from sowing. The leaves will typically turn brown, and the flower stems (if present) will begin to soften. One bulb can be inspected by removing the soil around it while looking for clearly defined cloves and bulbs should be full size. Any bulbs that have split are still fine to eat but won't be able to be stored for long.


Allow garlic to dry by hanging in a dark and dry room for approximately one week. Once dry, remove all leaves and stems leaving a remaining length of approximately 2cm from the bulb. Do not wash off dirt or separate cloves as this reduces the life of the clove. Store bulbs in any way that allows air circulation around each bulb at room temperature away from direct sunlight.


How to Care for Orchids IndoorsIt is commonly known that orchid flowers are very beautiful and extremely various. Tropical orchids are cultivated as home plants all over the world, and their popularity is growing constantly.

Orchid biology is often wonderful and tricky in some places. The orchids are so responsive to the care that they may be compared with animals. As only careful parents can manage to grow good children, good plant growing requires careful grower. At the same time looking after orchids such as Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilum, Cymbidium and some other species does not require a lot of specific care compared to other flowers growing indoors.

If you are wandering how to care for orchids, firstly you should pay attention to a biology of a particular orchid genus you will grow. All orchids have some similarities, but also there are a lot of differences among different species. For example, many orchids have a rest period, when they should be watered much rarely and kept at lower temperature. Dendrochilums have a rest period from April to September, while other species are resting in autumn or winter. At the same time there are orchid species which don't have any rest period. All of them require uniform watering through all year. Also different indoor orchids grow best at different temperatures. There are "warm", "moderate" and "cool" orchids.

By applying some techniques you can, for example, get an orchid to bloom again. At the same time there are orchids which will be reblooming naturally every season.

Different orchid species have different ways of propagation. Usually orchids can be easily propagated by division, when they are large enough. Other methods of propagation are not so common, and usually require additional care and sometimes even lab equipment.

First people trying to grow orchids had a lot of trouble, because they usually tried to cultivate orchids in pots with a soil. Most of the orchids with beautiful flowers are epiphytic, this means they grow at trees, but they are not parasitic. They only use a tree as a support to grow on it. That is way most house orchids have to be grown not in pots with a soil. They should be grown in pots filled with substances such as a bark and a moss. Different substances have different amount of nutrients, and different capability of water retention, so how often an orchid should be watered and fed depends on a substance.

5 Awesome Gardening Tips for InspirationGardening for some is a hobby, for others it's a passion. Either ways, gardening demands patience, carefulness and a positive attitude. But knowing some tips and tricks always comes in handy. If you are a beginner looking for some guidelines or if you're an expert who is trying to figure out where have you been going wrong, this article is for you. We have gathered some expert gardening tips that will help you take your gardening experience to a whole new level.

Prepare the Soil well

Plants grow in soil, the soil is what nourishes and nurtures them and provides support to the roots to grow. Therefore, it is very important that you carefully prepare the soil before planting anything in it. Take into account the demands of your plant and the soil type that it tends to do well in. if your soil is not up to the standard, treat it. Divide the soil among different kind of plants that you are planning to grow according to their requirements. The best kind of compost to feed your soil is leaves. Leaves make for the best fertilizer and are totally natural. Also, they are abundant in any garden, so use them to your advantage.

Plan ahead

It is important to plan ahead of your plants. Take note of their growth period and the maximum size that they can achieve once mature. This is because a plant, planted without planning can lead to size constraints and no one wants to go through the hassle of relocating their plants. Moreover, plan the location of your plants in your garden according to their life cycles. If you are growing vines, plan what you want them to climb; this will increase the symmetry and will add to the beauty of your garden.

Tool cleaning is important

Sharp and clean tools make gardening easier and faster as compared to blunt and dirty ones. Always keep your tools in shape so that they may come in handy in case of a garden emergency. Allocate some time from your gardening time to clean and sharpen your tools regularly.

Regularly check for pest infestations

Pest infestations are always easier to avoid if a gardener is able to identify harmful pests before they have reproduced tremendously in his garden. Therefore, it is important that you schedule regular inspections of your garden. If you notice any signs like wilting plants or eaten leaves, take them into account immediately. Look out for pests that may be causing them and do your research on finding and controlling them.

Keep evolving

You just cannot keep growing the same thing over and over again forever, as a gardener. It will not only bore you out of your socks but will make any extraordinary garden seem dull after a little while. Find new varieties that may interest you. When a plant dies, look out for a replacement that you have never planted before. Try new techniques of planting like grafting. Experiment with your garden. This will not only polish your skills but will keep you motivated to put in more and more effort into gardening.

How To Grow And Care For A Papaya TreeA perennial tree, papaya grows best in tropical, as well as subtropical regions, which do not experience freezing temperatures and frost. The fruits of the papaya tree tend to take several different kinds of shapes. Irrespective of the shape that they take, one thing that is certain is that they will always be delicious, so much so that you will find yourself becoming hooked on them.

Generally, growing a papaya tree, or any tree for that matter, tends to come naturally to a number of people. If you are one of these lucky few who can grow this tree where you live. Therefore, you must run down to the store and buy some papaya seeds for yourself.

If you are thinking of growing a tree, then read on to learn more about how to grow a papaya tree.

Growing Papaya Trees

Generally, these trees are cultivated from seeds, which are found inside the fruit. Any papaya fruit bought or otherwise, will do the trick. You can scoop out the seeds and use them.

When sowing these seeds, put in more than a few, to ensure germination. Ensure that the seeds receive sufficient sunlight and, in a matter of a couple of weeks, you will be able to see tiny seedlings emerging. Once these seedlings turn into fully fledged papaya trees, in five or six months, they will begin to flower.

The planting location of the tree is an extremely important factor to consider. Place the tree in your garden where it is protected from the wind, as well as the cold weather. When learning how to grow papaya trees, people tend to forget that they need a great deal of sunlight.

Well-drained soil too is extremely important, since wet conditions cannot be tolerated by them.

Seeds bought from a papaya store will also help in this regard.

Caring for the Papaya Trees

When considering growing a papaya tree, you will need to pay close attention to caring for the tree as well. Learning how to grow papaya trees is just half the battle; the other half is dealing with how to care for them, and making sure that they grow well.

In order to ensure that the young plants thrive in the soil, you should add a fertiliser, once every 14 days. The older ones require less maintenance, with fertiliser needing to be added just once a month.

A papaya store, bought or otherwise, should help satiate your craving for papayas, until delicious ones start growing on your tree. However, nothing will beat the sweet taste of the papayas that you have grown yourself.


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).


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.


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.


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.