|June 1, 2005 11:47 - Containers, containers and more containers
Why grow your plants in containers? Here are just a few of the reasons I have found after a quick roundup of the recent news items:
- You can plant up containers while the ground is still too wet and cold to work.
- You don't have to own a yard to enjoy a garden. All you really need are some big pots and a porch, patio or deck.
- It is far easier to care for a few pots of posies than trying to tame an entire bed of unruly plants.
When it comes to what type of containers you should use, the suggestions are many and varied. Everything from standard pots or wooden troughs to almost anything that you can think of - "gloves, boots, pocketbooks, suitcases, pots, pans and mailboxes" as well as "a moss-grown terra cotta planter, a new galvanized bucket, an antique wire basket or anything else that strikes your fancy".
What to plant brings even more variety. Dark-leafed begonias, caladiums, coleus, fancy geraniums, New Guinea impatiens and scaevola. Mix foliage plants, such as vibrant coleus, chartreuse sweet potato vine and silvery, spiky "icicle" helichrysum, with vibrant flowers such as petunias and daisies. These are the ideas of just two of the people whose sources are listed below. Follow the links for lots more intriguing ideas and helpful hints.
Kathy Van Mullekom
June 3, 2005 11:16 - Mowers, Math and Ticks
"Gardeners must know math" says Dianne Olsen who claims to be mystified by the subject. "Simple calculations leave me weak" she adds. But having confessed her bafflement, she proceeds to give detailed instructions on how to figure out how much top soil to buy if you're buying by the yard and how to use concentrated liquids when the instructions say mix 1 ounce of concentrate to 5 gallons of water and you haven't got a 5-gallon container. So if you're looking for an answer to either of these questions, read her piece.
There are museums for almost anything you can think of but surely one of the strangest must be in a back street of the English seaside town of Southport. This is the home of Brian Radam and his extensive collection of lawnmowers. Apparently he is mad about lawnmowers and he is not alone. Some 5000 people visit his shop each year to inspect his machines. Some do more than look and there is a thriving minor sport of lawnmower racing which has its own British Lawn Mower Racing Association. Read more..
After the "Hay-fever season" now it's the "Lyme Disease season" and anyone taking walks in the woods and gardening in the yard is susceptible to being bitten by ticks that carry Lyme Disease. Perhaps we should all stay indoors!
June 6, 2005 10:00 - Swallowtails, Hummers and Pumpkin Pie
Swallowtails or hummers, which is your favorite? For Norman Winter it is the hummingbirds, but not just because he finds the birds more attractive than the butterflies. His real reason is that hummingbirds do more to get him enthusiastic about gardening. Although he accepts that artificial feeders are necessary, he prefers to see hummingbirds attracted to his plants where they can feed on the food provided by nature. His piece includes a list of plants that will attract the birds and he also mentions a few that will bring in the butterflies as well. Read more..
"Wow! Plant shopping is a real challenge this year" says Nancy Szerlag. "There are so many neat new plants available; it's almost overwhelming." A Tree Dahlia that grows ten feet high and an Arctotis called "Pumpkin Pie" are just two of the newcomers tipped to be the hot picks of the season. Read more..
More plant suggestions come from Madeleine Brindley writing in the Western Mail under the headline "Grow your own medicines". This is the idea of a Welsh herbalist Liz Sanders who wants patients to learn how to grow and prepare their own remedies. "I'm attempting to make people more aware of safe ways in which plants can be used to help them" says Ms Sanders. "If they have an array of herbs in their garden, the whole process becomes more convenient."
June 7, 2005 14:16 - All about Hydroponics
Hydroponics - the technique of growing plants without soil - is a subject that I know little about. I did read a book some years ago and I have seen a few articles in gardening magazines from time to time, but it is one of those subjects that I put on one side with the intention of revisiting at a later date. Needless to say I have still not found the time to do so, but recently I came across a site http://www.hydroponics-gardening-information.com which has all the information you could want about hydroponics. After a general introduction the site has information on the different systems currently in use, environmental factors to be considered, growing mediums, nutrients, propagation, pest control and more. There is even a Hydroponics Club that you can join to keep up to date with all the latest developments. And, like all good sites, it also has its own Blog http://hydroponics-gardening-information.blogspot.com. Well worth a visit.
June 10, 2005 12:47 - Roses and the Duchess of Cornwall
For me June is the month for roses which are now in full bloom all around the area where I live. Just down the road is Mottisfont Abbey, a former monastery turned country house which has a large walled garden full of Old English roses. There are bushes and climbers in all the colors you can think of and the air is full of their sweet scent. It is an ideal place to visit on a warm summer afternoon.
I have come accross two other items about roses today. A new rose named after Camilla, wife of Prince Charles, is to be presented to the royal couple at a gardening show next week. The pale pink "Duchess of Cornwall" rose named after the former Camilla Parker-Bowles, is described as having a spicy perfume. Source
"My neighbors disagree about whether rose bushes should be planted with the top of the root ball even with the ground or planted on small mounds, surrounded by a watering trench. I've never heard of the latter, but then I've never lived in this region, either" is the question posed to Nancy Brachey in her Q&A column. To learn her reply, read more.
June 15, 2005 11:08 - Pot Plants, Perennials and Zinnias
A marijuana growing kit has been given to a local high school to introduce students to plant cultivation in their horticulture class. After police arrested a 44-year-old man who was growing marijuana in his bedroom and confiscated his equipment, the pots and heat lamps were handed over to the school where they will be used to grow vegetables and herbs. Read more..
June has been declared as "Perennial Gardening Month" by, guess who, the Perennial Plant Association. Mind you it makes sense because you are finishing your rush of annual plantings, and now can take a more leisurely and studied approach to perennial gardening. Proper planning is advised if you wish to achieve good result. Read more..
The last item advocated mixing annuals in with your perennial plants and here is a plea to bring back the old-fashioned zinnia. According to Norman Winter "There is a revival going on in the world of zinnias. It's as if people woke up and realized this flower is still great. Couple that realization with some new selections, and our landscape can be full of color for months on end". Read more..
June 17, 2005 15:02 - Blue Hydrangeas and Pippin's Mystery Flower
If you are a regular reader of the gardening Q&A columns one of the queries that comes round at least once a year is "How do I make my hydrangea produce blue flowers?". Luckily this is one that has an easy answer. Aluminum sulfate is what you need as Nancy Brachey explains. Not so simple is her suggestion for a reader who is suffering from aggravating Liriope spicata. Read more..
At first glance Pippin's Mystery Flower appears to be another hydrangea story. A special flower that seems to know what time it is. It grows in what Bob and Mary Pippin call their Garden of Eden. They do not know its proper name but call it the nine-o'clock flower. To find out why, read more..
There is nothing really special about this piece on the GreenWing Gardens & Parrot Cafe but I just keep wondering as to what exactly are "semi-organic sandwiches".
Does a tour of an English country house and garden sound attractive? How about if you could visit without all the hassle of travelling thousands of miles to get there. Then I suggest you try an online tour of the gardens at Great Dixter, home of the famous author Christopher Lloyd. Read more..
June 20, 2005 11:17 - Waterlogged Soil and Mosquitoes
There are a couple of news items today on the subject of soil. "Why Buy Potting Soil?" by Mary Ellen Sweeney is a short piece explaining why it is not a good idea to use garden soil in your containers. Although flowers and vegetables grow perfectly happily in a garden bed, you are likely to encounter problems if you use ordinary dirt in your pots. Read more..
The second piece is by Nancy Szerlag who explores the problems that can be caused by poor drainage and waterlogged soils. After reminding you that placing a pottery shard over the drainage hole to prevent the soil from washing out is no longer recommended, she explains the correct way to ensure good drainage in your containers. She then provides a number of hints and tips for people who suffer from heavy and slow-draining soils. Read more..
If you are plagued by mosquitoes at this time of year then Jeff Ball has some suggestions for you. He proposes two alternative remedies, one that will involve you in time and effort and the other requires some cash. Read more..
June 24, 2005 11:01 - Outdoor Lighting and Poison Ivy
With the patio and backyard being regarded more and more as an outdoor living area, the need for suitable lighting to allow you to enjoy the space after dark becomes an ever more "must have" accessory. The good news is that prices are coming down and "What used to cost up to $2,000 is now running about $50 to $100 for the average do-it-yourselfer" according to Ian Cleghorn, outdoor lighting expert for Home Depot. Read more..
Everyone knows that poison ivy is a plant that should be treated with respect and that a severe rash can result from contact with the leaves and sap. What is not always so obvious is that the poison can be picked up indirectly through smoke, pets, tools and clothes. "Be careful about that friendly little puppy you pet, the purring cat you stroke or anyone who wants to shake your hand after coming inside from a hike or gardening" advises Bill Hendrick. Read more..
June 27, 2005 10:21 - Colored Mulch and a British A to Z
A week or two ago I had a minor rant on the subject of soil and my dislike of the way that such an important natural product is commonly called dirt. Someone who clearly does not share my view is Rosa Salter Rodriguez. According to her "When it comes to gardening, nothing is duller than dirt – except, perhaps, mulch". In fact it is colored mulch that has caught her attention. Instead of boring old brown, mulch can now be found colored bright orange, flaming red or jet black as well as varying shades in between. But what is causing real controversey is that some mulches have been created from recycled timber which has been pressure-treated with preservative chemicals including arsenic. Read more..
If you were asked to to name twenty-six gardening topics from A to Z, how long would it take? Probably not that long, but should you get stuck on the way, here are some suggestions from a British perspective. From Allotments to Zephyranthes, not forgetting Gordon the Gnome and vegan manure.. Read more..
June 28, 2005 09:48 - The Ugly Gardens Project
Have you ever driven past a house and thought: "Wow, that garden is really ugly!", and then kept noticing more ugly gardens the whole day? No? Well Tom Chance has, and he's created a web site to prove it! The site includes a map of his home town of Bedford in the English Midlands showing the location of the gardens which he describes as "aesthetically-challenged". He has recorded two trips that he made around the town with photos of all those gardens of which he disapproved. Just in case visitors to his site become bored with pictures of a minor English town, he has now completed a new project on the Ugly Gardens of Iraq. You can find his site here.