Thursday, September 17, 2015

Maintaining Yard and Gardens in September

Maintaining and manicuring the yard and gardens in September will enable you to have a beautiful landscape throughout the cold season. 

 Today my husband and I took advantage of the good weather and spent the morning outdoors in they yard.  We worked together to create a lovely landscape and cleaned up the  patio by getting the firepit ready for sitting by the fire on cool fall nights. 

We both worked at cleaning up the sand set flagstone patio, I removed the weeds that were growing between the stone and husband put down new drainage rock around the firepit.  When the patio was completed I moved on to my next garden project.

 I dead headed all of the spent flowers, trimmed back the coneflowers and zinnia that started to turn brown from those few nights of low 40's temperature.  Harvested the seeds by putting seeds in Ziploc bag and  then covered the garden bed with cedar mulch.

When all of the seeds were harvested I moved on to trimming back the grass garden because they were overgrown and covered the garden path.  There was enough time to spot check the irises and to pull the weeds and grass that was growing in the bed.  

While I worked on the gardens my husband cut the grass and used the blower to remove the leaves from patios, paths and driveway.  It was a great day to work in the garden, Husband and I accomplished so much and our  September yard and garden looks beautiful.

Here are some photographs of my gardens, patio paths.

End of season shade garden
September blooms of Sweet Autumn Clematis
Updated patio and firepit for Fall usage, firepit and patio designed by Sgolis

Pea Gravel garden path, designed and installed by Sgolis

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Flowers Blooming in End of Summer Garden

Chrysanthemum, falls flower

This week I have a few flowers blooming in my garden but not many. The weather has been cooler than usual at night and my zinnias and coneflowers did start to die off so I cut them and collected the seeds. 

 My four O'clocks started to go into seed, but there are still a few blooms. Other than that the sweet autumn clematis is in bloom, a few belladonna, and the cosmos are in bloom.   The yellow chrysanthemums are covered with buds and blooms and they will sure look pretty throughout the fall season. 

In my herb garden there are a few blooms; peppermint and chamomile and they look pretty.  I looked for the toad lilies but they did not come up this year. I suppose the winter was too harsh last year or perhaps a cat dug them up.  

This week I am enjoying the end of summer/early autumn blooms. How about you, what is blooming in your flower garden this week?

Here are some photographs of end of summer flowers.

Sweet autumn clematis on trellis

Four O' Clock flowers by garden wall


Here is a photo postcard of Belladonna lily.  I captured this photo in the early morning when the flower bloomed. 

Pink Belladonna Lily Bloom Postcard
Pink Belladonna Lily Bloom Postcard by Susang6
Find other Pink flower Postcards at

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Damaged Irises Have NEW Growth: Flower Photographs

Today when I went to look at the irises that were damaged by the lawn mower I was happy to see that some have signs of new growth. 

These backyard irises were damaged when husband cut his corner too close and ran them over with the lawn mower. Know that many of the rhizomes were damages and did die, however some were not as badly damaged and did respond to the immediate care that I gave them.

When the mowing occurred I went to irises aide by applying one inch of compost to the flower bed. Then set up soaking hose to water them with slow drip in the morning. The damage to the irises occurred during the hot summer when there was drought conditions.

 I also treated the garden bed with neem oil extract for spider mites. I used a concentrated formula that you mix with water and spayed the soil at dusk because it is not good to use neem oil in the direct light.

A month after the occurrence I noticed that the irises garden is pest fee and suspect it is due to the neem oil insecticide. I also noticed that the irises have signs of improvement. The leaves that looked sickly are now showing signs of new growth, leaf bud on one of the rhizomes. 

 Granted a few flowers are still struggling to survive and 10 have turned brown and died due to the shock of the lawn mower.  I have not given up. 

 Know that my neighbor has tossed his irises that have had borers into the woods, thinking that they were hopeless and they have survived. We now have wild irises blooming in the woods in the spring, so anything is possible.

Here are some photographs of my irises, all photographs were taken of my personal residence flower gardens.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Outdoor Living Ideas: Creating a Space

Recently one of online followers emailed a question. They told me that they were following my polyvore home and garden sets and my yard and garden secrets blog and that they did not have a patio or a deck, but instead a large yard and wanted an outdoor space.  They asked me if I had any ideas or suggestions. 

 My follower asked if they could create an entertainment or outdoors space where family and friends could sit and enjoy the view of their gardens and lake.  I replied of course you can have an outdoor space and that areas in the yard can be very eye appealing.

Here is a Tuscany outdoor space that I created to show a client what they could do with the courtyard in their townhouse.  Click to view in high resolution. 

Know that you can create a space anywhere and that you do not need a patio or a deck. Although it is nice to find a nook in your yard that has a nice shade tree, garden overlook or in this persons case a view of the lake.

You can create a quick space by filling in an area with gravel, or do a sand set stone patio. If you do not want to do that you can buy cobblestone molds and make your own cement walkway to your outdoor space or base for you garden furniture.

Of course you can always create an area by setting your furniture on the grass, but I would recommend cutting it very short in this area and treating it with an organic insecticide; concentrated spearmint oil or garlic are two products on the market that work very well.

Here are a few outdoor living areas that I designed at The first one shows a natural setting with outdoor furniture, heating unit and fire pit for ambiance. I accented this set with a variety of autumn throw pillows and lightweight blanket. All of these products are from my zazzle shop.

The second outdoors space shows a seating area that is under a gazebo, this space is again set up on the on the lawn with stone path to the outdoors living space. This is an inviting area were friends and family can relax and enjoy nature.

Anyone can create a space in their backyard, find the area that has the best view then set up your lawn furniture, add decorations and create a space that is comfortable and has ambiance. Outdoors living will enable you to enjoy nature and you will feel more relaxed.

***You can buy the cobblestone cement molds at and create your own walkway or unique area for your patio furniture. It is a fun DIY landscape improvement project.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Caring For Damaged Irises

The other day my husband decided to run the mulching lawn mower over my backyard irises. He thought it was a good idea; quicker and faster way to trim back the fans and needless to say I was devastated. Many of the rhizomes were damaged and other plants had no leaves as they were cut down so low that I doubt they will produce flowers next spring or the year after, that is if they survive this shock.
My backyard irises that grow next to the rock wall

Anyway I was upset but today I dried the tears from my eyes and decided I would try to care for my damaged irises; try to save them. The first thing that I did was add some organic compost to the flower bed. Normally I do not cover the rhizomes but today I did cover most of them, leaving only a small section before the leaf would begin. The compost is a rich fertilizer and hopefully will aid in provided the irises with the nutrients that are needed to grow and not die.

When I completed the compost, I then watered the irises, in fact I set up a soaking hose that will provide the irises with a slow drip in the morning.

Presently I am watching the irises for sucking insects like spider-mites and aphids and if I see these garden type insects I will treat the irises with a spraying of neem oil insecticide. My friend is a master gardener and she does not think that the flowers will survive. It is a terrible shock to flowers and like I said the rhizomes were cut.

Know that my husband is a great help to me with the garden and that I had explained how to trim back the leaves, even showed him how to sterilize the garden scissor but he thought the mower was a good idea and cut down the irises. Of course he knew immediately that he made a mistake and did say he was sorry.  But the damage is done.

Keeping Irises Insect Free with Neem Oil

This summer has been a real buggy one. I suppose it was due to a cold and damp spring, followed by standing water due to ground saturation then it got hot and the insects came out in full force. Overall my irises took a beating from the sucking insects and when I found that natural soap  treatment was not strong enough I cut the irises back and treated the soil rhizomes and leaves with neem oil insecticide
Keeping my irises healthy with neem oil concentrate

Neem oil insecticide is natural and is safe to use in your garden. Plus it will not harm the butterflies or hummingbirds. I bought the brand Garden safe Neem oil extract concentrated liquid from The label featured that it eliminate the garden pests; spider mites, aphids, powdery mildew, whiteflies, black spot and rust.

I followed the directions and treated my irises and roses in the evening after the sun went down. It is best to use this plant and shrub spray on a cloudy day or in the evening. Not a good idea to use during the heat of the day or in direct light as it will burn your plants leaves.

I saturated the soil, around and my plants stems and leaves. I am am pleased with the results thus far. Now as far as the grasshopper and other chewing garden pests I plan to treat my entire yard with concentrated spearmint as this was recommended to me by pest control expert.

Know that if you irises are under attack by mites, leaf spot disease, rust and aphids then neem oil concentrate mixed with water will help. If you have grasshoppers or other chewing garden pests then neem oil will not get rid of them

Learn the dos and don’ts for cutting back irises here

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

DO NOT Trim Iris Leaves with Lawn Mower

This post is not like my usual How to care, plant or maintain your yard and gardens, instead it has to do with what NOT to do.

Know that yesterday my husband offered to help me cut the leaves of the irises, because I am having a problem with garden pests and needed to treat the irises with concentrated spearmint.   I thought that the leaves were  cut on irises then it the pest repellent would have a better chance at getting to the rhizome and then get rid of the borers. 

I sterilized two sets of garden scissors and showed my husband the proper way to cut the leaves.  I generally cut them to three inches and the  leaves look like a fan.  Husband said he understood. So I got started with the garden in the front, 300 irises and husband started in the back; 287 irises.

About ten minutes into the project husband told me that cutting the leaves was ridiculous and that he decided to cut the grass. So I thanked him for what he did and went about my garden business.

I heard the lawn mower and was happy the grass was being cut.  A few minutes later my husband approaches me and says “ I cut them too short” I was not sure what he was referring to and asked “what did you cut too short” He replied “the irises” 

Bearded irises growing both sides of garden path
Know that if the rhizome is cut then they are damaged and yes this is too short, I had showed him and thought he understood how to cut the irises leaves.  Apparently not because I followed my husband to the backyard where the Batik irises are planted on both sides of the garden path and yes he did cut them too short and I suspect I lost a couple hundred irises flowers because my husband ran them over with the mulching lawn mower.

Using the lawn mower or grass trimmer is the wrong way to cut irises and if you do this you put them at risk for borers and damage that cannot be repaired. I suspect that they will all die.

Know that my husband can be a great help to me in the garden, and I have no idea why he thought using the lawn more on the irises was a good idea. He watched me cut the leaves so that they looked like fans  with a sterilized garden scissor. I am shaking my head in disbelief. He said he was sorry, but does not really understand the damage that his actions have created.

Learn proper care for irises here

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Gardening Today: Removing Dead Branches from Trees

Husband and I were up early today because if we are going to do any work outdoors it has to be early in the morning because afternoons are too hot. Here in the central states we have extreme heat and drought. To give you an idea the average temperature has been 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with a heat index of 110. We are both used to working outdoors, but this extreme heat is just too hot.

I have been weeding the garden beds and husband removed the dead branches from the Mimosa tree and also trimmed the branches that are too close to the windows on the side of the house. Then from there husband pruned back the poison ivy that was growing over the wall. I cannot touch it but for some reason he can pull out with his hands and it does not bother him.

We worked together today on manicuring the trees and also treated the flowers, shrubs and around the trees with a soap wash to get rid of the aphids, spider mites and beetles

Learn more about mimosa tree by reading my blog post here.  Know that our mimosa tree is no longer flowering so it is safe to trim back the  branches to encourage growth and many blooms next year.

Happy summer gardening everyone. If you are out in the garden be sure to have some water close by. Keeping your body hydrated is the best way to prevent heat stroke.  

Learn more about pruning your flowering trees by viewing this video.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Dandelions: Easy to Grow and Tastes Good Too

Every growing season my husband and I have disagreements about the dandelions that grow in the yard. He thinks of them as an ugly weed and I think of them as a health food. Since my husband was opposed to the dandelions growing in the lawn I transplanted them to their own earth box.

Dandelions will grow anywhere as long as they have good drainage, sun and water. So you can pant them in a container garden, raised garden or separate area in your yard if you trust your spouse not to mow them over.  Dandelions are easy to grow and have a pretty flower however the new leaves and the flowers also taste good.

Dandelion greens are similar to spinach. Know that If you like sautéed spinach then it is wise to grow dandelions. The entire plant is edible; flower, leaves and root. You can serve in salad, chopped as a garnish on casseroles or sauteed as a side dish.

You will feel better when you grow and eat dandelions because the dandelion also has medicinal properties; the leaves are a natural diuretic, plant. The roots can be roasted to make a coffee like drink or herbal tea.  Dandelion is rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, and essential B vitamins. So if you want to improve the health of your liver or gallbladder it is wise to add the Dandelion herb to your garden.

Learn more about dandelions by viewing the youtube video.  

Friday, July 17, 2015

Maintaining Backyard Wildlife Habitat

In 2004 my husband and I decided to grow a wildlife habitat that would naturally provide the songbirds, squirrel, deer and other wildlife with forage. We knew that initially the garden would not do as intended but within a few growing season we would no longer have to worry; the plants would adapt to the garden and the wildlife would have plenty of food.

Here are photographs of wildlife in the backyard habitat 

Raccoon by serviceberry trees 

Black butterfly and mimosa flower

Butterfly garden

Cat relaxing after visiting the catnip garden
Raccoon hiding in the grass garden

Well that was the plan and it worked well the first few years then came the droughts and the extreme heat during the summer months and we lost many fruit shrubs due to not enough water and or pests. We simply could not hydrate the plants with the water restrictions in our area.

So the following year we collected water from the spring rains in the barrels that I bought at This was a good idea, however come end of July we had exhausted all of the water intended to sustain the habitat plants during the drought season.

Know that when we noticed the rain barrel water levels were getting low we then started collecting household water from bath, shower and water used to rinse the vegetables.  Yes taking buckets of water from house to outdoor rain barrel wasn't fun, the buckets were heavy and sometimes the water spilled out of the bucket when lifting to pour into the barrel. But by recycling the water we were able to have more water for the forage plants,  but it was not enough water to maintain the wildlife habitat throughout the summer.

Since we had lost many plants due to our extremely hot summers we decided to grow only native plants and other fruit bearing plants. Also instead of growing the forage plants away from the house we grew them closer. By doing this we were able to hydrate them with soaking hoses in the early morning on our assigned  watering days. We also invested in water retention mulch by Scotts. The cost of this mulch is higher than others but it is well worth it because it does help you to save water.

Initially our plan was to grow forage for the wildlife in our area, but with the changes to climates that idea became costly and one we could not afford to maintain.  Know that the wildlife habitat has changed to native plants that are maintained with the special water retaining mulch, soaker hose system that provide the plants at the soil level a slow and steady drip of water. We set these soaker hoses on a timer and water every other day for two hours in the early morning.

We continue to save the spring rain water but instead of waiting for the water level in these barrels to empty out before recycling, we started a water recycling system that we do constantly throughout the growing season.

By implementing the ongoing water recycling we found that the water barrel watering system does not deplete and has allowed us to continue to water our wildlife habitat during the hottest month of the summer.

Do you recycle water for your outdoor gardens?