Saturday, September 3, 2022

Summer Patio Container Gardens

 This year we planted a variety of flower and herb container gardens for our patio and enjoyed them all summer long.  Now that summer is ending the container gardens are in full bloom and have added color and interest.

Here are some photographs of my container gardens.


Know that this summer’s heat was on record for being the hottest summer in history.  Not only was it extreme heat there were also water shortages.   We were able to keep the container gardens hydrated by reusing household water, such as water used to cook vegetables or to rinse the vegetables and fruit in the sink.

While it took some creativeness to find water for the containers, know that our efforts were worth it.  It's now the end of summer, the weather is cooler and the container gardens are in full bloom


Thursday, July 7, 2022

Outdoor Accessories for Yard and Garden

Adding outdoor accessories is a great way to add ambiance to your yard and garden.  While your flowers add color and fragrance the garden accessories will add appealing interest as they are a focal area to your outdoor space.


Right now my summer flowers have bloomed and we are waiting for the end of summer flower buds to bloom.  So the garden accessories, solar peacock, flamingo, patio fountain, wind spinner, and garden flags that I bought at Amazon. Zazzle and Big Lots look really nice.

When you add decorations like the ones that I mentioned you will find that they are not only pleasing to the eye but also that they are also relaxing. A great way to unwind at the end of the day is to sit outdoors at night enjoying the soft solar lights and listening to water in your patio fountain.


I decorated my yard with a garden fountain and crackle glass pathway lights that are solar-powered and look beautiful at night as well as during the day.  Both lights generate power from the sun so you will have to set them up in an area that gets direct sun.  I also added a few metal art solar-powered lights and spinners that look beautiful set up in the gardens.


All photos viewed in this post are of the accessories in my gardens.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Tree Service / Trimming Pruning and Costs

 Last week I had 5 mature Oak Trees trimmed. All of the trees were over 30 feet in height and the tree service had to use a bucket to get to the branches that needed to be cut back.

When you get your trees trimmed it will improve the health of trees as they will get more sunlight and the trimming will make your property appear more pleasing to the eye.

My side yard, trees growing too close, need to be thinned out

The tree service that we hired, did not remove the new growth, instead, they concentrated on the dead branches and the overhang branches that covered our driveway and also inhibited the sunlight.  Many of the smaller fruit-bearing trees, and flowers were not getting enough sun and they were all dying.

Maple tree growing too close to service lines

Know that costs do vary but for 5 mature trees over 30 feet in height we paid $1K.  Online research indicated that the average costs range from $1K to $2K and I guess that depends on your location and how easy it is to get to your trees.

Normally tree trimming is done in the spring and summer and pruning is done in late fall and winter (November – March)  

Pruning is when they remove unnecessary branches, that have died and need to be cut off.  The cooler season makes the trees less susceptible to insects and disease.

The tree service will access your trees to determine if tree branches are growing too close to power lines, your house or other buildings.  Pruning keeps your trees looking neat and discourages branches from growing in the wrong direction.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Growing Tips for Lemongrass


While shopping at the garden center I passed an ornamental grass-looking plant that had a refreshing lemon scent. The plant was in a container and the ticket said no need to transplant, this plant is easy to grow, and was hand-selected by Bonnie plants to grow in a container. 

Lemongrass is grown in a container

We enjoy the lemon scent and that it repels mosquitos 

This ornamental grass is eye appealing, has movement, and has a fresh scent.  I loved it and I bought the lemongrass and set it in the center of my patio table.

You can grow it in a container or you can plant lemongrass in the ground in the spring after frost has passed The lemongrass likes it hot so a sunny location is best.  

The plant is very easy to grow in a container or in the ground. 

If you reside in USDA zone 8, 8b, and 9 then this plant will not die. You may want to plant in well-drained soil in a sunny location (needs a minimum of 6 hours of sun daily).  Space grass 24 inches apart.  For all other locations where it gets cold, you will need to bring your lemongrass indoors as cold weather will cause the plant to die.

In North America, the growing zone 8, 8b, and  9 are the warmest growing zones in the United States, including much of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Arizona, California, and coastal Oregon and Washington

Keep your lemongrass hydrated by watering when the soil feels dry.   A container causes the soil to dry out quickly especially when the weather is hot.  Where I reside the weather is extremely hot so I water the lemongrass that is grown in a container in the morning, then mist the leaves in the afternoon. If you grow lemongrass in the ground then water every other day or when the soil is dry.

 The fresh lemony scent from the oil in the leaves will repel mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas.


Harvest your lemongrass for tea, see the recipe for a fresh leaf tea here

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Benefits from Planting Clover


If you prefer the natural method for fertilizing your soil and lawn grass then grow clover. Clover will fix the nitrogen that feeds your grass and it will help in maintaining moisture and stop weeds from taking over your lawn.   We grow clover and find that our lawn is easier to care for because it doesn’t require water or fertilizer.

Here is a photo of the clover growing in our side yard.  Note the grasses and clover look lush and green.  My husband mows it and we walk on the clover and it bounces right back.


What we like about clover is that it stays green. Also, the nectar-rich flowers are very fragrant and they are beneficial to honey bees. The clover attracts wildlife; whitetail deer, wild turkey, and wild rabbit. (all eat the clover but they eat the tops and don't remove the roots or the plant) 

We planted Dutch white clover seed in the early spring in our side yard which gets sun in the morning and part- sun to shade in the afternoon.  My husband raking the entire area to remove the dead grasses and loosen the soil.  He then mixed clover seed (which is very small) with sand and spread it by hand in the planting area.  The seed and sand were covered with a light layer of topsoil and then watered well after the seeds were planted.

We watered daily until clover had grown in. Know that once the clover is established it does not require regular watering. Clover is drought tolerant and will stay green during extreme heat and cooler seasons.  

In August when our grass turns brown due to the extreme heat, the Dutch white clover seems to thrive.

Clover grows well in sun, part sun, and shade.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Japanese Honeysuckle a Summertime Favorite

 Long-lived and somewhat invasive Japanese honeysuckle is a summertime favorite flowering vine.

This vigorous climbing vine is easy to grow in sun or part shade and is not fussy about the soil.  Grow next to a fence, a rock wall, or a trellis.  The fragrant tubular-shaped yellow or white flowers will bloom in late spring and will continue to bloom throughout the summer months then in fall, the fruit will appear. This fruit is eaten by birds.

The honeysuckle will become invasive if you do not prune it when needed.  In the full sun, this vine will grow very fast and put out many runners that will smother and kill any flowers or shrubs that are growing in the path of the vine.  So it's best to control the honeysuckle by pruning by hand to keep it from taking over.

Know that my neighbor grows honeysuckle on the backside of her fence. The vines are very thick and in the winter this semi-evergreen vine does provide shelter for warblers, finches, and other birds. So if you enjoy watching birds and butterflies you should grow a Japanese Honeysuckle vine on a trellis or fence.

Here are my photographs of the Japanese Honeysuckle

Stunning Sorbet Peony (Paeonia lactiflora)

 If you like peony flowering shrubs then you will love the stunning sorbet peony  (Paeonia lactiflora).  This fragrant beauty was discovered by Luc Klinkhamer in 1987 growing in a south Korean garden and in 2006 I bought it at Brecks Nursery to grow in my garden.

Breck's nursery sent me a Sorbet peony bare root that I planted in the fall. The soil was well-drained and amended with compost to make it fertile. I grew this peony 2 feet away from my rock wall in a sunny location with the part sun in the afternoon.

This sorbet peony did not bloom the first three years but thereafter it bloomed every mid-spring.  From my experience, I have found that peonies need time to grow, and be established in your garden.  All of the peonies that grow in my garden have needed a few dormant years (no blooms).  If you have the time to wait then you will be awarded. The sorbet will produce many buds and sensational flowers every spring.  This plant is well worth the investment and the wait.

The sorbet is my favorite peony.  I love this showy fragrant flower with pink and white petal layers. Know that the sorbet peony will provide garden interest in the spring, summer, and the fall when the leaves will turn a yellow color at the end of summer and is an eye-appealing plant throughout the autumn season.

I have never seen the Sorbet at my local garden centers.  So if you are interested I would suggest that you contact to see if they are selling this peony for fall season planting.

Here are photographs of the sorbet peony that grows in my yard and garden.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Garden Secrets Nice Gal Pink Peony

If you enjoy watching butterflies and hummingbirds then plant the Nice Gal Peony. This peony is a stunning pink flowering shrub that will add beauty to your garden with its large pink flowers with yellow stamens.

 In 2012 I shopped online and bought a peony collection from Brecks Nursery.  The flowering shrubs were bare roots and the nice gal was one of the plants that I had received.

The peonies were planted in fertile well-drained soil where there were 6 hours of full sun daily.  The bare root grew into a small shrub in the first year with lush green leaves but did not bloom for two years.  The first time that the peony bloomed the flowers were small and I attributed this to the overhand of an Oak tree that had grown in. 

The following fall I decided to transplant even though I knew that disturbing the peony may mean it may not boom the following year.  I took the chance and moved the nice gal to another area where there was no chance that trees would block the sun.   

I transplanted the peony on a cloudy day, and it was planted deep in well-drained fertile soil that was amended with compost.  I watered well and did not allow the soil to dry out.  This new location provided the peony with 6 hours of full sun and part shade.  I applied a layer of mulch to protect the newly rooted shrub and after the first frost, I cut back the stems to the soil and applied a thicker layer of natural hardwood mulch.

 For the next 7 years this flowering shrub grew in nicely (28 inches in height with a 30-inch spread.  The peony had strong stems and glossy leaves with small buds and flowers.   Normally this particular peony is an outstanding performer, but I suspect that disturbing the roots by transplanting did not agree with the plant.

This year I changed my fertilizer.  I used Jobes stakes for flowering shrubs. The stakes were put into the soil in late March / early spring.  The fertilizer stake would feed the peony slowly throughout the growing season.

In April the spring rain was plentiful, the days were warm and the nights were cool.  The weather and the fertilizer agreed with my pink gal peony because it grew into a sturdy bush with lush green leaves and big flower buds. The entire bush was covered with flower buds and the blooms were magnificent.


Here are some photographs of my beautiful Nice Gal Peony shrub. 

Garden Secrets Pink Gal Peony Flowering Shrub

Yard and Garden Secrets

Garden Secrets Pink Gal Peony Flowering Shrub

Garden Secrets Pink Gal Peony Flowering Shrub

Monday, May 16, 2022

Swizzle Scarlet and Yellow Zinnia Flower

 Zinnia flowers are grown in my garden annually and I always grow them from seed.  The only exception was this year when I bought the Swizzle Scarlet and Yellow Zinnia flower.

I was drawn to the brilliant large bi-color flower and bought six of the dwarf size zinnia plants at Lowe’s garden center.   The flower is striking and would add good contrast to my full sunflower garden. I also thought the dwarf size would be good for containers or grown along the border of a garden path.

Plant in a location where the zinnias will get six hours of full sun. The soil should be well-drained as the roots will rot if they are wet. This pant will bloom continuously from spring to fall and is hardy to 40 F.

Water daily for the first 30 days or until the plant is mature (10 to 12 inches in height and the same for width) then water as needed.

My summers are extremely hot so I did apply mulch to help retain moisture and to prevent weed growth in the garden. 

Here are some photographs of the Swizzle Scarlet and Yellow Zinnia Flower.

Swizzle Scarlet and Yellow Zinnia Flower

Swizzle Scarlet and Yellow Zinnia Flower

Swizzle Scarlet and Yellow Zinnia Flower

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Garden Secrets How to Plant Rhododendron

Rhododendron is a shrub that has flowers like the azalea.  It’s a perennial that is long-lived provided you plant it in a location that meets the plants growing needs.

Know that in the past I planted rhododendron on the east side of my home.  In an area that was too close to my home's overhang and suspect that the shade was too much.  The plant grew but never bloomed. 

I transplanted my rhododendron to the north side of my home in an area where there was protection from wind and the soil had an acidic ph.  As for the sun the plant received 3 hours of full morning sun followed by 4 hours of the late afternoon sun. During the heat of the day, the shrub was protected with partial shade and this shade did not seem to hurt the rhododendron. (Rhododendron grow best when they get 6 hours of full sun daily)

In May I did weed the entire garden bed before applying a thick layer of hardwood mulch around the plants.  My summers are extremely hot so hoping the mulch will keep the roots cool and aid in retaining moisture.

Know that I did soak the root ball in water for one hour then let it drip dry for another hour before planting it in a hole that was 3 times the size of the root ball.  I planted it high so that the rainwater would drain off.  I also amended the fill-in soil with peat moss.  After planting I watered well, then did not water for 3-days.  The soil around the rhododendron didn’t dry out because I watered every 3-days for a month then only when water was needed.

The rhododendron bloomed this year and the flowers were brilliant. Here are some photographs. 

yard and garden secrets rhododendron bud

yard and garden secrets photo by sgolis

Friday, April 22, 2022

About Sticky Weed in the Yard

 This past March my oak tree dropped its remaining leaves, and normally we remove the leaves from the garden beds immediately.  But the weather was bitter cold and we both got COVID so the leaves set on our gardens long enough to germinate a whole lot of weeds including the sticky weed. 

Yard and Garden Secrets "about sticky weed in the yard"

Photo of  Cleavers or "sticky weed" (Galium Aparine)

The sticky weed got its name due to the hairy like hooks on the leaves this allows the plant to stick to your clothing, hand, other plants, or anything it comes in contact with.  

Know that it's best to put on your garden gloves and pull this weed as quickly as you see it.  I tend to pull it close to the soil level and I put it in a plastic trash bag.  the last thing that I want is the seeds to spread back into my yard and garden.

*My husband can pull the sticky weed by hand without the worry of a rash or irritation.  Many people say that they have gotten a rash, so I recommend that you put on gloves before you pull out the sticky weed in your yard.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Planting Chrysanthemums

The chrysanthemum is a great flower to add color and interest to your late summer garden. Shop for a variety of flower colors red, pink, yellow, ginger, purple and some chrysanthemums are multiple colors.

Normally our fall season is long and warm and Chrysanthemums will bloom until Thanksgiving. So I will plant a few in clay pots to display on my porch with orange pumpkins. I will also grow them in the ground throughout my yard and in my gardens.

The chrysanthemums that I planted in the spring are hardy perennials they are in the ground and had time throughout the summer months to get rooted. These deep-rooted mums will survive the winter and come back next spring.

I also planted chrysanthemums in mid-September. Since my fall season is mild the plant will have six or seven weeks to get rooted before there is a hard frost.

If it is too late to plant the chrysanthemum in the ground you can use the florist mum which is an annual flower by growing them in containers and using them as feature flowers on your porch or patio. 

Chrysanthemums are easy to grow.  For healthy Chrysanthemums choose a location that has rich well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5 and good airflow and full sun. 

Water a newly planted Chrysanthemum so that the soil is evenly moist but not drenched.  Then do not water again until the soil is dry to the touch. I water in the morning when the plant is rooting for approximately 6 weeks.  Then once established I don’t overwater the chrysanthemum, this plant is drought tolerant and does not need to be watered daily. I do fertilize with bloom booster by miracle-gro hose-end feeder once a week and deadhead all spent blooms to encourage new growth.

Here are some photographs of chrysanthemums

Planted this Chrysanthemum in the spring by September it was double in size